On Tuesday the three of us drove up to Hatcher Pass, about an hour and a half northeast of Anchorage. Our first stop on the way was Eklutna, a wide spot in the road just off the Seward Highway. There is a small Russian Orthodox Church there that serves a native Alaskan congregation. We included a couple of pictures of it and the graveyard in the post of May 3rd. On this trip we stopped in and took the tour (sort of).
|This is the new church (1962). To the right and below is the original, |
apparently one of the oldest still-standing buildings in this area.
|This is the entire inside of the old church.|
|In the graveyard there are numerous "Spirit Houses," little wooden houses built over a loved ones grave. Most are old, fairly simple and pretty weathered. This one, however, is newer and is really something!|
Continuing on our way, we next drove through the town of Palmer. Just outside of Palmer there is a Reindeer Farm that has tours in the summertime. We got quite the kick out of the reindeer, elk, bison and bunnies.
|Look at the rack on that bad boy! Reindeer lose their antlers every year and have to regrow them, getting a bigger rack each year. Their antlers grow between 1 and 6 inches per day and are extremely sensitive when covered in velvet.|
And then we came to Hatcher Pass! It was absolutely gorgeous! It reminded Sister Taylor and me of driving through the Great Glen in Scotland. Others have described it as being like the Alps in Switzerland. The green-clad mountains come right down to the road and tower over you as you drive along. At the top of the paved portion is an old gold mine that has been made into a park and partially restored. From there the road becomes gravel and winds on over to Willow about 30 miles away. That section will not be open until the middle of July and "high clearance vehicles" are strongly suggested for the journey. As usual, I have to say that the pictures don't do the scenery justice, but here you go...
|Headed up the pass.|
|Looking up toward Hatcher Pass Lodge and Cabins. |
I think that this is the part that people compare to Switzerland.
|Some of the restored buildings at the Independence Mine.|
|And yes, we are always on the lookout for new birds. This is a fairly common bird in this area of Alaska but we'd never been able to positively identify it before. It is a Common Redpoll, a finch.|
Well, that's about everything we saw and did on Kristi's visit. She left the next morning and experienced more adventure on her way home. Her plane developed some problems and had to return to Anchorage. She was so late getting back on her way that she missed her connection in Seattle (by quite a ways) and ended up spending the night with the Oliversons in Seattle. The next day she had to fly to Dallas, TX, before making it back to El Paso and Las Cruces. What a trip!
We loved having her here and hated to go back to reality when she left. It was so fun, just being tourists with our little girl along for a few days. Special times for sure.