Thursday, September 15, 2011

Back from the End of the Road: AK2011 Day 8 continued

As we were turning away from the Homer Spit, we spotted a group of cars pulled over, with people running out to take pictures of the large eagle's nest in the top of a dead tree.
The nest held one juvenile eagle — hard to call them babies when they are nearly fully grown and probably about to fledge — and the adult in the picture (Mom? Dad?). Whereas I did get to see the juvenile, I couldn't get a photo.
On the way back, in or just south of Ninilchik, we stopped at one of our favorite coffee places, The Buzz Café, one I've only been to once before which rapidly became a favorite because of its great coffee, convenient location, and colorful character.
The covered sitting area makes it possible to enjoy coffee outside anytime of the year — or at least during the rainy season, not so sure about sitting outside during the snowy season.


An Aside: Do you remember Alaska's seasons? There is more than one way of describing or counting these, but the six seasons I'm aware of are summer, fall, freezeup, winter, breakup, and spring. Summer ends with the fall of Termination Dust, which is followed, after a fairly short fall, by freezeup (sometimes called The End) and winter. Freezeup is either a very short season or a specific event, depending on your precision. Breakup can be considered a specific event or a whole season (sometimes a season between winter and spring, sometimes one between winter and summer, the latter arrangement leaving five rather than six seasons). As a season, breakup can seem to drag on and on because of refreezes after unexpected and unwanted mid or late winter melts, followed by refreezing, remelting, refreezing — come on, let's get it over with! Breakup is often considered the season of mud, and people wear special breakup boots. (Read more about breakup boots here and here.)

Breakup the event is marked by the "breakup" of ice in local rivers. In central Alaska, breakup may be defined at least semi-officially as the date, hour, and minute when the Tanana River ice breaks and starts to move downstream. Betting on the timing of this event takes place as part of the Nenana Ice Classic (Tanana, accent on the 1st syllable, is the river; Nenana, accent on the 2nd syllable, is the town.) Tanana River breakup dates through 2010 can be seen on the Ice Classic webpage; also see this NSIDC graph of breakup dates, which unfortunately only goes to about 2000.

With our coffees still hot, we stopped briefly at the Russian Orthodox church on the bluff above Ninilchik Village, and I walked over to get this view of a muddy town and a cloudy Cook Inlet.
And so ended our trip back from the end of the road, although we still had time and distance to go, and we probably made at least one stop prior to returning to our favorite spot on the river.

(There is more, although my blogging attention span is being stretched here.)


Gaelyn said...

Just too many cold seasons for me. Is there ever really a summer? That's when I want to visit AK.

Silver Fox said...

Well, it had been in the 70s or 80s only a couple days before - and we really only had two days of hard rain. Having winter start in October (which it sometimes does) can be daunting, I agree!