Friday 8 June 2018
Arriving in Anchorage, via San Fransisco, late last night I was lucky to have been offered a bed in Palmer with Barry and Marlene. Barry had provided his boat and taken us bear hunting when Ross and I visited 5 years ago. After a late breakfast we head out to Hatcher Pass for a walk up to an old gold mine. The road up the hill to the mine is still closed so we park at a carpark below the gate. There are a bunch of Spanish bikers also there to check out the mine. Apparently these bikers are part of a world wide club and travel to different countries hiring what look to be some pretty nice bikes for their local journeys.
Barry had stayed home to do some jobs, Marlene had brought the dog Bella along. Visiting from Minnesota for the wedding were Debbie, Jim, Stacy and Mark. A few squirrel like things things bounced around in the snow, no one seemed to know exactly what they were.
Gold was discovered around here at the end of the 1800s this mine was a hard rock mine where they blasted tunnels through the rock to extract the ore. It operated until 1950 and is now a reserve with many of the buildings still in good repair. The area is now used a lot for cross country skiing in the winter and in the summer for hiking.
The wedding was set down for 4pm so no doubt while we were out and about Steve and Chantelle we busy preparing for the big day. The bride no doubt getting prepped up with make up while the groom and his team did their preparation. (photo stolen off facebook).
The wedding place was a lovely spot in the country overlooking the Matanuska River. Barry and I posed for a photo in front of Steve’s Super Cub parked up ready for he and Chantelle to depart after the ceremony.
After the ceremony we headed across to the local Wolf Lake Airport to a hangar for the party, which continued into the early hours. At this time of year it doesn’t really get dark so its pretty easy not to notice the time go by.
Saturday 9 June 2018
The museum, although small and dedicated to flying in Alaska, has some interesting exhibits including a Boeing 737 200 designed with special plating underneath to land on gravel runways carrying cargo and passengers to remote places.
The have a hangar they rent out for functions and another that is used for restoration. Staffed by volunteers, they aim to have most of their aircraft able to fly; this includes a Curtiss P40 Warhawk, which was recovered recently from the Resolution Islands, part of which were occupied by the Japanese during WWII.
In The evening we headed to the Grape Trap, a local Wasilla restaurant, where we enjoyed a good yarn and some pretty nice food.
Sunday 10 June 2018
After breakfast the Minnesota crew headed off to the airport. Barry and Marlene headed off to their local church while I relaxed. Later in the day Marlene and I headed over and picked up John and Carol, who are in the process of building a new hangar at the end of the Wolf Lake airport. Interestingly around here one does not need any permits of consent from the local council to build a house; even building inspections are not required although most good builders contract a private company to inspect their work.
We headed up to the Gold Mine Trail in the same are we had gone to on Friday. John is armed with a bear flare just in case. We bump into Kent and Helen, who joined us on the stroll. It’s a wide walking track heading up a valley alongside a hastily moving creek, charged with waters from the spring snow melt. Light rain sets is as we are a few hundred meters up the track – luckily I had my trusty red poncho.
By the look of it this valley had once been occupied by a glacier, leaving moraine walls on each side of the valley. There are a number of beaver dams along the way, which always intrigue me as to how, with the aid of twigs and mud, these things seem to hold water.
Carol, John, Marlene, Kent and Helen
In the evening Barry and Marlene cooked up some of their self-caught salmon. We were joined by John, Carol, Gary and his wife Ramona. Gary, a retired airforce colonel, had some great stories to tell both about the military and about his flying exploits in Alaska and around the US. Flying is in the blood of most people here. With only 12,000 miles of paved roads 90% of Alaska is not accessible by road so small planes are the main form of transport into the back blocks. There are 16 times the number of aircraft per capita when compared to the lower 48 states of the US. With over 600 airports and 3000 plus airstrips flying is the way to go. Plus there are 114 seaplane bases, these fly out and land on all sorts of lakes and rivers.
Monday 11 June 2018
After another hearty breakfast we headed into Anchorage to do a bit of shopping. A visit to Bass Pro drew a blank for me as they seemed to be very under staffed and no one was too keen to assist me in my quest for new boots.
Next was REI and success with a couple of keen assistants giving good advice and bringing out different brands to try on. They also sorted me some leather treatment for the boots, which later got confiscated in Frankfurt as it was 110mls!!!
At Cabellas I got a new case for my binoculars and had a look at a few interesting guns. One in particular was the Smith and Wesson 460 5-shot revolver; unfortunately there was no way that was going to get through airport security in my carry-on bag.
Lastly we stopped at a huge warehouse called Costco, which one has to be a member of, where people buy in bulk every thing from groceries to boats.
All too soon the stay was over as Barry and Marlene dropped me at the airport for the journey to Singapore. Interestingly I was for some reason routed through Denver, Houston, Chicago and Frankfurt, where I got to spend a day and night with my sister, Rachel, and her husband, Edward, who have lived in Germany for over 20 years.