Last night we drove to Thunderbird Falls trail head with the full intention of hiking to the falls even though it was late. Daylight, almost 24/7 makes you think you should be doing something even though you’re tired. Well, we pooped out. Just pulled over near the trail head and put off hiking until the morning. It seems you can just pull off most anywhere in Alaska and boondock (except on private property) and no one bothers you.
Later, an Alaskan couple came to our boondock site to chat. Turns out, they too own a Lazy Daze RV and rarely get to see another one around here. They’re transplants from California to Alaska for about the last five years and lived ten months in their Lazy Daze RV on their Alaska property while their house was being built.
We woke up at 4:00 am and realized it was too early to hike but looking out the window we saw a beautiful morning sky. So, in my PJ’s, I ran out to take some pictures of it. Couldn’t resist! It was so beautiful.
Thunderbird Falls Hike–
Out the RV door at 6:00 am and hiked to Thunderbird Falls along a very pretty and an easy, two mile trail. The hike takes you by a beautiful canyon with Thunderbird Creek running its length. Further up the trail is the picturesque Thunderbird Falls with an overlook viewing platform. This morning, we really sprayed ourselves well with deet as the mosquitoes last night, when we pulled into our boondock site, immediately swarmed us. Using the mosquito repellent seemed the wisest move. Oh, the mosquitoes still swarmed around but didn’t land on us.
Stopped to visit the Athebascan town of Eklutna and it’s Historical Park. There’s an old Russian Orthodox Church (still in use) and a fairly elaborate group of “spirit houses” in the graveyard plus a lovely garden. (NPR just did a segment on Spirit Houses and we are seeing them throughout Alaska.) It was too early when we arrived this morning so they were not open yet but we were able to see well enough what we came to see.
Since we were driving through the Mat-Su Valey, we stopped at the visitor center and got some tips of what to see. One of the women at the visitor center desk moved here in 1958, one year before Alaska became a state. She told lots of stories about her life here, leaving her family and her husbands family behind in the mid-west, raising her kids in Alaska and flying all over Alaska with her husband when he went out to a “job”. What an interesting and sometimes quite difficult life she had.
As was suggested, we went to Palmer. We were told they had an interesting museum in their visitor center, a cute little town, and that today was “Friday Fling” farmers market day. The museum was interesting and the town was quite cute. The best thing about our visit here was the “Friday Fling” farmers market. They did have the huge zucchini (they’re noted for BIG vegetables) but the tomatoes were not only bigger than we usually see them but were delicious. One young mother of three little girls under five was selling home made jam so we bought some to try. I did a taste test (someone has to make sure the delicious looking food isn’t poison!) of the jam…wonderful. She said her grandmother taught her how to make it. Good recipe, Grandma! There were the usual booths you see at a Farmers Market but they also had a band playing country music. Idyllic setting; a warm sunny day, grandpas and grand kids eating ice cream cones while sitting on a bench together and folks listening to the music and tapping their feet to the rhythm.
Our Milepost book said there was a photo op of the Mantanuska River just north of Palmer on the Glenn Highway. Oh, yes! It is quite a photo op. There are scores of nesting swallows there so the mosquito population is quite reduced. The view of the river is nice but the views of the mountains are amazing.
Chatted with an Alaskan who was taking his family on a tour and he suggested we go up Hatcher Pass Road and see some of the gold mining history of this area.