Susan’s Travelogue Part VII

[This is a series of blogposts for my friend Susan. I have left all her misspellings included, since they add to the charm of the travel log. I have removed any writing of a personal nature. These writings were given in email form. I offered to post them for her for all her friends on Facebook and others who may have missed her emails because of overactive spam filters. To comment on her log, please go to her Facebook page and comment there. Susan doesn’t have access to comments here on my blog. Sorry.]

The Seventh Edition of the Great Alaska Adventure

Seventh Edition…..

July, 6th 2011

Well, the scientific test asking the question “Will a dizzy person get dizzier if she rides/bounces in a quad for 4 hours on a dirt road with large slushy muddy holes?”  The answer is….There is no evidence to show that this type of (crazy) activity will increase dizziness or decrease hearing.  Your/our prayers were heard and I am still a little dizzy/deaf, but not dizzier/deafer.

The ride in the quad with Dave driving and me as side kick was fun.  The mud was plentiful and if we had been on smaller individual quads we would have been mud from foot to at least our knees…not counting splashes to the upper torso, face and arms. The result of a single quad  ride for me might have been to have me face down in a mud hole and who knows what the dizzy/deaf results would be.  The side by side quad had a plastic windshield and a self bailing floor (THANK YOU FOR INVENTION OF SUCH THINGS).  The mud would come in around the windshield and over the side and pool on the floor which had holes for drainage.  We saw no animals; they are smart to stay away from loud unruly machines as there is hunting year round by subsistence hunters who live in Alaska 6 months or more to become residents.  The quads were not in Denali but in a section that paralleled with the park.  After about 2 hours of quading through deeply wooded (thought very short trees and bushes compared to Oregon) we stopped at a clearing and had a campfire cooked meal of hamburgers and  hot dogs  with chips and pop.  The people were from all over the world and to numerous to mention, we returned the 2 hour trip a bit wiser about the mud holes to be encountered the second time on the way back.

It was a fun day but so tiring.  We got home at 10 pm and went to bed pretty quickly before we could argue about who was most tired.  (Note that Dave is staying up later and later as the lack of darkness has him confused as to when he should get tired/go to bed).  We woke in the morning and sat around trying to recover from our active late night.  We went early to the Bus trip 66 mile trip into Denali park and used the information given by other campers to make a good decision about the cost and length of the bus trip into Denali.  We found that taking the buses driven by the park service would cost 1/4 the price and just as good as or better than the vender service at $139 each.  We reserved the time we wanted to leave.  You could get off and on the bus as the busses were on a schedule of about once every 30 minutes and  traversed the park stopping for anyone who flags them down (if the bus has room).  When I say you can get off and on when you want… here is anexample.  You see an interesting trail and ask the bus driver to stop and let you off.  You hike the trail and come back to the road to flag down the next bus that comes along.  If the bus has two seats then you can hop on.

We saw moose, caribou, ptarmigan, snowshoe hairs and several grizzly bears, one with two grizzly cubs.  The bus would stop whenever we saw an animal and we would take pictures while the guide talked about the park/Alaska history and all the animals.  The landscape was striking and the day was sunny and bright.  We were told that only a few days each month are clear enough to see all of Mt McKinney.  We were lucky on that account.  Maybe we paid our dues by enduring many mostly rainy days in the last 5 weeks of travel. 

The 8 hours bus tour was a bit long but it was great not to have to drive and to have the bus driver/guide tell stories and explain the history of the park.  He named the mountains and rivers and told stories of people for whom they were named.  Did you know that some of the rivers that are fed by the Glaciers are called “Braided Rivers” because they have small separate weaving sections that cross over each other like braids?  The mountains are so different from one another.  Some are black and some are pointed, some are like a pile of rocks that seem to be piled to a point, which show  evidence of lots of slides, others are sculpted like someone chizzeled the crags all going the same direction like wet hair on a dog.  These look like the receding glacier has scraped the mountain and left these fingers/tentacles of mountain and the water released by the ancient ice continued to etch a deaper more intrecate designs.  Other mountains have a little snow and yet others are painted by a half a dozen colores ranging from grays to browns and blacks.  Some have trees and others bushes and some have little or no green on them at all.

We were going to leave the next day but were so tired that we could only get irritated at each other over a late dinner.  I suggested staying one more night and Dave was quick to agree.  The next day was a slow day of rest and going to town one more time to send e-mails (that did not go through to most of the people on my list) and a little more shopping. (every day is a good day for shopping….I found bone buttons and small crystal thunder eggs that were cut in half and would make a pendant on a chain) Dave found a knife maker who uses various ancient bones, some from extinct animals to use on handles of large and small curved and straight well honed knives.  Dave bought two and was smiling like a kid with a new toy. The when I got back to the truck Dave secretly purchased bone etched ear rings with small moose decorations.  (What a sweet guy) I keep finding rocks, some to take to Marin a friend in Damasucs and some from the ground/camp ground for me to tumble in my rock tumbler at home to see if they will look pretty and some from the store as they are already pretty.

Now we are to camping near Wasilla.  The name comes from an Alaskan Indian Chief.  Wasilla is just before Palmer which we will go through tomorrow (then  on to pass through Anchorage) on the way to Soldotna on the Kenai Peninsula.  It should take about 3.5-4 hours of driving. Dave has a friend that lives in Soldotna and we hope to start fishing for halibut, salmon and other interesting fish with the friends help.   Wish us luck as we have a freezer in the back of the truck which plugs into electricity each night to keep our beef/pork/bacon/chicken frozen on the trip here and we hope it will freeze the fish, clams etc to transport home.

One very interesting thing that we did not think about before we left on our trip is the people we would meet from all over the world.  We have met people from Holland, Germany, Australia, Canada, New York, Minnesota, Colorado, California, Oregon, Washington, Montana, Arizona, Illinois, and the list goes on.  Tonight we heard a knock at our trailor door and two men asked where in Oregon were we from?  It turns our they were from Hermiston and know Rueben Gettman who is our neighbor and who worked with Dave for many years at Frieghtliner.  Larry owned the barbar shop and fruniture store in Hermiston and knows the Gettman’s.   

We moved from Denali to Wasilla the night of the 9th of July.  Today July the 10th, Dave and I went to the Musk ox Farm and the Reindeer Farm and took tours.  They were both interesting.  We saw the two afore mentioned animals, adults male and female and others starting as young as one month old.  We also saw a Bison (up close and personal – through the fence) which is the name of the Buffalo type of animal that is common in the North American area.  The real Buffallo’s are from Africa and Bison are only from our continent.  We saw moose and Elk as well.  I have been looking at really interesting carvings on/in antlers and horns and I purchased a reindeer antler so that I can try to carve on one.  Wish me luck and happy carving.  We got to pet and feed many of the animals that we saw today then see displays of fur, yarn, pelts, antlers and horns.  I learned the difference between an Antlers and a Horns.  Antlers grow inside a velvet/fur casing that feeds the Antler with life giving blood while the antler grows and then the “velvet” falls off.   The Antlers grows and after the season it falls off and the animal grows another one the next season.  A horn is like a bone, fed by the body/blood from the inside of the horn and is a life time growth and does not come off unless broken.

The two places we went today were ½ price thanks to our good NEW friends Ted and Janet who thought they were going home early and gave us their Entertainment Book for Alaska.  We hoped to use the ATV coupon when we were at Denali but the tour we wanted did not come with a coupon. 

Well, buy for now….we drive to Soldotna tomorrow.

Dave and Susan….from the land of nearly 24 hours of light…..everyday……all night.

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