Jul 7, 2006
Houston, we have landed, and land it was, wet land but a place to stay is all we wanted. It was a very wet, rainy, miserable day and we were just happy to be somewhere that we could park and just spend sometime out of the rain doing our laundry. Many more of the laundry stops and I could have paid for a small washer and dryer installed in the motorhome. And we still have more vacation to go!
Houston is a very small town 60 miles north of Anchorage, Alaska. But it like most of the small towns we have come across the people are very friendly and wanting to help anyway they can, and so it was with Ken, the owner of the RV park we are staying at. He offered us fishing advice, let us park anywhere we wanted, helped as he could with getting me in touch with the local internet service, made many recommendations on where to eat and what to see and so on.
The town of Houston is set in the middle of Mat-Su Valley and was nothing until the railroad came through in 1917 and then the town began to boom. After WWII its importance to the railroad began to lack and it settled back into its new role of being a small town on a very good Chinook salmon river, the Little Susitna. It is now known for its great sports fishing. The valley includes such towns as Willows, Wasilla, Talkeetna, and Palmer to name just a few. And the whole area is known for its fertile ground and its abundance of vegetables, fruits, and very very large cabbage.
Willows is about 20 miles north of Houston and it too has a very good salmon river. It was in this town that we saw how they recycled airplanes. One was placed on the roof of a seaplane flight center. They would take you almost anywhere and drop you off on the rocky shore of some far out lake for a weekends fishing trip.
Talkeetna is another 30 miles north of Willows and has a flightseeing company that will actually land you on one of Mt. McKinley's glaciers. When we arrived in Talkeetna they were in the midst of a two day Moose Droppings Festival. This is their only summer festival as most of them are held during the winter. While in town a couple of other visitors arrived in the form of two reindeer. Later we saw they were on a leash and being introduced to the local kids.
Wasilla, 15 miles south of Houston, is the fastest growing community in Alaska. It too began as a whistle stop for the Alaska Railroad and soon found itself in the middle of the gold rush. It would ship supplies to Knik, a gold town, and ship the gold back to Anchorage and points south. But as the gold played out, Knik became not much more than a ghost town and Wasilla a boom town. Wasilla supports a theater, which is showing Superman and Pirates of the Caribbean. It has a Wal-Mart and soon to be the first city in Alaska to have a Super Wal-Mart and are they proud of that. Wasilla is also the home headquarters for the Alaska Iditarod dog sled race. It has a museum and short movie on the history of the race and its founder Joe Redington, Sr.
Palmer is Palmer, a place between here and there. Just outside of town is the Matanuska River. Its headwater is from the Matanuska Glacier, which we will be visiting on our way to Valdez, Alaska. The river has a very broad flood plain but is reduced to what you see in the photo as summer progresses.
Well it is now about 11 P.M. on Saturday night and we still did not get much fishing done. I see people still going to the river at this time of night as it is the best time of the entire day. The sun is out and is warming up from the colder weather we have been experiencing during the earlier part of the day. Rhonda is placing all of her pins on her new Alaska shirt and is doing it by the light of the window. It will be a shock to both of us when we start heading south and it gets dark before 1 A.M.
It has been a great three weeks and we still have three more weeks of adventure left, but in the backs of both our minds we know that we are headed home. We still have some things to see and do and will keep you all posted as we can. Our next few days will be at campsites that probably will not have internet access so will try to have an update by the 13th when we head back in Tok, Alaska. From there we head to Chicken, Alaska and the Top of the World Highway to Dawson City, Yukon Territory.
We have seen so many wild flowers on our trip and since Rhonda has been taking pictures of them all, we decided to send a couple of flower pictures with this group. With the internet access at this park being as good as it is we have been able to download a few more pictures than usual. Hope you enjoy them. Dave and Rhonda