Sunday, September 27, 2009

I messed up and had a good day

When I woke up Saturday morning, it was cold and rainy. I had that itch to drive out of town for the day and take some fall photographs. the weather was supposed to be bad, but you never know. By the time I reached Indian the sun was trying break through.

Along the road to Portage Valley, they are building a new trail. It's still under construction, but well under way and looking good. The sun came out and started to warm things up. The waters were calm and the fall colors were showing their stuff.

In Turnagain Pass the snow is working its way down the mountains. It's not going to be long now. This place is very popular with the snowmachiners and cross country skiers. Today people were enjoying walking the trails.

Hope Junction is always brighter than a artist palette in the fall. You can park at the rest area and see for miles and miles. There's an old saying from the GI's that built the Alaskan Highway during WWII. There's miles and miles of nothing but miles and miles. They were unfortunate to not be able to enjoy things like we are today, but they made it easier on the rest of us.

The bridge is dangerous because it's a two lane highway, but it's much safer than the old one. The old one is on the other side of the new one and is now part of a hiking trail.

So for a day that was supposed to be cold and nasty. mother nature changed course for the better and gave us all a treat. She's been good at that this year.




Thursday, September 24, 2009

It just keeps on falling

Winter is fast arriving. We have been getting our fair share of rain and last night the temperature made it below freezing. It's won't be long until Ol' Man Winter is here.

It always amazes me at the different things you see with people up here. We get a lot of new people to our state every year. They come on their own or their company sends them or the military assigns them here. Along with them they bring the culture they came from or try to live the real Alaska.

I went to West Chester Lagoon yesterday and it was raining and about 40°. Some of the people were dressed like we were in the Arctic. When the temps do drop below 0°, those are the people we won't see much of.

We are lucky to live in such a beautiful and diverse state. It's not unusual to see moose, eagles, grebe's and all kinds of wildlife at West Chester Lagoon. Less than a five minute walk away is downtown with all of its hustle and bustle. Hop in you car or truck, and drive out of town for fifteen minutes and you'll find yourself in the middle of wild Alaska.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Remembering Yukla 27

It was 14 years ago today, September 22nd, that an AWACS plane carrying U.S. and Canadian military personnel crashed after takeoff from Elmendorf Air Force Base, killing all 24 people aboard.

Their aircraft call sign was Yukla 27. Yukla is a Tanaina Indian name for "Eagle". On 22 September 1995, Yukla 27 began rolling down runway 05 at 0746 Alaska Standard Time. The E-3B did not fly far after take off, remaining airborne only 42 seconds. Losing most port (left) wing thrust, Yukla 27 banked into an inescapable crisis, reaching an altitude of no more than 270 feet, and disappeared into the timbered hills 3,500 feet Northeast of the runway at precisely 0747:12. Having wrestled the E-3 to the edge of the laws of physics well below stall speed, pilot Capt Glenn "Skip" Rogers' last transmission was "We're goin' in, we're going down."

Each chose to answer the highest calling of citizenship by risking his personal safety in defense of his country. There is no more selfless act. All who die in the line of duty do so that others might live in peace and prosperity. It is a profound sacrifice and a priceless gift. The tragic accident which claimed Yukla 27 transformed its 24 man crew into the stuff of legend. They were 24 of the best. The day of their loss will be forever marked into history and my memory.

The investigation into the accident revealed that geese, being sucked into the jet's engines, caused the crash.

I knew most of the crew of Yukla 27. I was the crew chief of the aircraft it replaced after I retired. Funny thing is that I knew most of the crew from the time spent deployed to Panama, not our time in Alaska. Aircraft Commander, Capt. Skip Rodgers was a real professional. TSgt Bart L. Holmes was the flight engineer, and one of the best. These two I worked with the most, the rest I saw in the halls at work, at squadron picnics, etc. They were the best of the best and won't be forgotten.



"High Flight"

by

John Gillespie Magee, Jr.

Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds--and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of--wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence, Hov'ring there,
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew,
And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

In full swing

Fall is in full swing. The leaves have or are in process of changing every wheres. V shape formations are in the sky and the temperature is dropping every night. I've had to use the defroster a couple times to get the dew off the windshield already, but no frost as of yet.

Work has been getting in the way of me getting out to get many photographs. That's a good complaint in a way with this economy, but it's not the fun I like to have.

I've been bragging about the awesome weather we've been having. It's been great even with the change from summer to fall to soon to be winter. I've been up here 25 years and can't remember a better year weather wise.

Tourism is way off this year. I think estimates are about 25%. We've been seeing more people from European countries visiting. It's been fun with the few I've got to interact with. One couple from Italy didn't speak any English, but with a brochure card and a Sharpie, I got them on their way to Denali. They look like they were having the time of their life.

I'm hoping to head to Hope or Seward next weekend and the fall colors are still around. Let's see what happens.





Monday, September 7, 2009

Falling

We've had some awesome weather this year. A big surprise was beautiful weather for the Labor Day weekend. Unfortunately it's probably the last hurrah for the summer. The leaves are changing and we haven't had a first frost yet. They will probably change fast and be over before we know it.

An unexpected side trip back from Wasilla to Eklutna Lake after we stopped at Rochelle's for some long over due ice cream. Not only do they have good ice cream, they have an awesome view. They close after Labor Day and you would have to wait until next year to get their ice cream.

Mother nature makes the prettiest colors this time of year. I hope she lets fall hang on a little longer. I'd like to get another trip out to get some more photo's.

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