Trip Start Jun 12, 2005
41Trip End Aug 2005
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Today was another wonderful day spent enjoying Alaska's mountain beauty. We rode a bus about 30 miles down the Seward Highway to Portage Glacier where we got on a good sized boat and rode it (on Portage Lake) to the glacier. There were a number of icebergs floating in the water but we did not actually see any "calving" or ice breaking off the glacier while we were on the boat. There were several glaciers in view, but only one that ended right on the lake. The mountains, everywhere we looked, were spectacular. Our bus driver claimed that our drive on Wednesday - Anchorage to Homer - is even more awesome with many, many more beautiful mountains.
After lunch in a small shop near the lake we toured the museum in the Chugach National Forest before busing to a Wildlife Rescue Center a few miles away. We saw orphaned or injured moose, caribou, black and brown bears, reindeer, porcupine, owls, and a bald eagle, to name a few of the animals. The black bear was about thirty feet up in a tree - sound asleep! It was good to see some of the animals up close that we had only seen from hundreds of feet in the wild.
We got back to our campground about 4 pm where we relaxed, had a good dinner, and were in bed by about 10pm. The end of another wonderful day in Alaska!
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
Our alarm clock went off at midnight! Guess I somehow bumped the alarm "on" button. After fumbling with it for a minute or two I got it shut off and we both fell back to sleep. At 6:30am I heard Pat making coffee and obviously making enough noise to wake me up. A short time later I looked at my watch and discovered that I must have inadvertently advanced the clock an hour when I fumbled with the alarm and it was actually 5:30am! This was much earlier than we needed to arise but it gave us both the time to get a few things done before we were scheduled to depart on our day's journey.
Today our bus took us to Palmer where we visited a musk ox farm and then a reindeer farm. We had excellent explanations from our tour guides and learned a great deal about musk ox and reindeer - possibly more than we wanted, but it was very interesting. Musk ox originally crossed over the land bridge between Siberia and Alaska thousands of years ago. They were hunted to near extinction in the 1800's by early white men in Alaska. Musk ox were reintroduced to this area in the mid 1930's with 80 animals brought here from Greenland. Now the wool like hair (which is eight times warmer than wool and much softer to the touch) is being spun into yarn which is knitted or crocheted into scarves, hats and headbands by the natives to provide an additional source of income for their families. The reindeer farm raises their stock for sale to S. Claus and others. They were flying (by airfreight, not sleigh) six reindeer to a Nursery in the lower 48, to be used to attract customers. They had several hundred in their pens and we were allowed to walk among them while we gave them food pellets and they kept bumping us for more. As I may have mentioned earlier, both males and females have antlers, and even the young babies had small buttons on their heads - the beginning of their antlers. Still no sighting of Rudolph!
Next we were bused to Wasilla, to the Iditarod Race Headquarters where we learned about the world famous annual dog race of over 1,000 miles. We got to meet some dogs and even some of their puppies before going for a dog "sled" ride. It technically was not a sled as it had four wheels. This made it much easier for the dogs to pull as there was not any snow! Our day with the group ended at a local brewery where we had an excellent dinner. We then were bused the 40 miles or so back to our RV Park where everyone went their own way, but most of us had preparations to do for our drive to Homer tomorrow.
I would like to share with you a comment or two about our group of 20 couples and one widower. It took perhaps a while longer than I expected - nearly a week - but we are now a group that really has a lot of fun together. There is a lot of banter and joking, even a few practical jokes, and everyone seems to get along. No one is totally out of step with the rest or difficult to be around. It is truly fun to be together as a group and in smaller gatherings. I suspect that our farewells (in two weeks) will be a bit difficult. But for now we are just looking forward to tomorrow and another day with our caravan.
If you do not have our itinerary, after Homer it is Seward, then Palmer on our way to Valdez. Then it is on up to Tok, where we begin doing some backtracking on the Alaska Highway - Kluane and then Whitehorse where we say our farewells on July 26. We are still investigating our options from there as we start home. Do we try to get on the Alaska Ferry (with our truck and trailer) at Skagway and take it down to Bremerton, Washingto, or do we drive south to Bremerton (a distance of about 1,600 miles). Stay tuned for our decision.
Pat and Don