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BLUEBERRY PICKING IN ALASKA

The blueberry is one of about 50 edible berries that grows up here in Alaska.  The blueberry bush is small, about 2 feet in height, and grows abundantly in many parts of the state.  The Denali Borough is known for excellent blueberry picking and during August, the Parks highway is lined with people picking the fruit. A number of people from Anchorage and other parts of the state stay at Cantwell RV park for the purpose of getting their fruit.

The Alaska blueberry is smaller and more tart than its eastern counterpart, but also delicious.  Blueberries are used in a variety of dishes, such as blueberry pie, muffins and blueberry buckle and are also used to top oatmeal and yogurt.  And, of course, they can be eaten as is.

This year, the berries are already ripening, so come on up to get some fruit!!

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WHAT SHOULD I DO IF IT RAINS

Up here in the Denali National Park area, it is frequently cloudy and often rainy.  If rain is in the forecast, we tell guests to take rain gear.  If you change your plans in order to avoid the rain, you may not get to see much.  There’s an old expression; “there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.”  If waterproof clothes and shoes are part of your gear, the elements will not be uncomftorable.  Another thing to keep in mind is that cloudy, rainy weather does not affect the wildlife, so your chances of animal viewing are the same as in sunny weather.  And, since it tends to be cooler when it’s cloudy/rainy, the heat won’t be a factor.  So pack your rain gear and visit Alaska!!

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MAMMAL SPEEDS, CONT’D

Recently, we listed 8 mammals found in Alaska and asked you to guess at which one was the fastest.   There are actually 2 that are tied for the fastest, the lynx and the caribou, both of which can reach speeds of 50 mph.  So if you picked either one, congratulations!  Following is the list of the animals, in descending order of speed:

Lynx:  50 mph

Caribou:  50 mph

Wolf:  37 mph

Coyote:  37 mph

Moose: 35 mph

Grizzly:  35 mph

Fox:  31 mph

Man:  15.9 mph

Thank goodness we have the brain power to problem solve a dangerous animal encounter, because if we tried to run, they would just laugh at us.

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WHICH ANIMAL IS THE FASTEST?

Which of the following Alaska mammals has the fastest speed?  Is it the moose, the grizzly bear, the caribou, the wolf, the lynx, the coyote, the fox or the man?

 

 

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Think about it for a little while.  Answer will appear soon!

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TIPS FOR TRAVELING WITH YOUR PET

Many people travel to Alaska with their dogs.  To guarantee a smooth, safe trip, here are a few guidelines to follow:

  1.  A health certificate for each pet dated within the last 30 days is necessary for crossing the border into Canada.  It is also required when leaving Alaska, so if you plan to be traveling up here beyond those 30 days, you will have to see an Alaskan vet to get a new health certificate.  You can find veterinary clinics in all the major cities and can be found on line.
  2.  Keep your pets leashed when out hiking.  If you don’t, your dog may take off after something and get lost.  And with so much wilderness it would be hard to find them.
  3. Put a notice somewhere on your RV that there are pets on board and list an emergency contact number.  If there is some sort of problem or emergency while you are out, the notice will alert people in the area as to a pet on board and can take measures to make the pet safe.
  4. Never leave your pet outside when you’re not there.
  5. Consider pet sitting services if you plan to be away from your RV for the day.  Some RV parks offer services.  We offer both pet-walking and pet- sitting services.  That way you can enjoy your day and not feel worried or guilty for leaving your pet alone.
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EARTHQUAKES IN ALASKA

An earthquake is a sudden shaking of  the ground caused by a shifting in the sections of the earth’s crust so that the sections, or tectonic plates, interact with each other.  The force of the interaction of the plates determines the magnitude and intensity of the earthquake.  The magnitude is the size of the quake and the intensity is the degree of shaking.  There was a recent earthquake in Alaska that made the news because of its intensity, measuring a 7.2 on the seismograph.  It caused damage to roads and structures in the Anchorage area, though no fatalities.

Although earthquakes in Alaska don’t often make the news, they occur frequently up here because Alaska sits on a fault line, which is an area where tectonic plates intersect.  There are actually about 10,000 earthquakes a year in Alaska, but thankfully the majority of them go unnoticed or produce minimal shaking. That’s why the earthquakes seldom make the news.  An earthquake of a 7.2 size  occurs only once in a while.  So no need to worry that your trip may have the added excitement of the roller coaster variety.  In the 15 yeas that we have owned the RV park, I was woken up once by a gentle rocking motion and another time some books fell off the shelf.  So finish making your plans and we’ll see you next summer!

 

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FROST HEAVES

A frost heave is the upward swelling of soil during freezing conditions due to the presence of ice under the soil that gradually grows towards the surface.  The repetitious expanding and contracting of the ice causes the surface to rise or heave.  This can occur on any surface medium that allows water to permeate the soil and then freeze.  This

includes roads, sidewalks and foundations.

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Frost heaves can occur in any northern state and Alaska is no stranger to this phenomenon.  Canada has their fair share as well.  So if you are traveling along the Alaska Highway in Canada or the hard-top roads in Alaska, look out for these large bumps.   Areas of frost heaves can be repaired but until that occurs, there is usually a yellow warning sign in advance of a heave.

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If you see such a sign, immediately slow down so that you safely cross over the heave.  Don’t be in such a hurry that you ignore the warnings as this can result in damage that could interfere with your vacation.  There really is no need to hurry up here in Alaska, particularly if you’re trying to get somewhere before dark, because the sun sets late, if at all!

 

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HOW BIG IS ALASKA?

Alaska is 375 million acres, about one-fifth the size of the continental United States. enhanced-buzz-27422-1360163685-1

Despite the size, only about 1% of the area is privately owned.   Over 60% of Alaska (about 222 million acres)  is federally-owned, due to the fact that it was purchased by the government when it was sold to the US by Russia.  The state of Alaska owns about 105 million acres,  the native corporations own about 44 million acres, leaving about 4 million acres to private ownership.

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WINTER IN ALASKA

Alaska has the reputation of having the most severe winters.  This is warranted as to the lowest temperature in the nation, with Fairbanks reaching -50 degrees at times.  But as to the average amount of snowfall, Alaska is ranked only fourth in the nation.  Valdez is the snowiest place in Alaska, with an average annual snowfall of 300 inches.  But compare that to the 671 inches that fall in Mt. Ranier, Washington and the Alaska winter doesn’t sound so intimidating.

Alaska does have limited sunlight in the winter and the further north you go, the darker it is.  In Barrow, which is several hundred miles north of the arctic circle,  the sun sets on November 18th and does not rise again until January 23rd, a period of 65 days.  Though darkness may sound depressing, it does provide the perfect condition for viewing the northern lights (aurora borealis).  In fact, Fairbanks is a popular winter destination due in part to the awesome views of this event.

There is an old Norwegian phrase; “There is no bad weather, only bad clothes.”  So pack your mukluks and long underwear and visit Alaska in the winter.

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WINTER CAMOUFLAGE

If you needed to catch your meals at close range,  it would be an advantage to blend in with your surroundings.  And if you lived in Alaska in the winter, white would be the perfect way to blend in.  A number of animals in Alaska do just that;  wear a white coat in the winter.  Come spring, their coats (or feathers) gradually return to summer camouflage colors.  The following are images of several of these animals,  in summer and in winter colors.

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Ermine, summer coat

 

 

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Ermine, winter coat

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Arctic Fox, summer coat

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Arctic Fox, winter coat

rock ptarmigan

ptarmigan, summer and partial winter

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Snowshoe Hare, winter coat

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Snowshoe Hare, summer coat

 

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