Thursday, March 25, 2010

Ahhhh, The Perks

I didn't enter the Mrs. Alaska Pageant for the prize package, but I must admit I am truly enjoying some of the perks that came with the title! My husband, daughter and I just got back from a very relaxing three days at a nearby resort called Sunset View in Big Lake, Alaska. We enjoyed hot steam showers, a get-together with friends and a long walk out on the frozen lake where I taught my daughter how to make snow angels.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Last Great Race

Dog mushing is Alaska's state sport and I love to support it wholeheartedly when I can.
The Iditarod, known as "The Last Great Race", is a 1,100 mile sled dog race through the wilds of Alaska from Anchorage to Nome. It retraces the steps of an historic relay by dog sled in the 1920s of lifesaving diphtheria serum to an outbreak of the disease in a tiny isolated village on the northwest coast of Alaska.
The dogs are the true athletes in this race, while the mushers are one tough bunch , too. This year's race was a real event to watch unfold through race updates and news reports from along the trail. The winning team reached Nome in less than 9 days, one of the quickest runs in the 38 year history of the race. If you've ever followed a long distance sled dog race, you know that it's like a slow-motion NASCAR event, with fans cheering on their favorite musher and team. The difference is that the fans of this race can actually meet the mushers and their dogs, everyone is quite accessible and it's like being in "pit row".
If you ever get the chance, come to Alaska during the first weekend in March and enjoy the start of the race (held over two days)... and if you're REALLY adventurous, fly to Nome and watch the finish!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Brrrr, It's Cold Out There!

This last week I've been working as a pilot for an oil company in the extreme northern region of Alaska known as the "North Slope", out of the town of Deadhorse (go to a map of Alaska, look at the top of the state above the Arctic Circle, next to the Arctic Ocean and that's where you'll find it). It gets very cold here.
When the airplanes are parked outside a hangar for any amount of time, they get an external heater attached to them to make sure they'll stay warm enough for the next passengers and to start. The pilots appreciate it too.
It was -25f with a wind of 25mph this day... a wind chill factor of 50 below zero. I did not stay outside very long because the camera was freezing and so was I! Flying in such extreme environments makes you appreciate a cup of hot coffee and wool socks like you never have before. Even wrapped in a arctic down coat and a fur hat I could feel the icy cold creeping in every little crevice - mighty uncomfortable.

I'm very lucky that my career affords me an up-close and personal view of the entire state of Alaska. I feel that because of my knowledge of the ENTIRE state it makes me a better Mrs. Alaska. When one thinks of Alaska, you need to keep in mind that while it may be -50f in the northern regions, it could easily be 40f or warmer in the southern part of the state... it's not uncommon to have a 100 degree split between the high and low temperatures in state for the day during the winter.

Although I prefer flying in warmer temperatures, I wouldn't trade my job for anything else in the world... beats 'working' for a living!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Alaska to Africa

I think many people would be surprised at the number of pageant ladies who are active hunters. I myself try to get out with my husband as often as possible to enjoy the wilderness and try to fill the freezer too. Some hunts are more successful than others (see October 2009 posts).

I got the chance to volunteer for an organization I believe in and that supported me in my bid for Mrs. Alaska. The Safari Club International had their annual fundraiser in Anchorage, and boy it was a great one! The SCI promotes wildlife conservation, fair-chase hunting, hunter education and the "Becoming an Outdoors Woman" (BOW) program.Throughout the evening, hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of donated hunts were auctioned off to the crowd.
An amazing display of wildlife taxidermy was available to admire as well. Here (above) you see an African Lion in front of a Kodiak Brown Bear, a most interesting mix.
A truly mind-blowing event which happened that evening was that I was awarded a free African safari! My husband and I have been wanting to see Africa for years and now we have the opportunity to hunt out of an exclusive lodge in South Africa for 7 days, WOW. Talk about generosity, thank you Kuvhima Safaris, we will see you next spring!
This last photo is probably the ONLY time you'll ever see a Moose, Leopard and an Elan side-by-side, unless you attend next year's SCI fundraiser.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Pomp and Circumstance

I don't think anyone can be a true beauty queen without riding in a parade or two during her reign. I'm no different, and had a really fun time sitting on top of a ridiculously expensive Porsche waving to the crowds during the annual Fur Rendezvous festival in Anchorage. I swear more people ogled the CAR... I know I would have.
A word to those entering floats in a parade. Keep in mind the people who will be on either side of you, you'll basically be hanging out with them for an hour or so. I got really lucky and sat behind a colorful, vibrant and very musical float. I "danced" to the music on top of my car to keep warm, a very good setup.
After the parade, I went to a local restaurant which sponsors my pageant and enjoyed a yummy meal and a hot toddy, after which a fellow patron loaned me his Moose Hat for a little Alaskan fun.
Note to readers: Wearing crowns and banners in public restaurants (as well as moose hats) is really not typical fare in Alaska, we're just a little loopy from coming out of hibernation.