Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Reason #785 to rent

Never pay a plumber for gushing 2.5 inch water pipes.

It's in the crawlspace. The plumber is coming today. We didn't notice anything wrong with our water (maybe it's the upstairs water supply?), but I could hear water running and running. When our landlord's winter caretaker came over last night he couldn't hear it, but he sure found it.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving power outage

At about 6:30 am we experienced a power outage. AELP got us back up and running a little over an hour later by firing up the diesel generators. Reports today are that a tower on the Snettisham line is leaning into another tower. Two of its anchors have been sheared off - apparantly not due to an avalanche (which is surprising because we have had heavy snow and gusty winds).

As you can imagine the outage created a bit of panic for some Juneau-ites. Our friends in charge of the turkey for Thanksgiving lunch had already prepared the bird and preheated the oven when the lights went out.

The good news is that we should be back on 100% hydro in about a week. Right now we do have four small hydro generators running along with the diesel generators (and as we all know diesel generation is 5x more expensive than hydro).

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

image credit: The party-animal blog

Wherever you are today. Whatever you're doing. I hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving, even if you're surrounded by family, especially if you're celebrating alone. I'm thankful to know you. I'm thankful for you.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Anchorage - Girdwood - Whittier

A few weeks before John was to arrive, Mr. X received an invitation to a Fisheries Conference in Girdwood. We decided to go and take John with us.

Wednesday morning we left Juneau early and arrived in Anchorage in time for lunch. We did a little shopping at REI - a treat for us, not so much for John - and a used book store. Then we headed south on the Seward Highway.

We made our way south on the Scenic Highway, passing through several avalanche areas until we reached Girdwood and found our way to the Alyeska Resort. It was still light out so we took some more time exploring the beautiful scenery along the Turnagin Arm. It was near zero and the wind was gusting like daggers. John got to see the country's two largest national forests - the Tongass in Juneau and the Chugach in Anchorage.

After nightfall we returned to the hotel in time for Mr. X to register for the conference.

Thursday morning, John and I found the only open ski rental facility (thank you Jim at Girdwood Ski and Cyclery) and ran out to get some X-country skis. John and I spent most of the day gliding around Moose Meadows, the Enchanted Forest and the New Nordic Trail. Of course since Girdwood is the home of some of the world's best Nordic skiiers, we definitely were out of place.

It was a beautiful sunny day and since the wind had stopped, quite pleasant.

Friday Mr. X was finished with his meetings. Before John got up, Mr. X and I took the skis down to Moose Meadows for a sunrise lap. I could really get used to a sunny, snowy, no work lifestyle.

We then took the highway south again to Portage to see Portage lake, Portage Glacier and Bryson Glacier. We also traveled through the 2.5 mile Anton Anderson tunnel to Whittier. This is the longest multi-use tunnel in North America. There is only one lane of traffic so cars and trains have to take turns in both directions. We quickly toured Whittier, awed by the view of the ice free Prince William Sound and the WWII era condominiums which house about 1/2 of the town's population and headed back to Portage.

We stopped at the Conservation Center to see bison, moose, elk, musk ox, eagles, Kodiak bears, black bears, and caribou.

From there we headed back to Anchorage. Found the temple, visited the Dimond Mall and returned to the airport.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

X-Country Skiing

Yesterday was our first real snow. We have about 20 inches at the house (and expect 12 more in the next 24 hours). That meant John did some serious postholing all day (he says 12.1 miles) on the Nugget Creek trail. This also meant that I dragged him out the door for some night skiing at 7 pm. We skied out the door and soon found that the icy streets were better suited to skiing than the powdery sidewalks. We didn't make it far, 'cause the binding on my $2 skis kept popping open, but John didn't fall on his head so I'll count his first X-country ski trip a success.

Windfall Lake Cabin

After hiking down from the Dan Moller cabin, we grabbed some lunch and headed out to the Windfall Lake cabin. By early afternoon the fog had started rolling in so we had no view.

At night we stayed busy playing phase 10 and roasting marshmellows over candles. We also munched on junk food and eventually a real dinner of beef stroganoff.

In the morning, it was snowing. Of course, that meant that we grabbed the canoe and paddled into the middle of the lake where we laughed about being stuck in the ice ala Shackleton and the Endurance.
We then hiked out to the car and drove to the end of the road.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Dan Moller Cabin

Thursday Mr. X and I took the day off to hike with John to the Dan Moller Cabin. This hike has a 1800' elevation gain. It hikes through the Dan Moller bowl and Juneau's original ski area.

We hit the trail just before 11 am and arrived at the cabin less than 2 hours later. Thankfully John broke trail for us...since apparantly I was the sherpa. It was raining downtown but the snow level was about 400 feet so we were hiking in blowing snow.

At the cabin the snow was at least knee deep. We spent the stormy day holed up in the warm cabin playing skipbo, Uno and a modified version of 21.

The Dan Moller cabin was replaced about 18 months ago. This new cabin is bright and keeps out the winds. It boasts a wide front porch and deep balcony on the second story with views toward the Juneau icefield.

Overnight, the storm blew out and in the morning we made a run for the ridge to look down the backside of Douglas island over to Admiralty Island. It was nice hike, but I forgot to put my snowpants on so I was pretty cold. We saw martin, rabbit, and squirrel tracks.

We grabbed a quick breakfast and then enjoyed a leisurely hike back to the car.

Sheep Creek Hike

Wednesday, the Park and Rec holds a day hike. Since John had been entertaining himself with simple hikes more accurately described as walks, I hooked him up with these experienced hikers.

That morning dawned clear! John rode the bus downtown, and I shuttled him out to the trailhead in Thane where we met up with about a dozen retirees ready for their walk in the woods.

The first part of the trail is a 700' climb, then a walk through an old mining camp. He saw sled dogs. The next part of the trail following switchbacks up the side of the mountain. The "adventure" group - with John breaking trail - stopped at the 2000' mark due to snow where they ate lunch and then hiked back down.

John arrived at my office at dusk and just 15 minutes before quitting time - perfect.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Adventuring with John

My brother is here for two weeks. We have some grand plans.

So far we've taken him to hike to Nugget Falls and the Mendenhall Visitor's Center (of which we know you've seen lots of pictures, so I'll spare you). Monday, he hiked the East Glacier Trail while we were at work. The weather's been terrible. We hope it improves soon. I can say the same about the head cold I've got.

At least my menu plan is delicious: chicken pesto pasta, lasagna, Middle Eastern, Indian halibut curry, enchiladas, pizza, pork roast.