Carol and I are busy planning our next Art Expeditions…
Fours weeks have past, since Carol and I have left Alaska. It seems like years have gone by. So many changes, some good. Some will see what happens. For Carol after a bit of jet lag, life is returning to “normal”. Art teacher by day and librarian at night. ….busy hectic schedule.
For me, school started promptly at 7:30am, the day after I returned. This summer brought changes, cut to halftime due to enrollment drop. So art teacher in mornings and cognitive brain trainer in afternoons. Well my days are long and steady.
Last week I resigned from part time teaching job. It’s a great move.
Carol and I have started new oil paintings. Alaska themed!
Soft suede mocisains with fur and a sweet birch bark berry basket with blue berries tumbling out…this will ne fun.
Our teacher Scott Royston, loved the still life set up.
Carol found (bought) faux berries that look so real.
On to new art adventures…
Over the next several days, our little art band, ate lunch and dinner at the Wrangell Mountain Center.
We listened to great art lectures and ideas from Kristen Link. Kristen is very knowledgeable on botanical and scientific drawing and the science part of the naturalist field sketching.
Most days we waited until after lunch to go on location.
“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays
these couriers from the swift completion of their
appointed rounds.” the US Postal saying comes to mind with our outdoor sketching class.
The first afternoon was down by the river bed. Fallen cottonwood trees and feathery Dryas flower lined the rocky dry riverbed. It was mostly misty then turned to light rain. After a little while any a few short sketches.
My watercolor sketches were a mess. We went back to the warmth of the hardware store for a bit of food and to finish our sketches.
Next day, we set off by bus to Kennicott with baged lunches and a few plastic ponchos. The light rain gave way to a steady cold rain. I was painting under my poncho. Rita had a great idea, she assured us the lady who runs the pizza bus in kennicott would love to have us use her tent. She also sells coffee and hot chocolate.
Did not have to ask Carol and I twice. The three of us packed quick and hiked down the hill to hot drinks, yummy calzone and dry sketching place.
Later we rode a very full bus of tour guides getting off duty, back to mccarthy. They said they we going to open mike night at Golden Saloon. Sounds fun.
After dinner, our books dried out enough to work on them. More talk and friendship.
Yes, we went to Golden Saloon. Great fun listening to Michele sing some of her original songs.
Next day! More rain even harder. In the afternoon we set out to make a sketch map of someplace in McCarthy. I did a little path near the hardware store.
Later that night afterdinner we had a final art show. Rita brought her summer works of art. Beautiful painting of the moraines and mountains. Mount Blackburn and Fireweed painted in brilliant shades of pinks, blues and violets. Stunning, they are painted in the Cape Cod Style of art that uses colors to give painting depth and light. Afterwards, the sun finally broke through, Rita and her Husband drove Carol and I back up to Kennicott to photograph the mountains and the mines in sunlight.
Wow! We watched the sun set over Kennicott and walked to the top of the hill to Silk Stocking Row. Manager housing for the old mines. Many of the homes are fixed up very nice.we walked back to cars and headed back to McCarthy. The four of us went to Golden Saloon for some snacks and drinks. What nice new friends. We said our goodbyes and off to bed.
Carol and I showed up at 6 pm with bells on for our Natural History Field Sketching and Journaling workshop. We are hard to miss, two mid-age females who are very motivated to learn art…..
Everyone at WMC was wonderful. Mary made a delicious soup and salad for dinner, we sat in the sales floor of the old hardware store. Long tables with plywood tops and benches all around for seating. It was chilly so Cobi’s dad kept the room warm with the wood stove. Ahhhh, warm dry heat, with the smell of wood stove. Sure beats the chilly heat pump at home.
We later went in to the other room for the evenings lecture and sketching class. Yes, I really love this part. I like traveling, but I love doing, making and thinking art.
Kristen Link taught our week long class. Kristen is well organized and really knows her stuff. Carol and I were introduced to our “classmates”, Rita, Cobi, Sam and Michelle. Just like at everyclass I have ever been, with great hesitation… we all introduced ourselves. Very interesting, we all like art.
Kristen then went over the syllabus and displayed her sketchbooks. Impressive! A little sketching inside the room. And off to bed….
Carol and I rode the Kennicott Lodge bus with our luggage down to McCarthy. It is overcast and cool with bouts of rain.
In front of Ma Johnson’s hotel we unload our baggage. Up on the porch we place our baggage. Out comes Neil the owner to help us. Carol, Neil and I wheel in our luggage. On week three, this luggage thing gets tiresome. Leaving the artcarts on the porch. Neil shows us to our room. How sweet, two twin beds with lovely quilts. Pretty folded towels with handmade soap tucked in and a bag of candy with a little poem next to our sink. The potty and shower is close by… big Yeah! I plop on the bed for a couple minutes of heaven. Carol was looking for electric plug. No, luck….if you want to charge anything…phone, computer, ipad, camera and such you need to take it to the parlor. Electronic are lined up neatly on a few small tables against the wall.
ELECTRONIC WITHDRAW!!! To begin with I was a bit edgey about this, leaving my lifeline unattended. But after awhile you just don’t worry about it. Nobody was touching your stuff and visa versa. The phones and internet just don’t work right anyway. So after a day or so the withdraw subsides.
Not to forget the artcarts, the girl at the desk pointed me in the right direction, told me the Wrangell Mountain Center was in the hardware store and I couldn’t miss it. So off I went with the artcarts. Down the road and into a brandnew building that had hardware stuff in it. Well as it turns out, that was the grocery store. I bought some bottled icetea and a candy bar, I was famished. Back outside with two art carts and bag of food. Down farther a two story very large building with giant letters HARDWARE written on it.
How stupid can I be. I took the artcarts in and met Kristen, Cobi and Mary from the wrangell mountain center. Later in the evening our class started.
When I got back to Hotel, Carol was ready for our “tour around town”, one street. McCarthy proved to be more than met the eye.
Once loaded in the van, Carol and I were off for a 15 minute ride up the mountain side. Passing hikers, bikers and a few trucks or buses onlong the one lane gravel road. The road was heavily tree lined, our only clue that we were on a mountain was the steep incline of the road.
Nearing the top the trees gave way to a beautiful vista. Green mountains capped in clouds, a white glacier peeking out from the clouds in the distance. Red buildings with white trim. We knew we were in Kennicott.
Still a little awed the group of us from the van we unloaded and taken into the Kennicott Glaciet Lodge. Just beautiful! Warm and welcoming. It was like stepping nack in time. A brass key ring was our room key with a door that opens to the long porch up front. Just lovely.
A fire in the parlor was roaring with guests enjoying the leather chairs.
Our had two double/queen beds and a sink. Two chairs, thats luxury. That ment Carol and I could sit down at the same time.
Everything is super clean. The showers and toilets are shared. This was not a problem at all.
The food plan was great. Breakfast was included with room. The meal plan included a lunch and dinner. Lunch was a sandwich with soup or salad and a drink from 12-3. Dinner was family style seating promptly at 7pm. Great food and conversation. The other guests are very delightful.
Walking around the town takes mpre or less a day. They have a walking tour of the town 1 1/2hours, but Carol and I missed the 1pm start. Other tours are available, hiking and icehiking.
The National Park Service has a self guided walking tour and vistor center. Very nice. Everyone is friendly and helpful.
Now about the spelling issue, way back when the mines were started someone misspelled Kennicott with and -e- as in Kennecott. So what has occurred is the local residents use the -i- and the Park Service uses the -e- because of the Kennicott Minning Company. Hmmm…..
Back long ago Anchorage was a tent city, with new people arriving daily. Not enough supplies to build houses. Shop owners and restauraunts were ran from tents.
Anchorage began to boom during the 40’s because of the war and again in the 90’s to become a large city.
Kennicott was a thriving prim and proper company town from the 20’s through 1938, boasting of all the modern conviences electric, indoor plumbing and hot water. The Kennecott Hospital was the first hospital in Alaska to have an xray machine. Impressive! The town boasted of heated sidewalks in winter, from the steam pipes that heated the houses and stores. All this ended abruptly in 1938 when the copper mining company pulled out.
Down the hill from Kennicott is a not so prim and proper fun loving town of McCarthy.
McCarthy started as a center of fun and commerce. With places to buy almost anything. Hardware stores, fancy dress shops and mens clothing. Very fancy for a remote town in Alaska from 1915-1938. Saloons and parlors were a plenty.
They ran taxis all hours so the miners would not miss their shifts. Just think of that, the bar would take you back to work after a night of fun. When the Kennecott mine closed, it tore up the railroad tracks and left McCarthy abandoned.
Many of the townspeople left. But many also stayed.
To cross the river the town folk built a tram to cross the river.
My brother Paul in the early 90’s visited by way of the tram. Harrowing at best, can you imagine using the tram in bad weather. Yikes!
Carol and I were lucky enough to have a much nicer way to cross the river. We parked our car at the parking lot, the Seth drove us to the walking bridge. Then unloaded the luggage to a trolley(push cart you guys on east coast) and we all walked and talked over the bridge. Admiring the rushing green glacier river. I know I would have been nuts using the tram. Carol and I were met at the other side by a young man from the Kennecott Lodge. Both young men loaded our very heavy luggage. Talked for a bit and we road to the Kennecott Lodge….
After photo-taking event in Chitina, we pulled the car around the corner to see the sign “Pavement Ends”.
Then another sign that tells about McCathy road. “Road ends at Kennicott River, 62Miles.
Limited vechicle services.
Drive at you own risk.
Watch out for loose railroad spikes.
Check locally from conditions and services beyond this point.”
Noone seems to know why the misspelling, mystery? The sign make you wonder what you are doing. You can even see the pot holes from the sign.
Well, we threw caution aside and drove the Road to McCarthy. Bless the road guys, except for a few sections with pot holes, the road was good, (not paved, but a good surface for a gravel road). Mostly two lanes wide, no guard rails(bit un-nerveing when a big RV is coming at you).
Many challenges lay ahead for the we don’t like heights and wobbly bridges …lol.. We drove for 62 miles over hill and dale..or more specific, three bridges.
The Lakina River bridge, wood bridge. The car was making a funny noise, so Carol was driving, we pulled over and I climbed under to see what was stuck in wheel well. 20 minutes later and my whole left side was muddy, I found , nothing. But the sound was gone, thank God for that.(Paul, really nothing happened!) We were on our way. The silty mud sticks like concrete to my sweater.
The next bridge was Kuskulana bridge, 283 feet from river…. vertigo! Wood slats to drive on and the guard rail doesn’t look sturdy. We made it without fainting.
Then we drove to Currant Ridge Cabins.
I walked into the office to pick up the keys, the owner asked if I was a local and why I was covered with mud. It took me several minutes to stop laughing to tell my story.
The cabins were lovely, hot showers,hot room heater and indoor toilet. Very clean! Only a couple miles from the last bridge to McCarthy. More to come…
From Copper Center to the copper mines of Kennnicott, Ak.
What a trip we left Willow Lake after a nice tour of the handbuilt log cabins and a delicious breakfast of sourdough pancakes at Willow Lake B&B . Jim and Linda are great hosts.
We drove south on Richardson Highway to pick up the road east to Chitina.
On our way we stopped at the delightful shop run by. It is a mix of Alaskan art and gifts, convience store and a bit of hardware supplies. Found some goodies and a couple bottles of ice tea. My vertigo is still giving me trouble, still bracing as I walk around. On to McCarthy. We drove for awhile on Edgerton highway and stopped for gas at The Kenny Lake Mercantile’s General Store .
It took me awhile to figure out how to pump gas on old fashioned gas pump.
The lady inside really thought something was wrong with me. LOl…she noticed. Remember to stop about here, no more gas stations between here and McCarthy/ Kennicott.
Off like a herd of turtles, we stopped at the Golden Spruce Convienence Storefor sandwiches.
Very good food homemade bisscotti to die for, vanilla with i think walnuts dipped in white chocolate and chocolate with walnuts dipped in dark chocolate.
Then Carol and I drove and drove, stopping to take photos and Go Pro. So many beautiful photos.
We stopped by Chitina, what a quaint town. I loved the Spirit Mountain Arts Art Gallery.
It was a big WOW! Beautiful artwork from artists around Alaska. Prints, watercolors, drawings, jewelry, knitted hats, slik scarves and more. I found a nice screen print of silver salmon.
After a few hundred shots of Chitna, we got back into our car.
This is where paved roads end.
My brother Paul’s parting words on
The Road To McCarthy: “Drive Slow!”
Heading toward Girwood, Alaska on the Seward Highway. The pictures does not capture the awe inspiring views.
Carol and I traveled to Alyeska mountain to have dinner at the top. It never dawned on us we might need reservations. Well we made reservations for the next night. Afterwards we drove to Girwood for a hot cup of brewed coffee and stop to mail postcards. (Man that is a full time job keeping up with postcards)
The next night our reservations were for 9pm. Great choice. We were one of may be 6 people eating dinner.
We rode the mountain tram to the top at eight pm. Walked around for an hour. Beautiful but cold. The white glaciers were all visable.
Carol and I were seated next to the window, we could see the glaciers and as evening fell it was captivating.
Now for the food, wow!
I ordered the chefs choice of 5 courses. Carol ordered some food too. (It is late, I will try to get this straight and clean up blog tomorrow)
We ate like queens.
The waitress held the chair for you then, held you knapkin until you sat down, poured the first and later second glass wine.
Courses of food were brought as we were finished. One plate was more delicious as the next.
At one pm I am finishing the last post on my blog. Tonight was open mike night at the Golden Saloon. Great entertainment, rainy walk across street. To sit quietly at Ma’s to plug into the electric. Comfy victorian chairs. Good internet. What more could I ask.
Good night happy travels
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