Alaska's Winter Horizon

Alaska's Winter Horizon

Sunday, December 18, 2011

December 18, 2011

We are leaving in just a few hours to fly to Tennessee and celebrate Christmas with family and friends. We will not be posting any blog activity from there, so we will see you all in the New Year.We will back in time to see the fireworks on New Year's Eve here in Alaska. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sunday, December 11

We have been taking it easy the last few weeks. Partly due to our laziness but mostly due to the crazy weather we've had lately. Last weekend the temperatures climbed back above freezing and we had a little bit of everything fall from the sky. Freezing rain, sleet, snow and rain created an icy mess! Last weekend, in fact, we never even left the apartment. I finished some classwork for graduate school and Greg can't account for his activities when asked. Hmmm. This weekend was better. I got out yesterday and did a little shopping with our friend, Doris. Then Greg and I had dinner and returned home after a quick stop at the grocery store. Today the wild weather was back. We had a blizzard warning, high wind warning, and a bunch of snow! In our quick walk around the block and we were covered in big wet snowflakes. It was beautiful! The blizzard warning expired at ten tonight. We will probably see a bit more snow overnight but the weather is supposed to calm down after that.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Farewell to November

Last Thursday we spent a snowy Thanksgiving with our friends, Mindy and Paul, at their home on the hillside. As you can tell by these pictures, they have also received quite a bit of snow. On Thanksgiving, it was supposed to be sunny and cold. Yet it snowed lightly all day and all night. In fact, we have had right at 3 feet of snow since October 30th! We have come very close to breaking a record snowfall for the month of November. It is snowing lightly now but I don't think we will be able to make it to the record amount. Mindy outdid herself with the scrumptious buffet of holiday delights. Everyone had their fill and then some! After the feast we bowled on the Wii system with Paul, Hunter, and Kendra. Hunter came prepared in his official 1957 bowling shirt. Even though he clearly won the bowling championship that night, it was later ruled by the judges that he had used an unofficial Wii controller. Therefore, forfeiting his championship and dreams to the next highest scorer. We figured that instead of naming a new champion we would have a new tournament at a later date. On Friday Greg somehow found the will to get up and go to work. Saturday we made our way downtown and did a little shopping in support of the small businesses. When we got home from our chilly walk, Greg made chicken and dumplings and we ate, stayed in, and stayed warm for the rest of the weekend. Thanks again Mindy and Paul.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

November 13, 2011

On Saturday afternoon a couple of weeks ago, we drove out to Peter's Creek and met up with our friend, Julie, and her two Siberian huskies. Julie drove us up into the mountains to the Peter's Creek trailhead for an afternoon hike. There was already quite a bit of snow here and as of that day, October 29th, we had no snow in Anchorage. We all got our gear on, including bear spray , and headed up the trail. The trail seemed to follow an old road bed. There were a couple of stream crossings and a steady incline for the first leg of the trail. It was a somewhat overcast afternoon and the mountains with their coverings of snow were a gentle reminder of the winter soon to come for us. This afternoon we just enjoyed the solitude and peace of the quiet forest. Julie's huskies seemed right at home in the cold and snow. We quite enjoyed the hike and hope to go again. Upon waking the next morning, the winter landscape from the previous afternoon seemed to have followed us home. Our city bore the first measurable snow of the season on October 30th. Since then, our downtown apartment has seen about 20 more inches fall. With the forecast of some below zero temps for the coming week, it is safe to say our winter has unofficially begun.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

End of Seward Trip

After a late night of finishing my project, we decided to sleep in yet again this morning. After checking out of the hotel, we went for a farewell walk along the beach before heading out of town. The wind was brisk but it was a beautiful and clear day. We decided to stop by Exit Glacier and try to spot some wildlife. We didn't see any mammals but managed to get fairly close to a bald eagle. We made several stops along the ride home to enjoy the rushing waters and beautiful snow-covered mountains. After those stops we just drove and enjoyed the beautiful views along the Seward Highway. When we reached the Hope junction, we pulled over into a roadside park to have a delightful lunch of fresh seafood. The picnic table, which had seen its better days long ago, was nestled in the woods. In fact, the table only had part of a bench and Greg was forced to stand and eat his lunch. Thankfully the smell of our halibut, shrimp, and rockfish didn't attract any bears. Finally made our way back into Anchorage at about 5:30, thus ending a nice long weekend.
These pictures are a few weeks old and since then we have received our first snowfall on October 30th. This past weekend it snowed 10.1 inches of snow! As I write this at 9 pm on November 8th, it's a balmy 9 degrees outside. I guess winter is finally here!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Kenai to Seward

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Upon leaving Kenai we took a little detour through the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. This is an 18 mile (mostly gravel) road into the refuge. We had the road almost to ourselves and passed only about 3 other cars while we traveled and checked it out. Greg enjoyed stopping and looking at the lakes. The fall colors were just beginning to change on most trees. You definitely could feel a nip in the fall air. As we neared the junction of Sterling and Seward Highways, we stopped to view some swans on Tern Lake. We were treated to some eagle sightings here as well. There were 3 eagles feeding in the marshy edge of the lake. We took several pictures of the trumpeter swans and the eagles but none were blog quality! We drove on to Seward to get a room for the night. Hotel Seward turned out to be a pleasant surprise. It is a locally owned hotel in historic downtown Seward. It was less expensive than the major chain hotels and our room was delightful! After settling in, I stayed in the room to finish my college paper and Greg took off for a walk along the beach. He found many of the huge beach rocks were covered in seaweed and thousands of mussels!
It was starting to get cold and dark but he did manage to get a few nice pictures. You can even see the moon rising above the mountains in this picture. Upon returning to the hotel, we went over to the Apollo for a wonderful dinner. We got there near closing but the staff was very welcoming and went out of their way to make it a memorable feast. Imagine my shock when we returned to the hotel after dinner carrying take home boxes of food and found this caution on the door!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Leaving Homer

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We slept in a bit Sunday morning. Once we got up, we decided to head closer to Anchorage for the night. Here is Greg checking out the gorgeous scenery on Beluga Lake.It was a beautiful, bright, sunny day and we just kicked back and enjoyed the scenery as we headed out of town toward Kenai. We drove along the Sterling Highway and we stopped and took some pictures of the local volcanoes, Mt. Iliamna and Mt. Redoubt. Here you can check out one of the volcanoes right over Greg's shoulder. In the village of Ninilchik, we got out and took a stroll in a small park. The park was high upon a bluff and you could see a deserted beach far below. This area becomes very popular in summer when people come here and dig for razor clams. You could drive on the beach, but only in a 4 wheel drive, so we admired it from afar. As we neared the town of Kalifornsky, we stopped for a walk along the beach. The wind was brisk, forcing us into our coats to meet the chill. That didn't deter us and we enjoyed the near solitude for quite a bit of time. After leaving the beach, we made our way to Kenai for lunch.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Homer Trip, part 2

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After lunch on Saturday I hit the books to work on a paper for my online classes. Greg decided to take a long stroll on the beach looking for shells to bring back to Tennessee at Christmas. Unfortunately, there were very few shells to be found. The afternoon was beautiful, though. The bright sun highlighted Kachemak Bay and the surrounding mountains. Near the end of Greg's walk he did manage to come upon several large starfish.
A first for him! He even managed to get a few shots of two bald eagles atop a tall pole. It would have been easy to just sit on the balcony and watch the boats on the beautiful bay for hours. But as the sun set, it quickly cooled off and reminded us we weren't on a coast in the South! We headed indoors and got the fire going in the fireplace.