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A large painting now on display at the University of Alaska Museum of the North depicts a scene from Alaska during the Pleistocene epoch, around 20,000 years ago. The painter, Fairbanks artist Randall Compton, was already known for his landscapes and bird paintings when he began depicting local scenes from the ice age. “It’s fascinating … Continue reading Pleistocene painting showcases life in ancient Alaska

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Sitting in the shade of a poplar, I watch the Tanana River flow by. It’s flat and tan, dimpled by eddies and darted over by swallows that sound like they are chewing rubber bands. I slept last night with my wife, daughter and dog in the upstairs of a handsome, two-story log structure that has stood since before World War I. Judy Hicks, who lives here in Delta Junction and works for Alaska State Parks, invited us to stay at Rika’s Roadhouse.

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Who is this girl, hair in braids, emerging from the tent with a full backpack? She is 10 years old, a recent fourth-grade graduate, out here with a friend from her class. Within the 20-year-old tent they share, they stay up for hours, chatting and giggling. It is mountain music.

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In a cramped workshop at his home near Fox, Orion Lawlor is working to develop the technology that could someday allow people to live on Mars.
His creations are modest — small plastic beams and thin, hollow cylinders that can be filled with powdered rock. But items like those, which are created by his one-of-a-kind 3-D printer, may eventually become the components for creating habitat in space.

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When I walked this same path 20 years ago, I averaged six miles each day. After a few weeks in 2017 of hiking the path of the trans-Alaska pipeline, it seems easy to do 10 miles a day. Back then, sometimes my backpack weighed 60 pounds. I’m trying to keep it half that weight now. I started from Valdez with a load of 32 pounds. Most of the reduction is due to clever people who have engineered lighter gear because consumers wanted it, and because of breakthroughs in materials available to designers.

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