Thursday, June 26, 2008

The chicks have hatched!! The chicks have hatched!!!!

Ok, Adelaide and Sarah - you have some new cute baby competition:

Holy CRAP! Aren't they awesome?!?! I don't even really like birds, but I am in LOVE with my new tenants (although Henrietta would call me HER tenant). Ok, it's not that I don't like birds, they just kind of do their own thing, and I do mine, know what I mean? Yeah, they're kind of interesting to watch when you buy them birdseed to devour, then they fly into your picture windows and you can't really get too attached to an animal that ends up dead on your porch.

They hatched a couple of days before the bike race and when I went up the ladder that day, I squealed with excitement! Every day it had been blue eggs... same blue eggs, same Henrietta flying around and squawking at me for weeks. I was even convinced that these eggs weren't fertilized and was hoping ol' Henrietta wouldn't be too disappointed. But, it seems she knew what she was doing, since the babies are here! Also, I guess the fact that they picked MY cabin to birth their babies in, makes me like them all that much more. They have great taste!! :)

They're already less pinkish and more feather-y and fluffy. There are three in there in case you're trying to pick out beaks. I love how they kind of sleep like dogs, or like Harris anyways - with their heads up high on the edge of the nest.

Henrietta flies around as she doesn't quite trust me. I guess the fact that I'm chasing other birds away with a MOP hasn't indicated to her that I really do care and that I only have her best interests at heart...

This was so freakin' cool!! Ok, so there I was, newly home from work. Henrietta was nowhere to be found, though she is never far away. I did some of my stuff, and then saw her off in the bushes (in the above picture). I thought that if I stayed on the porch and was REALLY silent, she would fly back to the babies and maybe feed them. I saw she had something hanging out of her mouth. Well, moments before this picture, she landed on the side of the nest and immediately three little robin beaks pop up snapping open for food. Sorry I just missed that shot, it would have been great to share. But, I will try again! Although, by tomorrow they'll probably be up and flying. Ah, they grow SO fast.... ;)

Ok, just so the human twins don't get jealous...

My other favourite babies. Sarah above, Adelaide below.

These two are so freakin' hilarious.

Sarah does her little STTRRRREEEETTTTTCCCCCCHHHHHHH that looks like she is trying to get out of the carseat, but then laughs about it and does it 50 million more times. Adelaide just laughs at me, is it a coincidence that whenever she looks at me, she laughs?!?!

The girls hanging out in the cabin.

Sarah's famous 2-finger suck. She's got talent!!! Actually, don't tell their parents, but I think it's some kind of baby gang sign. I'm currently researching the intricacies of this underground group. They are starting to take over the north, moving up from the Pacific Northwest. This drooling gang is comprised of babies from 6-18 months and they are wreaking havoc wherever they go. Law Enforcement is aware of the terrorizing tots and is trying to keep it quiet. The obvious, yet not-so-obvious sign, exhibited above by Sarah F. is otherwise known as the 2-fingered salute. Adelaide is obviously not part of the gang yet, but I think Sarah is trying to recruit her...

Monday, June 23, 2008

Bike Relay 2008! (and a bazillion photos)

Well, it's over for another year. The bike relay was a blast this year, the weather sucked for the most part, but we still had good times. But, it started off looking soooo promising, nice sunny weather, AND a tail wind! Who could ask for anything more?!?! Are you kidding me?!?! We were all convinced that the weather and wind would stick and we'd sail into Haines, AK in no time with hot, half-dressed muscle-clad men handing us a cold Alaskan beer at the finish line. Well, I was dreaming and in denial, because the clouds that were brewing in the skies to the west, covered the whole sky soon after the race started (and the beer holding muscle-clad men were nowhere in sight).

The drive out at 6:30 a.m. - lots of blue sky and traffic heading to the race! I slugged back coffee and rocked out to Johnny Cash on the iPod while my bike & I made the drive.

Take a close look at all that TRAFFIC!!! There was like, a line of about 15 vehicles on the last 20km or so into the Junction. The line was so long, people were like "ah, why bother passing..." Crazy Yukon traffic.

Our leg 1 rider, *Ati, gears up for the 19km mostly uphill leg. She had switched at the last minute to do leg 1. Kim was supposed to do leg 1, and Ati Leg 5. But Leg 5 is way longer, so she did Leg 1. And got the tailwind, blue sky, and oh yeah, the biggest grizzly in the world on that leg! Luckily no bikers were harmed in this race even though we heard of riders seeing 2 bears on the first 3 legs.

*It has been brought to my attention that this is actually Colleen.... Leg 2 rider, whupps!! Ok, so everyone looks the same in spandex and numbered legs.

There's Ati - zooming by us, she rocked even though she hadn't been out training much. In fact that was a borrowed bike that she only tried the clipless pedals on the night before for the first time.

There are always colourful characters in the Kluane Chilkat Bike Relay!

Not sure what the deal with that costume was... but there did seem to be a bird theme throughout.

The perpetual purple school bus makes it's yearly appearance at the relay. And the bus is equipped with loudspeakers, so the occupants inside are fully capable of scaring the bejeezus out of innocent bystanders. (they do this to me every year, damn them!)

One-sleeved stripey shirt lady takes the lead. FYI - we had many nicknames for people we saw throughout the race: chickenman (not an insult, he was dressed as a chicken), green backpack lady (who I was trying to chase FOREVER, and caught, ha!), hardcores (the pack riders), Hawaiian-shirt guys (really all wearing hawaiian shirts), Crackman (his butt was hanging out the whole way), well, you get the drift.

Here come the hardcores! Notice Amil and Kim clapping for the riders. They started this, then felt guilty for any riders that went by that they didn't clap for. So this set the precedent for some pretty mind-numbing clapping, for anything and everything that went by. That's how much their applause meant. At one point I looked over to their clap-a-thon as there were NO riders in view, so I wondered what the hell they were clapping at. When they realized they were clapping at a CAR, they abolished all clapping from there on, plus we peed ourselves laughin (Amil claims the car at least had bikes ON it... nice try)

Checkpoint 1 or 2? Since it wasn't raining yet, it had to be one of those.

Colleen heads up Leg 2!

Darryl and Amil practice their figure skating moves as we waited for the race to start.

The BEAUTIFULLY newly paved road, ashphalt beauty at it's finest. And my turkey sandwich.

Here comes the chickenman!

"Get the Chickenman!!" is what we yelled at Darryl for 40-some kilometres. And guess what? He did catch that chickenman, even with Darryl being on a mtn. bike.

I really wonder what the poor tourists think as they're stuck on the highway this day with like, 1500 riders (and a bazillion vehicles) travelling and hogging the road. I think they pull off like these guys and have a nap and hope it was all a big dream. Then the land yachts get back on the road promptly at 8:00 a.m. the next day like the mothership commands.

Amil, Ati and Kim at Kim's start, leg 5. I love that leg. However, the RAIN started and it was freaking freezing for the next two legs.

Lining up for leg 5.

Kim is off!

And headed into... this. No snow though! The running joke was that "it could ALWAYS be worse" - well, it was difficult to decide just how this scenario could be worse, so we decided that only snow and a grizzly attacking Kim could be worse. So she was pretty firm as she took off saying very matter-of-factly: "Ok, I'll tell you now, if I see snow AND a grizzly, I'm getting the hell of my bike and hopping in the car." Luckily, no snow or bears. :)

Gah, could it RAIN any MORE?!?!?

Some unknown bluejacket rider. I like this shot though. Probably leg 7.

Then my leg... yay, more rain! Luckily the legs closer to the coast were MUCH warmer. So riding soaking wet really wasn't that much of a bother...

oh, except for some minor chaffing, but maybe thats TMI...

I like this shot, just shows how crazy the road can be. Most vehicles are good at moving over for you, and most of the road had way wide shoulders, but I do love the pavement as opposed to my local chipseal.

All the photos below are compliments of Ati, who actually thought to take her camera places and take pictures of something other than a road.

And I missed everything else after my leg. This is Amil, our team Captain, at the finish! Which my team MISSED me coming in to. I like to think I was just WAYYYYY faster than they expected, but most likely they were stocking up on beer for the evenings festivities.

Lovely downtown Haines, Alaska.

Good news, the team is not only able to walk, but they can piggyback each other! Nice.

The campground.

Ah, the view from the lovely hotel. Ok, it wasn't lovely at all, only 1 of 3 windows opened, the bathroom had no tub and was teeny tiny, and the room itself was only about 10x10. And some might balk at the price of $130/night, but I tell ya, it was worth EVERY penny to have a HOT shower, with hot RUNNING water after a soaking wet race. I have lost all interest in camping, and I think the 2-month stint in the wall tent last year put the final nail in the camping coffin for me. Eh, whatever.

The infamous Fogcutter, the place I actually remember walking out of this year. Yay, a step up. I was even in bed before midnight. Call me responsible. Or lame. But I was also the first person up at 9:30 a.m. going "where is everyone?!" and knocking on doors, trying to find friends at the campground... they were all still in bed passed out. Hm, maybe I should have stayed out! Nah, my head thanked me the next day for the ultra-boring evening. :)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Bikes n' bears n' birds

Holy crap things are busy! With that danged bike race taking up most of my time training(which I am totally addicted to btw), dogs to feed & entertain, cabin to work on (this will NEVER end), oh yeah, and my JOB (which helps to pay for all of the above), I have not a lot of extra time right now. The road relay is this upcoming weekend, so hopefully I'll have lots of photos of the great time and GOOD weather (hint, hint Mother Nature).

Last weekend went by in a flash - I got the deck stained AND a bike ride in just before the torrential downpour started. Whew! That was close. I think the deck was even dry before it started raining, but we'll see how that goes.

EDIT TO ADD: Ummmm, no. That whole "beating-the-rain-with-the-stain" thing didn't happen. Clearly I wrote that BEFORE the flippin' rain washed away 3/4 of my stain! Oh well, good thing I'm a stain-a-holic. I live to stain and paint.

EDIT TO ADD MORE: Just got the deck stained again! Woohoo, that means more rain is on the way!! :)

Back to the biking - I seriously get jittery when I haven't been out for ONE day. Especially if the weather is nice. It's almost uncontrollable. Which is good, I was able to do 90km over last weekend and it was pretty windy. I just look at the wind as great training for my leg, the typically windy leg 8, which is 30km. I think I'm ready though, I have over 650km on the bike, and feel stronger everytime I go out. I was surprised on Saturday to do a 50km ride (somewhat unplanned) in 2:15. Especially considering the wicked headwind on the way back! The wind is my friend... the wind is my friend...

I painted up the deck just before I headed out and made sure I had everything in my backpack. Well, as usual I forgot one thing - and this was an important one, bear spray. And since they seem to be everywhere (I've seen EIGHT bears in the last 2 weeks), it's a good thing to have. And most notably is a little grizzly-dude (newly on his own no doubt), who seems to range from 0-10km from my place. I see him almost every other day. So, because the bear spray was inside, I had to do some kind of spiderman moves to get INTO the cabin without touching the fine-looking deck with my feet. It was not an easy task, but good thing log cabins are fairly easy to climb on. Who knew?

And here's some random photos of a Lucy and a horse skull! One great find in the bush.
I tried to make it look like it was eating her. Doesn't she look petrified?!?!

Get that smelly thing away from me...

Oh! I haven't mentioned my favourite robin, Henrietta, lately. I was horrified one day to come home and see that the nest was totally gone, no eggs, no remains of the nest, nothing! She had disappeared for a few days too. However, she must have been out making more eggs, 'cause she came back a few days later and made a NEW nest in a spot which is much harder to access. I suspect another bird, maybe a squirrel got them?

Here's where she put the new nest. Last I looked it had 3 eggs in it. She's soooo smart that bird!!

Let's hope it works this time. I have to say she is kind of annoying me. Everytime I go out on that side of the cabin she swoops out of the nest and sits there chirping her head off at me as if she's giving me crap for disturbing her! Um, who's place is this?!? So... now I try and avoid that side, so as not to annoy her... yes, she is the boss. And I'm even chasing away other birds for he! She has me trained real good...

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Is it possible...

To get a suntan AND frostbite on the same "summer" day in June?? I think it is in the Yukon!!! On my bike ride last week, I was so cold as the wind blew (shocker, wind blowing eh?) my arms were basically numb by the time I got home. Sure it "looked" nice out, felt nice in my somewhat-shaded-from-the-wind-homestead, and yes, I was wearing a t-shirt/shorts, but biking on the road was a totally different, much colder story. (and this was before our recent snowfall. Yes, SNOWfall!!)

Heading out for a ride with the necessary gear - the iPod shuffle being THE most important.

I'm exploring the hwy towards Haines Junction a lot more now. And if I didn't feel "way out in the boonies" to begin with, going 20km west feels a whole lot more like I'm totally in the middle of nowhere:

But it's a *nowhere* I can deal with. So peaceful...

The bridge where I skidded to a stop when I saw a beaver in the water below. Sure, I had wicked momentum as I was heading down and then up the incline on the other side, but I had to stop for the freakin' beaver. I was all ready for the beaver photo of the century, when he(she?) slapped it's tail on the water and disappeared. Dam beaver! :)

Where the beaver was. I swear.

Highway, grass, trees and mountains. Again.

Flowers! It's getting quite pretty out there.

Heading back, feeling no pain as I was practically numb. I even got the wood stove going when I got home for the first time in about a month. Oh sweet, sweet warmth from the stove...

Hey! More pretty flowery thingys. I must say, I have one jade plant at home (courtesy of Stephanie's jade plant which sacrificed a couple leaves for me) that is still living and 2 bamboo-thingys that I think are dying. I might have kept them outside in the cold accidentally. Picky picky plants. They're really more trouble than they're worth sometimes.

The tornado clouds are forming...

Fast forward to our wacky weekend weather which started off with snow, which continued all day Sunday and on into Monday. Word is that the Fitzgerald family was stuck on their road out to their homestead, due to snow! In June!! Crazy.

After putting off biking for a couple days, I figured I had to just suck it up and go out in the rain. And y'know what, I really kinda liked it!! I have an idea how Jill from Juneau feels now, as rain dripped off of my helmet and I was completely and utterly soaked to the bone after a 40km ride. But at the same time, there was something exhilirating about it!! After about 10km I totally got into it and didn't even noticed the spray from the cars passing by after a while.
That said, I really wouldn't want to deal with this all the time.

The start of Sunday's snow.

Yuck. As much as I love snow, I don't LOVE to see it in June.

But hey! At least the forest fire hazard has gone down! :)