Our Alaska Blog Category
Here are a few pointers to driving in Alaska that are helpful for winter weather.
Check your antifreeze fluid levels in the radiator. Do not just put water in as it will freeze.
Check your windshield fluid level and also make sure it is washer fluid with an antifreeze rating. When the snow melts to slush and gets kicked up on your cars windshield, you will be thankful to have this.
All weather tires, studded tires or chains are also a great idea. If you go with chains, be sure you know how to install them before trying it in the cold.
Make sure that the snow is brushed off your vehicle before driving. We have seen sheets of snow/ice come off vehicles on the highway and almost cause wrecks.
Keep your gas tank at at least half full in case you get stopped in traffic. Wrecks can occur at anytime and you could be trapped on the road behind it for hours. Being able to stay warm is more than worth it!
Do not use cruise control in winter weather and be cautious if using overdrive (if overdrive kicks in on a hill-you can be sent spinning off the road). Sudden traction loss from either can happen on the ice causing you to lose control of your vehicle.Stay safe out there!
WHAT CHILDREN LOOK FOR IN A WASILLA HOME SEARCH
We love it when the children are involved in the home buying process. They can truly give a different perspective on each home. Here are a few of our favorites:
Picking out a room (they typically choose the owners suite or the biggest room much to the dismay of any siblings present). We have been witness to this too many times to count! We have also been witness to how the family deals with the the ‘room choice’ issue. The best example was when the younger sibling said that his big sister should get the bigger room because she will only have it for a couple years. He explained that she is going away soon (college) and then he would get it for longer once she left….
We have had a kiddo pick a room because it is farthest away ‘from where the monsters live.’ They meant farthest away from the crawl space access.
When they little family members choose a home because they can walk to school themselves because it is close (no more bus rides). Only to have a parent tell them that they will have more time for homework now that they didn’t have to ride the bus. Burst that bubble!
Yards and yard toys (or a dog house). Any of these three tend to get their attention for playing outside or finally getting that dog that the parents promised them. We have had several pick a home because of the dog in the back yard (they thought the dog went with the home).
Although the examples above are just some fun examples, we typically recruit the children to help when looking at homes. We may ask that they help ‘find’ all the light switches (keeps everyone together so we are looking at the same rooms at the same time). We may also ask them to count how many homes they can see from the windows (to help the parents see how private the home is). We also have them help turn off lights or help find the lock box or turn the house key (we still go in first though for safety reasons).
We feel that it is important to include the children in the process to help them with the transition of a new home/moving. As a side benefit, it does makes looking at homes a bit easier for the parents to actually spend some time in the home without too much interruption.
Just a few fun things and examples of how we include your little ones in your home searches.
If you and your children are ready to look at homes, give us a call or send an email. We can show you any home, listed with any company, any Realtor and represent you in the purchase.
Apparently, the home I showed them lacked a little color so they ‘fixed’ it for us. 🙂
Jacque & Larry Ficek
Alaska Dream Makers
HOW DO WE HANDLE REAL ESTATE IN 14 DEGREE BELOW ZERO WEATHER?
With a pick ax of course!
This is just an example of a home sale where, in 14 degrees BELOW zero temperatures, our real estate sign needed to be taken down. We use large steel bases and heavy 4 x 4 posts for our signs so even on a good day they take some muscle. The steel base works great to keep the signs in place with any wind but, with the snow and ice built up at driveway corners, we tend to have to break them loose this time of year (hence the pick ax and the ‘here’s Johnny’ face).
Just another example of some of the extremes we go through to ‘get the job done’ for you!
In case the temperature scared you a little, we recently went to Montana
and it was 27 below zero. Back in Wasilla the temp went back up to being
in the 30 degree above zero range again. 🙂
If you need Realtors that will go to extremes for you, give Jacque & Larry a call today!
Alaska Dream Makers
Jacque & Larry Ficek
Alaska Dream Makers
An iron dog, for those unfamiliar with the term is a snowmachine and THE Iron Dog is a grueling test of endurance for man and machine. This race is the ‘worlds longest snowmobile race‘ and it runs over 2000 miles. Crazy weather conditions, rugged and unforgiving terrain and some of the most beautiful territory in the world make up this a survival course on snowmachines.
Larry and I went to the start of the race this with my cousins and, although it was cold, we could not imagine what the racers would go through with the windchill factors. Wind chill from the normal weather conditions and also that of the created variety as they race man and machine in the harsh Alaska wilderness.
View the 2000 mile race route map HERE but remember-the state of Alaska is the size of Texas times TWO!
There are FAQ about the racers, machines and terrain in case you have questions. Pretty interesting information about everything from why duct tape is on the racers faces, how the trail is made and how cold it gets (OK, I have to spoil that one. It can get to MINUS 57 degrees F).
The race ends in Fairbanks and the first place finishers are expected to be at the finish line after noon on February 26. If you would like to track the racers by GPS, you can go to the Iron Dog website and check in.
Jacque & Larry
Prior to the race, the line up
The beginning of the race
Even the soda cans are heated so they do not FREEZE in the cold. Imagine what the racers go through!
So perhaps our brains are frozen because of what we Alaskans do in the ‘spring’ months.
This particular set of pictures is from out outing in Anchorage last weekend. The temperature was about oh…ZERO and we bundled up in attempt to defeat cabin fever.
Fur Rendezvous was always a favorite holiday as a kid. I remember bundling up as a family and spending all weekend in our snowsuits, mittens, boots, scarves and the like just to watch the dog races and see the snow sculptures. I even one a prize for a ceramic mouse I entered in the craft festival bout 32 years ago.
|Past years favorites:|
Arts and Crafts ShowSome of the new favorites
Running of the reindeerSnowshoe softball
Jacque & Larry
SO it is a little chilly and winds are gusting a little. I decided to play a little and make our own Springtime in Alaska, With Food Coloring!
This is our front yard, a daisy stomped out in the snow and ‘painted’ with food coloring in a spray bottle. Unfortunately I did not have the wherewithal to stand out there to make the colors really pop, but you get the idea.
We hear of it, we live through it and it was even on Mythbusters and the movie The Shining, but cabin fever caught me today!
For those of you that do not know about this winter time ailment aptly named cabin fever, it is a simple albeit seasonal disorder. It sneaks up on you when you are least expecting it and attacks when you least expect it. I survived this affliction today by doing something a little off normal.
Jacque & Larry
While you are visiting Alaska, you may choose to go camping! Why not take in the fantastic fall colors and take an adventure drive over the Denali Highway? In all our years here and all our travels, this is one road that neither Larry nor I have had the pleasure of traveling until this year (2011). So we packed up some friends, warm camping gear, Tana the poodle and headed north.
Our adventure started as we drove through the still green Birch and Spruce trees of the Matanuska Valley and meandered north through the state toward Cantwell. We left Wasilla (mile 40 of the Parks Highway) passed Talkeetna, neared Mount Mckinley (ok, the park anyway) and made a right at Cantwell (about 160 miles later). As we drove north we could feel the temperature change and see the light yellowing of the trees as fall kissed the leaves.
We were, of course, in full debate as to which we would see first-would it be an eagle? A moose or caribou? Perhaps a bear? Our friends were ready to see a bear but the caribou ‘won.’
Along the Denali Highway, we were very surprised to see how many other campers (hunters too) were out there with us. Much to our surprise, with as many weekend tent cities and hunting stations as there were 100 miles from much of anything, we had a friend (and past client three times over) pull up beside us. Alaska is the largest state in the union but it is still a small world! Allan was doing exactly what we were, exploring our beautiful state and taking pictures along the way.
Our campsite was not perfect and it rained on us all night but, by morning, it was beautiful out and the campfire was perfect for our oatmeal and fresh picked blueberries.
Our 550 mile drive/camping trip and wildlife viewing tour cannot be described any better than in the photos we took. Take a look!
From Wasilla, drive north on the Parks Highway toward Fairbanks, take the Denali Highway exit at Cantwell. Follow the 135 mile (much of it dirt but very well maintained) road across to Paxson. Follow to Glennallen (get gas here too before continuing on) and then south to Palmer. From Palmer you can go back over to Wasilla or continue south to Anchorage.
Services are very limited! Medical may be available in Delta Junction, Cantwell and Glennallen but there is not much available while on the Denali Highway.
Fill up your gas tank before heading on the highway. Bring your snacks and drinks, protection from wildlife, extra gear and warm clothes with you. Don’t forget your camera!
There are a couple of places to stay but they are limited and on a first come first served basis, otherwise a warm tent and camping gear makes for a great adventure in itself.
The Denali Highway is typically open from mid May to October unless you are on a snow machine adventure. Snow and drifts often makes the road impassible.
Have fun on your adventure and stay safe!
Jacque & Larry
Growing up in Alaska with two brothers and two sisters it was interesting to say the least. We all got along (our parents would not have it any other way) and we went on adventures as a family. We went snow machining like ducks in a row, camping, fishing, going to the flight line on Elmendorf AFB (now Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson or JBER for short) to watch the planes, whatever it was, we were together.
One memory that sneaks up on me this time of year is the smell of fall. It is a decay smell to me, wet leaves, dying grasses etc. Some people like the smell and others do not. Larry and I are on both sides of the fence on this one, I do not like the smell, he does because it means fall to him.
The reason I do not like it is because of the title of this story. Siblings, Rotten, Rotten-ROTTEN! You see, my siblings told me when I was an impressionable young kid (maybe 6 years old) that the smell was a WET BEAR in the woods. They followed up with anytime you smell that smell, the bear is close and can smell you too. Then something like it is close enough to attack and eat you…you know, the fun stuff siblings say and do to each other.
To this day, I still have that millisecond response to the smell and then I think ‘siblings, Rotten, Rotten-ROTTEN!’
For those of you new to Alaska or just visiting our area in the fall, the smell is probably just the smell of fall and not a wet bear lying in wait to attack. Thank you John, Don, JoAnne and KC for the blog idea, you are all ROTTEN!
The pics above were from our family reunion in 2011. We were recreating the family pic from 36 years prior as a silly surprise for my folks. My family is nuts (in a good, silly, mischievous, fun, goofy-and a bunch more adjectives-way)! Can you see from the pics why I say Siblings, Rotten, Rotten-ROTTEN?
If you are new to Alaska or just visiting, we are available to help with the purchase of your new home. If you are selling because you too do not like the smell of fall, we are also here for you!
If you are not moving here but vacationing we also have some really cute Alaskan themed, modern and fully furnished vacation rentals if you simply just want to check out our beautiful state (and tease family members with the ‘wet bear’ story).
Jacque & Larry
One of our favorite things to do in the fall is go on a day trip to a U-Pick Farm for fresh Alaskan Veggies. The carrots are sweet adn crunchy, the peas are the BEST adn it is fun getting your hands dirty. The views are spectacular too!
One of our favorites is Pyrahs Pioneer Peak Farm in the Butte. Here are some pics of us being silly with my cousins on the farm.
From Palmer, take the Old Glenn Highway west out of Palmer. Follow Old Glenn for approximately 8 Miles. Turn right onto Bodenburg Loop Road. Follow Bodenburg for approximately 3 miles. The farm will be on the right hand side.
There are rules when you pick as to the minimum size of certain veggies, picking allowed in designated areas, be careful not to waste and they are closed on Sundays. You can visit the website for more information.
Have fun and enjoy the harvest!
While in the Palmer area, if you head into the Butte, there are many trails to take four wheeling.
Not only will you be nose to nose with gorgeous mountains but you can play in the valleys and kick up some mud in the meantime.
There are amazing views, cold water, bumps and jumps, dunes and dirt all along the way. Many people camp along the river in one of several parking areas. You will see brand spanking new four wheelers mixed with old beater four by fours. Everyone is welcome in the mud!
Beware though, do not get out too far like these folks. It may not look dangerous but it can get there very fast.
It looks like fun until somebody goes into the drink! We were not sure if they thought there was a sandbar or what but they had several onlookers.
Apparently, they had several supporters as it took two trucks, a couple tow lines and a chain and a nice friend with some hip waders to hook it all up-just to get them out.
To get to the Knik River parking lot From Anchorage, take the Glenn Highway to the Old Glenn Highway Exit toward the Butte. Follow the road to the left (over the bridge) and there are parking lots on both sides of the road. There are other places to park but this is the closest to Anchorage.
Prepare for the unexpected and bring gear for all temperatures.
Watch for tides, keep a safe zone!
Stay off the mudflats and beware of the quicksand like properties of the mudflats.
Unsuspecting or people unaware of the dangers of the mudflats can get caught in it and drown or die of hypothermia. We know of several instances where it took a fire hose and pressurized water to break the hold of the quicksand like mud.
Play it safe and keep it fun!