Monthly Archives: May 2013

Weekday Expeditions a Month from the Solstice

There are up sides and down sides to living in Alaska one month out from the solstice, both of which are closely related to being able to make the most of your average say, Tuesday night.

The Up-Side: It Never Gets Dark.

Let’s say you work until 5. Heck, let’s say you work until 6. This leaves you daylight time to still have a 1-2 hour activity of some sort, drive home, stop at the store, cook/eat/clean dinner and sit down to some television. All before it even gets dark! Good times. 


Here I am taking in the view from Bird Ridge trail sometime around 8:30 pm.


The Down-Side: It Never Gets Dark.


Dusk over the Cook Inlet at 10:30 pm.

I think the best way to illustrate this point is through a brief story:

My first week at REAP, right around 5pm, I hear a short tune sounding, followed by a loud rendition of the national anthem through my open office window. As I began to wonder what national holiday it was or where the sound would be coming from, Shaina shouts loudly from her office next to mine, “IT’S QUITTIN’ TIME, JENNY!”

National anthem plays = time to go home. Cut. And. Dry. 

(I later learned that the anthem is played by the nearby military base to signal the end of the official duty day and also serves as a ceremony for paying respect to the flag.)


Sun setting in Eagle River at 11:00 pm. (This picture makes it look a lot darker than it actually was, too)

Anyway, usually for Sam, quittin’ time in the summer is when it gets dark. We turn around on our bikes to head home, cut the hike short, etc, based on when we’ll run out of light. I never realized how nice and important this check and balance (shall we say) is to not being totally exhausted all summer long! When it’s light until after 11 pm each night, by the time 8:30 pm comes and goes, we’re still left with this feeling of needing to do more, more, more. 

And even after 11, it’s not dark. It’s half-assed dark where you can still see light coming in through the window. This keeps me awake just long enough to think about what we might do tomorrow as I fall fast asleep.

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Biking in Denali

Hi Readers. I apologize for not posting much since Sam has gotten here. As you can imagine, our days and weekends have been packed with settling in to work, meeting new people, and finding exciting places to run, ski, bike, mountain bike, hike, etc, etc. It’s a little overwhelming that, for example, the nearest convenient after-work ride, entails climbing up a 4-mile 2,000 foot road only to enjoy a spectacular view of the valley, city of Anchorage, a few nearby mountain ranges, and the inlet at the top. Everything here is big, beautiful and generally awesome.

So anyway, I haven’t been not blogging due to a lack of fun things to share, I’ve just been too busy enjoying them to get on my computer (e.g. I literally haven’t opened my computer in weeks). I will try to be better! Anyway, here is my recap of last weekend. And, I miss you all! Book your tickets to visit! Bring some Greenbush doughnuts for me in your suitcase!

In continuing with our theme of the overwhelming amount of fun things to do in Alaska, some friends invited us on their annual Denali biking weekend. Sam and I had to think for oh, about half a second before we eagerly agreed to tag along.


Turns out that early May (I know, I’m late posting this) is the sweet spot for Denali biking: it’s after the roads are cleared and the temps have risen a bit, but before the tourist buses begin. Apparently, the buses make the dirt road not very fun to bike during the summer due to the frequency with which they drive by kicking up dust.

Anyway, we loaded Sam’s trusty baja to the brim and drove up to Denali on Friday night, making a pit stop for some delightfully unhealthy food at the Cadillac Cafe just outside of Wasilla, where we met the rest of the crew. We pulled into the Riley Creek campground around 11 pm, picked a campsite, and guess what? It was still light enough outside to set up our tents without turning on a single headlamp. How convenient! Meanwhile, someone struck up a campfire, and then we hung out until well after 2 in the morning, where it stayed relatively “dusky” the entire night. It was pretty great.

I woke up the next morning with a headache due to a few too many pulls off the ol’ Bulleit bottle, but we pulled on some bike clothes, packed lunches, and headed into the park nonetheless.


[This is the part where I do a poor job describing just how beautiful the park is and how fun of a day we had.] I’m not certain, but I think this may have been my first time at a national park, and now I wholeheartedly agree with that famous quote by Wallace Stegner, “The national parks are the best idea we ever had.” Well done, Roosevelt.

Anyway, the views of the Alaska Range were so great, the pictures do it no justice. It was sunny, the roads were dry (e.g. good biking), there were great people to get to know along the way, and we even got to see some wildlife: 4 grizzlies, 2 lynx (!!) and a bunch of caribou. It was a really great day. About 32 miles by the end of it – 16 hard ones going up, and then donning every item of clothing and a rain jacket to block the wind before flying back down.

The next most noteworthy thing about the trip was the magnificent preparedness our biking-mates came camping with. When we returned back to the campsite, they broke out delicious tacos (we’re talking spicy pulled chicken, seasoned black beans, guacamole, cilantro, chips, etc. and even lactose-free sour cream… capital A-mazing!) This was pretty awesome in itself. But it didn’t stop there. Next came out the fixin’s for these cilantro-lime vodka cocktails and/or another cocktail option (none of which I touched due to last night’s Bulleit misadventures…still).

The next day we packed up camp and drove to the quaint town of Talketna for some biscuits and gravy…mmm….. before heading back to Anchorage to unpack and scrub the layer of dirt off of every item that came with us.

Anyway, thanks a million to the wonderful, friendly group of adventurers who brought us with you!


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