Alaska's Winter Horizon

Alaska's Winter Horizon

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Sunday, August 23rd

We have been enjoying some beautiful days here in Alaska. Our daytime temps are staying in the mid 60s and you really couldn't order weather more perfect. We decided to take advantage of the glorious sunshine and visit the Alaska Botanical Garden. (Thanks again, Scarbrough family!)
We had to stick to the paved path around the garden today.
 The nature trail was closed due to bear activity.
The attendant told us the bears had also made a visit to the Botanical Garden this morning. The trail that leads to Campbell Creek was closed due to high bear activity. It is fishing time for them.
 There were still plenty of beautiful blooms and foliage to enjoy.
 This Asiatic lily was a little tired, but still putting on a show.

 This interesting fungi on the tree reminded me of bells.

 The foxgloves were still in full bloom!
 There were many different species of apple and crabapple trees.
 All of the trees seemed to be loaded with fruit.

 This old curved tree added a natural architectural element to the forest.
 These snapdragons were such an intense dark color. They just popped up against the nasturtiums.
 The garden just has such a variety of plants and trees.
 Hopefully a bird family has been enjoying this log cabin birdhouse!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Denali Trip

 We arrived in Denali late Sunday afternoon. On a quick jaunt into the park before dinner, we were lucky to see a mother moose and twins!

 After dinner, we returned to the park and managed to see Mt. McKinley totally unobstructed! On average, this happens only 4 times during the month of June. It was quite magnificent as you can tell by the photos even from 75 miles away!
 Remember, at over six million acres this is a huge park.
 On our way out we managed to see another moose cow and her calf.
Here is Greg posing with the moon over his shoulder around 11 at night. I don't think it ever got dark the whole night.
The next day we took Jen on the Denali bus to Eielson Visitor Center which is about 66 miles into the park.
 Wasn't exactly a prime day for seeing wildlife. We were able to see several caribou, including this one trying to rub the velvet off his antlers.

 We also saw one big grizzly bear!
Here is all you could see of Mt. McKinley today. As usual, it was covered by clouds.
 The views inside the park are breathtaking and endless!
 Of course, you have to have nerves of steel to travel these high, narrow, and treacherous roads in old school buses. But of course, the experience is worth it!
I'm headed back to TN to visit family and friends for several weeks. See ya in August.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Homer and Portage Valley

 On our last day in Homer, we decided to take a scenic tour of the area. From above town, there are some great views of the nearby glaciers
 and of the Homer Spit.
 We finished the afternoon off by visiting the Alaska Islands & Ocean Visitor Center. If you've never stopped in here before when visiting Homer, this is a great place to visit. There are many displays and we learned a lot about the ecology and history of our islands.
 One super interesting artifact is this seal intestine parka. It is made entirely from the seal intestine and sewn with grass. Good and waterproof! Too bad they don't sell them, I could get Greg one for a present.
We walked around the trail to some of the wetlands behind the center. Saw this moose caution sign on a pole at the beginning of our walk. Mother moose are extremely protective of their little ones!
 Luckily, we didn't see any moose but we did catch a glimpse of some Sand Hill cranes.
After a great dinner at Captain Pattie's restaurant on the spit, we returned to our beach apartment for the night. We just relaxed and enjoyed the beauty around us.
 Here is Greg enjoying the serenity of the area. I took this pic from the window in our apartment.
Jen took this picture from the same window around midnight. Even at this late hour, the views were still fantastic. It is hard to go to sleep when the sun stays up all night!
On our way home that Friday, we stopped briefly at Tern Lake. 
Saturday morning Jenifer and I went to the downtown market. After getting our fill of shopping, we walked home and got ready to hike to Byron Glacier. On the drive down, Greg managed to spot a Beluga whale swimming in Cook Inlet. We stopped and watched three Beluga whales in the calm waters of the inlet. When the water is not calm, they are very hard to spot because they resemble the white caps in the turbulent water.  By this time, the winds had picked up and what was a drizzle now turned into steady rain. We stopped to view a glacier in Portage Valley.
 By this time, it was pretty obvious that our hike would have to wait for another day.
 The temperature had dipped into the 40s with steady rain and gusty winds.
 We did head over to the visitor center which is always a good stop. Jenifer even got to get up close and personal with Smokey the Bear!
In the morning, we will leave for Denali!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Homer, Day 2

During Greg and Jenifer's stroll on the beach, they spotted an eagle that allowed them to get really close for some awesome pictures. 
 It is truly a beautiful place in which you can see wildlife in such a great setting.

 The next morning, they got up quite early for their halibut fishing charter. They left from this harbor around 7 a.m. and were fishing by 8 a.m.
 Greg caught his first fish within 2 minutes of dropping his line in the water! He was the first person on the boat to catch a fish! Being a little too self-assured, he released this first fish which actually turned out to be his largest catch of the day.
 Regulations on the chartered boats only allow you to keep one fish over 29 inches. You can also keep one under 29 inches.
 Jenifer fell into the same trap, quickly catching the second halibut on the boat. She also released it and it unfortunately turned out to be the largest fish she caught that day! If only I had been aboard to be the voice of reason for these two! Luckily, they still ended up with at least 15 pounds of fish fillets. Jenifer caught a total of three halibut and chose to keep this one.
 Jenifer caught the only Pacific cod of the day! It weighed around 10 pounds. She did keep this one.
 Greg caught a total of eight halibut and kept two. Here he is with a sculpin he caught. They both caught several of these fish as well as a few Irish Lords.
 They did have a great time and all 22 passengers aboard the Sizzler caught their limit. Next time, they decided they would charter for an all day trip that allows them to catch halibut and other species.