We set off for the coast around 8:30 pm. We drove for a few hours, soaking up the scenery and one another's company. We spotted 5 moose (our made up plural is moosen, meaning many moose) and 1 "caboose", which is really a caribou, but "caboose" rhymes better:)
Beautiful AK mountains at 11:00 p.m.
Eventually we got tired, so we set up camp at the east fork of the Chalitna river around 12:30 a.m.! It's tricky if you don't consistently check the clock during twilight and night hours; you never know when it's time for bed because it doesn't get dark.
Slept in a bit and woke up to rain. Took down camp after a little breakfast in the tent. It was still raining so we moved quickly, using the stuffing method. We had to dry everything in our apt. when we got back. You could hardly walk around with all the camping gear sprawled out.
|The rushing river was just behind our camp site. It helped sing us to sleep.|
|There are wildflowers everywhere you look and once those flowers die, a new variety will pop up in the same exact spot. The landscape is never the same two weeks in a row.|
|If you stare closely right above the tree line you will see a faint shadow of mountains that look like clouds. Here, mountains are on top of mountains. |
Travis and I explored Talkeetna on our way down to Anchorage. It is a resort town for those that brave Mount Mckinley aka Denali (the high one). We explored the rangers station where all Denali climbers must check in before climbing. The rangers give them a two hour briefing and look over all the climber's gear and food to insure safety. Climbers must submit an application before climbing the mountain. On the application they must list their climbing experience in detail,describing the mountain ranges and summits they have climbed. Of course the rangers cannot stop anyone from climbing the mountain, but they strongly encourage climbers to wait; if the climbers are lacking experience the rangers suggest other mountains to conquer before attempting Denali.
Denali climbing season begins in April and ends in July because the sun's reflection off the snow is too powerful. In the middle of the summer climber's can experience severe blizzards for weeks at a time and winds reaching 100 mph. It takes most people 21 days to scale the mountain, which is 20,320 feet. The climb back down on takes about 5 of those 21 days. The climb up takes so long because the climbers must take a few days to acclimate their bodies every so many thousand feet. The rangers said there are 3 things required to survive the mountain: respect, perseverance, and luck.
I don't think we will be climbing Denali anytime soon, but my respect for those that attempt it grew a lot during the ranger's lecture. To think, I have cousins that will climb Denali someday! Power to them. I believe they will have all three of the survival requirements on their side.
|Talkeetna has a Park City feel to it, in that all the buildings are log or older looking to keep the theme and spirit of the town.|
|New to my home decor wish list.|
|Bear mittens! Talk about toasty.|
|It was still rainy and chilly but that doesn't stop locals from enjoying their summer months. Everyone was eating outdoors.|
|So we tried fitting in with the crowd and dined outdoors as well. It was fun despite the rain!|
|Seafood Chowder in a sourdough bowl. We ate at the most amazing pub. Man Vs. Food showcased the West Rib Pub on his Alaskan feature. I want to drive back to Talkeetna right now just for the food!|
We rolled ourselves out of the west rib and back to the car because we needed to press on to Anchorage. Mostly we knew we would get distracted and need to make more adventurous stops on the way down.
Stop Numero Uno
|Driving through Wasilla and saw a taste of home. We couldn't resist the reeses blizzard. There are four DQs in the whole state. There are like 20 in UT. It was a fun detour.|
Stop Numero Dos
|This was a short hike, about a mile and half round trip. The view was amazing and helped us forget about the swarm of mosquitoes that were following us all the way up. The mosquitoes are worse here than back home hands down.|
After the detours we made it to my cousin Jake and Amy's place! Their house is amazing with a chicken coup, zip line, rope swing. fire pit, hot tub, view of Denali and other mountain ranges, and not to forget, Amy's art work. We didn't even get to play with everything. To say the least we had a blast with the Maloufs the rest of the weekend!
|Prince William Sound Whittier, AK|
|Gulls Fall. This was the first place we took the boat. All the little white dots are seagulls. I thought I was getting away from these birds moving all the way up here.|
|We felt like sailors in our head to toe rain gear.|
|Fishing for halibut. These suckers feed on herring and can get up to 300+ lbs! No luck today though.|
The Great Unveiling
|You have to pull the lines back up 500ft because the shrimp feed at the bottom of the ocean. You feel it in your whole body part way through the pulling.|
|After all of Trav's hard work we earned one shrimp. Not such good luck today, but the other pots had a bit more shrimp.|
|We used cat food for shrimp bate. The container was crawling in sea lice. ewwww.|
We didnt catch any halibut and only caught enough shrimp to snack on.....so we did! Amy pulled out her camper stove and we sautéed the shrimp in butter and had a shrimp feast right on the boat at 9 pm in the broad day light. The day was perfect and I spent it with fun people and Mr. Hall:)
We made the second to last tunnel at 10 pm, phew. If we hadn't we may have needed to stay the night in Whittier because the tunnel closes down after 11 pm. There is only one tunnel leading into the town. It must accommodate both directions of traffic and a train. While we were waiting for the tunnel home, we were trying to figure out how to unlock the doors on our rental car. There were no locks on the sides of the door. Then Rob says "did you push the button in the middle?" There in the middle of the dashboard was a button with the lock symbol. It was such a funny moment. We were tired at the end of our 12 hour fishing day. It was well worth it! Not many get to independently experience the alaskan ocean the way we did. Even with a charter we wouldn't have seen all we did and been able to beach the boat and walk around the different land masses to explore. It was truly marvelous!
Home again. We had some French toast and said our goodbyes to Jake, Amy, and the kids (Ben and Jess) around 10 am. We were getting a little later Of a start but it was hard to leave Jake and Amy's cute family.
We drove home on the eastern side of the state so we could see as much if AK as possible. Travis' back flared up again so I had to drive. It was a great test of my patience as I don't usually drive long distances and our 7 hour journey turned into 8.5 due to construction and winding roads. In Alaska there are only 4-5 main highways connecting this large state, and most of the time they are only two lanes. Technically there are 11 highways in the state, which are probably dirt roads if you ask me. None the less, the scenery was beautiful and we got to visit Palmer where my classmate Dani is from. It was as beautiful as she described.
|Lots O' Driving|
|Highway 1 to Glennallen. We saw glaciers from the road!|
|The trans-Alaska pipeline. It runs for 800 miles carrying oil from Prudhoe Bay, at the top of AK, to Valdez,the bottom coast of AK.|
We made it home ad returned the rental car in time! A great brother from our ward brought us home. I'm so grateful for my ward! We talked to both our families and went to bed early because we were both exhausted and Travis had a long week to prepare for, which began with a 6 am wake up call.
Thus the close of another adventure.