Posted in Dog Life, Ester Alaska, Spring Training

Happy Earth Day from Me and Java!

It’s been one hell of a spring in Interior Alaska. COVID-19 aside, we had the most intense snowfall EVER for April. We got 20 inches of fresh snow by the first weekend! That is way more than we get for the ENTIRE month normally. And though I grumbled about sketchy rides in fresh snow, I was just grateful that I live in a state where there is plenty of open space to get out during quarantine.

How Quickly Things Change

When I lived Fairbanks, I knew I should be doing more curb waste, educate myself on the climate crisis, and make better environmentally friendly choices. I would commute some since I lived within a 2 mile radius of work, the market, the dog groomers, the dentist, and most essentials services. However, my move to Ester has created a heightened awareness of these issues since it is no longer easy to commute. I now have to drive 40 minutes or more per day, which really increased the guilt factor. Gas is expensive, not just financially, but in what it costs the earth. And though my friend who lives a mile up the road, commutes daily in summer and frequently in the winter, he does not have to transport children and pets. I no longer have children in the house either, but I regularly take Java to work with me. This year I will test out leaving her in the large dog pen and commuting a few times a week.

New Shopping Habits

For years I swore I would bring reusable bags
at grocery stores; however, when I moved out of town
and started using more gas to commute,
I followed through to help offset my carbon footprint.

That said, I changed a number of other behaviors since moving to Ester. I increased the use of sustainable shopping bags. Of course, during the outbreak they are discouraging the use of reusable shopping bags. I do reuse plastic bags as vapor barriers in my winter riding boots and to pick up Java’s poop during our outings in parks, but there was a time when the plastic bag collection was getting out of control. With the outbreak, I have taken advantage of store pickup at our favorite store, and will most likely continue once the pandemic is under control. The downside is that I can’t use sustainable bags, so it will definitely be a limited use.


New Dining Habits

In the past year, we have developed different dining habits
including using less bags, disposable cups, and take out packaging.

The other change is a reduction in eating out. This mostly changed because I got a larger kitchen that is triangulated properly making it a joy to cook in. However, I did still eat out once a week before the outbreak, but one day I realized just how much waste I collected just trying to get a salad, sandwich, and soup from 2 miles down the street back to my office. Even if I opted for fast food, there were bags, paper wraps, or Styrofoam containers. I don’t drink a lot of soda or cold coffee drinks, so the number of straws per month is limited, but then added on are the cups and lids. Since moving out here, we have limited our coffee stand purchases to twice a week per family member now that our favorite coffee shop is a 10 mile round trip drive. So in that way, living far from town has led to change, but after cooking all the meals for quarantine, I am even more aware of the waste in my normal workday.


No Fast Fashion

Until recently, I hadn’t given much thought to textile waste, but after reestablishing my sewing room, it became clear this was another way I could reduce my impact on the environment.

I first heard the term “Fast Fashion” a few years after inventing my own term “disposable fashion” that referred to clothes that lasted only one season before blowing out because the fabric was so cheap– basically the Old Navy/ Target type clothing. Believe me my husband cringes when I talk about purchasing $100 jeans that last 5+ years, but quality is not just about appearance. Textile waste is a big drain on the environment. According to a February 2020 article by CNBC on sustainable fashion the $2.5 trillion fashion industry comprises roughly 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions  the second-biggest consumer of water globally, enough to meet the needs of 5 million people every year.

Moving to Ester has allowed me to reestablish a sewing room that just didn’t fit in our Fairbanks residence. Though I had quit buying fast fashion items a long time ago, opting instead for second hand stores and vintage shops. Now I can make my own, which means selectively adding to my wardrobe. Of course, I have to be careful to select quality fabrics that will make long-lasting garments. Unfortunately, Interior Alaska has limited options for this, so I often have to have them shipped up here. Likewise, I have to be care to cut my patterns efficiently or else I am just wasting fabrics. I’m grateful that I’m not big into prints because matching designs is a huge waste of fabric, but not matching them results in odd looking outfits.

There are many changes in Alaska that are way out of my control. Ester is a mining community. They are building new roads in other parts of Alaska to additional mining sites. Oil has always run this state. And even though the pandemic has caused oil companies to reduce production, things will eventually resume. And then there is always a focus on forestry. The best I can do is stay aware of the issues, write my representatives, and vote in elections. Because I can’t imagine any other state I would want to hunker down during a pandemic, or live in on a regular day.

Posted in Bikes, Birthdays, Coronavirus, Dog Life, Ester Alaska, Fall Training, Fat Biking, Mountain Biking, Road Biking, Spring Training, Summer Training, Winter Training

Happy 2nd Birthday, Java!

We have a trend in my family. A majority of people are either born on the 2nd or the 28th.

  • My dad: May 2nd
  • Me: October 28th
  • Ivan (son): March 28th
  • Alex (brother): April 2nd
  • Java (pup pup): April 2nd

You read right. Java fell in line and was born on the 2nd, not like my rebel husband, mother, and son’s fiance who were born on some other day we can’t remember.

Two years has past really fast! Year 1 had a lot of stressful moment when Java visited the emergency vet for all sorts of reasons. This year was better even though we still had to stop into the vets twice for potential emergencies. Otherwise, we shared a lot of good bike rides, runs, and recovery walks. She adapted to the new house, even though she is very aware when we drive up to the old one where my son now lives. And we have teamed up to survive the COVID-19 scare. I told my husband as much as I love him, I’m really glad we have Java. Otherwise, I don’t know if I would be so sane through this period of isolation.

On that note, here is a small video highlighting the last two years. We hope you are staying safe during this time of crisis.

Posted in Bikes, Coronavirus, Dog Life, Ester Alaska, Fat Biking, Trail Riding, Winter Training

Social Distancing Alaska Style

I had a rather bitchy post about Daylight Saving Time set to go when the Coronavirus Crisis broke out. At first, we were only concerned since Alaska hadn’t yet reported a case. So I continued to get prepare for swim camp in Hawaii. Yet, as travel bans started and cases grew in New York, I started preparing for home isolation. I am highly asthmatic and this virus is deadly for me.

I cancelled my trip after the first reported case in Fairbanks. Ten minutes later I got an email that swim camp had been cancelled. I wasn’t too bummed because the endless cold snap had ended and the trails were shaping up nice for riding. Plus, it’s easy to social distance on the trails if you go at the right time. Most of the people in the surrounding neighborhoods don’t get moving until mid-morning, so if Java and I get up early enough we can often go for hours without seeing a soul.

Hopefully, the trails will be groomed after our recent snowstorm that accumulated around 19-inches of fresh snow. Last year, pavements were nearly dry and it was really warm outside. This weekend I will venture into town to gather work from my studio and office and grab necessities and come home for another week on our semi-isolated hillside. I am realistic that I may live life with just Java and my husband for the next two to three months. Honestly, I’m okay with that.

Posted in Ester Alaska, Moose, Wildlife

Remember Those Moose I Mentioned in My Last Post?

I forget that not everyone has seen a moose.

Yes, I know that sounds crazy, but I actually have had people mistaken them for really large horses, or simply not known what one looks like outside of a picture book.

Java and I have spent the winter with these two fairly active ones on the ridgeline of our house. We really have only had two encounters that have given me real pause, the most recent forcing us to wait 10 minutes on the roadside while a cow ate because well, she’s big and dangerous and hates dogs and was blocking the only road to my house.

They are beautiful to look at from a distance, as you can see in this video my husband took from his workshop beside the house. I was upstairs sewing and took a few photos from my window, but they don’t do the same justice as this video. To give you an idea of the height of this bluff, it is even with my 3rd story window of my house. It is just really covered with a lot of snow right now.

Remember moose are dangerous and best viewed at a distance. If they are threatened they will charge you, as I have experienced twice now. They see dogs as wolves and will try to stomp them. So for your safety and your pets safety do not engage and only pass when they have truly cleared from the scene!

Posted in Bikes, Dog Life, Ester Alaska, Fat Biking, Running, White Mountains 100, Winter Training

There’s Nothing to See Here… No Really It’s Just Dark

The Alaska Darkness is 23-7

Well, it was that way on Solstice, which is about a month in the past and we have rounded the corner into the new year. Sure the we have gained about 2.5 hours of daylight, but guess what? None of it is when I ride or run with Java.

Nope, this 5am girl is still going out when its dark with all the unseen moose somewhere on the nearby ridge and the dogs running at us from their driveways because their owners think, “Who the hell is crazy enough it be out this early in the dark when it’s 20 Below?” This girl and her dog.

And so yes, I am terrible about updating my blog in the winter because I don’t go out much in the daylight because I’m either shooting videos, managing clients, or other media related things. Not that I haven’t tried to capture what it’s like to ride/run in the darkness. But as you can see in the video below, there really isn’t all that much to see.

There was one odd factor that came about either because we moved, or I’m not racing the White Mountains 100 this year: I kinda took a training break. I mean Java and I are running and biking regularly, plus I’ve joined and aerial sling class and still swim twice a week. However, we aren’t pushing the miles like I had in the past few years. I suffered from pretty extreme exhaustion until recently coupled with Achilles tendinitis in my left foot. So I reduced the intensity of my activity for the months of December and January focusing on the Strava 50K walking challenge until I could really start running again. It doesn’t help that it has continuously ranged from -20 to -32 below on a regular basis. Sure, I have biked lots in this crap to train for the White Mountains, but this year I am just not as motivated to suffer that way.

It’s supposed to warm up into the negative teens and negative single digits in the next two weeks. That will be a big boost to ride some trails in the valley during the day. But the real countdown is for swim camp in Hawaii in March. No, Java isn’t coming. Instead my mom will spoil her with many long springtime walks here in Alaska while I’m gone. But until then Java and I ride/run on!

Posted in Bikes, Dog Life, Ester Alaska, Fat Biking, Mountain Biking, Susitna 100, White Mountains 100, Winter Training

And Then The Snow Was Gone

This time of year is a small scsle version of the bipolar craziness that comes with living in Alaska. Daylight is now darkness that gets worse with daylight savings time. We get cold then we get warm. Then we get warmer, then we get freezing rain. That turns to snow then rain and suddenly we have two inches of fluff on the ground.

You saw it in the last vid. I swore it was here. But now its not.

The ground was still frozen, so Java and I headed out to Tanana Lakes for a ride on the island trail. In the winter this trail is buried under snow and only accessible by canoe or paddleboard in summer. There are only a few short weeks in the spring and fall when the ground is hard and dry enough to walk, run, or bike to it.

Today we biked. Here’s Java’s tour of the island trail:

We have gotten 5 or 6 inches of snow since this ride. And it’s staying. Most likely our next video will highlight our new riding spot now that we’ve moved to Ester– Standard Creek.

November 1 is the opening of The White Mountains 100 lottery. Not sure if I’ll sign up. After 3 consecutive years racing the course, and last year’s craziness with the Susitna 100 and it’s 10 inch snowfall, I’m not so motivated. It sounds nice just to ride without a goal though goals frequently make me ride more.

Posted in Bikes, Dog Life, Ester Alaska, Fat Biking, Mountain Biking, Winter Training

A Tour Around the New Neighborhood

Of course it snowed today just as I finished the video of our neighborhood ride where you can clearly see how much the snow has melted. The last couple weeks have been totally whacked as the power steering went out on the Ford Fusion. We hustled to get a replacement 4WD used Jeep Compass only to find out it didn’t have a hitch. So Java and I haven’t ridden outside much while we waited for it to arrive. But we did manage to get in one ride around the neighborhood. Java loves it out here. I’m still struggling to adjust, and considering all the other stuff that has happened like the Jeep locking me out of the vehicle after I turned on the car and shut the door, it’s gonna be awhile before I’m as happy to be up here as she is.

So enough of my moping and enjoy this video of my happy dog running around our new neighborhood.

Java loves our new neighborhood and is anxious to start running on snowy trails again!

The hitch arrived yesterday and is now on the Jeep with a bike rack. I swam a 3,000-yard ePostal last night after running with Java and her crew at Tanana Lakes. A bit tired today. Hopefully, I’ll be ready to ride by tomorrow.