Cynthia St. Charles Store

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Black Spruce Forest Fires

 We drove through many hundreds of miles of Black Spruce forests.  I grew very fond of the special shape of the Black Spruce.  This section of burned forest - I found especially interesting.  I took quite a few pictures with the idea that eventually some of these images might make it into some of my art.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Delta Junction Vist

 We left Denali early on account of the weather and spent a night camped just outside of Anchorage.  We drove early on a Monday morning to Delta Junction to visit Joe's school mate, Joyce.  She is the librarian at Delta Junction.  She served us a fabulous breakfast and gave us a tour of the library before we went on our way.
 Below, the pipeline crosses the river via its very own suspension bridge.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Mama Griz with Triplet Cubs

 This was our single decent wildlife sighting on the bus trip through Denali National Park.  There was a mama griz feeding near the road while her three cubs napped in the bushes.  We did not get any very good views / photos.  We were sitting in the back of the bus and the bus driver parked so he could watch, never taking into consideration that people in the back could not see as well.  We had to keep quiet, so did not ask him to move forward to give us a chance at a good shot.  I never did really see the three cubs, but am taking it on faith they were there.  I realize this is a rare sighting.  I am just disappointed our view was so poor.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Eilson Visitor Center in Denali National Park

 They tried to console us by saying that less than 10% of Denali Park visitors actually see Denali Peak.  It is somewhere in the distance at Eilson Visitor Center, but I have never seen it from here.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Denali Bus Ride - Wet, wet, wet.

 There is only one road into Denali National Park.  Visitors cannot drive (except to Teklanika Campground).  One must ride these school buses into the park to see wildlife or mountains, etc.  This was my third time doing this trip.  It was by far the WORST experience I have ever had riding one of these buses!  It was a steady drizzle all day long.  There was not much visibility outside the windows.  We would stop occasionally for restroom breaks.  Everyone piled off and got wet, and when they came back in the windows would get all steamy.  Totally fogged in, and they stayed that way.  School buses do not have a way of defogging passenger windows.  No way to see anything.  The road is rough.  The bus is uncomfortable and crowded with steamy people.  We saw a little wildlife.  But not much.  I would have to say that this was by far the worst part of our trip.  Trapped for an entire day inside a foggy bus on a rough road with a bunch of strangers and an obnoxious bus driver.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Teklanika River in Denali National Park

I made a reservation for us to camp at Teklanika Campground, located 28 miles inside of Denali National Park.  Camping here allowed us to save an hour each way on the daily bus ride into the interior of the park.  Most people park somewhere on the edge of the park and catch the bus into the park interior from the outside edge.  We were able to drive our vehicle into the park and camp.  We were booked onto the first bus to Wonder Lake - the furthest point inside the park accessible to park visitors.
The sun came out of the clouds a couple of times during our first day at Denali.  This day we hung out at the campground.  We could drive no further than the campground and our first bus reservation was for the next day.  It was super windy.  Hard to sit outside and read (although we tried).  Hard to cook.  Hard to eat.....  We envied people with RVs. 

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Denali State Park - No View

We stopped along the way at the Denali State Park - which has an overlook for Denali Peak.  Again, we were not able to see the peak.  Nice scenery in spite of that.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Parks Highway in Alaska

As we headed towards Denali National Park, we enjoyed the views along the way.  This train is headed for the park filled with tourists.

Thursday, January 28, 2016


Talkeetna is a very small town located at the confluence of three rivers, the Susitna, Chulitna and Talkeetna.   This historic little town (no pictures of the town) is quite a tourist stop.  The place was swarming with people brought in by tour buses, probably off cruise ships docked in Anchorage.  We chose the solitude and peace of a hike along the river (we thought - until we discovered they take very noisy jet boat tours out of Talkeetna.  They seemed somewhat interesting, although rough and very loud smelly rides.  If the weather had been nicer, we probably would have taken one of the trips in the hopes of catching sight of Denali Peak.  But, it was completely overcast the entire time we were at Talkeetna (we camped there).  We had no opportunities to see Denali Peak.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Dawn at Rocky Lake

Dawn comes around 3 AM in July in Alaska.  The light is wonderful for that night time stroll to the outhouse.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Rocky Lake near Wasilla, AK

Rocky Lake was our chosen campsite on account of reports that landlocked Silver Salmon are in this lake.  We were not the only ones fishing!  No luck, though.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Gold Panning on Hatcher Pass

 The guidebook indicated any one could legally pan for gold in the public lands off the Hatcher Pass Road.  We followed a little rutty trail to a creek, where we got out the gold pans.  We didn't work too hard at it, and had no real success.  Good pictures, though.  The clouds were right down upon us.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Hatcher Pass, Alaska in the Clouds

 After visiting Independence Mine we continued on up the road to Hatcher Pass.  This gravel road took us high into the clouds.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Independence Mine - Alaska State Park

 We so enjoyed the opportunity to roam freely about the abandoned mine and former town that is now a state park.  We happened to visit on a day when the visitor center was closed (can't remember why - maybe it was the weekend?)
 Love these decaying railroad tracks.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Independence Mine, Alaska

Getting back on track with the blog posts about our big Alaska - Canada Roadtrip July 2015.  We traveled 8000 miles in 30 days.  The trip to Independence Mine is a bit of an adventure....steep gravel road and it is most interesting.  The mine has been taken over by the state as a State Park.  What they have done is unusual.  Rather than preserve or restore the mine - things have been left in the state of decay, with trails all around to see the entire place.  We had a chilly gloomy day for our visit.  Not many others visiting that day.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Other Thing....

This is the other thing that has been distracting me from my usual routines (making art and keeping up the blog)............We had our roof replaced beginning in September.  (it took two full months to complete the roof installation due to the fact that the roof is a tile roof in Montana where few people have tile roofs - and there were many issues, setbacks, etc.)

We had many areas inside the house where water leaks damaged ceilings and walls.  Right after Thanksgiving, we moved everything out of our two living areas and brought in a worker to replace, repair and restore.  Ultimately, he stripped off all the "popcorn texture" from this ceiling (600 square feet), replaced some of the damaged sheet rock and then re-textured the whole thing.  That meant the ceiling had to be primed and painted, as well as the walls in this room and another room (my daughter Michelle and I did all the painting).  Whew!  Such a big project.  We went through two full months of drywall mud dust everywhere and no place to sit.

Here is a picture of the roofers setting up last September.