28 - Mountain View RV Park, Palmer Alaska

Arrived at Mountain View RV Park in Palmer on Monday 8/1. The mountain in view was the Matanuska which is part of the Chugach Mountains. After getting set up we went for an early dinner at a Mexican restaurant in town which was really good. As it turns out the was the most we did in Palmer as it is a very small town and did things in other places the rest of the visit.

On Tuesday 8/2 we went to Independence Mine State Historical Park. It is an inactive gold mine set in the alpine along the East Fork of Fishhook Creek. It holds abandoned mining buildings in various conditions from preserved to dilapidated. There were a few sprinkles as we walked the trail, but it was warm so all in all a good weather day.

After we finished at the mine we went to the Iditarod HQ. I was a bit disappointed as there wasn't much there, but we did see a great movie about the famous dog sled race. I mentioned to Kris that I had wanted to go on a dog sled ride, but my travel partners were not too keen on it. That evening she spent the time looking for a ride and finally found one on Thursday. There was only 1 spot left so I went by myself.

We went to dinner at Basil Ginger restaurant in Wasilla. It was fantastic.

Previously when we were in the Denali area, we booked a flight that would take us by Mt Denali and land on a glacier but unfortunately it was cancelled because of weather. We rebooked for Wednesday 8/2 and the weather was fantastic. We had to drive about 1 hour and 40 minutes back to Talkeetna, but it was worth it.

After the flight we went to Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge for lunch. The food was fine, but the view and weather were even better.

On the way home we stopped at a syrup place that made Birch Syrup

Birch syrup is a savory, mineral-tasting syrup made from birch sap, and produced in much the same way as maple syrup. However, it is seldom used for pancake or waffle syrup; more often it is used as an ingredient paired with pork or salmon dishes in sauces, glazes, and dressings, and as a flavoring in ice cream, beer, wine, and soft drinks. The flavor of birch syrup has a distinctive and mineral-rich, caramel-like taste with a hint of spiciness that is not unlike molasses, balsamic condiment, or some types of soy.

Making birch syrup is more difficult than making maple syrup, requiring about 100–150 liters of sap to produce one liter of syrup—more than twice the sap needed for maple syrup.

Total production of birch syrup in Alaska is approximately 3,800 liters (1,000 U.S. gallons) per year.

As mentioned earlier, Kris got me a dog sled ride at Alaskan Husky adventures which is run by Matthew Failor and his wife Liz. Matthew has run the Iditarod 10 times but has yet to win one.

Mike and Kris dropped me off and then took Abby for her own walk. The entire "tour" was about 1.5 hours with about 30 minutes of meeting Matthew and Liz, as well as the dogs. It was great seeing the dogs get so excited as they were harnessed up knowing they were going for a run. We probably were on the trail for 30 minutes which included 2 times to stop and water down the dogs as for them 70 degrees is hot. I really enjoyed watching from the sled as the dogs ran. Each sled had 2 people and the musher and 7 dogs.

When we finished the ride the dogs ran to the little pools with water to cool off. Even as Matt was giving them fresh water, dogs will be dogs and were drinking out of the dirty water in the pools.

We then went and saw Matt's sled that he uses for racing and explained things about racing in general and more specifically the Iditarod.

Interesting Facts about Palmer, Wasilla and Willow

Palmer is a city in and the borough seat of the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, Alaska, located 42 miles northeast of Anchorage on the Glenn Highway in the Matanuska Valley. It is the ninth-largest city in Alaska. As of the 2020 census, the population of the city is 5,888, down from 5,937 in 2010.

Palmer hosts the annual Alaska State Fair and is also the headquarters of the National Tsunami Warning Center.

Twelve miles north of Palmer is Hatcher Pass, a scenic mountainous pass that's been established as a state park and is home of the Independence Mine. It serves as a local back-country area for skiers, snowboarders, snowmachiners, and hikers as well as a tourist attraction in the summer months.

Willow is located 26 miles northwest from Wasilla along the George Parks Highway. At the 2020 census the population was 2,196, up from 2,102 in 2010. Willow has a total area of 692.9 square miles, of which, 684.8 square miles of it is land and 8.0 square miles of it (1.16%) is water.

Due to its outlying location and access to trails, Willow has become a popular destination for a number of notable dog mushers. Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race competitors DeeDee Jonrowe, Beverly Masek and Iditarod winner Dallas Seavey have established their residence and dog kennels in Willow.

Wasilla is the fourth-largest city in Alaska. It is located on the northern point of Cook Inlet in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley of the southcentral part of the state. The city's population was 9,054 at the 2020 census, up from 7,831 in 2010.

In 2008, suburban growth and dwindling snow forced organizers of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race to bypass Wasilla permanently, due to a warming climate. The race had its start in Wasilla from 1973 to 2002, the year when reduced snow cover forced a "temporary" change to Willow.

Wasilla began as a transportation logistics and trade center serving natural resource extraction (mining, trapping & timber) followed by small-scale agricultural activity; around 1975, construction of the Parks Highway substantially reduced travel time to Anchorage (approximately 43 miles away), encouraging the transition to a satellite bedroom community where many workers commute to Anchorage for employment. About 35 percent of the Wasilla workforce commutes to Anchorage.

Notable person from Wasilla is Sarah Palin (born 1964), former mayor of Wasilla, former Alaska governor, and 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate.

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