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Thursday
Apr192012

I Did Not Get Eaten By A Bear

 

That title is for my friends who keep suggesting that I must have been eaten by a bear since I haven't blogged about Alaska yet. Why do people keep asking me that? And why did everyone want to know if I was going to see Sarah Palin while I was there? [Sidenote: in the hotel lobby we could not change the channel off of Fox News. I'm pretty sure the Palin compound has something to do with this. Jerks.]

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I am always surprised by things that I should not be surprised about at all. For example, I really hate the cold. I warn people around me in the winter that I am no picnic to be around when the temperature goes below 30 degrees. That's why it was really nice of Alaska to keep it right around 45 degrees while I was there. Secondly, and I know there wasn't a firstly, the great opportunities that this blog has brought about isn't the kind of sellout, low-rent, branding-until-it-hurts kind of stuff that would make me feel like I needed to take a Silkwood shower afterward. There is no thirdly.


I have decided to change it up and become an adventure blogger because look how oblivious I am to the cold weather! The elements! They do not bother me at all and I have removed my ski suit!


It was the perfect amalgamation of my interests. Education, photography, and crossing things off my life list. Perhaps I can best sum up my trip without this sounding like an "I went on a trip. Would you like to see a slideshow of my photographs?" kind of entry by using those three things as an outline.

Education: First, there is Project Aether, a concept dreamed up by a plasma physicist and a couple of science teachers based out of New Jersey. When I say "plasma physicist" I really mean (wait - what the heck is PLASMA?) rocket scientist. And when I say a "couple of science teachers" I mean two of the most inspirational and inquisitive teachers I've ever met. These people make a powerhouse team. They work in tandem to release payloads that include a high-quality camera into the atmosphere as it's attached to a weather balloon and a GPS. Once the cameras land back on solid ground the team goes out to retrieve it and get film footage back to track data. Last Friday while I was entirely too jetlagged to be working, I spent the day with all the 7th grade science classes and we Skyped with Liz and Rosanna so our students could ask them questions about their work and their real-life experiments in learning about weather. My favorite part was that after a 40 minute Skype session with them, one of the 7th grade girls in class turned around to me and whispered, "Wow. They are ROCK stars." That's pretty much exactly how I want my students to view science. Every single one of those students wants to play with a GoPro now and launch them up in the air. One of them wants to jump off stuff with a camera strapped to his head, but I can't condone any curriculum that allows parkour.


Luke Kilpatrick, me, Andi, Pilar, and Kristen Chase standing in front of the Aurora Borealis.


Photography: GoPro cameras, the world's fastest growing camera company, were the brainchild of Nick Woodman, a surfer who wanted everyone to experience what he saw while out on wild rides. It's incredibly small and is less than half the size of my cell phone. GoPro saw the work of Project Aether and started to sponsor them in their work which makes me LOVE them as a company to see all the good things they can do with their product. Nick's sisters work for the company and joined us on this trip and.......this is a pretty good place to start to see how they work.


 


There is a freaky silhouette in the bottom left corner of this. Kristen, is that you? Or is Alaska just full of ghosts?


This is Kash who works for GoPro. He is incredible and kind and is one of the many people who helped to make this possible. He was gracious enough to drive us around when we wanted to explore Fairbanks and the surrounding area not to mention just treating us to some cool adventures on behalf of the company. (But he has no idea how to sneak up on a moose and made me lose my only shot at taking a picture with my phone.) (Seriously, Kash. You need some spy skills, dude. We're going to work on that.) I honestly tried to bring him home with me but he had to jet off to Vegas right after Alaska. He was super cool to talk to and has this passionate Be Somebody campaign that I could have listened about for many more hours.

Naturally, when you want people to experience something and videotape and photograph it, you put them on a dogsled after teaching them how to drive it with a 2.8 second lesson and MUSH! You're off!


Both Kristen and I practice with our new GoPro camera. This little baby packs 11 megapixels.


Photography Take Two: I met several amazing photographers. I think I use that word too much, but it fits. If I had to use my thesaurus to say it another way, I'd say that they were breathtaking, sensational, and remarkable. One of them was Aaron Hockley who was so friendly even before we met and some of his work can be found on his blog and also on flickr.  Another one was Reid Gower who writes The Sagan Series and produced this pretty sweet video on how cool space exploration could be for NASA if NASA just, you know, produced cool videos. Reid promotes science literacy and takes amazing photography. Also, Luke Kilpatrick, who is doing a cool new blog called Box Dinners and who took the above photo in front of the Northern Lights.

Photography Take Three: It's a bonus when you get to go on a trip like this with a friend and I have known Kristen for many years. When we weren't freezing in the Ice Museum or soaking in the Chena Hot Springs or screaming our heads off on a dogsled ride together, we were chatting it up in her hotel room and eating things like reindeer sausage for breakfast (sorry, Blitzen. I know that was you. I could tell.) and it was the most uninterrupted time I've had with her ever. So, thanks for the mini-girlfriend getaway, GoPro.


Kristen's so very sexy as she takes off her winter gear because, uh, sweaty dog rides, y'all.


Life List Stuff: It seems that everyone I told that I was going to Alaska mentioned that it was on their Life List or Bucket List of things to do before they die. One time we were driving across flat Illinois from Champaign to Springfield and we could make out the faintest Northern Lights. Every car on the highway was pulling over for this clear viewing and I was amazed that we could see them this far and later the news confirmed what we saw. Seeing them in person was simply fantastic. Everyone behaves as if you're watching fireworks as they Oooohhh and Aaaahhhhh over it because it is just that incredible. I haven't seen the footage yet of what Project Aether has gotten from our launch that night, but I will try to link that soon.


Okay, there's a thirdly. It's this:  Thirdly, I had a really good time. You should come over sometime so I can show you my entire slideshow.

 
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    Kelly Wickham - Mocha Momma - I Did Not Get Eaten By A Bear

Reader Comments (22)

I've been waiting for this post for eva, chica. I'm so glad you had a blast--you totally deserve it. And I'm definitely taking you up on the slideshow bit the next time I'm in your neighborhood. I'll bring chocolate chip cookies, you supply the cupcake flavored vodka.

April 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterElizabeth

SO, SO JELUS. Glad you had a good time, though.

*kicks dirt*

April 19, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersweetney

Thanks for the kind words! We had so much fun talking to your kids too!! looking forward to setting up a launch!

April 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLiz

I always forget that not everyone can watch the northern lights dance in the sky. I'm spoiled. I'm glad you had a good time. Smooch.

April 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRedneck Mommy

It was great to meet you in Alaska... what a fun experience for all of us. I can't wait to see the footage from the balloons...

April 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAaron

Hey, I asked if you were eaten by a moose. Totally different. :)

It looks like you had a fabulous trip and are now even more fired up than usual!

April 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterV's Herbie

So did you see Sarah Palin? Could you see Russia? ;-)

April 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLizP

Awesomicity.

April 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJohann

It's a deal. I didn't even KNOW they made a cupcake flavored vodka. What am I doing with my life?

April 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMocha Momma

Don't be jelus. I didn't even mention the dogsled part yet. There is poop. Lots and lots of poop.

April 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMocha Momma

Liz, I think you and Rosanna are the bee's knees! (That's probably scientifically impossible and you would know, so don't judge me too harshly.)

We can't wait to work with you on this project!

April 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMocha Momma

Yeah, stop taking that stuff for granted, missy. Revel in it. I will revel in the corn.

April 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMocha Momma

Me, either! Leah said they'd have it out to us soon. (Then, watch...I'll be the idiot who can't upload it to her blog.)

So great meeting you! Your photos are inspiring.

April 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMocha Momma

Yes, YOU did. Everyone else asked about bears. :-)

I wouldn't think I could get fired up any more than I am, but I did!

April 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMocha Momma

Not even remotely. Either one.

But I wasn't looking for her, either. In fact, I'd avoid that woman at all costs. She might shoot me from a helicopter.

April 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMocha Momma

It WAS. I'm going to visit the other science classes at different grade levels to share with them, too. I can't wait!

April 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMocha Momma

Was the driver Marilyn from Northern Exposure?

I wanna come over for Cuban sandwiches and the slideshow!

April 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGrandeMocha

Really, really soon!

April 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLeah

Man, I wish *I* could be viewed as a rock star for doing science!
It was a shame: in our secondary school biology/chemistry/physics classes we never had any interaction with professional scientists, certainly not over modern technology like Skype. Science was always about memorising facts and doing unadventurous experiments in the classroom. I suspect more pupils would have continued further with those subjects had they got a taste of what jobs in the field actually entailed...
Keep up the good work!

April 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterClaire J

This is why I get accused of "out of the box thinking".... I don't think outside of my own box... the rest of the world just needs to get a more interesting box.

April 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterV's Herbie

Good things SHOULD come to those who are good. You? Are so good.

April 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKim Tracy Prince

So not on my life list... but fact is I lived in Fairbanks, and Anchorage, and Nome. And my baby girl grown up now lives in Fairbanks again. So, I will be able to experience the midnight sun again (without having to shovel snow). Though, honestly before you know it you're used to the ice and cold. Fairbanks is one of my favorites... along with Kenai, and Denali, and Soldotna... and ... on and on... Funny how many place I can think of now that I'm thinking about Alaska. BTW I learned to cross country ski at Chena Hot Springs. Glad it was a fun trip.

July 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterChristal

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