Monday, March 21, 2011

The Land of Ice

It’s been a while since I shared some Alaskan craziness, but I just had a major dose on a weekend visit to Fairbanks and thought I’d share the fun.

First up, the World Ice Art Championships. In Fairbanks, the ponds freeze into ice of unusual clarity. Huge blocks of this ice are fork-lifted into the fairgrounds, where ice artists from around the world carve intricate, elaborately detailed sculptures out of them. My camera isn’t very good, so I can’t claim credit for these photos. Hopefully they give you a taste.

It's amazing the things you can make out of ice. A sauna, for instance, fully heated by a wood stove. Inside, you can relax and admire the surreally beautiful patterns embedded in the ice walls.

The ice slides are a total blast. I have to admit the whole experience was enhanced by the flask of Bushmills we passed around.

The next night we watched the “super-moon” while soaking in Rock Lake at Chena Hot Springs.

Here’s my stepdaughter demonstrating what happens to your hair at the hot springs when your head is at 20 below and your body’s in 105 degree water. Ice mascara, anyone?

I don’t have any pictures of the “super-moon”, but it was so spectacular here in Alaska, a majestic burnt-orange disk rising over the hills. I hope it was equally gorgeous where you live. As we drove home from Chena Hot Springs, the moon lit up one half the sky, Northern Lights danced across the other.

We got home at five in the morning, stoked the wood stove in our cabin and watched the moonlight filter through the birch trees.

The next day was Spring Equinox, which is a major event here in Alaska. From here on out, we get more and more light each day, until the darkness is nearly gone, dusk fades into dawn, and we won’t see the moon again until September.

Okay, that’s my report from the Land of Ice. Aren’t you glad I live here, so you don’t have to?


PG Forte said...

wow! Fabulous pictures! But -20 degree temps? Yeah. So not for me.

Meg Benjamin said...

Alaska is so cool (no pun intended). But when I visited in summer I remember having a hard time with the almost constant daylight. Blackout curtains are a must!

Kelly Jamieson said...

Gorgeous photos Juniper! You know I can relate to all that ice and snow and cold!

Cathy in AK said...

Great pics! I miss some things about Fairbanks, but not the sub-sub zero temps : ) Those ice sculptures are amazing. They get better every year.

I do miss the aurora displays. We don't get such an incredible show down here in Cordova :(

Juniper Bell said...

Hi Cathy! I know what you mean -- we live in Homer, where it doesn't get nearly so cold. I couldn't live in Fairbanks, although the summer heat would be nice. Our aurora displays in Homer are not nearly as spectacular as the ones in Fairbanks. But still -- I prefer the slightly warmer climate. Emphasis on slightly. ;)

Thanks for stopping by!

Cathy in AK said...

You live in Homer?!? We moved *from* Homer in 2007!