We live in the largest state in the United States, and yes Texas, we are more than TWICE your size. Texas has 267,338 sq. mi. (692,405 sq. km.) while Alaska has 586,412 sq. mi. (1,518,800 sq. km.).
There are a lot of interesting things about our state that we would like to share with you. We've added a whole bunch (you might call it an Alaskan-sized bunch) of links to our page to help you surf around and learn more about where we call home.
We have a very busy house. It includes our family (four of us) along with two black and white cats (Darwin and Salem, but dad calls them Splash and Roswell); thirteen sled dogs (Miki, Misty, Miatuq, Kantishna, Rex, Weenuq, Dunukuluq, Yukon, Thumbelina, Splinter, Bleeny and Princess). Since our dogs have such unusual names, we have included a page where you can see where their names come from.
We have been putting together information about dog mushing and adding it to our site. To find out what it's like to ride on a dog sled take a look at this page, but to really get a feel for what the first run of the season is like, check out our daughter's poem titled, "First Run of the Year." If you haven't already gotten enough about dogs, there's more to learn from our Frequently Asked Questions page too.
Dad makes a living as a historian. Several years ago he helped an eighth grade class from Protection, Kansas with projects dealing with the Klondike Gold Rush. All their work took place by e-mail and over the Internet. One student wanted to do his report on historic dog sleds. Because there is not much information available in books, dad put together a website about old dog sleds. He also keeps busy with woodworking projects. Mom says "It's cheaper than paying a therapist." His latest project is a cache to go in the flower garden.
Mom works for a tax preparation office in town. She enjoys it an has also taken classes in writing grants. We keep busy with school and all the things kids like to do like the Internet, Nintendo 64, the Backstreet Boys, N SYNC, bicycles, aquariums, American Girl dolls and on and on and on.
Down south, some people think that up here we have six months of daylight followed by six months of darkness. In fact, depending on whether or not you live above the Arctic Circle, we do have some places where the sun doesn't set for a while in the summer and it never comes up during a portion of the winter. Where we live, we get almost 20 hours of daylight in June and July followed by a few hours of twilight at "night." It takes some getting used to, but it really isn't hard to sleep at night. We even have a softball tournament that is played at midnight on June 20-21st.
In winter it's just the opposite. We have about 20 hours of darkness followed by a low twilight when the sun just pokes its head over the southern horizon.
Winter is the only time you can really see the northern lights. They dance across the sky making all sorts of colors and patterns. The University of Alaska has an aurora website that contains a lot of information about the aurora including a forecast on where it can be seen each night.
In order to share a little bit of the excitement and beauty of the aurora, we have a page with some of dad's photos of the northern lights.
Our weather is really quite nice. In the summer a hot day will be in the middle 70s (F)/ low 20s (C). Winter is a lot colder sometimes getting down to -25 (F)/-31 (C). The Weather Channel website lets you see what our weather is at any time. For those who really want a "way out" view, take a look at some infrared satellite images of Alaska. Several years ago, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner published an article about the cold. Check out dad's experiences with extreme cold, you won't believe what happens at -60!
Although winter can be extremely cold, we don't let that stop us from having a good time and getting outdoors as often as possible. Each March, amid the various dog races, Fairbanks plays host to Ice Alaska, where ice carvers from around the world come to compete. This year Fairbanks was chosen as the site of the 2000 World Ice Art Championships. We've included a page with some of dad's photographs of the small-block competition. Here, each team of two carvers starts with a single block of ice (5'x3'x8') that weights nearly 7800 pounds. That's nearly 4 tons of ice! From it's humble beginnings, these carvers turn the simple block into a work of art. We'll add more photos later of the multi-block competition where the carvers use twelve blocks weighing 3,000 pounds (36,000 pounds total) and create sculptures up to 25 feet tall.
Every year we actually get paid for living here. In 1976, the voters approved an amendment to the Alaska Constitution which created the Alaska Permanent Fund savings account. From then on, at least 25% of all mineral lease rentals, royalties, royalty sale proceeds, federal mineral revenue sharing payments, and bonuses received by the State were placed into the Permanent Fund. On February 28, 1977, the Permanent Fund received its first deposit of dedicated oil revenues. The money is invested in all sorts of stocks, bonds, businesses and there has even been talk about buying a professional sports team. At the end of the year, the earnings are divided in half. One half is re-invested so the fund keeps growing. The other half is divided amongst every man, woman and child who qualifies as a resident.
Living in Alaska can be pretty exciting too. We have lots of wildlife that come right down into the city. Six years ago we had a brown bear come through our neighborhood! During the winter we have moose that walk right down our street. Sometimes they even keep us in school overtime because there are moose in the streets. There is a park called Big Game Alaska where we go to see animals. Maddie the Moose really likes to eat bananas, but we NEVER feed the wild moose.
The moose here can be an interesting part of life. It is estimated that there are some 3000 moose living within the city limits of Anchorage. Some cities have deer, we have moose (which are by the way the largest member of the deer family). Sometimes they cause problems. They eat trees and shrubs out of people's yards, they have a real propensity toward eating expensive ornamental shrubbery in fact! On occasion one will start causing problems and the end result is that the moose is removed from the gene pool. Unfortunately we had one get into our yard one day and start attacking our dog team. Here is a page describing what happens when a moose attacks your dogs.
We do like to go
fishing for salmon during the summer. Sometimes dad even gets the time to
Department of Fish and Game has a lot of information about Alaskan wildlife.
We have all sorts of interesting animals including moose, caribou, dall sheep,
black bears, brown bears, wolves and musk ox.
We do like to go fishing for salmon during the summer. Sometimes dad even gets the time to go hunting. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has a lot of information about Alaskan wildlife. We have all sorts of interesting animals including moose, caribou, dall sheep, black bears, brown bears, wolves and musk ox.
On Good Friday in 1964, a huge earthquake hit Alaska. Some villages and towns were completely destroyed. Scientists now estimate it at 9.2 on the Richter Scale. Part of Anchorage actually fell into Cook Inlet. The north side of Fourth Avenue dropped almost eight feet. We still have earthquakes all the time. Sometimes we can feel them, sometimes we don't. It's fun to check the USGS earthquake site to see how strong they are and where the epicenters are located.
Wanna see what it looks like in downtown Anchorage? The AlaskaCam sits on top of a building and looks down on Fourth Avenue. This is also where the Iditarod starts every year. If you look here on the first Saturday in March, you'll see dog teams instead of cars on the street.