Mainland Alaska

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Old 10-09-09, 04:48 AM
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Mainland Alaska

My brother-in-law lived up in central Alasaka about 2 hours from Fairbanks. My wife and I are a few of the only ones that ever made the tip up to visit them.

About 20 miles north of Fairbanks there is an abandoned gold mining dredge not too far off the road. This is not a dredge that has been disassembled and moved somewhere convenient for the cruise ship tourists. This is a real dredge abandoned 30 years ago.

Parts of the dredge are visible for some distance making it easier to find through the trees. Most of these threes were not present 8 years before this picture was taken. It has taken the land 30 years to recover enough to allow anything to grow in the tailings (mining/dredging waste).



Getting closer the size still has not hit me.



As I got closer I realized that this thing was much bigger than a house. More like a 4 story tall apartment building with cranes sticking out both ends.
 
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Old 10-09-09, 04:56 AM
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First the miners dug a hole and let it fill with water. Then they built the dredge which is basically a huge barge. The dredge holds itself in one place by driving huge piles into the ground. Then the boom on one end has huge buckets mounted on a chain that scoop up the rocks and mud from the bottom. They pick up everything down to bedrock. They are especially looking for the layer at the very bottom right above the bedrock. That is where most of the gold settled millions of years ago.



The boom on the left supported the chain of buckets while the one on the right allowed access for servicing.



Inside the huge dredge is a multi level series of sieves that sort all the rock and dirt by size. Huge versions of a miners rocking pan like you might see in an old western.

Then the debris is pooped out the back. This boom kicks out the bulk of the material that is immediatley sifted out and not worthy of more processing. It is covered to help prevent the conveyor inside from freezing during the winter.





The smaller chutes eject the material that has gone through the real sifting & slucing to get the gold.



The dredge digs a hole in front of it and then fills in the hole behind. So, the dredge slowly "moves" it's pond of water as it moves. Over the years it zig zagged back and forth for miles. All the while moving its small pond wherever it went.
 
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Old 10-09-09, 05:00 AM
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Not too far away the Alaska Pipeline passes by.

A roadside tourist trap where you can see the pipeline.





The pipeline travels underground wherever possible. Here it is emerging from the ground near Donnley Dome about 3-4 hours south of Fairbanks.

 
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Old 10-09-09, 05:04 AM
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Wile not realy accurate for the area I found this totem at The Museum of the North located on the campus of the University of Alaska Fairbanks.



Also while up north of Fairbanks I had to try my hand at a little gold mining. Not at a tourist attraction, but by actually digging mud out of a creek and panning in the REALLY cold water.


You can see my few flecks of gold on the side of the pan. A whole lot of work for almost nothing.
 
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Old 10-09-09, 05:07 AM
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My favorite parts of the state are between Delta Junction and Glennallen. This is the "other" road, away from Denali. A nice quiet way to see Alaska without the bussloads of tourists.

This was a sunrise in Delta Junction looking over the river bed. Much smaller now, but a broad raging river during the spring melt.





 
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Old 10-09-09, 05:09 AM
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Luckily I'm here during summer. This road can be quite dangerous during winter with avalanches and rock slides.



But there is beautiful scenery around every turn.






One last thing. This area is down near Anchorage and was once above water. This area sunk almost 30 feet during the earth quake allowing the seawater to seep in.

 
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Old 10-10-09, 05:57 PM
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Great pix, PD. Hope more take time to look in.

Larry
 
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Old 10-10-09, 06:38 PM
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Beautiful! Thanks for sharing.
What is the temperature there in the summer?
 
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Old 10-10-09, 06:52 PM
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Mainland Alaska

I was in Alaska for about 4 days when I discovered it might take 4 years to even undertsand what has happened, what is going on and what could develop.

I came back for another trip and revised that to 10 years to understand it since it is so vast and varied.

I felt that way when I first went to China, couldn't find a rick-shaw anywhere and could not avoid the Audis and Mercedes bumper to bumper on a 6 lane street at 1:00 AM. When I went to a beautiful city in southern China and found that at 2,000,000, it was almost in the top 20 largest cities. - I will be back to there to see the Flying Tigers monument one of these days.

At that point, I realized that with the U.S. approach , we are just a little bump on the globe and really have not seen much or learned much. - I know I will not live long enough to see what I want to see and understand. I have prowled around the lower 48 for over 45 years and a little in about 37 other countries. I was lucky to be able to drag my kids with me around the U.S. and it was the best education they could get. I remember my now 39 year-old daughter calling from Wisconsin and M street in D.C. one night about 15 years ago, saying she was at the same restaurant we ate at 5 years before that and was planning to see what she had missed on the previous trips since she was not done learning.

Alaska is very high on my next long trip for a few months. I plan to go to Alaska next summer to finally meet a shirt-tail relative the got hit by an explosive suicide car in Iraq on his second tour. Hopefully, I will be able to get him in a 18' boat for salmon fishing on the Kenai River.

Travel and seeing things is great and when you stop doing it, you really stop learning the relative size and importance of what is out there.

Dick

P.S. - One near goal is to go to Lake Baikal in Russia/Siberia that supposedly has more fresh water in it than all the Great Lakes. - 6 days from Moscow on the great and fascinating Trans-Siberian Railroad and about half-way to the Pacific Ocean.
 
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Old 10-10-09, 08:56 PM
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Shadeladie, in the interior - Fairbanks to be exact, it gets into the upper eighty's in the summer. The year we were there it was in the mid eighty's in late June. Today, it got to the mid fifty's. which is unusual for this time of year. They usually have some snow on the ground by now. It can get down to thirty to fifty below zero in the winter. For a peek at Fairbanks from the News-Miner building, check the cam site below. Kind of a dull view but gives an idea of the weather and days getting much shorter this time of year.

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
 
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Old 10-11-09, 07:40 AM
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The only thing I really know about Alaskas weather is that you never know. Up in the flat lands in the interior (Fairbanks, Delta Junction...) we had unusually warm, beautiful weather in the high 70's during the day and 40's at night in early September. Then a week later and a thousand miles south the highs were low 30's with rain & snow.

I am always shocked at the people that will not get out and explore on their own. Many only see Alaska from the windows of a Princess or Holland America bus. Very disappointing. All you have to do is head out on your own and Alaska really turns on the show.
 
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Old 10-11-09, 09:16 AM
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Wow, upper 70's and 80's! Who knew.
For some reason, I always thought their summer's were more like upper 50's at the most.
 
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Old 10-11-09, 01:31 PM
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Dane, while I admire your pioneering spirit, don't knock the cruise/tour group too hard. We had 14 days of perfect weather and saw sights and learned facts that we may have otherwise never learned. The Ketchikan and Juneau areas are in the Tongass rain forest. I would have never thought of a rain forest in Alaska. Skagway has an interesting history and we journeyed a short distance into the Yukon Territory.
The eerie, shotgun explosion sounds of glaciers calving then getting safely close so we could watch them, was a thrill. Seeing the sea otters floating on their backs near the ship in Glacier Bay and watching a pair of young Orca's pacing our ship as we headed through open waters was a great experience.

Docking in Whittier, we learned how it had been developed as a safe ship landing site for WW II. Along the road to Denali we saw a herd of Dall sheep on an outcropping just a hundred feet from the bus.

We saw many of the same or similar sights as you, and also got to meet Susan Butcher, four time Iditarod winner and see how she trained her dogs in the warm months for this late winter race. About two years later, cancer took her at a far too early age.

I was just thinking that this forum is about D.Y.I. and that's the way you did it. I'm kind of a kit builder so having the essentials pre packaged worked for me.
 
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Old 10-12-09, 04:48 AM
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Goldstar: Since you sailed out of Whittier I assume you were on Princess. Which ship? I've sailed out of there on Pacific Princess (I'm saving those pictures for another thread...).
 
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Old 10-12-09, 06:56 PM
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Actually we embarked in Vancouver and disembarked in Whittier. This was five years ago and was on the Princess Dawn. I would enjoy seeing your pics, when you get time to set them up.
Goldstar
 
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Old 10-12-09, 07:12 PM
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Juneau has one of the longest growing season due to the mild climate and the long hours of sunlight. They grow some monsterous and rediculously sized vegetables.

When I fished the Kenai River out of Soldatna, we had a couple of days of great weather. Even out of homer we had great weather (never put on a rain suit because of the lack of rain and wind/waves).

I have wandered all around the lower 48 of the U.S., the you never can appreciate the size and scope of Alaska, until you look at some of the mountains as you finally get near and around them. - The several hundred mile long approach over the snow capped mountains on one side and the water on the other side of the plane on the flights from the midwest to Anchorage is a great introduction to what you can see IF you have the time. - Looking forward to making the trip by road also.

Dick
 
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Old 10-13-09, 04:32 AM
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I can remember my first time exiting the airport in Fairbanks. It was about 2am and I'm driving into town to crash at a hotel before driving on to visit the relatives. Awake and traveling for 26 hours I did not know if I was seeing things. Even among the city lights of Fairbanks I kept seeing something out of the corner of my eye in the sky. I rounded a corner on to a darker patch of road to see the whole sky lit up and slowly dancing about. Truly a magical welcome on my first trip to Alaska.

My relatives live about 2+ hours from Fairbanks so they have nice dark skies and lots of wildlife. We stat around the bonfire one night watching the aurora dance while hearing moose/elk bugling in the distance and some VERY LARGE animal circling us in the woods. We could hear the branches (not little twigs) loudly snapping as the animal stayed just out of the light of the fire.
 
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