March 24, 2017

The faces of Fur Rondy

The Fur Rendezvous, or Fur Rondy as it is known by the locals,  is an annual festival in Anchorage during the last week of February. Founded in the 1930's, Rondy was initially a three day celebration which coincided with the return of the trappers and miners, who had goods to sell. 

Now, Rondy is a ten day party that includes parades, a carnival (yes even in the snow), and a fur auction that has been a feature since the beginning. Oh, yes, there are also outhouse races. Apparently you strap a porta potty to skis and race it through town. Look people, we're going on five months of winter! We are desperate for entertainment! I'll have to feature that one next year.

The morning of the parade was cold and somehow the weather didn't exactly say "celebrate" to me. But, since we were walking in the parade with the Anchorage Figure Skating Club, we were committed.

We actually really enjoyed searching for our group because we passed all of the parade entries. There were classic cars,

our local motorcycle gang,

tricked out Jeeps (I guess that is parade worthy?),

and dogs, there are always dogs.

Finally, we found the Anchorage Figure Skating Club, and the girls were excited to get started! They also skated at an event later in the week, on an outdoor pond, more on that later.

We walked the parade route handing out free skate lesson coupons to the crowd. (I am teaching figure skating lessons again, and after three years off the ice, it's been great to be involved again.) Ella said that being in a parade had always been a bucket list item for her. I hope it lived up to all her expectations.  

At least we followed a jazz band, so we had music on the route. It was fun! We all enjoyed being out, even on a cold morning.

After the parade, we popped into the mall to warm up and grab a bite to eat. Then it was time for the World Championship Sled Dog races. This race began in 1946 and brings mushers from all over the world. The dogs absolutely love the race.

Speaking of dogs, reindeer dogs are always on the menu around here. I haven't tried these yet, but I'll let you know when I do.

And in honor of our time in Japan, a picture with a face cut-out sign. The Japanese LOVE these things!

Next, we wandered over to the main event, the fur auction. It looked like they had some pretty good customers in the audience. Check out the moose antlers that the man in front is carrying! Totally normal around these parts.

We really enjoyed watching the fur auction, and I finally asked the man next to us why someone would purchase this stuff. He said that it depends on the piece and if it is tanned or not. A tanned item can be made into clothing, untanned items are probably strictly for decoration. The foxes were tanned and went for close to $500 a piece.

Beaver for sale? Anyone? Slightly creepy, but they sold. I guess I'm not ready to embrace local decorating trends, yet.

With all of the fur, I halfway expected a protest of some sort. Not even one. Maybe because you'd have to deal with him? Just a guess.

This was a first. A winter carnival. Literally. 

On our way out, Ella chose a lucky rabbit's foot. I hope she wished for an early spring. Wishful thinking?

Later in the week, the girls performed with the Anchorage Figure Skating Club, on a frozen pond. All of the Fur Rondy royalty were there, too. 

I even got to meet Lord Trapper! I asked how he won this title. He said that he found out someone nominated him, then he found out a few weeks later that he was picked. The grand prize? Making 100+ appearances in 10 days! Lucky! (But, he said he was having fun with it.)

 It was an absolutely frigid day, at 13 degrees, but the girls were tough and did a great job. 

Appropriately, they skated to Let it Go, from Frozen. I think they were all a little frozen by the end, as well. I know I was!

We had a great week at Fur Rondy, but the thing the struck me the most were the people. Here is a little glimpse of the faces of Rondy.

(He said this was his wife and child. Not sure how to take that...)

Typical transportation around the streets of Anchorage, and easier than a stroller!

Shrek and Fiona made the trip up.

This cute lady was thrilled that I asked for her picture.

Say cheese!

So many interesting characters. As you can tell, we were severely underdressed.

And the lovely Miss Cama-i. Her coat was incredible!

I am really glad we braved the cold, and attended Fur Rendezvous. It was a fun week and we learned more about this unique place we call home. Next year, outhouse races!

March 16, 2017

Alaska skiing, and a one horse open sleigh

President's Day weekend was full of skiing, sleigh rides and a birthday. We didn't even have to head to the resort super early because lifts don't open until 10:30 am around here. Initially, I wondered why so late? But, when the sun doesn't rise very early, you don't either. The picture below is what you call an Alaskan traffic jam. The wildlife seem used to the routine and take their time crossing!

Alyeska is a world class ski resort, a little over an hour from Anchorage. This was the same place we hiked last fall, where Matt used Eva as bear repellent. No bears today, though. Whew. We have until April to enjoy that luxury!

The girls took lessons for a few hours,

and we got to ski kid-free.

The views of the Cook Inlet, from the top, were spectacular.

The girls caught on very quickly, and we all had a great day. Snow quality was pretty good and there was LOTS of it! In fact, it lightly snowed most of the day.

As a Utah native, I'm of course biased, but Utah skiing is still superior, as is the snow. There are also SEVEN world class ski resorts with in 30 minutes of downtown Salt Lake City, so they are very accessible, as well. Shhh, keep that a secret!

Family selfie on the lift. I was clinging to my phone for dear life, but got the shot!

Ella felt very grown up riding the lift by herself.

And here is my darling birthday girl, Eva Mae. She is my President's Day baby, and just turned nine.

The following day, we attended a sleigh ride event with our chapel community.

Meet Fred. Fred was very large! Matt is over 6 feet tall, and as you can see, Fred absolutely towered over him. But he was as peaceful and calm as can be.

S'mores? Yes, please!

I was fascinated watching the owner change Fred's shoes. He used a large file to file down his hooves,

and nailed the new shoes into place. Fred took it like a champ!

We enjoyed checking out the other horses while we waited for our ride.

And the horses seemed to check is out, too!

All aboard!

Of course, all I can think of is "Dashing through the snow, in a one horse open sleigh...."

Or, "Oh, what fun it is to ride in a one horse open sleigh-ay...."

Yep, we had pretty much stepped right into a Christmas card.

I know you might be surprised hearing this from me, but there was such a tranquility being in the forest, with no sound, except the rhythmic clip-clop of the horses hooves. It was good for my soul.

Matt enjoyed talking to the driver about training the horses, and something he said really struck me. If you work the horses hard they'll live to be a very old age (about 30 years old). But, if you pamper them, they won't live very long, maybe half that age. I couldn't help but draw the parallel to the human body. God made us to move and work hard, and by so doing add life to our years. Just a small part of our original design.

Upon our arrival, Fred was shoed up and back in action. He was a magnificent creature!

After the ride, the girls enjoyed hanging out with the ponies.

I've said it before, I'll say it again, this girl belongs on a farm somewhere!

Then, sometimes you turn around, and the beauty of Alaska leaves you absolutely breathless.

We topped off a great weekend with a birthday cake for my nine year old. She chose a cookies 'n cream cake.

Happy President's Day!