Since today was a rainy day, Don took advantage of the on-site laundry early this morning to wash our spare sheets (I bought an extra set recently) and other things in the hamper. We don’t have a sewer connection in this RV park, so we can’t us our on-board washer/dryer, and we didn’t want to let too many dirty clothes pile up. Plus, he ran out of clean socks!
Mary Olson called a few minutes before noon to see if we wanted to join them and others at Latitude 62 restaurant for lunch. We had enjoyed our dinner there last night, and planned to eat there again tonight but said “Okay.” I wanted to try their seafood chowder (really good!), and it’s always fun to be with the group. Eight of us took over a small room and had Josh as our waiter. Dennis and Josh have formed some kind of ‘joker’s bond’ and are fun to watch sparring with each other. Josh lives in Alaska and knows lots of history, enjoys the outdoors and was planning an overnight trip to a remote cabin after he finished work today. It was good food and good fun.
At happy hour, we had to get serious about choosing activities and days, to call for reservations for the next couple of weeks.
Several of us took responsibility for finding out details and making arrangements for a river raft trip through the rapids (Pat & Jim), an ATV excursion (Marilyn & Larry), drive-your-own Jeep 4-wheeling (me), a covered wagon ride and dinner (Mary & Gary), and a cabin dinner theater (Pat). Everyone was able to complete their assignment except me – the reservation office for Jeep tours is only open 7 am – 4 pm M-F, so it was closed today and probably will be closed this Monday due to the holiday. We’ll try again on Tuesday. We should have lots of adventures to report in future blogs!
Later, Pat & Jim joined us at Latitude 62 for the Saturday night special prime rib dinner. Only $20 for a big, thick cut of really good meat, done to our satisfaction (Don & I like it rare, Pat & Jim medium rare), accompanied by a huge baked potato, good vegetables and a nice salad. We’ve gotten used to paying a lot more for eating out in Alaska, so this was a bargain and really delicious!
As promised, here are some more pictures from our Three Rivers Tour yesterday. We’ve had a few experiences with this wild animal.
The trip was on the Talkeetna, Chulitna, and Susitna Rivers. As we moved from one river to another, we could see a marked difference in the color of the water and even the amount of current. It was difficult to capture by camera.
An eagle chick was barely visible in the nest next to the mom leaning left. I couldn’t get a really clear picture of both.
We stopped at one point to take a nature hike, where Arris warned us about dangerous and/or poisonous plants in the area.
We visited a Dena'ina Indian Encampment. Arris described how they cleaned their fish, then dried them on racks near a smoldering fire. The smoke kept mosquitoes away from the fish.
Below is a fish cooling/storage pit. After the fish were cleaned and dried, they were placed on the branches in the pit, where air was cooler than at the surface above. More branches were layered, with more fish, then big logs were placed on top to discourage bears from stealing the contents. The branches allowed cool air to circulate.
Examples of lean-to’s, firepits and pelts from animals indigenous to the region. Posts on the roof of the lean-to were burned to the right length, since there were no saws to cut them.
A unique beaver trap, made of a heavy log kept straight by two birch branches and supported by a small birch branch that would be easily moved by the unsuspecting beaver.
A cache with the ladder in place – it would be kept elsewhere when not in use to prevent animals from getting to the stored food.
Below is a trapper’s cabin similar to the one used by the owner of the boat tour company, Steve Mahay. He and his wife homesteaded across the river from this site for 5 years, raised enough money to start a fishing charter business, then started the boat tours. When Steve’s wife became pregnant, she insisted they move into a regular house! All of the furnishings and equipment here were used by Steve and his wife. Steve personally greeted us at the beginning of our tour. Note the sod roof, to help weatherproof and insulate the interior. And the door opens outward to discourage bears from trying to push their way in.
Can you imagine living here for 5 years?
The home of a bank beaver, built on the bank of a river too wide to build a dam. The beaver swam by but he was too fast to capture.
This is a typical salmon-spawning creek. Imagine the tenacity of fish that are spawned here, swim out through rivers and lakes to Cook Inlet and the Gulf of Alaska hundreds of miles south, then miraculously find their way back here to do their own spawning the following year!
Our captain took us up the Chulitna River for the last leg of our trip. Here, he carefully moved the boat up to the bank to allow 25 of the passengers to disembark for the Princess McKinley Lodge where they would stay one night then return to their cruise ship the next day. Most of them were in Alaska for only 7-10 days. I’m so glad we have lots more days to explore this beautiful land! And we get to sleep in the same bed every night, with all our familiar and comfortable surroundings.
The remainder of us spread out for our trip back to the original dock.
Eli was able to move the boat much faster with fewer passengers and going downstream. He enjoyed it – we did, too! He even gave people on the local beach a spray with a sharp left turn in front them. This is looking out the front of the boat.
Seconds later, the beach is on our right.
Claudette and Jean enjoyed the ride!
And so did Don! Whee! Whee-eeee!
Our final river view was of a successful fishing trip. That’s one big salmon!
Back on land, we saw some kids playing in the mud. What fun!
On a sad note, we learned today that the climber who was missing on Mt. McKinley was found dead yesterday and his body was recovered today. Here’s a news article on the tragedy. We ran into the ranger who gave the talk we attended as we left the restaurant tonight, and he told us the news. This has been a deadly season, with 6 fatalities on Mt. McKinley and 3 on nearby peaks in Denali Park. As reported by the article, “The most fatalities were recorded in 1992, when 11 people died on McKinley and two others on associated peaks in the park.” The article went on to say, “The McKinley climbing season generally runs from late April to mid-July, and the mountain usually attracts 1,200 to 1,300 climbers during that period. There were still about 250 climbers on mountain as of Friday.”