What’s that Bieri guy up to?
Greetings from the Last Frontier! (Not to be confused with the Final Frontier, which is what Captain James T. Kirk and Spock explored)
Hope all is well in and around North America’s Geographical Center since I left the fine city of Rugby five months ago.
I’ve been enjoying my time in Alaska so far; there’s no shortage of adventures and peculiarities in this state that have piqued my interest.
I was somewhat fortunate, it sounds like, to avoid one of North Dakota’s most brutal winters in recent memory by moving north.
The climate here has been mild and moderate, which has actually been a bit of a bummer. My gal got me snowshoes for Christmas after we’d started to make weekly snow shoe adventures, with me using a borrowed pair. Of course, it would happen that the area in and around Anchorage would have next to no snow for all of January and much of February.
That hasn’t stopped me from getting out and enjoying some of the beautiful scenic areas. Last weekend, we hiked up a place called Mt. Baldy, just north of Anchorage, which provided a beautiful view of the Chugiak Mountain Range. Last month my gal and I (along with our dogs), spent a weekend at Hatcher’s Pass, north of Wasilla (that’s where Sarah Palin is from). I’m not sure of the precise altitude, but between a hike along the ski paths or a snowshoe trip up the mountain, I’m pretty sure it’s as high as I’ve ever been – at least since college (haha).
One of Alaska’s signature events is the Iditarod Dog Sled Race, which just completed its 41st annual run earlier this month.
The weather, and general lack of snow, nearly caused the race to be moved from its traditional starting home of Willow.
In fact, in hindsight, the race committee probably should have moved it after a number of musher teams were scratched early on after being injured racing at breakneck speeds through fast, dry paths.
We got a couple of VIP passes through my employer, the Anchorage Daily News, and were able to go behind the ropes at both the ceremonial start in Anchorage and what’s called the “restart” in Willow. It was quite a sight to see the dog teams as they prepared for the 1,000-mile trek to Nome. The race was a thriller, with three lead changes in the final stretch as whiteout conditions forced the leaders to pull over and wait out the weather.
Working at the paper has been great – I’m the wires editor, which means I handle most of the national and international news that goes in the paper. They’ve also let me write a number of music and entertainment features in my spare time.
It’s been a great learning experience working with the news team headed by editor Patrick Dougherty, who helped the paper earn its second Pulitzer Prize in 1989.
I have been trying my best to keep up with the news in Rugby. I have to say I was thrilled, but not surprised, to see the Rugby boys basketball team make a deep run at the State Class B Tournament. I knew they’d be just as good as last year. I’m very happy for them, it’s a great group of kids and coaches.
This is probably about the time that preparations get started for the summer musical production, which is also one of my lasting memories of Rugby. Of course, if you put that much time into anything, you’re going to remember it (haha).
Many of you have probably heard of part of Alaska being in the “Land of the Midnight Sun,” where there’s daylight for 24 consecutive hours at some point during the summer. Anchorage isn’t quite that bad, but it’s taken a little getting used to the light or lack of light.
At times during the winter there isn’t too much daylight, similar to North Dakota, but maybe a couple hours fewer at its darkest.
But for the last month or two we’ve been getting back sunlight at a breakneck pace, more than five minutes a day. So now sunrise is around 7:40 a.m., and the sun doesn’t set until around 8:30 p.m.
I bought tickets for the Midnight Sun baseball game, which has been played since 1906. The game starts in Fairbanks about 10 p.m. and plays well past midnight, all in the sunlight. Should be a lot of fun.
Well, I hope everyone is well in Rugby. Thinking of all my friends in North Dakota. Regards, Chris Bieri