Alaska, the Last Frontier - Summer 2012 travel blog


Anchorage provided a great urban fix. The larder is stocked once again and we saw a Second City-ish improv show called “Scared Scriptless” that was laugh-out-loud funny. The tank is full once again with diesel costying only $3.98/gallon. When we started planning this trip last winter, media experts were predicting $5/gallon for this summer and we knew that would mean more like $6/gallon up here. When it comes to economic predictions, the experts don’t seem to know any more about it than we do. We’re glad we didn’t listen.

We drove south on Steward Highway 1, named after the member of the Lincoln cabinet whose bright idea is was to buy Alaska from the Russians. The highway runs along the shore of the Turnagain Arm, sharing the real estate with the train tracks that run between Anchorage and the coast. Steep mountains border the Arm on both sides and as the railroad was constructed, earthworks had to be built to provide solid support for the track. This prevented little streams and creeks from flowing into the Arm, the the water back up and formed marsh and wetland much loved by migrating birds and moose. Sometimes the works of man can have a salutary effect on the flora and fauna. This has been the coldest summer in Alaska in forever and the mountains on either side of us are still loaded with snow.

With all the snow and mountains here, you would think that Alaska has many ski resorts. You would be wrong. We drove past Aleyska, the one and only, which went bankrupt a few years ago and the new owners are commencing with new construction. It has one lift and some Aspeny looking condos and cabins, but appeared to be still be work in progress.

We are camped way off the grid in a spectacularly beautiful National Forest campground for $6/night. We barely get cell phone service, but have no radio, TV or internet. Utilities are not provided so our fellow campers are as self contained and self sufficient as we are. Each spacious site is surrounded by thick forest, so when we run the generator, we know it can’t disturb those nearest to us. Overhead a glacier looms. Even though we passed through all this beauty today, we haven’t taken a single photograph. Why?

Because it’s raining yet again. It poured all day, and the clouds hung low enough so that we almost missed seeing the glacier at all. We wanted to stop at a wild animal sanctuary, but gave up when the rain didn’t stop. If I knew then what I know now, I would have picked a different summer to come to Alaska. Our friends are obviously bummed about the weather too, but not nearly as down about it all as I am. Perhaps this is because we have been so fortunate in previous visits here and we know what we aren’t seeing. The weather has got to change some time, but will we still be here when it finally does?

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