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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Location: United States

Friday, September 09, 2005

"Look bullethead-if they're hiking through the jungle there's nothing I can do about it. I have a car. I am not Tarzan."-D.DeVito, Romancing the Stone

So, on Labor Day weekend, The Mrs. had the idea she'd not like to go home and keep working. Yet again. She agreed she would work, but, dangit, a girl's gotta get some time to just see the sights. As usual, she was right.

So, we packed up the camera, the .45, The Boys and ourselves into the 4x4 and headed up the road. "Born to be Wild(er)" was running through my head as we pointed the car east and began our adventure. The picture above is where we ended up, despite not planning on it.

The road (Chena Hot Springs Road) hadn't changed much since last we'd been on it, except for the Fall color. Well, that and it was as bumpy as Lou Diamond Phillips' film career. A good road in Alaska is one that doesn't buck you off at 40 mph. This one, by that standard, is a good one. However, we did see where lots of stuff had bounced out of or off of somebody's rig as they headed up the road. My best guess that there is a moose hunter out there who is looking askance at his moose-hunting buddy wondering if he stole his Twinkies. Then, they'd get all "Treasure of the Sierra Madres" on each other, and not sleep so the other guy wouldn't steal the Fritos . . . .

Anyhow, the road is bumpy. As I've mentioned before, that's due to piling dirt and asphalt on ice (permafrost can be about 50% ice). Sometimes, when you mess with it, it melts.

Well, we got to a state park, and were getting ready to go out for a hike, and noted that 36 miles from Fairbanks, the state wanted to charge us $5 for parking. We opted out. I had noticed some roads heading off in our direction, and we put the 4x4 to use traveling over a fairly decent road to the edge of the river, and through a campsite of Fairbanks folk taking the river back after the tourists and mosquitos have left for the season.

Above are some moose hunters using an air-boat to skim up the river. The rivers up here are shallow, so an air boat is a great choice to skim inches above the gravel that makes up the river bed. You can then, in this 140 decibel machine, sneak up on the moose. Don't know if that theory worked for these guys. Didn't see a moose in the boat, but then again, I don't think they'd have let the moose drive.

We hiked as far as we could, given that I was carrying the 20 pound anchor that is The New Boy in his car carrier. Makes your arms ache. Just to get into the hunting spirit, The New Boy kept developing his own natural camouflage as the falling fall leaves kept accumulating in his carrier.

We finally parked The New Boy, and got to business. There are rocks, there is a four year old. There is water. Mash them all together? The Boy did his best to fill the river back up with rocks. Thankfully, for river navigation, he failed. Above is a picture of his patented Underhand Rock Toss. I swear, if we could convince him that hauling firewood was in some way destructive, our house would be full to the brim with the stuff. Wait, our house is full to the brim with the stuff. Nevermind. I apologize for getting "all artsy" and posting a black and white photo, but, for this one it seemed to look better. If you have the right software, feel free to re-colorize it.

Above can see The Mrs. and The Boy coming up the trail. The trail itself is barely a trail, mainly just a hint of direction until you get to the spots where the 4-wheeler ATV's come though. Those areas are nice and broad to walk through. Recently, there has been some argument over how much land should be available for the use of recreational ATV folks in the White Mountain area. My answer: All of it. If we aren't going to have roads, at least let us have ATV use in most areas so that people can enjoy it. Let's face it: only unemployed granola crunchers and exceptionally wealthy uber-Wall Street traders can take a month off to go and hike these places, and it's not such a bad thing that your average Alaska-Joe can jump on an ATV and go and see the stuff he'd like to see. Below is a picture of work done to make a place hard to get to on ATV. Not good, as far as I can see, for anyone. And, they hired someone to do this, to keep pickups out of a fire line they'd set up some time back. I'll let you draw your own conclusions.

John's Theory of Going Places Real Far on Foot: I've visited places that were formerly available for trail bike/ATV use that turned into much trashier places when it went to foot only. The backpackers and hikers were less likely to pack someone else's trash out when they had to expend their own shoe leather than when they could just chuck it in with the rest of the trash they had. Plus, fewer people could get in and visit, including forest rangers that might clean the place up. I know we want to protect some wilderness, but please, fly over the damn state. It is all wilderness.

So, we did work on Labor Day. We painted, spread asphalt on the roof, cut wood, cleaned the house, and in generally worked our butts off on projects 'round the house. But, first we hiked.

And, as usual, The Mrs. was right.


Blogger the Witch said...

Wow - what color!

Fall foliage against the blue sky... beautiful.

The Mrs. was right - we need to NOT work on occasion, think like Germans and enjoy free time.

Just don't cook or speak like Germans, both the language and the food seem angry.

11:16 AM  
Blogger Duck Hunter said...

I was laughing like crazy at the part about turning the b&w to color.

5:16 PM  
Blogger Woofwoof said...

Oh you lucky dog. You get all of that if you just drive East? When I do, I hit another shopping mall or car dealership or a parking garage that charges $15.

For Labor Day, we mowed our postage-stamp-sized lawn, went to Costco, got an Alaska salmon and threw it on the Weber, and watched a DVD. The salmon was about as close to nature as we got. But it was delicious.

7:50 AM  
Blogger John said...

I'm learning that The Mrs. is ALWAYS right. And as far as the Germans go . . (I'm part that) The Mrs. says "never trust the Germans."

That Ramstien (I'm not even gonna look it up to check spelling) song that's on the radio just makes mee feel like obeying . . . .

duck hunter,
Hey, it could happen, especially if Turner ever buys my site . . .

Yeah, that's what happens when I drive east . . . but there are so few choices of roads. *That's* why I need to start up www.buy_john_an_atv.com. I suppose I could beg. Since no matter what else you could call it, it would be begging . . .

9:17 PM  
Blogger Garry Nixon said...

Buy that man an ATV! I like the way you can really justify it, unlike some rich... person living in the suburbs. Also the .45: I love the way you really NEED that, too!

2:00 AM  
Blogger John said...

Gracias. I'm so going to get one. Someday. About the .45, there's no better (and, seriously, wholesome) feeling than strapping that on when the only thing you're going to do with it is to use it against Yogi Gone Bad to help your family. I could not in good faith take my family into the woods without the idea that I could protect them. Now, as to who's gonna protect me . . . .

5:17 PM  

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