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Outside of Paxson, AK

This morning we finished up our travels along the Glenn Highway and then turned our sights on finishing the section of the Richardson Highway from Gakona to Delta Junction that we haven't seen yet.

After making a turn to the south in Delta Junction tomorrow we will once again be on the Alaska Highway and making our way to the Canadian Border for our exit from Alaska. We still have a couple of planned stops to make so we won't actually be crossing the border until the day after Labor Day.

If everything goes as planned, we will have spent exactly 100 nights in Alaska. By arriving the day before Memorial Day and leaving the day after Labor Day you too could spend 100 nights in Alaska. I'm not sure if that's true every year, but it's funny how that worked out for us this year!

But enough talk! You're here to see some photos right? As we approached the town of Glenallen we got another view of the highest peaks in the Wrangell St. Elias Mountains.

With the fog in the valley covering the base of the mountains and the clouds covering the peaks,
it made the entire mountain range look as if it were floating in thin air.

This next photo comes from the top of Hogan Hill on the Richardson Highway. It's hard too see in the photo, but the phenomena of many numerous small lakes in a small area labels them as "pothole lakes". So glad we didn't have to drive over them!

There is 140-miles between the towns of Gakona and Delta Junction along the Richardson Highway and the only town you'll find in that stretch is Paxson. The small town of Paxson (pop. 26) is very near the middle of that stretch and is where we stopped for the night at the Paxson Lake Campground, which is maintained by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Since it's a federal campground we get to camp here for half price using the $80 Lifetime Senior Pass we purchased when starting our travels. Believe me, have more than recouped that $80.

It was a pleasure to drive this paved remote highway, void of any towns, gas stations and traffic. You do have to come prepared with a full tank of gas and the ability to change a flat tire is necessary, because it could be hours before help arrives. There is thankfully cell phone signal along most of the stretch we did today, I hope that holds true for tomorrow's route through the Alaska Mountain Range.

Site #39 at Paxson Lake Campground off the Richardson Highway.

I guess we could have backed up another couple of feet if we needed to, but we're off the road.




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Outside of Mendeltna, AK

It was exactly two months ago today on June 29 when we last moved THE POD more than 100-miles to our next campsite. That was when we left Denali National Park and headed south to the K’esugi Ken Campground in Denali State Park.

Moving more than 100-miles will become the new norm for us as we make our way out of Alaska and through Canada to return to the Lower 48 States. We have a few mutiple night stops on the way, so it will take us nearly a month before we cross the United States border into the state of Washington.

Our planned route today had us traveling east on the Glenn Highway following the Matanuska River for most of the way. That is until we arrived near the Matanuska Glacier which is what feeds this massive braided river. The Matanuska River runs all the way back past Palmer to where it meets up with the Knik River before emptying into the Knik Arm and finally the Cook Inlet near Anchorage.

The braided Matanuska River just outside of the town of Palmer.

Further upriver towards the Matanuska Glacier it narrows.

The Matanuska Glacier as it decends down from the mountains.

A closeup of the "toe" of the Matanuska Glacier.

Upon nearing the Eureka Summit, the highest elevation along the entire Glenn Highway at 3,332 feet, the fall colors began showing themselves everywhere. But it's still August! Granted it's barely still August, but fall colors in August ... CRAZY!!! - T

Mostly yellows, but spots of orange and red every now and then, will soon be all gone as the seasons don't last long in Alaska. Except winter that is!

All along the roadway we saw yellow and orange colored leaves on the trees.

Even the fireweed in the foreground is fading to pink from it vibrant purple of just last week.

As if not to be out done, even the mountains are giving off an array of color around here.

When we reached the small town of Meldetna is was time to turn off the Glenn Highway and travel some 17-miles along a side road to the campground at Lake Louise State Recreation Area. As we left the Glenn Highway I began to second guess whether we should attempt traveling on this road.

The first 10-miles of Lake Louise Road is very rollercoaster-like and poorly maintained.
Remarkably the last 7-miles to the State Rec Area is perfectly smooth.

We did see this pair of Trumpeter Swans on a lake along the roadside.

We arrived at the State Park campground and drove through the loop of campsites. Not seeing anything worth $20 a night we decided to travel back up Lake Louise Road and spend the night in one of the numerous roadside pullouts we passed on the way in.

The one we ended up in is only 1¼-miles from the Glenn Highway. At least in the morning we won't have to negotiate any more of the rollercoaster ride.

Plenty of room if we end up with neighbors in our FREE campsite for the night.

Not that we can see it from inside THE POD, but this is the view just over the ridge.
But if you climb the hill across the road high enough you can see it from here. ; ) - T
That I believe is the 25-mile long Tazlina Glacier.




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Finger Lake
State Recreation Site

In between Palmer and Wasilla, AK

Today was just a short 30+ miles down the road from Eagle River Campground. Our 3-night limit had been reached again so we had to move somewhere. So why not move to another State Park campground? This one is in between the towns of Palmer and Wasilla and it's named Finger Lake State Recreation Site.

We have several sightseeing opportunities from this location and if it stops raining long enough we should just be able to squeeze them all in during our 4-night visit here.

Finger Lake State Recreation Site's campground only has 24 campsites and a good number of those are only large enough for someone campng in a Class B (van) camper or is tent camping. We just managed to squeeze into one of the larger sites with our 27-foot trailer and had just enough room to park our truck in front.

Campsite #19 at the Finger Lake State Recreation Site

There would be plenty of room if someone didn't place that huge boulder in the way. 😏

We have some special packages to send off while we are still here in Alaska. So after we were all set up we took off into town to locate a post office, but first we have to find some more packaging tape to finish sealing the boxes.

We completely didn't notice while setting up earlier,
but the fall colors are already starting to show on the trees here and we're still in August.

The view heading into the town of Palmer, just stunning!

FRIDAY - Even with the forecast for rain all day today we're going out sightseeing! Our only other choice would be sit inside the comfort of THE POD and read books all day, that's not why we came to Alaska!

First up is a visit to the one and only Musk Ox Farm nearby here in Palmer. Muskox are native to Alaska, but by the 1920s they completely disappeared from the state. In 1930, 34 muskox captured in Greenland were transplanted to Alaska, and all muskox in Alaska today are descended from these animals. The Musk Ox Farm is working hard to make sure that there will always be musk ox in Alaska.

Here's a mother with her recently born calf. They look just like a shaggy cow with horns.

This little guys ancestors once roamed the earth with the now extinct saber-toothed tigers and woolly mammoths. Musk ox have roamed the earth for over 100,000 years. How cool is that!

Does anybody know what kind of sound a musk ox makes? Seems like a question for a first grader, doesn't it? Well make your best guess and then listen to the video, you'll be surprised!


Next up on our sightseeing agenda for today is to revisit Summit Lake up in Hatcher Pass. While we were up there we decided to visit the Independence Mine, which we all elected not to do last time we were here with Rod & Sharon and Winston & VerJean on July 10th.

Summit Lake as we saw it on July 10th.

Just 6-weeks later on August 26th most, but not all, of the snow has melted.

One other thing we didn't see six weeks ago were the fall colors popping up everywhere.

The Independence Mine State Historical Park has several original buildings that have been preserved and turned into a small mining museum and the ever present gift shop and snack bar.

For a $5 parking fee you can do a self-guided tour through the museum and gift shop and walk all over the grounds surrounding the mine. For an additional $15 per person you'll have the opportunity to take a guided tour through more of the out buildings, but no one goes into the mine itself. We elected to do the self-guided tour today.

The original Mine Manager's House now holds artifacts and tools used during the mining days and displays information in a museum like setting. The original Mine Office and Commissary appropriately houses the gift shop and snack bar today.

This is one of the original bunk houses where the mine workers lived.

Now you know why no one enters the mine anymore.
It hasn't aged as well as some of the outer buildings have.

SUNDAY - We were both up before the 6:45AM alarm clock rang this morning. We have another early morning sightseeing adventure scheduled for today.

Neither Tricia or I have ever ridden in a helicopter, well that all ended today! This is not just an ordinary ride in a helicopter, we are going to land and walk upon a glacier, the Knik Glacier to be precise.

It wasn't until we were well on our way that we learned our young pilot had just received his helicopter license two years ago. I'm sure glad he didn't mention that to us while we were still on the ground!



Our private chariot awaits our arrival this morning!
I offered the front row seat with the huge front window to Tricia, our team photographer.
It wasn't long before we were up in the air and headed for Knik Glacier.
On approach we could easily see the dark streak running down the middle of the glacier.
That's what happens when two glaciers converge into one and each glacier has a dark pile of rock on both edges.
We've seen many glaciers in the last two months, but not from this perspective.
Here we are after safely landing on Knik Glacier.
The terrain is like another world up here
While we were on the glacier the sun actually came out of hiding for the first time in 24 days.

This is your to our high resolution YouTube video!

This is your to our high resolution YouTube video!

By 10:00AM we were safely back in ROVER and headed to our second sightseeing adventure of the day, The Alaska State Fair in Palmer. The Official Alaska State Fair has been held every year since 1959 when Alaska first became a state, that is every year except 2020 when COVID precautions prevailed and cancelled the event.

It's held during the last two weeks in August and ends on Labor Day. Palmer, AK is known for growing World Record Vegetables thanks in part to it's 110 day growing season with 19+ hours of sunlight each day. Throw in the fact that it has the most furtile soil in all of Alaska and you have the perfect scenario to grow massive sized vegetables.

How about a 138¼ lb. head of cabbage in 2012 or a 7′5½″ stalk of asparagas in 2018? Those are just a few of the more notable World Records that have been grown here in the Mat-Su Valley region of Alaska.

We saw some impressively large specimens today, but no new World Records.

Of course no State Fair would be complete without carnival rides and this one had plenty. This one just seemed to be set apart from the rest.




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