WPC: Resilient – Curitiba’s Immigrant Parks

Curitiba, in the state of Paraná, Brazil has many parks, and several of them honor the various immigrant nationalities that form a part of this diverse city. Curitiba, in fact, is the only city in Brazil that has its own name in Polish: Kurytyba.  When he visited Brazil in 1980, Pope John Paul II went to Curitiba, where he gave a mass in Polish.  It’s no wonder that the Polish Brazilians honored him by calling the park dedicated to Polish culture  “Bosque do Papa” – The Pope’s Woods.

In this park, there are several small buildings which were moved to the park from their original locations; they are not replicas – they are the actual original buildings that Polish immigrants built when they arrived in Brazil, starting in the year 1869. Between 1869 and 1920, approximately 60,000 Polish immigrants settled in southern Brazil. These buildings represent the resilience not only of the buildings but of the Polish and other immigrants who left their native land to make a new life in Brazil.


Another original building - a small church

Another of the original Polish buildings - possibly the church again.

Another park in Curitiba honoring an immigrant group is Bosque Alemão, or German Woods. Many Germans arrived even before the Poles to settle in this area. Paths in Bosque Alemão wind through native forests. Much of the flora in this forest has been preserved, being the original forest found when Europeans first came to this area. Many of the trees and other species are centuries old! Because of the importance the people of Curitiba placed on preserving native flora, this resilient forest survives to this day for people to enjoy as they walk through the park.

Looking down on bridge - Bosque Alemao

Walkway from above - Bosque Alemao

View of native forest - Bosque Alemao


Native plants

Alaska 2016: Our last days – Fairbanks (Part 2)

September 1, 2016

We had some time after checking into our hotel to walk around that part of town. That evening we were scheduled for dinner at the Alaska Salmon Bake, followed by a show in a nearby theater, an excursion I had booked before the cruise. (Note: All pictures at the Salmon Bake, the environs, and the theater were taken by my husband, Dale Berman.)


A rattly green school bus arrived at the hotel to take us to the Alaska Salmon Bake. Only a few people boarded the bus. The bus driver drove her mostly empty bus to a large park.


There was an area that had a lot of rusting equipment.



The park was pretty, though, and although it was past 8 pm, the sun was still shining.


It’s a good thing we were having nice weather – the buffet area was outside, and from there we had the option to sit inside a warm dining hall or on a picnic table outside. We chose inside, as the day was cooling off fast.


Dale was relieved there were other choices besides salmon – he was getting a little sick of it!  We were in luck – they had Bear Creek wine, which we had discovered our last night in Denali!  It was sweet and smooth, and can ONLY be found in Alaska.


The theater where the show was to be was only a short walk away; however, the rattly school bus did arrive on time to take anyone to the show who didn’t want to or couldn’t walk.

We passed a stadium decorated with native designs.



We arrived at a tourist trap “town” made up to resemble early 20th century frontier towns.


This is where we found the Palace Theatre and Saloon.


The show was a revue entitled “Alaska, The Last Frontier.” No photography was allowed once the show started.


September 2, 2016

Our luggage was picked up outside our hotel rooms early in the morning. We took our carry-ons downstairs to store until it was time to go to the airport. There was a long line to check flights, but it was a good thing we did because we were put on a different flight than originally booked!

We had a very good breakfast in the hotel restaurant, served by a nice middle aged waitress who had lived in Alaska all of her life. In spite of this, she spoke like a Southerner!

After breakfast, we went out for a walk to explore the town. Downtown Fairbanks was only about six blocks away.


We first went into a very bizarre store which sold every sort of thing imaginable, much of it looking as though it had come from a salvage pile or was picked up during excavations of old Indian villages. In fact, it was referred to as the “Alaska Museum Room.”




20160901_183904The prices were very cheap, and I was on the verge of paying for an Ulu knife that was only $3.75 (usually they are quite expensive) when Dale reminded me that we didn’t have our luggage and wouldn’t be able to take such an item through security. The store owner was already in the process of wrapping it in newspaper. Too bad!

We continued on down Noble Street toward downtown.  I was amazed at how many flowers there were everywhere.



When we reached the end of Noble St., we turned right onto Wendell St., heading for the Morris Thompson Cultural & Visitors Center, which claims to “Celebrate Interior Alaska’s People, Land, and Culture.”



This mosaic was inspired by beadwork on moosehide slippers, made by Judy Thomas of Northway, Alaska. There were five such mosaics based on Athabascan artwork on the sidewalk surrounding the Morris Thompson Cultural Center.

Many of the exhibits featured Athabascan arts and crafts.


Chief’s Basket made of king salmon skins, dentalia shells, glass beads and moose skin.



"Mountains and Willows in Fall" (2009)- fabric art quilt by Ree Nancarrow

“Mountains and Willows in Fall” (2009)- fabric art quilt by Ree Nancarrow

Surrounding these exhibits were Alaska’s four seasons: Summer features the village of Tanana, where Morris Thompson was born and raised, and the Tanana River.  In autumn, Alaskans prepare for winter and this exhibit features colorful fall scenes.  Winter has a Public Use Cabin you can enter to experience a dazzling winter night with northern lights shimmer beyond the window.  There wasn’t a specific area for spring, except as “the end of winter.”

Outside the cultural center were some outbuildings and a vegetable and flower garden.


Adjacent to the Cultural Center’s property is the Antler Arch, which is said to be composed of more than 100 sets of moose and caribou antlers, collected from all over the interior of Alaska. It didn’t look like that many to me, but I didn’t count them!



Many of the antlers were autographed either by the collector or in memory of someone.


Beyond that is a walkway along the Chena River which takes you through Griffin Park and along which there are monuments, statues and monuments, including the Land Lease Monument, commemorating Alaska’s role in cooperation with the Soviet Union to defeat the Nazis in World War II.



This was explained on plaques alongside the monument.



To our left was downtown Fairbanks.


We had a wonderful lunch at a crepe place someone had told us about. They served both sweet, breakfast-type crepes, and “lunch” crepes filled with cheese, ham, sausage, etc.

There were large vents along the street which had been painted by local artists.

By mid-afternoon, we headed back to the hotel to wait for the shuttle which would take us to the airport, where we flew to Seattle, and then took a connecting flight to Chicago.

This ends my travel series Alaska 2016. Stay tuned for our next trip, to Brazil!


Alaska 2016: Our last days – Fairbanks (Part 1)

September 1, 2016

We were on our way to our last destination in Alaska – the city of Fairbanks. We took a bus and had a young, attractive guide named Aubrey. I wasn’t able to take pictures because I didn’t get a window seat. Here’s the one good shot I got:


My husband was next to the window, however, and took these pictures of the scenery:



We made a stop in the town of Nenana, which is on the Nenana River. It is distinguished by two events:  It is the first stop along the route of the Iditarod,


and the “Ice Classic”, which is a contest held annually since 1917.


In the Ice Classic, a tripod made of wood is placed in the middle of the frozen river in late winter.  Townspeople bet money – usually consisting of only a few dollars – on when the tripod will fall into the river; in other words, when the river will thaw. In spite of the relatively small amount of cash that the winner will receive, people in Nenana get very competitive during the Ice Classic, and with the access to the Internet, some people do scientific research to find out what are the meteorological forecasts for the arrival of spring in that region.


Nenana has a small sled dog kennel, where they raise dogs to compete in races like the Iditarod as well as for personal use to get around in the winter. The training the dogs receive is basically the same as we saw in Denali, and visitors are encouraged to hold puppies that are as young as three weeks old!


I held a warm, furry black puppy that trembled the whole time that I, or anyone else, held him. I asked one of the trainers if he was cold or just scared. She replied that the young pups are very new to the socialization process, so they become nervous when held.



Upon arrival in Fairbanks, we were taken immediately to a steamboat dock on the river. First, we had lunch at long dining tables in a room filled with tourists from cruise and land tours like ourselves. Except for our group, the majority of the tourists had been on a Princess cruise.


Line to board the steamboat (taken by Dale Berman)

After lunch, we had a few minutes to shop, where we bought a couple of t-shirts, before we were to board the steamboat. Someone had told me to go directly up to the third level and sit in the front to get the best views.  Rows of chairs were set out all along the open deck. We got good seats next to the railing in the front of the boat.

The steamboat took us on a leisurely cruise up the Chena River.

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float plane landing

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The boat stopped in front of a dog kennel. The trainers told us about their dogs and the training they do with them. Ten dogs had been selected and were harnessed for a short run.

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All the dogs get very excited.

And they’re off!

They run by the back of the kennel, a “caboose” behind them!

When they get back, the dogs are hot and tired and ready….

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…for a frolic in the river!

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Our steamboat ride continued.

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We  saw captive caribou.

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We arrived at Chena Village, where Athabascan youths show tourists different aspects of their ways of life. This village resembles the original Athabascan village of the early 1900s and is located near the original site.

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First, while we were still aboard, we saw how the salmon are caught, cut and dried.

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Fish drying shed

The steamboat docked and we got off. We were divided into several groups, each with a guide who took us around to different areas where we learned about the activities that would have taken place in the village.

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This young man was our guide. He showed us each of the pelts – what animal they were from and how they were used.


Transportation: canoe, snow shoes

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Clothing – a young woman models a warm fur coat.

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Examples of clothing for men (left of door), women (right)

Animals: Moose were a good catch for trappers, but the people relied on domesticated reindeer for various purposes. (A reindeer is actually a domesticated form of the caribou.)


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Housing: Summer and winter camps

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An outhouse was a convenience in a settled village!

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Winter trapper’s cabin: Most trapping was done in the winter because that is when the animals’ fur would be thickest and warmest. The trappers had to set and maintain their trap lines in the worst winter conditions. “Line cabins” would be built about a day’s journey apart from one another along their winter trapping routes. Simple and rugged, they provided the trappers with adequate shelter during Alaska’s harsh winters, and were meant only to rest, dry out, heat up, and sleep.  Although built for their own use, anyone needing shelter would be welcome to use the cabins.20160901_160514

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Permanent house in the village

All too soon, it was time to board the steamboat once more.

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Thursday Doors: Café do Paço

In the historic center of Curitiba, there is a “teaching cafe” – that is, it is a cafe in which the servers and those who prepare the coffee are students at the Escola Senac who are learning the art of presentation and serving of a good coffee. The students also learn how to prepare appetizers and sweets. When the server brought my cappuccino to the table, it looked like this:


We entered the cafe from another part of the historic building in which it is located. The building dates from 1916 and has been preserved as part of the historic patrimony of Curitiba. There was a beautiful door (not in use) near where we sat that I took pictures of, from both the outside and inside.


Outside the cafe

Looking out the windows of this ornate doorway, from where we were sitting, I could see the “tubes” that are waiting areas for city buses.  Do you see the heart?


Inside the cafe looking out

Thursday Doors, 12/29/16

CFFC: Duck, Duck, Goose…and Loon

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week is the children’s game “Duck Duck Goose.”

A mother duck took up residence in the courtyard of the last school I worked at. She nested there, safe from land predators, and every spring both teachers and students enjoyed watching her walking around with her little ones around her from the cafeteria windows. I wrote an entire post about this last May for another of Cee’s Fun Foto Challenges!


I often take walks at Prairie Lakes, a park district fitness center park with a walking/biking path. Many ducks and Canada geese take up residence in one of the small man-made lakes there.


For fifty years, my family owned a summer cottage in northern Wisconsin. We saw ducks and loons on a regular basis. It was often a mother with her ducklings. The young ones in this picture are nearly as big as their mother by July:


It was funny to watch Canada geese diving for fish!


The loons were usually far off on the lake,

a pair of loons! They have been getting so close to the dock.

but in July of 2014, my husband and I took a spin around the lake in his fishing boat, and one particular loon ventured quite close to our boat.




Alaska 2016: Late afternoon hike in Denali

August 31, 2016 continued

Our next activity wasn’t scheduled until 5:30, which was a hike on Rock Creek trail. Our guide met us at the lodge and we drove to the park. Once again, we were the only ones who had signed up for this tour! Only this time, there really weren’t any other people on the hike except us. It was fun anyway.

Our guide’s name was Katie, too. She has a degree in geological environmental science, so she has a good knowledge of the earth’s physical processes, including meteorology. She spent an entire year studying meteorology and climate change.

On the hike, she focused on telling us about various plant species that we encountered, and I also stopped often to take pictures of mushrooms to add to my collection!

Aspen and birch both have white bark and similar leaves, but the difference is that the birch leaf is more elongated and pointed at the tip, with more pronounced serrations, while the aspen’s leaf is rounder and more finely serrated.aspen-birch-leaves

Aspen bark is thicker while birch bark is paper thin and can peel easily, which is why it has been used historically as paper. Aspen bark can be tan or greenish tan. It can photosynthesize through its bark, allowing it to keep growing even after the short Alaskan summer.

aspen trunk

Trunk of an Alaskan aspen tree

Lots of the aspen trees have scratches and irregular marks on them. This is caused by moose who like to eat the bark.

Aspens are able to clone themselves. This is called a “community.” Scientists can figure out which aspens in a forest belong to the same community by studying growth patterns and changes in the leaves. For example, if a group of aspens’ leaves turn yellow at exactly the same time, they are likely from the same community. Likewise if their leaves turn orange and begin to wither at the same time. We could observe this phenomenon ourselves by looking up into the canopy of the stands of aspens.


The clusters of aspens in the distance show by their colors which form a ‘community.’



There are several types of berries in Alaska that you can eat. One is a smaller type of cranberry, a bit tarter than the one we are familiar with. Rosehips, another berry, has a strong flavor and lots of Vitamin C – a handful of them has more Vitamin C than an entire orange. I am familiar with rosehips because I drink it a lot in tea.


Another berry is orange and grows singly, and it tastes like a snap pea. Soapberries


soapberries (downloaded from Google Images)

(that the grizzly bear we saw was foraging for) actually do taste like soap! They are a favorite of bears – perhaps their taste buds process the taste of the soapberry differently than ours! Wild blueberries have a sharper taste than what we get at the supermarket, but they are still really good. Katie also pointed out some red currants.



rosehips rosehips (from Google Images)

Plants have developed adaptations to survive in this harsh climate. The willow here, for example, doesn’t grow into a tree, it grows as a shrub or even smaller plant. But notice its leaves – they are the same as a willow tree’s. The same thing is true with the alder.


Willow plant (doesn’t grow to be a tree in Alaska)

There are two kinds of spruce – the white spruce that looks like a traditional Christmas tree, and the black spruce, native to Alaska, which is thin and scraggly. The burls on the spruce’s trunk are caused by injury or irritation, and the bark grows around it. Burls are interesting because their wood has a swirly pattern, favored by artists who make wood carvings. The black spruce often has what’s called “witch’s broom” (tiny little twig branches that grow in bunches), a reaction to a fungus that spreads on the tree. You can see the fungus and lichen growing on the black spruce, killing the branches if it spreads too much.

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An example of “witch’s broom” growing on a spruce trunk.

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“Witch’s broom” near the top of a spruce.

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Spruce tree afflicted with the fungus that causes witch’s broom. In this case, the branches are dying because the fungus has spread.

Fireweed is a plant that is called this for two reasons: the leaves turn bright red, looking like fire; but the real reason is that it is the first plant to grow after a forest fire. Some have flowers, some don’t. When the flowers go to seed (get fluffy white stuff on top), it means snow should be expected in six weeks.



Horsetail is a plant with grass-like leaves. Now it is a couple of feet high, at most, but it is a plant that in prehistoric times was gigantic and herbivorous dinosaurs ate them. it has evolved into the plant that grows on the tundra today.


Common horsetail plant drawn by a student*

*From website https://intothefield2015.wordpress.com/2015/08/02/common-horsetail/

There is a freeze and thaw cycle on the tundra, but the permafrost should be constant below the topsoil. With global warming/climate change, the permafrost thaws permanently and then the soil becomes soft and spongy because it absorbs too much water. With this soft soil, plants and trees may become crooked or lean over. When there is a whole forest of these leaning trees, it is called a “drunken” forest.

Even in this spongy soil, there are hard lumps that develop and moss grows over them. Walking on the spongy ground and suddenly coming up against these hard mounds can cause a person (or animal) to twist one’s ankle!!

Permafrost close to the surface can stunt black spruce growth, because the trees will only grow as tall as their roots extend below the surface. This is why in certain areas the black spruce trees are very tiny.

Glacial erratic are large rocks that are found randomly in places they don’t seem to belong. These are rocks that glaciers pick up and carry as they expand, and drop them as they recede. These boulders get caught in the icy crevasses of the glacier so they are not ground up into silt like most material that glaciers cover.


Example of an “erractic”, a boulder left here by a glacier. Photo by Dale Berman

I couldn’t resist adding a few more of my mushroom photos that I took on the hike!



Squirrels knocked over and foraged mushrooms as shown in the photo below.


Alaska 2016: The Visitors’ Center & Sled Dogs of Denali

August 31, 2016

We didn’t have anything scheduled today until an interpretive hike at 5:30 pm.  We went to Karstens – a restaurant at the McKinley Chalet Resort – for breakfast and I ordered the continental buffet for $13.00 (Full buffet, which Dale got, was $18.00).  I was in the mood for oatmeal, which I covered with brown sugar and dried cranberries.  I wanted a pastry but all they had were hard scones with raisins and mini lemon poppy seed muffins, that common type you find in supermarkets.  I asked one of the attendants to look into it, thinking they had just run out of pastries, but she didn’t do anything – anyway, nothing more was put out so I had to be content with oatmeal and mini muffins.  For $13, that was a total rip-off!

We decided to take a free shuttle to Denali National Park and go to the Visitors Center. Then at 2:00 we could go see the sled dog demonstration.  We had to be at the shuttle stop for that at 1:20.

The Visitors’ Center is quite extensive and one can spend quite awhile there. There was a display of works by previous years’ artists-in-residence.


I couldn’t get a great picture of this artwork. However, the artist used found objects to represent various parts of the scene, with the brown hump (a cooper’s tool) representing Denali.


2015 Artist-in-residence David Rosenthal, 2 views of Denali: Denali and Wonder Lake (top) and Denali on a Blue Day (bottom). The artist made detailed sketches first, then did the paintings based on his drawings.


2015 Artist-in-residence Brooks Salzwedel, “Untitled #1”, materials: graphite, colored pencils, charcoal, mylat & resin. She was inspired by seeing Denali uncovered by clouds one day.


2002 Artist-in-residence Kesler Woodward, “Drifting Clouds, Denali”, oil on canvas


2014 artist-in-residence Beau Carey, “Denali Down the Park Road, March 26”, oil on paper

2014 artist-in-residence Lorraine Bubar, "Denali", papercut

2014 artist-in-residence Lorraine Bubar, “Denali”, papercut


2011 artist-in-residence Gina Holloman, “Toklat Wolf”, textiles, fabric art. Inspired by a black wolf with yellow eyes that she saw early in the morning outside her cabin, the only wolf she saw during her residency at Denali.

There were exhibits on the flora and fauna of the park, with life sized statues of animals such as a Dall sheep and a moose.

In the middle of the room on the main floor was a 3D topographical map,

surrounded by native artwork and artwork depicting the park’s landforms.

I had gone through the display on the history of the park and had started reading about the native peoples of the area when Dale persuaded me to leave so we could have lunch. Afterward, we took a short walk before going to the shuttle stop for the sled dog demonstration.

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Animal footprints on the road lead you from the Visitors’ Center to the shuttle stop.

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KODAK Digital Still CameraThe dog kennel and training center was only a few miles from the entrance to the park.  The kennels were open yards with dog “houses”, each labeled with its owner’s name, most of whom were either sleeping on top of it or alongside it.  They were all leashed.  We also walked along an area with a chain-link fence, where there were a few other dogs. One who was lying next to the fence Dale bent down and petted his fur.



The dogs like to sleep on top of their houses. A sled dog’s diet in the summer consists of dry kibble high in protein and fat. In the winter, their calorie needs increase so their kibble consumption may double, in addition to receiving supplements of tri-fat blend, protein powder and glucosamine.


Sled dogs are bred for particular traits to enable them to perform their work. They have sturdy bodies that weigh 60-80 lbs. and, pound for pound, they are the strongest draft animals on earth.


Sled dogs’ circulatory system, like wolves, has counter-current circulation in their legs, so that the dog’s core stays warm while its paws may be close to freezing. Their large compact feet distribute the weight of the dog evenly as it runs through the snow, keeping the snow from accumulating between their toes. They have long, strong legs allowing them to run up to 60 miles a day when needed.


Display of a typical sled used at Denali.  While the mushers dress in layers of heavy clothing, sled dogs have a double layer of fur which insulates their bodies to withstand temperatures as low as -40 degrees and colder! When they curl up to sleep, the dogs cover their sensitive noses with their fluffy tails for protection.


In the office, past sled dogs are remembered affectionately by displaying their names that had been attached to their houses in the kennel.

There was also a pen with 5-week old puppies, who were lying in a heap, asleep.


Training begins a few weeks after birth. Once their eyes are open, the puppies are held and socialized to visitors as much as possible.

Not all the dogs were sleeping, however. When we arrived, the dogs knew there was going to be some action.  Huskies who are used as sled dogs are bred to love to run.  They enjoy nothing more than being hooked up to a sleigh and taking off.  During the summer, of, course, they cannot use sleds, but they have training vehicles with wheels.  Six dogs were selected to train that day, for us to watch.

20160831_140535When the dogs were selected, the other dogs in the kennel went ballistic – barking, jumping, pacing. They all wanted to get into the action!  There was one that we could see from where we were sitting in some blocked off bleacher seating (we were told to keep our hands feet and all objects behind the barrier) who barked and leaped as high into the air as his leash would allow. We saw him shoot upward into the air, then down again, then up again, then down again. He was like a kid waving his arm and jumping up and down, saying, “Pick me! Please! Pick me!!”


Here they come! The trainer guides the harnessed dogs around a loop. We could hear them barking even when we couldn’t see them!


In the fall, the growing puppies are taken on walks so that they are exposed to new terrain and challenges they could face on the trail. This is a good time to get a sense of their personalities. While they are still pups, they are observed by their handlers who notice particular personality traits. Leaders, followers, pullers – each require certain characteristics, and like all animals, each dog is unique. When the dogs are half grown, they are sometimes allowed to run alongside the training vehicle to see where they naturally feel comfortable: are they hanging around the dogs in the back? Do they run to the front to be first in line? These behaviors also help determine which position a dog will fit into best.


Resting at the end of the run

Each position in line is made for certain dogs.  All of the dogs are highly intelligent, but they have different personalities. Who loves to explore and lead the way? Who gets tired first? Who has a lot of energy and just wants to keep going and going? These are traits that are observed during the pups’ training in order to select the best position for each dog. The lead dogs must be able to calculate danger and avoid it in a split second, able to make the decisions those in the front of the line need to make.


The lead dogs

The dogs in the rear are those with the most physical strength. They are the ones who bear the most weight of the sleigh and all its contents.

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Statue of the famous Balto, in the lobby of the McKinley Chalet Resort lodge.

Traditionally, the native Alaskans used sled dogs to pull their sleds from place to place to hunt, fish, gather food, or go from one settlement to another.  The famous race, the Iditarod, immortalized in children’s literature by Balto, requires tremendous stamina to run for hours across the cold, snowy landscape for many days. The Iditarod takes place every year and covers hundreds of miles over a period of a few weeks. It is a test of physical strength and endurance.  In Denali National Park, however, sled dogs are used by the rangers to accomplish tasks deep inside the park that need to take place during the winter.

Examples of the tasks that the Denali sled dogs accomplish are written on an informational sign at the entrance to the sled dog kennels. Sled dogs hauled more than 10,000 lbs. of building materials, such as lumber and steel cables, for a suspension bridge completed in 2010, . When the project was completed, they helped haul out the crew’s summer camps.  Sled dogs assisted the installation and maintenance of remote sound monitoring stations, which were placed in various areas of the park. When a researcher wanted to begin a project to learn about the wolverine population in Denali, the sled dogs hauled remote camera stations necessary to learn the size and habit of the wolverine population.


As you leave the kennels, you are encouraged to “Feed Buck”, a carved wooden dog with its mouth open to accept monetary donations.


Next: Late afternoon interpretive hike

Alaska 2016: Denali National Park and Preserve

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

To travel into Denali NPP by vehicle, visitors may be taken on a tour on a refitted school bus with a tour guide who provides a narrative throughout. (This was part of our cruise + land tour package from the cruise line.)

There are shuttle buses, also, but they do not have narration. You can get on and off the shuttles at designated stops, and they are cheaper than the tour buses.


Downloaded from Google Images*

*Original web site http://onemileatatime.boardingarea.com/2015/05/19/gaming-the-denali-national-park-road-lottery-part-1/

The buses are operated by a private company, not by the National Park Service. There is only one road into the park and while we were on this tour, most of the other vehicles we saw on the road were revamped school buses like ours. Cars are not allowed into the park beyond the first 15 miles.  Our bus took us about 60 miles in (which was an 8-hour tour round trip), although the entire road is 92 miles.

Whether by shuttle or guided tour, these bus tours only run May through September.

Every seat on our bus had a snack box.  On the bottom of the box was a map that I used for reference for awhile.

denali-npp-road-mapI didn’t plan to open the box for several hours and besides, we had leftover pizza to eat for lunch – we’d brought it because we’d been advised that only a “snack” would be provided and we should bring lunch if we wanted more.

Our guide today introduced herself as Becky.  She told us about her life five months of the year in Alaska – no running water or electricity!  The rest of the year, she and her husband live in Oregon, where all the modern conveniences seem like a luxury – and perhaps they are; we just take them for granted.  How many people in the world have none of the amenities we have and must work constantly to meet their basic needs?

The first wildlife we saw were Dall sheep – moving white dots on a mountainside.


You are lucky if you see Dall sheep up this close!*

*Downloaded from Google Images; original web site http://science.halleyhosting.com/nature/denali/fauna/mammal/hoof/hoof.htm

Denali NPP owes its existence to the Dall sheep.  Charles Sheldon lobbied Congress to provide an area in which this declining species would be protected.  In 1916, Denali National Preserve was created, which protected more than just the sheep.  In 1917, the year after the National Park Service was created, the preserve was expanded to its present size and renamed Denali National Park and Preserve.


Downloaded from Google Images*

*Web site https://blogs.nasa.gov/earthexpeditions/2016/07/12/counting-sheep-the-driving-force-of-denali/

The reason the highest mountain in North America was called Mt. McKinley had to do with Alaska’s gold rush history. At the beginning of the 20th century, there were strong gold mining interests.  McKinley was running for president on the Republican ticket, and a major issue was whether the U.S. should have the gold standard or the silver standard.  McKinley was in favor of the gold standard and so to curry favor with the GOP candidate, the Alaskans decided to name the highest mountain after him.  In fact, during his 1 ½ terms as president (he was assassinated in the middle of his 2nd term), McKinley never visited Alaska or saw the majestic mountain that bore his name.


The nearly deserted road winds its way into the park, closer to Denali (mountain on right).

The name stuck, in spite of having been known as Denali for centuries before that, the Athabascan word meaning “High One”, and was not officially changed until last year.  In 2015, Pres. Obama signed an executive order changing the official name back to Denali.  You still see a lot of maps and exhibits labeling the mountain as Mt. McKinley.

Becky told us to yell “stop” if we spotted wildlife.  But she wanted us to be very quiet once we’d stopped and were observing the animal.

First someone saw some caribou in the distance.  Becky stopped the bus and people with telephoto lenses (including me) took pictures of them.

Caribou closer up

Our first glimpse of caribou

The next time we saw a caribou, it was walking on the road ahead of us!  Becky said that caribou will often choose to walk on the road because packed gravel is easier to walk on than the spongy soil and scrub of the tundra.  The caribou didn’t seem to be particularly perturbed by our presence.  After all, we were just a couple of immobile buses full of humans who were mostly quiet.  She ambled past us as camera shutters clicked.  I got a good close up of her.  There was also a mother caribou and her baby on the road.

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Here is something interesting about caribou:  Caribou and reindeer are the same species, except that reindeer are domesticated and caribou are wild.  Both male and female grow antlers, but the male sheds his antlers in the fall and grows new ones in the spring.  Female caribou retain their antlers through the winter, so we can deduce that all of Santa’s reindeer are female, because they are always pictured with antlers!

At one of the rest stops, Dale and I picked up a rack of caribou antlers, attempting to put them on our heads to take silly pictures – I found that I couldn’t lift it high enough, because it is so heavy! I can only imagine what it must be like to carry that around on one’s head, all through the winter!

Besides caribou – and we saw several – we also stopped for a light brown grizzly bear who was foraging for berries (Becky said they were probably soapberries) in an open are far off the road.  I took several pictures, good ones!

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Although we hoped to see moose, we didn’t.  it’s a bit late for moose, Becky said.  It’s rutting season for them now.  Moose who are competing for females have no interest in posing for humans!

Another species we did see was the state bird, the ptarmigan. A group of them were pecking near the edge of the road.

KODAK Digital Still CameraBecky told us a story not about ptarmigan, per se, but about Chicken, Alaska!  There was a small community that was looking for a name for their hamlet.  They thought of naming it after the state bird, but it was hard to say and harder to spell (well, confusing), so they came up with the name Chicken! They were set on using a bird name, I guess.

Besides wildlife, we of course saw spectacular scenery, often dominated by Denali in the distance, towering over the lesser mountains of the Alaska Range, and splashes of color from the aspens, whose leaves have turned bright yellow, and different colors in the rocks.

A stand of yellow aspen in the midst of green spruce

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There is even a place called Polychrome Point, where we stopped for awhile to climb up to trailheads and add to our collection of photographs.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

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Deposits of glacial silt coat this river bed, and the river meanders around them. This is typical of Alaskan rivers and they change a little each day.

KODAK Digital Still CameraI found I often duplicated photos because the view looked even more spectacular each time I looked at it!  Photos cannot capture the majesty of this place, but we keep trying to take the perfect picture.

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We got within 36 miles of Denali, then turned around.  We saw the grizzly again, who was still foraging, and caribou off in the distance crossing a river.

We got back to the resort at about 5:00 pm, with an hour to rest before attending a salmon dinner and show at the Gold Nugget Saloon, only a short walk from our lodgings. This was an excursion which we booked and paid for before the cruise. I recommend it to others who might be taking a similar trip with Holland America Line.

Monday Windows: Windows of São Paulo

I have recently been in the largest city in the Western Hemisphere,  São Paulo, Brazil where I saw many beautiful windows, from ultra modern to colonial period windows, and artistic things people have done to their windows. Here is a sampling for this week’s Monday Windows Challenge.




  1. Casa das Rosas (House of the Roses), Av. Paulista
  2. colonial windows, downtown
  3. artistic private home, Vila Mariana district
  4. modern office building, Av. Paulista
  5. colonial facade, Av. XV de Novembro (downtown)
  6. Piano store, Pinheiros district

A Photo a Week Challenge: White

This is my first time participating in Nancy’s challenge.

I have had a fascination with mushrooms since about four years ago when I was in northern Wisconsin just after a rainy period, and there were mushrooms of all shapes, sizes and colors blossoming everywhere. Since then, I stop to take photos of mushrooms whenever I see them, especially if there is something unusual about them. Here are some of my favorite “white” mushrooms (and other fungi).

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