Mono Lake, CA 2018

Friday, June 23, 2017

Thoughts about Alaska, and a Reindeer Farm

When we visited Karen's RV Service Center in Anchorage, on Monday, we were very lucky that they had a cancellation and could rebuild the battery tray for us on Thursday. On Tuesday we picked up the new Blue Ox tow bar and KarGard screen.  Craig was able to install them on Wednesday. He had a question about the new breakaway switch for the Air-Force-One, but a knowledgeable guy at TrailerCraft was able to help. 

The weather was rather overcast with occasional rain much of our time in Anchorage. On Wednesday we decided to look for an indoor activity and went to the Anchorage Museum.

This large original painting was part of a preview display for an Alaskan Art exhibit that was not yet open.

There was a large room of native artifacts such as this parka.

I had expected more art, but I guess we were at the wrong museum. This was the Anchorage Museum, not the Alaska Museum. But with that in mind, I was disappointed that there was no exhibits about the 9.2 earthquake that devastated the state in 1962.

Perhaps the most memorable part of it was this exceptional wood stairwell. A piece of art in itself.

After dropping the Alfa off at 7:30 AM on Thursday, we went out for breakfast and then decided to go for a walk at a place called Earthquake Park. It looked like a peaceful wooded trail.

But we were no more than 50 feet down the path when we were attacked. By mosquitoes! The repellant I had did us no good, because it was back in the Jeep!  A huge swarm of them surrounded us as we made a quick retreat. I continued to swat them for a long time after we were back in the closed car.

So instead of a walk, we spent the remainder of the day at a local library.

We will be using this little step until we get back to
The work on the Alfa was done by 4:30 or so. It was very well done. 

They completely rebuilt the steel tray and cold welded it in place.

They even secured the broken fiberglass front corner with duct tape. We may have to reinforce it from time to time, but it should be able to get her back to California for a nice new nose. 
Thank you Karen's!

Anchorage to Palmer: 47 miles

We finally left Anchorage on Friday. 

Reindeer shedding its winter coat
After getting settled at the Mountain View RV park, we went over to the Reindeer Farm, which I had read about in Bill and Jan's blog. They were just there. 

It was as delightful as she said. I got to hand-feed reindeer and see elk, a bison, and a baby moose up close.

The remaining pictures in this post are from the farm and are interspersed with thoughts I wrote at the library the other day.

This is our fourth summer living in our RV full time. Now, by coming to Alaska, we have gone to the four corners of the country, all three coasts, and criss-crossed the middle states several times. 

This is what I wanted to do. 

I was too old to ride in the reindeer train

It has been quite an interesting journey, and by living this kind of life we have been able to take the time to savor many special places and meet so many other Americans. 

A quick snack

Alaska! In all my years of day-dreaming about travel, and watching hours of nature programs on TV, I never really expected to get to Alaska. It was so far away. 

And yet here I am.  

How cool is that.

Mike, our guide, helped everyone get a picture with these
very large moose antlers
Everyone we have met and had business with so far has been very nice and very helpful. 

An older guy in Watson Lake BC told me that tourists came first in his town because we provided a large part of the town's economy. That doesn't seem quite as applicable here in Anchorage, there are many other businesses in town, but the people are great anyway.

His antlers are about half the size they will be by
 the end of the season. They are still covered with

 velvet, which feels like very short fur.
In some sense, as RVers we are somewhat isolated from the everyday lives of the towns and cities we pass through. But at the same time we interact with other people in the parks in a way we never could as hotel-bound tourists. If they are out and about, RVers are often chatty. 

Reindeer do not bite. We were feeding them reindeer chow

In the short time we have been in the state we have seen many rental RVs. Flying up and renting a rig for a couple of weeks is an option. I've heard experienced RVers say they didn't want to expose their rigs to the rough conditions of the roads.

In spite of the accident, we did enjoy our drive up the Alaska Highway. However I'm not looking forward to driving the rough patches again. 

They have two toes and two due claws that spread out to support them on the snow
I am also seeing more Alaska license plates than I expected. Mostly on fifth wheels and trailers. RVing is a wonderful way of taking a vacation.

OK, enough thoughts.  

We also got to see a baby moose up close.
He was rescued from a rock quarry. Nobody knows what happened to his mother. He is considered a ward of the state, and will live in captivity for the rest of his life.

If left in the wild he would have died. 

At this point he is about three feet tall. He is bottle fed five times a day, and is gaining about ten pounds a week. By fall he will be at least six feet tall at the shoulder and will have first year antlers. We were not allowed to pet him since he is still in quarantine, but eventually he will be as tame as the reindeer. Which is why if released, he would be too people-friendly to survive the hunting seasons.

We also saw elk in another part of the farm. This bull elk came trotting over to the fence when he saw we had bunches of grass in our hands. There is only one bull in the herd. He has forty or so wives.

We did not go into the paddock with the Elk. We were told they bite, and to be careful when feeding them.

Only a few of the cows came over to be fed. Most were resting in the center of their area. There were six calves in the herd. You can see five of them in the picture above. 

And finally, there was Dolly:

She is an old, smaller-than-normal American Bison. She too was a rescue animal. The story we were told was that a rancher saw her alone and abandoned. He took her home and bottle-fed her for a month or so until she could be placed.

All in all, we enjoyed visiting these critters. Yes we hope to see moose, elk and possibly caribou in the wild, but this was a way to get a really good look at them. They seemed well cared for, and it is good that the small admission fee helps keep them safe.

The Williams Reindeer Farm in Palmer, Alaska is a delightful place for any animal lover! Put it on your list.


  1. Thans for taking us along and giving us you view of the Reindeer farm. It was nice to get you coach touched up so you can carry on together again towing you Jeep behind you.

  2. Glad you are still enjoying your trip even with the unfortunate mishap.
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.

  3. so much petting :-) Glad you are all fixed up - memories of your visit here last year.


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