Glaciers are so cool!
(No pun intended.)
     When I think of Alaska, I think of snow covered mountain ranges, salmon, trout, bears, whales, mosquitos, and eagles.  It never occurred to me how prevalent glaciers would be and how big a part they would play in our enjoyment of Alaska.  It seems that since entering Hyder, Alaska; through Kluane and Wrangell-St. Elias National Parks; into Valdez, Alaska; toward Anchorage; and now on the Kenai Peninsula these majestic wonders are always in the forefront of our touring.
The rich blue of the glacier manages to glow through the moraine surface.
Trying to climb the face of a glacier.
     After our fantastic glacier kayak experience in Valdez we headed off to Anchorage.  Along the way the Matanuska Glacier jumped off the scenery for our viewing pleasure.  Better yet I was able to score a last minute spot on a glacier tour.  The tour started only 1/2 mile from the face of the glacier and headed directly onto the icy surface of this massive ice flow.  My tour group was limited to 3 people and we were provided with crampons which made the slippery surface seem like a walk-in-the-park. The glacier was incredibly beautiful with its blue hued, fractured surface.  However, this glacier, or any glacier, could be deadly.  Our guide was able show us how an apparently innocent, tiny stream flowing on the surface was actually very deep and undercut, and had taken the life of an unfortunate 14 year old boy who, a few years ago, slipped into the water and was lost forever under the ice.
Matanuska Glacier 
Matanuska Glacier
This stream on the surface of the glacier has several deadly undercuts.
     Next we made it to Anchorage which was very cool.  The actual city limits of Anchorage is larger than the State of Rhode Island.  Anchorage has a population of around 300,000 and is a great home base to tour the area.  The city prides itself on being a great place for young people so there are tons of music, interesting restaurants, and activities.  We even made it to the popular Summer Solstice Festival.  The cool thing about Alaska is that they seem to put a different twist on everything.  The solstice festival was no exception as on its surface the festival appeared sort of ordinary with music, vendors, junk food and artists.  Then we started exploring all the activities were we discovered a massive sand box for children, a huge kayak pool, and a women's roller derby competition right on one of Anchorage's main streets.
Women's Roller Derby at the Solstice Festival in Anchorage.
This giant sand box was sitting in the middle of a very busy street in Anchorage.
Good thing they closed traffic for the day.
This kayak pool was also set-up on one of Anchorage's main streets.
     A lot of Anchorage's history is focused on the 1964 earthquake and we were able to see places were the city suddenly dropped 22' to the edge of the Knik Arm, an inlet on the northern border of Anchorage.  Also, Earthquake Park still reveals the land chock full of rolling earthquake sine-waves seemingly frozen in time when the quake ended.
A moose strolls along an Anchorage road.
     Since the weather in Anchorage was absolutely perfect, we were even able to view Denali Peak all the way from Earthquake Park approximately 230 miles away!  We were told that this sight is a rare treat.  Even from this great distance, Denali is impressive.
Denali from Anchorage.
     We also visited a Musk Ox Farm and the Alaska Native Heritage Center which demonstrated tribal life in the various regions of Alaska.  It seems that most of the homes built by the native people were under the surface of the earth.
Musk Ox Farm
Musk Ox Farm
Musk Ox Farm
     One day I was able to hike to the top of Flattop Mountain.  This is a very popular hike even though the last 100 yards requires hand-over-hand climbing to attain the flat top of this mountain. Apparently, this is a popular location for the solstice as people make the 2 1/2 mile ascent to celebrate.  I understand that a group of ambitious youths even transported a trampoline to the top entertain themselves on the solstice.
Denali, with Anchorage in the foreground,
from the top of Flattop Mountain.
A hang glider soars over my head as I approached the top of Flattop Mountain.
     The salmon were running!...The salmon were running!  While in Anchorage we were able to observe, first hand, "combat fishing."  Every June when the King Salmon are on their annual trek upstream to spawn and die, the city sponsors a fishing derby and "combat" it was.  Hundreds of salmon fishermen line the banks of Ship Creek, almost shoulder to shoulder, trying to snag a big-one.  At this point in a salmon's life cycle the salmon no longer eat, but they are excellent eating.  The object is to cast an un-baited hook across the river and quickly drag the hook back hoping to snag a salmon.  This technique is highly successful as we saw several 30+ pound salmon being landed.  We even watched as lines got crossed or temper flares when a fisherman encroached upon another angler's tiny space giving actual meaning to the term "combat fishing."
Combat fishing on Ship Creek in Anchorage.
The crowd got a lot bigger just past the bridge.
     We had a great time crossing paths with friends while in Anchorage.  Jim and Barb Nelson were able visit for a fun afternoon and evening.  Then for the next few nights we got together Dave and Kathy Scranton who showed up in our campground with Kathy's sister, Eileen, and brother-in-law, Tom.  Tom even presented me with a pair of moose argyle socks, which I now cherish.  It was fun catching up with everybody's Alaska adventures.  Unfortunately, we probably will not see Dave and Kathy again until January.  However, we will definitely be seeing Jim and Barb in Denali.
Jim & Barb Nelson
featuring Daisy.
     One of the best things of our Anchorage stop was meeting some new members of our family-Steve and Audrey Dewan.  Nancy's sister, Donna Olejnik, has a daughter, Heidi, who's partner is Justin Dewan, the son of Steve and Audrey.  I recall that Heidi and Justine have been together for over 15 years and Heidi considers Steve & Audrey to be her in-laws.  So welcome to the family!  We had a blast with Steve and Audrey.  First, they had us over for dinner were we exchanged family stories and got to know each other.  Steve, who spent 30 years in the military, had an unbelievable collection of muskets; some very valuable.  In fact, his museum-like basement was full of unique military artifacts. On another night we went to dinner at the Moose's Tooth, a popular Anchorage pizza place and a must-do restaurant when in the area.  Steve even offered to take me gold panning, but the adventure didn't pan-out (uggh!) due to bad weather.  They were able to provide some very valuable Alaska information and we are hoping to see them one more time when we pass through Anchorage on our way to Denali.
Audrey & Steve hanging out with us at the Moose's Tooth
in Anchorage.
     Now it is on the the Kenai Pensula for a month.



  1. Another great post. Looks like you are having a wonderful trip.

  2. Great seeing you guys again, see you in Denali!


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