Monday, July 2, 2012


Hello Trackers:

June 26 – Soldotna – We trackers it is still raining but we are not going to let that get us down. The Soldotna homestead museum and pioneer village had great information about the area. Again we were the only ones there so we were lead through the museum by our own guide Carol. Boy, she was a wealth of knowledge. It was like taking a walk down history lane. Did you know that the plot to kill Lincoln also included a plot to kill Secretary of State William Seward because he headed the negotiating for the purchase of AK? He was attacked the same time as Lincoln by an assassin in his home. The assassin posed as a delivery man with meds for the Secretary. Seward’s son blocked the man from entering. The assassin shot at him but the gun misfired. He ran passed the son and attacked 64 year old Seward with a knife. Lucky for him he survived with wounds to the face. It was felt with Lincoln and Seward out of the way there may not have been an AK. Before AK became a state there was homesteading. Just like the OK Homestead Act. From 1940’s to 1959, a person could come to AK and purchase 40 acre. You could get up to 4 40 acres plots. But each plot had to touch. So some plots were very jagged. You also could not own acres on both sides of the river. You had to live on the property for 5 years and produce 1 crop. As an incentive to vets to move to AK they could get the same deal and only have to live there 1 year. This could be done because the Federal Government owned the land. We toured actual cabins from the 1800’s and 1900’s. It is amazing what men thought their wives would live in. Some women took one look at the cabin with no floor and no window panes and took the first ship home. Other men were considered and made the house presentable. Ah Ha!!  Men can learn from other men’s mistakes. Alaska tried their best to become as state for more than 40 years. In 1927 there was a flag design contest. A 13 year old orphan of Aleut-Russian-Swedish descent won. He wrote: The blue is for the AK sky and the forget- me- not, an AK flower. The North Star is for the future of AK, the most northerly in the union. The Dipper is for the Great Bear – symbolizing strength.  Never under estimate the mind of youths. He won $1,000 which he was able to save for college. If you are an AK resident and over 65 you get the following: $130 dollar a month for whatever, no property tax for the first $300,000 of your homes worth, fishing, hunting, trapping & drivers license are free. Until 1970, AK was a grand hunting area like Africa. As an elderly person you can designate who can use your permit since they maybe too old to fish etc. As a resident you are able to fish for the first two weeks of fishing season to get your “Subsistence Fishing”. This means - this is the food that is put away for the winter. The head of household get 25 fish and each people of the house can get 10 fishes. Is this a reason to retire to AK?? No. Sounds good but don’t forget the snow is coming. Cally still looks good to us. Do you know why AK finally was granted statehood??? You are correct OIL. The government knew there was oil in Barrow but had no way of getting it down. In 1958 oil was discovered on the Kenai Peninsula which is in the Cook Inlet. Easy pickings. This was the fore runner to the pipeline.

Question of the day – What is the name of the boy who designed the AK flag? Well look it up and let me know your answer.

June 27 – Kasilof – THE SUN IS SHINING. YAHOOOOOO!!! Went to the McLane Center. Again we lucked out and got a personal tour of the cabins and museum. Amy our young guide told us that this area was settled in 1890. The area was one of the Athabasca, Dena’ina tribe hunts. In 1917 & 1920 the Dena’ina tribe was all but wiped out with influenza. It was settled by the single men of Finish and Chinese descent who worked for the fishing cannery. The Chinese decided not to stay because it was too cold. The area was known for a while as the top fox farms of the west. In the roaring 20’s fox furs were really jumping. After the crash of the 20’s and the Depression set in the fox farming died. Fishing became the number one producer. The area also had homesteading. We decided just to take a drive around the area to make sure we saw everything. They had lots of spacious lots for sell. We sure are not interested.

June 28 –Portage Glacier. Today is a travel day. Dog gone it!!! It is raining again. Back to those blue coats. We went to the city of Portage for a boat cruise of a glacier on the mv Ptarmigan. We did not know there was so much info on glaciers. Glaciers moves 17” a day. The lake is 600’ deep and full of silt. It contained no fish because of the silt. It takes 10 years for snow to become a glacier. Ice bergs can be hundreds of feet deep. This water is so cold that most people could only last 5 minutes.

Of course we found the Begich – Boggs Visitor Center. It is named for 2 senators who disappeared in 1972 from Anchorage to Juneau. There plane went down and were last heard over Portage Pass. Since this is a National Park we get in museum for free. “Gizzers rates”. There was lots of info on the wild life, mosquitos and bird watching. Trappers hiked over the Portage Pass “porting” furs. Portage Pass is a narrow land bridge between Prince William Sound and the Cook Inlet area. As air pressure between the two areas equalizes, really high winds can be created. These winds have been known to snap a 50’ flagpole like a twig, peel away asphalt and lift boxcars from rail tracks. The Whittier tunnel is now used. This is an unusual tunnel. It is 2.5 miles long and it is shared with the train. It was designed for -40°F and 150 MPH winds and to withstand avalanches. Boy they thought of everything. We continued on to Anchorage. Today, it is Thursday. Costco day. Yahoo. We drove to the Finger Lake State Park in Wasilla /Palmer area. We drove around to find the church. There is one in each city. We will need to decide later.

Question of the day – Why is the ice blue? Well look it up and let me know your answer.
Bonus Question of the day – What does caving mean to a glacier? Well look it up and let me know your answer.

June 29 – Wasilla /Palmer Matanuska Valley – Still raining some. We found the Visitor Center and were told there was a “Friday Fling” in Palmer. It is a craft fair. We walked around the fair and listen to great blues and country music. We met Bill & Heidi who were professional mushers and had their dogs, sleds and gear for view. Heidi is from Switzerland and has several wins. Neither has entered in the Iditarod. They told us how dogs are picked and trained. How races are trained and prepared for. This is an expense hobby and hardly any winning money. It cost over $10,000 to enter the Iditarod. The most you win is $65,000. Most mushers have 20 to 200 dogs. You spend more money than you win. I was surprised how dossal the dogs were. Mushers make more money on stud fees. We met Nan Potts. She just retired from work and has decided she wants to learn to mush. We chatted and exchanged emails so we can keep up on her progress.

There also was a Visitor Center and museum. Right down our alley! Watched a video on the Great Depression and how the New Deal helped to settle the valley. There was a federal proposal to relocate destitute Midwestern farmers to more profitable landsite be chosen you had to be from Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota and “honest-to God’ farmer. You had to be 25 to 40 years old with Scandinavian background. Boy, talk about racisms. They were called Colonists and 202 families came. In exchange for $3,000, 30 year loan they would be given 40 acres, a house, a barn, a well and a outhouse. They were called colonist. Boy, were they lied to. None of this was built when they got there. They lived in tents. Homes were finally built. Previous homesteaders did not get the benefits of the colonist this cause some issues. More than 60% of the colonist left. The government had to recruit more. It was better since they moved to homes already built.

We drove to the Palmer church. Lo got out to find out what time the service would be. He was in the church so long I almost needed to send a dog team after him. We left and returned home. We ate and walked to the lake. It was 9:00 PM and people were still coming to go out on the lake in their boats. Amazing! We met Sara and Leif who were fishing on the dock, Susie & Don who were just chilling. Both were very friendly.

Question of the day – When does the Iditarod start? Well look it up and let me know your answer.

June 30 – Palmer. It is Sabbath. THE SUN IS SHINNING. Church was very friendly. The pastor, Aaron Payne gave a great sermon about letting the spiritualism attack our lives. Can you believe we got 5 invites to dinner? I was talking to the pastor and he asked if we had dinner plans. I told him yes 5. He said hospitality was one of the items he was has been preaching about and was glad his members were following through. Since Bonnie & Jeff as first we went to their home. Jeff is accountant /contractor and Bonnie is a dental hygienist. Another member, Barbara came over. She just retired on Friday. She and I swapped ideas on what retirees should do. #1 get up when you want to. Heck yeah! No more clocks. The food was vegan but well prepared. Jeff made the lasagna and Bonnie the brownies. We really had a good time. All the people were fun to be with. We found out that Jeff has a son in Lompine near Red Bluff. Bonnie’s mom in Soquel. We invited them to come and spend time with us when in the area. This was a great Sabbath. I hope our church is friendly as the churches in AK. It really starts with us.

July 1- Denali Park – Today is a travel Day. We started the day off with a visit from our new friend Bonnie. It was good to sit down with her and learn more about her. Her husband Jeff is a gold panning enthusiasts so he went panning today. We will definitely keep in touch. I rained off and on today. The land is very pretty with the green hills. We were able to get a stay in the park for two days starting tomorrow. So we parked in an RV park and toured the town. We plan to get a good night’s sleep.

Until next time Trackers. Keep a light burning for us.

Lo & Bren



  1. Beautiful shots! Sounds like you guys are really, truly getting to see Alaska. Awesome!

  2. Any good shopping at the Friday Fling? I love the name.

    Glaciers aren't really blue; that's just the way we see them, due to the absorption of light, and the fact that blue is the only color in the spectrum that isn't absorbed. I might be remembering that backwards, though. It has something to do with light absorption. I should know that, so I'm not looking it up.

    When glaciers calve, that means a piece breaks, cracks, and falls away, making a small glacier, or a calf.

    I love the way the British say glacier - it's "glass-eee-air." It all sounds so much more elegant with an accent. ☺