Stepping back into the past.

handicap accessible

I have to say some of the displays to me did not seem that far in the past. For example, a telephone booth with a telephone. (More on that later). We drove 67 miles back down the Parks Highway to visit the ‘Alaska Museum of Transportation and Industry’ on 15 acres in Wasilla AK. I’ve also have become addicted to the non starbucks espresso drive-thru coffee places, so we also had to make a 5-mile detour to get me a coffee.

I used these

I need to start trusting Roy more when he says I’ll enjoy something. I did enjoy and I only got slightly stuck once with the chair. This place has everything old and in my opinion things that are not so old even though they say they are.

Here is an example of what I am talking about.

So, after we get the scooter and wheelchair out of the car, we were off to the races. The cashier who took the $10 admission (because Thursday is only $5 a person) was helpful in directing us to the inside museum and the path we needed to take to get outside to the trains and zillion other old things. Inside we found quite the history from the first glider to leave the summit of Denali, to the car that President Harding road in. Also, some not so old things. Yes, I know some of the things from the 70s, 80s, and 90s are SOOO last century.

Roy identifies as a snow machine

The indoor museum is an open floor plan with a few dividers set up to break up the room into certain sections. If you look in the upper left-hand corner of the picture that is the glider I mentioned earlier. Those pictures below the glider are pictures taken from different viewpoint

my kind of transportation

Roy is hiding a couple old snow mobiles, behind Roy is one of the first snow chains for driving in the snow over mountain passes. It is actually a tire that you had to put on.
The sled pictured with the dog on it was donated by the Seavey dog teams who won numerous Iditarod races.

all models

There was also an area devoted to old cars, but the cars were all models in glass display cases. we are working our way around the room to the not so old history. First, we encounter an old teletype which Roy used a similar one in the service.

linotype machine

I had a few minutes of seeing pride and astonishment on Roy’s face and in his voice when he was describing the Linotype Machine. I was amazed to learn how this one machine made the printing process easier. It would take what was done one letter at a time and be able to put together a whole line of text. I am way oversimplifying this. If you are interested ask Roy I’m sure he would love to explain. The fascination was the material used to make the text was one string of lead. When finished the lead would get melted down again and reused. He actually got to do a field trip where he could make his own name with the lead and see how it worked..

phone Booth

Now to something that is not old it may not be around anymore, if you can find one it probably takes dollar bills instead of a quarter like this one. The thing that made me go wow that was a long time ago. They had a sign that read: ‘Before cell phones people had to carry change to put into the phone so they could call someone. ‘ I’m like there are kids out there who will never know the joy of having to do this. I can see where it would be strange to them.

answer the phone

There was also a bank of wall phones through the years and even a display case of princess phones. It was an interesting trip down memory lane.

I’m on hold
hello

The whole thing gave me the back in the day we had milk delivered in glass bottles and had to rinse out and return the empties. I never experienced that and thought geez your old. So, I guess if a kid never had to make a call from a payphone, he would think I’m old. Just a funny thought I am not having an age crisis. It is amazing when you realize OMG, I’ve become my parents’ age when I was a kid. The cool thing was it was handicap accessible, and I tried to call someone but had no change in my pocket. Roy gave me the quarter and then I got put on hold.

Stepping, ok I mean rolling outside was not bad. We listen to the girl inside who said go to the left and you have one big loop around the property and can get in the train easily. (She was so on base). I have also learned to follow in Roy’s tire tracks, it works most of the time.

Inside the train from the Alaska Railroad, there were early track, switches, old time pictures of the early railroad and how and why the railroad was built. Interesting reading and well worth the effort up the ramp. We did not attempt to head into the caboose as it was very narrow and I’m not fond of tight spaces, plus it was dark. Back out the way we came and on to some very well maintained hard packed gravel.

Outside there was a car from the Department of the Interior it had to do with mines. Along that line there was a small train that was used in the mining and had ore cars that had different uses. At the end of this area there was a mammoth piece of crane on wheels to be used on the tracks.

Also, outside was every year and type of tractor a person could imagine. A hand made plane to land on ice, old fire trucks and ambulances. The first Chevy Suburban to make it to the north slope all the way to Prudhoe Bay Alaska. We made it to the end of the path but couldn’t get back in the door on the right side of the building. So, what to do we went back the way we came and prayed the rain held off. I did stop and take a picture of a random mushroom, and you will find that in the slide show. It did until we made it all snug in the car.

the slide show and mushroom is coming.

I enjoyed stepping back in the past with Roy.

Have you ever wondered….

what you would do if you lost your phone down a vault toilet. I did not neither did Roy. We did watch the retrieval process. It involved Duct tape. More on that later.

stuff
wow

In the big cities of Alaska and the lower 48 there is a place called Wal-Mart. Trapper Creek Alaska has Wal-Mike’s an emporium of strange things for lack of a better description. Someone told me yesterday to not buy the Pepto Bismol it expired in 1986. Everything there was for sale. I think he would have sold his wife given half a chance. It was warm in the sun, so we didn’t stay long. Just long enough for me to take some photos. On the way out the driveway we spotted an old truck that was now home to some weeds and trees. So, I had to snap a photo or two that I will turn into black and white as that is what old truck pictures should be. It was a mostly clear sky, so we headed up to Denali.

the truck
b/w
stuff everywhere

Of course, you know we never take the direct path to anywhere. The detour involved the Mt McKinley Princess Wilderness lodge. The property was at the top of a winding road with great views. It looked like a planned senior community.

You’ve heard the saying about the weather around Denali wait five minutes and it will change. It sure did socked right in. The clouds were not moving. This all occurred during the 30-minute drive up to the viewpoint along with our side trip. Well, I wasn’t going to waste a trip to explore the Denali south viewpoint. We got my chair out I put on my hat and off I went. It was cloudy and even dark over the mountain, so I snapped a few pictures of the river below and set off on a mission.

There is a gravel trail that goes up to a higher viewpoint (I think).

sorta the summit

I did not make it to the top because higher up the path there was pea gravel that my chair hates. So, I had to settle for the first plateau that had a bench and a large rock. I stayed there for a while just thinking that wasn’t half bad taking the chair up a gravel curvy incline. It has taken all summer but, I can handle almost anything in it. I start my way down and realize that there is a hump in the middle of the path and if you get to the outside edge of the path the wheelchair kept wanting to head for the ditch. I experienced this firsthand as I moved over to let a group pass me. That was not one of my better thoughts. The quick thinking of that group saved me from falling off the cliff. I was able to get angled back to semi solid ground and finish heading down the hill. I have to say going downhill is a little harder than going uphill.

smile
what 70% see

Back at the overlook I was still waiting for Denali to show and that was a no go. I asked someone to take my picture and then decided to head back to the car. This is where the duct tape comes in.

Over my shoulder I hear do you work here, you’re in a white truck. The two people did not but they asked what do you need. The daughter of the guy asking for help did it. She dropped her phone in no man’s land. Of course, we had to stay around and watch.

Truck guy said he had Duct tape and that they could wrap it around something lower that down and grab the phone. So, we watched as they wrapped the tape around a stick and disappeared into the bathroom only to return and get a larger stick prepared the same way. That did not work. Someone then brought a small empty box into the picture. I’m wondering what they were attempting. They decided to tape the box to the bottom of the stick that could reach the phone and scoop it into the box. Success! I will let you know that they did not want to try and use it they just need to get the sims card out of it.

I would have to say just leave it be. I will bet that the girl who dropped it will not bring her phone with her to the bathroom for a very long time.

Another Episode of …..

People you meet. I have been craving WISCONSIN cheese curds for a few months who would have thunk I would have to come to Alaska to get some. You know with me there is always a back story to how I get the things I get. Here it is.

they do exist

Having the chair, I was able to run rampant, at the air show. (I see new wheels in my future.) I’m headed down the flight line and I see a booth selling real Wisconsin Cheese curds. (You can find them on Facebook.) I’m from there so I had to investigate. Danielle was cute and very helpful. I asked were they for real and why here in Alaska. She explained that her SO had moved up to Sterling Alaska and she followed with cheese curds in tow. I guess there was no good cheese in Alaska. That is how it started and now they do local events and serve deep fried cheese curds. I put on my sad face because deep fried cheese curds are not the same. Danielle said that they only bring frozen cheese curds to big events for sale purposes, they do have fresh curds at the Soldotna Wednesday markets. So, I get all sad and say that’s ok. After some more banter about cheese curds. I was able to get a little more than a pound of frozen cheese curds. They have thawed and I am now squeaking to my heart’s content

CHEESE

Today started with Roy and I meeting one of the campers in the park we are staying at (Three Bears, Trapper Creek AK). Roy had helped them when they had checked in with some questions about the area. We got to talking and gave them some ideas on what to do in Fairbanks because that is the next place they will be. The woman kept calling us her ‘Angels of Life’.

Being a chair user and having MS you just know things. That is what happened today. We stopped at Alaska Birch Syrup and Wild Harvest Products on are way to Talkeetna. The shop is cute with lots of free samples. I’m in the store and I look over and see a woman with a walker, (she has that MS stance). I didn’t want to go up to her and ask how long she has had MS because that is strange. Long story short. We did start talking and I said something like I’m not drunk it’s MS. She goes I have MS very small world. We traded the dates of our diagnosis and how we were getting along. It was something I think I needed today to help me realize I’m not the only one. They leave and I make my purchases and leave. So off to Talkeetna we head. The town has a cat for the mayor, so it has to be cool.

We find a parking spot (which was hard to find), I see that there are ramps into some of the stores. I have been so good this trip about shopping. I fell off the wagon I had to go shopping. So back in the chair, paved bike/people lane and I was good to go. Driving up and down the street who do I see, but my MS buddy. So, we chatted some more and enjoyed each other company. She also has just started using a chair and agrees with me it is bittersweet. You get a little more freedom to go more places, but it is with the need of some motorized device. You lose some freedom to do it yourself.

Today was also a day of just talking to people. (I knew I should have written his name down) At the end of the street there are tents set up flea market style, I see a photography tent. I make an effort to talk to photographers who sell their work, either to get some pointers or let them know I enjoy their work. We sat and talked about why photos sell, what photo sells. Inspiration. I was able to share one of my baby birds phots from Ninilchik. That is when he brought up getting a little burned out because he seems to sell the same photos over and over. So, he had been itching for photo field trip. Although, he said he doesn’t like to shoot in the summer. He just does not like the colors plus he sells his works to tourists. He did say he might have to go down and see for himself. He thanked me for stopping in and talking to him, this made part of my day.

Just on a side note those ramps that looked handicap accessible were not all that accessible. I will give them an E for effort. I do have to say the one store I stopped at that had a ramp but had a lip my chair would not get over to get in the store the owner was very helpful in bringing the things to me.

Every once in a while, you have to take the day and just meet people. Slow down and reflect. See how they touch you and how you touch them.

About the Pictures

I have to preface the coming posts. Yes, we are in Alaska and that means the internet and wi-fi connects are like 1999. With that said, I am not sure when the picture posts will return. I am hoping in Fairbanks.

Look at the bright side it will give me time to edit some more photos

Homer in the sun

I was finally able to get to the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center Here is also the Facebook page. I had been here before in 2017 but did not want to walk around the museum or do the boardwalk. So, this is another time that my chair allowed me to enjoy something I could not do before. I was also impressed that we had a sunny day to do this.

I grabbed the camera and got in the chair, went down to the main floor and headed out to the trail to get to the boardwalk and maybe even get a sandhill crane picture. Needless to say, that plan did not work. But more on that later. I can find more than one way to skin a cat. I headed back to the center before I got to stuck. I was able to talk to a park ranger about the trail and the bad gravel. She was interested because they do say that the trail is handicap accessible. I might have created a project for the youth conservation corp. She gave me a work around where I could get on the board walk, which I did do.

grabbing eggs

I first decided to go through the museum that was there. Interesting how depended we are on the sea and the variety of wildlife in the water. There is a room that is dark and has movie screens with a bunch of birds flying around landing on rocks. It gives you a feeling of being out at sea and seeing all of these birds.

I was able to listen to an Indigenous trapper talk about his family and how they trap foxes although with the decrease in Canadian Geese the foxes are also decreasing. (This was one of those motion activated recordings.)

ship under glass

They have a research vessel the Tiglax. They travel the Aleutians and gather information on sea life and climate. It was interesting to be able to go through the museum and enjoy it. I am enjoying the freedom this trip because of the chair. Now back to the boardwalk.

my kind of gravel

As I tried to get to the boardwalk from the visitors center, I ran into a curve that had too much gravel and did not attempt. So, back to the car and three left turns later we get to a level gravel area that will take me to the boardwalk.

just the grate

My first thought was not more stones. These stones were ok though, I am loving hard packed rocks. I was a tad concerned about get up any lip that might be on the boardwalk. Thank goodness it was only a little lip. I motored my way up as far as I could go, then turned around and saw a few good landscape photos. I even saw a sandhill crane. It was a little breezy, but it felt good to get that close to the wetlands.

I can drive
advice

I think I will begin to follow the advice I found on this sign. It is strange how different things look at ground level. We drove over the wetlands every time we went to Homer, from the viewpoint on the bridge it looked small. At ground level it looks vast.

vastness
another view

I wasn’t able to get to the beach, so we decided to drive down to the beach and explore old town Homer. I want to share this piece of art that we came across.

enter here

This trip has been amazing, and I am enjoying sharing these adventures with you. Sitting in Houston AK this week with the raining weather has helped me to catch up on the adventure.

Way TOO Many People

Dip netting. (I borrowed this video from YouTube). I did not have a drone to capture the massive amount of people. They were close together and it made me wonder how the salmon chose which net to get caught in.

the beach
looking at all the tents

The fact that dip netting is only open to Alaskans is amazing and good. It is called Subsistence Fishing this allows for Alaskans to fill their freezers for the winter. Here is a link to the permits required. We went to the Kasilof River on July 9th to experience the sight of salmon getting entrapped in a net. It was so overcrowded they were even parking under signs that said no parking anytime.

NO Parking
No Parking

It is interesting to learn that a permit is required and that you have to clip off the end tips of the tail this is to distinguish the fish that were gotten during dip netting and the ones caught with rod n reel. (Which has been hard to do this week July 17th too much rain means swollen rivers). Speaking of rain this is why I am catching up on blogs and photos. We extended on the Kenai to maybe get a few more pictures. We’ve gotten rain and a few less pictures. I got sidetracked back to better weather and the drive up the Peninsula.

Is it safe now

We headed into Kenai so I could do some grocery shopping. Headed towards Kenai on the Sterling Highway was where I was treated to seeing two moose. Roy was able to enjoy also but they were on my side of the car. (So, I was closer.) The first one was just hanging around a dirt lane popping in and out of the tree line.

What are you looking at?

The second moose was just chewing and minding her own business along the side of the road. I took some pictures and we headed onward.

a large chariot
the terminal

On we go to get me salad stuff which Roy struck out with Safeway. It was early yet so we decided to find out where the bear viewing boat trip left from so, we knew where we were going and how big the planes were. I was surprised at how rough the roads were getting out to the Alaska West Air, water terminal.

ready

Sitting in the parking lot I got lucky and was able to catch a plane taking off. The taxi way is also the landing zone.

lift off

After a full day of travel, we almost found everything for my salads. Roy still had to pick up lettuce and some onions from Wal-Mart because Safeway didn’t have any. No onions but we were able to get fresh leaf lettuce and some farm fresh eggs. Roy pulled one of his favorite u-turns for a roadside stand that advertised fresh veggies.

The enjoyable thing about driving some of the backroads is you never know what good farm fresh things you’ll find.

When at first you don’t succeed

try again.

This trip has been all about being in the right place at the right time for photo ops. Today was our second to last day on the Kenai. It was gloomy and rainy, so we went out looking for something to photograph. We were hoping to see a local fish ladder in use. No such luck. We then wanted to see if we could see salmon from another bridge. Could not find the road it was on. Striking out on those two adventures we head to a drive-up coffee place and ordered a coffee milkshake made with real frozen expresso.

Off to Deep Creek to see if there are any boats out on the water. There were two and we were just in time to see them dock. This is the beach that you have to get pulled out by tractors. The first boat revved his engines and made the perfect launch into his trailer. The second boat not so lucky. See for yourself. I am so glad Roy told me to video it.

The Line
The Miss
try again
success

We have had such a blast this year on the Kenai. Now we resupply in Anchorage, then, up the Parks Highway. We should be in Fairbanks in time for the start of Northern Lights season.

When they won’t come to you.

our chariot

You go to them. That is what we did. It all started with lunch and my good friend Lisa, (she does amazing wildlife photography trips to Alaska) plus a question about bears. I went with Lisa in 2018 (when I was more mobile) to Lake Clark National Park Chinitna Bay. Roy and I both knew that was a no-go this trip. So, what to do? Airplane to boat, to bear viewing from boat, back to airplane. My first thought was how is this going to work, I’m in a boat they are on shore (not much chance for action) I was thinking. Well, I am so glad I was wrong. I am getting ahead of myself.

This is exactly what we did with Alaska West Air. The staff there were able to help get us on the plane and then off the plane into the boat.

looking out the window
Our fearless pilot

My only experience flying in Alaska had been in very tiny planes so you can imagine my surprise when I saw a nine-seater. Ok it wasn’t super spacious I did however have a window and some breathing room. I don’t like to fly this is one time Roy told me all I had to do was breathe and look out the window and that is what I did.

Now that we are on semi dry land, (ok a wooden dock with some steps) it was time to get in. It was cool they brought the boat to us as the others who were also getting in boats had to walk the plank. This is not only a bear viewing area it is also a great salmon fishing area.

on the right side of the boat

Wolverine Creek/Redoubt Bay is on Big River Lakes, here is a description of the area we were at. We head directly to the base of Wolverine Creek and experienced a small version of combat fishing. I mean there had to be at least ten skiffs in this small area most were fishing. I caught some of their lines in my pictures which was a little annoying, but I was seeing bear. That made it OK.

almost
Our trusty guide

It took a few minutes to navigate around the boats, but our guide Evan had us tucked into a nice cozy spot. Here, we could see the water and the shore. The first bear was trying and trying to grab a fish but to no avail, lots of splashing and coming up empty. He was trying to compete with the salmon fishers (they were winning)

He then decides to come over to our side of the creek. Which was a win for both of us he got some good fish, and I got some good photos. He did also have some fun blowing bubbles.

fish heads
yum

Maybe this was done to clear the palate, between morsels

bubbles
what’s under that

There was another bear who stayed on shore and was intent on turning over every rock on the beach. He did get in the water once but there were no fireworks, the bear that was in the water was way too involved in his food.

mom
my beach

The fireworks occurred when mama bear number one came on the scene. How to clear out a beach. She made short work of the land lover as all it took was a growl from behind the bushes and he was gone. The waterlogged bear took a few more antics to get him to go. This sow had 3 cubs that were just adorable in how they hung around mom.

Common Merganser

I also saw a Common Merganser with some of her ducklings. I was hoping that they would catch a ride. They usually get a quick taxi ride on mom’s back. I did get to see that later though, so it wasn’t to disappoint.

The boat decided to head to a different part of the lake to see the actual place where the salmon spawn. I was like ok let’s go. I am glad we left because the journey over to the spawning grounds was very cold and foggy the reason for this is crossing the glacier melt it is cold coming right off the glacier. It was windy, damp, foggy, and spooky.

All you can’t see

Once across to the fresh water the temperature warmed and so did the water. Side note here I did taste the glacier run off and it was like eating a pile of rock salt. The fresh water I did not taste as I did not want to reach in and touch some salmon. There were thousands of them here it was like watching the whole lake move. A picture could not capture the intensity of the end of one life cycle and the start of another.

mixing

Stopping at a waterfall was a chance to see freshwater mix with the glacier slit and watch clear blue water turn to a brackish grey.

bear

We journey back to the bears although our vantage point was not as good as the first time there. I was still able to see a few bears. Mom and her three bears were still there but left shortly after our arrival. The next set of bears to come was a sow and two cubs. They were actually too hard to photograph so we moved on to Hidden Lake but ran across a distraction called a bear on an island. The cool thing was it was us and another boat for about 5 minutes.

reflection

Hidden Lake was the best place to end the day because it was so peaceful and quiet except for the sound of my voice in this video.

peace

From here it was back to the plane and the return trip home. I told you I am not fond of planes, so the return trip was in a smaller beaver plane. I almost wanted to say I’ll stay here. I am glad I did not because flying over the glacier was awe inspiring. Pictures do not do it justice. We were able to see deep into some of the cracks in the glacier. It is a blue color that does not have a description. Then the lake was so blue black you could get lost just looking at it.

return trip.

I will be posting a slide show of the trip in a separate post.

This bear viewing trip was much better than expected for me. I went in thinking it was going to be a disappointment because I wasn’t standing on land. Like everything I’ve had to adjust. This however is an adjustment I would do again. How else could you get pictures like these.

shake it

Plus, I don’t have to be the fastest runner just have a larger and quicker motor than everyone else.

Two Different Looks

One Great City. That is what Homer AK has been this trip. We found a nice day to head down to Homer Alaska we were hoping to find halibut hanging from the days catch. No such luck. We are not sure they even do that anymore. Well, when that didn’t work, we decided to dig out the transportation from the car and have lunch. Before lunch we wanted to figure out if Roy and I could take a bay tour and head over to Halibut Cove or Seldovia. Unfortunately, the answer was no. Partially because getting the wheelchair over the lip of the boat, and the fact that this time of year has the lowest tides, and it is a floating dock. (The lower the tide the steeper the incline.) Off to lunch, at Captain Pattie’s Fish House. This place and the boardwalks in Homer are very handicap accessible in a strange way. I say this because the sidewalks are wood slats but are close enough, I won’t get stuck, or tip on any ramps. Not that I’ve gotten stuck before. Lunch was good Roy had local razor clams and I had halibut.

I had a video appointment so that left Roy free to explore. When he came back to get me, he brought bad news Halibut Cove was also out due to the same tide issues. Side note is we both would have been seasick because of the size of the boat. It was so sweet that he would have gone with me even though he would have been sick. I did say this trip I was not buying more t-shirts so Roy heads me directly over to a shop with t-shirts. I had to buy it because it said Salmon Slut F/V. I haven’t been able to see if the fishing vessel is still fishing.

the bar
nice view

So, shopping done we were off to explore the docks. A visit to Homer is not complete without a visit to Salty Dawgs (this however is not handicap accessible). Although the gift store Salty Girls is which carries Salty Dog t-shirts. Speaking of that area of the dock we saw this halibut charter between

nuff said

Salty Dawg and Salty Girls called ButtWhackers (not saying a word). Further down the dock we drove the chair and took a few pictures of the harbor.

harbor

It was a bright sunny slightly windy day on the Spit which treated us to some Parasurfers for lack of a better word.

A beach on the Cook Inlet side of the Spit had a few brave souls letting the wind catch their sails while standing on a surfboard. I thought letting the wind lift you out of the water might be exciting but also unnerving (I was watching and that is how I felt.

What a difference a week makes. The next time we headed down to Homer, it was raining (water does not mix with the chair). I have been trying to visit the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center. I do need some dry weather though to do this.

view from the side window
view from the car

What we did do was drive around the spit and town taking pictures from the car. I had attended a camera club meeting where ‘bad weather photography’ was the subject. Who would have thunk I would use it. Check these photos.

Roy decided seeing I wasn’t doing my trek he said we needed some salmon, so we stopped at Salmon Sisters for sockeye salmon. This will be dinner in a few nights. Along with the fresh halibut I was able to talk one of our neighbors out of. They caught and cleaned it, Roy will cook it, and I will eat it.

Taco Tuesday

So, driving through Homer we saw a bus named Sue and of course had to get a picture of it. The restaurant is an old double decker bus, and you can eat upstairs. It serves tacos.

tasting room

Although we did not stop because we were on a mission to get wine. We discovered this little winery in 2017 on another trip to Homer. The restaurant I mentioned earlier that we said was now ok is where Roy was introduced to the wine. He tried a rhubarb chardonnay (Roy is not a big rhubarb fan.) So, we headed up to the winery making a long story short. He loved the wine and has received Christmas gifts from here. This stop was on his agenda this year and we made it back. I was also impressed he has now broadened his horizon to include pomegranate / raspberry wine and some others. The best part of the winery is the respect and help they give to Military and Veterans. They even have a parking spot reserved for Veterans right outside the door. So, Bear Creek winery is a must do stop when on the Kenai. Roy enjoyed the tasting room, and I got a t-shirt. If you are keeping track that is 3 t-shirts so far.

sweet wine