Monday, July 4, 2011

Update on the last few months…

So it has been a while since we have blogged and since Levi did it last time, I guess it is my turn.
So here is a quick rundown of the last few months.

Last winter while Levi was up on the slope I tried to keep myself busy so I joined the Fairbanks Community Band and when it was warm enough, I tried to get out and do some skiing.

Last January we had a pretty big snowstorm that knocked down a couple trees on our property one of them took our the power line that connects to our cabin. Since there was so much snow that weekend and so many people without power I didn’t have power to the cabin for about 3 days. It was kind of interesting with Levi and our landlords being out of town, but I managed to heat the cabin by turning on the propane oven and leaving it open for a couple hours at a time. Also the water pump needs power I didn’t have water during that time either, good thing I have a gym membership so I could still shower :) Oh the adventures of living in Alaska!

Since Levi has been back we’ve had a good time fishing, biking and hiking. Well at least until about Memorial Day. Since Memorial Day we’ve been getting a lot of rain, which I am told is very uncommon for this time of year in Fairbanks.

A couple weeks ago we did a road trip with Levi’s parents starting in Anchorage drove up to Paxon and across the Denali Highway, which is a 150-mile dirt road, which is only open during the summer time.

We stopped along the way to do some fishing.

We came across this old abandoned fishing lodge, which had a creepy morgue freezer in one of the cabins.

Then we stopped for a couple days in Denali and saw some wild life and explored the park.

Our last stop was back here in Fairbanks; we did a gold mine tour, riverboat tour, and ate a lot of really good food.

We also tried fishing in Fairbanks at a few places in Fairbanks, but we were pretty overwhelmed by mosquitoes…

Overall it has been a pretty great summer so far :)

Friday, March 4, 2011

Kuparuk Oil Field

I wrote this last week before I was on R&R...

It’s Friday February 25, 2011. I’ve officially been working remotely for 4 weeks and 5 days now. First off, I get to go home and see Sarah for 4 days starting next Thursday. I’m quite excited to go home for a break. Overall the time has gone by fast but the days can be very long and busy.

A little about the oil field: In the 60’s oil companies began exploration of the area. The local natives had reported locations of black liquid seeping out of the ground. After a few exploration drills they found the oil. Prudhoe Bay is North America’s largest oil field. Kuparuk, about 40 miles to the west is North America’s second largest oil field. From what I hear there is plenty more oil to be had. This is what the oil field looks like… flat and covered in snow:

Day light changes very fast. From the first part of December to the middle of January the sun doesn’t come above the horizon here. When I first arrived (January 24) the sun was just barely coming over the horizon and we had about 3 hours of daylight. Since then the area has been gaining about 8-10 minutes of sunlight PER DAY and now it is pushing 10 hours a day. By the time the project wraps up in May the sun will be up almost 24 hours. My first few weeks the sunrises and sunsets were spectacular because the entire day was one big sunrise and sunset. Here are some photos:

Camp life here is very different. We live in a mobile camp that ConocoPhillips moves around depending upon the construction season. It’s essentially a self contained village compromising of 20 or so trailers all connected together. Water (for drinking, toilets, and showers) and fuel (for heat and electricity) are brought in everyday to storage tanks. Sewer waste is pumped out of storage tanks every day. What do they do with the sewer you ask? Logically treating would be good. But the EPA’s regulations for building a sewer treatment plant up here are so stringent the cost would be astronomical. So… the sewer water is ejected back into the earth through old well heads. They put it in the old strata layers where the oil has already been removed. Yup. Don’t ask me how the EPA is okay with that but not drilling for more oil… damn government.

More about camp life… We eat in a chow hall that can sit about 40 people. All our meals are provided free. The food is usually pretty good and can range from hamburgers to stir fry to prime rib with everything in between. The sleeping rooms are about the size of a dorm room and we all have roommates. Housekeepers live in the camp and wash our sheets and give us clean towels. The Conoco employees live in a permanent camp about 2 miles away named Kuparuk Operations Center. That place is really nice… library, movie theatre, workout rooms, basketball court, etc. Here are some photos our camp:

The weather varies a lot. I’ve seen 30 degrees above and -65. Right now we are in what is called a ‘Phase 3’ blizzard. No travel allowed. All I see is white outside my office. It doesn’t snow a lot (maybe 30” a year) but if the wind picks up (like now it’s 50mph to 70 mph) what snow is around gets blown around. Many of the trucks parked outside our office are buried right now. There is a video but until you step outside in a 60mph blizzard you have no idea what it’s like. I have to lean into the wind to walk about 30ft from our office to our camp.

My work schedule is a bit grueling. I go to a foreman’s meeting at 6AM and another one at 6PM and work in between. 7 days a week. But the pay is good (I’m on a day rate so I get paid for everyday I work). I don’t want to do this forever but Sarah and I are thinking a season or two up here will give us a good nest egg. One bonus is that there are LDS church services up here. There is a group (ranges from about 4-10) that meet every Sunday at 7:30PM. We share a quick lesson and then administer the sacrament. It lasts about an hour. As far as the projects go we are replacing some pipeline that was installed in the late 70’s when the trans Alaskan pipeline was first built. The size of equipment up here is crazy… everything is big. The tundra is monitored religiously by the EPA, we are up here in the winter because we can build ice roads along the pipeline to perform our work. Come the end of April the ice melts away there is now sign we were even there (hopefully). Here are some photos of our project work:

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Sarah Frampton’s ALASKA!!!!!

So first off I want to say that I love living here, it seems like everyday is an adventure. Our first week here in town we were initiated by a historic ice storm. Here in Fairbanks they cancel school for rain and not snow!! It warmed up and rained quite a bit, then got colder so all of the roads were like sheets of ice. I am pretty sure I would have been better off ice skating to work rather than driving… lol! Here is an article on the storm.

Even though I love living here is has been quite an adjustment living here, it is not uncommon for people to live here in cabins with no water. Levi and I are living in a cabin but luckly we do have water, and hot water at that!

Here are a few things that I defiantly miss about my former life:

1- Not having to choose between hot water and water pressure.

2- Sunlight

3- Having a seemingly endless supply of water (we have a 1000 gal tank that we have to get filled every so often)

4- Warmth and Sunlight

5- Waste collection (we haul our trash down to a transfer site at the bottom of our hill)

6- Sunlight

7- Not having to do laundry at the laundry mat.

8- Not having to worry about Moose that think they rule the road.

9- Having a real freezer (right now we have a couple of coolers on our porch and I use the trunk of my car)

10- Dogs that eat the food out of our freezer and get into our garbage.

OK but let me tell you, there are some things that I just love, love, love about living here! I can see Russia… ur I mean Denali from my house! I love the snow, and I love all the cross country ski trails around here, we have some right behind our cabin! The hiking is amazing, and it doesn’t take long to get into “wilderness”. I am also super stoked for the summers, and being able to go mountain biking in the middle of the night, or making a 2 AM tee time.

So here are a few pics of our place, and around Alaska.

So Levi is in Prudhoe Bay (which is famous for the show ice road truckers) and no he has not become a trucker… he is working as a field engineer for a pipeline company. I am sure that he will be writing about his experiences up there. He will be up there until the end of May with a couple of breaks to come home and visit. Its hard but I am staying busy with taxes at work, and thank goodness for phones and skype!!!,_Alaska

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

North to Alaska!!!!

It has been a while since we’ve updated this blog, so we have a lot of catching up to do!

So I (Sarah) have been looking for a job since last March, and didn’t have much success finding anything in Las Vegas so I started applying out of state, and unbeknownst to Levi I applied for a job in Fairbanks Alaska. At the time I wasn’t even exactly sure where Fairbanks was in Alaska. Well anyhow this firm called me and I had a couple of phone interviews, and they offered to fly Levi and I us out so see the town and so I could have a formal interview and meet the firm. This came as quite the surprise to Levi.

So we flew out the end of September and we decided that I should take the job. While we were there Levi met with a few construction companies and we felt pretty good about him finding a job.

Then at the end of October we packed up a little Uhaul trailer with everything that would fit and began our 3000-mile journey to the “land of the midnight sun”. We drove from Vegas to Utah and spent about a week with our family and friends. We left for our Alaskan adventure about midnight because we were so excited and couldn’t sleep! Levi’s parents (James & Teena) came with us to help us move and help with the driving. It took us about 5 days to make the drive from Salt Lake City to Fairbanks. We only had one real set setback, we were about 30 minutes from Haines Junction in the Yukon Territory, and we got a flat tire on the Uhaul.

Since we didn’t have a spare (thanks to me talking Levi out of needing to get one…) we unhooked the trailer took of the obliterated tire and drove to Haines Junction to see if we could get a new one. So we got to HJ and found out that the town was pretty much closed for the winter, they told us our best bet was to drive back to Whitehorse, which was about 2 hours the opposite direction. So that set us back a little it, but other than that the drive was good. Here are a few more picks of the drive up...

Muncho Lake

So I started working at Richards, Johnson, & Granberry the middle of November and so far I am really liking my job. I am basically doing the same thing that I did in Vegas. It only took Levi about a week to find a job. He is working at Doyon Associated as a field engineer. We are pretty excited that he was able to find a job so quickly. Part of his job entails a couple stints (about 6 weeks each) up in Prudhoe Bay working on the pipeline. Prudhoe Bay is on the northern coast of AK and is prob about 7 or 8 hours from Fairbanks. I am not excited about being apart that long, but we’re grateful for this opportunity.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Peru Part III: Arequipa and Colca Canyon

Well I’ve decided I officially suck at writing blogs. Three months later I'll finish the peru blog:

Now it’s time my favorite part of our trip… Arequipa! If anyone wants to go to Peru I would recommend spending a few days in Cusco to see Machu Picchu, and then a week or so In Arequipa. There is so much to do and see – from museums to river rafting and everything in between. My only regret is that we didn’t know this when we planned the trip so we only spent about 4 days here.

After spending every night either in a hostel or riding on a bus we decided to get an actual hotel room. We got into town around 3:00PM and took a taxi to the main square. We found a great hotel called Sonesta Posada del Inca for about $70.00/night. If you feel like checking it out here is the link:

In the last 3 days we hadn’t showered and had been on a bus for more than 24 hours so the first thing we did was clean up. Next we went out to dinner and had one of my favorite Peruvian dishes. I can’t remember the name but its layered mashed potatoes, avocadoes and chicken with some sort of sauce. We spent the rest of the night walking around the Plaza de Arms area.

Our hotel room in Arequipa.

The delicious potatoes/avocadoes/chicken dish.

The building our hotel was in.

The next day we visited the Santa Catalina Monestary ( ). This place is a photographers paradise. I loved how old it was. It had been restored to what it was like in the 1600’s. Each of the nuns had their own rooms with a clay oven. They slept in nooks built in the walls. Here are some photos:

This is the bank of windows where the nuns had their only contact to the outside world.

Ironically there was a group of nuns on a tour. Notice the 69 backpack? I bet she has no idea.

The monastery..

The next day we left for Colca Canyon. Contrary to popular believe the Grand Canyon is not the biggest canyon in the world. There are actually two canyons in Peru that are deeper then the GC and Colca Canyon is one of them. We didn’t really have a way of getting there so we booked a trip with a tour agency… which is kind of lame but it turned out to be good. We left early Sunday and started making the drive. On the way we drove through a National Reserve for Alpaca’s.

Alpacas at the preserve.

A cholita woman selling goods at one of the bus stops.

We ate lunch and spent that night in a town called Chivay. We broke away from the tour group and ate lunch at this restaurant we found. During lunch, this dog walked in from the streets. The Owner shewed it out but it came back in and came right to our table and started begging for food. Although this was amusing it also made us lose our appetite. As we were packing up the dog walked back into the kitchen… let’s just hope the chicken was actually chicken.

The dog begging in the restaurant... and on the dinner menu.

After lunch we were walking around town and came across this cholita woman. She looked pretty authentic so we asked to take her picture if we gave her a couple of soles. She said okay so I took the photo below. After we took the photos we gave her 2 soles and she looked at us and demanded 1 more. We got a laugh out of it but gave it to her.

The highway robber...

The hotel we stayed at Hotel Pozo Del Cielo which is an old converted villa… the furnishing were very simple but it was clean and nice. They even stopped by at 9:00PM to give you hot water bottles to put in the bed. To top it off the hotel had a resident 4 month old Alpaca! Sarah and I got to feed it by hand. It was cute but was kind of nosey looking for food.

The hotel room in chivay...

The hotel grounds...

Sarah feeding the baby alpaca

The next day we actually drove to the canyon… it was definitely deeper than the Grand Canyon but was not as pretty. The elevation was around 13,000 ft at the top and there wasn’t many trees. We passed through small villages to get to Cruz del Condor… which is the point where Andean Condors frequently fly. We did see some and they were impressive. I got some photos but my hand held camera didn’t take that great of photos.

A condor in flight.. the wingspan is about 12 feet.

Sarah at the canyon...

The view on the drive to the canyon from Chivay.

More canyon views... the bottom of the canyon was a rare sight.

After an hour or two we started driving back to Arequipa. On the way we stopped in Chivay again for lunch. Rather than eat at the restaurant with the rest of the group Sarah and walked into town to the market. I LOVED THE MARKET. Straight up 3rd world. No touristy stuff either… just fruit, grains, and raw meat hanging in the open. We passed one lady who was eating lunch at her meat shop. Her plate was on the same counter with a bunch of animal organs… bah. We didn’t eat any of the meat but we did get some scones from one of the street venders… we could get them for about 10 cents a pop – that’s better than the $20 buffet the tour group went to.

The market...

We finally made it back to Arequipa that night and stayed at the same hotel we stayed in earlier. The next day we got up and had few hours to kill before our flight left back to the USA. We decided to visit a museum that holds ‘Juanita the Ice Maiden’. I have no photos but here is a link to Wikipedia.

Juanita is a mummy who is approximately 500 years old. She was a young inca sacrificed at the top of a 20,000 foot volcano to appease the gods. I’ve never climbed a 20,000 foot mountain but it’s impressive to think a 12 year old girl would willingly go. The Inca’s believed she would essentially become a god herself. She was so well preserved that her fingernails are still intact and the scientist could see what her last meal was. If you go to Arequipa this is a must!
Well that’ basically it.. we left that day for Lima at 4PM… spent the night in the Lima Airport and left the next day to Las Vegas. The trip was awesome and we would both do it again!