Where No Roads Lead To, Nome

Flashback Friday

There is No Place Like Nome!

    We spent about 2 days in New York before I was on my way to one of my favorite states of all time, Alaska. I had managed to get a short-term job as a field tech, and who in the world would ever say no to a free trip to Alaska? Alaska is one of the most expensive states in the US, along with states like New York, California, and Hawaii. This can partially be explained by the distance to Alaska from the contiguous US, it is far away, and shipping of food cost thereafter. If it is not local, the quality of food is not always that great. On the other hand, Alaska is one of the states that are tax exempt, not that it makes it any cheaper. We landed in Anchortown on July 2nd and had a day to shop for supplies and some food. After some more glacier spotting, we finally landed in Nome on July 3rd. They say that there is no place like Nome! Nome is not even on the road system,  so the only way to get there is by plane. And in Nome, everything is expensive, very expensive.

4th of July Parade

    4th of July was suppose to be our first field day, but who in their right mind would miss a 4th of July celebration in Nome of all places? Not me. I am not familiar with how the 4th of July is celebrated in other states, other than Alaska. But in Alaska I've always gone to a 4th of July Parade, those parades reminds me of nothing else in this world. One year I saw a pig dressed up as Miss Piggy, with a blonde wig. Because in Alaska anything and everything is possible.

Miss Piggy - Ester, Alaska, 4th of July Parade 2014

Nome's 4th of July Parade

    As far as I know, anyone can partake in the parade, and you can (as far as I understand) dress up however you want to! All the participants of the parade also throw out candy for all the bystanders, the kids are always running around collecting all of candies. It is a bit unclear to me why they are always throwing out candy, is that an Alaskan thing, os the parade built around throwing candy, or is that something that has been added on at a later stage? I too secretly hung on to some of that candy this year.

    Have you ever been to a 4th of July Parade?

Posted on September 7, 2018 and filed under Alaska, Flashback Friday.

Where Chambers Street ends and Rockefeller Park Starts

Big City Life

Rockefeller Park and Bronze Statues

    Today we have been promised really hot temperatures, and they have issued a heat advisory, with temperatures up to 95, and the real fell up above 100. Im pretty sure we had days like this in Madison too, but maybe not as frequent. In Fairbanks and Alaska on the other hand, these things never happened. Instead we could hear about the air quality advisories on the radio while sipping coffee in the morning. Smoke from all wildfires which created this grey to yellow smoke that hovered over Fairbanks, sometimes for weeks, or air quality advisories in the wintertime because of pollutions that stayed atop the city for months. Now that I have lived here for a couple of weeks I am used to this heat and the heat advisories, or rather I know when to venture out and what to expect versus times when it's probably best to stay at home. One thing about New York that always surprise me when I do venture out are all these small parks spread across the city, and all the trees and bushes you can see where you least expect it.  The other day I took the train south, to Brooklyn Bridge. I got off, and followed Chambers Street towards the water on the west side of Manhattan. Once there I stumbled upon Rockefeller Park, that joins up with Hudson River Park if you continue north along the water. The first thing I noticed was this large bronze statue to the left of the stairs leading down into the park. As I continued towards it, I suddenly saw all of these other bronze statues scattered across the area. Statues of creatures, people, bankers and robbers, laborers and pilgrims, predators and prey. If you ever find yourself in New York City, I would definitely recommend this park, to find some shadow and to relax and enjoy all these sculptures. New York is such a large city with so many tourists, but you can still come across areas like Rockefeller Park that is close to empty. I guess I can compare it to when people visit National Parks. Most people stay on the road, in the car, and hardly anyone actually get off the road, and if they do few people hike more than 1 mile from the road system, or the most popular places. If it is off the beaten path, fewer people go there. 

Urban Parks and Urban Heat Islands

    Did you know that woodlands are cooler than urban areas? And that city parks can be as much as 5 F cooler than surrounding areas during the day, and even cooler during the evening and night time? The concept of buildings being hotter than say parks is often referred to as the Urban Heat Island. Dark non-reflective buildings absorb heat, and will re-release the heat throughout the day, making the surrounding area warmer. Vegetation cool the surrounding area through the evapotranspiration process, and hence a park with moist soil and a lot of vegetation will have a cooling effect. Of course the urban heat island concept is more complex than comparing dark and non-reflective buildings to vegetation, but overall the outcome is cooler parks, compared to surrounding buildings, as you can see in the temperature and vegetation map of New York below, from NASA. So, think about the cooling effect next time you walk in a large city and encounter a park.

Views along Chambers Street, Rockefeller Park, and Hudson River Park:

    Do you have a favorite park in the (any) city you always visit?

New York - First Impressions

New York City Life

    We have now lived in New York for more than one month, and actually spent a couple of weeks here together. It was kind of a whirlwind before we were able to actually settle down here. I worked almost up until the actual move, we then packed our pod, packed the car (read tried to fit everything else in the car), and cleaned the apartment in Madison before we eventually left. Once we arrived about a day later, we unpacked the car, and cleaned the new apartment, and then went to bed. It turned out that driving in New York City, as in driving in Manhattan, wasn't so hard after all (although, W drove, I didn't so what do I know). It was a lot harder to find a parking spot. We spent one full day in New York together, going to Target and Costco, and then at 8 in the morning the day after, I was sitting on a plane to Nome, Alaska. Once I got back W had already left to Boston, and then to Alaska. So, we really didn't even live together in the apartment up until now, these past two weeks!

Manhattan

    You can constantly hear the sirens from ambulances, firetrucks and police cars mixed in with people honking, but they do quiet down during nighttime. Many New Yorkers are intense and very forceful. Kind of as if they forgot that there are good humans out there in the world. People are yelling at each other in the streets, in the grocery stores, yeah about everywhere. I wonder if there is such a thing as a happy New Yorker sometimes. The two first strangers in New York I met was on my way to Alaska. First the driver to the airport, who said he hated New York and New Yorkers, how he didn't think it was diverse enough. On the plane between New York and Seattle the woman I sat next to was moving back to Seattle, leaving her husband (although not leaving leaving, just saying he can come if he wants but I am not staying) behind in New York. She said she hated New York and New Yorkers, said she was sorry for me who just moved there. 

East Harlem aka El Barrio, Spanish Harlem

    We live in East Harlem, or Spanish Harlem which it is also called along with El Barrio. East Harlem has a large population of Puerto Ricans and other Hispanics. Back in the day, 1800's and beginning of 1900's East Harlem was mostly an Italian neighborhood, and today has one of the most exclusive restaurants in the US, an Italian restaurant called Rao's. The closest we have gotten to Rao's, well except walking by the restaurant, was when we purchased their famous tomato sauce at our local grocery store. As you can imagine there is a wide range of cultures that are merging in East Harlem, and with that a wide range of interesting restaurants that we have to explore. We have a really nice apartment with a guest room and actually two bathrooms (well the technical term is one and a half). We live very close to the subway and it takes about 20 minutes for us to get to Brooklyn bridge with the subway. We have of course spent many many days in the apartment, but we have also been exploring the neighborhood some. Every day has been hot, well hot to me. We have had temperatures in the 80's and 90's ever since we moved in, and our AC units have been running a lot these past weeks. Now the temperature is finally dropping and we can actually leave the windows open to create a nice breeze through the apartment.

Central Park and community gardens

    During the weekends we have been doing chores around the house and then gone to central park to relax. Central Park is actually a National Historic Landmark and has been put on a tentative list for UNESCO World Heritage Sites. This past weekend we went there and had a picnic in the afternoon sun. Central Park is my favorite part of Manhattan, of course who would have thought? Northern Central Park gets less touristy compared to southern Central Park (not too suprisingly). Other than Central Park there are a lot of other parks in Manhattan of course, and a ton of small community gardens that are run by the neighborhood communities and NYC parks. It is called Green Thumb and is the largest community gardening program in the US. The community gardens are run by residents in the area, and anyone can join a community garden. Of course, these gardens aren't open at all times, since they are run by the community, but you are mostly free to enter and look around if you happen to come across a garden that is open. We have one right by our apartment, which I will try to join!

The Ultimate Roadtrip pt.3

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The Spell of the Yukon

There’s a land where the mountains are nameless,
   And the rivers all run God knows where;
There are lives that are erring and aimless,
   And deaths that just hang by a hair;
There are hardships that nobody reckons;
   There are valleys unpeopled and still;
There’s a land — oh, it beckons and beckons,
   And I want to go back — and I will.
- Robert Service


DAY 3, 05/23/16: Wolf Creek Campground to Liard River Hot Springs Campground - 408.5 miles

Alaska Highway - The Alcan

    On day 3 we started to see an increase in the number of cars and RVs on the road. This was also apparent in some of the campgrounds the following days. Many people drive the Alaskan highway, aka the Alcan, every year. Dawson Creek in British Columbia is where the highway officially starts, and it ends at mile 1421 in Delta Junction, Alaska. Back in the day the Alcan was mostly gravel, and of course fewer people actually drove it. W's mom and dad drove part of the Alcan back in the day. They got a flat tire and I think they had to wait almost a full day before someone drove by and could help them. Today the whole road is asphalt, with the exception for all the road construction areas, which as always seem to multiply in the summer time, everywhere. To guide you through the 1421 mile long roadtrip you should use the Milepost aka the road bible as I like to call it. It has every single small town and attraction listed in it, even specifics about anything you could possibly want to know. Information about how long time it takes to go from point A to point B, where the gas stations are or for that matter aren't, the towns you pass through, tourist attractions and information about other highways, ferries and such. Every year the Milepost is published, with updated information. As with any other road in the less developed areas of North America, the cellservice is mostly non existent. If you drive this road you are bound to run into wild animals, grizzlies, blackies, bison, caribou and moose are some of the more frequent ones you can see. We had been driving through amazing parts of Alaska and Canada, and Canada just kept on giving and giving. You drive on Empty roads, with more black bears than what I had ever seen, all along the road. You pass large rivers and small creeks, cross bridges, and you just keep seeing more mountains and deep forests around every corner you turn.

Some of the beautiful views we saw on May 23rd:

We stop at the Signpost Forest

Wolfcreek Campground

    We woke up early at Wolfcreek Campground, the rain had stopped and for once our tent was pretty dry. We were in the outskirts of Whitehorse and had pretty mixed feelings about the campground. Being so close to Whitehorse it draws more people to it, and sometimes not the best people. About 70% of the whole population of YT lives in Whitehorse (a whopping 25,000) which makes it the largest city in the YT. Our goal for today was to drive about 260 miles, until we arrived at the Signpost Forest in Watson Lake. Watson lake is one of the larger towns in YT (well everything is relative, right..), about 1000 people live here which makes it the third largest city in YT. The Signpost Forest itself was created in 1942 by a U.S. soldier recovering from an injury. I can only imagine how boring it must be to be injured at a place like this, in the middle of nowhere. Today more than 77,000 signs can be seen here.

We enter British Columbia and drive towards Liard Hotsprings

    We leave the Yukon and its vast wilderness and lack of humans behind us and enter into British Columbia, BC. It's crazy that we spent more than one day driving through the Yukon, just like Robert Service once said, 

"There are valleys unpeopled and still;
There’s a land — oh, it beckons and beckons,
And I want to go back — and I will."


About 4.6 million people live here, quite the contrast to YT's 35,000 people. We drive into the famous Liard River Hot Springs Provincial Park with that rain constantly haunting us from behind. I have actually written about Liard Hot Springs in the past, but for a completely different reason. At Liard Hot Springs Provisional park, a well known bear attack took place back in 1997. You are in bear country all through the Alcan, Alaska and most parts of Canada.  The bear attack in 1997 was a random one, which is probably why it is so famous when people talk about bear safety, but you still need to be bear aware. Liard Hot Springs is surrounded by the deep boreal forest, tall black and white spruce, but also lodgepole pine are mixed in with the deciduous vegetation like aspen and birch. We walked on a long boardwalk over these beautiful wetlands, surrounded by the beautiful boreal forest. At the end of the boardwalk we walked into the forest and came out in front of the second largest hotspring in Canada. We swam for a while until those thunderstorms that had been chasing us for days arrived again, and we quickly got out of the water to head back to the parking lot. 

Come Rain Come Shine

    Once the rain stopped we walked back towards the hot springs again and shot some pictures. It was so beautiful there. The sun, the misty air that was created once the sun broke out after the short but heavy thunderstorm, and just nature itself. A typical summer evening was forming, a pretty damp but beautiful one. Later that evening we could go to bed with a smile on our faces, a reminder of how lucky we are to get to see places like this. 

Day 3 trip Details - Gas, Camping, and gas mileage

  • Canada: Jakes Corner Whitehorse. MP 866 Alaska highway, YT, 55 miles from Wolf Creek Campground. Gas mileage: 21.42 miles/gallon
  • Canada: Rancheria Motel and Cafe. MP 710 Alaska highway Watson lake, YT, 150.5 miles. Gas mileage: 30.967 miles/gallon
  • Canada: Somewhere...171.2 miles.  Mileage 25.22 miles/gallon
  • Total driving on day 3, about  276.7 + 31.8 miles from the gas station to  Liard Hotsprings Campground (408.5 miles).
  • The grand total of the whole trip: 1018.4 miles
  • Campground: Liard River Hot Springs Provincial Park