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Alaska - 2009 Page 1

July 1 - July 14, 2009

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Blog #273




The Butte


   Last Tuesday we climbed the dusty trail up The Butte and viewed the Matanuska Valley through the smoke from the numerous large fires that have been burning throughout Alaska.  On the way we stopped by the Palmer Airport to watch two Northwest Territories amphibious twin engine aircraft take off and fly in formation.  We saw them land again on our return drive home.




Fire Retardant - just because




Like I said, it was a very dusty hike.





Fireweed above and reindeer farm below.



The smoke in the Mat Valley even made it hard to see Knik Glacier from The Butte.


A woman with two puppies arrived not long after us.  Marley is licking Brigitta, Shadow is behind.



The Egyptian Hall Family




The was the first time I really tried my old film era 50 mm prime lens; it's manual focus and aperture and has a fixed focal length.  For a cheapo - garage sale lens I'm quite happy with it.












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Blog #273




Gold Cord Mine Tour


   Last Wednesday we toured Gold Cord Mine.






We all wore miner's lamp helmets.


Brigitta took this one.


Note that it was very dark in the mine; the camera flash lit it well, however.


What it's all about; a gold ore vein.


An exploration shaft that followed a possible vein above the main shaft.


Minor miners.


The mine in HDR.


This is a nearly vertical shaft that goes down nearly 80 feet; it also goes up nearly as high.


The mine shaft entrance.


This cross is a popular hike destination and is not far from the mine.  We finally got to eat our lunch - so everyone is smiling.




Gold Cord and Independence Mines.


Enjoying the vista.


"I'm crushing your camera!"




Just getting to this mine entrance looks like a day's work. 

Look for the shaft entrance building left of center.


Gold Cord Lake Trail and lake.


Gold Cord mine homes


I switched the lens to diorama mode for this shot.


Svea worked on turning an old mine cable into a zip line for fairies.


And then Brigitta posed, danced and leaped:







We saw a moose on the way home; Brigitta took this one:


Wasilla Park


   Just a few shots from the local park:


Cousin Becky



Palmer Friday Fling Art


   Every Friday there is a craft fair in Palmer.



Independence Mine Creek Hike


   The only regular trail at Independence Mine that we had not explored this trip runs along the Gold Cord Basin; we explored that on Saturday.


Svea took this photo of the Alaska State bird; the Ptarmigan.



Independence Mine ruins in HDR




The rusty insides of one of the mine cars:




We explored a small cave.  HDR view from inside looking out (above)

Right of center (below)



Macros By Joan:








Playing at the creek







We spotted this old sled







The Little Susitna River (in HDR)



Family Gathering


   On Saturday we had a Hall/Wittig family gathering.  All four Hall siblings and their spouse as well as grandma and grandpa and grandkids with the exception of Kevin were present.  Michael's father Bob also was visiting for a few days.  Michael and Bob just returned to Juneau to work on the house.










Uncle Mark



 St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church in Eklutna


   On Sunday we went to Eklutna to see the Russian Orthodox Church, graveyard and Spirit Houses.





Afterward we drove to Eklutna Lake.





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Blog #272



Trip to Alaska


   We left Ohio early Thursday morning, June 25, and drove to Chicago O'Hare where we waited five hours for our flight.  We really expected traffic and construction to slow us down, but everything went quite smoothly.  The girls watched movies in the airport and I played with the new camera and telephoto lens.  It was 24 hours of travel time from waking up in Tallmadge to going to sleep in Wasilla - one LONG day!





Independence Mine at Hatcher's Pass -  Hike One


   I worked for my brother during our first week in Alaska, but we managed to get up to Independence Mine for a couple morning hikes before I had to head to work.  Everyone took lots of pictures.  These first two were my first attempts at HDR with the new camera and lens.







Annika took this one of Joan.  It was the first time Annika had been allowed to use a camera.  She loved it and has requested to have one ever since. 




Annika took this one of me


There she is photographing snow.



Our family portrait.






Musk Ox Farm


   Joan and the girls kept busy while I worked.  Grandpa took everyone to the musk ox farm.





Gorilla Fireworks


   I worked for my brother to pay for my new camera; here's the stand that Charlie Bader and I built twenty-some years ago and the Batmobile that I built around the same time.  I biked 11.5 miles from my parents' house to Gorilla every day.  There are now beautiful paved bike trails all the way from Wasilla to Houston.




One of my projects was to semi-cheesy-restore a 1957 Bristol London Bus that my brother recently purchased.  My old friend Kelly Hebert and I worked on it together.  It was missing 12 windows and the entire front hood-grill area.  I still have to get an "after" picture since it's been painted.



My brother, Robert, behind Gorilla


Fireworks and Sammy



During the busiest days, gorillas always dance and wave in front of Gorilla Fireworks.  Being the Gorilla Fireworks Gorilla would kill anyone over the age of 19.  The van that they are dancing on is Doug Roth's old Dodge van.



Independence Mine - Hike on Gold Cord Lake Trail


   This was our second morning hike; we only had enough time to get to a historic cabin before it was time to turn around.

Brigitta must have jumped off of this rock a dozen times.  Hiking with Britta is much like hiking with a dog; she runs ahead and then back, and then runs off to the side and then back.  She likes to lead and then doubles back to see why we aren't keeping up with her.





A moment of Zen




Reindeer Farm near The Butte

   Grandpa took the girls to a reindeer farm where the got to feed reindeer. The reindeer came right up to you and ate the food out of your hands.  Reindeer have no upper teeth (or so they told us) and cannot bite.

Brigitta even fed an elk.









Joan likes mushrooms.


Happy Birthday Mark


   We celebrated my brother Mark's 50th birthday last Sunday.  I remember when 50 seemed old...



A Few Random Pictures







Wasilla Fourth of July Parade

   Mark joined the family for Wasilla's Fourth of July Parade.  Sara Palin was supposed to lead the parade but this was the day after she announced that she was resigning her governorship of Alaska, so she wasn't there.





Brigitta's and Svea's favorite part of the parade was holding someone's puppy.



Independence Mine - Hike to Gold Cord Lake


   This time we had enough time to hike up to the lake and hang out for awhile.  It was a great day.


Brigitta jumped off of this rock another dozen times.


Svea took this shot.  I just realized this looks like Brigitta and Annika are tiny and standing on top of the mound Joan is photographing.






Annika took this one of Joan




Annika also took this one of Joan




Annika took this one of Svea


Annika and Joan - self portrait.


David and Joan - self portrait.




 The trail


 I climbed up a bit to get a vantage point of the lake and Independence Mine.  I'm just right of center, if you squint you can just see my tripod.  The next pictures were taken from up there.








 Family Portraits:










 Brigitta took these two.  Each of the girls has a camera and we encourage them to take many pictures.   Some of their shots do make it to the blog.






 Shhhh - hiding from Dad


 Where we were


 "I know, let's drag a sofa down to the intersection and watch traffic!"

Yesterday I saw a kid riding a bike in a full Santa suit... Alaskan kids are weird.


After a hike like that....what else do you do on the 45 minute ride back home?


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