Our Alaska Blog Category
An iron dog, for those unfamiliar with the term is a snowmachine and THE Iron Dog is a grueling test of endurance for man and machine. This race is the ‘worlds longest snowmobile race‘ and it runs over 2000 miles. Crazy weather conditions, rugged and unforgiving terrain and some of the most beautiful territory in the world make up this a survival course on snowmachines.
Larry and I went to the start of the race this with my cousins and, although it was cold, we could not imagine what the racers would go through with the windchill factors. Wind chill from the normal weather conditions and also that of the created variety as they race man and machine in the harsh Alaska wilderness.
View the 2000 mile race route map HERE but remember-the state of Alaska is the size of Texas times TWO!
There are FAQ about the racers, machines and terrain in case you have questions. Pretty interesting information about everything from why duct tape is on the racers faces, how the trail is made and how cold it gets (OK, I have to spoil that one. It can get to MINUS 57 degrees F).
The race ends in Fairbanks and the first place finishers are expected to be at the finish line after noon on February 26. If you would like to track the racers by GPS, you can go to the Iron Dog website and check in.
Jacque & Larry
Prior to the race, the line up
The beginning of the race
Even the soda cans are heated so they do not FREEZE in the cold. Imagine what the racers go through!
So perhaps our brains are frozen because of what we Alaskans do in the ‘spring’ months.
This particular set of pictures is from out outing in Anchorage last weekend. The temperature was about oh…ZERO and we bundled up in attempt to defeat cabin fever.
Fur Rendezvous was always a favorite holiday as a kid. I remember bundling up as a family and spending all weekend in our snowsuits, mittens, boots, scarves and the like just to watch the dog races and see the snow sculptures. I even one a prize for a ceramic mouse I entered in the craft festival bout 32 years ago.
|Past years favorites:
Arts and Crafts ShowSome of the new favorites
Running of the reindeerSnowshoe softball
Jacque & Larry
SO it is a little chilly and winds are gusting a little. I decided to play a little and make our own Springtime in Alaska, With Food Coloring!
This is our front yard, a daisy stomped out in the snow and ‘painted’ with food coloring in a spray bottle. Unfortunately I did not have the wherewithal to stand out there to make the colors really pop, but you get the idea.
We hear of it, we live through it and it was even on Mythbusters and the movie The Shining, but cabin fever caught me today!
For those of you that do not know about this winter time ailment aptly named cabin fever, it is a simple albeit seasonal disorder. It sneaks up on you when you are least expecting it and attacks when you least expect it. I survived this affliction today by doing something a little off normal.
Jacque & Larry
While you are visiting Alaska, you may choose to go camping! Why not take in the fantastic fall colors and take an adventure drive over the Denali Highway? In all our years here and all our travels, this is one road that neither Larry nor I have had the pleasure of traveling until this year (2011). So we packed up some friends, warm camping gear, Tana the poodle and headed north.
Our adventure started as we drove through the still green Birch and Spruce trees of the Matanuska Valley and meandered north through the state toward Cantwell. We left Wasilla (mile 40 of the Parks Highway) passed Talkeetna, neared Mount Mckinley (ok, the park anyway) and made a right at Cantwell (about 160 miles later). As we drove north we could feel the temperature change and see the light yellowing of the trees as fall kissed the leaves.
We were, of course, in full debate as to which we would see first-would it be an eagle? A moose or caribou? Perhaps a bear? Our friends were ready to see a bear but the caribou ‘won.’
Along the Denali Highway, we were very surprised to see how many other campers (hunters too) were out there with us. Much to our surprise, with as many weekend tent cities and hunting stations as there were 100 miles from much of anything, we had a friend (and past client three times over) pull up beside us. Alaska is the largest state in the union but it is still a small world! Allan was doing exactly what we were, exploring our beautiful state and taking pictures along the way.
Our campsite was not perfect and it rained on us all night but, by morning, it was beautiful out and the campfire was perfect for our oatmeal and fresh picked blueberries.
Our 550 mile drive/camping trip and wildlife viewing tour cannot be described any better than in the photos we took. Take a look!
From Wasilla, drive north on the Parks Highway toward Fairbanks, take the Denali Highway exit at Cantwell. Follow the 135 mile (much of it dirt but very well maintained) road across to Paxson. Follow to Glennallen (get gas here too before continuing on) and then south to Palmer. From Palmer you can go back over to Wasilla or continue south to Anchorage.
Services are very limited! Medical may be available in Delta Junction, Cantwell and Glennallen but there is not much available while on the Denali Highway.
Fill up your gas tank before heading on the highway. Bring your snacks and drinks, protection from wildlife, extra gear and warm clothes with you. Don’t forget your camera!
There are a couple of places to stay but they are limited and on a first come first served basis, otherwise a warm tent and camping gear makes for a great adventure in itself.
The Denali Highway is typically open from mid May to October unless you are on a snow machine adventure. Snow and drifts often makes the road impassible.
Have fun on your adventure and stay safe!
Jacque & Larry
Growing up in Alaska with two brothers and two sisters it was interesting to say the least. We all got along (our parents would not have it any other way) and we went on adventures as a family. We went snow machining like ducks in a row, camping, fishing, going to the flight line on Elmendorf AFB (now Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson or JBER for short) to watch the planes, whatever it was, we were together.
One memory that sneaks up on me this time of year is the smell of fall. It is a decay smell to me, wet leaves, dying grasses etc. Some people like the smell and others do not. Larry and I are on both sides of the fence on this one, I do not like the smell, he does because it means fall to him.
The reason I do not like it is because of the title of this story. Siblings, Rotten, Rotten-ROTTEN! You see, my siblings told me when I was an impressionable young kid (maybe 6 years old) that the smell was a WET BEAR in the woods. They followed up with anytime you smell that smell, the bear is close and can smell you too. Then something like it is close enough to attack and eat you…you know, the fun stuff siblings say and do to each other.
To this day, I still have that millisecond response to the smell and then I think ‘siblings, Rotten, Rotten-ROTTEN!’
For those of you new to Alaska or just visiting our area in the fall, the smell is probably just the smell of fall and not a wet bear lying in wait to attack. Thank you John, Don, JoAnne and KC for the blog idea, you are all ROTTEN!
The pics above were from our family reunion in 2011. We were recreating the family pic from 36 years prior as a silly surprise for my folks. My family is nuts (in a good, silly, mischievous, fun, goofy-and a bunch more adjectives-way)! Can you see from the pics why I say Siblings, Rotten, Rotten-ROTTEN?
If you are new to Alaska or just visiting, we are available to help with the purchase of your new home. If you are selling because you too do not like the smell of fall, we are also here for you!
If you are not moving here but vacationing we also have some really cute Alaskan themed, modern and fully furnished vacation rentals if you simply just want to check out our beautiful state (and tease family members with the ‘wet bear’ story).
Jacque & Larry
One of our favorite things to do in the fall is go on a day trip to a U-Pick Farm for fresh Alaskan Veggies. The carrots are sweet adn crunchy, the peas are the BEST adn it is fun getting your hands dirty. The views are spectacular too!
One of our favorites is Pyrahs Pioneer Peak Farm in the Butte. Here are some pics of us being silly with my cousins on the farm.
From Palmer, take the Old Glenn Highway west out of Palmer. Follow Old Glenn for approximately 8 Miles. Turn right onto Bodenburg Loop Road. Follow Bodenburg for approximately 3 miles. The farm will be on the right hand side.
There are rules when you pick as to the minimum size of certain veggies, picking allowed in designated areas, be careful not to waste and they are closed on Sundays. You can visit the website for more information.
Have fun and enjoy the harvest!
While in the Palmer area, if you head into the Butte, there are many trails to take four wheeling.
Not only will you be nose to nose with gorgeous mountains but you can play in the valleys and kick up some mud in the meantime.
There are amazing views, cold water, bumps and jumps, dunes and dirt all along the way. Many people camp along the river in one of several parking areas. You will see brand spanking new four wheelers mixed with old beater four by fours. Everyone is welcome in the mud!
Beware though, do not get out too far like these folks. It may not look dangerous but it can get there very fast.
It looks like fun until somebody goes into the drink! We were not sure if they thought there was a sandbar or what but they had several onlookers.
Apparently, they had several supporters as it took two trucks, a couple tow lines and a chain and a nice friend with some hip waders to hook it all up-just to get them out.
To get to the Knik River parking lot From Anchorage, take the Glenn Highway to the Old Glenn Highway Exit toward the Butte. Follow the road to the left (over the bridge) and there are parking lots on both sides of the road. There are other places to park but this is the closest to Anchorage.
Prepare for the unexpected and bring gear for all temperatures.
Watch for tides, keep a safe zone!
Stay off the mudflats and beware of the quicksand like properties of the mudflats.
Unsuspecting or people unaware of the dangers of the mudflats can get caught in it and drown or die of hypothermia. We know of several instances where it took a fire hose and pressurized water to break the hold of the quicksand like mud.
Play it safe and keep it fun!
If you are in the mood for a great hike, stunning views and some sore muscles the next day, Pioneer Ridge in Palmer is a great day hike. The trail is not as strenuous as hiking to the top of Lazy Mountain (another tale for another time) but it is was a very good workout for our old bones! The trail went farther than we did (we got to the 9600 foot distance marker) and, from what we have read/heard about it gets more difficult the higher you go. There is always next time!
The Pioneer Ridge trail is forested, narrow and has tree roots in the pathway. There are a few areas where walkways cover the most slippery and waterlogged portions of the trails but the trail can be very slick at times. It is a steady and steep trek up the mountain with switchbacks, thorny devils club and tons of photo ops!
From Anchorage, take the Glen Highway toward Palmer and Wasilla. Take the Old Glenn exit and follow along the right side of the bridge (don’t cross the bridge or you will go into the Butte and then to the back side of Palmer). Follow the mountainside road keep going for roughly 5 miles. The trail head is on the right and there is a large wooden sign at the parking lot.
Like every adventure in Alaska, be prepared for the weather to change.
Bring water, snacks, rain coat and a windbreaker.
There is an outhouse at the beginning of the trail. From there, you are on your own.
Of course, be ‘bear aware’ and bring protection from the wildlife.
Stay safe and happy hiking!
Jacque & Larry
If your travels to Alaska involve the later part of August and the easy part of September, the Alaska State Fair is a MUST on your ‘to do’ list. The fair is typically held near the latter end of August at the state fair grounds in Palmer.
Whether you go to see the crafts or the gigantic, world record breaking veggies…OK, so the Alaska Dream Maker rhubarb took 2nd place this year but was not a record breaker-there is always next year!
Whether you go to see the animals or the petting zoo…
Whether you go to taste test your way through the fair for the fantastic foods…
Whether you go for the Ferris wheel or other rides…
A trip to the Alaska State Fair is well worth it!
Directions: In Palmer you can take the Glenn Highway to Inner Springer and work your way through the traffic cones and dozens of directional signs (easy-they have it well marked). Or, if coming from Wasilla, we like to go through Palmer and around the back way by Palmer Jr Middle School and then around to Inner Springer.
-Bring rain gear and a wind breaker (’tis the season). You never know if you will need sunglasses or not so bring those too.
-Have cash ready for parking, they charge you at the gate and many local businesses will tow you if you park in their lots trying to avoid the parking fees (including the large DMV parking lot across the street).
-If you can get tickets ahead of time at Carrs or Costco, DO IT! Then you do not have to wait at the ticket line and you can go right to the gate where the ticket collectors will take your ticket. On busy days, this can save you up to 20 minutes.
-Don’t forget the cream puffs. They make ‘to go’ containers-yes, they are that good.
-The farm exhibits close early on the last day (6PM) and they will herd you out, not kidding, at 6. Get there in plenty of time so that you do not miss the monster veggies.
-Wheelchairs and stroller rentals are available at the fair in several places.
Have fun and be ready for fun and food!
Jacque & Larry
For a nice drive in the spring, summer or even in the winter, a day trip to Hurricane Gulch is worth the drive.
The bridge is an unexpected and phenomenal feat of early Alaskan engineering. It spans 918 feet and is nearly 300 feet above the Chulitna River.
Many vacationers will take the journey on the Alaska Railroad but, if you have a vehicle, you can view this arched steel bridge over the sheer cliffs below on your own time. If you are driving yourself, there is a pullout just north of the bridge and a few trails to get a better photo vantage point.
Below are a couple of our photos from our trip.
To get to Hurricane Gulch, take the Parks Highway to mile 174 (Wasilla is about mile 40)
Dont stop on the bridge, go to the pullout just north of it and park. There are trails to walk along and take pictures.
All pics are property of and copyrighted by Alaska Dream Makers.
Jacque & Larry