2009 Travel Photos Page 6
Of course, while in Alaska, you have to do a little gold panning. The photos above are of our visit to the Eldorado Mine north of
Fairbanks. Unfortuantely, that wasn't our pan in the picture though we did end up with several nice flakes worth about $20.
We also visited Chicken, Ak. to do a little panning. Yes, that is the complete downtown area of Chicken in the photo! These
businesses along with a Post Office and a couple of RV parks make up the commercial areas. The gold dredge was originally a ways
up the creek but was moved to this location in the 90's. One of the RV parks offers a very interesting tour of the dredge.
While on the Kenai Peninsula, we camped across Cook Inlet from Mt. Redoubt. It is currently active but was just letting off a little
steam while we were there. The next photos are of the Homer area and birds viewed while on a wildlife cruise from Homer. These
included a red faced ormorant, an immature bald eagle, numerous gulls along with many puffins.
A few who travel to Alaska find it necessary to go as far north as they can by road and we fall into this group. Our trip up the Dalton
Highway to Deadhorse and Prudhoe Bay was one of the more interesting parts of our trip. We crossed the Yukon River at the only
bridge crossing in Alaska, then across the Arctic Circle and spent the first night in Wiseman at the Boreal Lodge. If you make the trip
up the Dalton, this is a nice stopping point and the folks who own it are really nice, helpful and very informative.
A few views of the highway along the way with the pipeline along side. The Dalton is primarily a gravel road although some parts are
paved, over 400 miles from just north of Fairbanks to Deadhorse. Atigun Pass where the highway crosses the Brooks Mountain
Range is the highest point along the highway and the highest highway pass in the state.
One of the things that made the trip worth the effort was the chance to see wildlife, especially musk ox. We were very fortunate to
see them along the road just outside of Deadhorse. We also saw a lot of caribou in the plains north of the Brooks Range. They favor
this area in the summer for the cool temps and also the almost constant wind that keeps the mosquitoes at bay. This is also a favored
area for waterfowl during the summer.
Our accommodations at Deadhorse. At $230 per night for a room with two twin beds,
you might want to make this an overnight only stay! It did have a private bath. Everything
here is geared to the oil industry. Tourism is barely an afterthought. We did make it to the
Arctic Ocean though. The trucks shown are used to cross the tundra after it is frozen in
winter. They exert very minimum ground pressure to prevent damage to the tundra.
The Valdez area was one of our favorites. The literature says that "Even Mother Nature has her favorites" and it really applies. Even
though the views were inhibited by smoke on our first visit and clouds for most days on our second, it was still spectacular.
We saw more eagles here than any other location so far. We were also privileged to see a black bear and a small brown bear on our
first visit and several black bears on our second.
From a wildlife cruise of the Prince William Sound, you are treated to a variety of wildlife that matches any other area. Trying to catch
them with the camera is sometimes a trick, especially with the whales! The icebergs calving from the glaciers provide their own
beauty to the sound. The sea lions even make use of some of the man made objects floating in the sound for a little sun bathing. The
upper left shows the terminus of the Alaska oil pipeline and the port where tankers are loaded. There are still many areas of Prince
William Sound where the effects of the Exxon Valdez oil spill is still in evidence but in other areas the wildlife has made a strong
comeback.
We also managed a trip to the Alaska State Fair in Palmer. I just had to see some of the large vegetables that are grown in the Mat-Su
Valley. How about the 90 pound cabbage, 16 pound radish and 130 pound watermelon along with others. Although not a large fair
compared to some in the lower 48, the views would rival anywhere.
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