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Sunday, July 1st - Summer in Fairbanks

Steve and I have spent a lot of time 'chilling' since Donna went home last weekend. It's been hot here in Fairbanks, and we've found ourselves spending most days inside the house, with the drapes drawn to keep the hot sunlight out. Besides short jaunts around the block with Sedona, or spending time tending to my flowers in the back yard, I haven't really accomplished much besides tending to household chores.

Getting a good night's sleep has been challenging, particularly with the warmth. Thank goodness for fans - both ceiling and floor. We've had them all going almost non-stop. We've been lucky in that the overnight air has cooled down sufficiently to at least allow for agreeable sleeping weather.

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Thursday, July 5th - Creamers Field and Celebrations

A few days ago, I took Sedona with me while running errands. After I did what had to be done, we stopped at Creamers Field for a walk on the boreal forest trail. I've posted photos of this trail before, with the boardwalks that cross over wetlands and small ponds and creeks and wind through birch and cottonwood trees. This was my first time walking the trail in the summer months.

The little creeks and ponds are gone now. In some places, the ground is still boggy and soft, but in other areas, the ground is overgrown with thick ferns and other growth. It's a totally different landscape, and quite beautiful. The downside is the overabundance of mosquitoes in the forest, and I wasn't prepared with bug spray so I made a good meal for them.

It was cooler in the woods than it was in the sunshine, but still very warm. We reached highs in the mid 80s that day, and even the shade couldn't hide the fact that it was a hot day in Fairbanks. By the time we finished our 2+ mile walk, both Sedona and I were hot and thirsty.

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Monday, July 9th - A trip up the Steese Highway to Circle, Alaska (the end of the line)

Saturday, at noon, we left the house for the 162 mile drive to Circle Alaska - the end of the road on the Steese Highway. Until that moment, we weren't sure if we were going to go on the drive. The weather was less than desirable with cloudy skies and the threat of rain. We packed accordingly (rain gear, warm clothes, water, snacks, extra gas) and began the drive.

The Steese Highway is paved for 44 miles. After that, it goes to gravel and hard-packed dirt, but it's a well-maintained road with very little potholes or washboard (at least in the summer months). In the winter, the higher elevations can be closed by avalanche gates, preventing anyone from getting into - or out of - the small towns of Central and Circle. There are a number of wilderness hiking and canoe trails along the route, which are maintained by the Bureau of Land Management. This highway passes through the Chatanika River valley next to the trans-Alaska oil pipeline, by gold camps, over rolling hills of tundra, past wildlife, hot springs and finally to the mighty Yukon River - the largest river in Alaska.

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Sunday, July 15th - Creamers Field, a Powwow and a Hafla

Thursday was errand day, so I decided to take Sedona with me for company. She loves going for rides in my car, and as soon as I say "Want to go bye-bye?", she runs straight for the door that leads to the garage. I like having her along for company, and usually end up at Creamers Field with her so we can both get some much-needed exercise.

I like the way that Creamers Field changes as the months pass. The seasonal wetland trail runs alongside a large pond in the spring. Ducks and other water birds make their home here in the spring - some on their way to final nesting areas, but others staying to raise their young. As the weather warms, the ground thaws and the pond slowly disappears. Eventually, all that remains is mud and tall grass.

Sedona and I did a quick walk along this trail, but this time I kept a tight reign on her so she wouldn't make a beeline for what little muddy puddles remained. As we walked, I could hear the laughter of children in the distance, and later saw a large group of them participating on what appeared to be a nature walk. I love that Fairbanks has so many activities available for children in the summer. Many times I've wished that I could have raised my boys here.

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Friday, July 20th - Kids are on their way!!!!

I just wanted to make this short update to let you all know that my kids are on their way. As I type this, they are sitting in the Minneapolis airport, enjoying a leisurely lunch, and waiting for their connecting flight to Fairbanks. They will be here in less than 9 hours - but who's counting? I am beyond excited! My stomach is in happy knots and I just want to *SQUEEEEE!* at the top of my lungs.

Steve won't be able to go to Valdez with us. He has a job interview next Thursday, and will be talking to a few other prospective employers next week. I'm going to miss him, but I know the kids and I will have a wonderful time. I just hope the rain that's predicted heads somewhere else. Doing a wildlife cruise in the rain isn't fun - although the wildlife doesn't care if it's raining.

In other news, I have decided to enter some of my photographs in the Tanana Valley Fair photography competition. There will be a lot of competition from very talented photographers in the Fairbanks area, so I'm not going to get my hopes up too high for winning any ribbons, but it will be good exposure for my work and give me a taste of what it's like to compete.

I talked my friend Abby into entering the jewelry and bead making competition with her husband, Bo. They do awesome work! She and I will be taking our entries by the fairgrounds on July 28th - the only day you have to bring your stuff in. The kids will still be in town (their last day), but Steve said he'll entertain them.

I don't think I'll have time to update until after the kids leave. Until next time...

Monday, July 30th - Our Visit with the "Kids"

The house is so quiet now that the kids have gone home. They really brought a lot of laughter to our home, and we enjoyed having them here and showing them around Alaska.

They arrived only 20 minutes late on Friday evening (20th). There was a delay leaving Minneapolis so that some cruise passengers could make the flight to Fairbanks and begin the land portion of their cruise package. Getting the kids' bags took almost an hour, however, and they were exhausted after a long day traveling.

After leaving the airport, we decided to grab a bite to eat at the Dog Sled Saloon in the Captain Bartlett Inn. The kids were amazed at the sun high in the sky - even though it was after 9pm.

When we got back to the house, we showed Brandon and Becky to the guest room. Chris had to use the sofa while visiting, but didn't seem to mind. They were all glad to be here and couldn't wait to see more of the Fairbanks area and other parts of the state.

Our plan for Saturday morning was to go downtown to see the Golden Days Parade and then find something to do until it was time to watch the launch of the rubber duckies down the Chena River. We never made the parade...

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©2007 Susan L Stevenson