ice cream and permafrost http://icecreamandpermafrost.com archaeology. adventure. dessert. Fri, 10 Feb 2017 23:15:32 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.21 The Beautiful, Nightmarish Murals of the New Orleans Train Stationhttp://icecreamandpermafrost.com/new-orleans-train-station/ http://icecreamandpermafrost.com/new-orleans-train-station/#comments Sun, 29 May 2016 22:55:23 +0000 http://icecreamandpermafrost.com/?p=3463 When you travel, it isn’t unusual to see murals d […]

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When you travel, it isn’t unusual to see murals depicting highlights of local history. But for most cities, those ‘highlights’ don’t include fantastic and nightmarish scenes where ghostly figures swoop down to carry away disease victims, or the four horsemen of the apocalypse loom over dying soldiers on a Civil War battlefield.

New Orleans isn’t most cities.

 

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That’s the outside. But inside, you’ll find the history of New Orleans – in the form of a 2,166 square-foot mural that shows 400 years of life and death in the Crescent City. The work – in four sections, showing Exploration, Colonization, Struggle, and Modern Life – features colorful scenes that change from triumphant to macabre depending on how closely you examine them. A worm eats through a field of corn, leaving a trail of rot behind. Well-dressed men point accusing fingers as the capitol crumbles. Grinning, skeletal figures lurk in the corners.

It’s beautiful. And awful. And perfect for New Orleans.

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In the ‘Exploration’ panel France, England, and Spain compete to exploit the new world. The panels show men being lured to bloody deaths by phantom images of wealth, with Native American civilizations caught in-between, as threatening ships approach.

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‘Colonization’ shows pioneers fighting Native Americans, while Franciscan friers teach others how to work in the fields. Chained slaves are imported, the Acadians are transported to Louisiana, and noblemen in masks bow to each other as New Orleans is traded back and forth between France and Spain and then finally becomes part of the USA.

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‘Struggle’ starts with the newly American New Orleans becoming a battleground in the War of 1812. A growing American population divides the city and the civil war divides the country as skeletal figures, representing yellow fever epidemics, hover above. And cheerful, colorful carnival-goers parade through the streets.

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‘The Modern Age’ starts with a hooded Klansman looming over citizens. Black sharecroppers work in fields, education and medicine advance, and scientists triumphantly work on the atom bomb.

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They were painted as part of a New Deal project by an artist named Conrad Albrizio, who taught at LSU and left murals that can still be seen across Louisiana. He specialized in frescos like these, where paint is applied directly to a wall’s wet plaster. And despite needing some restoration after Katrina, they’ve held up well for the past 60 or so years.

 

 

                           This post is part of the #WeekendWanderlust linkup and Travel Photo Thursdays. 

 

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I’m not dead.http://icecreamandpermafrost.com/im-not-dead/ http://icecreamandpermafrost.com/im-not-dead/#comments Sat, 14 May 2016 04:51:18 +0000 http://icecreamandpermafrost.com/?p=3454 Hello, internet! So . . . um, I’ve been neglectin […]

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Hello, internet!

So . . . um, I’ve been neglecting you lately.

Let’s start with the good news: I’m not dead. Not even maimed or anything.

Don’t think that I didn’t have opportunities, though. Things I’ve done in the past few months and haven’t updated about include:

– Visiting a historic and reportedly haunted lunatic asylum, a historic and supposedly haunted jail, and a museum set in a working (and probably not haunted) federal prison. Not only was I not attacked by vengeful spirits, these places all let me leave. Go figure.

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– Hammock camping in the Great Smokies, where I wasn’t attacked by a bear. No, that happened to someone camping a few miles away. I stayed in motels for the rest of my trip.

– Unfortunately, the motel was where I got bit by what was possibly a brown recluse spider. Which also didn’t kill me! I just got very sick, seem to have a permanently discolored patch of skin on my arm, and have added ‘Come back if you see signs of necrosis!’ to my list of things I don’t want to hear a doctor say again.

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(I also survived this creepy truckstop full of clowns. That was a close one.)

 – I also wound up spending a night stranded at a Park-and-Ride near Scranton, PA, having my car break down at a tourist trap in North Carolina, and wandering around an abandoned, creepy amusement park in the dark.

To be fair, I also did a lot of things that had very little possibility of ending in tragedy. I had ice cream in at least 9 different states. I rode a bunch of trains. I collected as many rocks as I could carry. I went to several state fairs and ate fried things that were never meant to be eaten fried. Those activities were, as usual, fun and non-fatal. (At least until the cholesterol catches up to me.)

 

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(Here I’m eating ice cream in Hell. Michigan. This is my dramatic face, in case you couldn’t tell. It needs some practice.)

 

The truth is, ordinary, everyday life kind of overwhelmed my ability to keep up with reporting the more interesting things I’ve done. Most of my energy over the past few months has gone into getting my grandmother’s house in shape for her to move. I also had my second go-round of laser eye surgery. Once again, this completely failed to give me laser eyes – just months where I couldn’t read a computer screen without double vision. Unfair.

But I’m back now. Because I missed you, internet. And I promise to do better – because I have a LOT to tell you about.

So. How’ve you all been?

 

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Coventry Farmer’s Market – the best farmer’s market in New Englandhttp://icecreamandpermafrost.com/coventry-farmers-market-the-best-farmers-market-in-new-england/ http://icecreamandpermafrost.com/coventry-farmers-market-the-best-farmers-market-in-new-england/#comments Thu, 25 Jun 2015 15:40:22 +0000 http://icecreamandpermafrost.com/?p=3413 When it’s summer in New England, you can’t […]

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When it’s summer in New England, you can’t go very far without tripping over a farmer’s market. So when a farmers market is regularly called the best in New England, it had better be able to back up the claim.

 

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To be clear, the Coventry Farmers Market doesn’t call itself  the best farmer’s market or one of the top summer attractions in New England- they leave that to Yankee Magazine, the Boston Globe,  and their thousands of regular visitors. But they do describe themselves as ‘A country fair every Saturday,’ – another claim I didn’t believe until I went there myself.

 

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The market is located in the ‘quiet corner’ of Connecticut, at the Nathan Hale homestead – family home to CT’s state hero, the revolutionary war spy who regretted he only had but one life to give for his country. You get there by driving down what seems an endless series of side roads through quiet woods with occasional stone fences. You’ll have to go slowly and be prepared to break for deer. Basically, there is no way this place could be any more charmingly New England.

 

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Let’s start with the basics: like most farmers markets, it’s a great place to stock up on fresh produce. But you can go beyond basic veggies – there’s cheese and meat, honey, herbs, homemade soaps and teas, breads and crafts.

And then there are the food vendors. Oh, the food vendors. You’ll find some of the best food trucks in the region, as well as representatives from restaurants all over the state.

 

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Weekly themes range from ‘Dog Days’ to ‘BBQ and Moonshine,’ and they bring in special activities, entertainment, and vendors. Cheesefest, for example, featured tastings and cheesemaking demonstrations, while the Bluegrass week was a mini music festival.

 

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Earlier this year, it looked like this season would be the market’s last. Fortunately, thanks to a campaign by the market’s devoted fanbase, it will continue under new management. So the next time you want fresh potatoes, local cheese, or Toblerone cupcakes, you know where to go.

 

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Nicecream Factory: liquid nitrogen ice cream perfectionhttp://icecreamandpermafrost.com/nicecream-factory-liquid-nitrogen-ice-cream-perfection/ http://icecreamandpermafrost.com/nicecream-factory-liquid-nitrogen-ice-cream-perfection/#comments Sun, 07 Jun 2015 21:59:48 +0000 http://icecreamandpermafrost.com/?p=3305 When it comes to ice cream, I’m something of a tr […]

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When it comes to ice cream, I’m something of a traditionalist.

At least, I used to be. A couple weeks ago I’d have told you the perfect ice cream had to be hand-churned on a farm while the cows looked on approvingly.

But now? I have tasted the future. And the future is delicious.

 

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Nicecream Factory is located in Arlington VA, right outside of Washington DC.  There’s no churning involved in the Nicecream process – instead, they flash freeze their ice cream using liquid nitrogen, as you watch.

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The store is small and brightly colored, with most of the space inside being taken up by the ‘kitchen’ area, where they have a counter and six ordinary-looking stand mixers. These are where the flavors are added to the ice cream base – so the nutella ice cream, for example, is nutella added to milk, cream, and sugar, mixed together and frozen on the spot. (Because of this, there are only a few flavors available each day – but that’s just an excuse to go back often.)

These stand mixers are also where the ingredients are frozen, in a cloud of what is either liquid nitrogen or magic. Nicecream claims liquid nitrogen, but I’m not willing to bet there isn’t sorcery involved somewhere.

 

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For my first try, I chose nutella and dark chocolate sea salt. The nutella . . . I have to be honest here. That ice cream made me stop for a minute and attempt to process the pure wonder of the universe. I was almost afraid to try the dark chocolate sea salt – and when I did, I’m fairly sure I temporarily stopped breathing. This is the closest ice cream has ever come to being a life-changing experience.

Nicecream DC

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Sunday Traveler – recommended readinghttp://icecreamandpermafrost.com/sunday-traveler-may/ http://icecreamandpermafrost.com/sunday-traveler-may/#comments Sat, 16 May 2015 22:27:26 +0000 http://icecreamandpermafrost.com/?p=3394     Every couple months I like to do a roundu […]

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Every couple months I like to do a roundup of recommended posts from the Sunday Traveler linkup. Here’s just a few of my recent favorites:

 

 

The Thrifty Gypsy’s Travels –  How Travel Provokes. “But travel isn’t always smooth sailing, friendly locals, and delicious food.  Sometimes travel provokes you in ways you never expected or would have encountered if you had stayed home in the comfort of your recliner.  ”

Queenstown – My Highlight Reel - Escape With Kids has all the best things to do, see, and – most importantly – eat, in Queenstown, New Zealand.

Submerged Oaks: 6 Things To Do in Rothenburg ob der Tauber  “. . . probably one of the most popular and quaint German towns you will ever see, and for good reason. This small walled city is oozing with medieval charm. From the half timbered houses, to the uneven cobbled stone streets, to the ancient walls that surround this city, there is so much to explore.”

boy & girl globetrot –  mount john summit: “… I still don’t know what to say. Except, maybe: LOOK! BREATHTAKING! HARD! GO! SEE! CLIMB! SIT! ADMIRE!”

Feet on Foreign Lands stayed in a booklover’s dream at The Alcove Library Hotel, Saigon

Kidding Herself -  Edinburgh’s Camera Obscura and World of Illusions. “And best of all, there is no obvious educational point to any of it. I mean, I daresay you could get all enthused about light, physics, computing power, psychology and so on and so forth but you don’t actually have to. Minimal explanatory placards!  Wooohooo!”

Bryna’s Window: Imjingak: Reminders of the effects of war at the Korean Demilitarized Zone.

Tanama Tales Cabot’s Old Indian Pueblo : ” Yes, in the middle of the bare Californian desert, a four story, 5,000 square foot Hopi-style Pueblo raises over a higher elevation spot known as ‘Miracle Hill.’”

Aperture of my Soul discovered a surreal museum in Louisiana: The Day I Entered An Alternate Reality – Abita Mystery House:

slightly astray – A year of travel (in food!) – “Before setting off on our adventures, I never imagined that food would become such a heavy part of our travels. How many days are planned solely around meals? How many major attractions have we skipped in favor of more food? How many destinations are chosen purely for the cuisine?”

From Olive, Feta & Ouzo, An Expat View of Immigration

The Boho Chica - Trekking to Lao Chai from Sapa : “Sapa is very popular with tourists looking to explore the surrounding villages inhabited by various ethnic minority tribes such as the Black Hmong, Flower Hmong and Red Dzao people and those aspiring to conquer Mt. Fansipan, the highest peak in Indo-China. So it was no surprise that we had plenty of company on the trail; enthusiastic hikers of all ages from different countries, Black Hmong women either acting as guides or trying to sell brightly colored scarves and the occasional xe om (motorbike taxi) with the riders offering to make our hike easier by dropping us to the point where we could see the terraced fields.”

Laugh Anyway has beautiful photos of spring: A Rainy Day in Junggye-Dong:

Wanderlustin’ – Do You Eat Alone in Restaurants When You Travel?: “As I’ve travelled more, I’ve gained confidence in walking into a place and asking for a Table For One. Occasionally you’ll get an odd look, sure, but more often than not the staff will help you out with recommendations for food and drink.  Food is a huge part of travel, trying what each destination has to offer is a big part of finding out what a place is like.”

Hiking to the Eiskapelle | Berchtesgaden National Park :  A Kean Sense of Adventure lives up to the blog name with an adventurous hike to an ice cave in the Bavarian Alps.

PIRAN CAFÉ  Scene & Heard: 55 Minutes in Quito’s Centro Historico – Easter Edition – : “I’m feeling proud, too: transvestite prostitutes recognize me on the street. That’s an Easter Sunday first for me and I decide that my Quito ‘moment’ had finally arrived.”

My cycling adventure in the Okanagan Live, Laugh, Explore mixes wine and a scenic cycling tour.

One Tiny Leap: Finding Texas’ Wildflowers in Austin  “Getting lost and not knowing what we’re doing has treated us nicely so far in our journey through the US.”

 

Add up your post to this week’s Sunday Traveler linkup!  

    •  #SundayTraveler rules:
    • Add the Sunday Traveler badge to your post. 
    • Follow your co-hosts on twitter or Facebook
    • View and comment on at least one other link (the more the merrier!)
    • Use #SundayTraveler when promoting yours and others’ links on social media.
    • Spread the word and come back next week!

 


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Ice Alaska – the World Ice Carving Championshipshttp://icecreamandpermafrost.com/ice-alaska-the-world-ice-carving-championships/ http://icecreamandpermafrost.com/ice-alaska-the-world-ice-carving-championships/#comments Thu, 30 Apr 2015 23:46:51 +0000 http://icecreamandpermafrost.com/?p=3336 Each year in Fairbanks, Alaska, a 27 acre frozen wonder […]

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Each year in Fairbanks, Alaska, a 27 acre frozen wonderland is created from almost 4 million pounds of ice.

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Ice Alaska is home to the World Ice Carving Championships, but the competition isn’t the only thing to see at the ice park. There’s a kids area filled with frozen playgrounds and many, many slides. There’s an ice hockey rink. An ice maze. Ice castles. Ice ships that you can go inside. Giant ice dinosaurs to climb on.

 

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There’s a tractor-driven train that circles the park, departing from – of course – an ice ‘train station.’ You can take ice carving classes, if you get the urge to try making your own art, or visit with sled dogs outside the gate.

 

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For the sculpting competition, 70 teams and over 100 carvers work with ice harvested from the park’s pond. They work nearly around the clock in temperatures that can dip to -40F – or, even worse, stay above freezing during the day, making the ice impossible to work with.

 

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The multi-block competition has teams of 2-4 carvers, while the single-block section is for individuals or pairs. This year’s placing teams represented the US, Japan, Russia, France, Mexico, Thailand, and Mongolia.

 

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The park opens in late February and stays until the end of March – weather permitting. The ice park only exists for about 6 weeks. By the end, anything exposed to the sun has started to melt. By late Spring there won’t be any traces left of the sculptures, and you wouldn’t think this park was anything special at all.

 

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But that’s all right, because summer in Alaska just means it’s time to start preparing for winter. And in February they’ll start to harvest the ice blocks and build the whole thing over again.
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(For more pictures, see my gallery: Ice Alaska in Black and White.)

 

 

 

 

Add up your post to this week’s Sunday Traveler linkup!


#SundayTraveler rules:
Add the Sunday Traveler badge to your post.
Follow your co-hosts on twitter or Facebook View and comment on at least one other link (the more the merrier!) Use #SundayTraveler when promoting yours and others’ links on social media. Spread the word and come back next week!

 


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Ice Alaska 2015 Galleryhttp://icecreamandpermafrost.com/ice-alaska-2015-gallery/ http://icecreamandpermafrost.com/ice-alaska-2015-gallery/#comments Wed, 29 Apr 2015 01:02:49 +0000 http://icecreamandpermafrost.com/?p=3345 More on Ice Alaska: A full post: Ice Alaska: The World […]

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More on Ice Alaska: A full post: Ice Alaska: The World Ice Carving Championships, and a B&W Gallery

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Winter 2015http://icecreamandpermafrost.com/winter-2015/ http://icecreamandpermafrost.com/winter-2015/#comments Sun, 19 Apr 2015 23:31:27 +0000 http://icecreamandpermafrost.com/?p=3216 ITS SPRING! You have no idea how beautiful of a thing t […]

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ITS SPRING!

You have no idea how beautiful of a thing that is. Even though I’m in New England, where as I’ve said before, Spring is mainly that muddy time when the snow has melted but we’re not really warm yet. After an East Coast winter that pretty much shattered all the  records for being cold, snowy, and miserable, any spring will do.

So what was I up to this winter? Besides being snowed in repeatedly and fighting a losing battle against the ice dam that caused my roof to leak for two months straight?

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Well, not as much as I would have liked to have been up to. See above, re: being snowed in, trying to keep my roof from collapsing, ect. But I did manage a few local trips, some good food, and one semi-epic Alaskan winter roadtrip. Here’s a quick list of highlights:

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When:

January-March, 2015

Started/Ended

My hometown in Connecticut.

Places visited:

Providence RI, Boston Mass, Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Denali National Park, Alaska.

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Roadtrips:

Anchorage to Fairbanks, March 8th. 359 miles.

Mishaps/injuries:

  • Bedbugs, from a hostel in Fairbanks. SO itchy.
  • Also chilblains, which are apparently a thing that happens.
  • Getting stuck in a snowbank in by a highway in Alaska, on previously mentioned roadtrip.

 

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Important lessons learned:

Letting your socks get wet when it’s near freezing is dumb.

Letting the rental agency give you a car without snow tires when its March in Alaska is dumber.

Personal Records:

New coldest temp: -18F, Fairbanks, March 9th.

Unusual Foods:

This chocolate is toped with smoked salmon. Because Alaska, that’s why.

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Airports:

Boston, Fairbanks, Detroit, Seattle, Minneapolis, and Portland  – just in time to get my #pdxcarpetselfie.

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Events:

  • Iditarod Ceremonial Start and Restart: Anchorage and Fairbanks, Alaska.
  • Fur Rondy: Anchorage, Alaska
  • Hebron Maple Fest, Hebron, CT.Winter2014 6

 

Add up your post to this week’s Sunday Traveler linkup!  

 

#SundayTraveler rules:
Add the Sunday Traveler badge to your post. 
Follow your co-hosts on twitter or Facebook View and comment on at least one other link (the more the merrier!) Use #SundayTraveler when promoting yours and others’ links on social media. Spread the word and come back next week!

 

 


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Ice Alaska photos – black and whitehttp://icecreamandpermafrost.com/ice-alaska-photos-black-and-white/ http://icecreamandpermafrost.com/ice-alaska-photos-black-and-white/#comments Sat, 18 Apr 2015 17:00:51 +0000 http://icecreamandpermafrost.com/?p=3221 I’ll have more about this year’s World Ice […]

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I’ll have more about this year’s World Ice Sculpting Championships soon, but here’s the first batch of photos.  I took these on a day it was -8 and the cold seemed to instantly cut through my gloves. Now just looking at them makes me feel like I need to turn the temperature up a few degrees.

An ice dragon from 'Fighter,' the first-place sculpture in the realistic category of the multi-block competition at this year's World Ice Carving Championships. From Love's Kiss, in the single-block abstract category. A section of 'Peace in Spite of Evil,' in the abstract multi-block category. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA carved ice bird OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA A section of 'Spirits of the magic dance,' the first-place sculpture abstract category for the  in the multi-block competition. the dawn of luna an octopus from a sculpture called 'Sea Party' in the abstract category. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Thor from 'To the Rescue,' third place in the   multi-block realistic category. Spiderman from 'To the Rescue,' third place in the   multi-block realistic category. Moonlit Courtship, second place in the abstract catagory From 'Octopussy,' second place in the realistic multi-block catagory. A detail from 'Super Bowl,' in the multi-block abstract catagory.

Add up your post to this week’s Sunday Traveler linkup!


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Nenana Ice Classic – Alaska’s ice melt lotteryhttp://icecreamandpermafrost.com/nenana-ice-classic/ http://icecreamandpermafrost.com/nenana-ice-classic/#comments Sat, 04 Apr 2015 06:31:11 +0000 http://icecreamandpermafrost.com/?p=3190 Alaska’s biggest lottery involves waiting for the […]

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Alaska’s biggest lottery involves waiting for the ice to crack in a tiny town near Fairbanks.

 

On March 8th – the day the tripod went up – it was -4 in Nenana, and the ice was a respectable 38 inches thick. A bit thinner then some years, but more then thick enough to walk – or drive a truck on.

Sometime in late April or early May, that ice will break, and the tripod will fall. There are thousands of people waiting to see exactly when that will happen – and a betting pool of about $300,000 going to whoever can guess the exact minute.

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Nenana was officially founded as a railroad town in 1916. There was already a trading post in the area, and a church mission which still stands today had been built in 1905.  And it had been a Tanana camp since far, far before that. But it was the railroad that brought a population boom.

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It was here, in 1923, that the northern and southern sections of the Alaska railroad would be unified, creating the first direct transportation route between Anchorage and Fairbanks. Since that couldn’t happen until engineers had built what was then the longest trestle bridge in the US, it took some time. Time when there were a lot of railroad workers around and not much to do over the winter.

 

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The Ice Classic has its roots in a bar bet at the trading post, where a man named Oliver Lee won a couple rounds and a place in Alaskan history by correctly guessing the date of breakup in Spring 1906. But it was sometime in the winter of 1916 when the modern ice classic was born, thanks to those bored railroad workers. By the next year, word had spread, and bets came in from all over Alaska and the Yukon.

 

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And it kept going, evolving from a simple betting pool to . . . well, a less simple betting pool. Alaska doesn’t have a state lottery, so over the years, the Ice Classic has evolved into a sort of unofficial one.

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Last year, the pot was $363,627 – split among the 25 people who somehow predicted that the winning minute would be 3:48 p.m on April 25th. (That’s Alaska Standard Time, mind you. The ice clock doesn’t observe daylight savings.)

 

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Today, Nenana has a population of about 200. It still has a railroad depot, which also houses a small museum on the railroad history.  There’s a small visitor’s center facing the Parks Highway, the only road between Anchorage and Fairbanks. If you stop by in the summer, someone in the visitor’s center will encourage you to see the church’s hand-beaded alter cloth and the Ice Classic tripod, safely stored on dry land when not in use.

 

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My single bet for this year – April 30th, 5:16 pm. A bit on the early side, but nothing record setting. So will I win a share of the 300 and something thousand dollars? Probably not.

But watching the ice gives me one more reason to look forward to spring.

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