This morning was not an early rise. Going to bed after 3:00 a.m. does not inspire you to jump out of bed. It was now a reasonable time for registration office hours. By the time we rounded the side of the registration office to pay up, a young man who was in the middle of some serious looking construction with 2 other men greeted us. He asked if we were in the Cruise America rental as he walked us inside. Quietly sitting in the corner at a table was young black teenage boy with a pleasant face. I am assuming that he was the son of the owners, maybe adopted or from a previous relationship. Our friendly greeter walked into the back of the office and called for his wife. She manages the desk. She walks out with a smile. I explain our late arrival and how we ran out of steam in front of their establishment. After more friendly exchange, she tells us that she and her husband were from Minnesota and they had recently acquired the property. She also tells us that it is good that we did not drive any further. The road ahead was narrow and winding for the next 25 miles.
They were still doing a lot of work on the property. The original office was this neatly constructed log house with wood a little darker than honey. Each line and edge of the wood was completely straight. While we were back at the RV, the husband drove by in the distance several times with a huge dump truck he was getting loaded up with dirt. There are cabins, a screened in shelter and a few other buildings. The owners were very nice and hard working and it was almost certain that they were going to do a great job.
I sat outside at the picnic table for a while to work on the computer and soak up some fresh air. I go back inside to start getting myself together. While I am dinking around, I hear some kids squealing. I look outside and see two young girls, one on bike and one in a motorized wheelchair. It looked like they were racing or at least riding in a horizontal tandem around the perimeter of the buildings. I guessed that they were sisters. Having an older sister of my own, I could tell by the gentleness of the older one on the bike to the younger one in the wheelchair that they loved and cared for each other. There was a sense of fun, but some caution as they made a speedway. The normalcy that they created was very endearing and I was happy that they both had such positive attitudes about something that some may perceive as an obstacle, especially for youthful fun.
We say goodbye to our savior of an RV park and start off for the last leg of the Cruise America portion of our journey. Taking Glenn Highway (RT 1) back to Anchorage was filled with yet a few more stops. One stop in particular was mind blowing for a few reasons. While we driving near Sutton, we eyed a sign, “MICA Alaska Glacier Tours & Ice Climbing” such and such. I can’t remember exactly what the first sign read that we saw, but there was a bunch going on off the side behind it on an other wise quiet road. It wasn’t clear if we would be able to even go down to the entrance because the road looked awfully steep. After turning around, another road appeared that looked much more reasonable. The parking lot is tight because of the size and the parked cars. Our little RV made it even tighter once we wedged ourselves somewhere in the middle before Thomas made a 6-point turn.
Another car parked right before us. We followed them into the yurt office. They already stuck a conversation with the young woman behind the counter. She was explaining that MICA has a lot of activities available for visitors. There is zipline, ice climbing and an ice trek. You can also make other arrangements with them for longer, multi-day planned activities. Not exactly noticeable to the untrained eye is a big old glacier, Matanuska Glacier to be exact, sitting right behind MICA, hence all the ice action. *Mind blower #1. At first, it looked like another unidentifiable but common white patch of snow or something. That may have been because we were technically still so far away from it. Crazy. Who gets to see a glacier off the side of the road just chilling?
The couple leaves and Thomas and I are still poking about. All of the tours for the day were out, but there would have been no time to participate. I think we were just in our curious mode and wanted to know what there was to know. Hanging from the walls were these large incredible pictures of the glacier and the hikers. That picture was taken down there? We really must have been far away because what I saw in the picture looked like a glacier. There is a hyper realistic blue that one can only see when looking at a glacier. Once you see it, you won’t forget it. The young woman behind the desk was more than generous sharing information with us. She was a recent graduate of the University of North Carolina. She was working here for the summer. Most of the staff is from other places and globe hop seasonally doing the same job at other places.
I couldn’t help but to tell her that I actually work at a place called MICA too. However, at the moment, I would much rather work at this MICA. *Mind blower #2. She begins to tell me that her best friend went to MICA and just graduated. She asked if I knew her. I informed her that the name sounded familiar and that she somehow or the other came across my path since my office is responsible for the Commencement Exhibition that she would have been apart of. What a small world. It is ridiculous because we barely made it in there and I barely even mentioned where I worked but it was too ironic not to. Bananas. I am over 4,000 miles away and this happens. She also tells us that after this stint working at MICA, she will be going to DC for a while. I wished her well in her post graduate endeavors and madly suggested that we may even cross paths again on the east coast. At this rate, anything is possible. Click here for MICA audio (play).
Further down Glenn Highway, we stopped in Palmer and ate dinner. Thomas got Subway and I ate my spare sandwich from the shuttle ride to Toklat. On the street next to the parking lot must have been the weekend hotspot for kids on skateboards and on bikes. There was a core group hanging out on the curb being loud and silly and rebel like daring each other to do things. Our stay in the parking lot lasted a while as we ate our food and this interaction was a great people watching moment. For a cold treat we walked across the street to Dairy Queen and for entertainment we continued to walk to the front of Fred Myer (a grocery store).
It is funny how you can only be in a place for one day almost a week ago but it is now somewhat familiar. We were back in Anchorage and it felt like home in a way. It was time to decide where to stay for the night and it only made sense to go back to Creekwood Inn. We had already stayed there and we were happy with the place. When I was in line to register, there was a man and his two son in-laws checking in for the hotel. They had just arrived from Texas and they were looking for somewhere to have a real meal after the long journey. It was now reaching into the late hours of a Sunday evening and the options were looking slim. Matt, the super friendly clerk, started to say “There is this place that has the best pizza in town…” and before he could finish, I interrupted and said, “The Moose’s Tooth, right?” Matt replied, “Yes.” This Moose’s Tooth place has been echoed before our feet actually touched the ground in Anchorage. The iteration of this statement has been exactly the same. On the plane, 2 people mentioned it to separate groups of people. “You have to go to the Moose’s Tooth. It has the best pizza in town!” You know they had me at “pizza” folks, but sometimes when you travel, you don’t always want to do the tourist junk. The young man at the camera shop mentioned the Moose’s Tooth and now Matt.
Parked and settled in, we both set up on our computers at the table. It now looks like a portable work mobile. The side door to the trailer is open to let the fresh air blow through the screen. It is getting late as the sun tries unsuccessfully to hide for the night. A Minnie Winnie rental pulls up next to us as we were furiously working away in the dark. I smile and say hello as the driver gets out and peers in. The family disembarks and eventually returns to hunker in for the night after closing the front privacy curtains. I start banging away again on the keyboard again attempting to get one blog post done. While I am in between my hunt and peck, I hear this rustling noise that I dismissed earlier. The noise begins to get louder and louder and out of the corner of my eye is this large patch of brown. I yell, “It’s a freaking Moose!” But instead of “freaking” I used the real word (sorry Mom and Dad). My inappropriate use of language was due in part to my surprise of an animal that large walking around that close to me because I had been waiting to see a moose up close since we arrived. Here in Alaska, moose are like our deer. There is no yellow caution sign to alert you of a possible deer crossing; instead it is a picture of a silly moose. See the video that Thomas put together !
In one fell swoop we gathered our cameras and slipped out of the trailer for our stealth moose ops. I wanted to see the moose, but I didn’t want to scare her (she was antler free). I don’t know her and I don’t know what she would do. Side note: my grandparents have 1960s video footage of a trip to Yellowstone. According to the parties involved, my grandmother and one aunt kept their distance when they spotted the massive moose. My grandfather and other aunt decided to investigate and film. Somewhere during the filming, the moose decided he wasn’t interested in being on camera and started running towards my grandfather and aunt. Immediately the scene cuts to black. I laugh every time I watch it or hear the story.
How graceful she was on these long brown stilts for legs. She must frequent the RV park often because she didn’t seem alarmed by the sounds or by us taking her picture. The RV park was right off a busy street, but the fence separated us from a very green wooded area. We kept our distance and she kept eating. It is still light, but really late while we are doing this, after 11:00 pm. If anyone looked out of their window and saw us, they would have probably thought we were completely out of our minds, especially if they couldn’t see the moose. There we are stalking around with cameras around people’s RVs while they slumber. 15 minutes go by and she is finished stripping her leaf meal off the trees that hang over the fence. She fades away as she turns the corner and her large body disappears.
Last night in the RV.