Sunday, 27 July 2014

JUL 27, 14 .. NENANA ALASKA ..

In my four previous posts .. and in this post .. Patti and I were on a road trip from Anchorage Alaska traveling north to Fairbanks Alaska and then onward to Manley Hot Springs Alaska.  After our visit in Manley we then returned south to Anchorage.

The two of us left Anchorage Alaska Sunday evening (8PM) the 13th of July and returned to Anchorage early Monday morning (1AM) the 21st of July.

EVEN IN THE RAIN .. going through yet-another-muddy-construction-zone .. MISS ALASKA is a stunner!

In the prior four posts I have shown some scenes along the Parks Highway (JULY 14th .. INTO FAIRBANKS ALASKA)  .. of Denali National Park and Preserve (JULY 14th) .. of our cabin in Manley Hot Springs (JULY 13th ..TIME FOR A SHORT ROAD TRIP) .. and of the Alaska Veterans Monument (JULY 24th).

Ah yes my Dear Miss Alaska .. just for you I will slip-in a few more photos of you when your SUN-WAS-OUT !

Onward .. ever onward!

This post will wrap-up our trip with some scenes of the small village of Nenana Alaska.  The name Nenana comes from an Athabascan word meaning 'a good place to camp between rivers'.  The Tanana River and the Nenana River join immediately downstream of the Nenana Bridge.

Nenana is approximately 50 miles south of Fairbanks and it is one of my major 'touchstones' or 'land-marks' as I travel the 375-mile journey up and down the Parks Highway.

I drive out of Anchorage looking to reach Talkeetna Junction .. a 100-mile two-hour drive north.  Then I 'look for' Cantwell another 112-miles north and about five-hours out of Anchorage.  Next up is Denali National Park and Preserve .. and finally Nenana Alaska immediately before Fairbanks.

THE NENANA BRIDGE OVER THE TANANA RIVER defines Nenana for me .. when I see THE BRIDGE .. I KNOW I am almost to Fairbanks.

Looking north up the Parks Highway at THE BRIDGE!

The below photo 'looks-down-upon' the Village of Nenana .. the bridge in the distance is a railway bridge over the Tanana River.

The following photos of THE BRIDGE .. were taken looking south coming from Fairbanks heading to Anchorage.

Having now shown you THE BRIDGE .. I will go back to the southern edge of Nenana and show you another of my special places .. the Nenana 'A' Frame building and Chevron Convenience Store.

I can NOT tell you how many times I have slept overnight at this location .. nor how many bags of popcorn I have popped in their 'micro-wave' and eaten going south nor how many hot dogs I have ingested going south.  Going north I know I will eat in Fairbanks so .. unless I am going to sleep overnight here in Nenana in my truck .. I usually wait to eat in Fairbanks.

Can you all see my white Chevrolet Suburban on the right side of the below photo?

The below photo looks back (north) from the other side of the store.

Just one of my 'homes-away-from-home' .. like a long-haul trucker .. these stops become special over-the-years!
Now lets look at the Nenana Visitors Center .. which is located just-across-the-highway from the Chevron 'A' Frame store above.

In the background on the left side above is a 'Tripod' .. I will get to what a 'Tripod' is further below in this post.
Behind the Visitor's Center is the tug boat THE TAKU CHIEF !
The Taku Chief is a relic dating back to Interior Alaska's steamboat days a time period of about 30 years.  Tug boats were used to move barges loaded with supplies destined for villages in the Interior as they navigated the Nenana, Tanana, Koyukuk and Yukon Rivers.

And still on-the-grounds of the Nenana Visitor's Center .. and behind the Taku Chief above .. is the below monument to the Alaska Territorial Guard.

I have 'snuck-in' the below photo taken at the Alaska Veteran's Memorial that honors the Alaska native veterans.
Sorry !  I get a little (or a LOT) 'choked-up' when I think of what we owe those who gave-their-all so that we all are able to live free !
Stories abound about the native-language speakers who completely fooled our WWII enemies who could not decipher nor translate their communications in their mother-tongues in life-and-death combat situations. 
Now looking directly across the street from the Visitor's Center is the below building .. with yet another 'Tripod' beside it.
Now to the 'Tripods'.  First this word is a mis-nomer.  The Tripods actually have FOUR legs not three legs as the word 'Tri' implies. 
Each year .. during mid to late February .. the local citizens of Nenana set onto the ice of the Tanana River .. a Tripod similar to the two that you have seen above.  The Tripods are set onto the ice (which will be approximately 36-inches in thickness) of the Tanana River just upstream from THE BRIDGE that I have shown you above .. and directly behind the building you see in the photograph below.
Welcome to the Nenana Ice Classic!  Guess what?  IF you want to know-more-than-you-want-to-know about this event .. just visit your friends at 'Google' and enter .. Nenana Ice Classic!  My goodness .. what would we all do without 'Google'!
Then .. from all over the State of Alaska .. and from elsewhere as well .. people make an educated or a non-educated guess as to the exact time in the spring that the Tanana River ice will melt and allow the 'Tripod' to go into the river.  In general .. the ice-goes-out from very late April into the first and the second weeks of May.  This being said .. the ice has gone out as early as April 20th and as late as May 20th! 
As you can see in the below photo .. the winner(s) of the Nenana Ice Classic can win some BIG BUCKS!  I write winner(s) plural because people can have an identical winning time and people also will join-in-a-group to split the winnings IF one of the group has the winning time.  Oh Yes!  Stories abound of some friction amongst groups of people in such a 'pool' when one of them had the lucky guess.  Can you imagine that? 

Below is the building on 'A' Street that houses the headquarters of the Nenana Ice Classic.

Well .. what else have we in Nenana Alaska .. how about a United States Post Office!

 And of course .. St. Marks Church !
St. Mark's Church is on Front Street.
Patti enjoyed a quiet moment inside of St. Mark's.
The three below photos show views looking up and looking down 'A' Street .. the main street of Nenana.
At the very far end of the street in the below photo .. even past the bus coming down-the-street towards us with its lights on .. is the Visitor's Center and across the street the Chevron 'A' Frame building I have shown you above.
Directly straight ahead of you below is the historical Nenana Railway Station or Depot.
Closer .. ever closer .. we come to the railway station ..
The railway station is on Front Street .. I was standing on 'A' Street as I snapped the above photos.
In the below photo do you all see .. taa-daa .. THE BRIDGE in the right background.
Please notice the two flag-stone monuments in the foreground of the below photo.  I will show a close-up view of them later.
Now we will go back upon THE BRIDGE and .. looking down upon Nenana .. ask you to find the railway station in the below photo taken from THE BRIDGE.  Do you all see it?  Dead center and then a 'smidgen' to your left and up. 
'Zilla!  What would I possibly do without your ever inquisitive inquiries as you sit on my left shoulder as I write away here!!
Before we take a quick visit inside .. lets look at the historical plaques you see in the photo (two above) of the station's right side.
Inside we go .. let's all have a short look-see inside the historical Nenana Railway Station.  Precisely as it looked in our grand parents day. 
Now for a short personal story.  In the below photo .. one you have already seen .. please note off to the right .. the lovely 'watering-hole' known as Jester's Palace .. do you all see it? 
"Yes 'Zilla? A hint?" .. look for the blue roof and purple walls with yellow signs .. I knew you'd get it my friend !  
Again .. we are looking down 'A' Street ..
Much of rural Alaska was 'developed' by expanding existing buildings.
Below are two photos of the 'original' Jester's Palace showing the connection with the 'new and expanded' Jester's Palace on the right of the original building!!

Here is your short-story. 
A few years ago .. as I was crossing the mountains between Fairbanks and Nenana .. heading south for Anchorage Alaska .. I had Patti on my cell phone telling Patti of my location.  Suddenly my cell phone WENT TOTALLY DARK !!  KAPUTZ !!  DEAD !!  It was NOT out of battery power .. it was fully-charged .. it was DEAD !!
It was about 1AM in the dark of a snowy and bitter-cold Alaskan winter night.  I knew Patti would be next-to-frantic at my suddenly being cut-off in mid-sentence.  "Did Cap get into an accident? What happened?"
Into Nenana I rolled .. "What-to-do?" I mused.
Well I turned onto the main drag of Nenana and as I motored north on it WHOA!  Look at that JOINT !!  Man alive it is rocking and it is rolling!
The Jester's Palace?  Oh Come On .. You Have Got To Be Kidding Me!
So into the Jester's Palace I walked.  The joint was not only rocking-and-rolling .. the joint was PACKED .. shoulder-to-shoulder patrons .. boys and girls.  What on earth do YOU do in the middle of the long and the cold and the dark winter nights in Alaska?  Uh Captain?  You could tune into KIAM 630 Radio and hear about the Gospel?  Uh Captain?  You could go to .. shall we say here .. one of your .. meetings?
Up to this 'dude' I walked .. I showed him my dead cell phone .. I told him about Patti in Anchorage and my 'predicament'. 
Quicker than Jack-Flash .. my MAN pulled out his cell phone (it actually was one of those so called 'smart phones') and said .. "Pard! Talk Away!"  After he showed me how to talk-into-a-smart-phone .. I did and Patti was so relieved to know that I was safe.  The two of them spoke briefly.
Let me tell you all .. JESTER'S PALACE in little ol' Nenana Alaska will always occupy a special place in my heart!
The below building .. one sweet place-on-this-good-earth .. also occupies a very special place in my heart-of-hearts.
I want you all to meet .. KIAM 630 AM .. YOUR Gospel Voice Of The Alaska Wilderness!
Hello Rick .. Hello Kathy .. Hello Brian !
Have you all heard of the term 'Mukluk Messages'?  I thought so .. guess I will have to stop-right-here!
"No 'Zilla? Don't stop now? YOU are not familiar with 'Mukluk Messages'?"  What would I do with out you my friend. 
Here in rural Alaska there are many people who live VERY remote lives.  Many can and many do get radio reception.
"What-to-do to contact your friends out-in-the-wilderness?" 
Thought you'd never ask!  Why you just dial-on-up Radio Station KIAM in Nenana .. KIAM is located at 630 on your AM radio dial and you leave a Mukluk Message.  Then Monday through Saturday .. at 10:10AM .. 2:10PM .. and 9:10PM .. you can hear-yourself-talking as you have left a Mukluk Message for your friends and family.  
What's that Gullible?  Congratulations to me on NOT dividing this post up into four individual posts!  It only took me two full days of fiddling before I finally figured out how to get Shaddy's web site posted on my site here.  I also got the 'labels thing' figured out at the top of the right margin.
Notice the 'link' at the top of the right margin that I added for you following along here to click-onto to see our travel plans.

Yes Shaddy? You can see that I DO KNOW about the challenge of .. what-to-do with all of these photos! You Shaddy just keep snapping-away.  We love your posts.  
Smiles from Cap and Smiles from Patti .. we will sign off here and get really serious about our upcoming trip!


  1. I like reading your blogs. You are thorough and then a bit more thorough!! And that's a good thing. It makes sense to elaborate about what direction you're taking your picture from and where you are taking it if you want your reader to really get the most out of the location.

    Of all things I choose to mention, I had a few of the Bobbsey Twin books. You're the first person I think ever who has spoken of them. I've forgotten almost everything about them except that they were precious to me. Unfortunately, I don't have them. I must learn to take better care of precious possessions. :)

    The nice man at the Jester was precious as well. I can see why it holds a place in your heart. When you really need something and a person supplies that need, there's no forgetting. I'm certain that it saved both you and Patti from hours of anxiousness.

    Thank you for all your time and hard work at putting this post together. I know it's a labor of love because, well, you know how I know!!

    Once again, have a safe and splendid trip to Michigan, India and Hong Kong.

    Returned smiles,

  2. My mother was one of the winners of the Nenana Ice Classic in the 1960s. She said her share was enough to pay their Anchorage real property taxes that year.

  3. Shaddy AND Gullible. Isn't all-of-this a challenge sometimes? I had a nice reply to the two of you and .. poof .. it disappeared .. just-like-that! On MY web site no less.

    Shaddy .. YOU of all writers KNOW how nice the kind words are to hear. Thank You Shaddy. Gullible .. how very special that your mother was one of the winners of the Ice Classic back in the 1960s. THANKS TO PATTI who helps 'edit' here .. I made sure to pluralilze the word winner into winner(s). I had it originally as THE winner of the Ice Classic wins some BIG BUCKS. And now we will press publish and see IF this sticks! Smiles .. Cap