Yet another mud and gravel road with a sea of potholes…yet the views of Alaska Range peaks, deep valleys supporting herds of caribou, and glaciers, are too stunning to bypass. Originally the Denali Highway was the only access road to Mt. McKinley, AKA Denali, and now is mostly used by hikers, hunters and fishermen. The local dog mushing race, “The Double Denali” is run along this highway…and back, as it is closed by snow all winter. We hope to return in February 2016 to volunteer with the Race and to support the local 4x Iditarod champion Jeff King (signed racing bib below).
The Iditarod is 1049 miles (the final 49 in honor of the 49th State!) and takes about 9 days. Those amazing dogs! We see them out on the trails here in summer, and they love to pull! Imagine watching them streak across the white expanses, and catching the Aurora Borealis a few hours later in a cozy lodge…
Alaskans strike us a bit like Texans. Crazy, and Funny. Predominantly Republican, “Dont’ Tread On Me” being the dominant credo, enjoying their guns, meat and booze, Alaskans are a hoot! Maybe their State’s size in relation to other U.S. States explains their similarities: Alaska however more than doubles Texas acreage, and is five times bigger than California.
Alaskans are very passionate about their interests, and we have really enjoyed their generous dispersal of information, whether we wanted it or not. They are insane about their animals and gardens. Many fish daily to ensure fresh fish for their sled dogs in all seasons.
Even little villages have gorgeous hanging baskets everywhere. The downside for produce lovers is their passion for “BIGNESS”. The vegetables we bought in the local Farmer’s Markets have been huge…and tough. The largest cabbage, weighing in at 127 lbs. was grown in Wasilla, AK in 2009, with the tight balled head measuring over 24 inches in diameter! Six foot tall Steven stands behind an accurate rendition of the winner to give you an idea of the size of the Monster Cabbage.
The lichen, fungi, and wildflowers go crazy with 24 hours of summer sun daily and lots of water, but none so much as the Fireweed. Growing tall pink spears in every bog, highway ditch and trail, it didn’t surprise us to find this young man expressing his passion with Fireweed petals, near a beaver pond we found on a popular hike.
We couldn’t resist a Fireweed Love Selfie…