Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Crab Feast!

I brought with me five pounds of Alaskan King Crab and a pound of Alaskan Scallops so that we could have what might become our annual Crab Feast in Allentown.

Scallops wrapped in bacon...

The crab...

Eric, my sister's fiance enjoying a huge chunk of crab...

Angie dumping her crab onto the plate...

Tony wrestling with a claw...

I could eat like this every night!

Monday, December 28, 2009

New York City

Everytime I go back east lately, the women in my family take a bus to the city and go see a show, eat good food and drinks, and just generally cause trouble around town.

My sister...

My mom, Nana, and Aunt Carol...

Times Square, which for me is generally a pretty annoying place to be and not really what visiting New York is about. it's like riding the bus in Denali, you have to do it when you visit, but it won't be the best thing you did while you were there. We always tried to get off this street when we ended up there...

We saw the Lion King on Broadway, and I have to say, the production that came to Anchorage on the National Tour was just as good as the original...

The rest of the ladies got back on the bus after dinner and Angie and I took the subway downtown to see Gogol Bordello at Webster Hall. They just so happened to be playing the same night we were going to be there. Sweet!

You could feel the floor bouncing up and down under our feet. Later we went downstairs under the concert to buy a tshirt and realized the whole building was bouncing, the doors and windows were rattling... a little freaky when you are in a building that's over a hundred years old.

Then the subway back to the bus station and the hour and a half ride back to my moms house. But first, we had to have a slice of pizza. Take a good look Anchorage. This is what a piece of pizza is supposed to look like. This slice was bigger than my head. Notice the crispy, yet floppy crust, and that there ARE NOT a thousand toppings piled on top. Just cheese. This is where that crap everyone eats with all those toppings messing up the flavors on it came from. So simple. Salty. Delicious.

We crashed on the bus and arrived back at my mom's house in PA at 2am. Good day! Despite my love of the outdoors and nature, which do not exist in NYC, I love to visit and sometimes wish I lived near a city so that I could experience the culture and food more often. But Alaska is fun in so many other ways, and I'm not ready to give that up yet.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!!

This was the most festive picture I had that I took of Brian showing off his sweater that he planned on wearing to his brothers Christmas sweater party this week. Hopefully he got those buttons straightened out. He won best overall outfit (I hear some pants were added).

I'm in Pennsylvania now and finally got about 7 hours of sleep last night after waking up Wednesday, working, having dinner with some friends, packing, cleaning the house, then going to the airport, flying 10 hours overnight, and arriving in Newark at 3:30pm yesterday.

Then my mom picked me up and I went and got a quick shower and we were off to my family Christmas Eve party, followed by visiting with my best friends after that. I finally got to bed at about 2am (Eastern time).

Now it's 9am Christmas morning and I am still in bed at my mom's house, but I smell the coffee brewing so it's time to get up, even though I still feel pretty sleep deprived.

Merry Christmas!!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Multi-use trail?

When I was hiking with Niko this summer on the Tank Trail in one of the designated off leash areas in town this summer. I discovered a trail that I've been wanting to check out for awhile. The trail isn't much of a trail in the summer. You eventually run into a swamp, but that meant that in winter this trail would be frozen.

So on Sunday Niko and I went to go check it out. The trail was awesome. It seemed so remote even though it was right in town. I thought it would be the perfect place to do some training rides because it is closer to my house than having to drive all the way up to hillside. And it was in the off leash area, so Niko could run free on it. This trail had everything.

Niko was excited as I was...

On top of that it was gorgeous...

But it was too good to be true. Niko had run off (back to the car I found out later) after about 20 minutes of riding, which seemed strange. Maybe Niko had sensed what this trail was about before I did. So after losing Niko I decided to ride back and forth on a two mile stretch of trail until he came back. He doesn't run away much, but when he does he always comes back to the same place where he left.

And then I was almost run over by dog sled team, when I realized my dream of the perfect trail that I had all too myself was not a reality. The woman on the sled yelled, "THIS IS NOT A MULTI USE TRAIL! THIS IS A DOG MUSHING TRAIL!" At that moment I just so happened to be going the wrong way too, so I looked like a real a**hole.

I didn't know what to say, so I just yelled back, "OK!" and started back to the car. As a user of the trails in Anchorage, I generally don't care much for certain trails being designated for only certain sports.

I ski, bike and run on the trails of Anchorage and I honestly don't give a crap if someone walks down the middle of a groomed trail with their unleashed dog and their giant hoofed horse. It's just good to see people out being active. I can deal with ruts, skid marks, hoof holes, dogs running around, etc, that's all a part of the adventure of recreating off-road. It's not supposed to be all smooth and easy.

But this is a huge issue amongst trail users here. I have never lived in a town where there is so much a conflict of users groups on the trails. People can get really nasty. Everyone wants to point the finger at someone else, when really maybe they should be looking at themselves.

But I do understand why the dog mushing trails are designated for just them, because it's dangerous. Those sleds go fast and their are blind corners, just like the one where I almost had a collision with 10 dogs. THAT is a legitimate reason to restrict trail use.

All that other stuff I will never understand. But I follow the rules so as not to piss too many people off.

So I'm off to Pennsylvania tonight. I fly into Newark at 3:30pm tomorrow! And I just upgraded to first class for only 79 dollars for the entire duration of the flight. Maybe I will get some sleep after all. Vacation!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Herning Trail

Last weekend we headed out to Houston (AK) to do a ride on the Herning Trail. I don't have a lot of time to write, because I have to pack for my trip back east, but I wanted to share some of the pictures.

We started out with a group at sunrise...

I have been trying to get outside for all of the daylight hours on the weekends, due to lack of sunlight during the week. All of my weekday workouts are done in the dark now, but yesterday we got through the winter solstice and the days are getting longer now.

I laughed when I saw that my calender said "Winter Begins" on December 21st. We've been enjoying winter for some time now.

The sun hangs low in the sky even at noon. But when there are no clouds it makes for some amazing light.

We arrived back at the parking lot about five hours and 25 miles later, and at sunset.

The start of my training for the White Mountain 100 has been good, but it will be challenging to keep it up while I spend the next two weeks in Pennsylvania. My sister said I could borrow her mountain bike so I plan to get out for some long rides while I'm there. The challenge will be finding cool places to ride around my mom's house.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Time to ski

Sometimes when the blog falls silent it means I have been doing nothing and have nothing to write about. Sometimes I am too lazy to write. Sometimes I am so busy I don't have time.

Fortunately for me, this past week it was the last option. I've been working a lot trying to finish up a project before the holidays, getting ready for my upcoming trip to Pennsylvania, and skiing. I took a few lessons in the last two weeks and am skiing in powder better than I ever have in my life.

This was the view from Cornbiscuit in Turnagain Pass last weekend...

And oh the powder. It snowed all week in South Central Alaska. There is so much snow right now we don't even know what to do. I feel like the old woman who lived in a shoe, except instead of children, it's powder.

I had to put bike training on hold for a few days just to enjoy the snow. It seems a shame to pack all that fluffy goodness down when we've been waiting so long for it to build up.

I've decided to let the weather and conditions dictate what outdoor adventures I have this winter. I always get stressed out because I want to do so many things, but that is just wrong. Winter equals happiness, not stress.

It's much easier like this. If the trails are packed and frozen and it's really cold, it's time to ride the bike. If the ice is in and it's not too cold, let's climb. If it's so nasty and dark out that I don't feel like going outside, well then I'll probably be at the rock gym.

But if there is powder falling every day like little tiny marshmallows floating down from the sky, you can be sure I will be on skis.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Happy Weekend Everyone.

Ahh time to relax...

Only for a few hours, but it was a nice thought, wasn't it?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

White Mountains 100

Brian and I were excited about the prospect of being able to ride our bikes out to Eagle Lake in the winter when we set out Sunday morning. We didn't know that we would only get about four miles in three hours.

First, I should tell you that we both have signed up for the White Mountain 100 Race, which will be my first winter endurance race. It's quite ambitious, I know, especially for someone who just started riding a fat bike a month ago. But I really have been in a funk lately and need a new goal and a new adventure to look forward to.

I see it like this. I'm at that age where women usually have two or three toddlers hanging from them, which I can only imagine is the biggest challenge and adventure of a woman's life. Since I don't have any children, my life is quite easy and simple, but my mind and my body are still craving that adventure. Well, not THAT adventure, but some adventure. Something to challenge me and keep life interesting.

The trail out to Eagle Lake was like mashed potatoes and has not seen much traffic lately. I learned that even fat bikes have limitations. Even if the trail is packed down well, but only a foot wide, it's no good. When your front wheel wanders left or right off the trail it dips in and you go flying.

But it was a beautiful day out regardless of all of the walking we did. Since I spend all of the daylight hours during the week inside an office (so backwards), I have vowed to spend every weekend daylight hour outside this winter. That is about 5 hours each day right now, for a total of 10 hours out in the sun every weekend.

In the end we decided to chalk up the day as "push training" and more "character building". You never can get too much of that.

That's me giving Brian the finger through my mittens. I'm really tired right now and cannot get these pictures and videos to line up pretty so you just need to deal with the mess that is this post.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Ever changing ice

Part of what I love about ice climbing is how much the ice changes every time you get out. Here was Ripple on Sunday in "thin" conditions.

And Ripple last year mid season...

And Ripple the first year I climbed. This was in April I think. It was late season and it was huge.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Check this out!

When we got back from Moab in October, Tim encouraged me to send one of my photos to Dirt Rag Magazine. I actually sent three of them, but didn't expect to see them in the magazine.

Then about a week ago, Tim's brother (who was also on the trip) told me that he had received this months issue of Dirt Rag and that one my photos from Moab was published on page 67. I was so excited that I rushed over to REI to get a copy, but then I realized it wouldn't be in the stores for another week and I would have to wait to see it.

Today it was there, check it out, it's a full page! On the right is the same photo that I framed. It's Brian on the Sovereign Trail.

I also had so many more photos that I liked from that day that I put together a little collage.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Ice Bike Race

15 laps around a 3/4 mile track snow plowed into Goose Lake...

3 times getting lapped by this guy...

One women entered in the race, I guess that means I win!

A few beers after the race...

One delicious plate of Thanksgiving leftovers...

... and one sore back from riding a bike that was too big for me. Ouch!

(Some of the photos were taken by Maura Shea, I hope you don't mind Maura!)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Niko wants to sing you a Thanksgiving song... have a listen!

(Sorry it's sideways, I keep doing that!)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

What's your "too cold too climb" limit?

Last weekend I wanted to get out to ice climb, because I haven't been yet this year. So when Kim said she had rented one of the yurts in Eagle River I thought it would be a perfect opportunity.

But it was seriously cold last week. Down below zero for most of the days. Good for forming up the ice, not so good for climbing in. Especially since Kim got frost bite last year and mild hypothermia when we were climbing in Eklutna Canyon at minus 5.

Everyone has their limit. "I don't climb below zero." "I don't climb below minus 10." I haven't yet figured out what my limit is, but I know it stops being fun and starts being more about survival when it's below zero.

Friday night when we hiked out to the Yurt it was about minus ten in the valley. Niko even got cold on the 2 mile hike in.

We piled in the yurt like sardines and awaited the morning. Saturday morning it was still pretty cold. I don't think it was at my limit though, but everyone else said no, so we declared a recon day.

We hiked 5 1/2 miles out to Heritage falls and Icicle Creek to check out the climbs out there. They are in, but there was a wide open gap in the river to get across to Heritage. The climbs in Icicle Creek are in as well, but it's sort of a long approach, maybe one for the fat bikes when the river freezes over completely.

The echo bend climbs were in, and it looked like we could get across the river, but alas we left our gear in the yurt. And by the time we hiked all the way out to Icicle Creek and back it had been 6 hours and guess what? We only have about 6 hours of daylight these days.

The cold temps made for some serious frost on the trees...

All in all it was a good day out. I love to use up all the sunlight we get on the weekends, especially because watch the sunrise and set from my office during the week.

And at least we got to use our tools for something...

But I'm really itching to get out and climb. Long weekend is coming...