Hemlock Ring blanket

At some point a witty saying will materialize here. Right here. Watch for it.

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September 23, 2009

Cat Bullet

Alaska Interlude: Riverboat day

Filed under: It's a Cat's Life,Travel — Cat @ 8:52 am

Alaska Interlude: Riverboat day

When we flew into Fairbanks, there was lots of smoke in the air due to multiple forest fires in the area. The next morning, we were driven to the dock to get on the Riverboat trip.

The sun was rather ominous…
Fire sun

But the riverboat was really nice:
Riverboat

It was a functioning paddle boat, though powered by diesel engines rather than steam:
Paddle wheel

One of the first demos that they arranged for us was the take off and landing of a float plane. It was really neat to see (and we had radio contact with the pilot, so he described what was going on and answered questions). No pictures of that worth seeing, at least from my camera. It was a red and white piper cub, though, so I would imagine that you could figure out what it looked like.

Another of the demos that they arranged was a young lady who demonstrated traditional fish preservation techniques (by smoking).

First the salmon are caught using the rotating fish weir, seen in the river:

Fish camp

Then the fish are filleted, leaving the two sides connected to the tail, but removing the head and the bones (this is harder to do than it sounds, I think):

Fillet o' fish

After that, the fish is hung to dry for a period of time:

Drying fish

Once the fish are dry, they are moved into the smoke house (seen with the smoke coming out of the opening):

Smoke house

The fish remain in the smoke house until they are well cured. The fish that we saw were “dog salmon”, not really good for people, but the sled dogs love them.

The smokehouse was part of a display of native life. We got off the riverboat at this point and were shepherded through very interesting talks at various stations. The first one that we went to talked about native textiles and clothing and how moose were tracked and “processed” into hide and leather.

Native home with fashion

It was at this station that we learned the secret moose call, used by hunters to attract moose. Let me see if I can reproduce it here:

“Heeeeerrrreeeeee Mooosey mooosey moosey”.

*ahem*

There were other stations that talked about the animals that were important to the natives:

Reindeer
They may have been culturally important, but reindeer are JUST not pretty, are they???

After the various stations, we were given plenty of time to wander around and look at everything.

Look at the size of this bear skin:

Bear skin on cabin

There was a statue of Granite, who was Susan Butcher’s lead dog. He was the runt of his litter and not expected to do much, but ended up helping Susan win four Iditarod races.

Granite the dog
No, I didn’t ask if the statue was made out of, well, granite.

During the talks they described to us how the sod roofs were constructed. It beats hauling in (or making) shingles, I guess.

Sod roof

I really liked how the sod had flowers growing in it:

Sod Roof detail

Actually, there were flowers growing everywhere. Very prevalent was a flower that I had never heard of before, a bright pink bush called Fireweed:
Fireweed

Also growing in abundance were delphiniums:
delphinium

Even though it was really smoky, I enjoyed the day. And, when I got back on the riverboat for the return trip, my aunt pointed out that there was a lady knitting… she was making a dishcloth. My aunt was REALLY impressed.

Keep in mind that this is the Aunt who was the recipient of the Taos stole, but she was really impressed by a cotton dish cloth. I smell a Christmas present coming…

pitter patterpitter patterpitter patterpitter patterpitter patterpitter patterpitter patterpitter patterpitter patter

4 Comments »

  1. I love the sod flowers as well. Bet I could duplicate stitch some blue dots on that green hat I am making and call it that. What you think?
    No, the yarn is acrylic so blocking this one is not an option. However the next one I make I will do out of Cascade 220 and try that idea. I am really enjoying your Alaska trip tales. Keep ‘em comin’. One question: would you need a smokehouse when Alaska is on fire like in your pics with the ominous sun?

    Comment by DonnaW — September 23, 2009 @ 11:16 am
  2. Love your Alaska photos and stories. Your wonderful humor makes it even more enjoyable. Noticed your birth date on your profile page, I missed your birthday. Happy Belated Birthday……

    Comment by cheryl — September 24, 2009 @ 8:35 am
  3. I love the sod flowers, too. Great pictures and stories!

    I think the reindeer are kinda cute :)

    Comment by Terrie — September 25, 2009 @ 11:23 am
  4. I all the family who went to Alaska had a great time. It is fun to relive the trip through your illustrated stories.

    Comment by Mom — October 6, 2009 @ 12:01 pm

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