Wilder by Far

A look at life with the Wilder family. Updated most weekends and some vacation days. You can contact me at movingnorth@gmail.com..

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Wednesday, December 28, 2005

"Just a statue? Is the Statue of Liberty just a statue? Is the Leaning Tower of Pizza just a statue?" - Homer, The Simpsons


So, in Alaska you build ice towers to your heart's content. No permit required. And what would your homeowner's association say?? Click on the picture for bigger ice goodness.

Christmas this year was fun. The Mrs. got what she wanted (Star Wars – Battlefront, Command and Conquer – Generals) and The New Boy got his baby cage play pen. The Boy got his radio-controlled car (expected life span with a five year old – two weeks). We got by with only one Christmas mishap – the tree fell right over while the booty underneath was being doled out. This was a small hardship, and we used a small chainsaw to cut it up and toss it straightaway into the fire. Since it was artificial, well, we’ve still got the metal post that needs to be taken care of. I’m also not very happy with the fire retardant limbs. I had to take a propane torch to those to make them burn.


The Boy, weeping bitter tears at the thought that the falling Christmas tree had killed a Yoda or something.

Okay, okay, I didn’t burn the tree. But I do have a project next year to make it stand up.

My Christmas haul? I got some nice gloves and various tools for the projects around the house.

I’ve noticed as the days grow shorter and colder I get a particular itch to do projects inside, thus the tools are a very appropriate gift. I suppose that my itch to do projects is related to having an anchor The New Boy around, since a baby doesn’t mix well with mushing, skiing, snow-machining, or most outdoor stuff at –10F. So, I do projects. Bizarre projects, sure, like making my own tire chains for The Coveted John Deere Snow-Blower Attachment (Some Assembly Required) and bookcases that tilt like they were custom built for the side of a mountain.

As much as I enjoy my own projects and their inherent oddity, I have project envy.

In Alaska, one of the most daunting things to any exterior construction project in the winter is the cold. A gentleman up in Fox, which is just north of Fairbanks, has figured out a way to use the cold temperatures to his advantage. He’s putting up ice towers. Not one, but two.

Last year’s version of the ice tower was over 140’ in height when it finally succumbed to gravity poisoning in spring, splashing ice boulders over the landscape. The solution? Build two ice towers this year.

Why two towers? I have no idea why you’d want one ice tower.


The more colorful of the two ice towers. The red and green make a nice Christmas mix. On a huge friggin' block of ice. You can click on it for the larger version.

The local ice-climbing club (yes, we have one of those) carries pipe segments up the jagged ice tower, and puts dye into the water so the tower becomes colorful as it becomes taller. Last year the owner described that ice tower as the largest man made structure of ice, so now he’ll have The Two Towers. I guess that means that next year we’ll get Return of the King?

Anyhow, hobbits aside, he also lives in a house with wheels, and has constructed a large geodesic dome near the tower site. Alaska, though, is perfect for people like this, who wish to conduct marginally strange and slightly dangerous projects merely because they want to do them. There’s no building code that prevents it, and if he wants to (by his count) spend several thousand dollars doing all this, well, why not? We all know how this will end . . . with gravity and temperature finally taking the towers down. But, dang, it’s neat.


A geodesic dome near the towers. Again, the question "Why?" may well be answered by, "It's Alaska." You can click on it for larger domey goodness.

Which brings me to the envy part. My Christmas tree fell down, and this guy is building multi-ton ice fingers pointed at the sky. I’ll guess I’ll go back to building my tilty bookcases.

10 Comments:

Blogger Duck Hunter said...

I thought it was cool that I could burn leaves in my yard. Heck, some people burn their garbage in their yard. Now that I've seen the dome and the towers, I'm getting a bit jealous.

Good luck with that tree stand thingy. How many attempts or versions does the Mrs. think it will take you?

6:58 PM  
Blogger Woofwoof said...

"I got various tools for the projects around the house."

You got beer and duct tape? You lucky dog.

The Boy's camouflage shirt doesn't blend into the whiteness of the outside very well, but he is indistinguishable from the sofa. :)

7:26 PM  
Blogger dogsled_stacie said...

LOL Woof!! :-)

10:24 PM  
Blogger GreyGuy said...

You could put your Christmas tree outside and cover it with ice, making it into an iced Christmas tree tower. Every year, put the new tree on top of the old one and repeat. Since your trees are artificial, they'll last the winter. Anyways, after a few years and a few trees, voilà! Gigantic Alaskan Ice Tower!

4:34 AM  
Anonymous Loren97 said...

Bummer about the tree...err, Ice tower envy. ;-)

Tilty book cases, huh? It sounds to me like you've got an accute case of shop-less-ness. You must find yourself a good tablesaw to remedy this condition, the more expensive the better. (or if you're too cheap to drop, er invest, 5 Ben Franklins, try the $12 24" framing square.

Need some new projects? I think you would have fun building speakers. Look for the "WickedOne" on DecWare's website. Its an intimidating subwoofer that is a lot of fun to build (I did it with a circular saw and liquid nails) and will shake both your house and your neighbors.

Happy New Year
Loren

5:39 PM  
Blogger Jill said...

The ice tower is great. I wouldn't have believed it before I moved here. Now I'm not even surprised. I love Alaska.

11:00 PM  
Blogger The Mayor said...

Can I just tell you that I'm living in Alaska only vicariously through your blog? My husband grew up there (Soldotna) and I sooo want to move there! We are taking baby steps, though...first a visit, then maybe...?

9:29 AM  
Blogger John said...

duck,
Yeah. Freedom is a rush. As to the tree stand, The Mrs. currently assumes that I'll be purchasing something. Heh. She forgets sometimes . . . !

woof,
Indeed! Actually, I did buy some of both, but got some real metal tools as well. I can keep them as long as I take care of them and don't leave them outside.

stacie,
Thanks for coming by!!

blample,
That we could do. But, at some point I'd have to outdo that guy. Maybe by setting it on fire. Yeah . . . fire!

loren97,
I have an okay table saw, and I actually did get a band saw for the fine work. I haven't yet built the book cases, (and do have the framing square) but I'm setting a low expectation for myself.

Cool project . . . the one on my radar right now is a video projection system . . . check out Lumenlab . . . The Mrs. hasn't told me I can't do it . . .

jill,
yeah . . . but wait! there's more! As soon as you get complacent, you see something else that makes you go, huh.

mayor,
Thanks! From what I've seen, Alaska either sings to your soul, or it makes a nasty "Flock of Seagulls" scar on you. With us, we knew immediately that this was home. Remember, you have to see it in winter, too. Plus, prices are way cheaper in winter.

11:55 AM  
Blogger The Mayor said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:15 PM  
Blogger The Mayor said...

I'm totally gonna come up in the winter, preferrably within the next couple months...that's the best time of year, IMO, provided there's some sort of "fire" wherever we stay!

12:16 PM  

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