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, August 28, 2005

"We're on a mining ship, three million years into deep space. Can someone explain to me where the smeg I got this traffic cone?" -Lister, Red Dwarf


We got through our picnic, uneaten by bears. As we headed out of the little valley and the splendor shown above, we saw the most ironic sight on our trip, namely, the rock below. It looks like some sort of eco-gang is out tagging rocks. So, if you're in favor of keeping the environment unspoiled, what's the best way to go about telling the world? Spray paint the environment.

Actually, the above protest (as near as I could make out) was opposed to opening up a mine. I'm not sure what they're planning on mining for, but I'm in favor. Mines bring jobs, mines open up roads that I can later drive on. Mines are also how copper gets into I-Pods. It's a vital industry, and the downside is small - yes you might lose a mountain or two as the miners take 'em down to get the goodies out, but we've got more mountains up here. It's not like we'll run out in the next thousand years. So, gentlemen, start your blasting!

If you want my other views on mining, well, just watch "Paint Your Wagon." Mining really was what founded the West in America - not trappers, and certainly not farmers. The earliest pioneers were driven by greed for gold. Fairbanks was founded on mining for gold. Heck, you could even make the stretch (and it's not a big stretch) that oil extraction is just another form of mining, so, outside of the smaller contributors of tourism, fishing, and tie-dye t-shirt-making, Alaska's economy is entirely dependent upon mining.

The other nice thing about mining is that the miners often break into spontaneous, colorful song and dance routines.

We finally made it to Paxson. Time for gas. There may be a second building besides the cafe/gas station/hotel in Paxson, but if there is, I didn't see it. The sign on the door indicated that bathrooms were only for paying customers. I did not have to go, but I guess I could have. I'm not sure if The Mrs. or The Boy could have used the restroom, since I'm the one that paid. I hate it when the rules aren't very specific.

We turned off the Richardson Highway onto the Denali Highway. The Denali Highway is not maintained between October and May, so you've got four or five months when you can enjoy it. To tell the truth, the Denali Highway isn't much maintained during the summer, either. Hint: If you'd like to catch air in a 4x4 on pavement and make your spouse and all of your kids scream, just drive the posted speed limit on this road.

The pavement on this highway is really, really rippled. Especially at mile marker 17. That's what happens, though, when you build in a place where bedrock is ice and that has the possibility of a 150 degree temperature swing from winter to summer.

We made it to the end of the paved portion of the Denali Highway, which occurs at the Tangle Lakes. A picture of the lakes is below. There was a nice little picnic area, with restrooms. We decided to use the restrooms here, since no money had to change hands, unlike in Paxson.

We had wanted originally to go all the way through on this road to Denali, then back to Fairbanks on the Parks Highway. We decided not to do that, since it was pretty late. So, The Mrs. popped the CD "Best of Blonde" into the music-making machine we have mounted in the Wilder-mobile and turned around to go back home, "Call Me" blasting into the stillness. We had achieved our main goal: we'd gotten out of the smoke.

I looked up Tangle Lakes, and the good news is that a lot of the land around them is going to be given over to the State of Alaska from the BLM in the next few years - this is good, because that will ultimately lead to greater use of the land by people. Of course, I found this out on a website that was upset about this impending change. The owners of the website wanted the land to not be developed. I can understand that, and respect it, even. However, when I went there, the ads at the top of the page on this anti-mining site (or is that pro-not-mining?), offered, "Mining Equipment." So, don't mine. But if you do, buy the equipment from our sponsors.

Thus endeth part the third.

Next: Attack of the Glaciers

11 Comments:

Blogger the Witch said...

Best of Blondie on the Denali highway? Your Mrs. is a keeper.

3:47 PM  
Blogger Christopher Trottier said...

That last pic is delicious in its irony.

4:01 PM  
Blogger Coldfoot said...

Anyone who can quote Lister goes up a notch in my esteem.

6:50 PM  
Blogger John said...

witch,
when we met, she had the cd's that completed most of my collections - only downside, she's Van Hagar, I'm Van Roth. Gotta take the good with the bad . . . :)

Christopher,
yeah, makes me laugh . . .

coldfoot,
We gave our little dog the middle name "Judas" in honor of Arnold Rimmer . . .

7:55 PM  
Blogger Woofwoof said...

Thanks for sharing your Alaskan adventure stories in the last few blogs. This is what I thought Alaska is like. Not that there is anything not Alaskan about bear museums and Skinny Dick's.

8:43 PM  
Blogger Garry said...

I'm with coldfoot: I hadn't been aware that Red Dwarf had crossed the Atlantic and even reached the tundra.

AND I'd thought the traffic cone joke was so deeply embedded in Brittish culture that it would be lost on anyone who couldn't pronounce "aluminium" correctly.

Still, you once played rugby, so that probably explains it.

11:22 PM  
Blogger babbling brook said...

"The other nice thing about mining is that the miners often break into spontaneous, colorful song and dance routines."

Hope that Riverdance dude / Flatly never hears about this. I don't want to see some hard working miners overexposed and used by some guy in tights and make up wanting to take this act on tour....coming soon to a theater near you "Minerjig" .

7:11 AM  
Anonymous Penny Pressed said...

The song and dance routines are precisely why I love the mining community. That, and the whole "hi-ho" work ethic. I don't know if it's a union thing or what, but honestly tell me of another industry whose workers whistle their way to work. You won't find that with, say, investment bankers.

11:55 AM  
Blogger Dano said...

I love that show!

3:00 PM  
Blogger John said...

woof,
Thanks. Many more to come. Busy summer, thus far, though. Soon, though, I hope to have wood through 2008!

garry,
It was BBC America that hooked me. They had a nice habit of showing all the shows with only one, very long, commercial break. Plus, no television tax . . .

brook,
Minerjig. Har!!

penny,
Yes, though I did once have the opportunity to hang with a barbershop quartet of paramedics.

dano,
Ditto. Now, where's the damn movie, already?

6:08 PM  
Anonymous Oz said...

Mining -- As the alma mater might have said:
Nice mountain... What's in it?

Movie -- Who cares about the movie? I want
to see the US pilot with Terry Farrell playing the cat... (Ok, I *really* want to see the movie as well.)

10:16 PM  

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