Monday, September 13, 2010
headed to the denali highway...
above is one of my favorite pictures from this weekends roadie of the denali highway. i had thought last year this should be an annual fall event and so off i went for the second annual denali highway trek. i have the spare tire so i may as well drive like a mad woman....only in alaska do people have 10 tires for one car. i have 4 winter, 4 summer, 1 regular spare and 1 full spare with a rim.
saturday morning i woke early finished packing and walked the dogs through the bog and down patterson. then i went for my swim. got 60 lengths in and sandra met me and we were off by nearly 2:30pm. the weather was wonderful and the scenery spectacular so the drive took longer than expected. we were slowed even more by lovely views of mt drum from the wrangell-st elias park and this sunset. of course, that meant we didn't quite make it to our original goal of tangle lakes campground that night. i pulled into paxson lake campground, which turned out to be nicer. we were thus able to set up the tent before the dark night set in. once that sun set though...did it ever get cold!!
today was beautiful as well, but i was sleepy from all that driving and laid in bed til 9:30am. the dogs were just as sleepy as neither bothered to wake me for thier breakfast. we did get out for nearly 3 hours of walk and play time. we did the bog again, then walked all the way down patterson and across northern lights to this creek nearby. blossom got some tennis ball time. she'd never stop as long as she has water to cool in. there were over 30 ducks in the creek there and they'd just flutter off a bit when she came in to cool off. she never paid them much mind. such a huntress....though she was quite interested in the neighbors rabbit this afternoon. the kids brought her out for a photo op.
rio did enjoy a little wade in the creek as well. thought she looked cute peeking out from under the grass. she did seem a bit sore. i ran out of her pain meds and i'm too cheap to buy from the local vet knowing that i just purchased the same drug for much cheaper from my friend in california. natalie...you are an angel! those vets mark up those meds drastically and rio is a bit dog.
gave my neighbor kid a talking to. he skipped letting the dogs out all week last week while i worked. i pay him $5/day to just come over and let the dogs out in the evening. when he slacks off and i confront him he always says he lost the key. that is fine when you are 12, but he's been doing this for me since blossom was a puppy and she's almost 5! i suspect blossom pee'd in the house 2 times while i was at work. not sure, but the newspaper by the cat litter box was saturated. not enough to be a rio pee, but seemingly too much to be a cat pee. hmm...dang kid!! i'll have to have a chat with his mom i think.
thought this was funny. rio is laying on the little bridge and someone graffiti'd "blind" right next to where she lay down. hehe!!
rio loves laying about in the sunshine....i mean who doesn't. it's tough to get pictures of rio so nice to actually have her settle in and allow me to get more than a few feet away.
while she rested, blossom chases her yellow ball.
back to the trip. my friend sandra joined us. she followed along in her own car. she isn't really a dog person though she seems to be quite taken with blossom. she has said that blossom is the sort of dog that makes you really think you might actually want a dog. here blossom gives her morning huggies at the campsite. it got cold, cold, cold that night. the night was clear and i kept checking for northern lights. i never saw any, but did see zillions of stars. it was a beautiful night. the tent was coated in frost in the morning. good thing for rain flies or in this case, frost flies. i got the tent out today and set it up to dry and the fly dried rapidly in this heat...heat is relative as it probably didn't get over 68 or so, but in alaska that feels very hot, believe me.
i was frustrated that night as i couldn't figure out how i would attempt pictures of the northern lights if they happened. i couldn't think of apeture or how to do a long exposure. probably best i didn't see the lights as i would have been so annoyed at myself. i always love seeing the northern lights though so if they'd have come out i would have bared the chill to see them no doubt. above is the morning camp. sandra just heated up some water for hot cocoa while we cleaned up camp. we'd decided to eat breakfast at paxson a few miles up at the start of the highway. i've eaten there a few times now. it's fine. not spectacular. the same guy cooked for me last time. his one eye is all messed up, he's friendly enough, but one looks at him and wonders how he ended up in paxson, alaska. how do any of us end up anywhere really i guess. some by choice, some by chance. maybe a little of both.
in the morning i took the girls for a little walk on a trail i saw in the campground. it takes you right to the lake. it was so beautiful that morning. a light fog at one end and the water was so flat and calm. would have loved to just paddled out there. a few swans hung out there.
after we cleaned up camp sandra joined us for a second walk down to the lake so she could see it as well. the dogs didn't mind the repeat walk.
blossom is quite the tent veteran. after we had set it up she went to the door to try and go to bed. i let her in but she didn't want to be in there alone. as there were no bugs i opened the door and tied it up and then got rio to join blossom. she was quite happy when sandra and i joined her. in the morning she entertained sandra with her antics. always great to start a day with laughter. blossom is good and bringing on a smile.
the rest of the pictures today are from the drive north. below is mt drum before we got to glenallen to refuel. one tends to top off when one can driving up here as there are generally many miles between gas stops.
these are the sheep mountains. there is a lodge there. sandra has stayed there both winter and summer. it's a great place to go cross country skiing in the winter i've heard. i've never stayed there myself. one of these days i'll have to pay the piper and check it out. i do always love the colours in this mountain as i drive by.
we hit some beautiful fall colours going through the mat su valley and up towards glennallen. we ooh'd and aah'd many times over. i took many pictures out the front windshield so if you look closely you can see the dead bugs in the pictures. they'd definitely made a little resurgence. getting in their last licks before winter comes to get them.
below is the long and winding matanuska glacier. haven't been to the face of it for several years. keep meaning to make a weekend of it, go there and to a few trails up that way that i see whenever i make this road trip.
we stopped at the matanuska overlook and campground. sandra wasn't aware there was a campground there and also wasn't aware that there was that trail there. i have dogs though so i'm familiar with the trails. sandra hadn't figured in all the little dog stops, but she seemed to enjoy the change. not having a dog she generally can barrel through. i've gotten used to stopping frequently to stretch the dogs legs and get them some water and such. it's a nice little trail and we couldn't believe how many leaves were down. i stayed at the campground on the way to chicken a few months back. it's a nice place.
i recall that the colours were peaking in this area last year when i did my trek and so i wondered if we'd maybe left too late to hit the peak colours on the denali highway. sandra said this is the same weekend she and tiffany had driven it last year when they got the best colour. i think it was early this year. the seasons change so rapidly here...fall doesn't linger anyplace, but you can chase it around a bit and catch the peak in various places.
just another picture of the matanuska glacier.
i have a massage scheduled for tomorrow. much needed after all these roadies i've done this summer. i do enjoy a roadie and i like the tent i have now. that should make it much more comfortable. it's super easy to put up.
we did get a few few raindrops on the way out, not many though. the clouds were spectacular. i prefer some clouds for photography purposes. just makes landscapes more dramatic if you have clouds. plus the lighting is better. i mean look at the light above. it just makes the colours pop!
we really didn't stop much in the first part, we've both traveled it a great deal and with limited ability to speak to each other, my walkie talkie battery failed pretty early on and we got out of cell phone range quickly. anyway, it's hard to know if someone will be amenable to stopping as much as i tend to. in the end sandra was cool about it and across the denali highway i stopped when i wanted and she'd pull over and wait for me from time to time.
must complain again...first off...do you see snow on those mountains...? my one brother occasionally i.m.'s me on facebook. when he does this, it's annoying as he always writes a few notes and then just disappears. he doesn't properly end a conversation. i'm no social expert, but when others i.m. with me they will say they are leaving or goodbye or some such thing. he'll ask a question and then just be offline. seems odd and rude. what is proper i.m. etiquette in this case? are there manners and civilities regarding these situations or has it all just gone out with the bath water?
higher up on the matanuska glacier. the thing is huge and it never ceases to amaze me how long you have a visual of this glacier as you drive the road. first you follow the river that comes from it and then the terminus...it's just such a huge and dramatic part of the land. the "bible" says it's 27 miles long, average of 2 miles wide and 4 miles wide at the terminus. that is "termination dust" on the mountains of the chugach range there....
chatted with my sister today. we chat generally about once/week. we had a heart to heart years ago, i was sick of being the only one to keep the relationship going. we both cried and in the end my sister made our relationship a priority for her. i'm grateful to her for that. what you don't value you lose. i have 6 siblings and communication varies with the different siblings. some i rarely speak to at all. with my parents passed away, those family ties just fall off more and more. i really feel like i put out the effort for years, but at some point you just get tired of always being the one to call. i've seen a few make more of an effort over time and others make less of an effort. it's a choice really, staying in touch with family. years ago i would have said my seperation was related to my leaving the church i was raised in, but i've seen that they have seperated from each other, even staying in the church. seems that if you are actively engaged in the church your family becomes your ward members and even siblings that live near each other find it hard to break away from thier church family to spend time with thier actual family at times. so therefore, it becomes an individual choice to maintain a relationship with siblings. people in general are either good at keeping up with people from thier past or not. my mom was always the one with the super sized christmas card list, who called friends from years past. i obviously got it from her. i always just feel sad seeing people that i enjoyed slip away. i enjoy facebook because it's a chance to reconnect. it, like all other things, only works if you go on it or make the effort. my siblings are on there, but they don't all utilize it to keep in touch. anyway...it still makes me sad at times, the loss of those relationships, but now i see them for what they are more and i'm more accepting. i don't get hurt like i used to. family changes as we age. i allowed myself to just let go of those relationships where i wasn't getting any effort from thier side. you aren't family just because you get together every few years and take a group picture. i feel i make myself available, i still make an effort, but i'm not as invested at this point.
i'm obviously tired as i'm rambling.
there is the terminus of the matanuska again.
loved this picture of the tree's and all thier various colours.
matanuska glacier and the waters coming off of it.
back to the glorious sunsets that we ended our day with. no words required. i'm really blessed to live in this place. every day i'm offered up the beauty that many only dream of seeing once in their lifetime. there was a woman at the southern denali viewpoint as we drove home the next day. she was so excited to see the big mountain. only 25-30% of alaskan visitors get to see denali as it's usually in the clouds. she was there for her 14 day dream vacation to alaska. she was so happy, just sitting there with her moment with denali. she was getting attacked by little biting flies but was planning to stay put for the sunset. i think it turned out nice. we watched it through our rear view mirrors as we headed south. people have commented on facebook how much they love this picture...really it's not that it's some fabulous shot that i spent hours setting up. i was just at the right place at the right time and there it was...really just a snapshot. my photo albums are filled with snapshots.
in alaska, everyone can look like a professional photographer. all you have to do is get out there. some think i must have expensive camera equipment, but i often take just as lovely a shot with my cheap powershot camera.
above is mt drum. well, i think that is the one. it's over in wrangell-st elias national park. i've never explored there yet. still so much to see of this place. it looke pretty in pink though with the sunset.
a beautiful sky,
a sensual thrill,
why not repeat,
the glorious sight,
in fading light.
in the night,
a smooth, light song,
on the boatless dock,
i rock and sway,
as ripples hit.
on distant docks,
the boats creak,
i listen to,
the rubber groan,
i leave the silent dock,
the main ship parking lot,
a thousand empty sails,
the click of metal,
a calming cry.
is distant, lost,
a smell of fish,
floats through air. '83