Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Sunshower in Fairbanks

Have you ever been caught in the middle of some amazing artwork created by nature? I came home from work the other day to a beautiful sunshower and had to document it. I felt as though I was in a nature film and was following a script set before me. This is my interpretation of that experience.  [Let the video fully load and watch in full-screen mode for an optimal viewing experience.]

(c) Dan Vogel 2010
Music: "Foreign Thoughts" by There Will Be Fireworks

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Memorial Day Weekend Getaway

[Seven Mile Lake & Gulkana Glacier, Alaska]

[Updated 5/25/10]
I've been in Fairbanks for just over a month now.  When I arrived, there was still a little less than a foot of snow, the trees were bare, the ground was brown, and the temperature struggled to reach 50 degrees even on sunny days.  Over the past four weeks, the snow has melted, the trees have budded, ground vegetation is ripe and green, and it’s been ranging from 60 to 75 degrees most days.  Perfect if you ask me!  Although, I do hear my friends and family back in Minnesota are suffering with 90-degree temperatures and 80% humidity.  I know what that feels like and can assure you, it is NOT fun!  I do miss a good Minnesota thunderstorm every once in a while though.
To couple the great weather here with great adventure, I’ve been itching to go on my first, formal hiking/camping/kayaking trip in some rugged Alaskan wonderland.  As luck continues to run its course in my adventures so far, it looks as though a few us are planning on hitting up Seven Mile Lake (click for map) this Memorial Day weekend.  It sits about halfway between Fairbanks and Anchorage, just east of Denali National Park and west of the Tanana Valley State Forest.

[Seven Mile Lake]

It all starts Friday night, with a drive down to mile 40 of the Denali Highway.  We'll disembark and ford our way through a system of cured and uncured trails 6.5 miles off the road through a natural amphitheater of 4,000-foot mountains and a marshy valley until we reach Seven Mile Lake.  We'll set up camp, enjoy the ever-fading sunsets and sunrises, kayak the lake, and hike a summit or two in the foothills.  To rub in a little more amazing-ness, the weather forecast is as follows.  It doesn't get much better than this:

FRI: Hi 65+, Lo 35+
SAT:  Hi 65+, Lo 35+
SUN: Hi 65+, Lo 35+ cloudy, scattered showers
MON:  Hi 65+, Lo 35+ cloudy, rain likely

I've hiked, camped, kayaked, and fished in state parks before, but they have almost always been on property with other travelers’ tents or RV’s next to mine, owned by KOA, and treated more as family getaway experiences.  THIS and other trips over the next year up here will be much more true to the camping and hiking form - far from anyone else and completely immersed in nature.  I’m so excited for this and many more adventures to come.

[My new hiking boots!]

Stay tuned for more pics and stories from this weekend.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Late Arrival

"Late Arrival" is a short film I created with my Amtrak Cascades train ride from Seattle, WA to Vancouver, BC before running the Vancouver Marathon the next day. This is a short story of someone suddenly realizing he is embarking on an amazing adventure. And the only thing leading the charge is that in which pulls every person to do what they desire - his heart.

Words by Dan Vogel
Music: "Decline" by The Appleseed Cast

Alaskan Sunsets

Despite my blog title eluding to a sunrise symbolizing the beginning of a new year for me here in Alaska, there have been some ridiculous sunsets since I’ve moved here.  A normal day’s sun has been rising around 4am and setting close to 11pm this time of year.  However, before too long those two separate hours will be nearing closer and closer - until we hit June 21st, the longest day of the year.  Here are a few examples of what I am speaking of.

Daylight fades above a dog mushing trail.

Birch trees offer great silhouettes at Creamer's Field.

My cabin's sunset at 10:30pm, May 16th.

Bob Ross would love this! [Credit: KFace]

Happy Girl

My friend Katie and I hit up a late-night hike on Monday, May 10th in Creamer's Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge in Fairbanks, AK. A solid twilight was in full force until 1:30am while the birch trees shined bright throughout the night.

Music: "Sleep Through Summer" by Now, Now Every Children

Making Moose Friends

Mother's Day, May 9th, 2010. I just got back from getting my first pile of groceries and saw a mama and baby moose chillin out right next to my cabin and driveway. To meet people's request for video footage of my life in Alaska so far, here's my first sample. Note that I acted like a complete dumbass tourist when taking this video. Never mess with Mother Nature or any moose easily standing taller than you! I'm sure there will be many more animal- and nature-related videos to come over the next 11 months or so. I recommend watching this with at least one other person; you'll laugh that much harder.

Seattle & Vancouver Marathon Trip

On Wednesday, April 28th, I flew to Seattle to meet my mom who flew in from Minneapolis to do sightseeing throughout the city for a couple days and hit up the Mariner's baseball game on Friday with one of my Augsburg classmates Becky Welle and her fiancé and friends. Here's a common sight flying to/from Fairbanks. Lots of mountains, snow, and a few ocean shorelines.
Due to being in Seattle for five days just a couple weeks earlier for my AmeriCorps Pre-Service Orientation downtown, I was able to guide us pretty easily to many awesome sites within the city. (Captions below pictures)
[Seattle Public Library - amazing architecture]
[Seattle Art Museum - display featuring white, light-up Ford Tauruses]
[Pike Place Market - fish! crabs! clams! lobster! flowers! vegetables! pasta! handmade gifts! lots of people!]
[Ferry to Bainbridge Island - I highly recommend taking the 28-minute ride at sunset.]
[Columbia Center Observation Deck - Stunning views from 76 stories (937 feet) overlooking the Seattle skyline. You can see the Space Needle in the distance.]
[Seattle Mariners Game - Seattle was tied with Texas until a 12th-inning wild pitch helped the Rangers win 0-2.]

The following day we took Amtrack Cascades to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada so I could run the 2010 BMO Vancouver Marathon on Sunday, May 2nd. Despite the gloomy day, the scenery was great as we mostly rolled along the shores of the Puget Sound and farming fields of NW Washington state.
[Amtrack Cascades - The train ride is about four hours and rolls through many small towns along the Puget Sound.]

After arriving in Vancouver, we quickly checked into the hotel and took off to meet up with Becky and her friends at Milestones Restaurant in the city's arts district for some great carbo-loading for the following day's race. Speaking of, I felt as though I was extremely under-trained due to a very inconsistent running schedule throughout the winter/early spring as well as getting my move to Alaska all figured out. Nevertheless, I was able to secure a 2:50:27 finish for the 26.2 mile/42.2 km morning sprinkle adventure throughout downtown Vancouver and Stanley Park - good enough for 26th place overall, 5th in my age group and only 40 seconds from my personal best (Twin Cities Marathon 2006) - out of just over 3200 marathoners. I credit the success to maintaining a controlled pace and not running too fast in the first half of the race. I went through the first half in 1:26:00 and second half in 1:24:27 while averaging 6:30 per mile. Here are a few pics from the race, some from
[Miles 11 - 16 go through Stanley Park. It's definitely the most scenic part of the race course.]
[Miles 17 and 24 find you running up over and down the Burrard Street Bridge, another favorite part of mine.]
[Becky just finished her 8th? marathon with a solid time of 3:36:02, well within her goal of running sub-3:40:00.]
[I remember finishing and hearing my mom stumbling over her words saying, "DANIEL! DANIEL! Awesome!" Haha]
After cleaning up back at the hotel, we took off to meet up with Becky and her friends at The Fish House for some awesome seafood, checked out some hilarious statues, hit up the Mill Marine Bistro & Bar, and had a couple night caps back at their hotel before taxiing it back to my hotel. The following day, Ma and I decided to water-taxi it over to North Vancouver to check out Grouse Mountain and the Capilano River Suspension Bridge. Here's the Vancouver skyline as well as some Vancouver mountains and a favorite picture of the suspension bridge.

Then the time came to hop back on the train and head to Seattle, find a hotel room for the night, and fly back to our respective homes. Me, directly back to Fairbanks and mom back to La Crescent, MN by way of Denver and Minneapolis. It was great to basically celebrate an early Mother's Day - this was more like a Mother's Week - and see Becky again. I had a blast in Seattle and can easily compare it to Minneapolis. Vancouver was a decent city with great scenery. And the marathon finish was nothing like I would've ever imagined. Guess that goes to show I'm a low-mileage marathoner. Thanks to Dennis and the Augsburg CC and Track teams for keeping me in some short of shape over the past nine years or so; and Larry and Abe at LCHS for providing the foundation. Without the guidance, I wouldn't be looking to *race* one or two marathons per year for as long as my legs hold up. In addition, I have to thank my mom for all her support over the years in everything I've done. As everyone has in their lives, there have been ups and downs. My mom and family have been stellar in being by my side no matter what new adventures I may embark on.

Seattle and Vancouver, you've been visited.
On to the next adventure.

First Impressions of Alaska & My AmeriCorps VISTA Service Work

Hey everyone!

I hope this note finds you warm and well wherever you may be in the lower-48. I'm safe and sound in Fairbanks, Alaska. It's beautiful here! I'm living in a dry cabin just outside of town with no running water and LOVE it. Most everyone lives sustainable up here mainly by filling a few water jugs once a month, utilizing an outhouse just outside their cabin, recycling materials, and composting food waste. Regarding my volunteer service, I had orientation in downtown Seattle from April 13-16 and had a blast! I saw a Mariner's game, Pike's Place Market, Space Needle, and rode a ferry across the bay at sunset to Bainbridge Island. Seattle is beeaaaauuutiful! I'll be there again this Weds through Friday to meet up with my mom and a couple friends before heading up to Vancouver, BC on Saturday morning to run the marathon on Sunday, then back to Fairbanks on Tuesday the 4th. I'll do my best to act as a tour guide in Seattle, at least.
[Groovin to 80's music as Miami Vice's Don Johnson.]

Since arriving in Fairbanks, I've been busy meeting people and seeing the main sites around town. I stayed with my volunteer supervisor and my AmeriCorps volunteer leader the first few days before moving into my supervisor's old cabin. Here's a list of what I've done so far: Tokyo Police Club concert + 80s Dance Party + Spring Fest (Earth Day Celebration w/music) --> all at UAF (U of Alaska - Fairbanks); Fairbanks Grizzlies arena football game, listening to some acoustic folk music at The Marlin Pub, ultimate frisbee and sauna with lots of people about 20 minutes West of town. I also had a great conversation with a well-known Fairbanks musician who plays guitar in the band, Work, who's going to get me in touch with some people to hopefully play drums in a band or two while I'm up here, too. Aside from that, my mom and her coworker Pam are coming to visit me July 28th - August 4th, where I'll take the train to Denali National Forest to meet them, stay the night, then get up early for an all-day wilderness tour in/around Mt. Denali, then train it later that evening to Fairbanks. Not sure what we'll while they're visiting Fairbanks, but we'll figure it out. My next time back in Minnesota will be in late August for my friend/guitarist's wedding on August 28th. Until then, I'll be rockin out here in Fairbanks, maybe get in a couple hiking/camping/fishing trips, and volunteering my time with AmeriCorps at Fairbanks' Street Outreach Advocacy Program (SOAP).

[Fairbanks Grizzlies game. The hard hat came in handy when the players got smashed into the padded boards in front of us.]

Speaking of work, I'm volunteering under Fairbanks Counseling & Adoption's Youth Drop-in Center called SOAP. I'm here to help with grant writing to expand and establish programs that help the area's youth runaway and homeless population. Drug, alcohol and sex abuse are a big problem for families in/around Fairbanks and are a big reason why the youth resort to living on the streets. Sure, it's springtime and summer's approaching fast, but think about how difficult it would be to live on the streets in the winter. Dry, sub-zero temperatures that dip down to -60º sometimes are life-threatening. We are here to support their basic food and shelter needs for a few hours each day as well as offer assistance in affordable housing and work options. I'm excited to learn more and hopefully leave some sort of tangible and intangible impression on the institution and children of this area. The goal is to have this be a fully operational youth shelter within the next couple years. Here is the website of the site I'm working with through April 2011.

I think I should wrap this up seeing as though I really want to start up a journal/blog/photo blog within the next few days. I'll let you know when I have that link. Many, many, many more adventures to come for sure! If you'd like to stay in touch via physical mail, feel free to check out these two addresses listed below. Have a great day!


Physical Address:
435 Betters Ln
Fairbanks, AK 99709
Google Map:

Mailing Address:
PO Box 81043
Fairbanks, AK 99708