Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Vanity Plates: README

If you drive anywhere in Alaska for a short period of time you will begin to notice the high quantities of vanity plates. Now, I wouldn’t describe Alaskans as vain since most look like the Gordon’s Fisherman or the crazy prospector, Gabby Johnson, from Blazing Saddles (rerin!), but they do have vanity in other forms.
For one, they take their state pride way too seriously. I haven’t felt this discriminated against since I visited China and all because I am a Texan. I don’t seem to recall making fun of people because they were from Vermont while living in the Lone Star State. “How does it feel to be from the second largest state?” is one jeer that I received recently. But I digress.

40BLOW, RAVENS, and TI3VOM are some of the colorful plates I have seen. A creepier one spotted recently was LVBSKT. I think the reason why people get these plates is the fact that they are easy to create on the DMV website (and fun!). They are also inexpensive compared to other states.

I still have my good ‘ole Texas plates on my truck for now, but a time will come when I will probably need to get Alaska plates. Should I choose to get vanity plates, I would have to have a pretty good 6-character combo to put on there.

Any ideas?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Moose: Golly Gee Bulwinkle!

Probably not since watching Rocky and Bullwinkle have I been exposed to a moose. But in Alaska, look around! There are moose by the dozens here! Now, I know that moose are found all around the northern latitudes of the world, but none so large and iconic as these.

In one day I came across four moose within a span of a couple of hours, two of which, trotted in front of my truck. One thing I have noticed is the elusiveness of the bull moose. So far, I have only seen the cows and calves. My friend’s father, Jim, who joined me for the drive up with me to Alaska, claims to have seen one while we were driving. 

Perhaps later in the year when they are in rut (mating season) will I finally see one. My only hope is that I have my camera handy. Out of all the Alaskan mammals, moose seem the least concerned with bipedal mammals such as us. They have no real natural predator except for the bloodthirsty Bronco or the feisty Forrester. 

A moose’s innermost thoughts are mainly centered on fresh tree shoots and soggy pond scum. The pond scum is eaten as a sodium supplement, apparently. It’s kind of nasty to watch if you ask me. Once the mating season is over I hope to come across some freshly shed moose antlers. You can never have too many antlers in Alaska! 

Besides playing moose roulette with my truck, my second biggest concern is bumping into an 8-foot, 1000 pound beast on the way to my outhouse. I keep forgetting to look around me because the intoxicating effect of sleep clouds my thoughts in the morning. Why am I concerned? Well, because moose attack more people than bears and wolves combined! 

Most people do not know that moose are dangerous. This is probably due to their dorky appearance. Those skinny legs and bulbous upper-body appear slow and clunky, but they are anything but. A moose can charge at speeds of 35 m.p.h., easily outrunning any human. On top of that, their massive hooves can smash your neck with one single blow. Did I mention they have teeth, too? 

So, it is best to leave these bulky behemoths alone, and enjoy them from a safe distance. I have no idea why a squirrel and moose became friends, but rest assured that that squirrel would have been trampled to death a long time ago in real life. Yeah, I know, it’s not the best way to end a blog, but that’s real life, people. It ain’t* pretty sometimes.

*I am from Texas and have permission to use “ain’t” like it’s a word.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Autumn Is Here!

Aspens are quaking in their little golden leaves, and the birch just hang out and turn yellow. 

Autumn is definitely in full swing here in Fairbanks! Everywhere you look there are dozens of yellow and golden brown patches of birch and aspen trees. The spruce provide a steady green color to contrast with the yellows. On the hill above my cabin, a patch of aspens has been changing color together, causing a spilling lava effect over the top and down the side.

The temperature is still very nice and cool but not cold. There was a week of clouds and rain, but the weekend looks fantastic. Saturday may be my day to drive down to Denali and maybe even see the darn mountain! This is pretty much it for fun road trips since school is in full swing now. Man, I wish I could have just a little more time!

So, there may be some new Denali pics coming soon to the blog. Be on your guard! Well, now i must go and set up the lab for next week.

See you later!