Quartermaster’s Travels

Since my day was a total crapfest, I’ll share frequent commenter Quartermaster’s travel adventures. Take it away, QM. –XBrad

Few of the denizens here know that I am a Professional Engineer (PE) and Professional Land Surveyor (PLS) employed by an Indian tribe. As a consequence, I am forced, by my duties, to travel. Last week (20th-26th) I was in the Anchorage, Alaska area for the National Tribal Transportation Conference.

My colleague, another PE, and I went up on the 20th because flights on Sunday were terrible, so we had Sunday to bum around and see a few things. We went to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, and took the Tunnel to Whittier (also a tunnel of the Alaska Railroad, with the area around the tracks paved), just we could say we did. Along the way we saw some of the glaciers, and got a pic of the snow blower that was used by the Alaska Railroad, part of which was an old troop car from WW2.

Outside of a few birds, the only wildlife we saw was at the conservation center, although we did see bear sign (partially eaten salmon) along one of the streams, and on the trail next to that stream. Now I like Yogi, but I have no desire to meet him up close and personal, so I judiciously retreated after going about 100 yards past the mostly eaten Salmon on the trail and hearing some crashing in the bush just across the stream. I was particularly disinclined since I was armed only with a Victornox Swiss Army Knife. I doubt Yogi would have been impressed.

The most excitement we had during the conference was at the Hotel. A quake, magnitude 6.2, the most powerful since the most powerful on record in ’64, shook the Anchorage Hilton. I had just finished a shower and was drying off when I felt the shaking on the 11th floor. And it did sway! It brought proceedings to an absolute stop on the 15th floor, and my colleague felt the initial vibration through the floor on the 1st floor about 30 seconds before the greater magnitude S-waves hit, which are what cause the swaying.

No serious damage, but I was inspired to look up at the ceiling and say “you stay up there” while waiting for the shaking to completely die down. I was also dry before the shaking stopped.

At the Wildlife Conservation Center we saw several species that are being raised for release later. They have about 150 head of Wood Bison and they intend to release them up around Fairbanks in ’15. They also have a good herd of Muskox, which were hunted out in Alaska, but are being re-established from a Greenland herd. They also had some Elk, which they plan to release in the next year as well.

They also had a few head of Caribou and Reindeer and two Grizzlies they obtained as cubs. Those were the only Grizzlies we encountered, and they were behind wire and didn’t seem too interested in us.

All told a good stay, but I despise Delta Airlines and the trip back was far worse than the trip up. One day I’d like to go up and take my bride* and really visit. We simply didn’t have time to take a Glacier trip out of Whittier, and certainly not a trip to Denali, alas. Just enough of a trip to whet the appetite and make me wish I could stay about 2 more weeks.

*She didn’t want me to add “of 40 years.”

Quartermaster Sends

Elk 3Moose 3Musk Ox 1Musk Ox 3Musk Ox SkullOwlBlower Fan with me for scaleBlower engine with kitchen car. Kitchen car used to be a troop car during WW2At least they're honestTurquoise Lake 2Turquoise Lake

Of course, you have to get the hat too.

The Hat

10 thoughts on “Quartermaster’s Travels”

  1. I have a pic of that exact same rotary snowplow taken from the Alaska RR train on the way to Denali in June this year.

    1. It’s funny, but the thing was designed, not by an Engineer, but by a Canadian Dentist, of all people. rather impressive device. They have a newer model they keep around in case of avalanches, but most snow removal is done by blades attached to a normal locomotive. Avalanches, however, are more than the dozer blades can handle and the blower is the only alternative.

  2. #1- Great hat! Any hat with a DeHavilland Beaver floatplane on it is well, pretty brilliant. #2- shocked to learn the Musk Ox had been hunted out of Alaska. Great story, great pictures, thank you.

    1. I wanted one with a Beaver floatplane, but no joy. I didn’t see a Beaver in the air, nor even on hardstand. I was at Anchorage in Nov 2007 and there were not as many floatplanes at the seaplane base. There had been a couple Beavers then, but not this trip. Hopefully because they are in use and out doing what people want them for.

  3. Thank you for the story and pictures. I was in Alaska for two and 1/2 years, some 60 years ago (father in USAF) and really need to go back for a visit. I don’t count the bus ride from airport to cruise ship as a visit.

    Paul

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