Aurora Nights

Over the weekend Andrew spent a couple of nights camping in the rec area.  The aurora has been very active lately and he was tickled with two great nights of shows.

These last few pictures were the highlight of Andrew's he was shooting, he saw a flash of white light on the northern horizon which lead to him witnessing a rocket going up into the sky!  We have heard about these rockets before and knew that one was supposed to go up sometime soon, but who knew we would actually get photos of it! Andrew said he was shooting 8 second exposures so it took 40 seconds for the rocket to make its way through the frame of the lens.  Here's a bit more info from the research station that launched the rocket:
Poker Flat Research Range is the world's only scientific rocket launching facility owned by a university. Poker Flat is located approximately 30 miles north of Fairbanks, Alaska and is operated by the University of Alaska's Geophysical Institute under contract to NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, which is part of the Goddard Space Flight Center. In addition to launching sounding rockets, Poker Flat is home to many scientific instruments designed to study the arctic atmosphere and ionosphere.

Andrew on Ice

Our four-wheeler has only ventured out a few times this winter.  When temps drops below zero, it just doesn't really want to start.  George took these pictures back in December when him and Andrew were out on a short ride.  Andrew loves doing doughnuts in the snow!  In these pictures he was doing doughnuts on the Chena River!

Valentine's Show

Here's a few pictures from the aurora show on Valentines's night.

The Bush Trip

A couple of weekends ago Andrew got to take an extraordinary trip out into the Alaska wilderness on the east side of the Alaska range.  A neighbor friend in Healy asked Andrew if he would accompany him to his cabin in the bush, which is about 100 trail miles from the nearest road access.  A trip like this can be risky business, so the safety of a second machine is a huge peace of mind to all involved.
As Andrew leaves Fairbanks the sunlight is just starting to shine on the valley he will be entering. 
The first fifty miles is pretty smooth riding....the next fifty not so much.  Route finding and trail breaking is quite the battle mentally and physically.
2 machines, 2 sleds, and 2 guys......ready for a good time!

Rays of light crest the ridgeline
Finally to the river ice.  You can never be 100% sure that the ice will be solid all the way across, a weak spot could be anywhere, so you choose your path cautiously and hope for the best (or when in doubt  go really, really fast).
It's normal for rivers to have open water spots in places all winter long.  Also, it's safe to assume that you will encounter some overflow (water that has surfaced due to pressure below the ice forcing the water upward through a fracture) while traveling on rivers and creeks.  So you always have to be highly alert for what lies ahead.

Coyote tracks

In the picture above, you can kind of see the different heights of the ice.  That is from the river freezing, overflow water bursting through, flowing to a different channel, freezing again, then the process continues to repeat itself all winter long.

A water ouzel!
A beautiful time to be out in such peaceful country!
Finally at the homestead, this is one of the original cabins first homesteaded here.
The cabin our friends have spent most of their time in for the last 15 years.  Nine months a year here...what a life!

Guest cute!
The homemade doors and lumber are beautiful!  Definitely something for us to aspire too!

I love this outside corner post.  What a cool idea!
This door is incredible!
An evening on the ice...almost a full moon.
These pics are from the ride out.  Check out the above picture...notice anything interesting???  Tracks on each side of the river and a big open channel in the middle???  On the way in they crossed this spot on a snow bridge, and it gave way sometime afterwards leaving them to find a new way across!

What awesome country!  True wilderness roads, no people, no nothing for miles.

Crossing a snow bridge
Greenish, oozing overflow they nicknamed the snot-cicle.

Being the first to greet you or the last to bid you farewell, the forest wizard wishes safe travels to all the passers-by.