Alaska's Winter Horizon

Alaska's Winter Horizon

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.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Anniversary Trip Oct. 2011

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Friday afternoon we both rushed home from work to finishing packing our bags for a 3 day weekend. We loaded the car and got out of Anchorage at about 5:30 and headed toward Homer. The Seward Highway was beautiful as always with snow now capping most of the mountains along Cook Inlet. Just on the other side of Turnagain Pass there was even snow along the shoulders of the road. On some of the scenic pull-off spots, you could tell the parking area must have been scraped because the snow was pushed along the edges of the pavement. We even saw a few snowflakes in between raindrops on this part of the trip. About 8:30 we stopped in a local restaurant in Soldotna for a bite to eat. We took our time and rolled through the rain getting to Homer about 11:30. We did make the best of our Lands Ends Resort coupons and opted for one of their luxury beachfront townhouses. It was an excellent choice! Our 2 story townhouse was beautiful and right on the beach. We walked right off the deck onto the rocky shore. Both being a bit tired we soon called it a night. Got up early Saturday morning and enjoyed a nice complementary breakfast! We then drove into town and stopped at the farmers' market. Picked up a few items for dinner and then hit a few shops. There is a really nice bookstore in town that sells new books and we browsed for quite a bit. We also stopped at the used bookstore in the Mermaid B&B. Greg got a book here. This place was literally packed on 2 floors with used books. My kinda place! We could have stayed here for hours. Bishop's Beach was so close we decided to spend awhile strolling on its shores. We walked along the beach and I took a few shots of some wading birds. These are probably sandpipers, but Greg hasn't had time to identify them for sure. They seemed to be enjoying their stroll as well! After a little while, we noticed a majestic bald eagle perched atop a tree on the beach. I had to get busy on college stuff so we headed back to the beach house for lunch featuring our farmers' market fresh veggies.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Tok to home

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After leaving Fairbanks, we headed down the Alaska Highway toward Tok. We drove through Delta Junction and a few other small towns. There were many beautiful sights to enjoy on the drive. We stopped by several lakes that were clear and blue with signs of autumn all around. This lake was home to several tundra swans. They were just a bit out of camera range. We arrived in the small town of Tok, which is only a little over a hundred miles from the Canadian border, right at dinnertime. Surprisingly, we had a difficult time finding a room here in Tok. The only large chain motel in town had already closed for the season. A few others were not quite what we wanted. We ended up staying at a place called Mainstreet Motel. It was clean, inexpensive, and right on the outskirts of town. This is a fairly small town of 1415 people with the claim of being the coldest inhabited community in North America. I'll agree! It gets down to 70 below 0 in the winter and stays that way for days on end! Not much to do here in Tok so after dinner we just retired to our room and rested. We got up fairly early Monday morning to begin our trek home. We hit the Glenn Highway and enjoyed some fantastic views of the Wrangell Mountains, the Copper River, and several small towns and villages. Stopped in Glennallen for lunch and then visited a few scenic overlooks. Here is Greg with the Matanuska Glacier in the background. We headed home to rest after a great weekend.