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Friday, April 25, 2008

Alaska!

Whale-watching, along Cook Inlet about 12 miles south of Anchorage on the Old Seward Highway. Didn't see any.


I always wanted to go to Alaska, from the time I was old enough to know where & what it was. Last week, my wife & I spent a week around Anchorage, awaiting the arrival of our Granddaughter, Scarlett. Like the whales missing from the above photo, Lil' Miss Scarlet had other places to be. Mommy (AKA our lovely daughter 'Sunni') was certainly ready for her arrival- but right now, Scarlett is calling the shots. Here she is with her husband Tim, who is easily the best son-in-law any father ever wished for. This is an appropriate moment to express our heartfelt thanks to them, for making our stay so enjoyable.


Sunni thought a walk might speed things along a bit, so we drove up to Chugach State Park for a snowy mountain stroll. There we learned two things:


  • One- The signs telling you which trail to use are sometimes wrong, and
  • Two- The reason snowshoes were invented.


The gray head behind the redhead is mine, and yes I 'sunk to the pockets' before I got her out.



Greenhorns on the mountain trail;)


Sooner or later I'll get back and when I do, I'm going to spend some time in this beautiful preserve, just outside Anchorage. Flat Top is the 'bunny slope' for mountain hikers and there are just fantastic views of the surrounding area.


The snow & sunlight-saturated haze dealt us photography-fits, but here's a look out across Cook Inlet from the state park.


We also made a side trip to the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail


Downtown Anchorage, across the Inlet


We stopped at the Alaska Railroad Headquarters. One of their early 'Little engines that DID' was on display complete with the requisite Totem Poles...

...another of which decorates the front of the Headquarters Building.


Sunni and Tim gave us a tour of Elmendorf AFB, where both are proudly serving with USAF. Highlights were the Eagle Hospital, where injured bald eagles are cared for until they are able to fly.


We also viewed the Memorial to Yukla 27 an AWACS aircraft which crashed at Elmendorf on September 22, 1995, claiming the lives of all 24 crew-members on board.


If you're a candy freak, you'll love the Alaska Wild Berry Products . The place has a chocolate fountain, which was down for service, and the biggest dang Teddy Bears you'll ever see.

Daddy's girl, doing a little bear-bonding;)

AWBP also sells Flying Moose Coffee, some of the finest we have ever tasted.

While most of our time was spent with Sunni & Tim, we did manage a little jaunt down the Old Seward Highway to Girdwood, and the beautiful mountains and valleys near Alyeska Ski Resort. Old Seward runs along the east side of Cook Inlet to Whttier, and the scenery is fantastic. Here are a few pics we took along the way to Girdwood.


Mountain Goats, gawking back at the tourists.


And of course, the requisite dogsled photo.


And finally, a beautiful trail leading toward Mt. Alyeska.

Alaska has a staggering array of state-maintained trails, parks and outdoor resources. I was surprised to learn that Anchorage also has quite a number of them. If you visit that city, you really should eat at the Moose's Tooth Pub & Pizzeria. We had smoked salmon dip for an appetizer, and the All-American Pizza. Both were delicious and everything that passed our table looked & smelled equally appealing. Moose's Tooth also has its own brewery. At this stage of my life I'm not a regular beer-drinker, but I did have a glass (OK, two glasses) of their Prince William's Porter- a dark, full-bodied beer which will ruin you for off-the-shelf beer from the 'mega-breweries'.


The Roll Call is still a gun blog, so a few notes on 'packing' in Alaska. Bears are definitely a consideration for those partaking of the state's enormous outdoor resources. From the state's website, located at
http://www.dnr.state.ak.us/parks/safety/bears.htm

“You are allowed to carry a gun for protection in state parks. Remember, though, that more people are hurt by the guns they carry than are hurt by bears. Select a gun that will stop a bear (12-gauge shotgun or .300 mag rifle) and practice firing it at a rifle range. Any bear shot in self defense must be salvaged and turned over to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. ”


They also recommend pepper spray, which is said to work quite well. I have used it on attacking dogs over the years and it works well on them. Even so, you aren't gonna catch this old country boy anywhere near bear country without a sidearm- at the very least. Every year, several Alaskans are killed or mauled and sometimes within rock-throwing distance of their homes or town. The state's nice little admonition about bear vs gun injuries fails to mention that the vast majority of folks who are killed or maimed by bears- are also the ones not carrying firearms. Much has been written about gun safety on this blog, and the safe and proficient use of firearms is not an insurmountable task. My advice is that if you are roaming Alaska, carry a substantial gun whenever and wherever you can. The safety and proficiency part is up to you.


Since we were traveling light, I took along my .357 Mag SP101 and my old 1911A1. Don't worry about ammo...you can find seriously-heavy handgun loads at the local WalMart. I grabbed an 18-pack of “Alaska Backpacker” .357's using a 200 grain hard-cast, gas-checked LBT. Upon returning home, I chronographed a few and found them to produce 970 fps from the 2 ¼” SP101. Recoil was noticeable but not unbearable. The load's velocity didn't impress me much- until I started shooting things with it. It easily bored through a 3 inch seasoned oak limb, digging an inch groove in the trunk behind. It shot through an old mower deck- that .45 hardball only dents. This load grouped into about 2 ¼ “ at 25 yards, and the point-of-impact with the little Ruger was only 3” high at that distance. I do believe Alaska Backpacker's 200 grain .357 would shoot through a bear's noggin' and that's about all you can ask of a pocket gun.


Truth be told, I would have preferred some of Buffalo Bore's Heavy .357 as it produces better velocity from short barrels. I wouldn't run from CorBon either but neither was available when I was looking for them. Regardless of the ammo, a .357 is really too light for this duty. If Alaska were my home, a .454 Alaskan or short .45 Redhawk would be my constant companion. The .44 Mag has also proven itself time and again, and my choice of the .45/.454 is based solely on my sticking to one caliber.


So that's about it. While a week in Alaska hardly makes me an authority on this outdoorsman's Paradise, I can honestly say that I now have only one unanswered question about it:


WHEN can we go BACK?!?!

6 Comments:

Blogger Tony said...

Sarge, sounds like everyone had a great time. Next time you visit your daughter, bring back a mountain sheep it would look great in any room. OBTW, I love real (dark) beer too.


T

Tuesday, April 29, 2008 3:37:00 PM  
Blogger Sarge said...

Thanks Tony. The next time will hopefully be for a hunt. Those Dall's are sure pretty but after eating some moose, I do believe we're going to have to shoot one.

Thanks for looking in-

Friday, May 02, 2008 9:44:00 PM  
Blogger Hobie said...

Thanks for sharing. I'm afraid that if I actually go up there I'll never come back. Might upset some in my family... Almost didn't come back from Wyoming (or Montana...). Good to see everyone well. Thank those 'kids' of yours for me.

Saturday, May 03, 2008 1:52:00 PM  
Blogger Sarge said...

Will do Hobie, and thank you. I had that same reservation, regarding an inability to return to the lower 48 once I saw it. I literally had to tear myself away- and have been able to think of little else except getting back.

Alaska really gets in your blood and I am already cruising the job listings up there. We'll see.

Saturday, May 03, 2008 8:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Harry Paget Flashman said...

I need to go to Alaska some day. I was there for an hour lay over in 1970 on a MATS flight to Japan at midnight.

Thanks for your post at the Hall. Sorry for the loss of Legionary and Grayhair. I tried to set it right there.

Thursday, May 08, 2008 11:55:00 PM  
Blogger Sarge said...

Good to see you here, Harry- you are always welcome here. I am truly sorry to hear about the losses, etc. at the Hall.

I did try to email you, but I'm guessing that you have a different address now.

Take care-

Wednesday, May 21, 2008 7:28:00 PM  

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