Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Hello From Bettles Alaska

I am currently typing away in the Aurora Lodge in Bettles, Alaska just above the Arctic Circle. The weather is beautiful and sunny even though it is almost 11 PM. But it finally has started to cool down a little. The only problem with that is it brought the mosquitoes out. The mosquitoes haven’t come out yet in Anchorage but here, in the evenings, they are out in force. They aren’t the little ones either; they are the really big ones that are the first to come out in spring. I have smashed several that were as large as my thumb.

I am behind in submitting posts because this trip to Bettles came up suddenly. I was too busy getting everything in order to make any posts. Then on Monday, I was flying off to Bettles and didn’t have any way to access the Internet until now. I have not even been able to call my wife yet because of a lack a phone service.

If you are wondering where Bettles is, it is approximately a one-hour flight north of Fairbanks. It is just south of the Gates of the Arctic National Park. It is a big stopping point for summer access into the Brooks Range, ANWR, and the surrounding park. In the winter is it a hot Japanese tourist spot for looking at the northern lights. It is a cool little town of 25 people with a really large runway.

Today I was busy all day with work. I think I put ten miles on my feet. That is pretty impressive when you consider that Bettles only has three miles of road. I have been up and down the length of it several times today. I have also toured almost every building in town and talked to every person. It is a friendly little place. Even though I was busy, I was able to take a few non-work related pictures. Here is a quick snapshot of some of the things I did or saw today.
Here is a fine example of Alaskan decorating. This was taken inside the National Park Service's visitor center. I don't think I have ever seen so many dead animals on one couch before.

The park rangers give everyone a lecture on safety in the park. Here is their visual display on what a bear can do to your steel fuel bottles. Those holes are puncture marks from a bear's teeth. They had lots of stories about animal encounters, such as the wolf who developed a shoe fetish and would sneak into hiker's camps and steel one hiking boot.

They say every inch of paw is a foot of bear. We saw this little guy down by the river.

It was a hot and sunny day. Near the end we had a big cloud burst above us. You can see the rain streaking down, but it near hit the ground. Since it has cooled off the sun as come out again.

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