Author Archives: icefogger

About icefogger

Just a basic, down to Earth, laid back type of guy here, who loves the outdoors, the indoors, jazz on the turntable, a fire in the woodstove, the northern lights blazing across the sky, and the company of good friends.

Alaska Storm Surge

Color code depicts wind speed; Graphic credit: TropicalTidbits.com

A large storm is barreling into Western Alaska this week. Heavy rain and strong wind is expected. Gusts of 65-80 mph are possible.

Currently, the vast majority of Western Alaska is devoid of snow. The entire western coast has no sea ice. The ice would normally offer some protection from coastal erosion. The high winds will certainly set back any sea ice growth.

Gale force winds are expected to continue in the impacted areas through Wednesday.

That is one impressive system.


Freddie the Foot

Fred Cox attempts to put one through the uprights at The Met, Paul Krause holding

Fred Cox, the long time kicker for the Minnesota Vikings, passed away this week. He was 80, just three weeks shy of his 81st birthday.

Cox was drafted by the Cleveland Browns as a fullback out of the University of Pittsburgh. The plan was for Cox to block for the future Hall of Famer, Jim Brown. A back injury had legendary coach Paul Brown telling Cox to switch to kicker. Unfortunately, another Hall of Famer, Lou Groza was still kicking for Cleveland. Cox was traded to Minnesota, and became their full time kicker in 1963.

Cox would play 15 seasons for the Vikings, never missing a game. He retired as the franchise leading scorer with 1365 points. Still the franchise record.

Cox was named All-Pro for the 1969-1971 seasons, playing in the 1970 Pro Bowl. He is one of 11 Vikings to have played in all four of their Super Bowl appearances. Cox was also named to the squad of the Top 50 Vikings when the team hit their 50th Anniversary.

While playing for the Vikings, Cox and Minneapolis resident John Mattox teamed up to invent the NERF football. While Mattox wanted a heavy ball that “kids couldn’t kick out of their yards”, Cox suggested a foam ball to “prevent a bunch of sore legged kids.” After making a mold, and injecting it with foam, Cox & Mattox took the ball to Parker Bros. The rest is back yard history. Not to mention a few living rooms.

As a young kid, my Dad would take me out to the old Met, and I saw Freddie the Foot kick many, many times, and I can’t tell you how many NERF footballs I owned when I was growing up. Rest In Peace, Freddie; you were in the middle of a lot of very good memories.


Kolmakovsky Redoubt

The Blockhouse; built 1841

The Russian-American Company was established in 1799. The RAC received a renewable 20-year charter, which granted the company exclusive rights over trade in Russia’s North American territory.

The fur trade led the RAC to build a trading post on the Middle Kuskokwim River in 1841, which they named Kolmakovsky Redoubt. The blockhouse, above, was the first building erected. Eight more structures would also be constructed.

A map showing location of Kolmakovsky Redoubt on the Middle Kuskokwim

Kolmakovsky was the only Russian redoubt to be constructed in Alaska’s Interior. After the United States purchased Alaska from Russia in 1867, the redoubt eventually transferred to the Alaska Commercial Company.

The blockhouse stood alongside the Kuskokwim River for over 80 years. In 1929, the building was donated to the University of Alaska. The eight-sided log building was dismantled, the logs numbered, and then shipped to Fairbanks. It remained in storage for the next 50 years.

In 1982, the blockhouse, which has a diameter of 17′, was reconstructed behind the Museum of the North, on the UAF campus. In 2009, the University received a grant from the “Saving America’s Treasures” program to to do an all out restoration. A concrete pad was poured, any rotten logs were fabricated as the originals, and the roof was rebuilt. All but one of the interior horizontal roof supports are original.

The spruce logs are all connected by interlocking dovetail notches. There are no windows, only a low doorway, and three narrow musket slots. The Kolmakovsky blockhouse is the only Russian blockhouse ever found with a sod roof, the rest were all built with a plank roof.

Today, the blockhouse from Kolmakovsky Redoubt is still located near the Museum of the North on the University of Alaska – Fairbanks campus. The Kolmakovsky Redoubt site on the Kuskokwim has been placed on the Alaska Heritage list of historic properties and archaeological sites. A detailed excavation of the site was completed during the 1966 and 1967 summers by UCLA professor Wendall H. Oswalt. Well over 5000 artifacts were excavated, which are now a part of the collection at the Museum of the North.


Weathering Pioneer Park

The SS Nenana and Alaska Centennial Center

It was announced last week that the Centennial Center for the Arts at Pioneer Park would close abruptly due to safety concerns. 5 of 22 columns that hold up the roof and walls are rotting from the inside. The 52 year old Centennial Center is usually a busy place during the holiday season, so the closure will displace several special events, as well as the main tenant of the center: the Fairbanks Arts Association. Repairs are expected to take 3-4 months. Hopefully, the Borough will complete the needed repairs. In 2014, seven columns had to undergo similar repairs.

The SS Nenana

The historic SS Nenana, also located at Pioneer Park, is desperately needing a resurrection. Interior tours were ended a couple of years ago, and I know the Friends of the SS Nenana are working with the Fairbanks North Star Borough to undergo the needed repairs and restoration. I would have to believe time is of the essence with the old sternwheeler.

Lady of the River

Camera: Widelux; Film: Kodak 35mm, TMax 100


One long night

Utqiagvik, AK; Image credit: FAA Weather Cam

The sun set over Utqiagvik (Barrow) , Alaska at 1:50pm AST on Monday the 18th of November.

The sun will not rise again over Utqiagvik until 23 January 2020.

Life in the Far North.


Snow Bus


Bear Beware

Hibernating brown bear

Alaskans have been enjoying the recent snowfall combined with some relatively warm temperatures. Been out skijoring without your bear spray? State biologists are saying Alaskans may want to rethink that.

Due to the warmer than average weather and the availability of food, bears have not gone into hibernation just yet.

Black bears tend to start their winter hiatus in October, while brown bears like to hang around into November as they attempt to pack on every calorie possible.

This year, the bears seem to be not in any rush to turn in. Like always, it’s a good idea to pay attention out there, but don’t forget to keep the cabin site clean of trash. One brown bear in the Anchorage area has taken to raiding garbage cans this month. No one needs that, especially the bear.


Apollo 12: SCE to AUX

Apollo 12 launches into a storm

Astronauts Pete Conrad, Alan Bean and Dick Gordon launched from Kennedy Space Center on this date in 1969 aboard Apollo 12.

The launch occurred as rainy weather enveloped the Cape. 37 seconds after launch, lightning struck the rocket, causing all sorts of haywire across the control panel. At the 52 second mark, a second lightning strike took out the “8-Ball” attitude indicator. Just about every warning light on the control panel was now lit, and the resulting power supply problems caused much of the instrumentation to malfunction.

John Aaron

Back at Mission Control, EECOM flight controller John Aaron, had seen this before in simulations. He calmly suggested a solution to the Flight Director, “Flight, try SCE to Aux”. Even though few knew what Aaron was talking about, the order was sent to Apollo 12, and Bean flipped the SCE switch to Auxiliary setting. Telemetry was immediately restored, and Apollo 12 continued on with its mission.

John Aaron was forever known as that “Steely-eyed missile man” from then on.

Astronaut Alan Bean on the surface of the moon. Photo by Charles “Pete” Conrad

The lunar module, with Conrad and Bean, landed in the area known as the Ocean of Storms on November 19. The landing site was within walking distance of the Surveyor 3 probe, which had landed on the moon in April of 1967. To date, it is the only time mankind has “retrieved” a probe sent to another world.

Solar eclipse from Apollo 12, on its return home to Earth. Photo credit: NASA

The crew of Apollo 12 returned to Earth on 24 November 1969. Landing east of American Samoa, they were recovered by the USS Hornet.

The Apollo 12 mission lasted just over 10 days, 4-1/2 hours.


Pioneer Museum

The Pioneer Museum at Pioneer Park

Camera: Widelux; Film: Kodak 35mm, TMax 100


Superman not included

A recent job had me “installing” a phone booth outside a customer’s home. The booth is complete with working pay phone and light. I have not had many requests in the past to get one of these back in working order, but I do like to diversify.

Good things to keep in mind for a future install: A pay phone weighs 55 pounds, so shipping to Alaska is quite hefty; a phone booth, can, with difficulty, be moved by one person with an appliance dolly, but it also slides like a blunt bobsled on the fresh snow.

Possibly one of those only in Interior Alaska moments.