The Sound of Freedom

The day after Independence day seems like the best day to recant this little tidbit of information regarding the fastest man made jet in the world.  Can you imagine, flying over heads of state at Mach 3, and then hopefully going to do some reconnaissance work in the area, just to prove the point that “America is here.”


Alaska awesome Deadly Computer photo

Lake Clark National Park

Upper Twin Lake
Upper Twin Lake, NPS

Lake Clark marks the 4th profile of the National Parks of Alaska.  We’re halfway through the state, but these next few are difficult.  Lake Clark National Park & Preserve protects just over 4 million acres of land, for comparison purposes, that’s just about double the size of Yellowstone.  Yet, it got just 16,000 visitors in 2014.  That’s not a lot of people for such a large area.  Compared to Denali, it’s about a million acres larger, but get’s 1/30 the number of visitors.  Part of that is due to the remoteness of it.

Lake Clark is only about 100 miles south west of Anchorage, but those are miles as the crow flies, which, is the only way to access the park.  There are no roads to Port Alsworth Alaska, population 159.  You have to fly in.  You could take a boat I guess, but flying is easier.  From this little town, you have many jumping off points into the park itself.  Lake Clark is a 40 mile long, 5 mile wide main attraction.  It’s right at the gateway to the park in Port Alsworth, there are a few established trails you can go on to the lake shore, and a waterfall, otherwise, the remainder of the park is wilderness, and the easiest way to get around is via float plane.

You can kayak around Lake Clark, or one of the many other lakes in the park, and in the Preserve section, you can hunt and fish.  The edges of the park located on the Cook Inlet are in prime Bear Viewing territory, not as popular as Katmai, but much more intimate, if you can manage to get there that is.

Dick Proenneke's Cabin
Dick Proenneke’s Cabin

One of the most famous residents of the Lake Clark area was Richard, (Dick), Proenneke.  In the late 1960s, Dick Proenneke retired and settled into the Twin Lakes region of Alaska.  There he built his own log cabin by hand using materials he scavenged from the land.  He kept meretricious journals, and filmed the whole process as he slowly built up his own log cabin home.  This footage has been released as a documentary, Alone in the Wilderness, you should watch it, it’s pretty amazing, here’s an excerpt from it:

Dick lived up in the Twin Lakes region, which is in north of Lake Clark, and the easiest way to get there is via float plane.  The National Park Service keeps his original log cabin maintained, and offers guided tours of the area, if you can get up there that is.  And you should, because the Twin Lakes region is what the top photo looks like, beautiful turquoise lakes with mountains on all sides, and that’s just during the short summer months.  In the winter, if you feel like getting up there, the scenery is even more beautiful.

I think Lake Clark is one of the more hidden gems of the National Park System, and hopefully my trip up there next summer will prove me right.

awesome DIY LEGO photo

LEGO National Park Service

LEGO idea user LegoRanger16 has come up with a great LEGO Idea project – United States National Parks.  He has made representations of 3 (of the currently 59) National Parks.

  • Everglades, located in Florida, known for their alligators and vast wetlands
  • Katmai, located in the southern part of Alaska, the famous Brown Bears catching spawning salmon at a waterfall takes place in this park
  • Saguaro, located in Arizona, what you would call the traditional Cactus grows in this park

Everglades NP LEGO
Katmai LEGO NP
Saguaro NP LEGO

His choice of parks is weird, they’re not what the average person would think of.  Normally I think of The Big Three, The Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, & Yosemite.  While those aren’t necessarily the first three National Parks, they are the most widely known, at least in my opinion. However, part of the LEGO Idea is to educate the public about the vast lands set aside for their unique natural beauty, and choosing some of the lesser known parks does a good job at that.

The sets themselves are very simple, and I think that’s what helps them alot.  There’s no over-complication to it, just the single most famous thing that this park is known for.  I like it.  I think there might be a problem representing the other 56 parks though.  They all have famous scenes, and amazing vistas, but how can you do The Grand Canyon justice when you’re limited to a 10×16 base plate?

  • Yellowstone would be easy, – Old Faithful erupting, with a Bison, this is pretty much a given
  • Joshua Tree could/should/would be similar to Saguaro above
  • Hot Springs you could do a pool like thing
  • Arches would be self explanatory, probably Delicate Arch
  • Bryce Canyon, The Hoodoos

But what about the remaining 51?  Wind Cave, The aforementioned Grand Canyon, Gates of the Arctic?  Those will all be difficult to represent in LEGO form.  But I guess, maybe with professionals, and 10,000 other people thinking about it, it could get done.

This is all done in preparation of The Centennial celebration of the National Park Service next year.  In 1916, the Organic Act created the National Park Service, since then the Service has grown to over 400 individual units of various different designations ranging from Memorials, to Monuments, to the most prestigious, the National Park.

This LEGO Idea project needs to hit 10,000 votes in order for The LEGO Group to take alook at it and consider it for widespread production.  It’s kind of like Kickstarter, but for LEGO sets, and official.  There’s still a year left to go, hopefully it will get the over 9,000 votes it still needs.