Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Sluices, Scars, "Scopes" and Salmon

You know we love a good mine tour or old mining town so we packed a picnic and headed up to Independence Mine.  Most of our other mine tours have been of older mines, so this was quite an advanced mine in comparison, though its structures have not fared as well due to wetter, colder, harsher conditions. It was a crazy gorgeous day:
 Matthew was pretty jazzed about climbing.  "I climbed on this rock all by myself!"

Most of the buildings aren't open to the public, but a stop in the visitors center left us an opportunity to try on a miner's helmet:
There's a 3/4 mile-ish trail up and the sorting mill debris.  There were lots of gorgeous wildflowers:
 And I continued to hack my way through learning my camera settings with a squirmy baby on my back.  One of the top tips for better pictures is always reducing camera shake.  Ha!:

The elevation of 3500' feet isn't all that impressive compared to Bozeman's near 5K, but it's a steep, steep change and easily puts you above treeline.  The clouds were always hanging nearby:
Had I realized I had some of dad's pictures from '84 before we went to the mine I would have taken some more strategic shots for comparison.  However, here's what it looked like in 2012:

And the other side in 1984.  Time and weather have not been good to it.  My impression was that they are in budgetary survival mode and not even really near restoration.  
As always, Matthew was quite the hiker and had a good time climbing around.  Catherine hung out on my back chilling and squealing.  

You may have noticed in my previous post, Matthew had a sizable scab on his forehead (over a sizeable bruise).  Friday before we left he apparently stood up too quickly under some playground equipment at school.  The day we went to the mine it had disappeared (a la the second picture in this post).  However, while we were there Matthew took a nice dive onto the asphalt, increasing his bruise and creating a new scab.  I have a feeling this is what life is like until they're teens, eighteen, twenty-five, married.  We tried to take a picture of the three of us in the bucket as well. The kids were obviously super cooperative:

 And while James and I headed up to the Assay Office, Teta taught Catherine how to throw rocks in the water.  Now we're in Kodiak and she's refining her skills:
 Matthew did some jumping and a lot of getting his hands dirty:
 Then washing them after:
 Thanks to Teta for taking a family shot for us.  The mine was known for its aluminum paint on the buildings as seen on the right.  It's an interesting look and was one of the many reasons the mine was known for being so nice and a great place to work.  The place in the background was the mine owner's home:
 And speaking of family pictures, Storm came out to visit a few nights so I got a few with the whole family:
 After our Anchorage Museum disappointment of the lack of dinosaurs, we headed to the Alaska Museum of Natural History.  It ranks a little below 50% percentile in our list of awesome museums but the kids had a blast.  Here Sharon helped Matthew with his "macrophone looking at some animals":
Catherine shook hands with a bear:
But wasn't as keen on the "wooly mammoth":
Matthew hung out in the dino pit playing dinosaurs with Sharon:
Catherine also enjoyed some rock tossing/kissing:
And Matthew tried out the furs.  I couldn't get him anywhere near the woolly mammoth though.

That afternoon we headed down to the Eagle River Nature Center for a short hike:
As we headed down one hill Matthew ran ahead of me, only for me to look down and see a giant bear warning sign and a closed trail.  I called him back to me and explained that he needed to stay nearby.  He then proceeded to sing "bears, bears, bears, BEARS, BEARS . . ." the rest of the hike.  I was fairly certain we wouldn't surprise a bear with our toddler noise which made me happy but Matthew really wanted to call/see one.   For better or worse, we only saw these bear treats heading upstream to spawn.  Kudos to the little 4th/5th grader on the trail who shared EVERYTHING she had learned about salmon in school.  Unfortunately, the process wasn't quite as textbook perfect as she expected and she was a bit stressed when these fish turned around:

Matthew was pretty excited about the fish but demonstrated that much of his fish "understanding" came from finding Nemo.  We have some work to do as well.
And the kids being goofy:

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