Tag Archives: history

The ice has come

Bird’s eye view: First day of ice on The Pond. The beaver’s trail can be seen to the left.

For this season, we had the first 24 hour period over the weekend where the temperature did not get above freezing. It came 11 days later than on average.

The Pond received its first full coat of ice by Sunday morning. Thin as it is, one could see where the beaver swam under the ice.

The fire in the wood stove is still not going full time, however. One every other night has been enough to keep the chill out of the cabin. Anything more would drive me out of the building from the heat. As it is, an evening fire requires at least one open window at these temps.


Season’s first snow

First snow on the new beaver lodge

We had the first snowfall of the season on Saturday. Some areas had a few flurries in the air previously, but this is the first one that stuck.

On average, we see our first snow by September 30, and our first snowfall of at least an inch by October 6. So overall, I’d say we are right in the snow median this autumn.


Fat Bear Week: Elite Eight

Katmai Bracketology

Voting for the Fattest Bear of Katmai continues over at the Katmai National Park & Preserve Facebook page.

In round one, fan fave Otis went down to Lefty, in an upset. Divot, Grazer and #909 also moved into the second round. There is some large competition waiting for them, as Wide-Body #747, Holly, Chunk and #503 had first round byes, and could continue hoarding calories, as they watched their fellow bears compete.

Hibernation is big business.

Bracket credit: Katmai NP&P


Panorama of Fort Niagara

The layout of Fort Niagara

Camera: Widelux FVI; Film: Kodak 35mm, TMax100


Fat Bear Week

Katmai National Park & Preserve once again enter October Madness with their Fat Bear Week bracket.

Voting starts today, October 2, with Lefty taking on fan favorite Otis.

Four bears of Katmai have used their extensive girth to get a well earned bye: Chunk, the wide body #747, #503, and Holly.

Beadnose, or Bear #409

Surprisingly, Beadnose, the 2018 winner, did not make this year’s cut. So there will be no repeat champion.

The new winner will be crowned on Fat Bear Tuesday, October 8.

Katmai Bracketology

All images courtesy of Katmai National Park & Preserve


Fort Niagara via Widelux

The view from the wall

On my last visit to the east coast, I drove out to Fort Niagara, which overlooks the mouth of the Niagara River. I have already written about the historic fort in a previous post.

I brought my Widelux panoramic camera along for the visit, and I have a few photos that I thought I’d share. The scans turned out okay, but I have to say I really like the massive 4″x12″ prints.

The French Castle

Camera: Widelux FVI; Film: Kodak 35mm, TMax100


STR Nenana

The Last Lady of the River

While out at Pioneer Park on Labor Day, I felt compelled to take a few photos of the STR Nenana.

One reason was that the camera only a couple of years younger than the old sternwheeler, which first started service in Alaska in 1933.

Efforts are still ongoing to find the funding to restore the Nenana. Currently, the interior of the ship is closed to the public.

Camera: Billy-Clack #74; Film: Kodak 120, Ektar 100


Queued up

The Rover on the Haul Road

One thing I do like about loading up posts in the queue, is that I can be gone all week and nobody has any idea.

Get out and enjoy autumn!

“Like the River, we were free to wander.”

— Aldo Leopold


Resurrection Bay in B&W

Sailboat heading out to the gulf

Fishing for pinks at the mouth of Lowell Creek

Abandoned pier

Camera: Agfa Billy-Clack 74; Film: Kodak 120 TMax 100


Walking Poker Flat

Entrance to Poker Flat Research Range

It’s early August and people were starting to think “white stuff”. I had three jobs lined up, everyone desperate for me to start, yet not one of them was ready for me. What to do with the day off?

As luck would have it, Poker Flat Research Range had one of their summer walking tours that day, so I drove the 25 miles out to Chatanika.

“The Blockhouse” or bunker

PFRR is the world’s largest land-based rocket range. The facility is owned by the University of Alaska – Fairbanks. They launch sounding rockets from the range, in order to study the Earth’s atmosphere and the interaction between the atmosphere and the space environment.

Space junk returned to Earth

Study ranges from the Earth’s magnetic field to the aurora. NASA is prominent at the range, but researchers come from all over the world. All of the rockets launched from PFRR return to the Earth’s surface, and the range collects the spent payloads every summer. There is a reward paid out to anyone finding material from Poker Flat.

Poker Flat Launch Pad

The building above is open on the far end. The interior of the building, and the actual launch pad, was off limits to photography. It’s a NASA rule that doesn’t thrill UAF apparently, but we all honored the rule. The sounding rocket is brought in on what is basically an open trailer. The rocket is loaded onto the launcher, which looks like a giant erector set with a large pivot. The building itself is sitting on a pair of tracks. When ready to begin countdown, the building is pulled back away from the pad, and the rocket is spun vertical with the large erector set pivot.

Mission Control

The control center was surprisingly manual in operation. Scientists are extremely fussy about launch conditions, and they often pull the plug with one second to go. An automatic system does not give the flexibility that is needed, so there is still a “launch button”.

Power central

That doesn’t mean there is a shortage of cable, wires, or connectors.

The touring rocket

PFRR does a good job with the tour. It’s pretty relaxed, and a nice way to spend some time outdoors, for the most part, in an Interior Alaska summer. After the tour, don’t forget to stop by the Chatanika Lodge, which is just down the highway.