|With blue skies -- and more forecast for a couple of days -- head for the hills! More specifically,|
head for Denali Park, and hope to see the mountain itself; it isn't always visible...
|Denali at the end of the Road! Talk about luck ...|
somewhere on the Parks Highway, Alaska.
|Being an Aussie, Jade could scarcely believe the colors of the forest ... and we're still in the|
parking lot of Denali Park ... fall of 1999.
|...just so you know where you are! Even in summer, Alaska is prone to cool, wet weather, so |
when the sun shines and the sky is clear you make the most of every moment. Like this next occasion...
|At Angel Rocks, not far from Fairbanks, Alaska ... Jade and best pal Anna;|
Dave taking the picture, back in July, 1998. (Jade's the not-tall one.)
|Summer driving poses its own perils. There's no ice on the road ... but|
moose, caribou, even bears are quite likely to appear right before you...
|...as you head to places like Chena Lakes, not far from Fairbanks, on a day so perfect, there was not|
even a ripple on the water while fall colors turned every hillside to gold.
|Make the most of every hour you can get when the Fairbanks hills look this way, because --|
|-- very soon Chena Lakes wll be like this: solid ice. (Actually, this was spring, just before breakup. Cold!)|
|The Monument to the Pioneers in Golden Heart Plaza, Fairbanks, is|
frozen and snowbound...
|Snow was a carpet right across Golden Heart Plaza, whereas in summertime...|
|The fountain streams, the flowerbeds are alive with color, and that|
clock tower plays selections of well-known music on its chimes!
|Summer in the Fairbanks hills ... warm, humid, buzzing with just the occasional mosquito...|
|...and here's almost the same place at first snow -- so pretty! And, uh, no mosquitoes. But that first snow|
signals the beginning of a long, long, dark winter...
|Ah, this must be the place they put the snow in storage through summer,|
till it's time to bring it out for next winter. Knew it had to be somewhere.
|The bridge on the Chena River -- March, when snow machines and dog sleds use the river as a highway...|
|...and the World Ice Art Championships are staged in the big open space|
of the north side of Airport Way, which bisects the town...
|A mouse and a frog playing chess -- carved in ice, in 1999 ... a daylight shot. I would hike over and watch|
the sculptors, and shoot on film, saving my transparency stock for the nighttime photos...
|...swans carved in ice. And, as beautiful as the daytime shots are, the carvings are illuminated at night, and are|
breathtaking. I captured them as transparencies ... and who knows where my slides are now?
|But Alaska is not only about ice and snow. In summer the landscape blooms|
with flowers like fireweed: when the petals are open all the way to the
top of the stem -- summer is over. Not much time left here! And --
|Wild lupine, photographed on the tundra high on the Richardson Highway.|
We'd actually stopped to photograph a herd of caribou in the distance.
|Home in Fairbanks, lilac thrives in the garden ... ker-choo! ...|
|...while the Chena River is open, and summer demands you go out and explore. Like --|
|Yes, Virginia, there really is a place called Iceworm Gulch, and here's Jade standing right by the sign, to prove it!|
Where? Milepoint 204.4, on the Parks Highway. And there's more --
|The Santa Claus House -- actually a year-round Christmas store in North Pole, Alaska, south of Fairbanks.|
|The Knotty Shop, over on the Richardson Highway, near Salcha, where burled wood was turned into the|
most amazing artwork. They sold art, and also lengths of the wood itself, for railings and so on...
|Burled wood becomes a giant mosquito. That's Dave in the background,|
and we're thinking about ice cream. The Knotty Shop had amazing ice cream.
|The burled wood itself has beautiful textures. It's caused by a beetle that infests the tree -- not to be confused,|
apparently, with the spruce beetle which just kills the whole tree, and is a plague in Alaska.
|Summertime can be dusty. Looking down on Anchorage from Powerline Pass in the Chugach National Forest.|
|Anchorage, seen from Flat Top, in Chugach National Forest, just before we head north, back to Farbanks...|
|...the meander of the Salcha River near, uh, Salcha, on the Richardson Highway, not far from North Pole, AK.|
|On an Alaskan road trip, you're likely to see quite a lot of the pipeline. Alaska is as much about oil production as|
it's ever been about hunting and fishing...
|The Mapco Refinery in 1998 ... manufacturing aviation fuel, which was tankered by rail to Anchorage.|
At the time of this writing, it's closing down: it's cheaper to bring fuel in by barge from the "lower 48."
|The Trans-Alaska Pipeline System ... Prudhoe to Valdez, via twelve|
pumping stations: think in "pipeline miles" here.
|The Ayeska Pipeline is bigger than it looks. Imagine the mass and the|
velocity of crude moving right above your head...! And --
|Please don't climb on the pipeline. We wouldn't dream of it.|
|A blast from the past: the pipeline has 12 pumping stations ... Pump Station 13 was a project that didn't|
work out: a cafe-cum-gift store. And it's not even there any longer.
These images span several years, different trips, different cars, before marriage and after. Scanning and enhancing the pictures here reminds me of just how much fun it was. It's far too easy to begin to forget.
Back with more, the next time I've had an afternoon with the scanner.