Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Alaska Bits --11-- Flying to Fairbanks

When you fly from Anchorage to Fairbanks


and the weather is clear


you can see



Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Alaska bits--10--What is Talkeetna?

The day after our Turnagain Arm excursion (along the Seward Highway--Alaska 2)we traveled up the Glenn Highway (Alaska 1) which parallels Knik Arm, crossing the Knik River, and traveling through Wasilla (Sarah wasn't home) on The Parks Highway (Alaska 3) to Talkeetna. In those two days of driving we had traveled three of Alaska's four main Highways. (Highway 4 crosses from Fairbanks into the Yukon Territory of Canada, the only road connection to the "Outside" or Lower 48.)

So what is Talkeetna?

Well, perhaps Talkeetna is the old sourdough artist creating and selling on the street.   

Or it is a well visited small town completely devoid of the tourist trap jewelry stores that are seen on the streets of cruise port cities.

It is the gateway to Denali, where bush pilots ferry climbers to base camps on the glaciered peak.

Where you can walk down to the river and look out at the mountain itself. or not.

It's a town with pride in its history and ready to share it in its historic walk and museums and its position as the gateway of its mountain neighbor.

Where locals have other uses for the river than watching the mountain.

And homemade ice cream
 is done with a John Deere.

And if you hear a band playing
"When the Saints Go Marching In",
 and see a parade on Labor day
 that looks more like
Mardi Gras,
and you are in Talkeetna...

...then know that it is not a Labor Day parade at all, but the funeral procession celebrating the life of a beloved local killed in a tragic accident a few days before.

That is what Talkeetna is.

It's what Alaska is.

ABC Wednesday--back from Alaska--K is for...

K is for Knik Arm

In the midst of my Alaska posts (this is bit 9) here is Knik Arm, another branch of the Cook Inlet, which stretches north and east of Anchorage. I remember reading somewhere that Knik also has a bore tide, but it must not be as significant as that in the Turnagain or I would be able to find it again somewhere. This view looks east along the Knik Arm at the downtowm area of Alaska's largest city, Anchorage.

Looking across Knik Arm you can see forever. Well, not forever, but on a clear day you can see Denali, North America's highest peak at 20,320 feet. Denali is the native name for the mountain, which you may know as Mt. McKinley.

They say that only 30% of visitors to Denali get to see the mountain. That gives you an idea of the weather. We saw it from the air flying into Anchorage. We saw it from Anchorage. We saw it from the air flying to Fairbansk. We saw it from the train from Fairbanks.

When we stayed two and a half days at Denali--we never saw the mountain.

What did you find for the letter K? If I had continued with my Mt. Rainier wildflowers I would have posted "kinnikinnik". I think I would have cheked the spelling. I might also have included "Krummholz". No, I am not nuts, and in today's ABCs I have seen a post that used both of those. My guess, however, is that this will be the only Knik Ar, in the ABC--Ks. Visit other ABC seekers by clicking the links at the ABC blogsite.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Alaska Bits -- 8 --Not Bored by the Tide.

You saw a bit of Turagain Arm in the Alaska Bits 3 post. In those photos taken early in the day and the sunset one much later, the tide was high. Between those shots we arrived carefully at Bird Point to take another look, a look out into the arm at low tide. You can see how low it looks here.

We had come to wait for the Bore Tide. Well, some of us waited while others of us watched. We watched for this strange phenomenon which occurs only in a few places in the world and two of them right here  in the Anchorage area.

Here we were, looking out into the mud flats that was the Turnagain in low tide, watching water birds walk across the sticky mud made up of glacial silt that could hold a person fast in place while the tide might rise as much as seven feet in an hour and overpower him. Going out walking in the mud is not a good idea.

And we waited while the tide turned and when it turns you can see it coming. If you are there on the day of the widest range of tides in the new moon, the bore tide can be a wall of water six to seven or even more feet high moving ahead of the incoming sea. Our bore tide looked only about a foot high, but it was pretty amazing at that.

You might think it looks a bit like the waves of the ocean lapping on the shore, and it does. But it just keeps coming straight up the valley as a wall--and remember we were viewing one of the smallest of the bore tides. Can you even imagine a wall of water six feet high? Makes me think tsunami. And it marches rapidly up the valley -- about a dozen miles an hour.

And the roiling waters follow it.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Monday's Odd Shot--my first odd shot from this Alaska trip

It seems like a good idea, nice and orderly, so why is it an odd shot?
Remember there are various definitions of Odd Shots, and some shots have been odder than others over the last year and a half. An Odd Shot can be odd because of the angle that the photo is taken, or it might recall an odd circumstance or unusual contradiction. It might be a shot of something that is really, well, odd. Click the camera in the sidebar for all the details about the meme.

In this case it is the obvious lack of need for customers to form a single line -- or any sort of line at all at the car rental desks at Anchorage International Airport that gave me a chuckle.

I've been asked about Mr. Linky or Mr. McLinky. Personally, I am not fond of them, but I will bring one back for Odd Shots except if I am away from my computer for an extended periods such as my recent trip to Alaska. They are great gadgets, but sometimes problematical, and I don't want everything to go south when I'm not around to fix it.

Alaska Bits -- 7 (I think) -- a bit for Weekend Reflections

One bit from flying in on our approach to Anchorage along the Alaska coast.

I've discovered that James from Newtown PA has started a Weekend Reflections meme and from initial participation it looks like there are quite a few who are ready to participate. It will be a few weekends before I am finished with my Alaska pictures, and there are enough reflections that the weekends will be all Alaska till then. As it happens, I did a fun reflection on 365nothemesnomemes yesterday, so stop by to visit that one, too--though since it is my no memes blog it is not officially participating.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Sunday's Psalm--29th Sunday of Ordinary Time

The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart.

The law of the LORD is perfect,
refreshing the soul;

the decree of the LORD is trustworthy,
giving wisdom to the simple.

The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart.

The fear of the LORD is pure,
enduring forever;

the ordinances of the LORD are true,
all of them just.

The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart.

Though your servant is careful of them,
very diligent in keeping them,

Yet who can detect failings?
Cleanse me from my unknown faults!

The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart.

From wanton sin especially, restrain your servant;
let it not rule over me.

Then shall I be blameless and innocent
of serious sin.

The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart.

Psalm 19: 8, 10, 12-13, 14
All photos taken on our Alaska trip.

Bits of Alaska -- 6 -- More critters from The AWCC

You've already seen this bear a few posts back. The day we were at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center he seemed rather bored with it all. His life had not always been so calm. Take a look at the circumstances of the adoption of the three brown bears at the center.

If you click these forms they should enlarge so you can read them.

Living with wildlife is a fact of life in Alaska. You have to know how to cope with bears and moose, even in the cities. Of course, remember that Alaska's cities aren't quite what you find in other metropolitan centers. Alaskans live close to the elements even in "urban" areas. The circumstances of the bears' adoptions at the center are sad facts of life.
This bear was having a bit more fun that day with a nice swim and somethig to chew on. We never did figure out what the something was, but he was definitely working it over.

Some other critter portraits from the Center.


The porcupine was a bit anti-social. Does he bring the "tribble" to mind here?
Musk Ox

A pair of young black bears.

Hey, Daryl. They wait impatiently in small Alaska towns, too. (Alaska bits 5)

Just so you know.

Waiting pups in Talkeetna, Alaska.

Daryl posts dogs waiting impatiently in New York City regularly. Dogs are dogs everywhere.

Friday, September 25, 2009

A bit of Alaska -- 4 --Mooooooooooooooose

Now this fella has a pretty nice rack on his head. Know how much those things weigh? A lot! We visited him at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center near Girdwood. It is a wildlife rescue center, and the animals there have been ill or injured, given proper care, but for one reason or another are unable to return to the wild.

This fella, on the other hand, was a bit scruffy of antler, having quite a bit of velvet still hanging in bits and snatches. He was quite congenial to watch through the fence, and the fence wires were wide enough that I could stick the camera through to get a view without crossed wires impeding it.

You do gotta be careful, though!

...and keep an eye on what is happening on the other side of the fence. rather than watching the  tourists...                                                                                              

...or noticing that you have just missed feeding time in the nursery. Is that a mooooooooostache?

Look at Junior's little chin tuft!

Though I haven't myself seen one there, it is not uncommon to see a moose wandering in the streets of downtown Anchorage. They are big! The largest member of the deer family. This is just to separate the pictures above from the one below. "Stand here and smile, Honey." (He had no idea what I was up to.)