Saturday, June 14, 2008

Good stuff to see in Alaska Blog # 10

    "Welcome to the University of Alaska Museum of the North." So say the words across the top of the fancy brochure of this facility located in Fairbanks as part of the campus there.  We spent several hours there among the nearly 1.5 million artifacts and specimens. Objects of all sorts representing Alaska and it's native population from historic times up to the present. Hand made clothing and works of fine art are on display to draw your interest. You can have your photo taken with "Otto", an 8' 9" brown bear who appears to be the chief greeter. (stuffed, of course).

   Displays include birds and their migratory routes, a hugh gold display, a major layout on the building of the Alaska highway in the 40's, marine mammals of the western Arctic and the World War II Aleut evacuation. That of course, is a fabulously interesting story of it's own. There is much, much more.

    Upstairs is a room called, "The place where you go to listen." We listened for a few minutes and decided if too much time was spent in that place it would be perfect preparation for entrance into the "Funny Farm."  Had lunch in the nice little cafe and spent too much time and money in the book store and gift shop. Those folks know how we tourists are. They are nice, smiling, talkative people but definitely there for a purpose.  The whole building is architecturally wild and a delight to see. A very enjoyable day.

   On Thursday we drove on south of Fairbanks for 2 or 3 hours through some awesome and lovely countryside and are now parked a few miles north of Denali NP at the Denali RV campground. When we got here we went on down to the Wilderness Access Center and picked up our tickets for Friday's excursion. Went to see the Kennel and the Huskies while there. Sweet Lynda got to pet and talk to those beautiful animals a bit. Jen, the ranger, did an outstanding presentation for the group. Had a bite to eat in the park and stopped for ice cream on the way back.

      Got up early yesterday (Friday) morning. Things to do, places to go. Food and water has to go with us. The bus left at 8:15,  for a 12 hour, 184 mile round trip all the way back to Kantishna at the other end of the park. There were other "idiots" who made this long , bone-wrenching venture with us. We're talking school bus and third rate dirt roads here. Was it worth it?  YES! YES! YES! 

   Mike handled the bus very well with brief rest stops every hour or so. The country soon opens up to enormous proportions. It's impossible to wrap your arms and soul around the vast size and measure of it all. We were overwhelmed as we literally rubbed shoulders with the Polychrome rock mountains and quietly observed as the myriad peaks of the Alaska Range, still robed in their winter vestments, watched over and guarded us as we crept along the precarious park road. 

   The game of "stop" was played throughout the day. We were not just out for a leisurely drive over this "drop-off-the-edge" highway. We wanted to see the inhabitants of this marvelous masterpiece of creation. And see them we did. Golden eagles, several foxes, Alaska ground squirrels everywhere, caribou, beaver, a pair of young owls, and flocks of Dall sheep high on the mountains. We saw eight grizzlies, two of them right next to the road. Several buses were stopped for a look but these monsters paid no attention. They were male and female. It's the beginning of the mating season. At this point they are just courting. They were just a few feet away and such a delight to watch. Worth the trip.

   Unbeknown to the bus riders, the driver's wife, Jen, (a different Jen) was onboard with us along with her mother Joanne and Bill Dunlea, her fiance'. Again, without anyones knowledge until we arrived there, a wedding was planned for our stop at Wonder Lake. Jen, the daughter, performed the ceremony. Half way through the vows a huge mama moose and her calf strolled out of the woods and into the lake behind the couple. A moment of wonder at Wonder Lake. Nature's blessing upon the event, if you will. The animals swam on out into the lake and the ceremony was was joyously wrapped up. They needed a second witness for the license so guess who stepped in? Yep, that's right. My name is now a footnote in the history and happenings of Denali. Is that exciting or what?

    This is truly God's country. There are by the way, park trips of various lengths. Nick and Miss Terry, I hope you have a chance to make this happen.
   I made a mistake in the last blog when I called IT by the wrong name. It's the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. After that last last blog, we got to talking a little more about outhouses. Sweet Lynda strongly suggests that we erect a nice two-holer in the backyard at home in Danville. No doubt the neighbors would appreciate it. At least the one in Joy, AK had regular toilet paper. As I recall, it seems like when I was a kid we used the 'thin' pages from an out-dated "Monkey Ward" catalog.  I could be wrong though.

   I appreciate AR's response to the blog from southern, CA. A nice touch.

   A guy told me the other day that he may be getting older, but he refuses to grow up. I kind of like his philosophy.    Well, this is the land of the Midnight Sun. When a nature break is need at 2am, it's still light out. Tomorrow we are headed Anchorage direction.

   To our kids and grandkids, we love you all. To our Ohio camping group, wish we could have been with you. Miss you too.

Blessings to all.....on the road with Winston & Lynda


Kristin said...

Hi Grandpa and Grandma!

The baby is now halfway done-- 20 weeks! We are so excited. He's been kicking an awful lot. :)

I am back from ky/oh and daniel is back from peru. He had a great time.

We love and miss you! xoxo

Teresa said...

Nice stories you're making for your lives, Dad and Mom. I so enjoy reading them! If you want to post any pictures, HINT HINT, just Skype me sometime you're ready and I'll try to help you that way. Cool about the wedding, by the way.

We had a wonderful time bonding with your newest grand daughter, please read the email I sent to you for more details

We love you.