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All Things EARTH... part 2


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I haven't really been busy but I haven't really been able to post much. With DH working from home, it's difficult to get into the office and think. He's in meetings virtually all day long...and I can't concentrate with all that racket going on. And with my new mini computer, I can't pick it up and take it into the other room! When he isn't here, I take that time to do things that make my own noise... I've been reading but just not posting much if I need a keyboard and want a bigger screen!

 

Laurie...beautiful photos. When you talk about not being ashamed of the aging process are you talking about your hair? You were letting it go natural, correct? I wanted to say earlier...I think you look fabulous. The aging process has given you some nice looking highlights IMO. I like how the lighter color in your hair is softer around your face. It's really lovely. It looks like you and your DD had a good time on your cruise.

 

Melody...Harmony was the last cruise that I was on in February 2020. I've also been on Allure on the TA I took with my parents. It's not a ship that I would want to take for every cruise but I must admit that I think it's a really great ship and I thoroughly enjoy it. As with most things in life, it all depends on your attitude. You always strike me as more ready to have fun than complain so I think you'll have a great time, especially with your big group, even if it's a one and done.

 

I will recommend that if anyone in your group has designs on riding the Flowrider that you get a lesson. You get one on one time with the instructors...one will be talking and one will be with you on the Flowrider. They meet you where you are, so if a total newbie, then a big help...and if more experienced, then they help you take your riding to the next level. I knew it would be a good idea when several people on the Royal boards talk about how they take a lesson EVERY TIME, because every time they get something out of it. These guys LOVE the Flowrider and will ride it a lot throughout the cruise, even renting private time.

 

Really look into all the dining options. Things may have changed a lot since COVID, but pre pandemic, for instance, for breakfast, you can eat complementary meals in the MDR and the buffet (of course), Johnny Rockets, the diner on the Sports Deck (made to order omelets), the Solarium (even kids can eat there), and maybe the Park Cafe too. There's a full on Starbucks on the Boardwalk too, if you love your lattes, etc.

 

It's a huge ship but it's very easy to navigate and toward that end, there are many many nooks and crannies to get away from people...or be with people...and I very rarely ever felt crowded anywhere.

 

Your itinerary does sound nice. And of course, you'll be right in my backyard if Harmony is still sailing out of PC.

 

Next up, we have a trip to the North Carolina Blue Ridge Mountain area on our actual 25th wedding anniversary. My FIL/MIL have gifted us with a few nights in a time share there with their points. We'll be hiking around Grandfather Mountain and also attending the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games, which should be a great time. Also, we got our first pick for backcountry permits for Glacier National Park in September, which is the big vacation we have planned in celebration of our anniversary.

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Anita Thanks for the info on Harmony. She’ll be porting out of Ft Lauderdale in December. Bummer, we could’ve met for coffee!!  We know the Port Canaveral area well after living at Patrick AFB. You’re right, I’m much more of a glass half full person
 

your Blue Ridge trip sounds wonderful!!  If you’ve never gone to any Highland Games you’re in for a real treat. I love the caber toss. Can’t wait to see pictures. Melody 

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It has been so long since I started writing and talking about Fairbanks…I hope everyone can forgive my lapse in posting about this. I’m going to pick up right where I left off, but first…a quick recap…

 

Having flown from Florida on Tuesday…to arrive in Fairbanks after midnight, Wednesday…checking into our hotel, sleeping, eating a wonderful breakfast at The Crepery across the street…we found ourselves walking around the Fountainhead Antique Automobile Museum, where so many pre-World War 2 automobiles along with the fashion of the times were on display in an extremely bright and shiny high-ceilinged warehouse type building…

 

Upcoming is one of my favorite fashion items in the museum…from the plaque in the museum:

 

“Linen Duster with Hood c.1910.

 

This ecru linen motoring coat with attached hood is the only duster in the collection that is hooded. At the back of the duster there is a self-belt with rope cord that allows it to be adjusted to fit. This rope cored is repeated around the hood to also permit its adjustment either over the bare head or a hat. The duster is unlined with wide cuffed sleeves and an accent button at the very top of its button closure. Not all dusters were as plain as this one. They were often made of silk with embroidery or a trimming of cord and braid. It is thought that the reason motoring coats were called “dusters” was because “dusters” were worn by cowboys to protect their clothing from trail dust. 

 

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I’m kind of floored by how timeless I feel this duster is. I think that someone of today could wear this which is one reason why I like it so much. I’ve been thinking about having a coat of sorts that would be modeled after this one. I’ve been debating the idea of a shorter hem for a sort of beach cover up in a lighter weight linen. Perhaps a rain coat, especially for Florida.

 

This is the vehicle displayed with the duster…

 

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“1914 Grant Model M Roadster

“The Grant was one of the first “compact” cars made in the United States.

“The Grand was advertised as the first high-grade motorcar to be sold under $500. It combined the light weight and low cost of cyclecars with the quality, durability, comfort and wide tread of standard automobiles. Very few Grants survive today.

 

“The Grant was one of the first cars to have a transaxle. Its suspension was somewhat unusual, with full-elliptics at the front and a transverse semi-elliptic at the rear. The bull-nosed radiator was designed to provide additional cooling for the engine. The dash was notable for its complete absence of instruments, leading one passenger to note, “One could certainly enjoy the scenery, as there were no instruments to watch.”

 

Other interesting to me info on the sign included a maximum speed of 50 mph with an average 30 mph. Only 3000 vehicles were manufactured. The factory price was $495. “The Standard Small Car.”

 

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I might share more from the museum but in the interest of continuing my story…

 

We were approaching overload as made our way to the 1930s…

 

Just as I thought that I might be ready to call it a day and start walking a little more purposefully through the field of vehicles, something would catch my eye and I would pause and at least look…but usually looking lead to reading or at least taking a picture of the sign…as we moved on to the exit…

 

There was an absolutely FABULOUS display of period hats available for purchase. I think they were made locally, or at least in the state of Alaska? But I can’t be sure. They aren’t listed on the museum gift store website. I happen to love hats but these were all felted wool or whatever that stiffer, thicker hat material is, which felt very winter to me…and I already have one of those which I really don’t wear here in Florida so I only purchased a patch as a souvenir from the auto museum.

 

Like all museums…or anything similar where there is SO MUCH to see and take in…there is only so much that you can actually see and take in before you just feel a bit dumb in the brain as you continue to tour. It makes me realize how nice museums are that have a café or something a garden or something where you can take a bit of a break and refresh to be able to continue looking. This museum is has nothing like that currently.

 

We were told by a docent that pre pandemic, in the Alaska gallery, but one of the more classic older vehicles that they used to offer those old time photos. There’s a wardrobe with period costumes and people could dress up and have their photo taken with that one vehicle. That would have been a great break from just looking at cars and fashion, interacting with others, watching their photographs, having your own photograph, etc.

 

The museum hours are limited in the winter. Only open two days a week for a half day. It was early afternoon when we left the museum. We were seriously ready for a nap. The effects of the late night/early morning arrival were catching up to us and so we headed back to the hotel to catch up on some much needed rest.

 

 

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It’s a good thing we set that “just in case” alarm…

 

Even when you are so tired, it can take a while to relax into sleep. It was like wired tired…feeling the excitement of finally getting to be in Fairbanks. We chilled out for a bit with our screens and were finally falling asleep. We set alarms for the unlikely event that we didn’t wake up to go our evening aurora borealis viewing activity.

 

HA!

 

That alarm woke me out of a deep sleep.

 

I could barely remember where I was, let alone WHY I was waking up from such wonderful sleep in such a lovely dark room…until I remembered and it was like a jolt of energy jerked me fully awake and ready to go.

 

There are a HUGE range of choices for aurora borealis chasing activities in Fairbanks. It is considered to be a prime location for viewing. There are photographers that will take you out on a private, or small enough to fit in a larger passenger vehicle, tour. They will drive you around ALL NIGHT going to locations that they are familiar with to try to see the Northern Lights. They will offer you instruction on the use of your own camera, or lend you a camera of their own. They will take and print a professional quality photograph of you/your group with the lights in the background. These often begin anywhere between 9-10 pm and last until 4 am, when they start to take you back to your hotel, so you may arrive between 5-6 am. And they can cost up to $300 pp.

 

Others are location specific. I was very interested in one that left from a hot springs resort located about 60-90 minutes outside Fairbanks. Then they take you on further into the wilderness to a high point where there is a dry building in which you can keep warm and where pit facilities allow you to relieve yourself. That one lasted until 3 or 4 am with no exceptions to leave early…and you would still have a 60-90 minute drive to get back to your bed…

 

I wasn’t so enamored of seeing the Northern Lights that I was willing to wipe myself out in order to do so. I had many activities lined up in Fairbanks and while seeing the aurora borealis was the impetus in deciding that this was the vacation that I wanted to celebrate my 50th birthday, I wasn’t so interested that I was willing to sacrifice my days for such nights.

 

So I was very excited to find a very simple aurora borealis viewing opportunity.

 

https://www.aurorapointe.net

 

This is a metal-type community building located on a bluff just outside Fairbanks. It’s a type of event center equipped with long tables in a largely otherwise open room, where some people may have receptions and other similar gatherings and events. For a much more affordable cost than anything else I found, you could arrive at 10 pm, or AT LEAST by 11 pm (so your arriving headlights don’t disturb potential viewing) and stay until 2 am. But nothing would prevent you from leaving earlier, if you so desired. You could bring whatever you wanted with you to entertain yourself while waiting for the lights to appear. A video feed alerts the group to the aurora activity. Outside is a gas fueled fire where you can also hang out. Non-alcoholic refreshments and fresh baked cookies are provided. There would also be a bit of an informative talk to teach you about the science of the northern lights. Supposedly, there would also be some tips on photography offered.

 

THIS was right up my alley. I figured that this would be a good introduction and having researched other places where there is good potential viewing around the area, if we so chose, we could just drive ourselves around later.

 

I think we had set the alarm for 8:30 pm. We were speedy, but not harried, as we layered up and gathered our stuff. We were not alone. So many people heading out. Everyone layered up and so many tripod and cameras in evidence. The lobby was packed and we weren’t alone in the elevator.

 

We needed food. Fast food. TACO BELL!!!

 

Is that sad? DH and I love Taco Bell…we sing Ba-co, Ba-co Teeeeeeeeelll. I like to eat, some Bacoooh Tell to the tune of Macho Man.

 

We managed to squeak inside right before the dining room shut down for drive thru service only, the line of which, had built up quickly. We were feeling grateful for our timing.

 

And then we headed out to Aurora Pointe.

 

I am not an expert photographer. I’m not even a skilled hobbyist, though I would like to be. I fancy myself more with an artistic eye and hope my camera can capture what I see, but I’m still learning how to get the camera to see what I see in the way I want the captured image to appear. I admit that life gets in the way of all my lofty goals for self-education. I need to take a class, but I’m not so gung ho that I’ve done that yet. 

 

I did watch some YouTube. LOL.

 

And I consulted with Kim and Margaret from these boards when I was seeking out a camera that would be able to take some quality photos of the aurora borealis. I ended up purchasing a new to be Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FZ1000, which is a very fancy point and shoot (it kind of looks like it should have changeable lenses) with a 1” sensor that is touted as being EXCELLENT for low light photography. It has so many bells and whistles that it will take me dedicated study to figure out all of its capabilities.

 

I also needed a tripod.

 

OMG…have you ever tried shopping for a tripod? Which materials are best for cold weather? What travels well? On and on. And the expense!

 

My parents knew I needed a tripod.

 

And low and behold, on one of their neighborhood’s oversized trash pick-up days, someone had tossed a tripod that had one single flaw. The locking lever for raising the camera higher than the height of the tripod itself didn’t work. Not. A. Problem.

 

So THANKS DAD for “dumpster diving” for his grateful daughter! They brought the tripod out when they visited for Christmas and New Year’s. It’s actually a nice tripod.

 

I LOOKED like I knew what I was doing. LOL.

 

Like everyone else, we settled in at a long table. Unlayered a bit. And I set up my camera.

 

The lecture about the northern lights was basic. As near as I can remember, it has to do with the interaction of flares from the sun and our planet’s magnetic field. Solar flares travel on solar waves and when they hit our magnetic field they are directed towards our north or south poles. In the north, we have the northern lights, or the aurora borealis. In the south, they have the aurora australis. Depending on the chemical composition of the waves, different colors appear, most often, green.

 

There are different tools out there that forecast the likelihood of the occurrence of the aurora borealis. We learned that the previous night, the night of our arrival, was spectacular. Oh well. There was still a good likelihood for this night.

 

DH and I went outside. I took a few photos. Like I would know what sort of adjustments might need to be made…

 

And headed back inside for a cookie, or two, which were excellent and continuously being baked. 

 

It wasn’t too long into the night when the video feed began to show that light activity was beginning.

 

If you can imagine from your school days…the entire room stands up and starts to put on their layers and head out in a nice and orderly fashion to the area for viewing the lights.

 

Dim-Aurora.jpg

 

And then they petered out.

 

And most people headed back inside.

 

And DH and I looked at each other and were like…huh.

 

It felt sort of ridiculous to go through all that rigmarole based on a video feed. So we decided to hang out. Because our layers were WORKING…and we weren’t too cold. There was one other couple that also stayed. And sure enough…

 

One trick for taking your photo in front of the lights is to have a flashlight type light shining onto the people, so that you can see them better in the photo. It’s the difference between a photo like this:

 

Dark-Anita.jpg

 

And a photo like this:
 

LitAnita.jpg                                             

 

Which, admittedly...still isn't all that great at this point. But I was grateful to the photographer from the other couple that shown the light on me while DH took the picture.

 

It took a while for the group to emerge…and when they did, the organizer set up a camera and was taking photos of people with the northern lights in the background. I had set up in a prime location so I was booted from it and asked to move over. And unfortunately, some of my photos were then affected by their lights. I did manage to move around and get away from them eventually.

 

I posted that first not so great photo to show that my photography improved rapidly. I did play around a bit with my ISO setting and managed to take these photos over the course of the evening.

 

Aurora1.jpg

 

Aurora2.jpg

 

Aurora3.jpg

 

Aurora4.jpg

 

The lights were receding and so almost the entire group left for the relative comfort of the event center. There were 5 of us that stayed.

 

So 5 of us were outside and in the prime viewing spot for when the lights DANCED across the sky in a beautiful arch. That was impossible for me to catch photographically but it is stored in my memory.

 

Aurora5.jpg

 

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Aurora7.jpg

 

Here’s the interesting thing about the aurora borealis.

 

Unless they are exceeding active…they are WHITE. It takes a while for our eyes to adjust to the light to be able to perceive the light. The camera has no such issues and so even when the light is white to our eyes, when you take a photo of it…the camera captures the color.

 

The dancing lights were amazing…and only 5 of us were able to see them.

 

All too soon it was time to pack up and head back to the hotel for more much needed sleep. We were quite pleased with our aurora viewing. We were grateful to have seen what we saw and felt that we had had a good night.  

 

 

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Kat...we are super excited about Glacier. Our first choice was a good compromise between quality of lake fishing and darkness of skies for star gazing. Also, it's about an 8 mile hike to the campsite BUT there's less than 1000 ft elevation gain/loss...it's a relatively flat hike. BUT it passes through some fun landmarks including a ranger station and you get to cross a suspension bridge so...pretty well suited for us low landers who are in the beginning stages of getting our backpacking bodies back.

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1 hour ago, Anita Latte said:

Kat...we are super excited about Glacier. Our first choice was a good compromise between quality of lake fishing and darkness of skies for star gazing. Also, it's about an 8 mile hike to the campsite BUT there's less than 1000 ft elevation gain/loss...it's a relatively flat hike. BUT it passes through some fun landmarks including a ranger station and you get to cross a suspension bridge so...pretty well suited for us low landers who are in the beginning stages of getting our backpacking bodies back.

I went to Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP for the star gazing.  Really good, even with the smoke coming in from a big wildfire.    Were you thinking of driving down to Yellowstone?  Keep an eye on it - the massive flooding of the rivers have decimated big parts of Yellowstone and the surrounding northern towns.  

As for the altitude gain - i live at 6500 ft and work at 8100 ft and i still have issues...

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Definitely not planning on Yellowstone. Way before all the recent flooding and damage, DH and I decided that there was plenty to see and do in and around Glacier. We’re already feeling pressed to narrow down what we want to see and do!

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3 hours ago, Anita Latte said:

Definitely not planning on Yellowstone. Way before all the recent flooding and damage, DH and I decided that there was plenty to see and do in and around Glacier. We’re already feeling pressed to narrow down what we want to see and do!

It seems no matter where we go, we are pressured to narrow down what we want to see and do!!!   

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Anita, that is a bucket list item for me.  Seeing your pictures just reminds me that I need to really start researching this.  Are they elusive or commonplace?  I'm just wondering if I planned a trip around aurora borealis is easy to do, or difficult.

 

Your pictures are stunning.  Your discussion about the dancing lights reminded me that so many time, we miss out on the beauty that nature provides us.  When we went to the Grand Canyon, I can still see the stars, and how much bigger, brighter, and three dimensional they were.

 

Nothing ever takes the place of a beautiful memory.

 

I'm jumping around here a bit, but by aging gracefully, I think it is about just feeling good about yourself, instead of saying that I'm 57, and my hair is turning gray and I've got wrinkles and my weight is being stubborn, and....you get the picture.  It's about feeling comfortable with who I am.

 

That duster does seem like something you can see being worn now, I agree.  I think it is pretty neat looking.  I was noticing the button.  As someone who grew up sewing and not having much, I was used to saving buttons off of clothing that needed to be tossed.  You never knew when you might need a button. I loved when I was sewing and could choose some of these great buttons.  I still have my buttons too!

 

Melody, I went on Allure before.  It is beautiful, with tons of things to do.  The aqua show is a must see. Central Park was quite impressive too.  We ate at Chops and Giovanni's on different nights, and if you get a table near the entrance, it gives you that feeling you are eating at an outdoor cafe.

 

Once thing that was not my favorite was feeling more closed in.  I had trouble finding those quiet areas where you could watch the water, but it was also a port intensive 7 night cruise.  We were catching shows and doing all sorts of things when we were onboard, so I don't think we explored as much as we should have.  If you have a FitBit, wear it and watch how quickly you get to 10,000 steps!

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We’re looking forward to being on Harmony with family. Neither of us like the big crowds, so that’ll be interesting.  We’ve bought a 3 night dining package & plan on Chops (Les loves their ribeye) & Jamie’s Italian (No Giovanni’s on Harmony). Maybe the hibachi place. We have an ocean balcony on 7 (with a mega balcony). I couldn’t get a junior suite (but I’m sure we’ll be fine). The rest of our group is up on 11, so we’ll get our quiet time. Good itinerary. Aruba, Curacao & Labadee with 5 sea days. Love sea days!!  Melody

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Melody…is your whole family doing the dining package? We got the big specialty dining package when we went and ate almost everyday in specialty dining. We didn’t eat at the Hibachi place but we ate twice at 150 Central Park. The atmosphere in that restaurant is quiet and lovely. If it’s just you and Les, it would feel like a major break from being around people, especially if you could snag one of the tables along the outer windows. The food was excellent and service top notch. I remember reading some negative things about it but we enjoyed our meal there, and I don’t have as much comparative dining experiences to be more disappointed, kwim? but the hard floor made for a noisier atmosphere. I’d still eat there again but it doesn’t feel like as much of a getaway dining experience.

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Our first meeting with our great grand dog. Sir Winston is a 10 wk old Bassett hound, he’s 26 lbs (but look at those paws). So cute. Melody

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Melody…somehow I must have deleted one or two sentences before posting. Excellent food and service referred to 150 Central Park. Then, reading negative reviews and everything after that referred to Jamie’s. What’s missing there is…We ate at Jamie’s and enjoyed our meal there. I’d read some negative reviews…etc.

 

idk if you’ve read any more recent Jamie’s reviews but before our Feb 2020 cruise, there were several that viewed Jamie’s as inferior to other Italian choices on other Royal/Celebrity ships.

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Ugh…so my point is that Jamie’s is

nice and smaller but because of the noise level…doesn’t feel as much as a break from being around people. 150 Cental Park has a more library feel in my memory. 

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We’re thinking Chops, 150 Central Park, Jaimie’s (at lunch) & maybe hibachi. Our airfare was ridiculously expensive (more than we paid for  first class in April & this is Southwest, not happy but…

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Jaimie’s is a great place for lunch! In the non-cruise ship world that’s exactly when I would be wanting to eat there. 
 

Also…if you are hot dog fans? Or sausage? The hot dog place in the boardwalk is complementary and really good.

 

Also, the Mexican place on the Boardwalk? I hope my memory isn’t failing me but i think they’re menu is a la carte? Really tasty margaritas, yummy guacamole and I THINK I liked the chicken tortilla soup… perfect light lunch and fun to eat there in the more open air restaurant.

 

That’s why Johnny Rockets can be fun to eat breakfast at…because you eat outside on the Boardwalk. I generally prefer dining al fresco even in the days before COVID. Especially for breakfast and lunch. It’s invigorating and feels nice to have what I think of as “live air.”

 

The Solarium is the same way. That one is best when the weather is less attractive because you can find fully shaded tables “outside” in the solarium. On Harmony, there isn’t a pool but I think somehow there’s the sound of water. I can’t recall what exactly it is though.

 

The Wave Cafe? Whatever it is on the sports deck is a bit of a hidden gem because few seem to go there for breakfast and yet that’s where the made to order omelets are. You can sit many places up there in the totally open air. Read…can be windy.

 

As you can see…I do put a high value on the overall experience and count atmosphere high on my list.

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Anita, thanks for the hint on the Wave Cafe, love a good omelet. Sabor is the Mexican, they have fabulous guac & excellent margaritas

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It’s now Thursday morning.

 

The pattern I planned for our first few days in Alaska was for the morning to have a paid for planned excursion type outing. The afternoon was flexible. I could choose between several different museums, etc., depending on energy levels, mood, and weather.

 

Today’s morning involved a 2-hour guided snow machine ride, beginning at 10:30 AM in North Pole, AK…less than 30 minutes away. They asked that you arrive 30 minutes prior to your planned time so that you could sort through proper outerwear, which they have available…from gloves to shoes and everything in between and generally be ready to GO when it was time to GO.

 

I wasn’t initially jazzed about snow machining. BTW, this is what it is called in Alaska…not snow mobiles…snow machines.

 

In a somewhat contradictory way, when the snow arrives in Alaska, transportation is much easier. In the winter, all the waterways freeze over and then the added snow pack creates a highway that is much easier to navigate than many roads…and actually provides transportation to places that are otherwise only reachable by air. Snow machines are extremely practical in Alaska and I would even say they might be considered essential by some.

 

I didn’t have a clear idea of what it would be like to do a snow machine ride until I read one particular review that talked about the trails and seeing wildlife and getting into the wilderness. With that picture in mind…I thought it would be a fun, less physically taxing way to get into nature. Ice fishing was already on my list with this company and they offered a discount if you purchased more than one excursion with them, so it was a bit of a no brainer to book a snow machine excursion with them as well.

 

https://rodsalaskanguideservice.rezgo.com

 

I booked the 2-hour excursion because I had read so many reports of people who wished they had booked the 2-hour excursion because the 1-hour seemed so short by the time you really got going.

 

We set an alarm before crashing the night before. We walked across the street to have happy breakfast at The Crepery again...trying different crepes, and again loving our breakfast. 

 

I may enjoy my lattes, but DH is a serious coffee drinker. He has a serious caffeine habit and can suffer if he doesn’t get his caffeine intake. As much as we in the lower 48 may love a Starbucks drive thru…in much of Alaska…and definitely in Fairbanks…coffee huts rule.

 

Coffee huts are the café equivalent of tiny houses. Picture a backyard shed with a drive up window. Tweak that a little, or a lot, with character and a catchy name and at least one drive up window and you have a coffee hut. We hit Golden Heart Espresso on the way out of Fairbanks…

 

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And DH was a happy coffee-er.

 

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He was also a happy 4WD 4Runner driver down this washboard snow/ice packed road. If I didn't mention it before...the 4Runner was already in 4WD when we picked it up and we left it in 4WD for the entirety of our trip.

 

3834-D91-E-4476-4-CD0-A7-C4-29-EB033-B80

 

Beautiful, gorgeous day to be outside!

 

Upon arrival, we checked in and were told that all was well with our chosen attire...except they didn’t think our snow mittens were a good fit for snow machining, so we did use their gloves. For the record…I was wearing a 250 weight Smartwool ¼ zip base layer, a full zip fleece midlayer, insulated snow bibs, my trusty Roffe skiing jacket from my Colorado living days (96-99), a handknitted wool beanie (purchased at an Arts&Crafts festival in downtown Winston-Salem), my fleece-lined and extra long buff, expedition weight Darn Tough OTC socks, and my Xero brand snow boots. I also had glove liners…which I told would be handy if you wanted to take pictures in cold weather and you didn’t want to have completely naked hands. Here we are:

 

B4-FC5-A88-E682-4870-971-C-4-AF8-A2-CCB9

 

Note the loop in the background. After being instructed on the basic workings of the snow machine, we were instructed to drive around the loop until we were told to stop driving around the loop. Basically, we were all observed and when we were all deemed to be doing well enough, we stopped again and our guide ordered our group. IIRC there were 6-7 of us…all the foreign tourists couples/individuals were in front of me, then me, then a couple with a male driver behind me, and then DH. I happen to know that DH was placed in the back not only because his showed great capability in driving but also because of the distinctive color of his outerwear. The rest of us were ranked according to perceived skill.

 

There were MANY foreign tourists here. Most had the appearance of being from the Far East, which makes sense geographically. We could clearly see that communication could be challenging at check in. There was a bit of a language hurdle. Verifying who were the licensed drivers among the group was also challenging. You could book the excursion as a driver and a passenger. The cost was slightly less. We were booked as two drivers.

 

One thing we were warned about in specific was to stay on the roads/trails where the nice hard pack snow was located. Veer off trail and you would quickly find yourself thigh deep in powdery snow and it could take a tremendous amount of time to dig you out.

 

Stay on the trail!

 

With a reminder to leave good space between the snow machines…we set off!

 

Immediately, two things became clear. 

 

1. You don’t need to hit the brakes. Easing up on the gas will result in an immediate slowing, which is usually enough “braking” if you felt the need to reduce speed. 

 

2. On a straight away…a loose grip on the handlebars is best. Where we were, there were some worn grooves in the roads/trails…these caused the front skids to bounce around a bit because the grooves weren’t necessarily straight. If you tried to keep your handlebars perfectly straight, you’d be fighting the “road” constantly, so a looser grip would allow the skids to feel their way through the grooves while you basically looked like you were driving perfectly straight.

 

Sadly, the lone male foreign tourist didn’t pick up on that fact. He was directly in front of me. I could see him struggling. And then, somewhere around 5-10 minutes down the trail…he went off road. Just a few feet but he was deep in the snow. He sort of stopped and I thought, Whew. Didn’t look too bad.

 

But he must have thought…this isn’t too bad…I’ll get myself back on the trail.

 

He hit the gas again and went deeper into the snow. He stopped and I thought, Just stop Dude.

 

But then he started again and just about ran into the treeline.

 

Not knowing what else to do as the rest of the party continued on…I just came to a stop and the guys behind me all agreed and stopped too. The whole line stopped soon enough and our guide comes back to see what the deal is…lo and behold…she wades out into the drift and talks to the guy who end ups being a passenger on her snow machine.

 

And off we go again.

 

We’re a bit more down the trail…having a jolly time…and we see these lone riders coming towards us. Well, the guide did…I was too far behind…they were too far ahead. All I know is that we stopped for hot minute.

 

Then we started up again.

 

And then the guide really freaked out…

 

“I told you to stay there! I said wait here!”

 

But that language issue…

 

What was supposed to happen was that we were supposed to wait for her where she had first stopped while she went ahead to meet the lone couple on the snow machine who happened to somehow lose their group, were lost in the forest and trying to make their way back. If you were wondering…they were foreign tourists too. Instead, when she started up again…we all played follow the leader and kept following her…because she only told the people in front to not go…we were all properly spaced out with good room…but they didn’t understand the message.

 

The challenge is that it’s complicated to put these machines into reverse…

 

So now we’re burning time while our guide has to literally turn everyone’s machines around.

 

Photo opportunity…

 

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2563-E5-E6-C00-A-4-DD2-8359-57-A53997-C7

 

As she came to turn my machine around…I said to our guide, “Rough day at the office…”

 

She said, “You have no idea…”
 

The couple between DH and I had also purchased the 2-hour guide session…but apparently all the others had only purchased the 1-hour session. And after all these mishaps…it was basically time to head back to the office and drop them off.

 

Our guide assured us that we were about to have some real fun now…

 

And boy did we ever!

 

Up to this point, we had never left the park service road…which I’m sure is just a dirt/gravel road…but NOW, we were on what is basically a hiking trail.

 

The scenery was stunning. I love to hike. And this motorized hike through a wilderness blanketed in snow was breathtaking. We were warned that sunglasses with the helmets could be uncomfortable, so we weren't wearing them while riding. I didn’t need, nor want, my visor on my helmet because I didn’t want to be separated in that way from my environment.

 

We wove our way through the trees and upon a wider stretch of trail really opened up and went speeding along and went out onto the frozen surface of Chena Lake. There, our guide disabled the governors on our snow machines and we were able to speed around the lake and explore to about 10-15 minutes. Like children, we just needed to stay within eye sight of our guide.

 

I can’t recall exactly how fast I went…the governor kept us at or under 55 mph…and I think that I pushed up to 70, but not over. DH’s number made my eyes pop out…

 

What. A. Blast.

 

74-EA37-D4-F70-A-41-C1-9416-38-FA0571-CD

 

All too soon it was time to head back.

 

We had arrived earlier than we needed to but we tend toward that rather than risk being late. The people here, like everyone we had met so far, were exceedingly friendly, open and quite willing to talk about living in Alaska, etc. Both before and after our ride we had fun just talking all the different people working there. I highly recommend this guide service.

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Awesome!  I love snow ‘machining’. Our niece lives in upstate New Hampshirite & we ride with them anytime we’re back in winter, it’s a hoot!  Nothing like flying on a frozen lake!! 

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Snowmobiling...I mean snow machining!  That is very common here in the winter.  I've never done it myself, but it looks like a lot of fun.  I'm glad you enjoyed it, Anita!  I love hearing about your trip.  My husband and I continue to talk about Alaska all the time.  For me, it is very clear that this is at the top of his list, as far as a bucket list goes.  It is high up on mine as well.  

 

I never really had a bucket list, so to speak.  In the past ten years, we have talked about things that we really want to do someday, and it has slowly morphed into an unofficial bucket list, written in pencil.  🙂

 

Some things on my list: Hawaii (not sure if we would fly there or cruise there), Alaska, seeing aurora borealis, going to see the Red Sox play at as many different stadiums as we can.  Going to Disney with my grandson.

 

Right now, we are talking about a cruise to Alaska probably in about 5 years.  My husband has a thing about not taking more than one week at a time of vacation time, so it will be when he or both of us have just retired.  There are no plans for Hawaii, but that has been something I have wanted to do for as long as I can remember.  With the baseball games, well, that is really all about money. 

 

We are trying to establish balance in our lives, and have been saving very diligently for retirement.  I think the big thing with us as that neither of us was in a situation where we could save much when we were younger.  Our income was lower, and we were living mostly paycheck to paycheck.  We are so proud of all we have accomplished, but we are also feeling the pressure as we get older.  

 

I do find that spring going into summer and fall always gives me added incentive, and an overwhelming desire to do things. It has made me wonder how we would feel living somewhere warm all year round.

 

Flying and travel in general is so expensive right now.  I"m glad I booked the cruise with my daughter well in advance, as well as the one with my husband for October.  But that also gets me thinking about little things we can be doing now, locally.  so we scheduled some long weekends in order to do that.  

 

We had a four day weekend last week, with the intention that we may do some little things, like go to a movie and so forth.  As it turns out, the windows that were not supposed to be until August were ready, so we used on day to be home for the installation.  Then the next day involved all the blinds and drapes being put back, as well as the guy that was sealing our driveway calling with a last minute cancellation. So we had that done.  We did take a drive on Monday though, and we stopped at a favorite place for lunch.   

 

I always tell my husband that any day with him is a good day.   🙂  

 

And....we had scheduled a three day weekend for this weekend too!  As it turned out, my car lease was coming up and we decided to stop at the dealership...which ended up being half a day.  And then my husband's best friend is in town for a car show with his son, so they have been out and about for two days.  We are going to a local baseball game next weekend, so there's that.

 

Anita, do you find yourself feeling busier, living in Florida?  This goes back to what I was saying earlier.  I think just the idea that it is like summer all year, and if I have wondered if I would be more active.  I think one of the key things to think about is the fact that right now, my husband and I work full time plus extra hours, so it is hard for me to compare.

 

I'm babbling, aren't I?   🙂   

 

I ordered that orange print Rachel Roy maxi dress.  When it came in, I was a bit thrown off at first because it is more of a dusty peach color than orange.  I should probably say powdery - think of the shade of orange being lightened with white.  The print is a bit different for me also.

 

I tried it on, and it feels really well.  It feels like "me" once I have it on.  The little triangle cutout in the front is really a non issue, but I was trying to think how I felt about it.  Then I realized that because I am more endowed on top than the typical model, all my bras would show a little bit.  This is the band of the bra that I am referring to.  So I have been the fence.  I tried it on, and my daughter said "Mom, just bring it to Sharon and she can put a little piece of mesh there.  You're never gonna see the band sneaking through, and you will feel better about the cutout."

 

She is so right too.  I really, really love the dress, so I think that is the way to go. I could do it myself, without bringing it to the tailor.  I just need to get my hands on some mesh.  So I have it hanging up, tags still on while I decide for sure.  

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Laurspag - I have followed this board for years but rarely post.  But reading your last post, I feel like I had to comment.

 

I have been a travel agent for 45 years.  I have heard so many people say that when so and so retires, they are going to do that trip and this trip.   Then something happens to one of them and their plans of travel fall apart.  Their dream trips never materialize.

 

Don’t let that happen to you!  If you really want to go someplace, just do it!  You don’t know what the future holds, so just go!  It sounds like you have well laid plans, but…what if something happens to one of you?

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