North Pole, Alaska. Here come the Colorado Traveling Ducks

Yes, you read that correctly.   Mom said we are flying to North Pole, Alaska.   Not THE North Pole, but the suburb of Fairbanks, named North Pole.  I, Zeb the Duck, am going to Alaska.   Mom, isn’t this winter and isn’t it cold in the winter?  Well, we will experience North Pole, Alaska in February.   Driving to Denver International Airport that morning, Soapy Smith Duck’s mom drove us through snow, ice, and subfreezing temperatures.   Thanks for the safe ride!   After boarding our Alaska Airlines flight, we taxied to the de-icing area.

De-icing our plane in Denver

This man high above our plane, sprayed us.   Driving all around the plane, spraying, he then got higher and further away, and sprayed some more.

More de-icing to keep us safe

Airborne now, our first stop was Seattle, a fast change of airplanes and then on to Fairbanks, Alaska.   Approaching Fairbanks, there was a lot of white snow on the ground.   From our window, we saw the frozen rivers below us.

From airplane, approaching Fairbanks

The Chena River flows into the Tanana River, that flows through Fairbanks.   The Tanana then flows into the Yukon River.   Mom wasn’t sure which river this was.  While waiting for our baggage, we enjoyed seeing this small plane.

Baggage claim area at Fairbanks International Airport

Many areas of Alaska are accessible only by air.   As you can guess, many Alaskan are pilots, with many owning their own airplanes.   But today, our reason for flying to Fairbanks is rather sad.   You may remember that Eider Duck, our Alaska cousin, lives with his dad, my mom’s brother.   In October 2017 mom and I flew to Anchorage, Alaska.   Eider’s dad was in the hospital and he passed away in November, 2017.   Mom and I brought Eider Duck to Colorado and he now lives with us.   Mom is executor of his estate, so Eider, Zeb and mom are here for a few days to start settling things.   Between the airport and Eider’s house, we drove down this road.

Road with snow covered trees

The snow this year is wetter than usual, so snow did not fall through the trees and pile up on the ground.   The wetter snow stayed on the trees and power lines.   The snow covered trees are beautiful, but the snow is not melting and many trees are breaking.   It is not certain if the trees that do not break, will ever be straight again.   Eider is getting excited now.   He knows we are just a few blocks from his house.

Approaching Eider’s house

Here we have many trees that are not bent, but there is still a lot of snow.   Eider and I, Zeb the Duck, are sitting on pile of snow in front of Eider’s house.

On snow pile in front of Eider’s house.

There is about 2 feet of snow on the ground.   It was difficult for mom to try to walk.   She gave up and just stayed where the snow had been plowed and shoveled.   All is so white here.   The white snow, the skies were cloudy and more snow clouds were moving over the area.   Almost every day of our stay, we had some new snow, overcast skies and power outages.   The power company tries to keep the lines clear and keep power on, but it is a huge job.   Usually the power would be out for less than 2 hours, so things were OK.   We did miss our bright blue Colorado skies, but the peaceful, quiet and calmness of the area was wonderful.   A low population means fewer vehicles so the snow stays pristine white and beautiful.   Looking through the window of Eider’s house, was soothing.

So peaceful and calming

Mom took this photo about 20 minutes before sunrise.   In that special early morning light, photos often have that special blue tint.  Very nice in the photos.   We’ll tell you more about North Pole, Alaska next time.

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Zeb and Chanel Love the Aquarium Restaurant

Clear water, fish, a mermaid and great food.   What more could Chanel the Bear and Zeb the Duck want?   Our moms took us to lunch at the Denver Downtown Aquarium.

The Denver Aquarium

There is a really good restaurant inside.   And the restaurant has its own aquarium.   Walking outside to the aquarium restaurant, we stopped to visit with Sharky, a new friend.

Chatting with our new friend, Sharky.

He is nice.   Let’s go inside the restaurant now.

Let’s go inside to the restaurant.

Before we even enter the restaurant, we see the aquarium.

We love fish

Beautiful.   Inside we admire this painted pillar.

Inside decorations

The glass spears are like seaweed in the ocean.   Our table is next to the aquarium.

We could watch fish all day.

Those fish are swimming very close to us.   We, Chanel and Zeb, love the active fish.   Our moms ordered our lunch, but we aren’t sure about this.

Delicious lunch. Slightly crispy. Perfectly flakey. We get hungry remembering.

Moms, should we really be eating fish in an aquarium?   Are we eating their relatives?  But our moms said it is OK.   No relatives being eaten.   We have shrimp and tilapia.   And they are delicious.   Did you notice the salt and pepper shakers on our table?   They are seahorses.   Isn’t that just perfect for an aquarium?   This is part of Landry’s Seafood Restaurants.   Yum!  Look!!   A mermaid.   She is swimming right by our table.

Our mermaid!

She comes up to the glass and waves and throws kisses to bear, duck and human children.

She likes us the best

We think she likes us the best.  There is a nice variety of fish inside the aquarium.

Love the fish

Here is another type of fish.

Fish of a different color

More colors.   Even the lights hanging from the ceiling are fish.

Love these lights

Notice the small light on the belly of each fish?   All these small lights really give a lot of light, but do not detract from the fish in the aquarium.   Very nice.   Lunch was delicious and the restaurant is fun to explore.   But moms said we must go.   Lucky for us, the exit is through the gift shop.

In the gift shop, but our moms are not selling us.

We love these stuffed animals, but Chanel and Zeb are the cutest on this display.   Chanel and Zeb will perform on this outdoor stage.

An outdoor stage. Featuring Chanel the Bear and Zeb the Duck

Well, maybe we will return during warmer weather for our performance.   Our aquarium has a theater also.

Theater at the Denver Aquarium

We did not go inside the main aquarium today, but we saw a lot fish while savoring our lunch.   Maybe another time we will visit the entire aquarium, but we really loved our time here.   We hope you visit the Denver Aquarium or an aquarium near you.   Fish and water are soothing and we love watching the beautiful fish swim and we think you will enjoy it also.

Breckenridge, Colorado Snow Sculptures 2018

Zeb the Duck is back!   The International Snow Sculpture Championships in Breckenridge, Colorado, one of my favorite festivals, was last weekend.   Let’s go look.

Let’s go see the snow sculptures!

This one did not win an award, but I loved it.

Mindful from Team Turkey

Team Turkey says the mind is an amazing machine.   When a man and a woman develop a relationship, they become connected at the deepest level and their minds work as one even when they are apart.   The bumps on the top are a zipper to put the two minds together.

Team Turkey’s Mindful. Other side

Here is the other side of this sculpture.   Even the pupils of the eyes are carved in snow.   These sculptures, carved from 25 ton, 12 foot tall blocks of snow were finished and judged Friday evening.   We visited them Monday.   And look what happened over the weekend.

Team USA Wisconsin. 3rd Place but now fallen

This creation from Team USA Wisconsin, A Dance Devine, collapsed after being awarded 3rd place.   This was three leaf like figures dancing within a vine structure.   At 9,600 feet (2,926 meters) above sea level the intense Colorado sun can be brutal on snow sculptures, but the sun with 30 degree (F) temperatures are delightful for human and duck spectators.   The Thinker crafted by Team China earned 2nd place this year.

Thinker. Created by Team China

The Thinker also won Kid’s Choice award.   The apple represents wisdom in the Bible and it represents gravity in Newton’s law.   In modern times it represents technology.   The orangutans represent humans.   This design means thinking is a necessary part of human evolution.  To enter the competition each team submits their design and a brief explanation of their sculpture.   We appreciate the help understanding everything the artists are trying to express in their sculptures.   First place went to Team Mongolia-Erdene.

Team Mongolia Erdene. Secret. First place winner

This is titled Secret.  Women talk about a lot of things.   But they sometimes save their secrets.   They save secrets and mystery in their minds.   It’s like a locked chest.

Team Mongolia Erdene. Secret

A side view of this creation.   Secret also won People’s Choice Award.  Glad this do not melt and fall.

The Artists’Choice Award was bestowed on Time.

Time by Team Mongolia Tserendash. Artists’ Choice Award winner

This sculpture by Team Mongolia-Tserendash was a favorite for me, Zeb the Duck.   Time is the most powerful thing in the world.   It is honest because no one is given more than 24 hours a day.  It is immutable because no one changes the rhythm between minutes, seconds, and doles.   It is forceful because no one can survive from death; even the smartest one, the strongest one, and the most beautiful one eventually gives up along the time that goes gradually and endlessly.   But, the humans use time in their own rhythms, in relatively different way.   How they use time develops who they are.   This 28th Annual International Snow Sculpture Championships was presented by Toyota.

Toyota. Cosponsor of event

And by Breckenridge Brewery.

Breckenridge Brewery. Co sponsor of event

You may remember from prior years here, that no power tools are allowed in the creation of these snow sculptures.   All hand tools, sometimes as small as a potato peeler, are used on these snow blocks.   So interesting to see and notice so many little details.  There was one more sculpture I want you to see.   Catch & Release by Team USA Breckenridge, Colorado.

USA Breckenridge. Catch & Release

It is about the adventure, not just the prize.   Taking a journey down to the river in pursuit of catching a fish is less than the whole story.   This fisherman says after the fight, you finally reach down to collect your prize, unhook your lure, smile at your accomplishment and then just turn around and release this magnificent award back to nature.   At the end of it you take home nothing more than a sense of relaxation, a picture and a few fish stories.   Catching and releasing; a way to ensure that the fish will be there the next time to strike the fly and create the next memory.

Team USA Breckenridge, CO Catch & Release

The fisherman is done for the day, and so am I, Zeb the Duck.   We hope you are exploring and enjoying your home town and our incredible world.