I’ve been teasing you this past week with re-blogs from a trip Peggy and I made to Alaska three years ago. Today marks the start of a short series on the trip we just completed. Welcome aboard!
We joined our son Tony, his wife Cammie, and three of our grandkids: 7-year old Connor, 5-year old Chris, and 3-year old Cooper. (That was a trip within itself— grin.) Tony flies helicopter rescue missions for the Coast Guard out of Kodiak, Alaska. If you ever watched the Weather Channel series, Coast Guard Alaska, you have an idea of the type of work he does.
We began our adventure at the Anchorage Fur Rendezvous where the sled dog races caught my attention. I have never seen dogs so eager to run. Even my old Basset Hound Socrates woofing in slow pursuit of a fast rabbit failed to show such enthusiasm. (I used to tell Soc that the only chance he had of catching a rabbit was if it were rolling around on the ground laughing so hard it couldn’t get up.)
We also watched firemen, college students and a group of Mormons get in the spirit of racing— but instead of hauling sleds, they were hauling outhouses. And yes, someone had to sit on the pot. An Alaskan style parade we viewed had so many princesses that the announcer joked that anyone with a tiara could join. Peggy and Cammie practiced their princess waves.
Our 12-hour trip from Anchorage to Fairbanks on the Alaska Railroad was a highlight. We had a beautiful day with views of Mt. Denali, moose, and a pair of wolves. The route has to be one of the most scenic train trips in the world and the engineer stopped frequently to allow passengers an opportunity to enjoy the view. (Thus the 12 hours.)
Equally impressive, but in a different way, were the 2016 Word Ice Art Championships in Fairbanks.
I am going to start with the ice carving competition simply because it was so spectacular. We really had no idea what to expect. There are both single block and multi block contests. What we saw was the single block contest with the blocks cut out of a local lake. Each block measured 3 by 8 by 5 feet and weighed approximately five tons. Teams of two people were given 60 hours to complete their masterpieces. A variety of tools were used in the process ranging from specialized chain saws to chisels. Most sculptures started with several parts (legs for example), all of which were ‘glued’ together using an icy slush. It isn’t unusual for an art piece to fall apart. Imagine that after 60 hours of work! I heard one artist comment to another, “You owe me a dollar. It’s still standing.”
We made two trips out to the Fairbank’s Ice Park. (There is a lot going on there besides the contest. A dozen or so ice slides kept the boys and Peggy busy. Even Grandpa was brow-beaten into two bumpy rides, one on his butt and one on his belly.) On our first trip to the park, we watched the competitors as they scrambled to complete their work. That night we returned to view the finished works of art when the actual judging was taking place. While the sculptures are normally lit up by colored lights, only white light is allowed during judging. As I made my way through the exhibition, I could understand why. Given the number of truly impressive ice sculptures, I am going to do two or three posts on the competition. Let me know your favorites.