John and I made a 120 mile drive yesterday from his condo in Anchorage to Talkeetna, a base station for visits to Denali National Park. En route we made three fascinating stops.
In the northern outskirts of Anchorage we visited the Alaska Native Heritage Center where we saw how the 11 native peoples lived and what they made and how they danced. Here is the totem pool at the center.
At the Reindeer Farm near Palmer we were able to feed the reindeer. Also known as caribou when wild, the reindeer were smaller and cuter than I had thought they would be.
Even more dramatic were the musk oxen that we visited at the Musk Ox Farm north of Palmer. Here a non-profit cooperative raises tame musk oxen to produce a type of wool called qiviut that Alaska natives produce in a cottage knitting industry. The qiviut is an exquisitely soft and lightweight yarn that they comb from the musk oxen.
Because musk oxen can eat frozen food during arctic winters, they survived the last Ice Age. Indeed, they have survived since the Pleistocene period where they were contemporary with the mammoth.
And all of this was just the preliminary to our big adventure when we left Talkeetna.