We started off this last week (actually starting the end of the week before) by making a trip to Fairbanks. Sister Taylor had some medical things she wanted to take care of up there which required her presence. (You can only do so much over the phone.) So, we made arrangements to drive up on Wednesday, spend Thursday with the missionaries, and drive back on Friday. Fairbanks is 400 miles away, all by 2-lane road, so it takes 6-7 hours, depending on the traffic, which can be pretty clogged up with tour buses, motorhomes, fifth wheels and pickups pulling boats. It is the tourist season and this is Alaska. Of course, we also had to stop occasionally and take pictures, so it is basically a day-long trip.
In an effort to get the most out of the trip, we combined the medical stuff with several other errands. We drove one vehicle up to Fairbanks, traded with some missionaries there and drove a different one back. We delivered a whole bunch of proselyting supplies - Books of Mormon, pamphlets, planners, etc., and housekeeping supplies - dishes, silverware, blankets, cleaning supplies, etc., etc., etc. We delivered two new mattresses to a couple of elders who needed new beds. We checked out a potential apartment (actually a small house) for the Zone Leaders to move into. And... we delivered smiles, handshakes, hugs and goodies to all we could. We were able to personally contact all but one companionships out of the 12 that are up there and we were able to talk with them on the phone.
Thursday was one busy day, but we still found some time to sight-see a little in the evening and on the way up and back. On the way up, we took State Highway 3 that goes by the Denali State Park and Mt. McKinley (known to Alaskans simply as "Denali.") We stopped at both the viewpoints and saw some some impressive mountains, but Sister Taylor and I disagree over whether or not we saw any of Denali itself so you can see that the viewing wasn't the greatest that day. Lots of clouds around the mountain that is known for creating its own weather systems. They say that only about 30 percent of tourists see Denali so I guess we fit right in. Thursday evening we went to the Creamer's Field bird refuge on the edge of Fairbanks and did a little birding. We saw lots of Sandhill Cranes, a Cackling Goose-Aleutian and a Greater White-Fronted Goose, two new ones for us.
Friday we drove back to Anchorage on a different route. We drove south on Highway 2 to Delta Junction, south to Glennallen on Highway 4 and then west on Highway 1 to Anchorage. We would heartily recommend taking that route. Very, very picturesque!
|As you can see, the mountain in the middle of this display board is Denali.|
You can also see how many clouds were obscuring the mountains that day.
|Denali should actually be to the right of these mountains. Pretty impressive by themselves, eh?|
|This is looking toward Ruth Glacier. Denali is somewhere behind the clouds.|
|Just a continuation of the river valley in the foreground of the above picture and some more |
of the mountains surrounding Denali.
|This is a telephoto shot of what we believe to be the flank of Denali. Too many clouds!!!|
|Sandhill Cranes at Creamer's Field. Large flocks of cranes breed and nest there.|
They had a Sandhill Crane Festival there just a couple of days after we left.
|Cranes, cranes and more cranes. Feeding, resting, flying. All getting ready to migrate south.|
Creamer's Field (part of a dairy farm) also has large flocks of small migratory birds that are there earlier in the summer.
|Just a couple of the many magnificent mountains we saw on the way home.|
|The famous Alaska Oil Pipeline. We traveled alongside it much of the way home.|
|The Matanuska Glacier. It starts way up in those mountains and flows clear down to the highway.|
This week was focused on transfers. We had twelve new missionaries come out and only five go home. As usual, transfer meeting was a spiritual feast. As usual, our week was chock full trying to get all the busy work done that surrounds the coming and going of the missionaries.
Friday evening we were able to go out to dinner with, and spend some time getting to know, a senior missionary couple who are just finishing up their mission in the Juneau area, digitizing all manner of records for the genealogical archives. Because Alaska didn't become a state until 1959, all the earlier records were just lumped together and this couple had the interesting job of going through everything from government records to village records to criminal records, including in some cases, criminal evidence. They have many interesting and moving stories to tell.
Saturday evening, after our usual P-day activities of laundry, grocery shopping and apartment cleaning, we participated in a pot luck and hike with the other senior couples and two of the mission presidency and their wives. We hiked about three and a half miles of the McHugh Creek Trail and then had a picnic dinner at the park area of the trailhead. The most momentous thing that happened on the hike was Sister Taylor taking a fall on a steep downgrade and banging up her left knee. As soon as everyone was sure that she was okay then the comments started about all the young missionaries with knee injuries she's been dealing with. She is okay, but she's pretty stiff and sore, hobbling around the apartment today. Hence the comment at the beginning of the post about her attending church via phone this morning.
|This trail reminded Sister Taylor and I off home. You could really smell the chlorophyll!|
|A Rock Ptarmigan - new one for us!|
|Sister Taylor can't be out in nature without taking a shot or two of the pretty wildflowers.|
|Yep. That's us. And this is after Sister Taylor fell so you can see that she will probably live.|
Everyone have a great week! We'll be back!