Lee

Alaska

During the summer solstice in June 2010, I spent eight days and no nights in Fairbanks, Alaska. Here is a portion of the journey.

Lee is basically homeless. He is from Cantwell, AK. Currently, the Navy veteran, serving in Florida between 1979 and 1981, bounces between his mothers and sisters homes. He also stays with a friend in Fairbanks from time to time. His mother has cancer and according to Lee it is managed at the moment. He tries to help her out when he is there.

He is not free of his own personal struggles. Lee quit drinking 26 years ago unlike many of the other homeless in Fairbanks. When he quit drinking he began having seziures. He says that the seziures prevented him from having a wife, family, a job and a home. He doesn’t have much hope that his situation will improve in the future, “there is nothing anybody can do.” He is wary of politics and the system expressing resentment about Sarah Palin saying she wouldn’t get his vote if she were to run for President.

Yellowsnow Road

Yellowsnow Road- WORK from StartPoint Media on Vimeo.


During the summer solstice in June 2010, I spent eight days and no nights in Fairbanks, Alaska. Here is a portion of the journey.

A wooded country dirt road ends at a homesteaded horse farm. Cars lined the crude road, parking was a mishmash. Anywhere that a spot could be had there was a car. Kids setup a disorganized camp around the property. Interesting characters drifted in and around as a pig was roasted, music played and beer was flowing. Energetic youth bopped around and danced to the very hip sounds. Local Fairbanks bands The Phineas Gauge, Work and Sweating Honey each played a short set for the mellow crowd. The music was perfect as it filled the Goldstream Valley with sound, the light was perfect at 3am.

The entire purpose of this trip to Alaska was to get to know my soon-to-be brother-in-law and his two brothers. This party provided the perfect opportunity for that to happen. It was a great way to start the week together.

Chena River Lake

Alaska


During the summer solstice in June 2010, I spent eight days and no nights in Fairbanks, Alaska. Here is a portion of the journey.

The Chena River Lakes are a series of dams and levees designed to control flooding in the Fairbanks area. Fairbanks from flood disaster as happened in 1967. The lakes are dammed only temporarily hold water back from flooding low lying areas. A permanent lake would interrupt spawning salmon heading upstream to their breeding grounds. When the lakes are dry a wide bike trail path runs the rim of the miles long levees a practical dual purpose.

Alaska

Birch trees filtering light to reveal a velvet carpet of green ferns. A Spruce Grouse mother and her two baby birds have their complacency disturbed as human visitors pass through the ox-bowed area of the twisting Chena River east of Fairbanks. The mother bird tree hopped from low to high clicking like a rooster until her clutch was safe with her.

The Party

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During the summer solstice in June 2010, I spent eight days and no nights in Fairbanks, Alaska. Here is a portion of the journey.

The extended summer sunlight in Fairbanks accentuates the extremes that life is in this city. Work runs late, activity carries through until the wee hours of the morning. Here on 23rd St. no one seems to mind, it is almost a relief. Children are out riding bicycles and playing until well after midnight. Similarly, townspeople congregate on their porches during the solstice. It is certainly payback for spending the rest of the year in near darkness as the sun barely breaks the horizon in the dead of winter.

Alaska

As told by those native to Fairbanks, the struggle the winter brings provides the excuse to take advantage of the bounty of summer, almost to an excess. Celebrating the sun is ritual in Fairbanks. Normal sun cycles at lower latitudes provide natural symbols to the passage of time making it easy to know when the party is over. Absent in Fairbanks are the normal natural light/dark cycle keeps the body’s clock in check. Two o’clock in the morning looks like a dusky 9 PM so the party continues. A conscientious effort to stop working or partying and get sleep is required. Often times dark blinds, blankets or other dark material are often used to block the constant sun from streaming into windows during times that would normally be dark.

Alaska

The extreme of the cycle leads to higher suicide rates in the spring, high instances of depression and alcohol and drug abuse. The suicide rate increase is attributed to the arrival of spring and the assumption that life will get better, but seemingly doesn’t. A despondent person may see no improvement or new beginning happening for them and simply give up. [1]

Murphy Dome


During the summer solstice in June 2010, I spent eight days and no nights in Fairbanks, Alaska. Here is a portion of the journey.

In Alaska hills are called domes. A mid morning drive leads to the very accessible Murphy Dome. Upon arrival at the summit the fog was so thick that a military Doppler radar site went unnoticed until well after the fog lifted. Following, on foot, an unimproved extension of Murphy Dome Road guides visitors to a series of ridge-top rock outcroppings. The fog slowly lifts upon arrival and reveals a great vantage point. The promenade provides a 360 panoramic vista unveiling layer upon layer of mountainous expanse extending into the wilderness as far as the eye can see. The distant layer to the south is the Alaskan Range and Denali National Park, home to the largest mountain in North America, Mt. Denali.

Alaska