Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Winter Storm Update

We are getting more than a little bit of snow. So far, we've gotten around 16" or so here at the house. The power has been out for almost 24 hours with no end in sight. I read that something like 15,000 - 21,000 people don't have power. That is something like ⅓ of the population of the area. The power company said that it may be out for days.

I just cleared the driveway for the 5th time and starting to seriously consider a snow plow for on this truck. Not simply for the driveway but our subdivision road hasn't been plowed and maybe use it for supplemental income. We'll see.

Right now, I'm using the Ural to charge my devices courtesy of the USB ports that I had installed for the road trip. Pretty handy to have.

Update 3:15PM - The power came back on! Hopefully, it stays on. Last night it came on for 30 minutes then shut off again...

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Winter Storm

I guess I'm not going to even pretend that winter hasn't arrived. There is a winter storm warning in place until Wednesday with 14" of snow being projected. I needed to run some errands in town this morning so it was a good opportunity to see how well my minimal studs are doing. My conclusion, not great. I only have about half of the studs in the pusher and none in the sidecar tire. And non-carbide studs in the front tire. I even needed 2WD to head up our road due to the deeper snow.

I'm also starting to have the now familiar problem with moisture clogging the air cleaner. There was a hint of this during rain storms i.e. you can tell that the engine was running rich. I guess it's time to install the plastic fence post air box and see if it makes a difference. I need to work on the bike anyway since the oil needs to be changed anyway. I have been running 20w50 full synthetic (Amsoil) and I just picked up 10w40 full synthetic. I think that this will work until the temperature drops even further. One thing I do not plan on doing this year is ride when the crankcase vent would freeze. I don't need any additional problems this year and I really am not out to prove anything.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Icy Roads

Bridget's Photo
As expected, the roads were pretty messy today but the other drivers were behaving well. This is our driveway after clearing the snow several times yesterday. The first clearing was about 6" and the second and third were about 2". We really did get a lot of snow yesterday. The ride in to town was pretty uneventful but I was glad that I swapped out the rear tire and added some of the leftover carbide studs. I didn't really have enough so I used the ice screws on the Duro front tire.

Bridget's Photo
While Bridget was out walking the dogs, she came across an abandoned tire chain embedded in the ice. I suspect that it came off of someone's vehicle and they may have not noticed the loss. If they aren't installed properly they could come off easily but you'd think someone would notice the change in the sound. The picture does show what our road is like these days.

This afternoon, I swapped out the Duro for the Heidenau K37 that I had used last year on the front as well as the first 1000 km or so of my summer road trip. It looks like it still has plenty of tread and you can see the ice screws that I'm using for now. The screws wear out pretty quickly especially if used on the pusher. The rear tire is also a K37 that was used on the sidecar last winter so it still has plenty of tread left. The sidecar has last years pusher so it's kind of worn but for the sidecar, it has plenty of life left.

The only other change for the winter (so far) is the addition of the Koplin bar end mitts that I had picked up last February. After installing them, I noticed that I couldn't reach the heated grip control so I relocated it to be right next to the CHT gauge. The only thing left is an engine oil change but still somewhat undecided as to what weight oil to use.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Winter is Here...

The clear skies of yesterday didn't last long. This is what we woke up to. I need to start getting the Ural ready for winter. I generally avoid being on the road for the first couple of snow falls as everyone needs to learn how to drive again. On the way into morning coffee, I passed two vehicles that never made it to where they were going. In both cases they were the typical "unstoppable" 4WD vehicles one of which was on it's side after sliding all the way across four lanes of road. I'm sure that this was only the beginning.

The snow won't be around too long as tomorrows forecast is highs around 43°F and Sunday and Monday it's supposed to be raining. But I will probably be swapping the pusher and front tire this weekend sometime. I don't have enough carbide studs (procrastination) so I'll probably start with the screws in the front tire and the leftover carbide studs on the pusher.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Ice on the Lake

Wednesday Morning - Look carefully and you can see ice on the surface of the lake next to the shore. The ice was a real surprise.

I ended up getting to do quite a bit of the work getting the indirect-fired water heater hooked up to the 40 year old boiler. Many of the shutoff valves leaked when shut off so we ended up pulling the manifold out and rebuilding it with new ball valves. Wayne, the boiler tech, had some pretty cool tools that sped up the installation. He only had to break out the torch to remove a couple of the old valves. All of the new fitting were ProPress fittings which needed a special hydraulic tool to crimp the joint. Pretty cool.

All of the connections between the boiler and the new water heater used Wirsbo plastic tubing. He showed me how to use the special installation tool and had me running all of the tubing while he started on the supply manifold. While we were at it, we added more ball valves to more easily isolate different heating circuits as well as replace the pressure relief valve which have been leaking since the original domestic hot water pipe sprung a leak inside the boiler which allowed domestic water to bleed into the boiler building up pressure.

Anyway, we now have this fancy digital temperature control to set the hot water temperature to whatever we need. And the 45 gallon tank should provide us with plenty of hot water.

Thursday Morning - On my way in this morning, I noticed that the ice on Ballaine Lake was all the way across. Obviously not enough to support anything beyond falling leaves but still significant. It was 21°F this morning and I had to spend a bit of time digging out the heated gear controller. I am back to using my older FirstGear Kilimanjaro jacket and pants and they seem awkward to put on compared to the Roadcrafter Light which is at Aerostitch for repair.

After coffee and running back to the plumbing shop to return some unused bits and pieces ($250 back!), I headed out to the Goldstream Valley since it was such a beautiful day. I turned at Murphy Dome Road since in the 33 years I've lived in Fairbanks I've never been to the top of Murphy Dome. It was a nice ride with about 20 miles or so of gravel. Kind of hard to see but there was a nice view of the mountains and still a bit of snow from our recent storm.

There is a government facility on top with some sort of radar but I didn't go out on the dirt road to see who ran the facility. There were a few other vehicles up on top with empty trailers. I assume that they belonged to folks out moose hunting as well as a couple of trucks at the radar site.

The views were spectacular to east and south. If you look carefully you can seen the Alaska Range in the distance with several prominent peaks. This was definitely one of those 200 mile visibility days. So nice after the rain cleans up the air.

Denali (formerly known as Mt. McKinley) can be seen clearly when up there but is a little hard to see in the photo. It is ⅓ of the way from the right on the picture. I used the Hydra iPhone app which has a zoom feature that takes a pile of pictures with you hand holding the phone. It uses your hand shaking to increase the resolution of the image since it is only using a portion of the sensor.

After all the running around locally picking up plumbing parts, climbing up and down a few hills and cruising on the highway, I filled the Ural up with over 200 km on the odometer. It took only 3.829 gallons of gas for a GPS corrected gas mileage of 35.7 mpg. My best tank ever!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


Fall has pretty much came and gone no matter what the calendar may claim. Most of the leaves have fallen off of the trees and the temperature yesterday morning was in the mid-20s. It's nice to have the Ural up and running again and I am pretty happy with the replacement ignition system. That was the only change and my gas mileage as my fill-up today was significantly higher than before. Hopefully it wasn't a fluke. It does feel like less throttle is needed to maintain a given speed. And I think I need to adjust the idle mixture a bit.

This picture was taken at Creamer's Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge. Most birds have come and gone on their way south by now. I had been waiting for a nice sunny day to try and get some good Fall color shots. But the peak has past and today was the first sunny day in the last week and a half.

The indirect-fired water heater isn't quite installed yet and I needed to pick up more pieces and parts yesterday. Including two 2"x4" ¾" plywood and an 8' Cu pipe. The stuff fit easily on the rear rack though I was getting a lot of stares at Home Depot. Hopefully it'll get installed tomorrow afternoon.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

New Ural Ignition System

I installed the new ignition system on the Ural this weekend. The photo on the right shows the original hall sensor and interrupter which is mounted on the end of the cam. The hall sensor cable exits the cover at the 10 o'clock position. This is the path for water to travel into the housing. All of these pieces are replaced with the new system. I measured the resistance of the coil and it the ohm meter shows an open circuit meaning that there is a wire broken within the coil on the sensor.

This is the replacement circuit showing the electronics board with it's optical sensor. The interrupter is replaced with the slotted disc with two sets of openings. One set is spaced about 2° apart around the circumference and there is one slot closer to the center which you set with the engine at top dead center (TDC). There is an LED at about the 3 o'clock position. You set the engine at TDC then turn the slotted disc until the LED just turns on.Then tighten the bolt (with medium strength Loctite) to clamp the disc in that position. That's all there is to setting the timing. The vendor says that you can't really use a timing light as it fires the plug three times instead of the normal one time. Since there isn't as much time to saturate the coil, the plug gap needs to be set narrower (0.025" - 0.032").

A bracket was included to mount the new coil but no directions were included as to where to install it. After much trial and error, I found the proper location. It mounts the coil such that the plug cables go straight down which would minimize water getting into the connections. This also locates the coil away from the engine for cooler running. The mounting bolt for the new bracket was also used to mount the horn so I'll need to find a new location for the horn.

Only a couple of electrical connections were needed and I took the opportunity to clean up the wiring underneath the gas tank due to the extra room that used to be occupied by the stock coil. When I first started the bike, the idle speed seemed kind of high but I took it for a short run. By the time I returned, the idle speed was around 2500 rpm. After ensuring that there was slack in the throttle cables, I connected the Twinmax to the vacuum ports on the carbs. Using the bike tachometer, I just cranked down the idle stop screws on both carbs a couple of turns to get the idle around 1000 rpm. I then adjusted the each idle screws until the carbs were balanced at idle and the rpm was around 1000 rpm. I then ran up the engine to around 3000 rpm and the needle stayed centered. No cable adjustment needed. Carbs balanced.

On the next test ride, the rig ran great. The acceleration seemed better but maybe that is just a perception due to installing something new. On the right you can see that I rotated the cover 120° counter-clockwise so the opening in the cover for the wire is now at the bottom. I think that this would not only prevent water from getting into the housing along the wire but will also allow any water that does get in to drain out. It does mean that the logo isn't oriented right but I can live with that. Maybe I'll make a new slot at the bottom and plug the existing one with some silicone.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Ad/Content Blockers

Content blockers, aka ad blockers, aren't that new with desktop browsers but Apple just introduced with iOS 9 content blocking on the mobile platform. For years I have been using Adblock Plus as a Chrome extension. There is another Chrome extension called uBlock Origin that seems to work extremely well. It isn't very customizable and is intended for the non-technical user that just wants to block trackers, especially annoying ads and known malware. I have been using it for a while and am amazed at the number of trackers and ads on some web pages. But to enable this behavior, you need to know enough about your browser to search for and install extensions and how to configure them. They aren't there by default.

There has been a growing concern on the Internet as many websites remain free because of ad revenue generated by simply the display of an ad on their page. This has generated some poor behavior such as "The Top Ten ____" (you fill in the blank) and the site will require you to load a new page just to see the next one. They get revenue each time the ad is displayed. If you choose to use an ad or content blocker, the ad won't load and they don't get the revenue. If the ads aren't even being requested, the page view can't be seen by the ad agency. Also the ad won't be consuming the data you're paying your ISP or mobile provider for. And the page loads faster. In some cases ten times faster. The other concern are the trackers. This is why if you happen to search for something like rocking chairs, you suddenly start to see ads on completely unrelated web pages for rocking chairs. The web sites are unrelated but they may be using the same ad service. Some website owners have gone as far as declaring that anyone that blocks their trackers and/or ads is a thief.

With the release of iOS 9, Apple allows you to get an content blocker from the App Store and you can configure Safari to use it for content blocking. I picked up Crystal and Peace yesterday and have been trying them to see what works and what breaks. Many pages do load much faster even on our slow Wi-Fi with any of these blockers. If I turn things up too high, I can't even reply to comments on my blog. So this is a learning process.

For me, this one feature of iOS 9 was enough to get me to install it on the day of its release instead of waiting for at least a couple of days.

Since Google generates all of their revenue with advertising, I'm not really surprised to see that there are no ad/content blockers within the default browser on Android. But I have been trying the Adblock Browser and Ghostery. Both are browsers that allow you to filter content and they are available in the GooglePlay Store. Both seem to have odd pauses when requesting a page which makes me wonder why.

Crystal was free yesterday but today it's 99¢. Peace it $2.99. uBlock Origin is free. Both Adblock Browser and Ghostery were free.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Afternoon Activities and iOS 9

At Troubadour's suggestion, I had contacted Aerostitch about the velcro on all of the pocket flaps on my Roadcrafter Light suit. All of the hook side of the velcro has partially disintegrated and has come loose. Also one of the four velcro pads that hold the back pad has became unstuck. They said that it should be covered by the two year warranty and to send the suit in. But it really needed to be cleaned first as it was pretty filthy after my road trip. One of the suggestions on the net for getting some of the stains out was to soak it in Oxiclean before washing. The Oxiclean directions said to soak heavily stained items for up to six hours then wash normally.

So that is what I'm doing this afternoon besides consuming Internet bandwidth by updating my iPhone to iOS 9. In case you hadn't noticed, I added ads to this blog since I was curious about the ad blocking behavior of Safari on the new version of iOS. This new feature from Apple has folks all over the Internet whining. So far, I installed one free extension called Crystal from the app store and it works really well. No ads and web sites finish loading much faster. And you use less of your mobile data. Sounds like a win for all iPhone and iPad users and a lose for all those who wish to track you on the Internet ignoring your selection of "Do Not Track".

It has been raining off and on for the last week and it is starting to feel pretty dreary. Since the Ural is dead from a failed hall sensor, I have been riding the Beemer sidecar rig. With the Beemer, I'm a lot more constrained as to how much stuff I can pick up. Nowhere near as much room and a very limited amount of locking storage. Especially since I still have the car battery installed in the sidecar.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Pickled Cabbage and Hall Sensor

The pickled cabbage that I started just last Thursday came out decent. Not quite as tasty as the real sauerkraut that I made which "aged" for over a month but it's decent enough. The recipe labeled it as "Russian Sauerkraut" but I find the taste a little closer to kimchi without the peppers. The post had said to just leave it in the fridge but I figured that most people in the house wouldn't think much of the smell. So I went ahead and hot water canned it. I had plenty of pint bottles lying around since I used to pressure can salmon and razor clams.

The modest sized giant cabbage that I used ended up making 6 pints of pickled cabbage.

I removed the round cover over the hall sensor and the interrupter. Everything is solidly in place but when I removed the cover, about 200ml of water poured out. Not good. I then disconnected the cable to the hall sensor and verified that there was battery voltage across the red and black leads. I then connected a test lead to the green trigger wire and touched it to ground. I got a nice healthy spark from the plugs. I think that the hall sensor had failed again. It was replaced by the previous owner at about 18k km. Now the rig has 40k km. 

Sunday, September 13, 2015

First Last Ride of the Season

Today was the "First Last Ride of the Season" for our local BMW group. Not a real large turnout due to the snow falling yesterday and continuing this morning. Just Steve's R100GS/PD, BobC's R100RT and me. The announced destination was Chena Hot Springs but a couple of us decided that it may be bit too foolish given that the temperature was right around freezing.

You may notice that I am riding the Beemer and not the Ural. This morning, the Ural started right up, and while idling, it backfired a couple of times and shut off. It won't start up again. I suspect that it is something with the ignition system as there is no spark from the plugs. It could be a variety of things possibly the interrupter for the hall sensor.

When I started the Beemer, it ran great then started to run on only one cylinder. Hmm, curious. After a few moments, I noticed that the petcocks were still closed. The Ural has an automatic, vacuum operated petcock so I'm no longer in the habit of turning them on (and off!).

We ended up just riding to a fellow airhead members home (BobK) and sat around his immaculate garage talking and enjoying his coffee.

This picture is from a several days ago. Dave, on the right, rode his Goldwing trike up from Tennessee and had just returned from the Arctic Circle. He was looking for car wash suggestions. He's had a few issues with the trike conversion but the most serious was the driveshaft separated at the spline between Watson Lake and Whitehorse. It required a very expensive tow into Whitehorse. Talking with him is George Rahn and David Rohwer.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

2015 Ural National Rally Day

Today, Saturday, was the 5th annual Ural National Rally Day. Basically a virtual rally where they send out scoresheets and numbers and you try and rack up as many points as possible. Fortunately, from a point gathering perspective, it was raining/sleeting/snowing for most of the time I was out. Plus I had previously mapped out 35 km of dirt roads. Today, they were kind of slippery as some of the mud was frozen. And the rain put water in a couple of the creeks carrying runoff so there were four water crossings to add to the scoresheet.

The weather meant that Bridget didn't participate this year. It really felt cold as I had to leave the visor open for most of the day to prevent fogging and I should've wore the heated liner.

There were additional points for roadside attractions, and superlatives. The superlatives are the whatever-most locations for your state, country, etc. and are incredibly simple in Fairbanks. The local Denny's has a big sign posted as the "Northern most Denny's". And the local Harley shop sells t-shirts with the claim as the northern most HD shop. It is in North America but there are shops in Norway that are a lot further north. This is the Large Animal Research Station with musk ox and caribou as well as other animals and is a popular tourist stop.

 Another popular tourist item are these mileage signs. This one happens to be at the Geophysical Institute at the University. On the rally, I ended up going out to the pipeline viewpoint on the Steese Hwy and out to the Santa Clause House in North Pole. Only 104 km total as it was starting to get cold with temperatures hovering right around freezing for most of the day.

Just another touristy shot of the front of the museum. There were quite a few runners out today with some training for the Equinox Marathon which I believe is next Saturday. There were a number of runners on the Ester Dome dirt roads probably training as the route runs to the top of the Dome before dropping down a chute.

This is the visitor's center at Creamer's Field. There was a tour bus dropping off a bunch of Asian tourists. I believe they were Japanese based on appearance as I didn't here them talking much. The leaves are pretty much all changed and starting to fall off the trees. A strong wind yesterday afternoon helped somewhat.

This is outside of the volunteer supported air museum. By early afternoon, I headed home as the snow and ice was starting to sting as I had to leave my visor open to prevent fogging. All in all, I managed to accumulate 2225 points which is almost three times what I had last year. The sleet, snow and dirt roads really adds to the points!

Tomorrow is the "First Last Ride of the Year" for the local BMW group. I sent out the email last week. We'll see who (if anyone) shows up...

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Sauerkraut and Hot Water

On Wednesday morning, I stopped at the Farmers Market to pick up a large cabbage. There was a vendor selling modest sized giant cabbages. On Saturday, there were some 16+ pounders but today, she happened to be weighing and labeling a 12 pounder when I showed up. That was probably enough. It was only $5.50. I probably should have taken a picture of the cabbage on the rear rack of the Ural but didn't think about it at the time. Today, I shredded the cabbage and layered it with carrots, garlic, peppercorns and bay leaves with some salt in my stoneware crock. I found a recipe on the Internet for a version of "Russian sauerkraut" that only has to sit for three days. After that, you can freeze it or can it. I'll see how it turns out before I try to make more.

Our domestic hot water is heated by running water through a copper coil inside of our boiler used for heating the house. Last week, I pumped some acid through the copper coil to clean out the calcium deposits that were limiting flow and I started to hear air bubbles inside of the boiler. Bad news. That means that the copper coil has some small pin holes allowing water from the coil to slowly leak into the boiler. Parts for this 40+ year old boiler are pretty much unavailable. The most cost effective solution is an indirect-fired water heater. Here is a cutaway of the 45 gallon model that I picked up locally.

Water from the boiler is pumped through the coil inside the water heater and this heats up the water inside of the tank. The insulation should help the hot water stay hot. I looked at tankless water heaters but the only option is propane since, unfortunately, there is no natural gas available. The propane cost estimates that I received were on the order of $150/month. A bit too much.

There is plenty of natural gas in the north slope of Alaska but the politicians and special interest groups have been fighting about how to transport the gas and where to transport it to. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015


I just want everyone to know that Richard really didn't say, "Get your own post!"  But kindly suggested that maybe I want my own.
He isn't posting today because he was busy cooking for 14 people who were over at our house this evening.  He cleaned the kitchen by himself.  I went out to walk the dogs when they left, and he was done in 15 minutes.  He also drove my son around today because it is possible his toe is broken.
I love you, Richard.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Sunday and Monday

On Sunday evening, we went to visit friends at their home on Chena Ridge. Near sunset, the sun was shining on the north side of the Alaska Range and was just visible through the trees. Both of these photos were taken by Bridget from the deck of their natural log home with her iPhone.

This is the Tanana River which runs on the south side of Fairbanks and flows west past Nenana and into Yukon River at the village of Tanana. The picture was taken about 2½ hours later than the first one.

Today, being the first Monday of the month, was the BMW airhead meetup at the Silver Gulch microbrewery. I think that there were around 17 people there including a couple of new people. The Honda trike belonged to a Dave from Tennessee who was passing through town and joined us. He has been on the road for a month and is getting ready to head south later this week after riding to the Arctic Circle on Wednesday (weather permitting). He introduced me to a new acronym. ROMEO. Retired Old Men Eating Out. It didn't apply to the airhead meeting as some aren't retired, and four of them were women.

I was originally planning on riding the Beemer out there but then I remembered that it still had 5W30 oil in it from last winter. So I took the Ural. I'm really liking the way it rides now compared to before. It just sounds so nice and pulls great. I'm not sure if it's just that I'm more used to it or it really is running better. 

Richard says, "Get your own post!"

But I don't have anything to say everyday, besides he already has lots of readers.  I started a post mentioning that I don't ride the Beemer because I feel like I'm riding a jack hammer.  It started to get long winded, so I thought I'd post to his big post.
I'm going to mention what we did yesterday, which he will probably post tomorrow.  He's currently at the local bar, not coffee shop, hanging out with Airheads.
Yesterday we were going to spend a meal with friends.  I said, "Why don't we take the Ural?"  Richard had thought I wouldn't want to go because I would have the crock pot at my feet.

*side note.  In the crock pot was Delicious stuffed cabbage.  Now there's lots in the freezer for school lunches.

I didn't mind the crock pot because it is one of those locking lids.  I took a few beautiful fall pictures from their house that I hope Richard posts tomorrow.  I noticed it was getting dark.  It is that time of year that it sets around 8:30-9:00, and kind of surprises me.  It was a rather cool ride back, but I survived.  Still better than 103 degrees.  Our beautiful fall usually lasts about a week.

Back to work tomorrow, but it is a four day week!  Stitches finally off on Thursday.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Calypso Farm and Ecology Center

On Friday, my mom took us out to dinner at Ajimi, one of the better sushi places in Fairbanks. This sushi offering is referred to as the rainbow roll for obvious reasons. The outer layer is different kinds of sashimi and inside of the sushi rice is crab meat. Pretty tasty. Their specialty seems to be the very non-Japanese type of sushi that Americans seem to enjoy. Very large rolls, deep fried rolls and other weirdness.

On Saturday morning, we rode (yes, rode) to the Farmers Market after the regular visit to College Coffeehouse. There was a vegetable vendor selling their giant cabbages. These were moderate sized ones ranging from 12 to 18 pounds each. I used to make sauerkraut with a couple of these filling a 5 gallon stone crock. I haven't done this for years.

On Saturday afternoon, the credit union had sponsored a visit to Calypso Farm and Ecology Center for those over 55 years old. They have a couple of thousand school students run through on field trips so they had the lectures down pretty well. Their produce isn't "certified organic" as they found the paperwork not worth the trouble.

It was a nice relaxing way to spend the afternoon before I had to meet with a plumbing contractor about a hot water heater problem. Plus the farm is located on the Old Nenana Hwy outside of Ester. I was wondering what the condition of the road is in as I hadn't ridden it for a couple of years. It was in great shape. Not too many tar strips or pot holes like there was a few years back.

One last photo from the farm as they were showing off their apples. In order to grow apples in Fairbanks, they needed to do a lot of experimentation to find the right type as well as the right kind of tree to graft it onto. From what I remember, it is some sort of apple from Russia.

On Sunday afternoon, I took the RT out for only the second time this summer. After a relatively short 20 mile ride, my right hand was already sore. Even though I had switched to much lighter throttle return springs, it still takes more effort to hold the throttle. But acceleration and hills were effortless by comparison to the Ural as was shifting. The seating position on the Ural feels better and the Ural steering is effortless by comparison. The RT is also much quieter in my helmet. A whole lot less wind noise. In spite of all this, the Ural feels better on the road and is more enjoyable to ride...

Friday, September 4, 2015


I had arrived back to Fairbanks from Barrow last Monday but haven't really had that much to say. This morning after meeting with the usual group at College Coffeehouse, I took my mom on a short drive around Fairbanks and out to Chena Hot Springs Resort. (In the truck not the Ural) The Alaska pipeline isn't viewpoint isn't really on the way but it was a nice place to stop.

In town, the leaves are just starting to change but out at the end of the road, the color change was well on its way. But at least they haven't started to fall off yet. After lunch, we just walked around the grounds looking at the outdoor pool, the old log cabins and some of the old mining equipment scattered around.

There are a number of warm creeks, such as this, that stay open (unfrozen) year around. In case I hadn't mentioned it before, this place is even more popular in the winter than the summer. Though the campground is probably pretty deserted in the winter.  Today, it wasn't that crowded though my mom did notice that the percentage of Japanese was higher than just about any other tourist place in town.

I just thought that this gives one a good idea on what the Chena Hot Springs grounds are like. The large rocks on the right border the outdoor pool which is much nicer when it's below 0°F. The warm creek is on the left of the trail. Behind me is the trail that heads up to the aurora viewing building up on the hill away from the lights of the resort. It has large, north facing floor to ceiling windows so you can watch the aurora from a warm place.

I've seen this fire-breathing metal sculpture at the state fair and didn't realize that this was its home. No fire breathing at this time though you can see the soot covered mouth. In the background is the newer hotel with modern rooms heated by water from the hot springs. All of the heat and electricity used by the resort is produced on site using the low-temperature (for geothermal) water. This includes the greenhouses that produce fresh vegetables for the restaurant year-around. It is a pretty innovative system.

There are a couple of these "parachute" tents around the property with place for a fire in the base for heat. During peak tourist times, I've seen this use as an alternative to the restaurant. More like a buffet line to serve large numbers of tourist that come by the bus load. I need to send out an email for the "last ride of the season" to the BMW email list. It's sort of a tradition that we ride out to the Hot Springs around the middle of September.