Alaska's Winter Horizon

Alaska's Winter Horizon

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Denali trip comes to an end

We got the car loaded and prepared to head toward Anchorage. We decided to have lunch at the Alpenglow Restaurant which is situated high upon the mountainside. The views are incredible.
While Martina and I ate dessert, Greg practiced taking action photos with a rather quick ground squirrel.
Being a bit too camera happy, he hid and snapped this paparazzi-style photo of us leaving the restaurant!
On a Hollywood note, Martina will not be appearing in the next Batman movie but here she is posing by the Batmobile!
 This crazy car was located at a fireworks stand on the side of the road as we journeyed home. We also stopped to see if we could glimpse Mt. McKinley as it had evaded us the entire trip. Alas, Martina is searching in vain since the mountain stayed hidden behind the clouds.
After making a quick grocery stop once we were back in Anchorage, Martina treated us to a wonderful homemade meal! Sunday afternoon Greg and Martina headed down to Bird Creek to fish for salmon. They had a great time but came home only wet and muddy with not a fish or even a picture! I think they got so caught up in combat fishing that they forgot to snap a few photos. On Monday, we just hung out as it was time for Martina's trip to end. We took her to the airport that night. We really enjoyed having her with us here and it was nice for Greg to have someone else to aggravate besides just me! Both of us hope she will come back and explore more of this beautiful state.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Denali, Day 3

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Got up and made our way over to the Denali Wilderness Access Center to get our tickets for the bus trip into the park. We got our tickets for the 2:00 pm bus tour to Eielson Visitor Center. This Center is located 66 miles into the park but it is an 8 hour round trip on the bus. The road only goes around 92 or 93 miles into the park and ends. This bus ride gives you a good glimpse of the park and usually offers many opportunities to see wildlife. After securing our tickets, we got a quick lunch and came back to board the bus. Not long into our journey, we spotted an Arctic fox hunting for some small critter in the vegetation.
Even though it was an overcast day, everything was still beautiful and you could see fresh snow on the mountaintop. In fact, we encountered sleet briefly as we traveled up the mountains.
About an hour later we saw two figures laying in the grass on a little knoll. It turned out to be a sleeping grizzly sow and her cub. Eventually, the mom did raise her head long enough to check out the scene around her.
 Just a bit up the road we saw two caribou resting in the grass.
 It was an overcast and sleepy kind of day. There were caribou we spotted that were quite a bit more active farther down the road. The herd was just grazing and then suddenly took off running. We then saw a dark figure come out of the shrubs. A huge chocolate grizzly was scouting for weak ones among the group. Another grizzly was eyeing the edge the of the herd from higher up the mountain. Made it to the Visitor Center and as usual did not get a glimpse of Mt. McKinley.
However, on our way back we were treated to a beautiful rainbow over the Toklat River.
This was certainly a nice way to end a great day.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Denali Day 2

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Slept in again. Who would have guessed? It's hard to crawl out of the bed on a rainy day with the soothing sound of the Nenana River right outside our balcony door. Eventually, our hunger was more powerful than our laziness and we made our way up to Healy. Here we enjoyed a good breakfast at the Totem Inn. After a filling meal and a lot of caffeine, we drove Martina up to Stampede Road.

Krakauer's book, Into the Wild, is one of the books she and her students discuss in literature class. We thought she would enjoy a first hand glimpse of Stampede Trail.

With all the recent rains we didn't think we would be able to make it far down the road. It was actually in better condition than last year and we made it to the end with no problems.
Greg and Martina walked a bit of the trail and began to ponder what McCandless was thinking when he did the same.
We made several stops along the road to walk on the tundra and enjoy the solitude and beauty.
We left Stampede after a few hours and made our way over to Otto Lake.
Martina and Greg decided to try their luck at fishing. The rain finally prevailed and we headed for our warm hotel room.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

First night in Denali National Park

We all slept in Wednesday morning. Headed toward Denali about 2:30 in the afternoon. After taking our time and making several stops along the way, we eventually arrived at our hotel around 7:30 that night. We had a nice dinner and decided to drive into the park to do some wildlife spotting.
 About halfway to Savage River, I spotted a huge bull moose really close to the park road.
We watched him a few minutes as he snacked on spruce tips and other foliage.
 This moose was huge with a very impressive rack!
 We continued to watch in solitude, which is the great thing about going into the park late at night. You basically have the road to yourself. We drove on to Savage River hoping to see a bear or lynx, but none materialized. As we made our way back, we saw two more bulls actually eating together. It is hard to tell from this photo, but they were really close to one another. 
We have actually never seen this before. As we headed back to the hotel, Martina scored her first official moose spotting when she was able to find the first moose we had encountered,
but then we encountered a 4th bull moose right on the road!
 We had never seen so many bulls congregated in such a short time. What a great night for viewing moose!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Tuesday, July 22nd

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 Martina and I made it back down to Homer Sunday afternoon. We were just hanging out on the balcony of the hotel when I spotted a whale in the bay! It was incredible!  We could actually see the spout of air as it exhaled near the surface. Of course, by the time I got the camera the whale was on the way back under the water. 
 You will just have to use your imagination on these photos, but we promise that large dark object is the whale.
We made it over to Beluga Lake around 11 pm. Greg's float plane arrived a few minutes later from McNeil River. He had some really interesting stories about his bear adventures. There are so many pictures that he is still reviewing them! I wanted to at least put one on here tonight. He will be adding many more bear photos in the next few weeks. In the meantime, this photo should give you an idea about his time with the bears. That is just a little too close to the bears for me!
We left Monday afternoon to return home to Anchorage. While making a pit stop in Clam Gulch, Greg snapped this photo of us.
 Tomorrow we will leave on a trip to Denali. Should be fun!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Saturday, July 19th, Home in Anchorage

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Martina and I decided to explore the downtown area near our home. We walked down to the market and did a little shopping. Lots of veggies were available.
 Check out this cabbage. According to the sign, it was a 'baby"!

Town Square was ablaze with beautiful blooms.

The color combination was quite unique and striking.

We just walked and marveled at them.
The flower beds just overflowed with color and foliage!
The weather was a bit warm, but a rain shower came through in late afternoon sending our temps back down.

Sunday afternoon we will be heading back down to Homer to pick up Greg from his McNeil River bear adventure. Can't wait to hear his stories and see the photos!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Friday, July 18th, Seward to Anchorage

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In the words of Santayana, “The earth has music for those who listen.”  Today she played a symphony, a combination of Vivaldi and Bach as the sky exposed her beauty and the sun glistened across Resurrection Bay. Words cannot capture and express the majestic scenery as we made our way from Seward back to Anchorage today.
After a breakfast of lemon shortbread and espresso, we leisurely traveled Exit Road to the Kenai Fjord National Park.

 We headed toward Exit Glacier and hiked just to the Toe to watch her grey rushing waters swiftly pass us as they flow into Resurrection River and eventually the Pacific.

What a sight to behold! Seeing her icy blue walls etched by time and receding as our climate changes.
Exit is only one of the 38 glaciers in the Harding Icefield, which stretches 700 square miles.

 We enjoyed the natural beauty of this area before hitting the road home for Anchorage.