Category Archives: Alaska

Happy Summer Solstice!


The Midnight Sun Game at Growden Memorial Park; photo credit: Explore Fairbanks

The Midnight Sun Baseball Game has been played on every summer solstice in Fairbanks since 1906. The game starts at 10:30pm, and has never been played under artificial lights.

On a separate weather note: Fairbanks saw it’s first 80F degree day of the year on Thursday, June 20. That’s 10 days later than the average for the first 80. We’ve been dry and quite sunny, with temps basically running in the 70’s up until the Big Eight-Zero finally arrived.

The warmest Summer Solstice on record in Fairbanks happened on 21 June 1991, when the official airport thermometer hit 94F.

Have a great Solstice!


Alaska: Catfish Capital of the U.S.

That’s catfished capital. My apologies.

It seems that Alaskans are looking for love in all the wrong places. Or, at least, we do it more per capita, than anyone else in the United States. All those dark, solitary, winter nights, alone in the cabin with an internet connection… What’s an Alaskan looking for love to do?

Stay offline, apparently.

Catfishing, for those not in the know, is basically the attempt to swindle via a faked romance. The Better Business Bureau reports that 1 out of 7 dating profiles online are frauds. Dating profiles are created, using stolen photos, in order to manufacture a “relationship” with the goal of cheating the lonely out of some hard earned cash.

Per capita, eight out of the top ten states to fall for catfishing are in the west, with Alaska leading the way in taking the bait, hook, line and sinker.


Catfishing by dollars lost

Luckily, for romance seekers in the Far North, Alaskans are not anywhere near the top in dollars lost. North Carolina leads the way here, with $47,886 lost per swindle. That’s a lot of chocolate.

According to the FBI, $323,952,461 was lost to catfishers in 2018 alone.

Some tips from the FBI:

Don’t send money to a person you have never met.
Keep conversations online for as long as possible. Once you text or call, you’ve given out personal information that can be used against you.
Be wary of giving any personal information out online. Most people do not really need to know your mother’s maiden name upon first meeting online.
And my favorite tip: If it seems to good to be true, you’re probably talking to a Catfish.

Graph Credit: HSI; stats from the FBI Internet Crime Center


Moose Snorts


Moose out for a swim

I spent one day this week, out in the sun, finishing up a rope bridge that I was commissioned to build. The decking of the bridge had been completed last fall, and now I was back to add the rope-work for the “railings”.

I heard the moose munching on willows long before I saw it. They are not quiet eaters. A shrub or tree would move, but it took quite some time for the moose to show itself. Oddly enough, it was when I was out on the bridge weaving the manila rope into place that the moose reacted. It kept snorting at me.

At first, I was a bit offended, taking the snorts as commentary on my work. However, I came to the conclusion, that the moose simply did not like me hovering in the air, at a height allowing me to look down on the moose. As I continued to work, the snorts were then followed by hoof stomps and another snort. It really did not like me out there on the bridge. Eventually, the moose had enough of my bridge building, and I heard it splash about in the pond behind the house. It had gone for a swim. It was a warm 75F degrees, and I couldn’t blame it.

Unfortunately, the pictures are pretty poor, as I only had the cellphone with me on the job site, and I’m shooting into the sun on top of it. I watched it swim around, and splash about the pond for a good 15 minutes, before I had to force myself back to work.


A day in the life…

What an Alaskan does upon returning from a month long sabbatical:


The view from Murphy Dome in black & white

Spend the morning fixing a customer’s plumbing problem. Like most plumbing problems, the job took two trips for fittings. Like all seemingly easy jobs, the customer added two new problems upon arrival, which had previously “slipped their mind”.

Buy potting soil.

Order flooring for a job that is two weeks away.

Buy tomato, pepper and squash plants.

Set up rain barrels for customer. Repair barrels where customer broke fittings. Reinstall water pump for garden from their pond. Let out their dog and chase it around the yard for a few minutes. Scratch their cat, so it doesn’t feel left out.

Stop by post office for mail, and Fred Meyer for just a few groceries.

Load truck with tools & materials for the next day’s job.

Uncover 1 ton work truck, that has been parked all winter. Hook up battery tender.

Take phone call from customer that wants me to hang several bird feeders. I caution customer that bird feed, especially black sunflower seeds, attracts bears, which she has had several visit in the past. Bird feeder job remains in limbo, as no decision was made.

Remove door to Rover hut for the season.

Plant lettuce.

Unplug refrigerator to defrost, before restocking. Plug in the Rover’s fridge to substitute for the next 24 hours.

Hike out to back 400 pond with Leica to check out the nesting trumpeter swans. The sun is wrong for good pictures, but the reward of watching the swimming pair from the brush is still high.

Haul out deck chairs; put away snowshoes.

Drop window awning, because cabin was 86 degrees when you returned home this afternoon.

Plant sunflowers.

Crack open a beer and grill a chicken breast and zucchini.

Contemplate that tomorrow is really going to be a hectic day.


A Return to the ‘Banks


The backyard at midnight

After a month Outside, I recently returned home to Fairbanks. As much as I enjoyed my travels, its nice to be back in Alaska. The days are long once again, the trumpeter swans are back swimming in the pond, and a moose greeted me in the yard within 15 minutes of my return.


Therefore choose life…


Attu Island; Photo credit: CBS News

60 Minutes, the news program on CBS, did a great story on Attu Island this past Sunday.


Screen shot of 60 Minutes Attu story

I’m not sure which surprised me more: The fact that I even caught the story as I travel about the Niagara area, or the fact that broadcast television did a story on Attu at all.


Anti-aircraft gun on Attu today

The episode, on an all but forgotten battle of WWII ,at a far corner of the globe, is well worth the 20 minutes to watch. Sorry, no spoilers.


Breaking Up

The picture was taken the last day of March. I have never seen The Pond with as much bad ice this early. The open hole is from methane release, which caused the ice to thin just above the methane pocket.

The Nenana River has some open water already, downstream from the Ice Classic Tripod. The earliest the Tanana River has gone out is April 20. Short of an epic cold snap, that record will be broken in 2019.