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Author Topic: North to Alaska  (Read 64504 times)

KodiakRV

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Re: North to Alaska
« Reply #150 on: July 04, 2007, 10:56:21 AM »
...
We spent a leisurely day ... that started with a walk along the spit this morning in quiet solitude.
...
How are the mosquitos up there?  Are some areas/months worse than others?
Frank
Florida

Jeff

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Re: North to Alaska
« Reply #151 on: July 04, 2007, 01:28:59 PM »
How are the mosquitos up there?  Are some areas/months worse than others?


When you get off the coast they can get pretty thick and thirsty. Here on Homer Spit they are a minor annoyance. It also has been cool and windy which is a big help.

When up here carry LOTS of Deets! 8)

ArdraF

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Re: North to Alaska
« Reply #152 on: July 04, 2007, 03:21:22 PM »
Jeff and Sue,

Can't believe the height of those dock piers!  At first glance I thought they were sailboat masts and then realized they were part of the dock.  They must have huge tides there!

When you go to Denali, expect great hoards of mosquitos.  We had mosquito hats with netting and wore them along with long sleeves and pants tucked in boots.  If you expect the worst, maybe they won't be so bad.  ;)

ArdraF


ArdraF
:D :D

Lorna

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Re: North to Alaska
« Reply #153 on: July 04, 2007, 03:39:12 PM »
Ardra

Last year they weren't bad at all at Denali but then it was windy, rainy and cool all the time we were there so that kept them hiding.
Lorna
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Jeff

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Re: North to Alaska
« Reply #154 on: July 05, 2007, 01:17:00 AM »
Day 34 The 4th in Homer

We have spent a very lazy day in Homer. We went for a walk this morning and then
spent a couple of hours checking out shops on the spit and downtown for a tee shirt for a friend. We had lunch at the spit and then took a drive out NE of town for a bit before returning to the motorhome and spent a quiet afterno0on watching everyone play on the beach.

One distraction of the day was watching Mt Augustine spew steam all day growing in intensity this afternoon. The volcano is one of the most active in the Aleutian chain and is located across Cook Inlet 75 miles SW of here.

After grilling halibut and salmon we invited our neighbors over for a fire for a couple of hours and finally succumbed to the wind and cool temperatures and settled for a TV and warm m/h for the evening.

Because of the long daylight hours most communities here do not have fireworks; they loose their impact in bright daylight. We will have to settle for a little flag waving as we also missed the local parade at 6:00PM. Hopefully the cool weather will also put a damper on the impromptu fireworks we had last night around 12:30AM! Oh well, it wouldn’t be the 4th without them.

Jeff

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Re: North to Alaska
« Reply #155 on: July 06, 2007, 01:43:01 AM »
Day 35 Anchorage Bound

We left Homer this morning under threatening skies and by the time we passed Soldotna were in rain for a good part of the trip. This is the last leg of our trip along the coast of Alaska and we were remembering how lucky we have been on the weather the past few weeks.

We stopped for a disappointing lunch at Gwen’s Lodge in Cooper’s Landing which is at the confluence of the Kenai and Russian rivers, THE center for sockeye salmon fishing in Alaska. Gwen’s was completed in 1952, the year the Sterling Highway connected the lower Kenai to Seward and Anchorage and claims to be the oldest eatery on the Kenai. With their slow service they must have been the only eatery on the Kenai!

The fishing here is described as “combat” fishing because the anglers are standing shoulder to shoulder up and down the rivers during the salmon runs from late June through August. There are rules of “Good Sportsmanship” posted to control the crowd during the run.

Just north of the junction of the Seward Highway and the Whittier/Glacier Highway that we took through the tunnel last week is the Alaska Wildlife Refuge in Portage.  Portage is located at the very end of the Turnagain RM, one of the last fingers of the cook inlet reaching into interior Alaska that helps form the Kenai Peninsula.  The refuge is a non-profit foundation that with the support of the Alaska park Service and US Forest Service provides a home for orphaned and injured animals until they can fend for themselves.

While it is a lot more exciting to see the animals in the wild as we travel visting the Refuge allows you an up close look at most of the wildlife species found in this section of Alaska. We enjoyed a couple of hours walking and driving through the preserve and taking lots of photos.

Just north of Portage is the town of Girdwood and the Alyeska Ski Resort. We are spending the night here to avoid a late arrival in Anchorage and enjoyed dinner at the Lift 5 restaurant here in town. Tomorrow we arrive in Anchorage to spend a few days in the “big  city” and see Jeff’s niece Jo and her family.
« Last Edit: July 06, 2007, 01:54:18 AM by Jeff Cousins »

Jeff

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Re: North to Alaska
« Reply #156 on: July 08, 2007, 12:34:42 AM »
Day 36 & 37 Anchorage

We have spent a delightful two days with Rick & Jo Phillips and their son Hunter, Jeff’s niece and her family. Rick is assigned to Elmendorf AFB here in Anchorage and they arrived here in February of this year, brrrr!

We spent today sightseeing in downtown Anchorage, a truly unique Alaska city of 260,000 that reflects its frontier character. Unlike many of the coastal communities of Alaska Anchorage does not owe its existence to the gold rushes around the turn of the century.  It came into being in 1915 as the construction of the Alaska Railroad got underway and saw immediate growth during WWII and the discovery of oil on the Kenai Peninsula in 1957 and on the North Slope in 1968.

Our tour of downtown Anchorage included seeing salmon fishermen on the ship canal a couple of blocks from the city center and admiring buildings peppered with murals. A visit would not be complete without a visit to the Uli knife factory and checking out the many amusing salmon statutes around the downtown.

We had lunch at the Sourdough Barbecue Restaurant, one of the better meals we have enjoyed in Alaska. If you come be sure to order some of their homemade corn fritters! Next door to the restaurant is the Alaska Wild Berry Park . We enjoyed visiting the store with its bears and chocolate waterfall. We really needed the walk around downtown after lunch so we passed on the free trolley system that will get you around the shopping district.

On our way back to Rick and Jo’s we got a quick tour of Elmendorf which supports a fighter wing of F-15s and the new F-22 Raptors as well as a wing of C-17 heavy lift transports.

Weather permitting tomorrow Jeff and Rick plan on playing golf on the base golf course while Jo and Sue continue touring and shopping.
« Last Edit: July 08, 2007, 01:20:03 AM by Jeff Cousins »

Jeff

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Re: North to Alaska
« Reply #157 on: July 08, 2007, 12:37:14 AM »
Day 36 & 37 More Photos

Shayne

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Re: North to Alaska
« Reply #158 on: July 08, 2007, 12:38:43 AM »

Wow   Great looking views of nature and family.




Old, Stubborn, Opinionated, Set in my Ways, and Independent,  IMHO

Jeff

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Re: North to Alaska
« Reply #159 on: July 08, 2007, 01:44:21 AM »
Thanks Shayne, we hadn't seen them for several years and it has been fun.

vlady daddy

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Re: North to Alaska
« Reply #160 on: July 08, 2007, 01:53:50 AM »
Searching Google Earth, I stumbled into Anchorage unique Log Cabin Visitor Center signage (tel.  # 907-274-3531) in downtown (N61.218460°, W149.893229°) and a block to the east, the Starting Line of the Iditarod Trail Race (N61.218524°, W149.889823°).

Looking at the plaque closer, it is the starting line for 2 of the worlds greatest sled dog races, the Fur Rendezvous World Championship and the Iditarod.

« Last Edit: July 08, 2007, 02:29:42 AM by vlady daddy »
Vlad

Jeff

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Re: North to Alaska
« Reply #161 on: July 10, 2007, 02:17:33 AM »
Day 38 & 39 Anchorage

We spent a great day with the Phillips Sunday. Rick and Jeff got to enjoy great weather as they played a round of golf on the Elmendorf AFB golf course, acknowledged to be the best in the state of Alaska. The course in bounded on one side by the ship canal and it was easy to get distracted while walking along the banks by the thousands of Sockeye and King salmon migrating up the canal and jumping its fish ladders. Elmendorf also is home to a couple of injured bald eagles who will released shortly.

We returned to Rick and Jo’s for a great dinner. One of the neighbors had spent the weekend halibut fishing and if you are an Alaska resident who fishes your freezer is already full of halibut so you knock on several of your neighbors doors and offer them 10-20 pounds of fresh halibut fillets. (Only in Alaska!) Rick cut some into chunks and deep fried them in their new cooker while Jeff and Jo grilled a couple of pounds on cedar planks.  What a feast! By next year Rick should be an old Alaska hand and we will be calling to arrange some being shipped to the lower 48.

Our plans were to leave Anchorage this morning headed for Denali but Forum friends Dave and Jeannette Greavis were coming through town on their way to Homer and it also started raining during the night so we decided to spend another day here catching up on errands and laundry.

We had a late breakfast and compared notes with the Reavises. Since we left them in Dawson Creek they have done our route in reverse by going through Whitehorse, Fairbanks and Denali while we visited Valdez, the Kenai Peninsula, and Anchorage. They should have arrived in Homer this afternoon while we are leaving in the morning for Denali.

To try and repay Jo and Rick for their wonderful hospitality we took them and Hunter to the Sourdough Restaurant for dinner and a humorous skit by “Dusty” Sourdough. We said our good byes for the second time and returned to the m/h to be greeted by a cow moose and her two calves who decided a city park well within the city boundaries would be a good place for a 10:00PM dinner. We spent a good half hour being entertained by the calves' antics as mom did a good job of trimming the bushes in our section of the park.

Tomorrow we hope for good weather as we head for Denali.
« Last Edit: July 10, 2007, 12:30:13 PM by Jeff Cousins »

Shayne

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Re: North to Alaska
« Reply #162 on: July 10, 2007, 07:41:44 AM »
Thanks again for the wonderful pics and for keeping us posted and for fulfilling some of our dreams, while completing your own
Old, Stubborn, Opinionated, Set in my Ways, and Independent,  IMHO

Jeff

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Re: North to Alaska
« Reply #163 on: July 11, 2007, 01:48:57 AM »
Thanks Shayne.

Jeff

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Re: North to Alaska
« Reply #164 on: July 11, 2007, 01:57:56 AM »
Day 40 Talkeetna and Denali

After last minute food shopping (Sue) and dumping, propane, and diesel top-offs (Jeff) we finally pulled out of Anchorage around 10:00AM and headed north. The drive up to Wasilla (Starting point of the modern Iditerod) is on four lane expressway and from there we followed the winding Susitna River on the Parks Highway. We left the motorhome and used the Honda to drive the 15 miles off the Parks Highway to Talkeetna, the south base for flights up on to the Denali glaciers where most climbing expeditions begin.

Talkeetna is said to be the inspiration for the TV show “Northern Exposure” that was actually produced in the State of Washington. It has magnificent views of Denali’s peaks when the weather is cooperating. It represents a typical rural Alaska town of the past 100 years. We enjoyed wandering its streets, visiting the local museum, and joining the rest of the tourists busily taking photos of everything that moved or looked old.

Our luck was still holding this afternoon when the clouds broke up as we were driving giving us a view of Mt McKinley for a short time. Unfortunately as we got closer lower clouds moved in covered the higher peaks.

Around 3:30PM we headed back to the highway and drove up to Denali State Park which borders the National Park to the SE. We are parked at the North Overlook for the night hoping the mountains will reappear before we head north to the NP entrance in the morning.
« Last Edit: July 11, 2007, 10:53:41 AM by Jeff Cousins »

BernieD

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Re: North to Alaska
« Reply #165 on: July 11, 2007, 09:50:22 AM »
Jeff

Truly enjoying your travelogue and all the memories it brings back. It took us 3 days to see Mt. McKinley; one for the bottom, one for the middle and one for the top. :D

Was Talkeetna the inspiration for "Northern Lights" or "Northen Exposure"? Northern Exposure was set in a small Alaskan village, but filmed in Roslyn, WA, another small town on I-80 west of Ellensburg. That was also fun to walk around, seeing the murals and store fronts that we remembered from the show.
Bernie & Marlene Dobrin
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Missing our Travel Supreme

Jeff

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Re: North to Alaska
« Reply #166 on: July 11, 2007, 10:52:51 AM »
Bernie:

Thanks, you are correct, Northern Exposure. I'll fix the post.

We are sitting here this morning looking at an absolutely clear sky to the south and east. Hope to talk Sue into waiting a couple of hours and see if it clears over the mountain.

ArdraF

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Re: North to Alaska
« Reply #167 on: July 11, 2007, 02:44:33 PM »
Sue, I love that red hat moose!

Jeff, we've heard of folks who were in Alaska three months and never saw McKinley.  We lucked out and hoped you will too.  It's magnificent.  If you have a clear day the view with it reflected in Wonder Lake (inside the national park) is gorgeous.  But you have to take the bus ride out there.  Worth it to see the wildlife and views.

ArdraF
ArdraF
:D :D

Jeff

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Re: North to Alaska
« Reply #168 on: July 11, 2007, 07:05:51 PM »
Ardera:

We are on the bus at 8:00AM tomorrow. It is clearing here this afternoon so our fingers are crossed. 8) 8)

Ned

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Re: North to Alaska
« Reply #169 on: July 11, 2007, 08:42:12 PM »
Now that you have your Tour Saver book, take the air flight over Denali out of Healy River by Talkeetna AIr Taxi.  On a clear day, you won't get better views than from 22,000 feet.  We went on the only clear day of the whole week we were there.  They have a web cam and right now the mountain is clear with only a few cumulus clouds.
-- Ned -- Fulltimer 1997-2013
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Jeff

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Re: North to Alaska
« Reply #170 on: July 12, 2007, 12:06:27 AM »
Ned:

We are scheduled for a bus trip into the Park tomorrow with a clear weather forecast (?). The forecast is for rain Friday and we are planning on heading to Fairbanks so will have to see what the weather does and how our schedule works.

The coupon is good for the 11:00AM flight only so it might work if the weather holds, Sue feels like it, and I get up the courage to fly in those little airplanes. ;D ;D

Jeff

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Re: North to Alaska
« Reply #171 on: July 12, 2007, 01:40:05 AM »
Day 41 Our First Day in Denali

We woke up this morning to a beautiful mountain panorama out the windshield of the m/h but unfortunately the clouds were lower than yesterday and the Big One was obscured from view. It is easy to forget how scenic the entire Alaska Range is when you came for a glimpse of Mt McKinley!

Our drive from the overlook area to the Park entrance was 70 miles, a good part of which was following the Nenana River. The Nenana, like many of the rivers in the mountainous areas of Alaska is the result of glacial runoff, and has become “threaded” As the glaciers grind down the mountain they pulverize rock and sweep the dust and rock with them until they melt. The swift currents in the mountain areas continue carrying this debris which turns them a slate grey color until their momentum can no longer support the rock and it settles into the stream bed, eventually filling them up. As the river fills the water is forced to find new channels and the river becomes many rivulets across a wide area.

All the campgrounds in the park and immediate area were full so we joined a group of RV’s parked at one of the few scenic pull-offs that were not marked “No RV’s” in the Park. We are three miles south of the entrance which is very convenient for tomorrow morning when we have to be in the Park by 7:30AM or so to catch our bus for an eight hour trip back into Denali where no private vehicles are allowed.

We spent most of the afternoon at the Transportation and Visitor Centers. We picked up our tickets for the bus and watched an interesting video on the early Park that was established in 1917 and the building of the road into what was then Mt McKinley National Park and Preserve that took from 1923 until 1928. The first year the Park was open for visitors was 1922 and it had seven hardy souls show up! The completion of the Alaska RR in 1925 that stops in the Park finally made Denali accessible to larger numbers.

The visitor’s center had another video showing the beauty of the park and its animals. There is also a beautiful display of the animals living here. We left the center to attend a dog sled team demonstration and got to see the Park’s kennels where they raise the dogs used during the winter months. The original 2 million acres ware expanded to 6 million in the 1980, the name was changed to Denali NP, and the original 2 million acres was designated a wilderness area where no unnecessary vehicles are allowed. In lieu of snowmobiles the dog sled teams carry supplies to the string of ranger cabins, break trails and maintain a watch on their condition, and patrol that area of the Park.

The dogs are uncomfortable in the 60 degree heat so they get to lay around except for brief demonstrations for park visitors. When it was time for five dogs to be hooked up to the sled the entire pack went nuts! They all are obviously bored and ready to hit the trail! They are also extremely friendly dogs that seemed to really enjoy being petted and talked to.

The day was a great preparation for our eight hour foray into the back country tomorrow. The weather is forecast to be clear and for once we hope they got it right!
« Last Edit: July 12, 2007, 02:00:12 AM by Jeff Cousins »

Ned

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Re: North to Alaska
« Reply #172 on: July 12, 2007, 06:45:02 AM »
If you can only do one, the bus trip is the better choice.  The plane viewing is best on a clear day, and those aren't that common, unfortunately.  That 11 place Navajo was the largest airplane I'd flown in for a long time, most of my hours were in 4 seaters :)

In case you don't get to do the air tour, here's what you missed.
-- Ned -- Fulltimer 1997-2013
1997 Holiday Rambler Endeavor LE
2007 GMC Canyon

Shayne

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Re: North to Alaska
« Reply #173 on: July 12, 2007, 09:53:01 AM »
Again in Awe as I was with Ned and Lorna, Betty and Terry, and Russ.  Thank you again and again and again.
Old, Stubborn, Opinionated, Set in my Ways, and Independent,  IMHO

Smoky

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Re: North to Alaska
« Reply #174 on: July 12, 2007, 03:18:53 PM »
I want one of those bears to set in my toad behind the steering wheel when we are towing!   :D
Smoky S  Ham radio - W3PY

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Wendy

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Re: North to Alaska
« Reply #175 on: July 12, 2007, 08:27:30 PM »
Love the picture of the husky....he sure knows how to relax in those "hot" (?) 60 degree temps.

Wendy
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Jeff

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Re: North to Alaska
« Reply #176 on: July 12, 2007, 10:24:30 PM »
Smoky:

They are a little cumbersome to move around. ;D

Wendy:

They told us the huskies like the temp at -10. brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

Jeff

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Re: North to Alaska
« Reply #177 on: July 13, 2007, 12:54:59 AM »
Day 42 Denali: Into the Park

Our day started at 6:00AM at the roadside rest area where we spent the night. We drove about a mile into the park to the Wilderness Access Center to catch our 8:00AM shuttle bus  for a 62 mile trip into Denali. The official policy since the 1980’s had been that no private automobile traffic is allowed past the 15 mile turnaround on the park road during the heavy visitor months that end in September. At that time locals can use the road until it closes at the first major snow.

This policy has exceptions including 5 professional photographers a day and  RV’s headed to Teklanika River Campground at Mile 29 who can make one round trip to position their RV. This policy dramatically reduces human impact on the animals. All food and drink must be carried in and out with you and we ate on the bus as we traveled or at one of the rest stops.

Our choices for the day’s trip included a narrated tour bus or using the shuttle bus system at about 1/3rd the cost. Friends had recommended the shuttle bus system and it turned out to be a good choice. Our driver Wendy has been a resident of Alaska since 1974 and has driven in the Park for 15 years. She never stopped her dialog on the park and its animals that she obviously loves and would stop along the way to point out interesting areas and every time she or one of the passengers saw an animal or bird. Our shuttle ticket gave us the flexibility to jump on and off the shuttle system anywhere along the route to tour at our own pace but she was so interesting that we stuck with her for the entire trip, as did most of her passengers. We made several 15 minute scheduled stops and one 30 minute lunch break shortly after making our turnaround at Fish Creek.

The forecast for the day was clear and that lasted until about 8:30AM. As it began to cloud up we did get one good view of all but the top of Mt McKinley but by the time we reached the interior of the park it had clouded over the mountain. We joined 80% of the park visitors who miss the 30 days a summer that the Big One remains unobscurred. Unfortunately the 100 mile per hour winds blowing over the glacier peaks create their own weather. The mountain remains a climbing challenge requiring staging supplies and careful execution. Over 100 climbers have perished on these slopes, 4 this year, and over 30 are still up there.

Denali remains a beautiful sightseeing adventure as we crossed the outer range of the Alaskan Range and viewed the grandeur of the volcano formed inner range, its rivers, valleys, and glaciers.

In the animal sighting department we did a bit better with grizzlies, caribou, dall sheep, eagles, and several smaller animals and birds. In all we took 273 photos which is a daunting challenge to get through and edit!

62 miles doesn’t seem that far but on the primitive road that exists beyond Mile 29 and the construction under way to repair the damage from winter snows, floods, and slides it took 8 hours for the round trip including stops. By the time we returned to the entrance we all were ready to get out!

We stopped at the Visitors Center for a few moments and then left the park and had dinner at the Denali Village Salmon Bake where we had a great meal before driving 30 miles towards Fairbanks and finding a quiet little campground at the Teklanika River Trading Post. Tomorrow we finish the drive to Fairbanks where we will spend several days.

Tom

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Re: North to Alaska
« Reply #178 on: July 13, 2007, 03:48:11 AM »
Keep 'em coming Jeff. A lot of folks are following your trip. Wanna see how many? Look at this board by clicking here, scroll down to this topic and, instead of clicking on it, look across to the column labeled Views. Of course, you could just look at the number in the blue bar immediately above the top message on this page.
« Last Edit: July 13, 2007, 03:52:53 AM by Tom »
Tom.  Need help? Click the Help button in the toolbar above.

Jeff

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Re: North to Alaska
« Reply #179 on: July 13, 2007, 12:39:07 PM »
Thanks Tom. Creating the post at night gives me something to do as I watch the sun slowly sink to the horizon around 11:30PM. ;D