Thursday, November 1, 2012

Bar, Birthday, and Betrotheds

I have tried to chronicle my Alaskan adventures, well, chronologically, but I am going to start this post a little out of of order.  I PASSED THE BAR!!!!!!!!!!!  Goodbye standardized testing!  I am so grateful to all the people who helped me through the studying process during the summer, and the agonizing waiting process during the fall.  Alaska requires an additional ethics video (which I watched yesterday morning) and an additional $100 (which I begrudgingly wrote a check for yesterday), and now I am set to be sworn in on Monday.  The serious question is which certificate of admission to get.  Alaska gives us an option of a plain certificate which has an shaded image of the Alaska behind the text, or the picture certificate, which has images of Denali, a train, a shuttle, a church, a plane, a boat, farm equipment, cars, trucks, cranes, a frontiersman, the U.S. and Alaska flags, a totum pole, a walrus, a fox, a bear, a salmon, an eagle, a forest and a mushing team on it.  I am leaning toward the picture certificate.  It is pretty hokie, but very Alaskan.  What are your thoughts?

Two weeks ago, the Alaska Federation of Natives Conference was held in Anchorage.  The conference brings together different native tribes from around the state.  I went to the craft fair and picked up a great Christmas ornament for my tree, and purchased tails for our Halloween costumes (see below).  We also saw some really incredible native dancing at the Quyana celebration.

In my last post, I raved about the Muni government, and friends, they are living up to my expectations.  In hopes of alerting citizens to better emergency preparedness practices, Anchorage has participated in Zombie Awareness Month, and held a Zombie Apocalypse event at the local library.  Donnie, Yael, Hilary, Rebecca, and I had to run through three floors of rooms and stacks to collect items for our emergency preparedness kit without being touched (bit) by zombies.  The good friend I am, I may have pushed some of them into the zombie's way to avoid getting touched.  The event was truly impressive, we were running through the library, with volunteer zombies jumping out from their hiding places behind stacks, under desks, and in elevators along the course and giving chase.  When we finally made it to the safe zone, we were evaluated to see how much chalk the zombies had touched us with, decontaminated by the Anchorage Fire Department, and given a cure for the zombie bites (a piece of candy).  

This past week, I was asked (and honored) to perform a wedding ceremony for some of my football-watching friends on the top of Arctic Valley.  The weather the past couple of weeks has been beautiful - sunny and crisp.  Tommy and Kara are just really nice people, and there was so much love shared at the ceremony.  I'm not sure I ever want to get married, but If I ever do, this was not a bad way to go.  Marrying people is by far the best part of my job here in Alaska.  Its really nice to take a break from the acrimony of court cases and breaking marriages down, and actually get to build one up.

The freeze is upon us, it wa 13 degrees when I came into work this morning, and it doesn't appear it will jump above freezing anytime soon.  While the lakes are too deep for there to be a good layer of skating ice on them just yet, Potter Marsh, just to the South of the city, was perfectly frozen for ice-skaters.  The ice was clear and you could see down to the bottom, including air bubbles trapped underneath the ice, fish, plants, etc.  When we arrived, there were a ton of people, dogs, bikes, and even baby strollers out on the ice.  It was a crisp, sunny day with the beautiful backdrop of hillside and the snow-capped Chugach mountains.  I felt like I was skating through a Norman Rockwell painting.  I can't wait for the lagoon in my backyard to freeze over! 

Potter Marsh, Mother Nature's hockey rink

Skaters on the Marsh

Skating around the marsh grass still sticking through the ice

The frost on a twig makes it look like an ice feather!

Potter Marsh Skating!

Air bubbles trapped below the ice!

 Finally, this week was Halloween, Rebecca, Khalial, Yael, Hilary and I dressed up as a sled dog team and hit the town.  The best part about our costumes:  they kept us warm on the mile walk to and from downtown Anchorage at night. 

With the end of October comes the end of the sunlight.  The sun rises after I get to work, and after daylight savings it will set before I leave.  The lack of light is starting get to me in that I am more tired than usual, but otherwise, it is nice to get to see both sunrise and sunset over the mountains each day.  The sun isn't getting high in the sky anymore either, it sort of hovers as if it were 4:00 all day.  If only the sun weren't always at that annoying place in the sky where it blinds you while you drive!

Anyway, this weekend looks promising with a ski swap, my first cross country ski attempt, a Halloween party, two brunches, ice skating with my little sister, and a housewarming party!  I'll be sure to blog again soon!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Winter? Already?

Hello from the now frozen north!  So much has occurred since I last wrote.  Updating on a regular basis is much harder than I expected it to be.  I am going to really try hard to make sure I keep up with this.

We bought a fire pit!  We now have the ability to make s'mores and di tonight!  It snowed a few inches today, the first snow that stuck in the city.  We decided to celebrate with the fire pit, roasted marshmellows, and episodes of Community.  A fantastic Saturday night.

The clerks have started a "peak of the week" hiking group.  We hike a different mountain every week and still have so much to explore in Anchorage.  Here are some photos from our recent hikes on Little O'Malley, Rendezvous Peak, and Wolverine Peak.

Fall on Little O'Malley

Sunset over the Turnagain Arm

The Valley Near Little O'Malley

View from Rendezvous Peak

No one said these hikes were dry

Snow starts to fall on the ridge line

Some of the Peak of the Week Crew

Enchanted Forest on Wolverine

Hiking Through the Snow

The trail was completely iced over - we had to walk around in the snow!

Foraker and Denali, two of America's four tallest mountains
One of the things I am amazed about up here is how great the local government is.  Up here, it is called the Muni (short for Municipality of  Anchorage), and it puts on some amazing local events and provides some really great public services.  The first of these events that I’ve become involved with is the Tuesday Night Races.  Those of you who know me well know that I am not a natural runner, but I’ve been getting involved in these races and have really been enjoying myself.  The Muni puts on a race every Tuesday night from the beginning of September through the first week of November.  The races go through a different park and different trail each week and they are incredibly hilly.  My goal is to finish each week, and so far I haven’t come in complete last place yet.  In addition to the races, the Muni sponsors ski classes (that I am signed up for), ice skating on Westchester Lagoon, and maintains over onehundred miles of groomed ski trails.  Ready for the winter!

I’ve also been cooking up a storm and experimenting with new and exciting foods.  The roommates and I have been enjoying Sunday family dinners, and I have been baking every week.  So far, I’ve made salted caramel hot chocolate, tikka masala with naan, lemon garlic chicken, butternut squash mashed potatoes, and more baked goods than I can recount.
I also have a new car.  My poor Volvo met her unfortunate end because of a rock that popped up off the road on the way down from Rendezvous Peak.  It put a hole in my oil pan, all my oil drained out, and my engine seized.  Fortunately, Geico covered the whole thing, totalled out the car, and I now have a new (old) 1995 Subaru Legacy.  GOG8RS license plate survived the transfer.  BAM!
Finally, last night there was an Aurora.  It was the most amazing thing I have ever seen.  We went out to Earthquake Park and watched the neon green lights dance above the city.  I can’t wait until we go to Fairbanks in January and get to see the colors on a full spectrum. 

Finally, as always, my backyard!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Work, and Races, and Roommates, Oh My!

Hello Lower 48!

Work is in full swing, and I absolutely love my job.  I love having real responsibility again, and a real end to my work day.  The people I work with are so nice, my Judicial Assistant brought me smoked salmon twice this week, and our in-court clerk is bringing in some moose meat.  We also have not one, but TWO candy bowls in the office.  This could get dangerous.  The one problem (and by problem, I mean awesome addition) to my job is that you can see Denali (Mt. McKinley) and Mt. Foraker from my office window on a clear day.  I took these on Tuesday:

Foraker (left) and Denali (right) from my office!
Foraker and Denali at sunset

Other fun Alaska things:

Alaska State Fair

The Alaska State Fair was an odd experience.  No fried twinkies or oreos, but plenty of oysters on the half shell, fried oysters, oysters rockefeller, crab cakes, i.e. my kind of fair food!

Prince William Sound Oysters

Rebecca and I partook of the seafood throughout the day. An Alaskan farmer also set the new world record for the largest cabbage, and someone grew a 931 pound pumpkin. That 24 hours of sunlight really does wonders!
931 lbs!  This would make a fine carriage for Cinderella
New world record cabbage!

We saw plenty of farm creatures, enjoyed the random fair acts, such as the acrobats from the UAA, a guy walking up a wall with a trampoline, and most importantly, we watched the lumberjack show.  I cannot stress how important this show was/is to my life.  I would like to introduce you all to my future husband, Cassidy. 

Oh, hello there lumberjack
After work on Thursday we saw the Whipshaws and Dr. Dog in concert at Bear Tooth.  The Whipshaws were good, but they seemed like a high school band.  Dr. Dog was incredible.  We enjoyed Bear Tooth's first tap and a great concert.
Dr. Dog
Kayaking and Hiking
This past weekend, Rebecca rented a kayak from REI which Joe and I also partook in.  Sunday was the perfect day to kayak on the lagoon, and afterward we drove down to Girdwood and hiked the winner creek trail. We also went out to pick wild berries.  We have a ton of raspberries growing wild in our backyard and the trail near Flattop has plenty of blueberries.  This meant blueberry raspberry lemon muffins for all!  They were pretty fantastic.
Raspberry bush in my backyard
View from the Kayak

Hello from Alaska!

More of my backyard

View of Mt. Susitna from my kayak on Westchester Lagoon

View from the Winner Creek Trail

Rebecca and I on the Winner Creek Trail

Winner Creek Trail
More bragging about my backyard
 Who knows what is next, but I can't wait!  Autumn in Alaska is here, and I'll update more on that later.  Have fun in the lower 48!