Of late you may have noticed a dearth of postings on my site; there is a reason for this and said dearth will continue into early September. My sister and brother in law – Sal and Gene – are visiting Alaska for the first time. They began their travels with a flight from Colorado Springs (CO) to Vancouver (BC) where they boarded a cruise which took them up the Inside Passage with stops at Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway and Glacier Bay before reaching Seward where they disembarked and spent a day visiting the sites. Then they took a bus to Anchorage, spent a day looking around and then boarded the Alaska Railroad and traveled up here.
Since they arrived the weather cleared up and has been warm and dry; I told them they were welcome any time and that Alaska was smiling on them! Since arriving they’ve done the ‘Grand Tour’ on a K2 Aviation Beaver which flew them among the peaks and valleys of The Alaska Range as well as landing on a glacier. We visited the Palmer-Wasilla area via the Hatcher Pass road, toured the National Tsunami Warning Center in Palmer (neat place and well worth the time), picked up great fish and meat at Mat Valley Meats in Palmer and shopped Fred Meyer before heading back to Talkeetna via the Parks Highway. I’ve driven them around the area and they spent Saturday morning wandering the village. Sunday they participated in my music show on KTNA; they gave their impressions of ‘The Great Land’ in general and of Talkeetna in particular in between music. Both were fascinated by live radio and really got a kick out of seeing their ‘little brother’ make it happen. They have walked ‘the Kidz’ multiple times each day and Sal is still trying to get a picture of the musher who takes her team up and down East Barge Drive on her ATV. I’ve seen a bevy of moose but sadly Sal and Gene haven’t been with me but they did see a pair of moose in Hatcher Pass. I also caught a brief glimpse of a grizzly at Mile 2.8 of the Spur but once again they were not in the Escape.
We finished baking six apple pies Sunday afternoon and gave one to my neighbor (Cathy); the remainder will go to Holly (my dear friend and realtor), the KTNA staff, the ‘ladies of the Talkeetna PO’ and another neighbor leaving one for us. I still want to introduce them to more folks around town and get in a Mahay’s Jet Boar ride up the Susitna River. Wednesday we drive to Anchorage to pick up a RV; we’ll return here to load it up and then head north to the Denali Highway. As pets are not allowed in the rental RV Mark will live here in our absence and handle ‘the Kidz’. We’ll be in Denali NP&P from Friday through Sunday and then most likely drive into the Kenai and visit Homer and the immediate area. Then we turn in the RV the next Wednesday and we’ll have another four days here before they depart.
All told it has been a wonderful visit to this point and it there’s no reason to assume it will not continue to be great. I am hoping they will get to see wildlife on Saturday when we take the bus in the Park to Wonder Lake. At least they’ve already had a chance to see The Alaska Range in general and Denali, Mt Hunter and Mt Foraker in particular from Talkeetna so even if we don’t see ‘the Mountain’ in the Park it will be okay. I’m also hoping for more moose views around here and in the Kenai and I remain hopeful they will get to see some grizzlies in the Park as well.
It has been a fantastic visit to this point so here’s hoping for more of the same! I will be back to blogging on a more regular schedule come early September. Here’s wishing everyone a great remainder of summer and a colorful upcoming fall..!
Sis Sal fitting glacier boots for walking on the glacier
Heading to the Beaver!
Hatcher Pass mine and vista!
A cow moose and two yearling calves on the Spur
Data screens at the National Tsunami Warning Center in Palmer, AK
This (Monday, May 18th) morning started off as the previous three with mainly sunny skies, slightly cool morning temps bound for well above normal evening high temps and light variable air along with a deep silence. I was sitting at my system reviewing some news stories and working on a cup of coffee; in the back of my mind I was prioritizing what I needed to get handled today. Being retired normally leaves me with wide open days in terms of scheduling but Monday’s mean I have to account for my KTNA music show (“Take A Little Trip Back…”) which airs from 20:00 to 21:00. The same is true for Friday evenings when I handle the local newscast although since my accident Thursdays have cropped up in this category as well since I have a morning OT session from 08:00 to 09:00. Because these are in Wasilla, which is 60+ miles to the south, I have to get moving by 06:40 to insure I am on time.
At 07:49 AKDT as I reached for my coffee I heard a distant rumble which reminded me of a jet aircraft spooling up its engines for take-off. This surprised me because usually it is dead silent outdoors during the spring mornings with just the intermittent sounds of the local bird population. Quickly I recognized this was not just noise but rather an earthquake as my monitors began to vibrate in an ‘up/down’ motion. The sound continued to build in sympathy with the vibrations and I could hear many other objects around the house shaking and adding to the din. Just as I was starting to become concerned, maybe 15 seconds into the event, the rumbling subsided as did the vibrations and within a few seconds all was again quiet. The birds had stopped their singing and my German Shepherd Dog – Qanuk – rushed into my tiny office looking for attention and security. Just a moment later I heard my Alaskan Malamute – Anana – walking the steps and joining us. My poor little angel is just coming up on six years of age but already suffers from arthritis and the steep stairs in this place are not her friends so I knew she was a bit disturbed as well. I took a few minutes to soothe and pet both my canine companions all the while telling them ‘everything’s okay’ and ‘it’s just an earthquake’…
My very limited experience with earthquakes was reflected in my guess as to the magnitude; I was thinking it would rank a magnitude between 5.5 and 6.0. However, when the Alaska Earthquake Center at UAF posted this tremblor they initially classed it as a magnitude 4.2 then moved it to a 4.5 before finalizing it at a magnitude 4.26. It was located 14 miles deep and centered just 30 miles SSW of Talkeetna; the relatively shallow depth and close proximity probably caused some of my error in guessing its magnitude. After ‘the Kidz’ were a bit more calm I toured the house and found a few items knocked askew but I’ve seen much worse in past tremblors. All told this was an interesting diversion to a bucolic Monday morning in rural south central Alaska but nothing more.
I knew before I relocated up here Alaska is by far the most seismically active of the fifty states and the Susitna River Valley area is one of the more geologically active in the state. As such I have learned to both expect and endure periodic tremblors; in fact I must say I take a degree of interest as to their magnitudes, locations and properties. Some are preceded by noise while others are silent; some show a ‘side to side’ motion while others produce an unmistakable ‘up and down’ sine wave motion and no two are exactly alike. However, I also remember viewing images in National Geographic of the devastation wrought by the 1964 Good Friday Earthquake which, at a magnitude 9.2, devastated most of Anchorage, Seward, Valdez and many points in between. I sincerely hope I never experience an event of seismic power but then I am one of many living in a very geologically active area. Like so much that’s a part of living in ‘The Great Land’ one takes the negatives with the positives…
UAF AEC tremblor data
This is a shot of the Exit Glacier in Kenai Fjords NP with its run-off in the foreground; the glacier is just a bit north of Seward in the Kenai Peninsula. It is an alpine style glacier and sadly has been retreating very quickly across the past few decades
Here is the Portage Glacier which is located in the northern Kenai Peninsula; it is a classic Alpine Glacier
The Alaska Range is full of glaciers and there’s an unnamed glacier sweeping down from The Alaska Range foothills in this image taken from the Paxson end of the Denali Highway (AK 8). This image was taken in early September of 2002 and although it was snowy and cold in the immediate vicinity of the mountains just getting a few tens of miles to the north or south saw sunshine and air temps in the fifties.
The toe of the mighty Matanuska Glacier as seen from a school driveway off the Glenn Highway. This glacier cut the Matanuska Valley which runs for over 100 miles east-west and separates the Chugach Mountains to the south from the Talkeetna Mountains to the north
Close up of the toe of the Exit Glacier in Kenai Fjords NP&P. This glacier is located just north of Seward and is sadly rapidly disappearing due to warming.