The day will come when I will die. So the only matter of consequence before me is what I will do with my allotted time. I can remain on shore, paralyzed with fear, or I can raise my sails and dip and soar in the breeze.--Richard Bode

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happpy 4th of July

Happy 4th of July from Seward, Alaska.

I am on the Kenai Peninsula, a land of fjords, bays, and mountains that march right down into the sea. I rode down here from Anchorage, coming along the ocean and watching out for bears.

When it came time to camp the first night, a man asked me if I had a dog (obviously not) or a gun (uh, no). He suggested I go way up a gravel road to an old gold mine, and not to camp at the bear infested glacier.

I was surprised when I got to the abandoned gold mine to camp, because there was a wedding going on: bluegrass music, people in tuxedos and gowns, drinks in their hands. I found some other tent campers, and set up, anxious about the bears.

The next day I went to Wrangel Alaska. To get there one has to go through a narrow railroad tunnel. It is two and a half miles long, and they only let cars through every half hour.  They made me go last because there are sometimes motorcycle accidents in there. These happen, I guess, when the motorcycle tires get over into the railroad tracks.  I had no problems with the tunnel, but I found that the town itself has nothing at all to recommend it. There was a gigantic cruise ship docked there, and it was disgorging hundreds of passengers. I bet they were surprised at the dismal little town.

Here is the entrance to the tunnel. I am waiting my turn to go through.

The entire peninsula is mountainous. The feet of the mountains reach across the valleys, U shaped  because of glaciation. The mountains' shoulders are green with spruce, willow, columbine, and many other plants. Snow reaches clear down to the valley floor, and makes thousands of waterfalls as it melts. I think it is cloudy much of the time. It certainly has been since I got here. All the mountains have their heads in the clouds.

On top of the mountains, and covering the entire peninsula, there is a gigantic ice field. I wanted to see it, and hiked a long way up into the mountains through the snow to do that.

I hiked for hours, going higher and higher until I got into the clouds. Once up there, I realized I would not be able to actually look out across the ice field. I was disappointed because it must be something like looking across a vast sea made of ice.

I did see a lot of interesting things though, so the hike was not at all a waste of time.

This little guy was very interested in me. They call him a Marmot here, but personally I think he is a Groundhog. After a while he got tired of me and went into his home under the ground.

I wanted to show you this picture of a tiny lupine because it is covered in ice. How would you like to try growing in such conditions?

Hiking here was like walking through a garden. Pictures do not at all do it justice.

I am in the town of Seward, Alaska now, camping in one of their city parks. This town is marvelous. It is about the same size as Mt. Carmel, my home town, and it is a very popular fishing and sight-seeing destination. People come here to fish, explore the fjords, sea kayak, climb on the glaciers,  hunt, and do much more.

They are celebrating the 4th of July today, and the town is packed. They started at midnight last night, shooting off fireworks into the rainy sky. Today, they are having a massive race from main street, up into a mountain, and back. The racers come back down covered in mud, many of them bleeding, and all of them having a good time. It is fun to listen to the announcer tell where the racers come from; kids and women and men from all over Alaska.

The big parade starts in a few minutes. I want to see that, and then maybe I will head back to Anchorage. I have to pick up a part for Odysseus, my motorcycle, and then from there head down toward Haines.

More later,

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