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Alaska / Alaska Chat - 2019 Iron Dog – Day 6 Coverage
« on: February 27, 2019, 04:35:53 PM »
2019 Iron Dog – Day 6 Coverage

Friday usually marks one of the faster days racing the Iron Dog, and this year was no exception. Once racers leave the Kaltag checkpoint, they barrel up the frozen Yukon River and the race turns into more of a sprint versus the first half of the race which forces the racers through the Alaska range, […]


The post 2019 Iron Dog – Day 6 Coverage appeared first on The Alaska Life.




Friday usually marks one of the faster days racing the Iron Dog, and this year was no exception. Once racers leave the Kaltag checkpoint, they barrel up the frozen Yukon River and the race turns into more of a sprint versus the first half of the race which forces the racers through the Alaska range, over hundreds of miles of moguls, ditches, creek crossings, logs in the trail, and a myriad of other obstacles.









Racing on frozen river ice doesn’t mean the racers are void of any hazards along the way, and Team 20 knows that better than any other team for this year. Fighting to repair a broken A-Arm in Koyuk, Scott Faeo and Robby Schachle got their Ski-Doo machines back in working order only to leave the checkpoint and sustain another wreck which left Faeo’s machine with yet another broken A-Arm.  Its been reported that Faeo was in a fair bit of pain after he shared a post on Facebook stating that he hit two ice-shelves.  Despite pressing on to Unalakleet, they decided to call it quits there.









Team 30 was running exceptionally smoothly all day yesterday before running into a snag just before Kaltag as well.  Blake and Kyle give a bit of the detail in the video below on their day before one of their machines was stuck in ’10 Mile Creek’ vertically in hip-deep water.









The run from Kaltag, where many of the racers took a 10 hour layover, started a half hour past midnight when Team 10 was the first to lead a 313 mile charge up the river toward Manley, arriving at 5:05am.  It seems that this long stretch of river running was relatively uneventful for the front-runners as Team 14 and Team 49 arrived at that checkpoint 43 minutes and 3 hours 23 minutes behind the leaders, respectively. 





Due to a seemingly bizarre, but not terribly uncommon, layover choice from Team 6, the leaderboard is a bit out of whack and its hard to tell who is in the closest position to try and catch Mike Morgan and Chris Olds of Team 10.  All three front-runners (Teams 10, 14, and 6) had left Kaltag and made the one-hour trip to Galena, all arriving within roughly 20 minutes of each other.  Teams 10 and 14 pressed onward in the dark and ran for a few hours and made it all the way to Manley several hundred miles down trail. 





When Team 6 got to Galena they knew they were making good time and they actually closed the gap significantly on the second place team.  Team 6 ran the section from Kaltag to Galena 10 minutes faster than Team 14 and 1 minute faster than the race leaders.  They knew this when they entered the checkpoint because they are allowed to ask the checkers for details on the teams in front of them.  They had just come off a 10 hour layover, rode for 1 hour, then declared another 10 hour layover.  We will see how this decision plays out.









Continuing on the topic of Team 6, the Iron Dog Oracle offers up this: “Another very interesting thing about Team 6.  They thought they blew up a motor entering Koyuk on the Norton Sound.  They messed around for 20+ minutes before they realized the motor wasn’t seized it was the primary clutch that seized and it had grabbed the belt so tight it stopped the motor and you couldn’t even pull the motor over with the starter rope.  After dinking around for 20 minutes they decided it was just the clutch.  Eye witnesses report that they removed the seized weights, ramps and rollers out of the clutch and it freed right up and the motor started.  They decided to “unscratch” and get back in the race.  Here’s where it gets weird.  They are running a primary with 1/3 of the weights out of it.  You would think the motor would over-rev and vibrate and just be all mixed up but they have been running nearly 100MPH the whole way down the coast.  They were one of the fastest teams from Nome to Kaltag.  Even with their 20-30 minute delay in Koyuk they made time on the teams in front of them. No one can point to a time when they changed the primary and the locals in Koyuk said they left with a primary that was missing 1/3 of it’s important parts.  How the heck are they able to go so fast with a primary so messed up?”  On one of the live videos you could also hear them say they didn’t have a clutch puller.  Shortly after in the video you can also hear Brad George say ‘Let’s see if we can make it to Kaltag’.





Team 10 is the last team in the race that has Iron Dog champions in it.  Chris Olds has won the race three times while his partner Mike Morgan has also stepped on top of the first place podium once as well.  Short of that, Tyson Johnson, Tyler Aklestad, Todd Minnick, Nick Olstad, and Scott Faeo have all scratched from the race. 





Just 14 teams remain in the race and given the dynamic nature of running snowmachines for more than 2,000 miles at break-neck speed, anything could happen.


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Alaska / Alaska Chat - 2019 Iron Dog – Day 5 Coverage
« on: February 27, 2019, 11:10:12 AM »
2019 Iron Dog – Day 5 Coverage

After pocketing a cool $10,000 for being the fastest team to Nome, Mike Morgan and Chris Olds were up early as they began final preparations to tick off nearly another 1,000 miles on their Polaris Indy XC sleds, making their way toward Fairbanks. Teams 14 and 6, both riding Ski-Doo sleds both pocketed some cash […]


The post 2019 Iron Dog – Day 5 Coverage appeared first on The Alaska Life.




After pocketing a cool $10,000 for being the fastest team to Nome, Mike Morgan and Chris Olds were up early as they began final preparations to tick off nearly another 1,000 miles on their Polaris Indy XC sleds, making their way toward Fairbanks.









Teams 14 and 6, both riding Ski-Doo sleds both pocketed some cash as well for second and third fasted team to make it to Nome.  They walked way with $2,000 and $1,000 respectively.  Setting an intense pace toward the halfway point, despite being involved in a serious collision early in the race, Tyson Johnson and Tyler Aklestad of Team 8 set the fastest course time between White Mountain and Nome, rewarding them with a $4,000 cash prize.  The race rookies were also rewarded in their own category for fastest times to Nome as well.  Team 42, Cruise/Miller, took home product certificates from both Woody’s Studs and Klim USA.  Despite serious equipment issues, Team 44 also was rewarded with their own product certificate from Woody’s Studs. 





2019 Iron Dog Team 42 Nome




Winning prizes at the halfway point aside, teams geared up and pointed their skis southbound as Team 10 left the starting chute first at 8am.  One by one the teams left Nome, knowing mere minutes separated the first several teams.  Early on it was reported that Scott Faeo, a longtime Iron Dog veteran, was catapulted from his machine in the process of bending an upper A-Arm on his Ski-Doo.  We believe this happened about a mile outside of Koyuk, forcing the racers to turn around and go back to town for repairs.













Team 6 had actually passed Team 10 and was first to arrive in Koyuk.  Initially it was reported as the motor had seized from spectators on-site.  After looking into it further, the clutch on one of their machines was locked in the engaged position.  Team 10 got fuel shortly after this, passed Team 6 while they were making repairs and on the way out said ‘Those sleds are FAST!’









We are hearing that Team 14 did have a an oil leak that they knew about in Nome that could have potentially gotten worse, causing runability issues as well.   





One of the biggest developments for the second half of the race is the addition of what was likely the fastest running team (they made the 75 mile stretch from White Mountain to Nome in a scant 52 minutes) to the list of scratched teams.  Team 8 did not make it down the coast very far before running into what is being reported as a motor failure on one of their machines.  The team towed the machine back up toward Nome, possibly with the intention of making repairs, but ultimately decided to call it quits.  With the addition of Team 8, the list of scratched teams climbs to 9 total.









What about team 10? They appear to be running smoothly with a fair bit of chaos happening behind them. If you give these veterans an inch, they will turn it into a mile. Catching professional riders of this caliber who aren’t having equipment issues might turn into a tall task for those nipping at their heels.





As of now they have declared a layover in Kaltag, checking in at 2:28pm with team 14 following suit just 14 minutes later.  Rounding out the third team to declare layover in Kaltag was, despite the clutch issue earlier in the day, Team 6 just 20 minutes behind Team 14.  The field is still tight, but showing a stretching between the front-runners, largely due to the equipment issues that have cropped up early in the second half of this race.  Seconds turn into minutes, which turn into miles separating the teams when even ticky-tack issues have to be addressed on the trail.










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Alaska / Alaska Chat - 2019 Iron Dog – Day 4 Coverage
« on: February 26, 2019, 04:28:00 PM »
2019 Iron Dog – Day 4 Coverage

Rest day, or sometimes referred to as ‘Wrenchin’ Wednesday’ marks the halfway point in the Iron Dog as racers rest both mind and body, but also tend to the proper care and repair of their machines. After some comfort food and a bit of sleep, teams are granted 15 minutes of ‘off clock time’ where […]


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Rest day, or sometimes referred to as ‘Wrenchin’ Wednesday’ marks the halfway point in the Iron Dog as racers rest both mind and body, but also tend to the proper care and repair of their machines.


2019 Iron Dog Team 10 Unalakleet


After some comfort food and a bit of sleep, teams are granted 15 minutes of ‘off clock time’ where racers are allotted time to give each machine a thorough inspection.  This allows teams to gather the necessary information to see what repairs they need to make, what parts they might need, and what tools they will require to make these repairs and perform the maintenance.


Regarding major maintenance, we often see teams running the gamut between doing simple belt changes all the way to major motor repair.  From the looks of the maintenance times (all under 10 minutes, many under 5 minutes from what I can see) it seems that minor maintenance is the rule not the exception for many of these teams.


2019 Iron Dog Nome Garage


From the Iron Dog Oracle:


‘I spoke with team 14 yesterday before their inspection.  All is good. They will adjust the track and chain and change drive belt at most. Expect just a couple of minutes on the clock is their guess. 


Team 30 has no issues or problems and will perform standard maintenance. Again expect just a few minutes on the clock. 


Team 5 reports no major issues, but they started losing top speed on the Yukon River.  They hope its simply a function of worn drive belts.  Mirroring the other teams, just a few minutes of time


I think Team 10 will have a little clutch maintenance. It seemed that Chris’ sled was making a lot of belt noise when they pulled into White Mountain. 


I heard from a couple teams in Nome and they confirmed that almost every team looks great and very little visible damage for anyone in the garage.’


The largest maintenance issues for a team that made it to Nome still appears to be from Team 44 who ran into the bent tunnel and cracked heat-exchanger.  Just before Ruby Michael Lilley bent the tunnel after going off a 12-foot embankment.  In the heat of the moment the racers didn’t immediately assess the damage until just outside of Galena where the cooler separated from the circulation tubes on Lilley’s Arctic Cat sled.  From there until Kaltag the machine was losing coolant through a crack in the aluminum.  The team was able to get back on the trail after painstakingly watching JB-Weld cure on the cooler, all while time was ticking away on the clock.  Persistence paid off and the team did in fact make it to Nome.


A common saying in Alaska is ‘If you don’t like the weather, wait 15 minutes’, and that adage rang true for the western coast of Alaska.  The following two photos were taken less than a day apart showing perfect racing conditions followed by a winter snow storm bringing with it flat light, gusting winds, and greatly reduced visibility.  This will certainly affect racers as they leave Nome tomorrow making their way south along the same coast before heading up the Yukon River again.


2019 Iron Dog Nome Clear


2019 Iron Dog Nome Visibility


Video from Team 30’s Facebook page shows what the weather looked like in Nome today



By contrast, here is a video taken by pilot Brian Turner showing racer Kyle Conner coaxing his Arctic Cat sled along the coastline as fast as it will go.  Incredible aerial footage!



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Alaska / Alaska Chat - 2019 Iron Dog – Day 3 Coverage
« on: February 26, 2019, 11:11:09 AM »
2019 Iron Dog – Day 3 Coverage

1,089 miles into the worlds longest, toughest snowmobile race, the top six teams are still separated by less than one hour.?  The first team to check into the halfway point was Team 10, household names in this race, Mike Morgan and Chris Olds.?  Over the first half of the race from the start in Willow […]


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1,089 miles into the worlds longest, toughest snowmobile race, the top six teams are still separated by less than one hour.?  The first team to check into the halfway point was Team 10, household names in this race, Mike Morgan and Chris Olds.?  Over the first half of the race from the start in Willow all the way to Nome, the team elapsed just over 21 hours of racing time and averaged 52 mph.


2019 Iron Dog Nome Racing



The stretch of the trail from Unalakleet to Nome is about 250 miles around and across the Norton Sound.?  This is typically a place where nasty storms cause all kinds of troubles for the teams.?  More often than not Irondog officials have had to alter the course or alter the race in this section of the course due to adverse weather or severely reduced visibility.?  In recent years the weather was so bad that all teams had to parade single file with no passing from Nome back to Unalakleet where the race was then restarted.?  Today, the Norton sound was beautiful.?  Race leader Mike Morgan was racing home today as he is from the city of Nome.?  Growing up, his parents owned a snowmobile dealership there.?  Being a local, he knows this part of the course better than anyone.?  That knowledge would really come in handy during a nasty storm.?  On a bright sunny day? like today, the playing field is somewhat leveled.



Over the course of the next 42 minutes after the first team arrived in Nome, the top six teams also completed half of their race with Team 5 ticking off 21 hours and 45 minutes of overall time and averaging 50mph.?  It’s not often you have so many teams so close together. With the second half of this race consisting largely of flat and fast river running, fans and racers alike might be seeing this front running pack stay as close, or closer than they are now.



Yesterday we mentioned that Team 8 made up almost 30? minutes on the leaders, passing more than a half dozen teams along the way.?  Today, race officials have subtracted 20 minutes from Tyler Aklestad and Tyson Johnson’s course time.?  The first ten minutes was awarded for rendering aid to the injured rider, Todd Minnick, who broke his leg in the collision.?  Johnson helped Minnick by riding double to the hospital in McGrath.?  The second ten minutes was awarded to Team 8 and also two other teams for a non-functioning fuel pump in Ophir.


2019 Iron Dog Todd Minnick sled


As the teams left Unalakleet today heading to Nome, Team 8 was only 29 minutes out of the lead.?  29 minutes is huge and almost insurmountable given the level of racers in this pack until you realize that Team 8 made up 30 minutes in one day and less than 450 miles.?  Racing is highly dynamic, and the Iron Dog is no different.


Clear weather, blue skies, and visibility perfect for running a sled at break-neck speeds for hours on end meant racers were doing just that.?  Hunched behind their windshields, these Iron Doggers had their throttles pushed as hard to the bar as they could, wringing out every single mile per hour they could out of their Polaris, Skidoo, and Arctic Cat machines pushing the speeds near the triple digits for hundreds of miles at a time.


2019 Iron Dog Racing Aerial


After three days of racing action, teams will enjoy a mandatory 24-hour layover in Nome.?  Here they will be given a chance to work on their sleds performing repairs, maintenance, and hopefully ensuring their machines will race as well toward Fairbanks as they did toward Nome.?  A few teams have opted to take an 8-hour layover in White Mountain, as these teams had to secure their third mandatory layover on the northbound section of the trail.


We will offer a slight correction to the reporting on Team 15’s reason for scratching.?  Micah Huss first broke a front track shock south of Poorman.?  The team was able to remove the broken shock and continue racing.?  Roughly 30 miles outside of Ruby, the motor on Huss’s Arctic Cat sled started getting weak and blew up.?  After towing into Ruby, Team 15 decided that the motor was fixable but would need to tow another 60 miles to Galena for better access to tools and an overall better place to layover.?  After making this decision, they departed Ruby and got roughly 5 miles from the town where Selby’s sled met the same fate as his partners and the motor failed.


Team 44 towed into Unalakleet today and spectator Jeff Erickson reported that ‘Kyle said Mikes tunnel had damage and was leaking fluid.’?  Coming off a snow drift, the machine landed with the rear of the sled impacting the hard snow first, folding the rear of the sled somewhat.?  The team made it to just outside of Kaltag before it was leaking coolant.?  They will be back on the clock at 8pm this evening and are determined to make it to Nome for more extensive repairs.



The video below shows a great aerial shot of Team 10 racing on ice just outside of Shaktoolik on the western coast of Alaska.?  The racers are blazing down the frozen beach and sea ice.?  This is a familiar location for Team 8 as several racing years ago Team 8 wasn’t as lucky and took a swim near this location.



 


 


 


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Alaska / Alaska Chat - 2019 Iron Dog – Day 2 Coverage
« on: February 26, 2019, 04:16:37 AM »
2019 Iron Dog – Day 2 Coverage

Social media was abuzz late last night with hundreds of fans waiting to hear official word on rumors floating about surrounding a collision between Team 16 and Team 8 outside the McGrath checkpoint.  We had initially reported that this wreck was going to force Team 8 of Tyson Johnson and Tyler Aklestad from the race.  […]


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Social media was abuzz late last night with hundreds of fans waiting to hear official word on rumors floating about surrounding a collision between Team 16 and Team 8 outside the McGrath checkpoint.  We had initially reported that this wreck was going to force Team 8 of Tyson Johnson and Tyler Aklestad from the race.  This looked to be the case but in true Iron Dog fashion, the team persisted and through some expedient repairs, were officially back on the trail!


The rear triangle brackets that hold the rear suspension in on Aklestads Ski-Doo sled ripped from the chassis, but the racers were able to weld and repair the drop brackets and decided to press onward toward Nome.  Despite being rear-ended at more than 50mph, the team was able to get the machine rode by Tyler Aklestad repaired in less than 2 hours of clock-time.  This means that the overall time that racers spend repairing the sleds while on the trail is added to their trail-time, meaning that getting machines repaired, tuned, and back on the trail quickly is of the highest importance.  Despite this early setback, Team 8 is currently in 6th position on an 8-hour layover in Kaltag, checking in at 5:46pm, AKST.  Overall, Team 8 is by far the fastest team on the course today…by a long shot.


Speaking of the top 6 teams, all 12 racers are less than one hour apart checking into Kaltag and all top 6 teams have declared an 8-hour layover as well.  This is an extremely tight race so far and the top 3 teams are separated by a scant 10 minutes.  Eric Huntington captured what could best describe just how tight the field is in this second day of racing.  This video was captured in Ruby, 577 miles from the start and the racers are legitimately neck-and-neck as they barrel in and out of the checkpoint as quickly as possible.  These racers are CLOSE!



Giving a bit of context to the above video, our resident Iron Dog Oracle offered the following: “Team 14 had caught up to Team 20 between Ruby and Galena.  BIG B (Team 14 Casey Boylan) entered the checkpoint first (seconds before the video started.  Followed by Team 20 Scott Faeo.  In the video coming in sideways is LIL B (Team 14 Bryan Leslie).  Team 20 Robbie Schachle is the last rider into the Galena refueling checkpoint.  BIG and LIL B refueled fast and got out just ahead of Team 20.  From there Team 14 put the flipper to the bar and basically left Team 20 in the dust.  LIL B said he never even say their headlights once they were back on the river after Galena.”


Good weather along the first stretch of the Yukon River allowed teams to push the speed nearing the triple-digit range for as long and as hard as they could, chasing the setting sun on the western coast of Alaska.  In the video below captured by Mark Huntington, you can see just how fast Team 8 is going as they barrel down the Yukon a few miles shy of Koyukuk.



Eric Huntington also captured Team 14 leaving Galena, running wide-open throttle down the frozen river.



 


The field stands at 5 teams scratching so far and pulling from the race.


Team 15 has officially scratched in Ruby and the reason (unofficially) was due to racer Micah Huss hitting a tree south of the Poorman checkpoint, which slowed them down considerably.


Team 16 scratched due to the aforementioned wreck involving Team 8


Team 17 racer Ray Chvastasz damaged his right side a-arm of this Polaris snowmachine outside of Nikolai.  The racers had to ride the machine pictured below for 20 miles to the checkpoint but were still 60 miles from their parts plane McGrath, 343 miles in the race.


PC: Matt Trask


Team 35 was forced from the race due to injury.  Here is a post from their team Facebook page:





-Team 31 Conlon/Menne ran into equipment damage as well before reaching McGrath.  From their Facebook page:





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Alaska / Alaska Chat - 2019 Iron Dog – Day 1 Coverage
« on: February 25, 2019, 10:06:49 PM »
2019 Iron Dog – Day 1 Coverage

If the first day of the 2019 Iron Dog had to be summed up in one word, for both participants and racers alike, it would have to be ‘whiteout’.  Making your way to the new race venue at Deshka Landing meant driving through a veritable blizzard before parking and walking through heaps of fresh fluffy snow […]


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If the first day of the 2019 Iron Dog had to be summed up in one word, for both participants and racers alike, it would have to be ‘whiteout’.  Making your way to the new race venue at Deshka Landing meant driving through a veritable blizzard before parking and walking through heaps of fresh fluffy snow to see the racers decked out in their familiar vibrant colors, high-vis orange helmets, and smelling 2-stroke exhaust as the racers left the starting chute in 2-minute intervals.


2019 Iron Dog Team 8 start


Its worth mentioning that seeing the racers lined up in the starting chute is not just signing up and showing up.  Getting to the start of the race is the culmination of a year (or several for a few teams) of preparation for both the racers bodies, and also tweaking, tuning, and trialing their equipment against hundreds and thousands of practice miles.  Practice runs for these teams mean that several racers have seen the coast at Unalakleet already, and some teams have logged more than 3,000 miles on their practice machines before making the necessary tweaks and adjustments to the fresh race machines.  Leaving the starting chute in the Iron Dog, which is aptly dubbed the longest, toughest snowmobile race in the world, is a testament to these racers dedicating time, money, and other resources to begin their way along some of the toughest and gnarliest terrain Alaska has to offer.


2019 iron dog start


Racers woke up to about 8” of fresh snow overnight. Before and during the start of the race the snow continued to fall and another foot is expected to accumulate on the south side of the Alaska Range today and into the night. Team 20 was out of the gate first and made a quick trip to Skwentna. They were the fastest team to Skwentna by a good margin where they decided to take a 6hr layover to get out of the snow and flat light. The remainder of the racing field pushed on and made good time up to Puntilla Lake.  It is expected that most teams will push on and attempt to make it to the McGrath checkpoint his evening.



The above video shows the first 3 teams barreling into McGrath, roughly 350 miles from where the flag first dropped on the racers this morning.  It has also been unofficially reported that roughly 20 miles before McGrath Teams 8 and 16 have possibly crashed into one another.  The extent of the damage to the machines and/or the riders is not certain.  With the weather as bad as it is in McGrath, currently, we are hoping that there aren’t any significant injuries to the riders.


A quick facebook video revealed a machine being ridden by two racers which are suspected to be both riders of Team 16 sharing one sled.  Along with the possible injuries are unofficial reports of some significant damage to one or more sleds from Teams 8 and 16 as well.  A Facebook post shared this information:


“Team 16 Update:  Todd Minnick of Team 16 is being Airlifted to Providence in Anchorage…. a more detailed update will be provided at a later time. Todd and Nick wanted to thank everyone for their support and wish all the other racers the best of luck!”


Adding to the carnage coming into McGrath are reports of Team 31 Conlon/Menne having machine issues as well and are limping toward the checkpoint.  If many machines need parts, it might be a tall order finding any since the weather grounded most of the parts planes from leaving the Wasilla area.


UPDATE:


According to a KTUU article, Tyler Aklestad is quoted as saying “Todd Minnick didn’t see me, and re-ended me at about 50-60 miles per hour, totaled both sleds,”.  Both Team 16 and Team 8 will be forced to scratch from the race.  Aklestads sled was damaged badly in the crash to the point where it took 3 different teams to help them get the two sleds apart.  It sounds like the rear triangle brackets that hold the rear suspension in on Aklestads sled are ripped from the chassis.


This development leaves the field wide open as both pair are extremely strong contenders for the top prize in this race.


2019 iron dog team 30 start


 


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The Alaskan Captain Kirk of Science Fiction – Craig Martelle

The Alaskan Captain Kirk of Science Fiction, Interview with Author Craig Martelle Interview by? Lois Simenson How many authors can say they’ve written thirty books in three years? Craig Martelle can, and he’s chosen Fairbanks, Alaska as the place to do it. His newsletter bio begins with, “Who is this Craig Martelle guy?” He refers to […]


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The Alaskan Captain Kirk of Science Fiction, Interview with Author Craig Martelle

Interview by? Lois Simenson


How many authors can say they’ve written thirty books in three years? Craig Martelle can, and he’s chosen Fairbanks, Alaska as the place to do it. His newsletter bio begins with, “Who is this Craig Martelle guy?” He refers to himself as a blue-collar author, but he’s more like the Captain Kirk of writing science fiction.


Craig writes science fiction in several sub-genres and has over 30 books published, with more on the way. To date, he’s published 2.8 million words between 2016 to the present. Most writers aspire to write that many, let alone publish them. Craig is a writing dynamo, sharing online real estate with 50 of Amazon’s best-selling sci-fi authors. His books have placed him within the top 1,000 authors on Amazon. He reads reviews from his books as a way to improve and strategize. He’s all about giving readers what they want. And he delivers, because his fan base seems to grow by the minute.


craig martelle alaskan author artcic circle
Craig with Phyllis the Arctic dog!


A diverse background propelled Craig into action-packed story-telling. He retired from the Marine Corps as an officer, then obtained a law degree. He worked at a consulting company as a business diagnostics specialist and leadership coach, ultimately retiring from that career after working three years on Alaska’s North Slope. Tired of spending time away from home, Craig decided to write full time and hasn’t looked back. He’s written short stories, novellas, and novels. Writing is his passion and he loves writing post-apocalyptic science fiction—space opera, military sci-fi and genetic engineering. His enthusiasm is evident in his online podcasts and interviews and his books have an enormous following.


Craig took a break from his busy schedule to talk about his prolific Alaskan writing life. One can’t help but be inspired by his passion and excitement when it comes to all things writing. He’s had a book in him every step of the way in everything he’s done.


1. Where are you from originally and what brought you to Alaska?

I’m originally from Dubuque Iowa, then joined the Marine Corps right out of high school. My wife is from Pittsburgh, so after we married, she finished her PhD and accepted a position at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks (UAF). I consulted and was gone from home much of the time. I did some consulting on the North Slope, then decided I wanted to write full time. I’d rather work where it’s warm in my cozy home office, than deal with minus 74 temps. I love running my full-time business from home and enjoy working for myself.


craig martelle north slope alaska
Craig on the job on the north slope


2. How has Alaska influenced your writing?

Alaska prompted me into the actual business of writing. I wanted to write a survival book and what better place to do this, right? I had set out to learn about all aspects of arctic and subarctic survival and the personal planning that goes with it. I taught myself the writing craft and learned how to follow plot and characters. I wrote the first book for myself, not intending to publish it. But eventually it was traditionally published, and I had a blast writing three more books in my End Times Alaska series. I learned so much with the first book. Living in Alaska and experiencing all that goes with it has reinforced how I write a good story. And of course, Alaska is a character in those books. However, after that I had better success with self-publishing.


3. Why do you refer to yourself as a blue-collar author?

I mean by sitting down and doing the hard work. I don’t shoot for lofty language and million-dollar words, like I wrote in law school. I worked hard to learn writing, publishing and marketing. I’ve invested lots of hours. I’m not one of those guys who scores a major hit with a bestseller right out the box, although a couple dozen of my books have been flagged as bestsellers on Amazon. My first year was a learning curve and after that I built my collaboration team. I like to write high concept books with a balance of action and character interaction. Now I share what I’ve learned with other writers. I wrote and published Become a Successful Indie Author, to demystify the tangled web of self-publishing. I also speak at the 20-Books conferences.


4. How has self-publishing worked out for you?

When I was a teen, I wrote a sci-fi story and queried the big publishing houses. I received one rejection and never heard back from the rest. I quickly learned how difficult it was to get past the gatekeepers. I did the math and figured out I could make more money self-publishing. I like the faster turnaround and artistic control I have with self-publishing. I’ve worked hard to learn aspects of book promotion and marketing that goes with it and have enjoyed success with better sales. My insider team makes sure that my craft is sound, that the stories are well plotted and well written. Selling good books is so much easier than trying to push a chain uphill.


craig martelle amzon sphere
Craig at the Amazon headquarters in Seattle to speak about self-publishing . Photo by Judith Anderle


4. One of your online interviews refers to you as the godfather of the 20 Books Conferences. How did you get that moniker?

I used to be a historical war gamer and was involved putting on those conferences. Then I joined a Facebook group for like-minded writers. The group grew so large, I thought let’s meet in person. We ran a poll. I planned for 150 attendees, but when that first three-day 20-Books Conference in Las Vegas started, we had 420 paid attendees, all focused on what it takes to make money as an independent author. We picked Vegas because of its great accessibility and affordability. Our 2018 Vegas conference had 720 attendees. The conferences pack incredible energy and we have dynamic speakers. We’ve had conferences in four different countries now.


When I host a conference, I tell people that I hit the $50k mark with my 19th book, without a single breakout title. I write to market, but I write what I like. These conferences have grown into international events, with over 700 people attending. I’m hosting the next 20-Books Vegas conference in November 2019. I recently returned from 20-Books Bali in Indonesia and 20- Books Adelaide, in Australia. My time is split between writing, organizing, and hosting the conferences. The 2019 February issue of Writers Magazine listed 20-Books Vegas as one of the top-rated conferences in the U.S. We’ve only had two of them, but the word is out. We hit a home run with them. The critical element of these conferences? I run them not-for-profit. I earn money by selling fiction. I don’t need to make money from fellow authors. It’s my way of giving back.


5. Which authors have influenced what you write?

There’s too many to list, but I’d have to say I’m a huge Anne McCaffrey fan. She wrote multi-dimensional, in-depth characters and her narrative flows with minimal description and backstory. She became the first woman to win a Hugo Award and a Nebula Award for science fiction. I also have to say I admired J.R.R Tolkien’s world-building in his Lord of the Rings series, but I don’t write that way. Robert Heinlein and Andre Norton have influenced me in the way they’d transform current events into sci-fi stories. And Dorothy Catherine Fontana, script writer and story editor for the original Star Trek TV series was a big influence.


craig martelle golf alaska
Craig on the tee at the northernmost golf course in North America. It’s five minutes from his home


6. You mentioned building a collaboration team. How did you go about this?

Once you start helping people, they in turn help you. In the writing community, it’s a give and take. To get a book out to the world requires a collaborative effort, working with editors, cover designers, and the support of other authors. As I’ve progressed through the writing and publishing world, I’ve attended writer’s conferences and author events, meeting people and forming relationships. Now I have editors, cover designers, and beta readers I work with on a regular basis. I lay out the books I’m planning to write in the next several months, so they can work it into their schedules. I’m fortunate that I’ve found a terrific group of people to work with and can’t say enough about how lucky I am to have found them.


7. You’ve co-authored books with Michael Anderle, Justin Sloan, and Scott Moon. How do you find other writers to partner with on a book?

Meeting writers at events like the 20 Books Conferences, and on social media, and finding like-minded writers who like to write what I do. I met Michael after he formed the 20Booksto50k® group. We have a great deal of shared interest and most importantly, a shared work ethic and business acumen. He needed someone to fill a gap, so asked me to write a four-book series in his universe. Now we have some 26 books that we’ve co-authored. Michael and I co-wrote The Bad Company series which is a lot of fun and has lots of components in it. Justin joined us on one of those books to segue into a series of his own. Then Scott Moon and I wrote the Darklanding series, the wild, wild west of known space.? I write in multiple sub-genres, with compelling, in-depth characters that deal with real-world issues and universal themes. A good story with relatable characters and universal themes stands the test of time. Look at the multi-generational success of Star Trek. It’s good to find people who enjoy this approach to the science fiction genre as much as I do.


craig martelle windsor castle
Craig at the Windsor Castle


8. You have 16 series so far, ranging from post-apocalyptic paranormal adventures to space westerns and military space operas. How do you decide what to write next?

At this point it’s a business decision. I track sales numbers for each series to see which are resonating with readers. Some series do better than others. I track reader engagement, they’re the final arbiter of whether I continue a series. I use positive reviews to promote my books and the rest to figure out what it is that readers liked and disliked, so I can conceptualize the next books and series. I end a series when I either no longer care about the characters, or it’s time to place well-loved characters in a different setting, like space. I’m a believer in writing what I enjoy and that readers are willing to pay for.


9. With all you’ve achieved as a successful author, what would you say to those dreaming of writing novels?

Write that first book. Then finish it, because that’s half the battle. Get the words down and tell a good story. Be willing to put the time in to improve your craft. Don’t worry about the marketing or anything else until you have a book. It’s easy to become quagmired and discouraged with all the other aspects of being a self-published author. Don’t give up on it. View it as a learning experience.


author craig martelle alaska
Craig at the 2018 Nebula Awards


Get out there and meet other writers. I believe the most important thing I can do as an author is to give back, whether through social lessons in my prose or helping others reach the next level in their journey as professional authors. I’ve met some incredible writers like award-winning sci-fi author Kevin J. Anderson, who has over 50 bestsellers in the Dune saga, Star Trek, and Star Wars universes. Other sci-fi authors know who I am and that is amazing and humbling. It comes from working hard at the right things. Tell a good story and you can make the rest fall into place.? All in all, this continues to be one fantastic ride!


Catch up with Craig at his website or on Facebook


Craig’s Series:

End Times Alaska

Free Trader

Cygnus Space Opera

Terry Henry Walton Chronicles

The Bad Company

Darklanding


 


Interview and text by Alaska author Lois Simenson? 


Lois Simenson’s? stories have? appeared in the? Cirque? and? Santa Fe WritersProject? Literary Journals,? TheAnchorage Press, Alaska Magazine, Alaska Women Speak, Erma Bombeck Humor Writers.org, The Hill U.S. Congress Blog, and? The Washington DC Metro Bugle. Her true story,? Embers of Memories, about wildland firefighting in Alaska, won a 2016 Alaska Press Club award in the Best Alaskan History category. This story inspired her current novel,? Alaskan Spark, which is forthcoming in 2019. Links to her stories are available at? loispaigesimenson.com.


The post The Alaskan Captain Kirk of Science Fiction – Craig Martelle appeared first on The Alaska Life.


Source: The Alaskan Captain Kirk of Science Fiction – Craig Martelle

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US Navy Launches Stealth-Fighter-Looking Assault Craft on Kodiak Island

Alaskans living on Kodiak Island created a bit of a buzz online recently when the US Navy decided to seemingly perform some testing on their Combatant Craft Assault boats, more commonly known as CCA’s. Photos of the boats being unloaded from a C-17 Globemaster III, backed down a boat ramp, and ultimately floating in the water […]


The post US Navy Launches Stealth-Fighter-Looking Assault Craft on Kodiak Island appeared first on The Alaska Life.



Alaskans living on Kodiak Island created a bit of a buzz online recently when the US Navy decided to seemingly perform some testing on their Combatant Craft Assault boats, more commonly known as CCA’s.


cca mk1 kodiak island harbor
Photo credit: Misty Downs Lee


Photos of the boats being unloaded from a C-17 Globemaster III, backed down a boat ramp, and ultimately floating in the water looked like the beginnings of a wild movie featuring a good looking action hero sporting a British accent known as ‘007’.


cca mk1 c17 unloading kodiak
Photo credit: Terry Coe


cca mk1 c17 unloading kodiak island
Photo credit: Terry Coe


mk1 c17 unloading from c17 kodiak
Photo credit: Terry Coe


It appears that there were two different types of boats playing around the icy waters of Kodiak Island.  The first vessel in question is known as the Combatant Craft Assault (CCA)  which is a 41-foot long craft that is highly versatile, but small enough (by military standards) to be dropped out of and directly into the water from one of the aforementioned C-17 aircraft.  The second appears to be a Combatant Craft Medium (CCM) Mk1, which is the 60-foot long variety.



CCA’s have the main purpose of running mid-range interdiction missions, deploying and extracting Navy SEAL and other special operations type individuals from sensitive or dangerous situations.  Other tasks for the combatant craft will include special reconnaissance; combating terrorism; foreign internal defense; unconventional warfare; preparation of the environment; combating narco-terrorism; personnel recovery; and visit, board, search, and seizure (VBSS).


cca mk1 boat launch kodiak island
Photo credit: Carl Royall


cca mk1 launching at kodiak island
Photo credit: Misty Downs Lee


The contract to produce the single hull, twin-diesel-engine powered CCM Mk.1 was awarded to Oregon Iron Works, Inc. of Clackamas, OR who is purported to deliver a maximum number of 30 of these for 400 million dollars, putting these at roughly 13.33 million for each CMM Mk.1.


Likely by design, its hard to put a clear spec-sheet together for the CMM Mk.1, but other than knowing the 60-foot length, we know that the hull is made entirely of a composite material.  Removable modular paneling may help aid the boat in additional protection from enemy fire, and the overall design will make the medium combat craft largely undetectable to enemy surveillance, even for close to shore operations.  Additionally this CMM Mk.1 has a cruising speed of 40 knots (46mph) in a ‘sea state 3’, which  means wave height from 1.25-2 meters (4.1-6.5 feet).


I think its safe to say that photographers on Kodiak Island don’t often take photos of local Sea Lions with a 13 million dollar boat in the background.


cca mk1 kodiak island sea lions


The post US Navy Launches Stealth-Fighter-Looking Assault Craft on Kodiak Island appeared first on The Alaska Life.


Source: US Navy Launches Stealth-Fighter-Looking Assault Craft on Kodiak Island

Alaska Chat Rooms - USA Chat Club

9
Alaska / Alaska Chat - Cheesy Halibut Dip – Easy and Awesome!
« on: February 25, 2019, 01:24:57 PM »
Cheesy Halibut Dip – Easy and Awesome!

Anyone who has caught a halibut on a rod and reel knows just how fun that experience can be.  How hard they pull, the splashing, riding an ocean boat to the fishing grounds…it’s the whole experience which usually makes halibut fishing in Alaska so fun.  After the catch, the other best part is eating the […]


The post Cheesy Halibut Dip – Easy and Awesome! appeared first on The Alaska Life.



Anyone who has caught a halibut on a rod and reel knows just how fun that experience can be.  How hard they pull, the splashing, riding an ocean boat to the fishing grounds…it’s the whole experience which usually makes halibut fishing in Alaska so fun.  After the catch, the other best part is eating the fish!  There are countless ways to prepare your fish in mouthwatering ways, but today we are going to tell you how to make a cheesy halibut dip so good that your friends and family will love you when you bring this dish to parties, family gatherings, or even to the office.


cheesy halibut dip


This cheesy halibut dip couldn’t be easier to make and is adaptable to accept any creative additions you might like.  Let’s dive in.


Ingredients:


2lbs halibut

2 medium cans (or 4 small cans) of chopped green chili’s

8oz cream cheese

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1 cup shredded Monterey jack cheese

2 cups mayonnaise

1 Tbs minced garlic

1 Tbs jalapeno juice


Directions:


Fry/cook your halibut in a healthy amount of butter until the halibut can be flaked or falls apart.  Drain remaining juices.  In this case I cooked the halibut and set it aside in the refrigerator in the morning before our party that evening.  This process could be done separately if time doesn’t allow later.


cheesy halibut dip


cheesy halibut dip


Add all other ingredients in the crock pot on top of your cooked halibut meat.  Using a crock pot makes this process very easy and only requires you to monitor the heat and stir as necessary as all of the ingredients melt into the final cheesy halibut dip.


cheesy halibut dip


cheesy halibut dip


When the dip is piping hot, stirred, and ready, serve on baguette or crackers.  Salt to taste or add something like Johnny’s seasoning salt, minced jalapenos for added heat, or anything else that you might want to try.  This recipe is very flexible and is ALWAYS a hit!


cheesy halibut dip


cheesy halibut dip


A Day of Fun Halibut Fishing in Seward, Alaska!



The post Cheesy Halibut Dip – Easy and Awesome! appeared first on The Alaska Life.


Source: Cheesy Halibut Dip – Easy and Awesome!

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