Adventure Caravans / tours by RV to Alaska and the Canadian Rockies in 2008
Adventure Caravans / tours by RV to Alaska and the Canadian Rockies in 2008
Day 32 - 33 - 34 in Anchorage, AK
Day 32 - Travel to Anchorage and first night in town.
This highlight of today's travel was trying to see Mt. McKinley. This shot by Madi Schaaf is looking at most of the mountain with a little cloud cover. This shot by Rocky McEwan, was taken from a different location and shows the top of Mt. Mckinley with another mountain of the Alaskan Range in the foreground.
As we drove over the Hurricane Gulch bridge, we could not see the bottom, so we had to stop and take a picture. It is over 260 feet deep. The next stop was the Alaska Veterans Memorial.
It is an impressive memorial set back in the woods. Each pillar was for a separate service, Army, Navy, etc. and it had the names of the Alaskan men and women who gave their lives in the line of duty.
Next came the town of Talkeetna. It was about 13 miles off the main road and a number of our members drove back to see it. Some stayed and visited the town, others took one look and turned around and left.
There were a number of gift stores in town; go figure. You could also get a covered wagon ride through the town.
Another attraction along the route is the Iditarod Trail Race Headquarters. This statue recognizes Joe Redington, Sr. Joe's interest in the old mail route know as the Iditarod Trail led to its declaration as a National Historic Trail. He was the driving force behind the creation of the first Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in 1973 and fought to keep the event alive through its most difficult years.
CUTE! The next set of sled dogs born just weeks ago. The sled dogs get their exercise in the summer pulling small carriages with passengers.
In the afternoon the RV park owners hosted a dinner where they served hot dogs and hamburgers for everyone. Then at 8:00 PM they had a local group of girls performing Irish Dancing. Three of the girls won second place in International Competition held this Summer. They were beat by an Irish Team.
After the show, the park hosted a Toilet Seat Toss contest. The idea was to throw a roll of toilet paper through the seat. You had two trys to do it. Here MacKenzie is successfully throwing her roll through the toilet seat. She was one of only three in our group to do so. Her prize was a container of Moose Poo. Ugh! Here Russ Buck tries his hand at the toss. From the picture it looks like he is going to make it, but like the majority of us, he missed the hole.
Thanks to Madi Schaaf, Rocky McEwan and Tom Wentling for contributing to today's photos.
Day 33 - Anchorage, AK
This morning at 9:00 AM we departed on a tour bus for a tour of Anchorage. Our first stop was a viewing area looking out over Cook Inlet toward downtown Anchorage. It is a beautiful view with the mountains as a backdrop.
We were dropped off at the Saturday and Sunday Market for an hour so we could browse the various sale booths. A number of us were ready for lunch and opted for the Reindeer Corn Dog. However, I was disappointed; it was huge but rather flavorless.
We then stopped at the ULU Factory where they make Ulu knives. This is an example of an Ulu knife. The native Alaskans used it for everything including filleting fish. I am told it is an excellent knife for chopping vegetables.
Dave and Sharon Wilson visited this Athabascan cemetery. It contains sprit houses that are unique to the Athabascan people. Family built of wood and in traditional colors. They represent a cultural activity as a grave stone figure. They also visited a Chugach park about 30 miles out of town. This is Thunderbird waterfall at the park.
Susan and I visited downtown Anchorage. She is enjoying one of the many trout decorated by local artists for the state's 50th Anniversary. This is the official Anchorage Visitor Center located in an original log cabin with a sod roof.
At 5:00 PM we boarded a bus to go to the Alaska Wild Berry Park. Our first order of business was to enjoy a delicious buffet dinner.
There was a representative of a local organization that saves injured birds and she had two examples of birds they had saved. Above is a Great Gray Owl named Gandorf. It was hit by a car and has one wing permanently damaged. It cannot raise it high enough to fly, so it cannot be released into the wild.
The Bald Eagle named Sparky was a real show stopper. It had flown into a power line and damaged it's right wing so badly that the outer half of the wing had to be amputated. It weighs about 10 pounds compared to the owl's 4 pounds.
They had a Reindeer petting area. Here Sue Schaaf is looking a little tentative as she pets this female Reindeer. This is Eric Rogers. He is a dog musher and has run the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race for a number of years. He had six of his dogs along with his sled and an example of the gear he uses during the race. He was a very fascinating person to talk with. You can read more about the Iditarod at iditarod.com/
Susan Shallbetter is a little overwhelmed by this Polar Bear. They have a chocolate factory here and they claim this is the largest chocolate fountain in the world. All the blocks and rocks are also made of chocolate. It was very tempting to stick a finger into the chocolate stream; but knowing other people may have done the same thing kept me from trying it.
This is an inuksuk or "Rock Man". During winter months on the featureless arctic plains, the inuksuk became an invaluable tool for survival. Similar to the street signs of modern day, the Inuit people have used the inuksuk as guides and directional markers for generations. We gathered twice in the theater. The first time was to view an extraordinary film about Alaska titled "Alaska, The Land Beyond". I was so impressed with it that I purchased the DVD.
The next time we gathered was to enjoy a show put on by "Hobo Jim". He is Alaska's official state balladeer. He told intriguing stories about Alaska and sang many of the songs he has written. It was a very enjoyable show. The fact that many people bought his CDs after the show, proved that point.
We finished the day with this beautiful rainbow over the campground. We all decided it was a good omen of things to come.
Day 34 - Anchorage, AK
The Schaafs treated us to breakfast again today. Their specialty? Omelet in a bag. No kidding! Place two eggs in a quart size Ziplock freezer bag along with meat, onions, peppers, etc. Here Sue Schaaf helps Joyce MacKay who is stranded with her husband Rob from a previous trip. They are waiting for parts to have their truck fixed. Boil for 20 minutes and presto, you have an omelet that just slides out of the bag. Mmmmmm good! Phil Schaaf looks proud of his accomplishment but Bobby Andrews is not convinced at this point.
A tour of the Alaskan Native Heritage Museum is included as part of our trip. It is situated on 26 wooded acres with a small lake in the center. When we entered the door, we heard the drums and the singing that was part of the show demonstrating various native dances.
The center presents information about the five regional native groups that inhabit Alaska: the Aleut and Alutiiq; Athabuscan; Eyak, Thingit, Haida and Tsimshian; Inupiaq and St. Lawrence Island Yup'ik; and Yup'ik and Cup'ik cultures.
We had a guide who stopped at each of the five areas to explain the culture and the houses they lived in. This is an Athabuscan pole and log cabin which is similar to the historic log cabins they later developed. The smaller room on the right was for cooking and drying meat and the larger room on the left is the living quarters. The door to the larger room was not present in their homes, they entered through the small room. (current fire code requires the door).
These are Yup'ik and Cup'ik homes. They are partially underground. The smaller homes on either side are for the women and the girls and the larger home in the center is for the men and boys over 8 years old. In the winter they had a tunnel leading to the center of the main room. The tunnel would trap the cold air and keep it from entering the main room.
View of the main building from across the lake. The is a representative home of the Aleut and Alutiiq who live on the Aleutian Islands. They only had driftwood to use for houses so they were forced to build mostly underground.
The Eyak, Thingit, Haida and Tsimshian lived along the coastline of Alaska and the area is a temperate rain forest so they had plenty of wood to use for building houses. Normally these houses would have beautiful painted decorations both inside and outside. There was a native from the particular culture in each of the homes to describe life in their village.
Anchorage has the largest seaplane base in the country. Each space is leased and has a small shed for storing supplies. There is currently a 6 year waiting list for a spot on the lake. It used to be longer, but flying is beginning to become so expensive that many people are dropping out. Owning a plane must be like owning a boat; the two happiest days in the life of an owner are the day he buys it and the day he sells it.
We thought this was a silly sign until we rounded the corner and saw all the planes parked next to the taxiway.
Susan & I and Sharon on Dave Wilson signed up for a 2 1/2 hour float plane trip to view wildlife and glaciers. Unfortunately, the clouds were to low so we went on a 1 hour wildlife and scenic tour. Sharon, Susan and Dave are preparing for the flight.
We have taken off and are turning toward the North.  
We spotted a herd of Caribou resting in an open area. This homesite was so secluded that had it's own airstrip.
We were very fortunate to view a very large pod of Baluga whales
We also saw seals and moose. We were flying at between 200 and 300 feet.
They have a tide of about 33 feet in this part of Alaska and we were flying as the tide was going out. These channels appeared to be about 10 - 20 feet deep and are covered with water at high tide. They are very dangerous at this time because it creates a quicksand kind of consistancy. Animals have been know to get stuck in it and drown when the tide comes in. This is red algae that grows in certain areas. It makes such a sharp contrast to the green mosses.
Here we are approaching the lake for a landing and just about to touch down.
Susan & Bill Shallbetter and Sharon & Dave Wilson after the flight in front of the Cessna 206 we flew in. Tomorrow we drive to Seward, so tonight Phil Schaaf conducts the driver's meeting. It had rained most of the day and the next few days do not look any better.
Days 35-37 in Seward, AK

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