Finding great food is a big part of any Vacation, and that’s no exception in Alaska! Consider stopping by the Matanuska-Susitna Valley on your Alaska Vacation, and explore some of the local fare! There are a couple of ways to get to the Mat-Su Valley, from Anchorage. One way is to take the Alaska Railroad Train from Anchorage to Wasilla, or you simply rent a car in Anchorage, and make the drive. A great place to Continue reading
Toninght we sit at the kitchen table mapping out the route we are going to take tomorrow. We want to end up at the top to watch the sunset; this late in the season, sunset is around 10pm and lasts a long time. We want to do some berry and mushroom gathering. This wasn’t going to be a hike to see ‘if we could’; this was a hike for sustenance. We need to collect for the winter! The area we went to last year happened to be in the news lately for bear sightings; we need a different location now.
Hatchers Pass looks like the location for this year. It will be a drive for us, but it’s worth it.
We will stay in Wasilla at the Best Western; “we will need the Jacuzzi after”, my wife claimed! Our backs do get a little sore, I’ll admit it.
With the record rain we had this year, we expect a bumper crop of wild berries and the mushrooms should be pretty meaty.
We have packed our bags with small containers so the berries and fungi don’t crush from their own weight while we hike. The raincoats will also be going to this year. We packed a picnic basket for lunch and a bottle of wine for the sunset (she loves that). We’ll fill up on berries along the way so we only need a couple of sandwiches and plenty of water. We’ll take bino’s to scan the landscape; we won’t be the only ones out hunting berries!
We also like to enter photo contests, as well as entering photos into the Alaska State Fair, so we will certainly be taking our camera. Mosquitoes don’t bother us anymore so no worries there and I think that should do it for our plan. That is what we do for our hike and how we do it!
Alaska is home to a wide variety of birds and with 471 species positively identified, Alaska is a popular destination for birders the world over.
Let’s start with the Gulls. Quick differences in Arctic Terns (the longest flight migratory bird) and Bonaparte’s Gulls – The Gulls have black heads and bills, whereas Arctic Terns have black heads and orange bills. The distinguishing plumage between the Herring Gull is black primary feathers (the wing tips), whereas the Glaucous-winged Gull has gray to white primaries. It is important to keep in mind that these two species interbreed and hybridize in Alaska
Mew Gulls are common on the Kenai Peninsula and in Denali National Park. They can be easily distinguished from other gulls by their small size and their yellow to yellow – green legs.
Let’s move on to the Eagles. Golden Eagles are typically seen in mountainous areas, whereas, the Bald Eagle remain along coasts, rivers, and lakes. Rarely, if ever, are Bald Eagles spotted in Denali. The younglings of the two are a little more challenging. In Golden Eagles, look for two distinct, small white patches on the underside of the wing. An immature Bald Eagle has a mottled white and dark underside on its breast and wings.
Ptarmigans are often spotted while visiting Alaska. The Willow (the Alaska state bird) and the Rock Ptarmigan are found in lower elevations of tundra, especially in shrubby areas of Denali National Park. The male Rock Ptarmigan does not possess the reddish colors to its summer plumage like the male Willow Ptarmigan. The White-tailed ptarmigan is usually found in the tundra above tree line, and often on high, rocky slopes. It can be distinguished from other Ptarmigan species by its white tail, which remains white in all seasons.
I hope I have stirred your curiosity to learn more and to visit Alaska’s birds….Only 461 to go!
The weather changes so frequently and yet it’s like the same thing everyday. I have learned while living here for the past 11 years, that rain does not matter when you have a vacation to complete. Alaska Rain is not thunderous, no light shows hardly any wind will accompany it. Looking on the bright side-it does keep the mosquitoes away! Did I mention the breathtaking clouds that will hug the mountains, if you get to an angle while your driving it’s something out of a drawing…sometimes wish I was an artist and could paint some of the formations I’ve seen decorating the mountains.
Sometimes the rain will circle around in the Anchorage Bowl up to the glaciers in the Mat-Su area which will kindly blow them back to Anchorage via the cook inlet. It is truly fascinating! A drive through the pass along Turnagain arm to the Kenai Peninsula could very well net you some amazing scenes, my hope is always that the clouds have dissipated through the Girdwood area, my favorite drive is to Seward. sometimes the pass is raining, I believe to fill the watering holes with fresh water as the landscape will soak in the water like a sponge. That, of course, has it’s own brightside…bigger-juicier berries. yummmy. The rain will also reward the mushroom hunter, another big “thing to-do” in Alaska.
So for now..I’ll be grateful it’s not snow and enjoy my summer in Alaska despite the occasional rain.
Wasilla, Alaska, located just 40 minutes north of Anchorage, is the last civilized stop on your way to Denali. In this town there are 3 lakes visible from the main road, the Parks Highway. The fist lake is Wasilla Lake, the second is Nancy Lake and the third is Lake Lucille. On Lake Lucille is a beautiful hotel full of luxurious accommodations and glorious views. The dock spans out making room for kayaks and float planes. The water is clear and cool, and you can see minnows swimming in the shady shallows. The grass is soft and green for the summer, and perfect for kids to tumble on. Continue reading