The Finale of Limestone Gap, AK 2009

On the 12th we packed up and headed southward from Fairbanks to Gar's place, which is about 100 miles East of Palmer. It took Bill and I 9 hours in the yellow submarine (cook truck). No break downs this season :) Half the time we were driving through bushfire haze, as you can see below. Half the mountain was hidden due to smoke in the valley.

Here's the pipeline that we followed down most of the way from Fairbanks. An Earthquake a few years back moved it off it's foundation and caused numerous issues for the pipeline. Since then, geologists have mapped the predicted Denali fault movement and constructed steel 'skates' beneath the pipeline such that it can slide around a bit even if the ground moves 20 feet horizontally. But, what about vertical movement?

Our destination on the 12th was Gar's place, which was right next to the Hanger. Gar's cub (bush plane) is 40 years old and was recently refurbished.

We set up camp at Gar's and I got to cooking while the students relaxed after the long drive.

Gar and Jan hung out and chatted with the students. Their house is an amazing location right next to Sheep Mountain with towering cliffs all around. Some of the students debated rock climbing, but didn't think they'd make it back in time for dinner.

After dinner I took a stroll to check out the sun setting behind the hills.

Never seen this before, a complete mesh tent. Great for stargazing.

Next morning I got up, made coffee and put out breakfast/lunch for the crew. Then snapped a few pictures of the streaky valley fog, which I thought was picturesque.

Let's do this.

The flight from Gar's to the field campsite was about 20 minutes. Along the way I saw a few mining station and heards of caribou migrating south.

Amazing rock formations, I was excited to see what the students would be doing. I think their objective was to look at structures and stratification of rocks along the rock exposures, and then map then.

I got to camp and set up my site. It took about 25 flights in total to deliver all of our goods, which started at 7 AM and ended late in the afternoon. I cooked up a relatively easy dinner and then it was time to get some rest.

Woke up to a herd of caribou. Dinner anyone... Layne, got your gun?

Just a taste of Mexican night... bean, cheese, and rice burritos with a spanish rice medley. Along side of this was a big salad, vanilla pudding, manilla cookies, taco sesaoned fried chix, and nachos with several optional toppings.

Here's the pantry. I bought it all, organized it all, unpacked, packed, unpacked, packed, carried it all. The biggest grocery cart I've had to deal with in all my culinary career, but from here on out I reckon it's just going to get bigger, gotta start somewhere. I brought for the first 10 days 4 coolers of frozen cheeses, milk, lunch meats, liquid eggs, and dinner meats. My hope was that the frozen milk jugs would stay frozen for at least 4 days providing adequate cooling to keep everything below 41 for at least the first half. Also, I was hoping that the large logs of frozen ground beef would assist the conduction and retention of cold with the cooler. Well, the first 3 days it was 80 degrees and I was sweating for two reason, one it's hot, two the food was thawing out quickly. Nothing I could really do since there were no glaciers around and we couldn't dig a hole, but I thought about carrying jugs of the water (water temp. = 35) from the streams. With a little rain dancing the storms came and temperature began to drop to 30 at night. That saved our meats and cheeses. For 12 days we didn't need a restock of anything, everything worked out great. Most of the produce stayed ripe until consumed, exception being the lettuce and a few bananas. We had one freshy restock after 12 days and two frozen meat restocks, which I had prepackaged before heading into the field. The planes would fly in, drop off the coolers, take some of our trash, and fly off.

Here's Colin excited after grabbing a big dish of slow cooked boneless pork shoulder BBQ ribs that melt in your mouth.

Most of the time everyone ate in silence, enjoying the scene, enjoy the food, and laughing at the squirrels and their antics. As soon as the humans left the food tent, the squirrels moved in.

Here's one after-dinner Geology lesson by Doctor Wes.

The red sun in the morning... bushfires were getting close to Gar's and the smoke was traveling 5,000 up into the mountains. Our bodies were still adjusting to the altitude change and dense smoke in Limestone Gap didn't help one bit.

RIP MJ. Before heading to Alaska I saw a series on the travel channel were some dude was checking out diners in the Western U.S. He came to one joint that did just fried foods, and one of the things on the menu was deep fried macaroni and cheese. I promised myself that I would have to do it, and I spent a whole day perfecting it. There are billion things you can do with it.