In Alaska #12–Valdez

So yesterday I did the 5-hour kayaking tour out to Valdez glacier.  I had been fussed about it for some time, but in the end i went anyway and am glad I did.  

It turned out to be rather a mild adventure as adventures go.  As the unpaired person on the tour, my kayaking partner was the guide, which meant I could do as little as I pleased.  As that portion of the tour is quite short, that made it easy-peasy.

Anyway.  Here’s where we started out.  Not overly prepossessing, and at this point I was wondering just how much I was going to enjoy the tour.

But the guide, who goes by the name of Bagel, and yes there is a story and yes he will tell it, loves what he does and is excited and knowledgeable about glaciers and glacial processes, so much of t he value of the tour was becoming a bit educated about them oneself.  

For instance: The glacier we were headed for is between the two mountains, over toward the left.  It used to be joined to the glacier you can just see peeking through the two mountains on the right.  Where there was one glacier, there are now two.  The water you see is from the melting back of the now-two glaciers.  It has been measured recently by the USGS abd turned out to be 600 feet deep, but because of the opacity due to silt, you have little sense of deep water beneath you.  

Once in, we paddled around to some of the broken-off bits first.  But not this one, because it has a crack almost all the way across it and they expect it to break apart soon, and think it’s likely to roll when it does, so it would be dangerous to be close by when that happens.

Only one other couple were on the tour, which made it nicely relaxed.  George and Nancy.  

We did paddle over to some other chunks that are believed to be more stable at this point, and got to get close up to the ice.

We traded cameras a couple of times so we coule get pictures of ourselves on our own camera.  Their idea, not mine, but regardless, there I am.  The one in front.

Another few shots of ice close up.

In the one two-above, you can see bubbles of air trapped in the ice.  Snow is white because if all the tiny bits of trapped air; in a glacier, the lower snow gets that air squeezed out and into larger bubbles, leaving very dense, blue ice.

After awhile, we headed over to a place to land the kayaks on a shelf of ice.  Bagel carefully exploded that we had to test anywhere we might step in the water with our paddle, because you can’t see more than an inch or two into the water and the ice shelfs drop off very steeply.  He helped each of us out himself, and we walked up to a flattish boulder for lunch.  Bagel had brought a thermos of hot water, and made us each a hot beverage.  Here’s Nancy warming herself with her hot chocolate.

We walked around on the glacier for upwards of two hours, with Bagel directing our attention to the details and explaining how the things we saw were formed.  For example, here’s an oblation cone.

The grit that accumulated in that spot protects the ice underneath from melting, so the surrounding ice melts away and leaves the cone formation.  Rocks sometimes achieve a similar effect.

Eventually the rock will fall off, like the boulder below fell off the ice to the right.

Much of the time, if you didn’t know you were walking on a glacier, you’d just think you were walking across rock scree like that we see all through the Rockies. 

 But when you see intense blue between the pebbles and grit . . . 

. . . you know you’re not on just another mountain.

I just thought this looked cool.  It’s what happens when the grit, which is exceedingly fine, settles down out of the water.  The water has to be very still for this to happen.

Once up there and walking a short way, we could see the glacier proper.  The part we walked on is apparently floating–bobbing–on water and will eventually break off.  By “eventually “, read “in three or four years”. 

It wasn’t long before George spotted a mountain goat on the mountain opposite.  I never got a good shot of it–this is the best of a poor bunch.  His head is on the right, in the brush, presumably eating.

George continued watching the goat for the rest of the time, and got several pretty good shots.  They emailed them to me, but I can’t figure out how to get them into the post, so you’ll just have to take my word for it that that was a goat.

Shortly after that the battery in my camera died, so there’s a lot I didn’t get pictures of.  Bagel suggested I warm it up by putting it inside my jacket, so I did, and whan we were almost back to the boats, I managed to get a few more shots.  This was just a cool formation.

This shows one of two developing crevasses that will, in the next few years, split the bobbing part of the glacier longitudinally into three parts.

The sun came out back towards town after awhile, so I took some pictures looking back where we’d come from.  Apparently we were back in the kayaks by that time, though that’s not how I remember it. Couldn’t decide which picture I like better, so put them both in.

Later that day, after resting up, wine, and supper, CJ and i went for a walk.  On the way back, I saw this pair of eagles fly over and perch on the light pole.  Tried to catch them in the air, but wasn’t quick enough.  But they sat there long enough for me to get a picture in which you can tell they aren’t just part of the light fixture.  Only had the phone with me, so it’s a bit blurry.

The best kept secret of Valdez, as far as I and CJ are concerned, is the bunnies.

You see them running around all over town, and even though CJ wasn’t allowed to chase them, their presence definitely enhanced her walks. Here’s a few more, though I never got quite as close as above again; CJ started looking for them and whenever she spotted one, she’d get noisily excited, and they’d run.  Or they’d run, she’d spot them, and then get noisily excited–happened both ways.  How many bunnies can you find in this next shot?  It’s blurry–one-handed, zoomed phone shot, with excited dog pulling on other hand, so really not bad.

Heading to Haines, so it’ll be a few internetless non-blogging days now.

After leaving Trail River, the day got wetter and wetter, so in that sense it was a good travel day.  Not that travel days are better if they are wet, but wet days are better used as travel days than play or sight-seeing days.

Decided to got straight through to Whittier so I wouldn’t have to tackle the unknown of the tunnel the same morning as the unknown of the ferry.  Stopped briefly at Williwaw Campground just to see what I would be missing by doing so, and while it looked like a perfectly nice CG, it also didn’t leave me feeling that I was depriving myself by not staying there.  Got one decent picture, of a glacier (I think).

Also stopped to take a picture of what looked like a chip off a glacier.

You can see how gray the day was.

I suspect the girl (ok, ok, young woman, but they all seem like girls to me these days, privilege of age?) who took the tunnel toll gave me a break.  She charged me only $13, and if I had read the prices correctly technically it should have been $22.  But I did not complain.  

The process (the tunnel is one-way and alternates east-bound and west-bound traffic) was clear and well-automated.  The toll-taker told me what lane to get into, and from there it was read signs and obey lights.  Here’s where I waited (and had lunch.)

This guy . . .

. . . mystified me rather.  It was raining–not sprinkling, but raining–and quite windy, and yet he sat and waited as you see until it was almost time to move.  My only speculation is that he travels the tunnel often, and does this to alleviate the boredom?  Who knows.

The tunnel itself felt mildly spooky to me.  I remembered it was long (2.5 miles, the longest highway tunnel in North America, I just googled it so it must be true, right?), but I  had forgotten how long, and while I knew that it was big enough for big rigs, it seemed very skinny to me.  Plus it also is used for trains, so train tracks run down the middle, making driving . . . odd.   They had all kinds of safety warnings (don’t stop, don’t follow too close, what to do if . . . . ) for me to contemplate as I drove, and just as I was thinking “surely it wasn’t more that 4 miles, was it?”, it ended, to my relief.  

Finally found the Creekside CG in Whittier, which wasn’t awful but neither was it wonderful, especially given the pouring rain, picked my spot (close to potties or view and privacy?  View–such as it was (below) and privacy won.

Took all afternoon, but did manage to do the previous post, which was the best possible use of the time under the (wet and gloomy) circumstances.  

I was very tense about the ferry ride, not only about negotiating the unknown process (which turned out to be fine, people told me what to do at all points), but also just surviving 8.5 hours on the ferry.  Given how seasick I’ve gotten the last several times I was out on any kind of boat, would I get seasick?  Excessively tired (being kept up well past my usual bedtime) or hungry?  But overall, it was fine.  I did get sleepy in the afternoon, and tried to nap on one of the hard plastic recliners they provide on the “solarium”, which mostly proved my usual precautions regarding my back are warranted, and rather bored around hour six, but overall, it was nowhere near as bad an experience as I had feared.  

On a sunnier–or even less rainy–day, it would probably be an unadulterated pleasure.  Even in the rainy and foggy conditions, the scenery was anywhere from lovely to haunting to spectacularly gorgeous. 

These are from early in the trip. It was a challenge to get good pictures because of the rain, whether from inside or outside.  But these will give some idea of how things looked.  From inside:

That’s a glacier above.

From outside (same glacier immediately below):

The effect of islands at different distances through the misty atmosphere fascinated me and kept reminding me of Chinese and Japanese paintings.

We also saw lots of fishing boats all along the way.  ‘ nuff said.

I got to take a few pictures outside from the front of the boat . . .

. . . before they closed it off to us, which I found just annoying.  Yes, it was windy up there, and mildly exciting making your way around the side to get there, but still.  

They provided several screens that allowed us to track our progress, which was kinda cool and helped while away some time.  This one was toward the beginning of the trip.  We’re the green pentagon.

The detour around Bligh Island to Tatitlek and back (next two shots) added three hours to the trip. By the time we got to that, I was already wishing we were done already, so I was feeling a bit grumpy about it, but kept my whining to myself. And once we were back on track, the scenery just got better and better, in part because the rain eased up

The shot immediately above shows where we were when the one below was taken.  The marker shown below is where the Valdez oil tanker ran aground.  Given how far the marker was off the side of our boat, you can see how far outside the safe channel the tanker was.  The shot is zoomed in a bit.

A few shots coming up the Valdez Arm.  At this point they had us limited to the sides of the boat, and boy! was I tempted to sneak under the chain and go forward for pictures.  But I figured I’d just get in trouble, so restrained myself.

And coming into Valdez.  Took me (and others, based on conversations) awhile to figure out the lights weren’t the town but the oil operation.

It was all so gorgeous it perked me right up and I hardly knew where to point the camera, or when to stop because surely four or five pictures of essentially the same thing are enough.  

I finally figured out where the town is, and shortly afterward we docked.  I don’t know whether CJ was mainly excited to see me when I got back to the van, or excited because it meant she might get out to pee.  Maybe both.

It was still light when we got to to CG and checked in and set up and CJ taken care of, so I took a picture.

And some more today, all taken from the CG.

I had paid for an electrical site because I was worried about being cold, but that left me with only a view of big rigs looming over me, so this morning asked to be moved to a tent site with no hookups.

So now this is my view as I do this post.

Today has been mostly dealing with practicalities and doing this post.  Tomorrow I’ve signed up for a short day tour 5 hours), kayaking out to a glacier, hiking up on to the glacier, and kayaking back.  Probably won’t be all that strenuous, since they drive us out to some starting place out of town, but I’ll find out tomorrow.  For $140 you’d think they could provide lunch, but we have to bring our own, and our own water.  Anyway, today I’m resting up from my late night, and for my day tomorrow. 

A combination of disinclination and lack of opportunity has kept me from posting since Anchorage, so I’m going to compress it all into one update. 

After leaving Hope, got down to Halibut Campground at Anchor Point in good time to get a spot.  It was good that I was early, because the campground did fill up, and I loved my spot.  And the campground and its environs–it has the distinction of being the westernmost campground reachable by the continuous road system in North America.  

My spot.

And my view, or part of it.

One of the reasons I loved Halibut was eagles!  They were an unexpected bonus–I was hoping to see eagles at Haines (still am), but hadn’t even considered the possibility for earlier.  So the pleasure was all the greater.  

Saw the most on the beach, feeding.  This seems to be a popular fishing place, for humans, so I suspect they were eating fish waste thrown overboard by fishermen.  There seemed to be a small group of adults and juveniles.  I never saw a juvenile eat, but presumably they are getting something at some point.

Got lots of pictures from multiple beach visits, but shall share only a few of the best, partly because uploading is dicey and slow from here (Whittier.)  Note the eagle’s left claw below.

I started feeling sorry for the juveniles.  They sort of hung around looking on, but never getting anything.  The first time I saw them, I wasn’t even sure what they were–they look almost more like buzzards than adult eagles, and yet with that mottled coloring, not that buzzardy either.  And if anything, they looked bigger than the adults.  My unreliable memory is telling me that that’s part of the survival strategy of the species–the parents stuff them until they are bigger than they are, so that when they leave the nest and are no longer beifed, they have a chance to survive long enough to figure out how to get food.  Here’s a picture with a juvenile in it, on the left.

Thanks to a guy who had already spotted it and was clicking away, caught one eagle in a tree.  Here’s the best couple of shots, one from our way out on a walk, and a couple on the way back.

I had to position myself carefully to get that second shot, and the eagle was definitely keeping his/her eye on me as I did. It looked like s/he was hiding in the tree, but s/he could have been trying to get out of the direct sun.  

Homer was 20-30 minutes away from the campground, and I went in twice to visit Barbara and Michael.  The town didn’t impress me, but then I never really got into the town proper, only out on the spit.  Which is kinda tacky and touristy, but has (on a clear day) great views of the mountains across the way.  

As we were having dinner at the restaurant right out at the end of the spit, we saw seagulls massing on the water almost in a line outside our window.  

We couldn’t decide for sure if they were feeding on offal from fishing boats that had passed earlier, or if perhaps there was a school of fish down below.  Either way, it was cool to see.  

From Halibut, I drove north toward Seward.  Stopped for lunch at the junction between the highway to Homer and Seward Highway.  Very pretty spot.  

Best bit was seeing swans.

Stopped for the night at a smallish campground about 23 miles from town.  Didn’t much like the site I had reserved sight unseen in May, so switched to an open one I liked better.  Cost all of an extra $14.  Then took CJ for a walk along the creek for which the campground is named, Ptarmigan.  Did not make it up to Ptarmigan Lake–we turned back about 1.5 miles up upon being told by a couple of women on their way back from the lake that it was perhaps another three miles.  Here’s a couple of pictures from that walk.

I only stayed one night in Seward, partly because the weather was a bit gray, especially the second day, and so the mountains were not “out”, and partly because I hated the campground I had reserved the first night (Miller’s Landing, if anyone cares).  Got a shower there, and did laundry in town. Both of which were Good Things.  But here’s a picture or two from there anyway.

Town from near the campground beach.

Both of those were taken the first afternoon.

The one touristy thing I did in Seward was go to the Sea Life Center.  Didn’t have the motivation to educate myself much, so skipped almost all the reading, and only stayed about an hour.  For me, the coolest exhibit was the birds, and I took lots of pictures of them.  The wood duck was a particular thrill–I’ve seen pictures and videos, but this was my first live look.

Puffins were cute, and man do their feet move in the water when they want to get somewhere!

Other birds–not sure what, so won’t risk naming them.  

Had a hard time with the seal and sea lion pools–they seemed so small, with one loop to swim around and around.  They are probably rescues–as is this next guy–but even so, I couldn’t watch for long, and took no pictures.

This “little” guy was about six weeks old, and came to them at about two weeks of age.  They seemed cautiously optimistic about his chances, and may even name him soon.  I didn’t catch the entire talk about him, but he had been found alone–possibly abandoned, or possibly his mother was the victim of predation–and brought into the center to be taken care of.  He won’t be released into the wild if he grows up–he’ll be too used to people, and won’t have learned survival skills for the wild–but they’ll find “a good home” for him.  Hopefully.  Can you tell what he is?  This was the best shot I was able to get of him.

My unruly brain kept contrasting their aquarium exhibits unfavorably with the Monterey aquarium, but there were some cool things.  Some of the coolest were the smallest.  Here’s just a couple.

Barnacle feeding (above).  Something one (this one, anyway) rarely sees on the beach.  I have no idea what this next little guy was, but I thought he was pretty.

I was done with the Sea Life Center by 1:00 or so, and decided to head out of town.  Which within a few miles began to look like a good decision, given how gray it was in Seward.  This was a scenic rest stop.  

There were plenty of free spaces back at Ptarmigan, but decided to check out another Forest Service campground just a mile or two further on.  Another good decision, for sure.  Trail River.  It’s much larger, but very well done, and since it was Sunday, only lightly populated. Lots of large, level sites, well spaced out so often you need not even see your neighbors.  My spot.

Huge.  It could have accommodated two moderate RVs (or me and a couple of Westies . . . ) plus a couple of tents.  (#67 for future reference).  

The CG is on Kenai Lake.  Beautiful when I got there. . .

Beautiful when CJ and I took a walk later on . . .

(It was a bit windy–those two kids were having to work hard to get back to wherever they were going.)

Beautiful when CJ and I tried to make it down to the point you see in the background below the next day . . .

There you also see one of the picnic tables of the day use area.  That’s one of the well-done aspects of the CG, that there are several such tables down by the lake so everyone has access to it.

We didn’t make it to the point–eventually it became apparent that we couldn’t get around it, so gave up and headed back.  Tried a trail up from the shore for awhile . . .

But it became apparent that it was strictly a game trail and was unlikely to intersect with the campground (and I thought I saw old bear scat) so we went back and made our way along the shore.  Here I had stopped for a rest, and persuaded CJ to not come to me so I could get her in  the picture.  She actually figured out what I wanted her to do, and just settled down and waited while i took several pictures.  

I had decided to stay for two nights, which allowed for several walks and a lazy day.  On more than one of which we saw or heard these birds.  Ptarmigan, maybe?  

And still beautiful this morning, even though it was raining lightly. 

That’s where I’ll leave it for now.  Not a lot to tell or show about the rest of today, and this is pretty long, so will save the rest for an update in Valdez.  Tomorrow will be a long day, and I’ll be up well past my bedtime (the ferry isn’t due in to Valdez until almost 10 pm), but I’ve reserved a spot with electricity (weather forcast is chilly for Valdez) and have the whole next day to recover, so hope to update again then.

Except want to add this.  Noticed this while getting ready this morning and thought it was cool.  Tea in a tree tickles me.

Not a big day, but a beautiful drive.  I had supplies to top up, and a blog post to do, so it was a bit after 11 when I headed out of town.  The drive is beautiful!  So mostly I  have shots from the points at which I couldn’t prevent myself from stopping.  Here are several from where I stopped for lunch.

The last three are looking back toward Anchorage.  Who knew it was surrounded by snow-topped peaks?  (Hush, those of you who did.)

First on the agenda was walking CJ, who was thrilled to be out–out of the city, out of the van, and just plain out.  When we got back to the van, a group of people were admiring it, and my poem Tempted Into Beauty, and we fell into conversation.  One woman in particular was very taken with the whole setup (van, poem, CJ) and turned out to be a retired elementary teacher, so we hit it off immediately.  Her name is one I can actually remember–her first name is the same as one of my sisters, and her last is the same as my friends who are also in Alaska, on tour.  She asked if I’d be home for the eclipse, so I gave her directions to my house, but I’ll be astonished if she shows up.  Pleased, but astonished.  That’s her in the red jacket, below.

What they are all looking at is a small group of sheep on the cliff across the road.  Someone had spotted them earlier, so they all got out the equipment to have a good look.

I had a nice leisurely lunch and went on my way.  But kept stopping.  You can see why.  

I think the following were the next stop.

I remember the Alaska quake, but didn’t remember exactly when it was, and didn’t know it was the second largest recorded (by whenever that sign was posted, anyway).

The water was quite turbulent near the shore, and I kept trying to figure out why.  It was very windy, and I think it was a combination of very shallow water, strong tidal current, and strong wind blowing against the tide.  

Eventually you get past the water and turn south (?) down the peninsula.  But the beauty doesn’t quit (making Tempted Into Beauty entirely apropos).  Took these at a rest area.  

Once I got to the campground at Hope, I realized I’d probably seen it across the water earlier.  

The hillside above the campground.

My current view.

Tomorrow: Homer.  They have promised me spectacular mountain views.  Let’s hope it doesn’t rain 😀

So my friend Cathy, who used to live in Anchorage, had told me to go to “the hospital” to see the best native art/cultural display.  I didn’t fully grok it at the time, but she meant the Alaska Native Medical Center.  Where it tirns out my former student and friend Abby (Carla’s sister) now works!  Anyway, instigated by Cathy and aided by Abby, I managed to find ANMC, and get parking, and see the displays.  Which are fabulous!  

The drill is you take the elevator up to the fifth floor . . .

(The view from there.)

and walk down the stairs.  I have pictures of almost all of it, but in the interests of time and blog storage (that was indeed the issue yesterday, so I now am paying a small something for the blog and have doubled my allowed storage), I will be selective about what I show.

Each floor has a large showcase such as this.  I think it’s from the fourth floor, but I can’t be sure because the order of the pictures gets scrambled when I transmit them to the iPad.

It’s worth taking the time to focus on individual items in these.  Examples:

Each large case seems to have a theme.  Such as baskets.

Each flight of stairs has small display cases such as these.  (All displays have the artists identified next to them, and I took pictures of those too, but because of scrambling of the order of pictures thing, I’m not including that information here.

When I was almost all the way down, I noticed this on the wall straight ahead, above head height.  I suspect that means there were others I missed on the way down, but didn’t go back to look.

Here are just a few more pictures.  

All that is but a small fraction of what there is to see.  Since I’ve spent time and money in gift shops over the past week or so, the monetary value of it all has to be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions.  Just consider the baskets alone–one itty bitty basket will cost around $200 in a shop.  About the same for a small ivory item, or one of the small human figures.  

Anyway, I’m really glad I overcame my aversion to dealing with traffic and parking in unfamiliar places and persisted, with Abby’s help, so that I was able to see it all.

Having spent some money in the small gift shop, and seen the displays, I made my way to Abby’s house.  Where I got to see this.

And this, her baby.

All moose close-ups were taken from the safety of the house.  

Abby says she thinks this is her first calf, and that she was 2-3 days old yesterday.  

Abby took me out for supper last night, and I got to meet both daughters and her son and his partner.  The younger daughter helped us get pictures together this morning; here’s the one Abby gave me permission to post.

She has a lovely dog Radar, and these.

I called them quietly to get their attention, which got CJ’s attention, who barked–which got their attention 🙂

And now–off to the Kenai!  After a few errands.

The drive south from Denali became increasingly rainy, so there’s not much to say about that.  Except that my friends Barbara and Michael and I managed to meet up for lunch, only our second face-to-face on the trip, though we’re on nearly the same route and similar schedule, so that was nice.  Having finally figured out I would be looking for camping on a Saturday because I had no reservation (the place I was aiming for didn’t do reservations online, and the phone number for it in Allstays was defunct), I worried a bit, but forged on, and as it turned out, I needn’t have worried.  It was pouring rain by the time I got there and there were plenty of spaces–which may have been related facts 🙂.

By morning, the rain had passed and it was beautiful.  I headed for the musk ox farm in Palmer–the only one in the state, they said.  LARS in Fairbanks has musk ox, and raises them, but for research purposes, not for farming, so I guess that’s the justification for the claim.  

Anyway, the tour was more interesting than I had anticipated, not that I remember all of it or want to re-tell it here.  But here are some more pictures of musk oxen (a tidbit from the tour: both parts of that name are apparently misnomers.)  I’m getting used to how small they are–I imagined them as much larger, which I guess is common.

In addition to some biological tidbits (e.g., they are more closely related to goats than bison, in spite of appearances) and some history (e.g., having become extinct in Alaska from hunting, the current population in the state are descended from 32 individuals imported from Greenland.), our cute young tour guide also told stories about individual musk ox as we walked by them.  For example, she told us how this one (Maggie?  I forget) broke her horn off, and pointed out how it’s growing back–apparently the horns grow continuously. 

She also told us some information about the farming operation and process of domestication. I fear I asked the most questions, several of which she couldn’t answer (for instance, in their breeding program, are they concerned that selecting for temperament, as they do, may also affect their physical characteristics?  She’d never heard of the relevant research on foxes, and didn’t know the answer to the question.)  But she was very cute and charming, so cute I bought an apron in large part because of how good it looked on her 😀.

And the information she did give us was interesting and well-presented.  

Having gotten over my sticker shock about the price of qiviut in the days since Carla took me around LARS, I was determined to buy something made of it, and succeeded.  

They said the name of the garment several times, but I never saw it written so I’ve forgotten it, of course.  Basically, it’s a neck scarf.  I did ask what makes it so expensive, and the sales girl (young woman) said it takes specialized equipment to take it from fiber to yarn.  They ship it to the lower 48 for that.  Each animal produces 2-3 pounds of it per year.  It’s extremely lightweight, so that’s a fair amount in volume, but still.  Each item is hand-knit, and apparently it’s somewhat challenging to work with.  But listening on the tour, I suspect the biggest reason it’s so expensive is because the entire operation is funded by qiviut sales plus some donations.  They don’t sell their animals, and don’t slaughter them for meat.  Qiviut is it.  So I feel a little better about spending the money–I can think of it in part as a charitable donation.

From Palmer, I drove south a short way to Eagle River, where I had reservations for two nights in a state park.  It’s relatively empty, which always makes a campground nicer, but it’s a very nice campground and I’m very happy that last April or whenever, I was smart enough to decide to stay here rather than at a campground (RV ghetto) in Anchorage.  

That’s the vault toilet there, but I liked the picture anyway so decided to post it 🙂.

Then I headed in to town for lunch and a visit to the Alalska Native Heritage Center.  The entry.

Looked around the gift shop a bit, but didn’t get much.  Almost walked out while standing in line to pay because the young man at the till was taking FOREVER with a family ahead of me, but managed to hang in there.  Didn’t spend a lot of time in the exhibits inside, but did walk around outside and took some pictures there.  There are about four exhibits of traditional housing, with a few artifacts inside.  Each had a person there to talk about the exhibit, most of whom were helpful and forthcoming.  

The following represent respect for self, family, the environment, and culture, but don’t ask me which was which–I lost track.

Uh-oh.  I seem to be out of room for more pictures.  It won’t let me upload more.  It may be time for me to start paying WordPress so I can get more space.  I will have to investigate.  But for now–I’ll just stop, because it’s time to get moving.  May add more of ANHC later, we’ll see.

I have pared down my pictures from the first day (bus ride from Teklanika campground out to the end of the road) from about 170 to 90, and that doesn’t even count any from day 2, which was awesome in its own way.  That together with not enough time to seriously post, has me blocked.  So in the interest of breaking through the block and being able to continue blogging the trip–here are a mere handful of pictures from Denali.  

A few mountains.  None of Denali totally out, but equally beautiful in their own way.

That is, I think but can’t be sure, Denali peeking (peaking-heh heh, can’t resist, many of my students didn’t know the difference) through the clouds, with Wonder Lake below.  

Some animals.  We didn’t see a lot–my personal theory as to why was because it was unusually sunny and warm for Denali–but we did see a few.

An owl.  My first thought was, what is an owl doing out in broad daylight, and then I realized that it doesn’t really have much choice at this time of year.

A handful of caribou.  This one was in the road, a strategy they use to try to escape the flies and mosquitoes, poor things.  It was about a quarter of a mile before it let us by.

This was the most magnificent one, except we didn’t really get to see it.

For a few exciting moments we thought it was going to get up, but . . . 

. . that was as far as he went.

And another trying to escape the bugs, this one following a river down below the road.

A bear.  We got a pretty good look at this one, so I have several pictures.

A trio of bears–a mama and her two cubs from last year.  They were further away, so,the pictures aren’t as clear.  The white bits that look like they could be rocks are the bears 😄.

A Dall sheep.  We saw it toward the end of the day–I’d given up on them, but since apparently we have them to thank for the park’s creation, I’m glad I got to see it.

And finally, a moose.  I saw this on day two, not on the bus ride, but he (she?) should be included with the animals.

That’s zoomed in, for those of you concerned about my sense and safety.

A couple more pictures from the bus day.  The driver encouraged us to go in to the visitor’s center to see the quilt, and it is indeed marvelous.  

I thought it was beautiful how she used stitching as well as color and pictures to achieve her effects. 

Proof that I went all the way to the end of the road.

The bus driver made sure we all got our picture taken by the sign.

The second day, which had been predicted to be rainy, was instead beautiful, so I got the bike down, and took three rides, one with CJ in the morning, a longer one by myself in the afternoon, and another with CJ in the evening.  That’s when we saw the moose.  I had been debating with myself as to how much further to go, and was CJ up for more, but it’s so beautiful out, etc., when I spotted it about 100 yards down the road.  After taking its picture, I did the sensible thing and turned around to go back.

Here are a few more pictures from day two, which in many ways I enjoyed more than day  one.  It was lovely to be out in the beauty and the quiet by myself, and to be able to stop and gaze whenever I wanted to.  As you can tell, I fell in love with the landscapes with the little spiky trees scattered across the green valleys.

I now have two major wishes for another trip to the north country: to drift the Yukon river from Dawson City to Eagle, Alaska, and to ride my bike from Teklanika campground to the visitor’s center and get the bus back.  You can do that with a regular bike, but I don’t know if they’ll take an ebike on the busses.

Some flowers.  Anyone who wants to ID them for me, have at it.  One of them is fireweed, my friend Barbara, who is also in Alaska on a tour, tells me.  Or maybe all three tall spiky ones?  But what the white stuff in the first picture is, I have no idea.

And finally, as I was stowing things for leaving, this little guy came and nibbled on something in the fire pit.  Not anything I left, I assure you.  Probably a snowshoe rabbit.  Or hare?  Though it looks more like a rabbit to me.

As I was driving south yesterday, I got one last shot at Denali.

So–imagine what a post that did the park full justice would be like.  Still have lots more pictures, but maybe it’s just as well I had to be more selective.