Monday, September 03, 2012
We arrived in Alaska today! Alaska, the super “natural” place that I have wanted to go since, oohh… maybe 5th grade or so. Do I have a real reason for this desire to go to Alaska? No, not really, other than that it is the embodiment of the American wilderness with tons of animals that aren’t likely to be seen down in Kansas, even in a zoo.
I also got to be in two countries at one time today, or in no man’s land, depending on how you see it. Where the monuments are, there is a 4” line that they call the Canada-America border. But as Jonathan has pointed out, the border line is really at least 10 feet across. If that is so, then I really can’t be in both countries at one time, so I was in a countriless section of the world. What I found most interesting was that as far as the eye could see at that point on the border, they had plowed through the forest to create an actual physical line for you to see the Alaska-Canada border. I wonder if they proceeded to do that throughout the entire length of the border? My guess is yes.
|Note: You can see the trees parted all the way to the horizon.|
Interesting note on the Canadians versus the Americans in regards to customs. On this border, the Canadian customs is 30 minutes from the border and just a small building, single lane, no fanfare. The American customs is right past the border with all types of sensors to detect if you have something harmful in your vehicle. There are multiple lanes, but only one is used. Also, the US doesn’t allow certain fresh fruits across the border including kiwi. Fortunately the apple made it through safe. (Canada didn’t care about fresh fruit, only guns, alcohol, and tobacco.)
In Alaska, fall has advanced a bit more and there are plenty of excellent views of the changing colors. Shortly, after we got into Alaska, we passed by Northway Junction(?) where an interesting 47-year-old Native American man was bumming a ride to the next town. We picked him up for the 50-mile drive to the town that was on our way. He may have been a little drunk and/or high (from weed) and was wanting to be dropped off at a liquor store, but he was friendly and coherent enough. We learned of his past jobs (currently unemployed), how felled firewood for some income, of how his old lady chewed him out this morning so he decided to “get the hell out of Dodge” tonight (he used more colorful words). He offered to take us moose or duck hunting, two of his favorite pastimes. Impressively, for the past two years he has taken down a 48” mule moose. Moose season starts this weekend on Sept 8th. He had lived in Alaska all of his life, knew everything about this area, and had been everywhere, including Idaho and Hawaii, but preferred where he lived. He informed us life around “abouts here,” and answered my questions about the winter. Apparently, it gets to -50°F regularly around there, but last year got to -70°F for a week! But don’t worry, my friends who may be concerned about us coming so far north this late in the year. He assured us that the bad snows wouldn’t come until October or November, so although we may encounter a little bit of snow, there won’t be an issue. And, of course, in his excitement to get a ride to town, we heard all of his many stories at least twice, with many exclamations of thanks for the ride. We dropped him off in Tok, and went on our merry way.
There are apparently 3 main routes to Denali National Park with 1 more variations on that. So instead of going the quickest route to the Park, we will end up with a more circular route through Alaska to explore more while we are here. While in Tok, we made the decision to head through one of the more northern routes to Denali. Tomorrow, we will probably have to make another decision of which northern route we want to take as well.
Today, we are camped along the Alaskan Highway, on a pile of dirt that might have been used to build the highway back in the day. Or, it might just be a natural pile of dirt, but I doubt it. It is tucked into the forest and has a few pretty views. Not a bad place, if I do say so myself. I must say that is rather satisfying to find a place to sleep for the night that is not only private, but is free. Much better than having to pay for a campground that may or may not have facilities. And who needs those when you have your own shower and toilet available? :P
This evening, Jonathan cooked quesadillas for us. Since we didn’t have some of the normal ingredients (turkey, salsa) for my quesadilla and had whole-wheat tortillas instead, I thought I would try a bit of a different flavor for the dish. So, Jonathan made a plain quesadilla and for half of it added some dried apples. Very intriguing combination, which was dipped into some California dressing… I liked it.
All in all, it was a very interesting first day in the 49th state.