Monday, December 31, 2007

Alaska, the land of make-your-own-lanes

There are some places where rules just don't apply.  I think that it's safe to say that Alaska is one of them.  It's that whole renegade, 49th State, outlaw mentality, I think.  This completely applies to the commonly-undertaken activity called driving your car.

It's not uncommon on snowy days to have the lines on the road totally obscured by snow.  At other times, there is no excuse for not being able to see the lines -- it just doesn't seem that they are there at all.  Most of the time, the weather is wet and the road is dark when this happens, and it seems that the snowplows have scraped the paint off of the road surface.  In these cases, Alaskans feel free to participate in an old Alaskan driving past-time, that of making your own lanes. 

You see, it doesn't matter that the highway is supposed to be four lanes.  On a terribly snowy day, it may only be two lanes.  You mustn't dare to try to make a new lane unless you have a great 4wd system.  Driving through the undisturbed, massive quantities of snow may land you in the ditch scratching your head and wondering how you got there, while other motorists honk and drive past you with reckless abandon.

On the really dark days when you can't see the lines because they aren't there to begin with, there may be as many as six lanes on the highway.  Drive wherever you feel like it.  It's a bit like Greece in the way that you can drive as many cars across as can actually physically fit on the road.  Scary sometimes, I'll admit.  But that's Alaska for you...

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Wow, so much has happened since the last time I posted. Let me see if I can entice my mind to function on this lazy Sunday afternoon…

As the end of my time off loomed, I found myself dreading going back to work. I had good reason, as on the Tuesday that I returned, my coworker went home at lunch sick and did not return for the rest of the week. Welcome back, Leslie! You’d better get to work!

These long and tiresome days left me little time or inclination to take the dogs out. They rested until the weekend, when I took them on a 8 mile run on the 8 mile trail. Clover was (and still is) in bleeding heat, so she didn’t accompany the 4 boys on their runs. I feel very sorry for her, as Ed had her trained up to 70 mile runs and now she has scaled back to…well, nothing.

The following Monday brought Christmas eve and Matt was to come in from the slope at around 6:00 pm. As I scurried around, wrapping presents and making ready for our Christmas get-together at a friend in Anchorage’s place, I fell into a bit of a “bah-humbug” mood. I think that Calvin echoed my sentiments. At least, it sure looks like it in this snapshot of him below. Silly dog.

(There is SUPPOSED to be a picture of Calvin here but the stupid blog thing won’t let me upload it at full size. I may be moving to a different blog host soon, be forewarned. This one (Wordpress) is NOT user-friendly.)

We wound up having a very enjoyable time at our friend John’s, and spent the following evening (Christmas) at our other friend’s place, near our house in Chugiak. There was a TON of good food, much ethnic (Swedish) food and drink to be had, and we had a nice time visiting. There was a pretty big crowd so it was cozy but pleasant. I was surprised to find that a better variation of our (Bonnie’s and mine) last year’s holiday drink had been made — cranberry liqueur. No cloves were used this time and it turned out much nicer, I think.

At the close of the holiday weekend, I decided to pop by Eric’s house and pick up the Bernie Willis sled that he so generously offered me at Thanksgiving dinner. After a few minor repairs were made, I decided to take it out on that (Tuesday) evening. Matt decided to lash it to the top of the Land Cruiser and head out, thinking that it would be an easy task. Think again! We couldn’t ever get the darn thing just right. The ropes weren’t tight enough and this or that happened and I never felt that the sled might not slide off the top of the danged SUV. After wasting an HOUR doing this, I was very frustrated and pitched a minor fit, insisting that we hook up the trailer which contained the ATV, moved the ATV, and put the sled into the trailer. Five minutes later, we were ready to go and were on our way!

The sled driving at the trail was relatively uneventful. I had Matt as a passenger for the first go-round on the 2 mile trail, so there was a lot of weight in the basket and the dogs were inclined to go very slowly, which was just fine with me. After one loop, Matt hopped out and I drove the next 2 miles alone. This reminded me very promptly that I am a TERRIBLE sled driver and have a lot to work on this year.

The dogs did not run again until yesterday (Saturday) when Bonnie and her brother and I took them out for a FAST 5 mile run. I don’t have an odometer/speedometer on my ATV but Bonnie said we were doing 12-15 mph for the duration. That isn’t fast for the serious racers but it’s pretty speedy for my big guys. They needed some speed work and seemed happy and satisfied when we came in. The club was having a social gathering after we finished so I left them dropped at my vehicle, which was parked on the Alternate Trail side and I rode the ATV over to the clubhouse. With all of the wolf attacks on dogs lately, it crossed my mind that my puppies might be bait, but we had no incidents and they were happy as can be when I returned.

No plans to run today…maybe tomorrow — New Years Eve day. I am having a gas stove installed tomorrow so I might not move from in front of it for a few days. :)

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