Saturday, September 5, 2009

Loon Serenade and the guardrails

Mr. Loon was here yesterday. Well, I assume it was Mr. Loon because Mrs. Loon seemed disinclined to leave her baby the other day. First I heard his haunting song so I went to look for him. He sang for a while, preened for a while and then left again, probably to go back to the family. If you've ever seen a loon take off, you know that it is quite the process. They don't gain altitude quickly. He went about 3 times around the lake before he'd gained enough altitude to get over the hill. I was able to snap a few pictures while he was preening. Here's my favorite:

Today we went to Hatcher's Pass, another beautiful and amazing ride! I'll have a pile more pictures to post once I get those sorted! We picked up my cousin's wife Luci and kids Nicole and Katy. The kids had not seen each other in a couple of years so they really enjoyed the time together. The kids climbed up a rather unstable slope though and scared the stuffing out of us by trying to return down the way they went up. Luci hiked up to intercept them and show them the safe way down. It was a gorgeous day and the fall colors are really starting to change the scenery, making things even more beautiful than before. Every time I say that though, it gets even more beautiful! Hatcher's Pass is only open for a few months in summer because of the snow up there. You can see all of Palmer from the road as it is and the kids said you could see tons more from the top of the mountain they climbed. We'll have to try that another time when we're less worried about them killing themselves.

I keep on promising that I'll tell you about the guard rails and while sorting pictures I realized I had some that would help tell the story pretty well. I know I can get better pictures yet, but it might be quite a while longer as infrequently as we go to town. It seems that every time we do go we are pressed for time coming home so I never get to stop and take the pictures I would like to take. First we need to start with a picture from NY. This shows how obsessive they are in NY about guard rails.

Rodney tells the story of what I was like when we drove back to camp from visiting my cousin in Palmer when we were here in June. I wish you could hear him. It's a pretty good imitation. (Me screaming) "Get your eyes on the road, you're not looking at the road, pay attention to the road, ahhhhhhhh!!!!" His reply, "How can you tell I'm not looking at the road if your eyes are shut?" Me still screaming, "I'm looking at your eyes and I can see that they aren't on the road!!!" When we made it back to camp alive by some miracle we discussed the issue with some of the others on staff and it was a pretty common theme that the men didn't think the roads were too bad and many of the women hated that drive back from Palmer. Many asked me if it was the stretch by Long Lake. I didn't know what Long Lake was but I have since learned that it was indeed the stretch along there. I think further pictures will adequately prove my point.

This pictures shows one of the drops along the road from Palmer to camp:

In this one in the distance you can see the road snaking up the mountain above Long Lake:

This one shows the lack of guard rail along that stretch of Long Lake that you see snaking up the mountain:
The next photo shows the deterioration of the ground around what few guard rails there are along that section of road. Not much there to instill confidence.

The sad thing for Rodney is that since we drove through the Rockies, I'm less inclined to get concerned about those roads. I still get concerned, but no where near as bad as when we first drove them. Of course it doesn't help that Rodney hears the James Bond theme in his head every time he drives those roads. When I can see that happening, I still yell at him to slow down or to watch the road. They are working on the roads though and the new sections are delightful. They have completed the section from the east up to camp as shown below:

Unfortunately Palmer, Wasilla and Anchorage are all to the west. Hopefully those sections will be done soon, but it will make travel into those cities take longer while the work is in progress. There's another bit of Alaska for you. When they stop traffic for construction, most people either talk to the flag lady or they get out of their vehicles and talk to each other. It's the neighborly way. I like it.

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