Sunday, November 3, 2013

Warm October, Cold November?

After an unseasonably warm October, colder temperatures have arrived in Fairbanks. The temperatures weren't the only thing strange about last month. Usually, there's a few inches of hard snowpack by the middle of the month, but we had stayed snow-free until the 31st. Once November 1st rolled in, we said goodbye to the 50's and 60's we were enjoying and said hello to the 20's. Still, we are warmer than is average for this time of year.

I like to think that we got a warm October because of the previously long, long winter; the longest winter on record. I really have no idea what will happen this or the months to come. Every winter up here had been different in its own way. This time, however, I will be a little bit more comfortable.

On Saturday morning, I slid into Auto Trim Design off of S. Cushman (roads are icy now), and scheduled an appointment to have auto-start installed in my truck. Sure, they are expensive. Yes, you can start your car for free. In the dead of winter, it is such a chore to go through the motions to simply warm up your vehicle. It'll save a lot of time and effort on my part if I could just push a button and continue to work.

Back to snow. We have just an inch maybe of snow still on the ground. It's not enough to pretty things up too much, but more appears to be on the way. Winter sports enthusiasts rejoice! My bike has been itching to float on some fresh powder, and I have already seen some fat tire tracks in the snow.

It may get down to normal temperatures eventually, but I feel lucky to have had it so easy so far. Winters can be really tough for the unprepared. I'm ready to take the (temperature) plunge.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Wautumn is Here! Prepare for Winter!

Under my shoes, you can hear the crunch of yellow fall leaves and...snow?

Two. We have had two snow storms roll through Fairbanks this month. Needless to say, the snow is early, really early. Ever since I moved up to Fairbanks from Texas we have had unusual weather, or so they tell me. Most of the snow has disappeared except in the shady spots, and the leaves haven't completely died. A lot of trees are still green!

Strange to see the green, yellow, and white all getting along together, at least for now. Winter is coming green or not, and I have already swapped out my summer tires for my studded winter ones. Another helpful winter accessory would be getting auto-start (or remote start) installed in my truck this year. Don't get me wrong. I love having to disrupt my daily routines to:
  • bundle up
  • run (duck walk) outside
  • start my truck
  • run (duck walk) back inside
  • un-bundle
  • do something for a few minutes
  • bundle up again,
  • jump into my truck and go
Auto-start is a bestseller in Fairbanks. Many times, when you leave a hockey game, cars will roar to life as you walk to your cold, sad vehicle. You are forced to sit in coldness while others walk to their warm, bright vehicle that has auto-start. It is like having a small hand-held butler minus all the other butler stuff, of course. Maybe it comes with a hot chocolate dispenser?

They can be as costly as you want them to be. How far will you (or will you not) go to start your car is the question. Some will work only with line-of-sight while others will work a mile away. The fancier models have a screen on the fob that will let you know if you successfully started your car. What service!

These things need to be done before winter hits. Otherwise, all of the automotive shops will be flooded (snowed in?) with procrastinators, leaving you stranded and cold.

We will see if I indeed get auto-start installed this year or not. It is an investment for sure, but it'll save time and possible head injuries from slipping on the ice.

Another thing: why hasn't auto-start taken off in the blazing hot states? I'm looking at you Texas.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Shake it Off!


"Where is everybody?"

"They all left."

"Ahh! Who said that?!"

"Your previous blog posts." *cough, hack, wheeze*

"Oh. Well. What should I do now that I am here?"

"Continue writing. That's the only way they will come back here. Otherwise, this will all fall into the Nothing."

"Ah... Wait! What? A Neverending Story reference? Seriously?"

"Why not? We posts are all originally cut from the same literary cloth, aren't we?"

"Gosh. I don't know. I was hoping this wouldn't get all philosophical. I mean, I just write about what I see in Alaska, you know? So many things up here are different from the rest of the country, and nobody Outside really knows what it is like."

"Very true, but I do hope that you find your way. Many times, blogs like this one have fallen away into shadow, never to be seen again. You have much work left in you. I can see that."

"You think so? Really? Hmmm. There's a list of topics I've been meaning to write about sooner or later. Plus, all of the crazy Alaskan things I have taken part in, too. Maybe there are some more posts left for me to write. Starting up again seems so difficult, though!"

"For many, it is difficult. Most would only have to begin writing a post or two before the inspiration returns to them. All journeyers lose their way, but it only takes a step in the right direction to put them back on course."

"There's that philosophical gunk again. One step, eh? I can do that."

"Good luck!"

"Thanks! I--Whoa! Where'd you go? ...Looks like I am going on alone from here. Starting out alone, anyhow. Shake it off! Let's go!"

Friday, October 21, 2011

Driving to California!

Winter has arrived in Fairbanks! There's some snow on the ground, and the temperatures are now below freezing most of the time. Things just look better covered in clean, white snow. Plugging in the vehicles at night is back as the lows recently have been in the single digits at my cabin. In other news, a friend of mine recently moved his family to Modesto, CA. Now, he is back in town and will be driving his van back. Since it is dangerous to go it alone, he asked me to tag along. I naturally had to say yes. The Alaska Highway is a very adventurous and scenic drive. Who doesn't love a good road trip? There will be a winter blog complete with photos upon my return to Alaska. I have taken next week off to give us plenty of time to get down there. By the sound of it, I will be wearing my shorts again! Until then have a great week everyone!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Fall Follies in Fairbanks, Winter Coming Soon

The timing of this blog post is a little off for Fairbanks, but it is probably closer to those of you in the Lower 48. Fall is pretty much over up here. The leaves have all disappeared completely, the air is still, and everyone is looking anxiously to the horizon to see if snow is coming. Well, enough talk about winter. Let’s talk about fall.

Now, Alaska has plenty of trees that change color in the fall. What sets Alaska apart are the fall colors of the tundra. Now that is cool! All of the stunted foliage turns bright yellow and red, making the landscape look like a Photoshop image gone wrong, but it is very real. A trip to Denali National Park is not only a great way to take in all of the colors but also to see some of the wildlife preparing for winter (there’s that word again, sorry).

As for myself, I am glad that winter has been put off for a bit. My cabin needs a few adjustments to make it winter-ready. I have put on the shrink wrap on my big windows. It is nothing more than a big sheet of plastic wrap and double-sided tape that has been shrunk using a hair dryer. However, having that extra layer of air between you and sub-zero temperatures makes a huge difference.

Another task that has yet to be completed is new weather-stripping around my door. Last winter I had stuffed blankets under the door to keep the cold out (and keep the expensive heat in). No more! I want some good stripping to put around my door. Oddly, this stuff is hard to find so far.

Over the weekend I helped a friend load and unload a truck-load of 8-9 foot firewood logs. Man, that is a lot of work, and they aren’t even split yet! I would love to have a wood stove in my cabin because they give off a lot of heat and are more charming than, say, an oil stove that clicks and smells like oil. However, they are a lot of work and not necessarily cheaper. Perhaps someday I will have both in my awesome cabin that I built with my two hands.

Masculine hypotheticals aside, I am almost ready for winter to arrive. I am sorry to not have any cool time-lapse videos up for my time-lapse challenge. The weather wasn’t very attractive all week. I will reschedule it for when the snow starts falling. That, I think, will be more entertaining than the cloudy, hazy weather we have been having.

To all of you down south, enjoy your prospective fall seasons in proper fashion. The next post will likely feature the white stuff! 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Star Trails Timelapse Video

Hey everyone,

Well, I had a busy night getting this timelapse all set up. I was a bit worried about leaving my camera outside for a long period of time, but there was no way I was staying up all night to watch it either. So, I left it out to do its thing and capture hundreds of images of stars.

Then I processed the images in photoshop to create the star trail effect. I did manage to get one shooting star early on if you can see it. The video is a bit dark, and I don't feel like messing with it too much. It was a test after all. I hope that you all enjoy it. The timelapse challenge will probably start the first of October, and extend for at least a week.

We shall see how it all turns out. If you have any timelapse subject ideas please post a comment so I can try it out.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Timelapse Challenge

Hey everyone,

A thought entered my head the other day concerning timelapse photography. I think I may try to produce a timelapse video every day for a week or maybe a month (gosh!). They are fun and don't require a whole lot of attention so they won't interfere with my work too much. It sounds like a fun experiment, and I was wondering if any of you had any thoughts on the subject. Ideas are welcome, too.

Here is a video I just made while working in the hallway. I used a high f-stop and took 1 second exposures for around half an hour. When winter comes I would like to do a full timelapse showing the sun rising and setting since it barely does either one. It is a fun process that I would like to explore some more.