Day 4 of our trip. We left our romantic notions of what we expected Alaska to be like and traded it in for the reality of what Alaska really is. Amidst the amazing beauty and grandeur of the mountains lies a "third world" mentality in the homes and towns. Not at all what we were expecting to see. I think my minds eye pictured something more along the lines of Switzerland, with quaint villages and homes tucked in among the mountains and forests, all neat and tidy. This feels more "Appalachian" but on a much grander scale. However, aside from the culture shock, we are beginning to acclimate to our surroundings. We are acclimating to both the surroundings, as well as to the light and time difference, although I think it's been harder (at least for me, Amy) to adjust to the light and time. Sherri on the other hand is sleeping like a baby...
Yesterday, we drove from Anchorage to Talkeetna, and about halfway to Talkeetna we saw the most amazing mountain pop out of the trees on the road in front of us. After studying the map, we realized that it was the big one, Mt. McKinley. We had read on the internet that the mountain is most often veiled in clouds, and that it is a rare thing to actually see the mountain. I had asked God to let us see the mountain cloud-free, and sure enough our first sighting of it was indeed. Further down the road, right before we arrived in Talkeetna, we saw an amazing vista of Mt. McKinley again, with Mt. Foraker and Mt. Hunter right beside it. Right now, they are fully snow covered, but we learned that the snow will melt off up to about the top 500' of the mountain in the next few weeks.
We drove on in to Talkeetna, where the culture shock really set in for us. It is literally one street, and the only paved street after leaving the "highway"...and really, I am at a loss for words on how to describe that one street. For now, I'll just let that speak for itself. We drove out of "town," crossed the railroad tracks, and entered into the "suburbs," a few dirt roads where we found our hostel. Although clean and eclectic on the inside, when we pulled up to the little shack with the "hostel" sign in front of it, we hesitated to actually get out of our car and find out what we were getting ourselves into. We were relieved when we entered and found it to be clean and not a haven for chain-saw massacres.
Yesterday evening, we got on a ten-seater bush plane and took an AMAZING flight around Mt. McKinley and over thousands of jagged, snow streaked peaks. It was incredible. We flew over glaciers that curved around peaks, glaciers that we learned are around 3,000' deep and move about 3' in a day. The pilot landed us on one, Ruth Glacier, and we walked around for about a half hour. Just yards away were little tents huddled into the snow, base camp for some crazy Mt. McKinley climbers ready to embark on their ascent. Now, Sherri and I like to tent camp, and we aren't afraid of being a little cold, but even we thought that was a little insane.
Today we are going to venture into nature for a hike around a lake nearby. It looks like another wonderfully sunny, clear day out there, which is not what we were expecting from the weather reports...but God has a way of blessing our socks off when it comes to these things!
Bye for now. We'll catch up with you again soon.
Love, Amy and Sherri