Monday, July 8, 2013

Smoke and Santa

On Sunday, we woke up to smoke in the valley and high winds. The fire east of town between Chena Hot Springs Road and Eielson AFB started to grow. I went up to one of my favorite overlook spots mid-morning in Fairbanks but couldn't see much. Around noon, I headed home along my favorite "scenic routes". At least it wasn't very smoky though there was a fair stretch of road construction. But I still had a chance to open try the rig out at higher speeds. No issues with a very smooth and stable ride and can report that the rig still accelerates easily in fifth gear even going uphill.

Later in the afternoon, we took a trip out to North Pole and the Knotty Shop which is just past Eielson AFB. As we were heading east, the smoke and the resulting upwelling was pretty impressive. By mid-afternoon, they were evacuating sections of Chena Hot Springs Road since the fire had increased in size significantly due to the winds.

Meanwhile, all looked peaceful at the Santa Claus House. We brought my mom and grandson out for a visit to see the reindeer and all of the trinkets for sale in the gift shop. Actually, I enjoy looking around and even purchased an ornament just like the one Dom mentioned in a post a few weeks back. A small metal motorcycle with sidecar.

Then again, if I was a true aficionado of sidecar stuff, I would have picked up this ceramic Snoopy and Woodstock for a paltry $100 or so. The Santa Claus House is still a nice place to visit at least once a year though this may be the first time I've been here when there wasn't any snow on the ground. They were doing a pretty brisk business with the tourists.

From the Santa Claus House, we continued east past Eielson AFB towards Salcha to the Knotty Shop. They have all sorts of wooden gift items but the reason we stopped was to get some ice cream. On the way back to town, the smoke plume was still pretty prominent to the north. The local paper reports that the fire is up to 64,530 acres and is only 5% contained. The fire was supposedly started by munitions training on the base. 

12 comments:

Unknown said...

Richard:

A few years ago I rode my bike to Kelowna and passed the forest fires in the Stein Valley. Wasn't much smoke but once you start coughing you can't stop, and then there's the smell of smoke. Hope they get it under control soon

as for your wheel, how about a short test run to Salem, OR for the BMW rally. It would just be a short test to make sure your wheel maintains balance.

bob
Riding the Wet Coast

RichardM said...

I think that would qualify as a "long" trip. I am flying down to attend the rally and a family reunion the following week. The smoke isn't too bad today but I heard that there are almost 90 fires in interior Alaska right now...

Martha said...

Terrible smoke. I won't live out west anymore for that reason. I'd be in the hospital in a heartbeat if I had to breathe that- not good for asthma.

VStar Lady said...

Richard, I thought Santa lived in Canada :(
Fires are burning everywhere - even in Battersea we smelled smoke from fires burning near Ottawa. Hopefully they are contained with no more peril to fire fighters.

SonjaM said...

Oh no, it's that time of the year again. I remember the fires in 2004. We were in Fairbanks and couldn't see a thing. We went to a double feature movie night to catch some fresh air.

redlegsrides said...

90 fires?! I guess that Alaska is so huge that it can "withstand" such a large amount of fires....

dom

RichardM said...

The smoke is, unfortunately, a common problem in the west including Alaska. I general, they don't actually fight the fires unless they get close to civilization and in some cases, they burned for several years by "wintering over" in the tundra.

RichardM said...

I think the Santa Claus house is just a front and the real production facilities are somewhere in the middle of nowhere with good logistics like maybe Canada...

They don't devote a lot of manpower to fire control unless it gets near property. I guess they need to help the insurance companies.

RichardM said...

I think that every year millions of acres burn in Alaska. This is one of the reasons why it's better to visit early in the season instead of in the middle. I was told that just within the Denali Natl Park boundaries, there were a number of fires. Just monitored with no personell assigned.

Trobairitz said...

That smoke doesn't look healthy at all. At least it doesn't seem to be bothering you. Do you hear of a lot of displaced wildlife because of the fires?

Looking forward to seeing you after the rally.

RichardM said...

You're right, not very healthy at all. We get a lot of disappointed tourists whenever there are fires near town (almost every other summer) as there was never any mention of it in the brochures.

My son is working at the fairgrounds and there has been a large influx of domestic animals that folks have been moving there due to the fire. He mentioned that one barn was housing several dog teams.

RichardM said...

Hmm, your comment was caught in the Blogger's spam filter though I don't understand why. Anyway, in 2004 we still had a travel trailer with an air conditioner. We used that at night to avoid having the windows open.