The main inspiration for this trip to Alaska was to see for myself where Kate Shugak lives, what she sees, and what life would be like there for someone besides Kate. While I wasn't able to see everything I wanted to, and only got a fleeting taste of what life might be like, it was enough to satisfy my curiosity. Now when I read the books I can see in my mind what Kate (and Dana) are talking about.(For readers who don't know what I'm talking about, it's a series of books by Dana Stabenow.)
Some of the places I wanted to see I just wasn't able to – McCarthy (Niniltna) and the Kennecott mine, for example. But I did see the Independence Gold Mine site near Palmer, and I imagine that it was pretty similar. I didn't get all the way to the Nabesna mine, but I went out that road for about 18 miles, so I have a fairly good idea of what that might be like. I went through a lot of very small villages (Chitina for example) that must be similar to Niniltna.
And I discovered where some of the names in the book come from. For example, Ahtna is not a town, but a Native Corporation with headquarters in Glenallen, right across the Richardson Highway from the visitor information center. For a long time I didn't connect the Kanuyak River with the Copper River – bangs head on the desk here!!—and I imagined this river as wide and deep and clear. It's wide, not sure how deep it is, and when I was there it was very muddy. I'm still not sure how salmon survive in that water…..
The UA Fairbanks campus is quite beautiful, situated as it is up on a hill, with lovely stone buildings and pretty grounds. I didn't take a lot of pictures there, but certainly enjoyed my afternoon at the museum on campus.
Anchorage was a little smaller than I had imagined, and the buildings weren't very tall. There were a few that were 10 stories or so, but most were much smaller – 2-3 stories. The parks were really pretty, though. I saw Earthquake Park (HUGE mosquito population!), Point Woronzof (gorgeous views), and Kincaid Park (wish I'd had a bicycle to ride the Coast Trail that goes through all three parks). One of the great things it had was a city-run campground. It was very handy to be able to camp right in the city and not have to drive long distances to get "home" at night. The other great thing was meeting fellow Danamaniac Cathy Rose for coffee one afternoon. What a treat that was!
Below are the pictures I culled that seemed to best represent Kate's Alaska.
|Wrangel-St. Elias Mountains from Canada|
|Same thing -- focused on the mountains rather than the foreground|
|Wrangell Mountains from Glenallen|
|Bridge over Copper River, with Fish Wheel|
|Copper River from overlook, looking North|
|Copper River from overlook, looking South|