Thursday, May 24, 2012


Last week we made a quick trip (350 miles, 7 hours one way) to Anchorage and Wasilla for errands and a little sight-seeing. While in Wasilla we stopped to visit the Iditerod Museum which re-inacts the history and running of the Iditerod dog sled race - the world's last great race.

The sculpture of Joe Reddington and one of his huskys memorialized the man who reintroduced the running of the 1,000 miles dog sled race from Wasilla to Nome. The race was originally run in the late 1800s to carry diphtheria serum 1000 miles from Anchorage to Nome.

Sled dogs are hitched to a wheeled sled to provide  an experience for tourists. The dogs love to run and pull. The mushers have a difficult time holding them back. In training the dogs are often hitched to a 4 wheeler in the summer.
Alaskan's have a sense of humor. This black and white volkswagon sports a back fin, side fins and a tail fluke like an orca whale.
We spend a cool, sunny spring day at the Anchorage zoo.  My favorite animal was the polar bear. Actually there were two bears sharing a glass sided habitat.
This cute, furry critter is a baby muskox. His extremely fine, soft and warm undercoat, called quivet, is shed in the summer. Natives collect the fur and spin it into fine yarn that is knitted into mufflers, scarves and caps that are so soft and light that it is said it's like trying to hold "smoke".  The items are expensive, so I'm settling for photos.
Although we saw a couple of black bears on the AlCan, they were in the distance and ran into the woods. This is as close as I want to get to one.
On our way to Anchorage we stopped at Summit Lake in a pass through the Alaska Range. Monique walked out on several inches of fresh snow on top of the frozen lake. She broke through the crust of frozen snow and sank to her knees. Fortunately the ice was still frozen.
This photo of a sign for the muskox is out of order, but I wanted you to know what that cute little baby would look like when he is grown. About the size of a  cow, the muskox are bad tempered and can be dangerous.
The two polar bears played "fighting" like our cats do. They tussled, rolled and batted at each other. The glass faced habitat allowed close up viewing.
The bears seemed to like looking at us through the glass underwater.

The bear brought a yellow ball to show us!
There were other animals that we don't see at the Houston zoo. When I return I'll share more pictures.

This week we are de-constructing the ceiling of the sactuary of First Baptist Church, Delta Junction. My next blog will have pictures.

One section of the bear habitat was underwater with glass. This bear seemed to like the people attracted to him.

Monday, May 14, 2012

AK missions; Camp Balwin

 We arrived at Camp Baldwin and began cleaning cabins, the bathhouses and all the pots, pans and utinsils in the kitchen. We were so busy that I neglected to document with photos.

The weather has been alternately cold, 30-35 degrees in the morning and 40-50 in the afternoon, windy with 40-50 mile per hour winds that blow dust everywhere, with overcast to sunny and partly cloudy skys. Just like in Texas, wait a while and the weather will change. Delta is beginning to experience fires due to the winds and dry conditions.

Sunrise now is about 4:30 AM and sunset at 11:00 PM. The 5 1/2 hours between are twilight, not dark. We are so tired at night that the lack of true night darkness doesn't interfere with sleep.
 A two hour, one-way trip, 100 miles to Fairbanks, took us to Wal-Mart, Sams, and other necessary shopping stops. On the return trip we spotted a moose near the shoulder of the road. Nick and Monique help Lynne and Dale (hidden) load the back of the van with groceries.

 We've been taking turns and working together to cook our meals.  Monique and Lynne prepare dinner, getting used to the kitchen, stoves and location of groceries.
 Nick and Dale man the grill. Moose burgers anyone?
 Everyone gets in on dishwashing. This time I had the camera and lucked out.
 Becoming true Alaskans, Nick and Monique learn to ride Levi's 4 wheeler. Couldn't get Nick off!
Then it's back to work cutting wind-felled birch trees and cutting them up for firewood.

This picture from Sam's in Fairbanks got out of sequence. The flat cart is only a small part of our weekly shopping.  We are trying to make a library trip at least once a week to send emails and blogs. Follow along!!

Monday, May 7, 2012

AK Missions, Alaska at last

 Tuesday, May 1, we crossed the Canaadian border at Sweetgrass, Montana. Traveling over 1,000 miles through Canada and then the Yukon, we finally reach Alaska on May 6. Six long days of driving through majestic scenery. The following pictures are only a few of the hundreds I've taken along the way.
 We passes several herds of Caribou, elk, bison, stone sheep, and deer. Many were shy of the vehicles and disappeared into the underbrush before photos could be made.
 Weather ranged from a cool 45-50 degrees in the sun in the afternoon, to 20 degrees at night. Mountains glitter with new snow and glaciers were apparent. Some days the sun shone through high clouds as we passed through snow showers or rain.
 At Liard Hot Springs, we stripped of jackets, sweats and hiking boots to soak in the soothing 108-126 degree mineral springs. Amazingly the warmth stayed during a rush to the changing room to pile on layers of clothing.
 The hot springs cascade down cliffs to create a jungle-like atmosphere of ferns and tropical plants and mosses. Just beyond the heat of the springs snow covers the ground.
One of our favorite stopping places is the signpost forest at Watson Lake. During the building of the AlCan highway in 1942, soldiers from the Lower 48 posted handmade signs indicating the distance from their homes. After the war when the highway was improved for tourist traffic, travelers have been adding person signs creating a "forest". As of falll, 2010, there were over 72,000 signs that could be counted.
 This pictures should have been posted earlier. This is Dawson Creek, British Columbia, mile Zero of the Alaskan Highway or AlCan. Soldiers began clearing the rugged forest of spruce, birch, willow and brush for the proposed supply road. They fought sub-zero weather, muskeg, mud, and mosquitoes for 8 months to finish the route which culminated here in Delta Junction.
 As in Yellowstone, we encountered herds of bison along the road. A new calf entertained us as he trotted along.
 Nick, Monique, Lynne and Dale post behind an inukshuk. The large stone figure is a replica of the monuments build by First Nation natives as directional devices. Smaller stone figures may be seen along the highway.
We have arrive at Camp Baldwin and now begin the task of preparing the camp for summer and will be helping reroof First Baptist Church of Delta Junction. Our trips to the library will be erratic but I will send blogs when I can.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

AK Missions, Whitehorse, Yukon

Hi all,
We've made a brief stop at the library in Whitehorse, Yukon. Been on the road  from Montana since Tuesday. Will send a longer blog with pictures as soon as we reach AK and are able to get wi-fi connections.
Stay tuned!