Reader, I blogged.

Hello again. I tried the newsletter thing but it wasn’t for me. I’ve abandoned Twitter (I read my feed occasionally but don’t tweet now), and while I like Mastodon as a microblogging platform, it’s still finding its identity as a community, and the decentralization means it’s harder to find kindred spirits. So it’s a work in progress. But I still read a lot of blogs even though blogs are apparently dead dead dead, and they’re still my favorite form of conversation, especially about quotidian activities like reading and organizing my life. So I’m back.

Like a lot of people I know, I had trouble reading in the last quarter of 2016, especially after November 8. I found a bridge solution in reading fiction and nonfiction about people who had experienced or been raised in the shadow of collective traumas and managed to come out the other side. Robert Graves’ Goodbye to All That, Paul Fussell’s The Great War and Modern Memory, Alejandro Zambra’s My Documents, and some post-apocalyptic genre fiction. Then this past January we took a week’s holiday where I read a lot in a short time, and I was off and running on the reading front, excepting times when work was overwhelming my waking hours.

I’m back to reading some romance, but only from a small handful of autobuy authors. Most of the romance novels being published today are emphatically Not For Me, at least not now. I’ve gone through these kinds of stretches before, where I read mostly other genres. Six years of reviewing at Dear Author meant that I neglected other types of fiction I’ve always enjoyed, and I’m catching up now.

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Moose sightings

Moose are of course not exclusive to Alaska, but they are a well known part of the landscape and somehow a visit doesn’t seem complete without a few moose sightings. Although I missed photographing the mama moose and her calves in Anchorage, I had a few more chances in the following days.

Entering Denali Park the afternoon before our bus trip we encountered two calves grazing at the intersection. 

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We hope the mom was around somewhere. The calves seemed pretty calm so she may have been in the bushes.

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Denali National Park

No first trip to Alaska is complete without a visit to Denali. Seeing the mountain (if it lets you and doesn’t shroud itself in clouds) and visiting the park are both unforgettable experiences. On my first trip well over a decade ago the day was misty and rainy so I don’t remember all the topography but I definitely remember the bears. We saw two and they were huge.

For the most part private cars aren’t allowed beyond the first fifteen miles, so the most common way to travel inside the park is on the buses. You can take a bus about 70 miles in, which takes eight hours round trip. And did I mention these are school buses? Made by Blue Bird and everything. You will feel 12 again.

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But it’s well worth the time and discomfort. We saw amazing scenery, including Mt. Denali itself, taiga and tundra landscapes, glacial rivers, and boreal forests. And of course animals. We started small, with a Ptarmigan. This is a mama giving us the evil eye. She had just hustled her chicks into the brush.

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Moderately tiny house

The tiny house boom has made it to Alaska. Not that they weren’t there before; there are a lot of small one-room fishing and hunting cabins, and RVS are ubiquitous. But now people build houses with the tiny house designation in mind.

All of us on this trip have watched some of the tiny house shows, so when we got to our Talkeetn lodging, which was called “Little Cabin in the Woods,” we all exclaimed upon seeing it, “tiny house!”

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We even went to the trouble of measuring it. At 750 square feet or so it wasn’t really a tiny house, but with 6 people it felt quite tiny at times. But it was very nicely designed, with a full bath and kitchen as well as a sleeping loft.

TheHusband and I sometimes talk about having a cabin and Alaska is a great place to get a sense of the range.

Talkeetna Day 2

Day 2 involved a float trip on the Talkeetna River, paddling about 6 miles before we ended up where it joins the larger Susitna (at the point where I took the picture in the previous post). We saw lots of nature!

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This is a beaver dam. There are lots of beavers and lots of trees, so the former have their pick of the latter. You’ll see trees on the banks where beavers have chewed halfway through the trunks and then abandoned them. They prefer the cottonwoods.

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A merganser duck, sitting on a log in the river until we came too close. Then it gave us a dirty look and paddled away.

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A bald eagle visible in the distance. They nest here, presumably for the fishing opportunities the confluence provides (the Chulitna joins the Susitna as well, just above where we were floating).

No bears. They don’t show up in force until the salmon run really gets going next month.