Monday, June 30, 2014

From Denali National Park to Denali State Park

What a very pleasant surprise!!!  We left the DNP area on a wet Friday morning and traveled south to a delightful Denali State Park where we spent 2 nights.  Gary is a great planner.  This park was perfect for hiking up mountains and around lakes, kayaking, and catching Mt. Denali (we think we qualify as natives now so that is what we call Mt. McKinley) with crystal clear skies.  They really should change the name back to its original title.  We are now in Talkeetna and this morning Bob took a tourist plane trip over the mountains with Gary and Floy.  The bottom four pics are from that.  Words do not do justice to the beauty of this place.
A 50's cabin out in Denali State Park that is returning to nature. 
The view of Denali was even more spectacular south of DNP close to Denali State Park.
We had forgotten how much we missed paddling.  The water in Byers Lake was not that cold.
The wildflowers in Alaska are so varied.  As we drove south of DNP, we noticed that the vegetation was quite different.
View of the mountains out of the window.
This is a glacier with a small pool of melted water.  Note how dirty the glacier looks but how clear the water is.
We have seen several mountains that have this shape here in AK.  Am not sure if it is the natural shape or if receding glaciers are responsible.  Or aliens, maybe.
This is a glacier.  The dark areas are really ice.  On either side where it is brown, the brown parts are still part of the glacier and are 300-500 feet of ice.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Denali National Park! What a delight.

We are into day four at Denali.  We could not have had more lovely weather the first two days.  Of course, all good things must come to an end.  The last two days have been wet and colder.  Yet, we make sure we get out in it at least part of he day.  Yesterday was the strenuous hike I had to abandon.  Today we attended the sled dog program in the park.  They actually utilize the sled dogs in winter to transport needed items 70 miles into the park.  My pics are from our day trip on a sunny day as well as a couple of pics from rainy days.
This Mama Moose with her 2 little ones was feeding around 10 AM close to the park entrance.  
This little guy was with a group of 6 Caribou walking across the road on our bus trip.  They actually criss-crossed the road twice before we could get by.
A Grizzly Bear was strolling down the road in front of the bus in front of us.  He finally moved off to the side allowing us to pass.
Beautiful Caribou.
Not a clear pic because these Dall Sheep are grazing so high up the mountain.  The need to protect these sheep dates back recognizing Denali as a National Park.
This was the Grizzly after slowly getting off the road to allow us by.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

On to Denali!!!

We ran into rain, a few poor road conditions and road delays.  However, we reached Dinali late Sat. afternoon and of course all campgrounds inside were full.  Boondocked overnight and got into our campground early on Sunday.  Monday found us on an 8 hr. bus trip into the park.  Saw tons of wildlife and unimaginably beautiful scenery.  Will post more pics on area in next post.  Too tired now.

More construction on Parks Highway from Fairbanks to Denali than we have seen.  Hope rest of the way to Anchorage is not like this.
It could be worse, I think.
Caribou are constantly harrassed by insects that lay their eggs on and in them.  They frequently get up, shake, bury their nose in the ground and then lie back down.
The first 3 grizzlies I have ever seen in the wild.  Mama and the babies down by the river.
More Dall Sheep up on the mountains near the top.  Safer there.
Beautiful landscape inside.  We couldn't have asked for a nicer day.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Alaska! Panning for Gold

Dredge 8 in Fairbanks was a great adventure even though it was raining harder than it had in years.  Our tour started off with the "Conductor" on the narrow gauge train entertaining us with Country and Cajun music.  Quite interesting with the rain beating on the roof and the engine starting.  He was pretty good.  The stops enroute to the panning site had a narrator who happensed to be a history teacher in the off-season.  Lots of interesting info on the types of mining conducted in the Fairbanks area.  Then we saw the large dredge and heard about how it was moved here and how it operated.  Of course the highlight of the trip was actually getting to pan for gold.  It was set up for tourists with long, deep water troughs filled with WARM water.  None of this going into the cold creeks. I only wish we were going to stay at least 3 more days.  I would go up to the hills and pan in the creeks.  Love Fairbanks.

At the outset Bob only wanted to see the Dredge.  Here he is studiously learning how to pan.  In AK, they really must take care of tourists.  Tent over panning tables.
Narrow gauge.  Amazing how much equipment they had to carry on these things.
Difficult to explain placer mining but they miners dug a hole in ground containing gold, then they picked rocks apart and sent them to guy on top in a bucket.
The guy on top would get the bucket from the hole and send it over to the pile of rocks.  He also had to keep the fire stoked in the makeshift furnace in pic on left.  All this was during the winter.  His job was the hardest.
Gold was left in the tailings from placer mines but too costly to retrieve.  Later on FE bought lots of these mining areas and built a plant producing electricity and pumped water up to work area then shot the rocks with big watergun.
This is Dredge 8.  Can you imagine moving this huge thing on a tiny train?  Of course it was in parts and I'm sure it took more than 1 trip.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Arctic Circle

 Yesterday we took a car side trip to the Arctic Circle.  400 miles round trip with 75% of the road gravel.  Thank goodness the gravel was much better than Top of the World Highway.  We expected to see lots of wildlife but we terribly disappointed.  Maybe 1 rabbit.  Beautiful scenery and the Pipeline is quite impressive as it climbs hills above ground part of the way then disappearing into the mountain.  While trying to help Bob find a geocache, "Something, or Someone" burrowed into a spot on my head.  Must go to a walk-in clinic in the morning to make sure it is not sucking out what little bit of brainpower I have left.

Wetlands area at The Creamery which also had the Boreal Forest.
First sighting of an eagle.
North Pole building near Fairbanks.
A pic from a few towns back.
One of the very few places existing on the road to the Arctic Circle.
After 2 hours on a gravel road to get here, we deserved a glass of wine while we swatted mosquitos.
Pipeline was parallel to the highway most of the way.  Up and down and over and around.  Amazing.
The pipeline is on the other side of this bridge attached to the side of it.

Touring Fairbanks

We have been here 5 days and have enjoyed each one thoroughly.  Friday arrival and set up camp.  Saturday Bob and I caught up on some shopping and barber shop beauty shop visits.  Sunday was a wonderful Father's Day brunch at the Pumphouse with Gary and Floy.  It is a really nice restaurant with a river overview.  We followed that up with a visit to the Museum of the North which has such high quality exhibits.  The textiles from native Athabascans was fantastic.  Monday was one of the best "touristy trap" things we have done in a long time.  We took a Paddle Wheel boat trip on the Chena River which had an educational audio visit by a bush pilot as he landed and took off next to us.  Then we stopped to listen to Susan Butcher's husband talk about training sled dogs for the Iditarod.  His wife died of cancer several years ago but she won the Iditarod several times with dogs they trained.  The dogs demonstrated their tremendous strength as they pulled an ATV around a long track.  After completing their run, they high-tailed it to the river for a swim.  I enjoyed this part of the tour best of all.  The third and final stop was at a model Athabascan Village where we divided into 3 groups and rotated among presentations on ancient Athabascan culture, modern culture, and how they prepare animal skins.  Meanwhile, some of the sled dogs arrived to add even more fun to the stop.
Grizzly was quite impressive.
These birch trees begin topple over if the ground underneath thaws.  Global warming maybe???? the Boreal Forest trail.
Discovery III was a delight.  We finished the trip off by having Sockeye Salmon appetizers.  Yum.
Bush plane pilot talked about the things they do to people in remote regions.
Susan Butcher's husband who continues to train the sled dogs.  Great presentation.
Athabascan Village demonstration.  The lowest grade salmon is frequently fed to the dogs.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Fairbanks Here We Come!!!

We rested up yesterday with no tourist activity other than a short hike.  Our campground is very nice and with full hook-up, Floy and I can caught up on all the laundry.  Fortunately, we both have a washer and dryer in our rigs.  Bob and I are traveling with no spare tire for Olivia Jeep.  Will get it replaced as soon as we get to Fairbanks.  Pics from Tok to Fairbanks.

This was the structure from the ground into the air supporting the Alaska Pipeline  over a river.
Imagine what would happen if that pipe broke carrying all that "stuff".
Bear Lake at Eilson AFB.  Lovely.
Tons of these Alaskan wildflowers about.  Soft rain on the petals.
Canadian Geese Families on the lake.
These Red-Necked Grebes were a hoot to watch.  They would dive and the male would always be the one to come up with something.  It was almost like he was asking, "Is this okay for the nest, Hon? 

One of the very few traffic stops which we hit at a lucky time.  Pilot car led out shortly after we had to stop.
This crazy thing almost flew into my hand.  He wanted to make sure he got his photo taken.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Day of Rest.....or, catching up time.

Today was spent catching up on chores....Lots of loads of clothes to wash, Jeep to wash, etc.  Had a few more pics to share.  Found a wonderful place to do a 1.5 mile hike almost straight uphill but didn't have time to complete it after finding the geocache.  Will hopefully have time to hike on our way back through Tok.

The Mighty Yukon River.
Waiting to board the ferry across the Yukon to Dawson City
Still can't figure out why there is so much snow left!  Wonder if we will see any when we go to Arctic Circle???????
And exactly how mnay people does it take to change a tire????  Gary, your police training was a super saver for us.  Thanks.
Life for the vehicles would have been much dirtier without this guy's help.
Top of the World seemed to be just that.  Mountains just go on forever, seemingly.  Lovely beyond description.