Established in 1916 as a railway station, Palmer is a small town in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley, about 40 miles north of Anchorage. The Mat-Su Valley is the breadbasket of Alaska. It was settled in the 1930's by homesteaders who were relocated from the upper mid-west by the Federal Emergency Relief Administration, during the Great Depression. True to it's roots, Palmer still has a small town mid-western agricultural feel to it, unlike the nearby town of Wasilla, which has discovered Wal Mart, Home Depot, Target, etc.
Our stay in Palmer included a guided tour. After being Sheparded through the area to see various original buildings, we stopped at a very nice visitors center.
Flowers Abound at the Palmer Visitor Center
Stuffed Musk Ox in Palmer Visitor Center
A pleasant garden was located adjacent to the visitors center, where we saw some beautiful flower beds, as well as a gigantic cabbage. Plants in the Mat Su valley grow very large because of the long hours of summer sunshine. Cabbage, for example, grow as large as 70 pounds.
Large Cabbage Growing Adjacent to Palmer Visitor Center
Just up the street from the Visitors center we toured an original homestead house. Our elderly hostess for this tour was an original settler from the 1930's. This small 4-1/2 room home was almost identical to the 2 bedroom house where Keith grew up in Gary, Indiana.
Colony House Museum
An 1930’s Colonist
Comestibles of the Period
My Grandmother’s Sewing Machine
Across the street from the homestead house was a restaurant where we wee served a 3 COW soup and sandwich luncheon. As with many facilities in the area, the restaurant was adorned with beautiful flowers.
Product of the Long Alaskan Summer Days
After lunch we were taken to a nearby Musk Ox farm. This farm is a preservation facility, where domesticated Musk Ox may be observed from fenced walkways. Having been-there-done-that, we stayed on the bus. The photo is courtesy of our friends Hal and Norma.
Nurturing the Musk Ox
Part of the reason we stayed on the bus was a concern for Kathy’s health. During lunch, she mentioned that the left side of her face felt numb, and had done since she had awakened in the morning. Keith studied her face, and saw a noticeable droop to he left eye, and a tightness to the left side of her mouth. We found this somewhat alarming, so immediately after returning to the campground we drove the car to the Palmer Urgent Care Center. Upon hearing her symptoms, the doctor there sent us straight to Palmer Hospital emergency room. After describing her symptoms to the triage nurse, we were informed that Kathy had Bell's Palsy, which is a minor, usually temporary neurological disorder. We were greatly relieved, having thought that perhaps she was having a stroke. Whew! After a visit to the Wal Mart pharmacy for meds, we celebrated our relief with a high priced dinner at a Wasilla yuppie Italian restaurant. Kathy had steak (3-1/2 COWs, Keith seafood pasta with wine sauce (2 COWs).
Afternoon Activity in Palmer
The next day was a free day, and we continued celebrating by resting, napping, and generally enjoying a pleasant day in the campground.