Mat-Su Valley (Matanuska-Susitna Valley) is not a town but a very diverse remote area about 35 miles north of Anchorage. The landscape is marshy in much of the area, but has many lakes and streams to explore. There are not many RV locations that have full hook up, and our first stop was not a good one. The “Big Bear” RV site in Wasilla was not the type of RV site we wanted to spend a week in. So we drove about 15 miles further to Houston to the “Riverside Camper Park” This is a lovely RV camp right next to the river. We got the last RV spot since tonight the town is celebrating “Founders Day” with a parade at 6:30pm, live band and free food at the fire dept. and a big fireworks show at 10:30.
Let me tell you, there is no town of Houston that we could find. About 4 buildings, including the RV office.
We lined up with everyone else to see the parade. They gave away 1st, 2nd, 3rd prizes and thank goodness because there was only about 4 things in the parade, other than the two fire trucks at the beginning and the end. It was a hoot but the locals loved it. The music was good and we didn’t eat any of the free food. There must have been 500 people in line. It was a good community get together and I think the area people really looked forward to it.
One really cool thing was that they were giving away these large paper balloon type lanterns to everyone. You would light the little wax or whatever was in the bottom of the lantern.
Hold the lantern in the air until it filled up with gases. In the background you can see all the other hundreds of lanterns already in the sky.
Then it would rise up into the air.
There were thousands of these lit lanterns in the sky. It was very magic and they looked like thousands of stars floating by. It was really a cool idea and a nice way to start the evening.
The Mat-Su area is hard to photograph. There are tons of things to do here but they are all landscaping type things.
Here is a picture of the Palmer Hay Flats area. There are many hiking trails, lots of birds and wild flowers, but hard to photograph.
While in the Palmer Hay Flats we walked along Cottonwood Creek. This creek was very dirty with what they call "Glacial Flour" and I guess the fish don’t mind. This is a very popular creek to fish for reds and silvers.
While driving one day we came across the Willow jail. A clever tourist trap. We got gas here.
Hatcher Pass is another place that is beautiful but hard to photograph. It has granite spires, glacial-carved valleys, and green tundra.
The dirt road to Hatcher Pass was 49 miles of stunning scenery. The sun was out and it made for a great day drive.
At the very top was Summit Lake, elevation 3886 above sea level. This lake was crystal clear because it is a glacial lake and I’m sure very cold. No I didn’t feel it! It was windy and cold at the top after a very small hike.
The view from the top looking down into Palmer Hay Flats.
Coming down the mountain, the terrain changed dramatically. The Wasilla Creek became very swift and ice blue. This is from all the water coming off the mountain.
We are always looking for animals and taking side roads to see if we can find any. We were very lucky to find a couple beaver dams with shelters and beavers in the water.
We sat for quite a while watching this pair a beavers enjoy their dinner. These are big animals, much bigger than I ever thought they were.
Again we saw another mother moose and her baby. The babies stay with their mother for 2 years and we think this one must be about a year old. It was pretty big for being a baby!