Anchorage is a nice city with all services, population of 292,000. Our friend, Paul came to visit us there and stayed several days. The first thing we noted was the air was full of fuzzy stuff. At first, we thought it was Dandelion fuzzes but later learned it was fuzzy stuff from the Cottonwood Trees. In addition to the fuzzes flying thru the air, under each tree, the ground was covered with long strings of cotton. This was our first experience with Cottonwood Trees.
The people of Anchorage are very proud of being the 49th State. There is a bar named “The 49th State” and there is a monument in the downtown called “The Eisenhower Alaska Statehood Monument.”
Iditarod Central is in downtown Anchorage and we found a Qiviut Shop selling items made from the very fine undercoat of Musk Ox (mentioned in an earlier post). In addition to the beautiful street flowers, we were introduced to Reindeer Sausages, which we had for lunch.
Neither Don, nor I, had seen a glacier so the three (Paul) of us went on a day trip to Chugach National Park to take a boat trip to see the Portage Glacier. We met up with our travel companions, Keith and Gloria, there. I was so confused about glaciers and until I saw one – close-up and in person – did not realize what they were. I was confusing glaciers with ice bergs, no wonder I could not figure it all out. But this trip took care of that.
The Portage Glacier is one half mile wide and 4 ½ miles long, which is hard to imagine when you see it. Our tour guide said there are over 10,000 glaciers in Chugach State Park, so now I am confused all over again! How can there be so many in one park, and what determines a glacier from a pile of snow?? Chugach is the 2nd largest park after Denali; it is 6.8 million acres, about the size of New Jersey. You must think LARGE in Alaska!
The lake that Portage Glacier drains into is 650 feet deep and because it is fed only from the Portage Glacier, the water is so diluted by glacier moraine (dirt and rocks) that no plants or fish can live in the water! When staff showed us a jar of water taken from the lake, you could not see through it! So much for pure glacier water…
Though there is no fishing in this lake, there is snow mobiling in the winter because it freezes about 5ft down.
We learned that glaciers have blue ice because the ice is so dense (all air is removed) that only blue light is reflected. You can see the blue ice in the pix below as we were able to get very close to the glacier. This was a good lesson for us as we begin to learn about glaciers.
Another question I have is about the melting of glaciers. Melting glaciers create rivers, lakes, waterfalls and creeks, which I believe is a good thing. However, many people I talked to were really upset that some of the old, old, glaciers are receding. What about all the new ones? I asked. No answer …. more confusion for me.
Leaving the Chugach National Park, we stopped by a nearby Wildlife Preserve where we saw a variety of animals: bears, caribou, black tail deer. We also saw Moose, but they were too far away to photograph. Our fave was the black bear cub sleeping in a tree.
The next day we set out to find Sarah Palin’s house in Wasilla. On the way, we stopped in the town of Palmer to visit their Farmers Market. We learned that Palmer is home of World Record cabbages, carrots and other vegetables. The combination of glaciers, wind, water and lots of summer sunlight give Palmer unique qualities to grow giant vegetables. In 1939, they had the prize winning 30-pound cabbage, in 1948 a 50- pound cabbage, in 1970 an 80 pounder, in 1999 a 120 pounder and in 2009, a 127 pounder!
In the pic of the musical group, note the little guy, second from right, playing the harmonica, only using one hand, but he kept up with the adults.
We went to Wasilla, using our GPS to find the address of Sarah Palin we found on the internet, we went to the entrance of what we are pretty sure is her place. We could not see her home from the entrance but there were cameras around so we went no further.
On our way back, we saw a moose alongside the road. The moose was in an area now dedicated as National Park land because an earlier earthquake caused that land to drop about 20 feet! Earthquakes and volcanos happen with some frequency in Alaska.
Our next stop, Homer, on the beautiful Kenai Peninsula, and Homer is located on the Spit.