Thursday, January 17, 2008

Anchorage and other things

Things in Alaska are going decent. The moose that was seen across the street hung out there for a few days. There were two of them, a mom and her baby. One night when I was being dropped off by some new friends, the pair decided that the road was their territory and they had to take a different direction home. I haven't seen them since.

Everyday is sort of an adventure for me because to get anywhere I need to drive the stick shift (that's what I refer to it as). It snowed for four days straight and the plowers aren't that quick to get things plowed, but the snow is light and fluffy so I haven't gotten stuck like I would in Wisconsin with snow this high. I'm out on the roads, sloshing around with everyone else (only going much slower because everyone else has four wheel drive here. It's a requirement to be driving a vehicle with four wheel drive on some roads with steep hills). And there is a lot of slipping, sliding through red lights, etc. Thus the adventure. It's one thing to drive in this weather with a familiar car, it's another to be training on a car in this weather. However, I am getting better and drive nearly everyday and am learning my way around Anchorage. So learning stick and learning Anchorage at the same time is my weekly adventure so far.

They don't salt the roads here. On more major roads they use de-icer stuff, but on neighborhood roads for some reason once they plow the roads become super slick. I mean, I had no problem driving through a few feet of snow on the road, but now that it's plowed it's flat and glossy and I've fallen just walking on it.

This weekend we decided not to go winter camping because of the weather and the possibility of clouds and not seeing the northern lights (funny, one of the guys in the group is a meteorologist so we have a weather man on hand... Casey, you're still my number one favorite meteorologist). And because of all the freshly fallen snow we might have had problems with hiking and doing things. Prime avalanche situation if you're in the wrong place at the wrong time. Anyway, my new friend Brian, a photo journalist for channel 11 news, and I decided to climb up Flattop part of the way to get some cool pictures. There were tons of people out skiing the hill or climbing and some were preparing to camp themselves. We used snow shoes to do the hiking, something I hadn't used since I was in junior high. The view was spectacular and we didn't even go all the way up. I took a video but unfortunately this camera doesn't see as far as my eye could see but I wanted to give you an idea of what we saw. It was my first view of Denali.

Video of view from Flattop:
Flattop, Anchorage, AK

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Trying to maximize our picture taking during our remaining hours of sun we didn't climb all the way up Flattop but went back down and drove down the Seward highway for the views there. As I mentioned before the cliffs have all these frozen waterfalls on them, and often times people climbing them (and soon to be me). I got pictures this time as seen below. It was very cold there because of the wind kicking off the ocean.
Video from Seward:
view from Seward Highway

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This weekend I also attended the Mountain Film Festival at a theater pub here. It was absolutely amazing. I made it to the last two of three nights of mini films and documentaries about "things that matter". It was so inspiring to see these films from extreme sports footage of things like "noboarding" (snowboarding without the bindings and using a rope), extreme mountain biking, and extreme climbing with a dude conquering an E11/5.14c route in Scotland. They had films addressing situations in other countries, funny mini films, and some serious films. It was such a wonderful breather from the job hunting of the weekdays.

After the Saturday showing I dropped off the car at Bill's and Brian and I were going to walk to downtown. There is a trail that goes along the ocean that would be a pretty quick walk of about a half an hour to 45 minutes, even shorter with a bike (and I have access to a bike with studded tires I'll probably start using soon). Well, I take us as far as where the trail starts close to Bill's and Brian suggests following a road where he was 98% sure he knew where he was going. Well, our supposedly half hour journey was more like an hour an half. This is where I kept falling on those slick roads because there weren't sidewalks in this area. It had gotten to about -5 degrees after the sun went down so it was definitely a chilly walk. Somewhere in our walk we just happen to pass a moose happily grazing on the trees. I took a picture of her getting about 10 feet. She didn't care I was there and continued to just munch away on the branches. It was definitely an experience, that walk. I didn't really dress too warm because I didn't think we'd be out that long and I regretted it a little. And as always when I walk out for a long time here my hair frosts up.

Ravens ravens everywhere. Ravens seem to breed like rabbits and never leave. It was one of the first things I noticed while driving around that first night here were these large black birds flying around everywhere. And they are kind of a nuance, but I kind of just laugh at them. They fight on the roofs and knock snow on people, me included. One day I had to stop in the middle of a road because a raven had happily found a McDonalds bag that must still have had food in it and decided to take his time moving out of my way because he didn't care if he'd get hit, he was taking that bag!

I miss Ann.


Casey said...

I better be the favorite weather guy... :-). We just had 6 inches of snow today with 25 mph winds blowing it all over the place. The high on Saturday will be below zero here with lower single digits tomorrow and Sunday... could see temps 20 below zero sat and sun night.....i think that is colder than where you are!! At this moment. Normally when it absurdly cold here, its warmer there......i can explain it later if you'd like.

annabelle616 said...

Aw, I feel so special. I miss you too! Have fun carousing around CA & Mexico. :)

Louie said...

So many wonderful things - I knew you'd be happy in Alaska, it seems like you're moving in the direction you have chosen for yourself.
That frozen waterfall is just the coolest thing ever! That'll be so cool to be able to climb it, I'm jealous of all of these beautiful things you're surrouded with every day. I'll bet it's even more beautiful in the summer when it gets warmer. Can't wait to see pictures from that.