Saturday, May 16, 2015

May 15, 2015 -- opening of the tourist season

Knik River, near Palmer Alaska, looking west toward Knik Arm of Cook Inlet.

The lobby of the Fairbanks Westmark was crowded with tourists who arrived on Thursday, waiting for their buses to take them to see the gold-panning, river boats, dog sled rides, and all of the other delights that the city offers to its visitors. As we drove south, tour bus after tour bus was heading north. When we went past Denali Park on the way home to Anchorage, the parking lots that were empty on Tuesday afternoon bustled with tourists and buses. And once in Anchorage, tourists strolled everywhere downtown, parka-ed against the strong south wind and gray skies. I didn't get photos for most of these assertions, so you'll have to take my word for it.

Before we left Fairbanks this morning we stopped by the old (built in 1904) Immaculate Conception Church on the north bank of the Chena River near downtown. It's small, charming, and has a very Alaskan story behind how it was moved across the river in the winter of 1911-1912 from its original location on the south bank.

Angel window, in the church's choir loft.

Our drive back down the Parks Highway was uneventful -- sunny in Fairbanks, and until we got close to Anchorage when it turned gray and windy.

So green in Fairbanks --

Green growing up in the Minto Flats South fire area (burned in 2009).

Just hinting at green in the mountains near Denali Park (railroad bridge on the hillside; Nenana River not visible in the foreground).

Not quite spring at the north end of Denali State Park, and the road to the View area was closed still.

At Denali View South, no Denali -- so we were very fortunate on Tuesday to have seen it. Of course, this view is spectacular on its own.

This is what we found in Wasilla at 5:30 on a spring Friday evening. It could be Seattle.

Flats along the Glenn Highway just north of Eklutna.

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