The sights in Alaska are breathtaking and there is plenty of daylight in the summer to take the breath away!
Our cabin at Jade Lake is only a few miles from Anchorage, as the crow flies, so it shares similar weather and night/daylight cycles as Alaska’s largest city. Many misunderstand how day and night are influenced by the northern latitude. So I’d like to offer a little primer while at the same time waxing reminiscent of our families recent stay in Big Lake.
The longest and shortest days of the year are called the solstices. You have winter and summer solstice. The farther north you go, the greater the difference between daylight and nighttime hours at each solstice extreme. Once you cross the Arctic Circle the sun will not set on the day of the summer solstice and will not rise on the day of winter solstice. This means that as the calendar progresses toward the summer solstice the days will get several minutes longer each day
At the latitude of Big Lake (where our vacation rental is located) it means that in the vicinity of June 20-22 there will be nearly 20 hours of daylight. Due to the fact that the light from the sun illuminates the sky even after the sun has dipped out of sight (we call this dusk) and begins to illuminate the sky before it can actually be seen rising (we call this dawn) it can remain light around the clock.
During this later part of June that is exactly what happens when looking out our cabin windows which overlook Jade Lake. This photo was taken at 3:30am, there is no sun yet visible in the sky but it is just about to peek out toward the left (southeast) of the photo.
When you take a journey up our way in the summer months you have some very long, beautiful days in which to explore. It is rather disorienting, but yes the sun does technically set over our cabin since we are some 350 miles south of the Arctic Circle. And yes, between about 11:30pm -3:30am it is too dim to read a book indoors without artificial light.
Imagine the possibilities to enjoy Alaska! A one or two week vacation actually has enough daylight hours for you to enjoy double your actual stay if you’re from Florida, Texas or Arizona.
Who goes on vacation to sleep anyway?Share on Facebook
The Iron Dog is “World’s longest snowmobile race. 2000 miles across the Alaskan wilderness.”
Today’s Iron Dog course is over 2,000 miles, starting in Big Lake to Nome and finishing in Fairbanks, making it the World’s longest snowmobile race. Participants must traverse in some of Alaska’s the most remote and rugged terrain while confronting some the harshest winter conditions. Survival skills are essential, making it the World’s toughest snowmobile race. All teams in race classes are a team of two persons and two snowmobiles for safety. (from Iron Dog History)
The official start of the 2012 Iron Dog Pro Class Race began Sunday, February 19th at Big Lake approximately 1 mile from our vacation rental cabin in Big Lake, Alaska!
Planned community events for 2012 include:
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USA Today Travel recently posted an article entitled 10 places you never thought you could afford [February 16, 2012] which covered the breath of travel opportunities now available to many.
The list included:
Did you catch that? Alaska! Our home away from home. Read an excerpt from USA Today.
…Alaska is enormous—it’s two times the size of Texas. [...] For an amazingly economical Alaska vacation, book a cruise during shoulder season. As of this publication, we spotted weeklong spring and fall Alaska cruises on our sister site Cruise Critic’s deals page on sale for as little as $569 per person…
I’d like to point out that an alternative, and one that allows you to get the feel of that which truly defines Alaska, is to find a “homebase” and plan excursions to the sites in Alaska which most interest you.
Cruise ships are nice but you are restricted to the “glamorous” coastal view. The sites in Alaska are only part of the adventure. Alaskans themselves have a spirit that cannot be quantified and is truly unique to Alaska. To see Alaska without spending time with Alaskans is like a BLT with no bread.
From a land-based perspective a vacation rental is ideal. Our cabin in Big Lake is near enough to Wasilla, Willow, Talkeetna, Denali, Anchorage and Portage Glacier to make all the sites of these destinations viable day trips. This gives you ample time to return for a BBQ on your personal balcony while enjoying the laid back beauty of Jade Lake.
A trip to the local grocery store to pick up those steaks & fresh salmon may not be as elegant as dinner with the captain, but maybe your goal is not to simply check “cruise” off your list.
But I do understand if maybe you just want to try your hand at some salmon fishing from the side of that cruise ship and call that “experiencing Alaska”.Share on Facebook
Just reading the article Alaska dog-mushing season kicks off with a triple bang takes my imagination to a sporting venue that sounds uniquely exciting. Read a few excerpts below:
Near Wasilla, the Alaska Excursions 120 saw an exciting field of entries with mushers from as far away as England, Brazil and New Zealand. They and several Iditarod and Yukon Quest veterans competed for $10,000 in prize money.
The first day’s fastest finish belonged to Ryan Redington, co-founder of the event and grandson of Joe Redington Sr., founder of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.
The second day of racing saw Redington’s team overtaken by the world champion sprint racer Blayne Streeper, whose Streeper Kennels is the only kennel in history to have won the World Triple Crown of mushing.
Race fans watching the Alaska Excursions 120 Facebook page were amused by a running commentary which included reports of Santa being on the trail (“…he may be DQ’d due to Prancer and Vixen not being on the official entry list…”) and then disappearing (“Report is that reindeer and sleigh tracks just… vanished.”), and one very unusual note about a musher being “shirtless, wearing only a bib… trying to confirm identity and… gender of said musher. Must be warm out.”
“In 1925, a life-or-death race to rescue the children of Nome, AK, from disease made an international hero of one sled dog – and eventually led to the creation of Alaska’s Iditarod sled dog race.” (Quote from the inspiring story of hero sled dog Balto and his team’s thousand mile race: Sled Dogs: an Alaskan Epic – PBS)
Dog mushing was designated the official state sport of Alaska in 1972.Share on Facebook
Sometimes life seems like an unrelenting battering of one storm after another.
I am not afraid of storms for I am learning how to sail my ship.
Louisa May Alcott
For me part of learning how to sail mean times of solitude, times in which I can spend in quiet contemplation.
That’s what this little piece of paradise up in the Alaskan north feels like to me.
From the Anchorage Daily News:
Published: September 6th, 2011 10:42 PM
Doug Tosa won the big-boat class and Tim Gould and Jodi Dingle took the small-boat class in the 45th annual Governor’s Cup Regatta over the weekend at Big Lake.
Small-boat class – 1); Tim Gould/Jodi Dingle, 2) tie, Geoff Wright, Anchorage, and Elayne Hunter, Anchorage.
Big-boat class – 1) Doug Tosa, Anchorage; 2) Bruce and Tina LaLonde, Anchorage; 3) Jeromy Reed, Anchorage.
I have never been afforded the opportunity to watch this. I look forward to the day it is possible to be in Alaska while the regatta is going on.Share on Facebook
John Denver sang,
Oh, for the fire on a cold winters night
Once more to gaze at the great northern lights
For all of the beauty my children will see
Here’s to Alaska and me
Here’s to Alaska, here’s to the people
Here’s to the wild and here’s to the free
Here’s to my life in a chosen country
Here’s to Alaska and me
This is the place our family longs to be.
Our Thanksgiving Day was nowhere near the pure white powder you see all around… but our hearts were.
What a blessing that we can share our home away from home with many others. Big Lake, Alaska is the place to be this time of year!
Oh, for the fire on a cold winters night!Share on Facebook