Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Santa is kicking back: Summer in North Pole

The inside scoop on Santa: we paid him a visit in North Pole (check out my previous post for more info on Santa's town) to see what he is up to during the summer season.  We were practically his only visitors, so he paid us lots of attention.  We found out that he loves to travel; in fact Mrs. Santa is dreaming about a European tour and riding the Orient Express sometime soon.  Mosquitoes are not bothering him (well of course not, no naughty 'squito dares to mess with the Big Nick) and he loves forty below.  Now you know.

Santa was casual and funny.  Small Moose and Big Moose had tons of fun with him.  And no, he is not strangling Small Moose despite's just a little move of his called Polar Headlock :)

Santa Claus House.  North Pole, Alaska

Rose hips were in full bloom in Santa's garden

Thursday, June 9, 2011

A little smoke to go with those mosquitoes...

This was our valley yesterday:
View from UAF campus

 A sunny day turned gray:
The Sun over UAF Geophysical Institute
and today it's raining.  So far it seems my fantasy is being fulfilled :)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Summer Plagues of Interior Alaska

The thing about summers in Alaska is that they can seem like an episode from the 10 plagues of Egypt.  Each year there is something to dampen our mood -perhaps we are a little hypersensitive to negative influences over our all-too-short warm season.  But really, nearly every year there has been an offending agent of all things destructive to summer fun:

1. Smoke from forest fires is a recurring theme but varying in intensity year-to-year (not just a little haze my friends either, summer 2004 I could not see my neighbor's house across the street and had to keep the children indoors amidst a daily shower of ash....the entire summer).

2. Then there was the summer of yellow jacket-swarms, during which time each and every member of my family got stung at least twice....there was no walking on the lawn barefoot, no playing outside for most of the summer because we were pelted with "bees" and the fly swatter was our constant companion on walks we took.

3. There was a summer when we were invaded by hordes of long horned beetles in June and July (which is pretty much the entire summer), and these suckers were landing in and on everything with their scary mandibles.  They can bite.
4. Rain.  I think it was summer 2009 (perhaps 2008) that we spent either in showers, or overcast nearly every day.

You see there is a theme developing here, and sadly, the verdict is in. 

Summer 2011:  Summer of Mosquitoes.    

I am conditioned to Alaska's mosquito problem.  Alaskan mosquitoes are legendary, and the subject of silly souvenirs such as pocket mosquito traps, t-shirts, mugs and all.  Yet after all these years, I have never seen them this bad in town.  We have exhausted all items in our anti-bloodsucking insect arsenal, and wear repellent for perfume.  Small Fish has close to two dozen bites.  Our mosquito screens on windows and doors sport dozens of blood-thirsty insects just waiting to get in.  As soon as we step out, we are attacked.  They are everywhere inside the house despite our best efforts.

My fantasy is that one summer they all happen at once and cancel each other out: The smoke kills the mosquitoes, the yellow jackets kill the beetles, the rain puts out the smoke, and drowns the beetles (wait: I just killed the beetles twice...oh, well)  Perfect.

On the bright side, at least it's not the summer of boils and lice. 


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