Tuesday, September 29, 2009

On the Road Again - Texas Bound

Just a quick note since it's been almost two weeks since i have been able to get on the internet.
Last night iIstayed at the Glorieta Baptist Conference Center in New Mexico. I'm now in their parking lot taking advantage of emails.
I'll send lots of photos of Canada and the North west as soon as I can.
Until then!!!! Texas or Bust.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Denali National Park

We left Wasilla on Tuesday after picking up our entries in the Alaska State Fair in Palmer. Tuesday night we parked near the new home of our long time friends, Anna and Mickey. Wed. morning we were on the Parks Highway heading north for a much too brief visit at Denali National Park.
The aspens, birch and cottonwoods were a blaze of gold in the bright sun, a contrast to the dark green of the spruce.Dale spotted a road-killed porcupine. We stopped so he could pull the quills. Lynne and I have been making earrings from the quills.

Denali National Park's 6 million acres are accessible by only one road, primitive, largely unpaved, winding through the wilderness.

After a brief stop at the Wilderness Access Center to arrange for camping at the Savage River Campground, and for a bus tour to Eileson Visitor's Center, we proceeded to travel slowly through the taiga and forest.
Chores never end. I cooked dinner for us in my rig.

The sky was clear and temperature quite chilly. We took a walk around the large isolated campground enjoying the solitude and quiet.

Ducking under a large white spruce, I discovered the largest burl I'd ever seen. Caused by a virus that attacks the tree, the tree compensates by growing this huge woody appendage.

A spectacular sunset was an indication of a beautiful tomorrow.

Early the following morning we doned coats, gloves and carried packs of snacks and lunch to the bus stop. Drivers are not permitted to drive personal vehicles past the Savage River Bridge unless they have a permit for the Teklinika Campground or a hiking permit. By restricting visitors to big green buses, more tourists can enjoy the park with a minimum of intrusion on the wilderness.
Our bus must have originated in Japan! Most of the tourists were speaking languages unfamiliar to me.

This picture taken at one of the overlook stops shows several of the Japanese wearing masks. were they afraid of Swine flu? the cold brisk air made that threat unlikely.

Our first glimps of Mt McKinley, also know by the Native name Denali, was from the highway as we traveled along. Only 35% of visitors are privileged to view the mountain as it is ususally shrouded in clouds and mist.
We were fortunate to be able to vies and photograph the mountain from several stops.
The Sanctuary River and the Savage River are examples of braided rivers. the wide bed criss crossed by ever changing flow causes the rivers to be unstable and dangerous.

Wild life hunting is fun for every one. some more serious photographers than others.
Dall rams on the cliffs of Primrose Ridge.

scene of our bus and another from an over look. See the herd ofhomo sapiens!

Mt McKinley from the Eilerson Visitors Center.

Bald Eagles are rare in Denali because they prefer fish and their ususal habitat is near the coast. Golden Eagles are frequent to Denali.
This grizzly is crossing a ridge on the tundra. We saw other bears but they didn't photograph well.This red fox ran along the tundra and then in front of the stopped bus. It ignored the tourists hanging out the windows to take its picture.

Look carefully at the lowe left corner of the picture to find another bus traveling far below us. We would soon follow down that winding road.

This is only a brief overview of the majestic Denali NP. For more pictures see me when I arrive home.
We are now back at Camp Baldwin preparing camp for winter by hiding anything a rodent might find edible or nesting material, draining water lines, and preparing for minus 50 degree winter weather. This morning the temperature was 28 degrees with a frost.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Week of Aug 30-Sept 6

What a week this has been. Monday the Martin's rig was in the shop. while it was being worked on I spent several hours at the Nataive Heritage Center. These two young folks are demonstrating some of the events of the Eskimo Olympics. The girl will kick up, balancing on her left hand and kick the ball. The record by a male is eight feet, meaning that his body is vertical and hand off the floor, sorta an upside high jump.Here the young lady is perparing to kick the suspended ball with her left foot while holding her right foot and balancing on her left hand. Confused? They were so fast that I couldn't get good pictures. The games are to increase their strength and endurance.

The strangest was the ear pull, designed to increase tolerance to pain. A loop of rawhide is placed around the opponants opposite ears while they are sitting. Then both bull untill one lets the rope pull off. Like when your mom pulled on you ear to get you to behave, but much more painful.

These women are dressed in Kuspuks and wearing mukluk boots. They use dance fans of feathers to accent the mothions of thier dances. The drumers keep rhythum on flat seal skin drums while they chant. The map on the wall depicts the five major cultures in Alaska.
Alaska's Native people are divided into eleven distinct cultures with twenty-one different language.

This young man shows one of the Tlingit/Haida drums with the black, red and teal stylized designs. He waid that the teal color is from crushed copper rock with fish slime as a binder.
The designs are historic. He explained that American's distroyed maost of their masks, but some were taken to Russia and France.

This is a replica of a Tlingit/Haida community house. The door is an oval hole in a huge log.

This replica of an Alutic common house is similiar to to the homes of the Yupik, and Inupik cultures. Constructed partially underground the homes were well insulated.

The log house and food cache are representative of the Athabascan culture, and of settlers. Today many residents still live in log cabins and use caches to keep food from the bears. Wealthy Alaskan build wonderfully insulated "Log cabins" with triple paned panaramic windows.

Lynne joined me to travel down the Kenai to the Alaska Wildlife conservation Center. Here injured or orphaned animals are treated to be released.

I have too many animal pictures already but was impressed with this bull caribou.
One more moose picture. This huge bull will soon be in rut. His antlers are shedding the velvet. That yucky stuff hanging off his antlers is the velvet that he is rubbing off.

Dale's rig was repaired in record time. Bonnie and Charles joined us with their motor home for a quick trip down to Homer.

We camped overnight at Willowaw National Forest. Red Salmon were spawning in the shallow waters of the stream that ran through the campground. Later we stopped at the confluence of the Russian and Kenai Rivers where combat fishing for salon takes place when they are running.
The weather was cold and damp.

From the windows of the rigs we had view of glaciers and waterfalls. We were tempted to climb but the temperature and dampness and our mature bodies restricted us to walks around the almost deserted campground.

We arrived in Homer. Despite the could cover we enjoyed the distand mountains and glaciers. If the day had been clear, we would have been able to see Mt. Redoubt across Cook Inlet. It is still smoking but not erupting.

Passing through the small fishing and arts/crafts town, we drove onto the Homer Spit which divides the Kachemak Bay.
A crazy Alaskan blew up the front edge of his parasail and let the wind pull him on a surf board out into the bay.
Luckily he was wearing a wet suit.

Early the following morning I walked Sassie along the beach and was awed by this magnificent sunrise.

Near the end of the spit, Dale spotted this eagle working to repair it's nest.
Dale's binoculars let him identify sea otters on two floating mats of kelp. This guy was by himself. His head is to the left. Those are his feet to the right.

We hated to leave Homer without seeing the glaciers and volcanic mountains with clear skys. Of course as wwe returned to Anchorage, the skys cleared and the sunshone brilliantly.
Later this week we again helped Sharon and Henry in Wasilla prepare for winter by getting his snow blower attached to a small tractor and putting things under cover.
On Saturday, we returned to Anchorage for a trememdus stage production of the "Lion King". You have to see it to beleave it. Of course no photos were allowed.
Today we leave to return to Delta and winterize. Yes winter is coming. It was 41 the other morning.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Aug 22-30

This is Henry. He has a terminal brain tumor. We've been helping with major chores at their home in Wasilla. Sunday, his daughters surprised him (and us) at church with the mohawk wig. He wore it during the service and to his last chemo treatment on Monday. Who says Christians don't have fun?

Monday the Martins followed me to Anchorage to check out the generator on my rig. While in town we visited the Anchorage Art and History museum. The quilt show is an example of the excellent creative crafts done by Natives.

This 3-4 story totum is in the original entrance to the renevated musuem.

We spent Tuesday with mutual friends in Anchorage. Micky workes two weeks on and two weeks off on the North Slope. We met him at the airport as a surprise.
I took my rig back to the generator repair shop and waited for a new carborator to be sent from the Lower 48. After it was installed on Thursday I raced back to Palmer to check out our entries in the State Fair.
What a surprise! My loon wal hanging that had received a red ribbon in Delta, now had a blue and a purple "Best in Category" ribbon!

The birch bark loon hanging also received blue and purple ribbons. The beaded loon received a red.
Lynne's quilt and basket received ribbons and one of her baskets received a blue and purple.

A Tlingit painted totum pole greated us at the fair.

We went to gape at the huge vegetables grown here in the Mat-Su valley.

There were no world records this year, but I will list world records.

Cabbarge- 105 pounds. Lots of slaw!
World record watermellon weighed 168 pounds. This one was over 100 pounds.

World record pumpkin weighed 1,019 pounds!! These weighed around 800 pounds each. Thanksgiving pie for a crowd.

I have now idea how large this dalia was. Compared to Lynne's hand, what do you think! Flowers are abundant and glorious.

We joined the crowd to enjoy an equestian even. Look closely at the girl hanging by her foot on the side of the horse below.

I rushed back to Anchorage after a quick visit to the fair to speak to the Women on Mission group at first Baptist Church. (No pictures)
On Friday I held a book signing at the BX on Elemdorf Air Force Base. This was my second signing here.

Saturday I held another signing. This time at Pandemonium in Wasilla.

I've enjoyed using their wifi cafe and hope to be able to catch up!