Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Tuesday, 21 July, we visited the Museum at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. Wow! What an impressive display of artifacts! The building itself was impressive from an architectural point of view, but that is another subject matter. The museum displays show Alaska from pre-historic times up to the present petroleum and tourist industries. There were skeletal remains of Mammoths and Mastodons – I had no idea of the difference in size, but look at the lower jaw bones...
By the way, those long curled things in the background are Mastodon ivory.
The hunting, whaling and fishing techniques of the original Alaska inhabitants were well covered. I guess you could call whaling a type of fishing, but it is more like hunting...from a boat. The boats were frames of wood over which animal skins were stretched. Can you imagine going onto the open sea in a seal skin canoe? And, then, chasing after several tons of mammal with the intent of sticking spears into him? Then, waiting around for him to bleed out and die, so you could cut him up? I don't think I am ready to sign up for that adventure. The museum had lots and lots of displays and pictures of whaling, including a video. It was fascinating.
Fishing was a huge part of the subsistence equation. Lots of techniques were displayed, but none showed a proper fly rod, reel or a Caddis fly. These folks fished on a commercial scale. Wooden fish traps – obvious progenitors of the hoop nets seen in Louisiana – were used to capture spawning salmon. The one shown is about 8 feet long.

We spent several hours in the Museum and only left when we were saturated and couldn't absorb any more. One last comment about the museum: There was a special summer display concerning the Polar Bear. Global warming, in the opinion of the curator who set up the photographic display, is endangering the Polar Bear. Also, in his opinion, the warming is the result of humans burning fossil fuels. All the little placards, posted beside the absolutely wonderful photographs of the bears, continued the assault on humans for our wasteful and wanton habits. Being somewhat unrepressed in stating my own opinion on the subject, Brenda, in the interest of proper museum decorum, eventually forbade me from reading any more placards. After I quit reading those silly cards, I really enjoyed looking at the Polar Bear pictures.

We had ripe blueberries at Byers Lake. But, my goodness, they were nothing compared to the raspberries. These fellas came off bushes within 50 feet of our camper. They were bathed in half 'n half and consumed immediately after this picture was taken.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for taking the time and making the effort to post this blog. I have enjoyed the stories and photos. Scott and I want to make this same trip one day! Keep up the good work. Brenda, your little dog is so cute!
    Sandra Loomis Tiffee