Saturday, June 30, 2012
Wednesday, June 27: Partly cloudy and cool this am. Beautiful view of the Chugach Mountains out the front window of our cabin. The Emmons are going to head for Kenai today; we are going to stay another day ‘cause we are intrigued to find we are in the Matanuska Valley where the Colony was set up in 1935 to give farmers hit hard by the Depression a place to settle and farm. We heard about it at Finnchoir because several families from South Range, Superior and Wentworth area were involved. There is a video out about it too. I have a good internet connection here so I get up early and get nearly a week’s worth of notes uploaded. I’ll do photos later. I fix French toast for breakfast, a leisurely day. I run a load of wash while Ron goes to the visitor’s center to line up our day. We are heading for a tour of a musk ox farm, but first we stop at an overlook on the huge glacial river, the Matanuska, a fabulous sight. When we reach the muskox farm we see an old barn left over from the Colony project has been refurbished for the museum. The herd was started in the 50s from muskox from Canada (they are extinct in Alaska); the goal is to domesticate the muskox—a 200-year project. Meanwhile they are supported by grants and garments made by native women using qiviut, the soft, warm, waterproof underhair of the muskox. The animal hasn’t changed much since the Ice Age. They are suited to endure the extreme conditions of the Arctic tundra. We also stop at the Palmer Museum and learn more about the huge vegetables that are grown here, one of the reasons the Colony was built here. We find out there are several buildings left from the Colony days (which basically failed); we find the old dairy co-op which produced Matanuska Maid items, and we have coffee and dessert at one old building re-done as a lovely restaurant. After supper we take a walk around the campground just to give our legs a good stretch, then hit the hay.