Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Saturday, June 23: Warm night, finally cooled off about 3am—still light! Lovely working on the blog in the cool of the morning with the breeze from the river coming in the tent. Ron sleeps in a bit, late breakfast, then off to &^(-&@# for a fan and some window coverings. Quick lunch, then we meet the three Emmons at the paddlewheeler dock for a trip up the river. Good thing to do on a hot day. The boat came out of Binkley Boat Works, established 1898 by a man that came north to build boats for the gold rush miners. The Binkley Family still runs the tour boat business after five generations. The paddle-wheeler is flat bottomed (only draws 39”). Our trip took us up the Chena River to the place where it merges with the silty Tanana. There were video screens to see the tour guide talk about the beautiful log houses we passed (one where the Reagan’s stayed in 1984) and we saw a float plane take off and land, and a sled dog demonstration at Susan Butcher’s home; (she passed away in the early 2000s; she was a four-time Iditarod winner, with a record-breaking three times in a row.) We got off at a re-creation of a Chena Native Village (Athabascan) and learned how they survived with the cold and the long dark days over 12,000 years ago where the temperatures vary the most on the planet (+90s down to -80s)!—the stone and bone culture. We saw a winter hunting camp with temporary shelters covered with moss or hides and a pen of reindeer (domesticated caribou). We saw a fish camp for summer gathering and drying of salmon with a fish wheel that moved with the current and caught the salmon. (The kings start coming about July 4th.) And we saw a permanent cabin that evolved after westerners came with meager items inside and a “cashe” built up on stilts to keep supplies from animals. We also heard how the women treated hides of moose, beaver, caribou (has hollow hairs for extreme warmth) and bear; and we saw a beautiful winter parka. The native guides wore the cotton version for summer. It was a beautiful day on the river. We picnic at our beautiful river site for supper and then a surprise carrot (birthday) cake and ice cream for Sue and me (June 15 and July 12) from the Emmons. Great ending to a great day!

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