Sunday, July 3, 2011

Denali to Wasilla

Yesterday morning we toured the sled dog facility at Denali National Park. That was quite interesting to learn that the dog sleds are still used as the major method of accessing remote areas of Denali. It was also a treat to get to see some of the dogs and to learn about their training, diet, etc.

From Denali we drove to Wasilla, AK home of Sarah Palin. Wasilla is a beautiful town. We have yet to meet anyone who is not very friendly and appears to be very happy. I am also very impressed with the work ethic of the people of Wasilla. Yesterday I met a young man who works two jobs and he told me that he had worked 80 hours in the past 4 days. He said he was trying to save money to go back to college, but in the meantime he has decided to join the Army. He didn't see any reason to stop working until he enlists.

We have seen no graffiti and there are hike/bike trails everywhere. The schools are very new and quite attractive. In general, there seems to be a lot of emphasis on recreation. If it did not get so cold in Winter, I think this would be a very nice place to live.

This afternoon we drove up to Hatcher pass which is known for gold mining. The place is now a state historical area. The drive up there was beautiful and the tour of the mining area was very interesting.

Today I wanted to do speed work so we went to the Wasilla High School track. The track was not nearly as nice as I had expected. I guess track is not a big deal up here. Of course, neither is football. Basketball and ice hockey are *the* sports. I ran a total of 5 miles, including 8 x 400 @ a little over 9 MPM pace. I am slow, but since I haven't been doing any speedwork, I need to accept that until I do such, I will be slow.

Tomorrow we will drive to Seward, AK where we will observe the most well known race in Alaska. It is a 5K, but it goes straight up a mountain and then straight back down. I understand that it is not much of a trail---just a run up and down the face of a mountain. I am told that most people fall at some point in the race. I was happy to learn that the event registration closed in March. Otherwise, I would be tempted to do it and I probably would end up severely injured. I think Seward has a population of about 4000, but the weekend of the 4th they expect to have a total of about 40,000 people in town. We have no idea where we will park our Scamp. All the campgrounds a full, but I'm told that people just park wherever they can find a spot and the party begins.

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