Tuesday, August 30, 2005

First Knik Cookout for Hanna

Hanna rode in her carseat up front with me and glared hatefully until
she fell asleep because she didn't like her headset. But she did keep it
on! It's a little one made for kids - Julie had to make a pad to hold it a
ittle higher off her head, but the ear cups are smaller sized and it
fits her well. She can hear everything on the intercom, and talk into her
own mike.

This was a new spot for me - the 'usual' was in shadow so I landed
here. It was a good spot, but not too long for my experience level in the 180.
I was all impressed with my landing until the Supercubs showed up and landed in a quarter of the distance, and then took off crossways to the landing strip.

But they were a couple tricked out, light S-cubs without 2 kids,
firewood, lawn chairs, etc. in them and they can't cruise 130MPH... right?


This is from my Uncle -

Sent: Tuesday, April 20, 2004 11:37 PM
Subject: First cookout of the season (at least for David, Jake and

After work I flew up to the Knik River and met David, his son, Jake,
and his recently adopted daughter, Hanna. There was a little bit of an
east wind, but it was not too cold - especially when we were close to the
excellent cook fire that David and Jake created (with wood hauled
from home).

Some acquaintances of David's were nearby as we were landing, so
David invited them to join us - they didn't stay for the fire, but I enjoyed
meeting them. They were both flying Super Cubs - with a little wind
they were airborne after about 100 feet (or less).

On the way home, I made a slight detour to look at a spot northwest
of Knik Glacier near Metal Creek where I thought I could land. After I
landed, I realized that I wasn't the first one to see this "runway"
there were a couple of rock cairns and some sticks propped up as
runway markers. I had not been able to see them when I was flying over,
they were obvious once I was on the ground. Once I knew the markers were there, they were very useful as guides.

After we really started for home, we spotted a whole bunch of swans
on Swan Lake - just east of Jim Lake. As I crossed Knik Arm at about
2000', the sun was just beginning to set - at about 9:40 p.m.
Summerwill be here soon...


Kennecott 2006

We flew over to Kennicott Sunday and ended up staying overnight at the Kennicott Glacier Lodge. We had planned on just a day trip, but it was so nice we spent the night. Also there have been lots of late afternoon thunderstorms so we were going to wait until late to come home anyway. They had some diapers to give us, lots of rooms, room at dinner and we got hold of someone to let our dogs out so the decision was pretty easy!

The Lodge was cool but pretty expensive. But, considering the location and the view and that the (pretty good) meals were included, it wasn’t all that bad. Our room opened out onto the front deck with a 100 mile view. The Lodge has lots of old purchase orders and paperwork on the walls - one was (a carbon copy) from a guy at Kennicott to a store in Seattle (c. 1920) that was wondering if his clothing order had been received. He’d waited 10 months to check on it - I don’t have the patience to have lived 100 years ago.

The copper mine was running by about 1911 (complete with a railroad to Cordova). They invested 23 milion and took out 200-300 million by the time it shut down in the 1930s. You couldn’t drive all the way there until recently (except in the winter on an ice road I think) and I’m not sure on the details of it now - I think there’s a private vehicle bridge you can cross for $250. We asked a local who was evasive - “It’s not really for casual use” and I don’t blame them really - there certainly isn’t room for many cars. The lodge had busses on either side of the footbridge to McCarthy, but we landed on the new strip nearer the mine so we didn’t cross the bridge. A girl that worked at the Lodge said they left at 5PM and got to Anch around 2AM - with the first couple hours on a rough gravel road. There’s an air charter - but I think it was around $200 per person for the 30 minute flight from Chitina (which is STILL 5-1/2 hrs from Anchorage) so you really have to want to go there.

Hanna walked so much that the second day she wanted to be carried everywhere which is is VERY unusual. She really likes to walk, and it’s one of the few words she can say.

The Park service is really ‘fixing’ it up - a lot of the buildings look like they’re about ready to be opened for touring, including the powerpant which will be cool. There was an archaeologist excavating under the power house because they’d found some stuff when they were digging to fix the foundation. I wish I could have gone there in the ‘old’ days when people say it looked like everyone had just walked away and left behind all the papers and tools. Now you’re really not allowed in any of the buildings except for a guided mill tour. There’s still lots of old junk lying around though. Wooden pipe, old wheels and pumps etc. There used to be some big crushing wheels at the base of the mill that looked like someone had pushed them down the hill at one time, but they were gone. Since last year some of the bigger junk has been re-distributed along the old mill railbed (now the walkway) for easier viewing.

We were taking pictures inside a dilapated cabin that turned out to be privately owned and the neighbor told us “No one wants anything to do with it” because it’s where the guy lived that killed 6 people in McCarthy in 1983. She thought the guy was in prison somewhere and I thought he’s been shot by Troopers from a helicopter, but I may be getting my Alaska bush massacres mixed up... In any event - I’d gladly take the cabin - it’s the center one of the set of 3 along the bluff just North of the mill. There was a half acre lot above the lodge, the owner wasn’t sure if there was dedicated access, no power, no water, etc., for 150 thousand, so God only knows what someone would think the ‘killers cabin’ was worth.

It only took us 1:40 to fly each way. I filled my aux tanks so I didn’t need to stop for gas in Gulkana. Coming back into Palmer it was horribly gusty and swirly, and I made a last second decision to land on the gravel instead of the pavement (much easier in a heavy big-tired taildragger). I just couldn’t keep it straight enough to touch down on the pavement.

The kids and Julie slept most of the way home in the afternoon chop and missed all the Copper River fishwheels, but maybe some other time.


Thursday, August 4, 2005

Talkeetna with the kids

I took the kids up to Talkeetna for the afternoon today. We had a nice time, a great lunch at the West Rib and ice cream at Nagleys.

Went to the museum and just walked around. K2 was flying their turbine Otters - Jake said he wants one when he gets the 1.5 mil. K2 told us not to walk on the ramp - I knew they didn't like it, but they've never said anything before. The stroller must have looked suspicious. Actually there was a lot of traffic - 2 or 3 planes loading or unloading all the time and they just don't want to hit anyone. The weather was intermittent rain, but we didn't get too wet - hid in the museum for the worst of it. There were a lot of people... the Princess Lodge must be doing pretty good.

The photos are self explanatory except for Hanna signing 'airplane' at
Don Sheldons gravesite.