Tag Archives: Anchorage

“Oh, well. Guess the marriage is over!”

It’s been an odd week. This past Wednesday a big wind storm hit our fair city of Anchorage. Gusts built up to Hurricane speeds, and some people are even admitting to winds hitting 130 miles per hour. But, as the city has been joking since, it wasn’t really a hurricane. It was just Wednesday.

There was a lot of awesome damage around town. No, like really awesome. Totally cool. Visit the Anchorage Daily News site for some cool photos. I haven’t heard too much about lots of serious damage or injuries, though, which is a good thing. The biggest issue people have had since the storm is power. Lots of people are either still without or are just getting their power back at their houses.

Our damage here at our house was minimal as well, and luckily nothing happened that will take money out of our pockets. We lost a few shingles (which is fine because we’re signed up to replace the roof anyway) and we were smart enough to protect all our outdoor plants and such beforehand. There is only one, sad, difference to our house before and after storm.

This was how the front yard looked last winter, here’s what it looks like now…

Something’s missing…

Now, this tree wasn’t just any tree. It was a Blue Spruce. But beyond that, it was special.

When we first moved in, the tree wasn’t there. It was planted years later, by my parents.

Not being much for tradition, or even celebration, they decided on their 10th wedding anniversary to actually do something – they planted that tree.

My parents are celebrating their 27th wedding anniversary this September, and that tree has stood in front of our house for 17 years: enduring the cold, bracing against the wind, sparkling with Christmas lights until it grew too tall to cover, providing homes and resting places to birds. The yard looks empty without it.

Yet, when it first happened (at about 10:30 at night, just after beginning to head up to bed), Smidget joked [hence the post title] and we all laughed, but with a heavy heart and tired eyes.

It think this photo sums the whole storm up rather well…

Slowly but surely, we’re picking up the pieces. The city is coming back together again. Wood lots around town are filling up, and fence and roof repair companies are getting plenty of business. The wind, although still around, has died down. And, don’t worry, Smidget and Dad are still all lovey-dovey. It’s disgustingly wonderful.

Rondy…Rendezvous…Come on!

Over the past few weeks, a celebration in downtown Anchorage has been continuously raising the spirits of those of us living in the Alaskan city during the long mid-winter. This celebration is known as Fur Rendezvous, or Fur Rondy, or even just Rondy for short. This year, Alaskans celebrated the 77th Rondy, pinning the start of the celebrations back in 1935.

4th Ave in Downtown Anchorage

The Rondy website gives this brief introduction into the festival that is Fur Rondy:

“The Fur Rondy Festival is a significant part of the history and tradition of Anchorage. In the mid 1930’s, Anchorage was just a small town of about 3,000 people that stretched between Park Strip and Ship Creek. There were no televisions, malls or movie theaters, no video games, iPods or computers, not even an Iditarod! Winters were brutal and stoking fires, shoveling snow, and surviving the elements was the basic daily pastime in those days.

Vern Johnson, the father of the Fur Rendezvous, was a likeable, outgoing Anchorage citizen with a keen understanding of social conditions. He and his friends decided to establish a 3-day Festival to coincide with the time that the miners and trappers came to town with their winter’s yield. It began as a three-day sports tournament on February 15, 16 and 17, 1935 and featured skiing, hockey, basketball, boxing and a children’s sled dog race down Fourth Avenue. Nearly the entire population of Anchorage turned out for the bonfire and torchlight parade.

Since then, the Fur Rendezvous has earned national and international notoriety, and visitors from throughout the world descend on Anchorage every February.”

Since I’ve been off at school during February for the past four years, my family hasn’t done much participating in the festivities. When my brother and I were young we used to go just about every year, but it had been a long time since we had last seen the fireworks, the Running of the Reindeer, or even Canstruction. (Running of the Reindeer is just what it sounds like: it’s basically the Running of the Bulls, but with a Reindeer. Canstruction is something the local state University’s engineering club puts on. Students build sculptures out of canned good and donate profits to charities.) This year Dad and I ventured downtown, picked up some of the necessary Rondy pins, and checked out some of the festivities.

Every year a new pin is released for Rondy. The profits from sales go to charities, but if you don't get a pin and are at a Rondy event the Keystone Cops can "arrest" you!

The festival lasted from February 24 – March 4 this year, and with more days to celebrate winter comes more activities to check out. These past few weeks have been kind of nuts around the house (I’m starting to get a spring on Spring Cleaning, but more on that later. Maybe.) so Dad and I were only able to catch the tail end of what there is to see at Rondy. There were two main events that I recall/recognize from pictures of when I was younger that I wanted to see this year – The Snow Sculptures and The Ceremonial Start of the Iditarod.

So guess what I’m sharing first?!

For the Snow Sculpture Competition, each team or person is provided with an 8ftx8ftx8ft block of compacted snow out of which they create some incredible things. Those who are winners for Division 1 (aka a team of three, 21+ years of age) get to compete at US Nationals for Alaska. Here’s a brief glimpse of what the sculptures looked like this year, along with the title and sculptor’s/team’s name.

*Side note: It’s difficult to get good pictures of snow sculptures because of the bright white of the snow, but it was even harder to do so on a grey skied day (it was cloudy, no matter how blue the sky may look in some pictures), so with editing some of the pictures do actually look like snow, others maybe not so much. But it is indeed all snow. Have I mentioned how much snow we’ve gotten this winter? Over 120 inches of snow. There was plenty for these masterpieces. Anyway, on to the pictures!

This is what the sculptor's had to work with. This one wasn't used by the time the competition was over, so it became a graffiti block.

Peace! by the Call Family

Halo Kitty by team Halo Kitty

Call of the Wild by the Service Partners Club

Detail on the husky's tail on Call of the Wild

Something Miner by Resident Genius

Detail of the little miner in Something Miner

Another side of Something Miner

Until Tomorrow by Sneeuw

Another view of the head and tail of Until Tomorrow

Waiting for the Thaw by ArcticStone.ca

Detail of some of the bears in Waiting for the Thaw

Whole Lot of Shakin Going on by team 3 Dudes from Alaska. This sculpture/team won first place in Division 1 this year and will go on to represent Alaska in the 2013 National Snow Sculpture Competition!

Check out some of the details of Whole Lot of Shakin Going On, including this little guy popping out of the piano. Also, the squirrel, just chillin

The widdle walrus

He's so excited he kicked over and broke his stool!

Details from another angle. Check out the sheet music! Did I mention this sculpture was my favorite this year?

There will be a few more posts on winter-time activities up here in Alaska, including more Rondy and some information on the incredible journey that is the Iditarod. Keep on coming back for more!

Fur Rendezvous sign hanging over 4th Avenue

Meandering Moose

It snowed a lot this past week, in fact Anchorage has gotten over 100 inches of snow this year – almost a new record. If we get a little over 30 more inches this winter we will break the old one. Winter Wonderland stays well after Christmas up here.

A few days ago my Dad was washing dishes and looked out the window above the sink to find two moose munching on our precious raspberry bushes. Turns out these two had traipsed their way through the front yard and made their trek to our backyard for a bit of a snack. Luckily, they moved away from our raspberry bushes by the time I had fetched my camera and instead decided to partake in our neighbor’s tree that hangs over the fence.

See? The snow is so high it’s tickling this poor boy’s belly. And he’s huge!

He went over to our rose bush, under the pine tree, and joined his buddy who had just gotten a face full of snow off the branches. Sorry for the awkward glare, I was inside (as one should be when photographing moose at this close) and didn’t realize the glare was so prominent until it was too late.

Rusty has decided he won’t let those moose sneak up on us any more, so he’s going to keep watch of the front lawn from his little window perch. Besides, if there are any new moose that wander through, Rusty can take em down. 😛

There you have it – just another winter day in Anchorage, complete with moose.

Anchorage in Fall

I love fall. It’s just so beautiful.