Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Alaska - the touristy stuff

Independence Mine - an old gold mine that was abandoned due to the WWII draft.

The Musk Ox farm - they produce a lovely wool-like fiber Quiviut that is spun by natives into expensive but lovely lace patterns.

And - of course - a glacier tour run by a family friend out of Whittier - which was indeed a secret military base at one point due to it's almost 100% cloud cover 365 days per year.

Alaska - the family homestead

During the Great Depression, the government resettled farmers from dust bowl farms to Alaska to establish a farming community that would (ideally) come to serve the needs of military forces defending the states from Japan and any other offensive powers. My grandfather moved to Palmer about 15 years later and purchased a farm from one of the original homesteaders.

He's no longer living, but the street that runs by the old house bears his name. (He was also known as 'the Flying Dentist of Alaska'.

The farm was set on the flat plain of the Matanuska Valley overlooked by the Butte and Pioneer Peak.

The current owners have le the place decay - and the old barn that was raised in the 30's has mostly collapsed. But it used to house cows, chickens, tractors, even the airplane, and the many other ventures my grandfather embarked upon.

For both Galen and I one of our strongest memories of this place is from perhaps 1978... I was perhaps 6 and she 5 and visiting Alaska in the winter. I recall vividly sliding down the enormous slide in my snowsuit just after a fresh night of snow -- the powder piling up between my legs and flying around me as I slid down. And Galen remembers that I got there first and got to go down the slide first. It's still the best kept thing on the place.

We also visited the family plot in town.

Alaska - the first few days

We arrived in Alaska


Galen, Ana, and


to see parts of the state Dad had never visited when he lived here himself.

and to return to the family homestead.

I shall destroy!