Alaska, part 2

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November 17th 2019
Published: November 19th 2019
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More of Alaska. One thing we noticed about driving around Alaska - there are “bumps” in the road; in Alaska, which are known as “frost heaves,” an “upward swelling of soil during freezing conditions caused by an increased presence of ice as it grows towards the surface, upwards from the depth in the soil where freezing temperatures have penetrated into the soil” (

When we were at Denali, one of the bus drivers said that climate change is about three times worse in Alaska than in the lower 48. We had stopped at a place in the park where you could look back at the road we just traveled on, and also see the road from last year, which now was about three feet below today’s surface. The permafrost had melted, causing the road to sink; the Park Service does its best to keep these rebuild and maintain these roads.

We drove from Denali, north to Fairbanks. On a clear day, you can see Denali in the distance; we were extremely lucky to see the Great One, again. Wherever we drove, from Anchorage to Fairbanks (via Denali), Fairbanks to Valdez, Valdez back to Anchorage and a side trip to Kenai, we could look in any direction and see the majesty of mountain ranges. There are 14 major ranges in Alaska; we had seen the Alaska Range (including Denali, about 9,550 sq. mi.), Wrangell-Elias (in the southeast portion of the state; 13.2 million acres), and Chugach National Forest. Mountains, almost everywhere you look

If you’re in Fairbanks between the end of August to some time in May, you’re likely to see the Northern Lights; they’re visible an average of 240 nights a year. We missed this in Iceland, and we were in Fairbanks too early in the season to see it. To be able to see them, the sky has to be relatively clear, not a full moon, and certain particles in the earth’s atmosphere have to collide with certain particles from the sun to create the beautiful colors in the sky. I’m going to keep trying to see them in the future ...

From Fairbanks, we drove a bit farther north; the road continues about 400 miles north, mostly unpaved, past the Arctic Circle, to Prudhoe Bay, at the top of Alaska. After about 20 miles, we turned around and headed towards Chena Hot Springs - a great place to soak in the geothermal springs and relax. After a quick stop at North Pole, Alaska, our next stop was Copper River. As much as I heard about “Copper River salmon” while in Seattle, it wasn’t the right season for it, and we couldn’t get any salmon from the source. The scenery along the way was gorgeous, though.

Additional photos below
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19th November 2019

Those mountains and glaciers are SO beautiful!!
20th November 2019

Thanks, Mary - that’s what I couldn’t get over - everywhere you looked, another mountain. More mountains in the next blog - and Columbia Glacier. Absolutely gorgeous!

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