Monday, January 10, 2011

First Impressions of Alaska

When I first learned we were going to be moving to the dead of winter...there were alot of unknowns and alot of fears. Alaska is a very unique place and I wanted to share a little snapshot of my experiences and discoveries... so far.

The Winter Darkness

I am a sunshiny girl, inside and out. If the dark, cloudy winters in Washington were depressing, how was I going to deal with a mere 5 hours of daylight?  Well, having been here two weeks now, I am doing GREAT! Its waaaaaay better than I imagined! The sun doesnt come up until 10am but it is light by at least 9:30am, and the sun sets around 4:15pm and its twilight until 5pm. The best part? It is actually sunny during the day! We arent used to seeing this much sun in the winter after living in Washington for a couple years.

It is a bit of an adjustment to get used to where the sun is in the sky though. During these winter months, the sun just hovers above the horizon. This photo is of the sun's position at noon and is about as high as it gets this time of year...

Crazy huh? It really isnt dark like it looks in the photo. I had to darken the exposure so you could actually see the sun.

The Sunrises
A bonus about being here in the winter, has to be the sunrises. I haven't been up in time for a sunrise in well, like EVER, but now I can enjoy them at a decent hour. And boy, aren't they beautiful?

The Cold
Anchorage is insulated by it proximity to the ocean so it doesnt typically experience the extreme sub-zero weather that places like Fairbanks are known for. The climate in this area of Alaska is commonly compared that of the Rocky Mountain region in Colorado. Both my hubby and I are from Colorado...we can do that! Actually the first week we were here it was 30-40 degrees warmer than CO and WA! People were shedding their coats in 46 degree weather! WOW! The heat wave is over and we are back to highs in the teens and mid-20's now.

Ice Fog
This week we are socked in by a thick, dense fog. It rolls in from the sea and parks itself over the area. I have never heard of Ice Fog before but its facsinating! It is a type of fog consisting of fine ice crystals suspended in the air. It only happens in very cold areas of the world where the humidity is close to 100%. When you wake up in the morning it looks like it has snowed but its actually the ice crystals that have coated everything. Its beautiful!

The Wildlife
Within the first three days of being here I saw a moose and several bald eagles! Amazing! Wildife is everywhere. It is estimated that there are over 1600 moose within the city limits of Anchorage! Our most exciting sighting so far has been the reclusive wolverine!!! We were driving back to our hotel room a couple nights ago and spotted a wolverine on the side of the road! This is so incredible because many people will live their whole lives in Alaska and never see one. At first, I didnt know what it was. I thought it looked like a mix between a bear and a fox.

Our friends told us about a lady who feeds the eagles every weekend. So yesterday, we headed out in search of her and the eagles. We didnt find the lady but we found about 9 bald eagles!

I really want to see puffins next!

The Recreation
There is so much outdoor recreation to enjoy! This weekend we went sledding...

Waited to go dog sledding...

and ice skated in Anchorage's Town Square...

We got to check out an ice sculpting contest as we skated!

Next weekend we are taking curling lessons! YAY! We are so excited! We love curling! I dont expect we will be Olympians by the end of the lesson, but it wont be for lack of enthusiasm!

Next up? 
  • The base offers free cross country ski lessons, so even though I am a devout snowboarder, I think I am going to give it a shot. Its huge here! You can get anywhere in town on skis!
  • We are also looking to rent some snowshoes in the near future and go check out some glaciers!
  • I am already saving up for a cat/heli-ski backcountry boarding trip. I hope it will be my crowning Alaskan moment!
Image credits for Moose & Wolverine


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