Alaska 2014

NOTE:  When Sharon adds comments, they will be in {curly brackets}.  Comments added AFTER coming back to San Jose are in [square brackets].


Report 37. Day 37. Tue, June 10. Tolsona Wilderness Campground to BLM Tangle Lakes Campground on the Denali Highway.


We make reservations for the four of us to take a Denali bus all the way to the end, in what they call the Kantishna Experience on Thursday June 12.

Just before leaving, Jerry dons his mosquito gear and dumps our trash into the trash bin. Shirley gets out on the bridge and shoots a picture of the stream.

And over we go, across the bridge, picking up a couple of Spotted Sandpipers, called 'spotties', on the way out. Pretty good camouflage, wouldn't you say?

Our hitch is still making banging noises going around corners, with a rise in elevation, after coming to a stop. Sharon calls up the hitch people, and Jerry talks with their tech expert. He gives us some ideas, and we check them out. The guide bars seems like they came loose, and this may be what's causing the banging. We will have to get lined up, and tighten those bars up, in the right position - what I'd call the 'trapping' position. Time for some refueling.

After filling up, we spend time on the klunk, getting the trailer lined up this afternoon, and holy moly batman, the klunk is gone when we turn corners now. Woohoo. I think we fixed it!!!

Back on the road, we pass an RV park with the apt name of Northern Nights.

We pass a really long lake down below us. Sharon spots two swans, and we do a panorama with the camera. Love the panorama. Here's Jerry, walking ahead of me, back to our rig.

We come to a roadhouse, beside another long lake. An old man with long grey beard and hair has got pelts! or so says Sharon. The rest go into the roadhouse, but I stay out, taking some photos. I see that the pelt fellow is actually got a drill and he's tacking the pelts over a low entrance to the closed area underneath the building, a sort of fold-back curtain, made from pelts. Interesting. Another man comes out from inside, shakes the guys hand, and seems to tell him that he's doing a good job.

There is a church-type building across the road, with a wee steeple on it, and I get a photo for posterity. As I walk around, I see a blue quonset hut style building somebody has put up right beside the lake. I like the double pane windows they had put in.

Here's the roadhouse, and Shirley shooting the lake with her iPad. {Jerry and Shirley got each other iPads for Christmas and they take great pictures with them..I show Shirley the trick Carrie showed me to zoom with the camera on the iPhone and the iPad. Never knew you could do that with the phone camera.}

Later in the afternoon, we find outselves at a viewing platform. We pick up a possible gyrfalcon, and a definite yellow warbler. There are lots of yellow warblers around, it seems. I got three winners here. What's with all the white hair? {Blond for Shirley and me, please!}

We come to what we assume is Summit Lake. There is ice on the lake, but it's not solid.

About 3:30 we come to what's called Rainbow Rock because of all the colors, I assume. A bald eagle does a flyalong on our right, at a braided river.

And a little before four, we come upon a wonderful site - the Alaska Pipeline. We're at 215.9 miles on the Richardson Highway milepost. We use the opportunity to click off a hundred or so photos. And here they are: {The "crooks" in the pipeline are for the pipe to flex during an earthquake, the vertical veins are to vent off heat, and the rails under the pipe enable it to slide during an earthquake. I had heard that the animals that migrate actually like the pipeline because it is warm in the winter. They had been afraid it would block migration.}

Sharon says she has seen moose eating these little things. They look like tiny pine cones. Here is the plant they grow on.

{Look at me moving the Alaska Pipeline!}

We take off, and get a pipeline moose, protecting the pipeline.

On the road again, Jerry requests a stop to pick up some rock samples. We argue for the big bolders, but no. {He actually had many rocks that he loaded into his suitcase and took home for their garden.}

Then it's off again, to absolutely huge talus slides, seeming to come all the way from the top of the mountain right down to the road.

We continue on, passing a beaver lodge. Jerry says the best place to fish for pike is near a beaver lodge because the beavers leave logs sticking out under water. The pike like to lie there and look like logs, to entice THEIR dinner to them.

It's 7 pm, and as Sharon opens the refrigerator door, we hear something fall to the floor. Shirley yells that anything falling out of the refrigerator is tonight's dinner. That gets a good laugh, but the truth is not far off, because its going to be everybody's choice of leftovers.

We pull into the BLM Tangle Lakes Campground. It's 12 bucks and only 6 if you are a Golden Pass member, which I am. There is no electricity, but bathrooms are near. {Those wooden squares are places to pitch your tent, we think for when the ground is frozen. We are now on the Denali Highway, only paved for 13 miles until you get to the BLM campground then it is gravel for about the next 95 miles. Tough road but better chance for scenery and animals, we hope.}

We go down to the lake, and get immediately a yellow warbler (see picture below). Sharon trades songs with it, and I get a couple of great photos. We continue on, seeing a Chipping Sparrow, and two pairs of ducks on the lake. A pair of scaups and a pair of surf scoters. All four of them scoot around the corner, out of sight. Then suddenly out comes a loon from a little cover. We get bins on him and it's a Red-throated Loon in beautiful breeding plumage. Asit comes closer, we can see that the back of the neck, like the body, consists of real fine black and white striping. Sharon plays its plaintiff mew call and the bird responds. We do this two or three times. Then we see gulls, which I make out to be mew Gulls since their yellow bill is unmarked by any color or black. We get a couple of Common Mergansers also, plus a couple of great takeoffs as they paddle along the takeoff path, before they are able to lift off.


A little later, I get video of a remarkably focused Hermit Thrush, working, working, scratching one foot forward, pulling back, over and over, like a sewing machine, move over a couple of inches, scratch scratch. It will be fun to look at that video.

Back in the trailer now, Jerry is killing mosquitoes with glee. Shirley says if you're a mosquito don't get born in this trailer, because people will smoosh ya. And then I say, you wouldn't wanna come back in a feature either. Pa dum dum. {Write in if you get Bob's joke here.}

It's 930, still very light, and we're playing Rummikub. We start thinking of men that sound like their things. Most recent is Tom Delay, you know, like time delay.

When we finish our turn, in Rummikub, we tap a tile on the table or our knuckles on the table. Shirley says it would hurt your handsome knuckles. Sharon said she had a knuckle palmer. Get it? An uncle Palmer? A knuckle Palmer. {My Uncle Palmer Norton, married to my Dad's sister Opal.}Good one Sharon.

So Shirley, I think it is, tells this joke. It's in an insane asylum for some reason. Anyway, a bird flies over and poops right on a patient's head. Another person says they'll run inside and get some toilet paper, and the first person says don't bother, by the time you get back, the bird'll be gone. I said the funny part is picturing the bird using the end of one wing to hold the toilet paper to wipe its little butt. Sharon says one ply or two ply And I say did you say one fly or two fly?

Ya hadda be here.

Wait, that's not all. Jerry and Shirley go outside a little before midnight to document how light it is.They get a photo of the light with their cell phone showing the time. But that's Shirley's photo, not mine.

And with that, it's a good night to you all,
Bob and Sharon

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