Wilder by Far

A look at life with the Wilder family. Updated most weekends and some vacation days. You can contact me at movingnorth@gmail.com..

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Sunday, May 15, 2005

The Road to Chena Hot Springs, Part I

Anyone else think it was funny the way whichever Gabor sister said "hotscakes" when speaking of hot cakes? I just had that typing experience today - Hots Prings. Grr.

Anyway, we dolled up The New Boy, and The Mrs., The Boy, and Grandmama all got into the family truckster and did the touristy thing and headed up the Chena Hots Prings.

The Mrs. is doing remarkably well for having had her body opened a couple weeks ago (shudder) to bring The New Boy into the world. You Shakespeare fans might remember that qualifies him to kill Macbeth. But, she was feeling up to the trip.

Roads are fickle things here in Alaska. In wintertime, they're as strong as anything you might imagine. In spring and summer, they are questionable at best. You see, water at -50 mixed with soil makes a fine concrete. When the spring sunlight hits the road it melts said water, turning the road foundation into a substance as strong as Enron's financials. They get bumpy. All of the roads I've seen are asphalt. Asphalt has three distinct advantages over concrete:
  • Asphalt can flex (whereas concrete cannot), so the periodic decision of the base of the road to turn to the consistency of mashed potato is okay.
  • Asphalt is here (remember than big pipeline?). Concrete you have to ship in, via ship.
  • Asphalt sounds funnier than concrete.
So, we braved the bumpy road.

It was an overcast day, which will partially explain the relative quality of the photos.

The first "photo worthy" things were these really strange cattle. I'm assuming that they were cattle, and not some sort of bizarre mutant half-breed Area 51 experiment. They were shaggy, like a wookie, but had horns like normal cattle, and absolutely no thumbs to operate a weapon. The shaggy would be helpful when it dropped to -50. The thumbs would protect them from the wolves, if we gave them guns.

Grandmama, who raises cattle, could not identify them. We were puzzled. We did take an impromptu vote in the car, and we decided we would eat them, if it came down to it. Mm, bbq'd whatever. Somehow that makes the whole "not having thumbs" thing better, since if they had thumbs, and knew about the planned bbq . . . you can see that's just not good.

The next sign item which brought up a question in our minds was this one:

Doing a little research, as near as I can tell, this is a way for folks from Los Angeles to look at the aurora and then hit the beach. As you can see, this sign has sustained only moderate small caliber handgun and shotgun damage. The "no shooting past this sign" signs along the way were really shot up. I can see the logic - use up your ammo before you do something illegal. On the sign.

Thus endeth part the first.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've worked at Twin Bears (mile 30) for the past 3 summers, and that road is just atrocious. Invariably, the really big frost heaves aren't even marked, or they're marked too late. More than once I've had passengers hit the roof of the car with their heads because the bumps were so big. Whih is probably what they get for not wearing a seat belt.

7:31 AM  
Blogger Priest Raphael said...

I think those are "Beefalo" or "Cattle-Oh" whatever they are calling them these days. A cross between an American Bison and cattle.....supposedly hardier then regualr Cattle (for raising in Alaska maybe?)but more tender then buffalo.

10:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nope. They're yaks. The University of Alaska in Fairbanks attempted to develop yak as an alternative livestock during the 1930's. There are a few other places in the state where domestic yaks are raised.

2:23 PM  
Blogger rosietx1 said...

Well.. by the photo - I really can't tell - Beefalo or Yak... they look a LOT more like Beefalo tan they do Yaks - but we have both here.. however going by the description of your location - there is a Beefalo ranch out there... Beefalo is a species cross between Bison (buffalo) and domestic cattle of any breed.

We all know what buffalo (bison) an cows look like.. did it look more like a cross between those? Or did it look more like this http://blog.pennlive.com/lehighvalley/2007/11/yak.jpg

8:51 PM  

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