S: Alaska Land Tour 2009
FC: Alaska Land Tour | Sept 2009
1: For our land tour, we were the first group off the boat - at 6:15 am. Guess that means no breakfast for us. | Once off the ship, we were assigned our bus for the trip to Denali. As we left the port, we were taking in the sights and our bus broke down! Thankfully another bus was available, so we were quickly on our way again.
2: We enjoyed looking at the mountains in the distance as the bus made it’s way to Anchorage.
3: Since we lost time with the bus change, we didn’t have much time in Anchorage. First up - lunch. Then we walked around a bit. The bus was back to pick us up in no time.
4: We past over many stream that were created by the glacier melt. | Hey - we're closer to home than we thought - Houston. | Our tour guide told us to start looking for Mt. McKinley. The day was real clear, so we were hoping to get a good look at the mountain. | We stopped in Houston for the 'best ice cream'. We got moose tracks.
5: We were treated to the full view. Most visitors do not see the top of Mt. McKinley. Depending on who you ask, it can by only 5%, 10% or 20% actually see the top. We are now part of the club!
6: The tour guide assured us he had the perfect lookout to take pictures of the mountain.
7: Cruise friends, Loren and Tammy James
8: At one point, we could see the pipeline beside the highway. To the right, the only igloo in Alaska. Built as a hotel, it never opened. It didn't meet the fire code
9: We finally made it to Denali and checked into the hotel. After a quick look around, we prepared for our excursion called Husky Homestead Tour.
11: Husky Homestead is owned by Jeff King - 4 time Iditarod winner. We meet his daughter and his dogs. | Jeff King was on a hunting trip - moose season just opened.
13: They demonstrated how they exercise the dogs and explained how they survive the harsh Alaskan weather. Each adult dog has a small area to call their own. They still manage to play - sometimes a little rough with their neighbor.
14: We all went inside to hear how about the Iditarod - how they prepare to race. During the race, it’s all about the dogs. It’s the dogs that need the rest - after all, you just ride. When they stop - it’s time to prepare the straw bed and their food/water. You would only get an hour or two of rest before continuing on. | I was real impressed with how well she spoke to us. She was entertaining and full of knowledge. Someone came in with all the clothes that is worn on the race. After a couple of minutes, she laughed and said she had no idea who was in the gear.
15: We got up early to eat breakfast at the hotel'restaurant - only choice. | Afterwards, we walked by the river that was behind the hotel. Signs of bear activity were posted around the hotel. | We kept that in mind as we walked by the water's edge. All we saw were the tracks. | We made our way back to the front to wait for the bus. Denali National Park tour is next.
16: The morning was beautiful! Lots of flowers were in bloom on the property. I noticed some rafts by the river's edge right before the bus arrived.
17: Our tour group met at 7:30 for the Denali Natural History tour. The trees have already begun their fall display. Bottom right is a picture of witches broom that grows in diseased trees.
18: The area was ablaze in color. This is considered the tundra | Trees are extremely short since it's growing on rocks with little dirt. The guide spotted some goats on the mountain. That the white dots. | To our surprise, we could still see Mt. McKinley.
19: Savage cabin in Denali National Park | The owl greeted us as we got close to the cabin. It seemed to pose for us till someone walked under the tree.
25: After the tour of Denali, we caught the train to Fairbanks.
28: Coal plant. They use strip mining - see black in picture on right -that's coal.
29: The train ride was relaxing, but we were ready to check into our room. We had a short time to check out the property before the moon came up.
30: El Dorado Gold Mine | Short train ride took us through a short permafrost tunnel to explain about the kinds of minerals and rock formations needed for gold recovery. It's common to find animal bones while digging for gold.
31: After we left the tunnel, we passed a few small operations similar to those that dotted the landscape 100 years ago. They demonstrated how each miner would have found the gold.
32: Now it’s time for them to show us how they do it today. Dirt for the area is slowly added to the hopper with water rushing through. The gold is heavy and the first section of the “stream” will tell if the dirt is profitable.
33: They lifted the section out and divided it among the workers. He explained how to pan for the gold. Dip, shake, remove large pebbles, shake, shake, dip, slate the pan and use the wave motion to remove the rest of the pebbles. The heavy gold will stay on the bottom.
34: Now it’s our turn to pan for gold. | They gave us a bag of dirt, pan and water to try our hand at finding the gold. It’s hard work! Wayne and I ended up with a few flakes each and one small nugget. Once weighed we had $21 worth of gold. Loren and Tammy did really well with $30 worth. It was a lot of fun.
35: The pipeline has a visitor's center close to the highway. We stopped for a short time to check it out.
39: The Immaculate Conception Church, established 1904, was originally across the Chena River some four hundred feet upstream. A hospital was built on the north side of the Chena and some distance from the church. This caused some difficulties to the priests attending the sick at the hospital. It was decided to move the church from its old place to its present location close to the hospital. In 1910, Father Monroe waited for winter and moved the church across the frozen river.
40: Riverboat Discovery Tour | Watched a plane land and take off from the river.
41: Home of the late Susan Butcher - winner of the Iditarod. Her husband still trains for the Iditarod and the Yukon Gold race. They demonstrated some of the training techniques. When the dog team completed their run, they ran straight into the river to cool off.
42: Reindeer at the Chena Village
43: Athabascan Indian Village on the Chena river. Demonstrated how to prepare smoked salmon. The fish wheel would turn in the tide and trap the salmon making it easy for the Indians to catch them.
44: We toured a trapper's cabin, the Trading Post, Chief Silas cabin
48: Fire weed
50: The original Discovery boat. | You might be a redneck if...
51: Arctic Circle Tour | Mountain below shows ski trails, but no lifts. | Pump station #7
52: Sky view of pipeline | Stevens Village across the Yukon River. The only way to reach the village is by small plane. The airstrip is pictured as well.
53: We just passed the Arctic Circle
54: Small dots are caribou running on the mountain
55: Coldfoot | We landed in Coldfoot and made our way to Wiseman to talk with long time resident Jack Reakoff
56: Wiseman has less than 15 full time residents. Our tour of 12 doubled the population. Jack Reakoff took us around to tell us about his town and how they survive. Jack’s mom, June is the elder of the community over 80 years old. Jack hunts for meat, cuts wood for heat and traps in the winter to sell furs.
57: Jack was very interesting and shared with us how he calls the moose to hunt, how he uses solar energy and even talked of the hot water heater for his wife's sauna.
59: Cabin Jack built for his daughter when she visits
60: Our last night in Alaska.