Wednesday, July 27, 2016

2016 Epic Road Trip - Day 74

Day 74

July 26, 2016

Copper Center, AK

After having been so cold and wet yesterday with prediction of rain all day today, I decided not to go rafting again or salmon fishing on the river.  The water looked so good, too.

Of course it didn't rain until 6 pm so I spent the day updating the blog and cleaning the RV.

Tomorrow I will head back into the Yukon and begin my trek southward.

2016 Epic Road Trip - Day 73

July 25, 2016

Day 73

Copper Center, AK to McCarthy, AK and Kennicott Mines

Took a tour today in a van up the mountain to the town of McCarthy and the Kennicott Copper mine with Ryder, which was awesome since I was going to be on the go for almost 12 hours.
But as has been the case here in Alaska it was raining.  Ryder has been getting good use out of Maryanne's raincoat!

The copper mine was founded by the J P Morgan and Guggenheim empires in New York back in the early 1900s and ran until about 1938, when most of the copper had been extracted from the 4 mines in the mountain. They pulled about $10,000,000 (billions in today's dollar) in copper from the mines and had about 6000 employees.  

In order to get the copper back to a smelting company in Tacoma, Washington, they needed to build a railroad for a couple hundred miles, about 30% of which was built on tressels.  They also used steamships, which they would use part of the way and then dis-assemble the ships and carry them over a mountain and re-assemble them on the other side.

Overnight in 1938, the company decided to stop mining and announced that the last train off the mountain would be at 4:00 pm that day.  The mining camp was abandoned and many years later, fully furnished rooms with dinner dishes on the table, etc. were discovered illustrating the haste in which the miners departed.  It became a ghost town overnight.

In 1989, Kennicott Mining Camp was placed on the National Historic Register and in 1998, the Guggenheim and J P Morgan families donated the camp and surrounding lands to the National Park Service. The Park Service now operates as a tourist site.

McCarthy, AK is 5 miles down the road from the Kennicott Mines.  It was built back in the mining days, although the land was privately owned, not like the "company camp".  Today, about 20 people live in McCarthy year-round.  Close to 150 live in the area during in the summer. 

McCarthy became infamous in 1983 when an unemployed computer programmer murdered 6 of the 22 residents of this village. Louis D. Hastings, 39 years old, in addition to being charged with 6 counts of murder, was also charged with 1 count of attempted murder and 1 count of assault in the 1st degree.

The drive to Kennicott and McCarthy was about 70 miles each way from  the campground at Copper Center.  The road was mostly gravel and slightly more than the width of two cars, not counting the rear view mirrors sticking out. It was about 3 1/2 to 4 hours up and 3 1/2 hours back and rained most of the day.

When we got off the shuttle at McCarthy, we had to walk in the rain and mud for about 3/4 mile.  Ryder immediately went swimming in a pothole (her depth perception is a little off having only one eye) when she misjudged the depth of the puddle....just like most toddlers, any puddle is good for jumping!

 To say the least, she got cold in the 42 degree rain.  So, I ended up taking off my sweatshirt, wrapping her up in it and putting her in my backpack. 

Thank goodness I had my raincoat!

The buildings were interesting, old, and clearly neglected for most of the past century.  The National Park Service has begun trying to restore a couple of them.

When I got back to the RV, it became a spa night for the little girl...

She really doesn't look happy about having to have a bath after her excursion today....
Fish wheels in the water along the road to McCarthy, AK

Kennicott Mine
This used to be a tunnel but it fell down along the road to McCarthy, AK

Garlic Fries!

2016 Epic Road Trip - Days 70-72

Days 70-72 

July 22-24, 2016

Anchorage, AK to Copper Center, AK

We took a drive east of Anchorage to the Matanusca Glacier Friday. I had driven past it a couple weeks ago, but that was before Marnie had arrived in Alaska.  The glacier reaches down to the water's edge on a river and the ice is about 3 miles wide.  Back in the last ice age, it was closer to 60 miles wide.  It's so hard to imagine that.

The black color which appears to be beside the glacier is actually frozen ice covered in silt and gravel-grit which comes down from the top of the mountains.

swift flowing glacier river.
The fog hung above the water in the river and in striations in the mountains.

On Friday, we finally charcoal-grilled the halibut that was caught back in June.  It turned out well.

On Saturday we walked around an arts and crafts fair in downtown Anchorage, had a nice supper at the Spendard Roadhouse and then I took Marnie to the airport to fly home.

On Sunday, I hit the road, heading east from Anchorage to Copper Center, AK for a couple days, staying at a Klutina Fish Camp.  King salmon season ended early this year so I missed getting a chance to try and catch one. Besides, the weather has been downright awful, so it really wasn't a big deal.  And it is supposed to rain for the next couple days.

2016 Epic Road Trip - Day 69

Day 69 

July 21, 2016

Anchorage area

The wildfire south of Anchorage 5 days after we first saw it.  Today as we passed by, we saw lots of firemen and equipment/vehicles used in fighting the fire.
We visited the Indian Valley Mine, site of an historic gold mine from the early 1900s.  It is now privately owned property, but is registered as a National Historic Site.  They offer tours of the original log cabins and gold panning.

A glimpse of the Shaft # 2 entrance to the mine.
The view across Cook Inlet south of Anchorage.

2016 Epic Road Trip - Days 66-68

Day 66-68
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday July 18-20
Nome, Alaska and surroundings

Another excursion!  We caught a flight Monday from Anchorage, AK to Nome, AK which is inaccessible by land, except in the winter, and then only accessible by sled dogs.  With a rental car from the Dredge 7 Inn, we drove to both of the  outlying towns -- Council and Teller, and then flew back to Anchorage.

Apparently, these 3 lucky Swedes found the gold, or at least staked their claim.  This brought about 40,000 more gold seekers to Nome back at the turn of the last century.  Today, Nome is a small, run-down town, not modern in any way.  Mining and fishing are the only industries.  The towns of Council and Teller are impoverished.

The old Dexter Inn, built by Wyatt Earp and a business partner.  He came to Nome when the word was out that gold was discovered and determined that he could make more money "Mining the Miners" than by mining for gold.

Anchor Inn was the scene of a brawl on one of the reality TV shows about gold mining in AK.

The Safety Roadhouse, about 20 miles from Nome, is the last checkpoint of the Iditarod race before reaching the finish line in Nome.
The finish line, which is moved to the center of the street during the race.
At the scene of "The last train to nowhere" outside of Nome.

"The last train to nowhere," abandoned and junked between Nome and Council.  Originally planned to be used for transportation between the two towns during the gold rush.
An operating dredge in the Bering Sea.

A historic dredge left where it was used 100+ years ago.  There are six old ones from the gold rush left in place around Nome.

The Nome Small Boat Harbor and some of the questionable seaworthy dredges....
The Au Grabber dredge sits in the Nome harbor.  It is featured on one of the reality TV shows
The Christine Rose dredge, also shown on the TV reality show.
An old dredge abandoned alongside the road to Council, AK
If you look really hard, you might see Russia from Teller, across the Bering Sea.
Back 10,000 years ago, the Bering Strait was solid land from Russia to the Alaska territory.  After the latest ice age, the lands were separated by water, and they are presently about 100 miles apart.  Little Diomedes and Big Diomedes islands are out in the middle of the strait, Little Diomedes being part of Alaska and Big Diomedes being part of Russia.
The hospital in Nome serves also as a local art gallery.  Cool picture of the iditarod.
Musk Oxen became extinct in western Alaska back in the 1800s.  In the 1970s, about 30 were reintroduced to the Nome area.  Today there are about 2,000 of them running amok on the roads and nearby.  They look like woolly mammoths, which also lived in this area many years ago.