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

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Peasant: "Who are you?" King Arthur: "Your King." Peasant: "I didn't vote for you." King Arthur: "You don't vote for kings." - M. Python

So, we headed back west from Glennallen. The permafrost, as shown by the prevailing taiga, still surrounded us. The road likewise showed the effects of the permafrost, maintaining the consistency of Fruit by the Foot thrown over piles of spare change. Which is, I believe, standard road construction technique in Alaska.

The mountain above was visible for about the first twenty minutes out of Glennallen. It looked like it had been sprinkled in gold - with the sunlight, as far as I could see in the panorama before me, shining only on its slopes. You can click for a larger version.

The rest of the trip took us up and down through winding roads. The Glenn Highway is on the north side of a large valley, and never dips down. The north side of this valley consists of the Talkeetna Mountains. The south has the Chugach Mountains. The Chugach mountains were the epicenter of the 1964 earthquake, which some estimate was a 9.2 earthquake. One thing, besides containing more force than Madonna's breath after a garlic-laden dinner, was that it lasted five minutes. Five minutes isn't long when you're watching the season finale of Battlestar Galactica, but it's forever if you're being shaken around like a chew toy in a teacup poodle's frenzy. These mountains and the pretty things we have in Alaska don't come free - we gotta pay with the earthquakes and volcanoes from time to time.

The Chugach are also covered in glaciers like a pile of fries are covered in ketchup. We passed three major glaciers, and the last of them, the Matanuska, is shown below. I pulled off the side of the road on what looked like a rough trail to get this picture. I could see the campers and 4x4's of moose hunters beyond, so I figured the road would work for me. The road narrowed alarmingly, with the passenger side dropping off about eight feet. I soon saw that the road that looked like it headed to the parking lot below (as we continued to climb) was really a trail for four-wheeled ATV's. I imagined it starting to go in directions that my 4x4 could not follow, and having to ask the hunters in their campers below for help to get me out of a place I'd been silly to get into. Fortunately, the trail leveled off widened out and I could see a way to get back out. This is not to say, however, that The Mrs. was entirely pleased with this lack of planning on my part. But, angels do follow foolish husbands, at least one did this day.

Below is yet another breathtaking mountain. Ho-hum. The drive twisted through mountains as it hugged the north side of the valley. Signs periodically noted that it was illegal to impede four cars, and the truckers who could not maintain the speed limit did regularly pull over. Polite!

After a few more hours, we finally ended up in Palmer. Palmer is nestled between mountains and looks like it was conceived in a dream. One thing The Boy immediately noticed is that the McDonald's sign was about three feet off of the ground, as were many of the signs on newer businesses. I figured it must be a new ordinance, to preserve the beauty of Palmer.

This is in contrast to Fairbanks. Recently, the Fairbanks-North Star Borough (remember, we don't have counties up here) tried to pass an ordinance that would allow them to enforce existing ordinances. I know that sounds silly, but though there may be ordinances on the books, there's only one employee that has that theoretical power for a borough of about 90,000 people. If the lawyer for the borough gets around to it, he might send you a nasty letter, telling you please, please, fence that junkyard that is your front yard. Or, he may send you another stern letter.

So, no sweat, it passes, right? I mean, it's brain death to pass an ordinance you can't enforce, right?

Maybe in Fort Wayne. Maybe in Palmer. Not here.

The residents of the borough did me proud. To quote one resident (from the News-Miner, link at left), "We came to Alaska to get away from this!" According to the News-Miner, there was a near riot. The Assembly rejected the ordinance.

There are damn few places you have the freedom from silly regulations of local government, telling you what you can and can't do on your own land. This is (mostly) one of them.


Anyway, we followed a VW Bug (New, not old) that, until we passed it, looked to be a miracle of German engineering, since it had no driver. As we finally passed it on the way out of Palmer to Anchorage, I could see the older couple that were driving it, or, heck, maybe the Germans have added an autopilot.

The Mrs. and I mused about how the VW Bug (new) is perhaps the most silly car we could imagine for an Alaskan. It's expensive. It's impractical - where can you go in one of those? Maybe they use it for trips between Palmer and Anchorage - where the roads are good. The Boy overheard our conversation, and was fairly sure that the VW was without a driver until we passed it.

Next: The Hotel and The President of Taiwan.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The road between Glennallen and Palmer was incredible, fun to drive in a big truck! Palmer is right next to Wasilla where we stayed. When does the snow start???

7:38 PM  
Blogger Woofwoof said...

Maybe Palmers is a town of little people (I live in California, can't use other less PC words). They have 3-ft signs, drive small VWs and are so small you can't see them drive.

8:10 PM  
Blogger John said...

snow maybe tonight or tomorrow.

That's actually what I told The Boy when we drove through, that Palmer had lots of short people. I forgot I said that until The Mrs. reminded me. Whenever the name Palmer comes up, The Boy says, "Short people?" and The Mrs. says, "Yes."

9:38 PM  

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