Alaska
June, 2002


 
It been a while since our last Mystery Location Challenge.  So here's another one.  If you haven't been to the place pictured on the left, it'll be hard to figure out where this is.  But who knows -- maybe some of our web-savvy e-travelers (with nothing better to do) will be able to identify this location via the Internet.

As usual, the first person to correctly identify this location will win a small prize. We select a small gift from whatever town or area we happen to be in. 

During April and May we drove the entire loop around Alaska but everything was closed.  So now it's June and we'll do it again.  Our first stop was Denali National Park where we saw this bear.

What is interesting and different about Denali is the preservation of its wilderness.  Most National Parks have rules such as, 

STAY ON THE TRAILS
FIRES ONLY IN THE FIRE PITS
TENTS IN DESIGNATED AREAS ONLY

Denali has a different set of rules.  First of all there are no trails, no trail signs and no foot bridges across the rivers.  Here it is pure wilderness.  With a "back country permit" you can hike for days.  Here are some of the rules at Denali National Park:

No walking on anything that looks like a place where other people have walked;
Don't camp anywhere that looks like someone else has camped before;
If you make a circle of rocks for your fire, put each rock back where you found it. 

There are three "traditional-style" campgrounds for RV's and tents with a single road going through the center of the park. Except for driving into one of the established campgrounds, only the park tour buses can drive on the road.

From the bus you see a very small portion of the park.  Denali is designed for a back country wilderness experience.

If you want to hike and camp in the back country, you must obtain a permit and watch an orientation film.  We watched the film and decided that this type of camping wasn't for us.  It showed you how to cross swift rivers, (which there are many,) and how to deal with grizzlies, brown bears, and wolves.  At night you are to set up camp in a triangle.  You set your tent at one point, your food and storage area 75 yards away, and finally your meal preparation, cooking and eating area at the third point 75 yards away from the other two.

We enjoyed the bus tour and would recommend biking the road for anyone traveling to Denali.
"The lazy brown dog jumped on the cut log and very quickly fell asleep".

OK, so I couldn't fit in the letter "x."

After Denali we returned to Anchorage and visited our oldest son and his family.  We attended a Renaissance Fair in which the participants dress, talk and act in character of the period. 

I wouldn't have put these pictures in except I got a kick out of a group of pirates.  I'm not sure they fit the theme, but they did make our granddaughter, Rian, "Walk the Plank."

"Heel Plank".  "Lay down". 

"Good Plank".

Here's Rian "walking the plank."

The arrow in this picture is pointing to the small town of Hope on the Kenai Peninsula.  We stopped at the local tavern to see what we could learn about gold panning in the area.  We had a drink and met several of the locals.  As we drove off into the hills I couldn't believe it when my cell phone rang.  If we had been just two miles further we would have been out of reach.  To make a long story short, the call was related to a business matter and I had to turn around and find a fax machine. 
We returned to the tavern to find out where we could receive a fax.  The owner said that we could send it to their house and so his wife went home, (next door,) to set up their fax machine to answer the incoming call and told the bartender not to answer the phone if it rang.  The owners are a neat couple -- he's from Australia and she's from Alaska.  He said he was on a "Walkabout" in Alaska and came across the tavern for sale.  He liked the place and here he is.
We ended up camping outside of the tavern, having dinner there and enjoyed meeting more of the local residents.  We also met a couple from Texas that had just gotten married at the Renaissance Fair we had just attended in Anchorage.  (Seemed an odd place for a wedding for a young couple from Texas.)

The next morning we had to fax back some signed papers, but the tavern owners had gone to the cafe for breakfast.  The previous evening we had met the local librarian so off we went to the library to see if they had a fax.  Here's a photo of the Hope Library; (can you tell it used to be the school?)

Just as we pulled up to the library we found the librarian closing the door behind her.  It was noon and she was headed to the cafe to cook pies for tonight's dinner menu.
We told her that we were looking for a fax so she let us in, turned on the lights and showed us the machine.  We talked briefly and then she asked that we turn off the lights and lock the door when we were done.  Then she took off to go make her daily batch of pies.

We hear the pies are excellent.

After finishing the fax business, we went to look for gold but when we got to the river we found it flowing high and fast.  It was too fast for gold panning so we decided to give up our search for the Mother Lode.  

We left the very friendly community of Hope and drove south down the Kenai Peninsula to Seward.
 
 

We enjoyed a cruise to the Kenai Fjords to see a glacier.
This picture shows the scale better.  Can you see the 65 foot boat on the left?  I could have stayed all day watching the large sections of ice fall into the ocean.
We were lucky to be on the Kenai Peninsula for the opening of Salmon Season.  The season starts at midnight and is only open for three days.  This is a place called Deep Creek and is about 40 miles north of Homer. The Kenai is home to "Combat Fishing."  Maybe you've seen photos of fishermen standing elbow to elbow along the shoreline.  We didn't experience anything quite that intense, but there certainly were a lot of people lining the river trying to catch just a few salmon.

I took this picture at 11:58 PM just before casting into the river (on the right side of the photo.)  Cheryl and Max are standing toward the left, looking out over Cook Inlet at the sunset. It was lighter than this picture makes it look.  As you can see, the sun has just set.

We fished that night until 1:30 AM when it finally became too dark to see.

We were out again at 6:30 the next morning.

Mitch brought in a nice 21 pound King Salmon. It was 32 inches long. 

Deep Creek is also a popular location for halibut fishing.

 
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