Sunday, September 16, 2012


fairbanks alaska: 

our epic adventure began at a small bed and breakfast on the outskirts of town....

 i'm so pleased to introduce the most lovely travel companions in the whole world, bob, rose and my sister lindy! the warmth and friendship and fun i experienced with these three was easily as memorable as alaska is amazing.

(notice the car clock, it reads 9:51 pm, and it's still light out!)

we had arrived in fairbanks three days ahead of the tour we were taking. we set out to explore soon after dropping our bags at the townsite gardens b & b. first place we went was inua, interior alaskas oldest yarn shop! (thank you lindy, rose and bob!)

at inua you can find qiviuk (kiv e ought), the incredibly luxuirous fiber that comes from the arctic musk ox. eight times warmer than wool, lighter than a feather and softer than almost anything, i had to bring some home. qiviuk came in colors, and blends, cashmere, silk, merino, how to choose?!

here is liz, she is wrapping up my purchase. i remembered what i came for when i saw my sister and friends waiting patiently for me, i really hoped for just this...

i chose the 100% qiviuk in the undyed natural color. it comes in one ounce size, with two hundred eighteen yards, at ninety eight dollars an ounce. here are the two ounces i brought home. it was a knee wobbly moment to hand over this much money for two balls of wool the size of a (small) plum. a once in a lifetime for sure! and that's rosy the musk ox, a gift from rose!

we found the mountain top rob at the b & b told us to go to to view the northern lights. it was SO thrilling to see them. you have to stay up late, they don't start showing until after midnight. unfortunately, we were so anxious to go, we forgot warm clothes and temperatures dropped to 30 degrees (-1 celsius). the following night we were much better prepared!

the thing we wanted to do the most, besides seeing the northern lights, was to see the yukon river and cross the arctic circle. so on day two, we went. on the way we saw the alaskan pipeline.

here my sister has found a poisonous mushroom, the fly agaric. i've never seen a red spotted mushroom! luckily lindy was okay and agreed to pose. it's so beautiful!

have you seen the show called 'ice road truckers?' i hadn't, till now. it's a show about a road, a treacherous road, and the truck drivers that take it through the interior of alaska. this is the road we took up to the arctic circle. it's called the dalton highway. it's mostly unpaved, empty, save for fantastic landscapes and once in a while a huge truck (going a hundred miles an hour). hilltop is one of the truck stops along the way.

after the truck stop, we didn't see any more signs of civilization, until we came to this house ~ shop. which looked occupied, but when we drove down the dirt road it looked suddenly (abruptly) abandoned. lindy and rose felt uncomfortable as we looked around and said lets get out of here. i took a few photos and we drove away, giggling nervously. it was a little spooky.

along the way the pipeline was visible most of the time. this photo was taken with a zoom lens as we bounced down the gravel road, but it shows how the pipe was adapted for earthquakes.

we stopped at a place called finger mountain. there was an interpretive trail. the tundra plants were so interesting and the views so beautiful, i could have stayed awhile. but it was getting late, so we moved on...

the road went up and down, there were blind corners, we were on high alert for big trucks...

but not for this! coming over a rise, right after we'd been out of the car, we saw...

a huge grizzly bear! in the road! i wanted to get closer, then i didn't. rose wanted to go backwards and lindy who was driving kept saying 'what do i do?!' bob was photographing with his gopro. SO exciting! we ended up driving behind him for a bit until he finally bolted off in the brush with a thundering run.

not even five minutes later we crossed the arctic circle! there was only this sign and nothing and no one else around. highly aware the grizzly was heading in our direction, we jumped out of the car for a photo, giggling nervously again. the certificates we are holding were given out at the ranger station when we crossed the yukon river. they say 'i crossed the arctic circle'    :)

on our return we stopped at the yukon river camp, another truck stop, where there was really good pie and...


dorothy, her husband, and children homestead near the river. she makes items out of birch bark to sell. we enjoyed meeting her and hearing her stories. and looking at her cool crafts.

here is her purse made out of a wolverine trapped by her husband. she showed me the claws and i said eeps dorothy. and then i asked her what became of the wolverines head?

she showed me a photo of her husband and his hat, the wolverines head.  :)  we bought some of her handmades and said farewell!
we made it safely back, learning later that rental cars are not allowed on the dalton highway. it was a long day, almost twelve hours in total, but a complete thrill and one we'll never forget.
we saw the lights again, returning to fairbanks around midnight, this town is one of the best places in alaska to see them. epic.

the next morning we went to the large animal research station, institute of arctic biology * university of alaska fairbanks. and we saw the arctic musk ox!! here is a photo of a baby.

and there were reindeer and sandhill cranes! i learned the difference between caribou and reindeer. reindeer fly. hee hee. they are the same thing actually, reindeer are just tame.

we took a short tour

the babies at breakfast

i think they are very elegant looking, in a prehistoric sort of way.

this is amy, she explained more about the qiviut, the arctic musk ox fiber. can you see some of the items  knitted with it in the display case? i bought a beautiful book she recommended, called arctic lace. i recommend it now too, it's a treasury that any knitter would love. we went to the north pole next. and we met santa!

the last of the flowers, first snowfall is on the way soon

it was time to return to the airport, turn in the keys to our car and join the tour. we were taken by bus to our first lodge, the bear lodge in fairbanks. here is rosy enjoying happy hour with us!

 one of the things i'd hoped to do was visit creamer's field, a migratory waterfowl refuge. after a bit of investigation we found out we were within walking distance. so in the morning, at first light, lindy and i were there. 

sandhill cranes at creamer's field

canadian geese too. we only had an hour and then it was time to go....

we went on a riverboat down the chena river!

we saw a flight plane, did you know there are more pilots per capita in alaska than anywhere else in the united states?

from the riverboat we visited a sled dog demonstration

see them run?!

good dogs!

they ran in the river to cool off. someday we'd like to come back and see the iditarod.

we sailed to a recreated chena village, where we learned about the athabascans, native americans who lived here.

a bald eagle

me, hi!

my sister and i are happy to be here

just as the boat was leaving we were able to get a photo of david monson, the author of granite. a book about the greatest lead dog in iditarod history. lindy and rose bought his book and were so happy to meet him! thank you david!

on the way back i had a reindeer dog for lunch. i asked this riverboat man if it was really reindeer and he assured me it was. everyone said ew. but it was good!

we're on our way to denali next!

today is my son's birthday, happy birthday kyle, where ever you are! he's off traveling right now, we've talked while he was in hawaii, tokyo and taiwan, i think he's in bali today. i hope your having a wonderful time honey exactly where you are, if your reading this, i love you so much! and i'm on my way to los angeles this morning to pick up my daughter and her boyfriend at the airport, hannah's coming home! erik too!, my middle son, he's coming tonight and bringing his girlfriend, we've got a big day planned for tomorrow, there is a boat involved and kayaks!
xxx lori


  1. Your photos always make me feel like I was along for the ride! Like I said, my husband's fascination was ice burgs and he had lots of photos to show for it:-D You capture not only the scenery, but the personality of a place you visit. The serenity always makes me smile, XOXO

  2. WOW Lori, you do/visit the coolest things!! this post was just fascinating, all those beautiful animals, and that grizzly!!! You even manage to make a pipeline look pretty.
    What are you planning to do with that yarn?
    Enjoy your family day tomorrow.

    1. thank you emma! i'm not sure yet regarding the yarn, i did bring home a pattern from the shop, for now i like just looking at it!

  3. oh my goodness! what a wonderful adventure! you lucky dog (and I don't mean "reindeer dog!". Love to you dear sweet Lori~ thank you for sharing your trip and touring us thru.

  4. Hello Lori

    We have been fascinated with your Alaska tour so far - thank you for so generously sharing your travels.
    Goodness, what wonderful yarn! eagerly waiting to see what you create.

    Sending all good wishes


  5. what a great trip! i've always wanted to go and see the northern's on my life list :)

  6. the northern lights! wow! reindeer dog - yikes! santa? where's your picture of santa? ! looking forward to seeing your qivuit creation. i love your blue hat - which pattern/yarn is it? have fun with your kids! yay!

    1. haha, reindeer was good, like buffalo! the hat is this one:

      a really fun pattern, i made it with araucania, a beautiful wool!

  7. Oh my goodness what an experience. It all looks so amazing. Oh and that yarn I can't wait to see what you do with it!

  8. Wow! What a life you lead!
    You inspire us to travel one day with your beautiful photos

  9. What an incredible trip! The scenery is just gorgeous and you have such a great eye for photography! The yarn store would have had me salivating - not sure I could have bought the qivuik yarn though. I'm looking forward to seeing what you'll knit with it. The mushroom you found is called a "Fliegenpilz" in Germany and is a symbol for good luck. :-)

  10. northern lights are high on my bucket list! such wonder!!!
    you certainly didn't do the "touristy inland" waterway tour!!! what an adventure!!! thanks for taking us along!!!

  11. As you said : epic!!! Thank you for sharing all this!!
    Happy Birthday to your son : is he coming to JK, too??? ;oD
    xxx Alessandra

  12. Have you decided what you'll knit with your yarn yet? Thanks for your generosity in sharing your travels with all of us! I enjoy hearing the stories of the people you meet along the way--it adds an extra layer to the story.

    Enjoy your time with family!

  13. Dear Lori I was spellbound reading this post....sooo many wonderful pictures and fascinating things. I have just read a novel set in Alaska and was really interested to see what a wolverine skin looked like....and what a funny little story about Dorothy's bag and the hat for her husband :) The yarn is so special, it will take a lot of courage to actually knit with it! Loved the flowers too, and the places you stayed, and the bear...
    Wishing you a happy new week Lori.
    Helen x

  14. Thank you for taking us on your travels. If my travel must happen vicariously, then you are the best person to do it through! I love everything here, but I gotta say that my favourite shot is of the float plane and geese taking off. Wow! And seeing a grizzly? Yikes! But so beautiful and powerful.

  15. I am wiping drool off the keyboard from that yarn!!! I cannot wait to see what you create :) Lovely trip and a bear-yikes!!

  16. $98/ oz. wow...looks like a long haired buffalo, I can't wait to see what you make with that musk ox wool. ♥
    That is the cutest post office ever. Thanks for sharing all these wonderful pictures.

  17. Lori - what an Arctic adventure you had! And the grizzly!!! I was lucky enough to visit my dad a fwe times when he was working above the 69th parallel on Victoria Island. I learned that the animal skins and furs used traditionally by the Inuit for warmth were better than any hi tech fabric. My dad would use a muskoxen skin to line his komotik (sled)and as the bottom layer on his bunk in his cabin. The wool/hair is indeed soft and unique (and precious $$). LOVE your photos Lori. Thanks for sharing.

  18. Dear Lori, Happy Birthday to your son and have the most wonderful time with your family! I enjoy so much reading about your travels and this one is special because many things reminds me of Finland! Reindeer's meet is good and very healthy. We have lots of those red-white poisonous mushrooms. That light is so special - you just have to experience it yourself to understand! What about moscuitos? Usually there are so many in summer but perhaps it was already autumn and not their time anymore.
    Your photos are beautiful and it must have been unforgetable trip.
    x Teje

  19. Lori, the trip sounds like the trip of a life time! I am so glad you were able to share this with your sister. Happy birthday to Kyle and how exciting for all the family to be arriving home. The wedding is coming up this weekend isn't it? Have a beautiful time filled with love and laughter!

  20. Hi Lori
    Your Alaska trip looks fantastic the little cabin & post office.
    Thankfully you were all back IN the car when the grizzly decided to share the road with you :-)What a beauty he is.
    Happy Birthday Wishes to Kyle! Have a wonderful time with your children home ♥

  21. Dear Lori...What a visual feast you have once again given! I love it all, the wildness, the remoteness, the hospitality. We are planning a similar trip up to the Yukon in the next few years as Josh was born there in a little cabin in the middle of nowhere. It is still standing and we want to go before it's too late. We also get Northern Lights here sometimes, and we can watch them right from our bed! So beautiful!!! I can't wait to see what you knit with your luxurious wool, Lori! And finally, is this the big weekend for your family? How exciting!!! Happy birthing day, wonderful mama. I've been missing your presence lately and am happy for a quick peek. Just you :)
    xo Jules

  22. Hi Lori you traveller! As I was scrolling down slowly to look at and enjoy each picture, I thought, I must comment on this one, and then on that, oh, how beautiful is this! But I can`t even start now. Thank you for including us all in your journey. Wow, what encounters you had, you and Lindy and your travel companions! And I also love your own comments! they make every picture so much more understandable. We also have, like Teje, many of those Fliegenpilze (red mushrooms with white spots), and our children learn early not to touch them!
    Have fun with your children this weekend! May you all be blessed! Geli

  23. You're home! Welcome home! What an amazing trip.. I'm showing Chase your pictures. We are falling in love with Alaska.


  24. These images make me feel so close to Alaska, you make it look accesible and sort of like I've never envisioned it before. I can't wait to see what you do with that yarn,
    and the cranes so close and unexpectedly? That cottage where you and sister stayed?
    the topper is the perfect mushroom!

  25. Holy Moly Lori - this is awesome! you did so much, and saw so many things off the beaten trail - just amazing! your photo's are wonderful, and I love seeing all the animals and birds and bears.

    really...$98.00/oz??? wowee!!! yihaa!! enjoy that yarn!

  26. Oh Lori - my husband is really trying to talk me into moving to Alaska. I have been pretty deadset against it...but now I don't know!! Such beauty! I look forward to seeing more. Stay safe my friend!

    p.s. I finished K's medicine pouch and I'l be linking to you tomorrow :)

  27. great goddess lori that is one incredible journey - i don't know what it more exciting, the midnight sun, the northern lights or that bear that was SO CLOSE!!! and visiting the arctic circle - man, you really got way up there. i would love to travel there.....some day. looks like the last wilderness of the world - thanks for sharing your wonderful images. it looks like you had a wonderful time with your sister - how lucky to have such a great travel companion. enjoy having (almost) all your kiddos home - especially hannah from the big apple!

    with love,


  28. Wow and wow again, Lori. Or should I just say Wow x 5! Your descriptions and photographs of this Alaska trip are really marvelous, really indicating what a very different place it is.

    It's clear that you all had a grand time, grizzly and all.

    Do let us know what you eventually decide to knit with that very precious fine yarn.


  29. Oh Lori, so much things to say about this post!!!
    I love the Alaska Post Office, Camila would love those lovely dogs and how about the bear on the road? the northern lights... Fantastic!!!
    Thank you for sharing your trip with us, it´s so exciting!!!
    Take care,
    with much love,

  30. What a joy Lori. I have not felt like blogging, but I knew if I came here I would be uplifted. I kept waiting for the bear and you did not disappoint :-). Also the Northern lights, it is a dream of mine to see them.
    Hope you are having fun with the family!

  31. I'm so glad you bought that yarn!! I'm looking forward to the magic that will happen on your needles ;)

    Wonderful journey. I felt like I was there as I read along and scrolled down.

    Someday I'll have to go there.

    Is Hannah coming home for good?

    Happy birthday to your baby boy :)

    This was wonderful. I swear I live vicariously through your blog and photos.

    Thanks for sharing!


  32. Fairbanks is one the most beautiful place. You can see northern lights in fairbanks very clear. So, you can visit there in winter to see northern lights.
    Best place to see northern lights in fairbanks


xoxo lori