Tuesday, September 2, 2014

ALASKA- Summer Hours Bring Lots of Flowers

During the summer months, there is lots of sunshine. The longest days in June are 17 hours plus. We got around 15 with sunset after 10 PM. Great for traveling! Of course, the downside is in the winter when in December there is less than 3 hours of daylight. All that darkness! Ugh!

I guess that's why there are flowers everywhere now. Here are some of my favorite examples of the beautiful flowers I saw around Alaska. Capture and enjoy the light while you can!! The flowers are adding to the beauty of the scenery...


Monday, September 1, 2014

ALASKA- The Pipeline and The Fairbanks Ice Museum

The Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) includes the trans-Alaska crude-oil pipeline, 11 pump stations, several hundred miles of feeder pipelines, and the Valdez Marine Terminal. TAPS is one of the world's largest pipeline systems. It is commonly called the Alaska pipeline, trans-Alaska pipeline, or Alyeska pipeline, (or the pipeline as referred to in Alaska), but those terms technically apply only to the 800 miles of the pipeline with the diameter of 48 inches that conveys oil from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez, Alaska. The crude oil pipeline is privately owned by the Alyeska Pipeline Service Company.

The pipeline was built between 1974 and 1977 after the 1973 oil crisis caused a sharp rise in oil prices in the United States. This rise made exploration of the Prudhoe Bay oil field economically feasible. Environmental, legal, and political debates followed the discovery of oil at Prudhoe Bay in 1968, and the pipeline was built only after the oil crisis provoked the passage of legislation designed to remove legal challenges to the project.

The task of building the pipeline had to address a wide range of difficulties, stemming mainly from the extreme cold and the difficult, isolated terrain. The construction of the pipeline was one of the first large-scale projects to deal with problems caused by permafrost, and special construction techniques had to be developed to cope with the frozen ground. The project attracted tens of thousands of workers to Alaska, causing a boom town atmosphere in Valdez, Fairbanks, and Anchorage.

The first barrel of oil traveled through the pipeline in 1977, and full-scale production began by the end of the year. Several notable incidents of oil leakage have occurred since, including those caused by sabotage, maintenance failures, and gunshot holes. As of 2010, the pipeline has shipped almost 16 billion barrels of oil.

The pipeline is checked and flown over several times a day

We stopped at a checkpoint near Fairbanks

The Fairbanks Ice Museum is downtown in a former movie theater. The temperature of the ice sculpture area is 20 degrees! They have many creative sculptures and a demonstration of an ice carving. It's a fun place to go!
Norman in the ice house

The ice bird carved in front of the audience

ALASKA- Fairbanks

We took a cruise on the Riverboat Discovery into Alaska.

We took a guided walking tour of an Athabascan Indian village. You’ll see an Athabascan Indian village with cabins made of spruce logs, a cache used for storing supplies, a primitive spruce bark hut and fur pelts. Our guides explained how the wolf, fox, martin and beaver were used to provide food and protection in the harsh Arctic climate. They will explained how the Athabascans skillfully survived for over 10,000 years and how they adapted to village life and Western culture in the past century.

We saw an Alaskan bush pilot takeoff and land right next to the boat!

We visited the home and kennels of the late four-time Iditarod champion Susan Butcher as we pass Trailbreaker Kennels along the Chena River. We learned first hand about kennel life and the challenges that go into making a champion dogsled team. A senior handler at Trailbreaker Kennels shared stories of life on the trails as puppies play in anticipation of joining the team. We saw a dog mushing demonstration!

At the end of your guided tour, we explored the village on our own, interacted with our guides and visited the dogs from Susan Butcher’s kennels.

Riverboat Discovery
Riverboat Discovery
Scenery along the river

Learning about the culture
Champion dogs!