Monday, September 19, 2011

denal highway, post bridge...

going backwards, seems like i had already started that way so here we go. have begun to love taking the old denali highway each fall as it never disappoints. will have to brave the mosquito's one of these days again and go in the summer. the big bridge crosses the susitna river, a wide river that i believe eventually empties into cook inlet, but can't be quoted on that. after we crossed the bridge and ran into some folks we'd met at our hostel that morning we saw this most beautiful lake. the reflections couldn't possibly have been more spectacular!!

this section of the old denali highway seems to always be the most colourful. still many miles to go to hit the maclaren summit and the hike that i always enjoy there.

we gawked at this lake for quite some time.

eventually we drove on. from denali to anchorage via the denali highway all in a 24 hour period. that is alot of driving.

carla brought no camera and mostly didn't seem to mind my frequent stops to take pictures. digital is great and before she left i'd loaded the pictures from her vacation and emailed them off to her. she selected several so she must have enjoyed the views and the stops. i know that lake above was her favorite spot. not sure she'd ever seen so many 4-wheelers and dead animals. the hunters were out in great numbers. everything was controlled and everyone seemed to be pleasant and respectful of each other. my friend said if we camped out that night at paxson lake campground we would be camping right by the in numbers and they have guns to protect us from some middle of the night bear attack. we drove on so that wasn't required. wish i'd taken pictures of the number of hunters out there.

we ate at "the perch" that morning, across the street and up the road from our hostel. breakfast is pretty basic and i enjoyed my omelet. since the sun was peeking out up north, we opted to take a quick trek back through denali national park before hitting the highway. always nice to see the park in a different light. still no big animal sightings, oh well.

just finished my 4 day stretch at work. was surprised as my 3 nights in the adult unit i was given nurse interns to precept. this hospital has never utilized me as anything but a staff nurse. was begining to think i had some sort of personality disorder that i was unaware of. it is funny having lived in ketchikan for those 6 years and being treated like an asset to come to this larger hospital and be treated as inadequate. in the small hospital they just sought out and utilized each staff member for thier various skills. they had too, thier resources were limited. in the big hospital there is more politics and hoops to jump through.

was fun being in the role of preceptor, though that first night...well lets just say the reports i got about the patients turned out to be full of misinformation and missed information. when someone tells you a patient has a hemodialysis cath in place you don't question it, though in this case i kept thinking the whole story just didn't add up. no harm done in the end, though a few almosts were enough to make me roll my eyes and shake my head in shame. the hemodialysis cath was really just a hickman cath. the next night we all got many laughs over the whole thing.

my night in peds was steady but not bad. kids are too funny and my toddler in a crib saw me using her monitors touch screen and i guess thought that looked like fun. she was able to stand in crib and reach over and play with her monitor. eventually, i had to just move her crib so this wasn't an option...obviously, the kid was back to her normal self and i'm sure she's home tonight. great to see kids get better. she was quite cute and there isn't anything wrong with getting a good chuckle at work.

the fall colours are changing fast all around the anchorage bowl as well. haven't taken too many local pictures. have done my dog walks, but have mostly just been booking it and letting blossom chase her tennis ball. this stretch we've done the dog park a few times, university lake is awesome in the fall. we did the bog as well and today, it was looking a bit bleak so tanya and i met up at n. bivouac to test out the monday walk sight. posted signs at work in both units for the official monday walk start, which will be next monday. seems to be some interest is this 4th year of monday walks. trail looked good though poor rio is beat. those roots just kill my big blind dog.

it was tough to get myself out of bed today, that is always tough every other monday through the winter for these walks. i work 4 nights and then get maybe 2-3 hours sleep before meeting up for the walk at 12:30....a labor of love. today it was 1:30 before we met out there. easing in. tomorrow if the weather isn't too awful we'll venture off to hanging valley in eagle river with maureen and karen. fingers crossed.

finally made it to the pool tonight as well. went easy and just did 25 laps. very relaxing swim...great to be back in the pool. it was re-lined a few weeks ago, then my friend was here and so my plan and hope is to work back up to 3 swims/week. if i can get really motivated i'd like to use the rowing machine as well while i'm there. we shall see.

the denali highway is mostly a dirt road such as this. some parts are smoother than others, some are very pot holed up. i hear the kennicot dirt road is much worse. they do recommend you carry a full spare so i do. my element has 10 tires total. it's kinda crazy. i have 4 summer, 4 studded winter, 1 regular spare and 1 full spare.

mile 68...carla and i were unable ot find any of the old mile markers. i know i have pictures in past year with those old original mile markers, but they seem to have finally relinquished thier place on the road. we laughed as once we hit the paved road headed to paxson the mile markers ceased to exist at all.

going over a conversation in my head. i do that when i want to discuss stuff with actual humans, first i try and make sense of it to myself. that isn't always easy...explaining how you feel about something to someone else. friendships change a bit as you age. when you are young you have more time for building friendships and less distractions. it's harder as you get older to have that level of friendship. do we expect too much of some friends? i'm the sort of person who tends to find being alone easy. when i find people i relate to i am very happy. i have many acquaintences and a few really good friends. i think sometimes it's easy for me to become a bit dependant on a friendship when i find that rapport, easy to not work at finding others who also share the same interests.

i think i took this at one of the rare actual outhouses along the denali highway.

once you hit the mcclaren summit the scenery changes. below is out hiking there. it was strangly warm and inviting on our hike up there.

the sun had totally come out and apparently while it had been raining on the cantwell side for us all weekend, this side had been sunny.

carla and i got out and took the dogs for a strech at the summit. there were folks out collecting berries so carla joined them for a bit. blueberries. we spoke to some hunters and apparently they had run across a large group of caribou about an hour out. of course, i wasn't sure which direction he meant or if they had just stayed on the trail. in the end we opted to not try and walk that far out and look for the herd. it was getting a bit later in the day and we'd still not decided our options. i think if the temperature had been as nice at paxson lake as it was at the summit we would have opted to tent it.

my friend carla left the decision to camp out or not completely up to me. she didn't want to be the reason we didn't camp out. she is from california and i'm sure it would have been a pretty cold night for her. there were a couple places we'd called about that had cabins for rent, the dogs would cost an extra $50 for the night. (this on top of the base cost of $140 for one night). seemed a bit steep.

views from the summit hike. she can see part of the alaska range and mcclaren glacier in the background. i think that range goes on for some 600 miles, something crazy like that anyway.

paved road means we are nearing paxson...below you can see they had run out of gas. lucky for us we had plenty of gas to get to glennallen. carrying a gas can is never a bad idea. we all had them on the dalton.

these are all from the last portion of the denali, before the pavement i think.

a bit of a stark landscape.

more intense pot holes....

was nice to switch it up and head the other way on the highway this year. pretty either direction. driving all night did mean we missed all the amazing colours that occur on the glenn highway heading back to anchorage.

thought this lake shot looked pretty. simple, a bit stark, but still beautiful.

each season just brings such contrast to our world up here. the light changes each day. you learn you can't depend on it. it is pitch black out there. gotta love the near 24 hour daylight summer days, but the darkness comes as well and you have to be able to cope with the loss of sun to survive life in alaska. people who have good coping skills, many hobbies and interests do much better than those without. those without tend to make hobbies of drinking and debauchery...what is debauchery?...oh well. i just find people who are prone to bad habits and addictions will find themselves drawn in to those addictions in a place like alaska. one must constantly adapt to life in alaska, much like the plants and animals in tidepools must adapt to a great deal of change in thier day to day life.

most of the time i adapt, i think we all have mini meltdowns. the snow is falling in the mountains...i can just feel it in the air. won't be surprised if i wake and look out at the chugach range and see snow tomorrow morning.

we dutifully kept looking for wildlife while on our drive. sadly, we saw more moose in anchoage than on the denali highway. we did see those two that attempted to commit suicide by leaping across the highway as we drove through the night back to anchorage.

as you near the end of the denali highway on the paxson side you can often see mount drum off in the distance. mt drum is part of the wrangell/st elias park. i have not spent much time exploring in that region's not overly accessible. hopefully, i can plan a trip there soon. maybe i should look into making part of that our trip in a few summers.

shooting into the sun. what can i say...i love shots into the sun, the often surprise me.

a final sunset shot as we headed down the richardson highway that night. we stopped in glenallen for gas and were blessed with a grand display of northern lights. i've seen brighter and more spectacular shows, but have never seen lights that completely crossed the sky like these did. we pulled over a few miles out of the "big city" of glenallen and stopped to watch. was happy carla got to see the northern lights again. we'd seen a more spectacular show 10 years earlier in tok.

well, i'm beat. have a to do list to get done tomorrow and a walk and maybe a can hope! gotta try and get my favorite fall hikes in!

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