From Denali, we made our way south to the Wasilla/Palmer, Alaska area this week. It is only about 45 minutes from Anchorage and we needed to have a repair done (glow plugs 4&5) on the Silver Fox, to do tons of laundry, to go shopping, fill the water tank, and to find an RV dump. We also took some time to visit Anchorage and the amazing Hatcher Pass. The Elks Lodge where we are staying is on a large lake and we were finally able to take our new inflatable kayak out for a spin.
This week we have had the best weather in a month and we really have enjoyed it. The road to Hatcher Pass just opened this week and our new Alaska friends recommended that we visit it since we are staying near Palmer. The high elevation is a favorite launching spot for paragliders, but Alaskans really flocked to this spot just to play in the snow or to take a hike.
I was able to get several shots of the paragliders taking flight.
We really enjoyed watching the group take off and they drew quite a crowd.
Kids would climb up the trails and sled or ski down the mountain.
The beautiful Summit Lake still has considerable ice even in July. Some brave souls jumped in for a swim (not us!).
The Little Susitna River has a clear aqua tint, unlike the brown slit colored rivers we have seen for the last month.
We saw the trailhead for the 16 mile round trip Mint Glacier Trail and wished we had time for this highly recommended hike. This would be a good one for another day. This area is definitely worth a visit when you are in this area.
Interestingly enough, the locals advised us to not spend much time in Anchorage, but we went anyway, especially since they have the only Costco in Alaska! We were told that this is the largest volume Costco in the US, partly because they help supply many of the stores throughout the state. We noticed that even some convenience stores far from Anchorage would have Costco branded merchandise. If you google it, you will find that a store in Hawaii has the high volume honor, but it still makes a good story.
We took one of those “red trolley” tours to find out what there might be to see and do in Anchorage. Based on the tour there is not too much. We were shown one of the local high schools, “earthquake park”, an underground house, a view over the harbor, and the Hood Lake Seaplane base.
The seaplane base was the most interesting part of the tour. There are over 1000 planes that are parked on the lake with a 16 year waiting list for a parking spot. About 200 planes arrive or depart on a given day and several did as we rode by. There are so few roads in Alaska that small aircraft are a major part of the transportation system for individuals. There are more than 16 times as many aircraft per capita than the rest of the US and over 3000 airstrips. But that does not give the full picture since many cabins etc. are on lakes with no road access. Folks just take their plane to Anchorage via Lake Hood to shop for groceries and supplies since the lake is just three miles from downtown. It is also the best way to travel to the great fishing spots!
The downtown area is adorned with beautiful flowers and where else can you grab a reindeer hot dog.
Someone can do some serious work with a chainsaw!
Celia gets some inspiration for her next set of paintings.
We had a wonderful halibut lunch in town with some full timers that we met this week. After a great weather day we headed back toward the Elks Lodge.
Our view where we are parked in Palmer.