Alaska's Winter Horizon

Alaska's Winter Horizon

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.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Thursday, July 17th, Homer to Seward

Woke up to a glorious morning after sleeping with the windows open and the sounds of ocean waves lulling us to sleep.
After a yummy breakfast, we walked along the beach back to our room to prepare for our day's journey to Seward.
We picked up a few supplies at an international market and hit the road. Of course, we took a few detours to enjoy the sites. At Anchor Point, we walked along the beach and enjoyed the majestic views of Mt. Iliamna and Mt. Spurr. We swore we could see little puffs of smoke from the supposedly inactive volcano.
 We also visited a Russian Orthodox Church which is perched high upon a bluff near Ninilchik.
 As we proceeded toward Seward, we followed the aquamarine waters of the Kenai River nestled within the plush green mountains.
 Here's Martina right after dipping her hand in the chilling waters of the river.
Hoping to catch a glimpse of moose and other wildlife, we toured the rocky paths of the Skilak Wildlife Refuge.

 We reached today's destination--Seward--a quaint town situated right on the edge of Resurrection Bay.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Wednesday, July 16th

Martina and I arrived back in Anchorage around 6 pm last night. She has come to spend a few weeks with us in Alaska. Today, we had to drive Greg down to Homer for his big trip. He will be gone for 5 days on a bear adventure to McNeil River. The float plane lifted off from Beluga Lake around 5:30. You can see Greg sitting up front in this photo as they are getting ready to leave.
It will take them about an hour to get there. They have to set up their tents tonight and be ready to hike to the river tomorrow.
He has really been looking forward to this trip! Only 10 people a day are allowed to go out and watch the bears. People are chosen through a lottery system and Greg got lucky and was picked the first year he entered.
They spend nearly 10 hours a day out on the edge of the river watching the bears fish for salmon.
Thankfully, there is an armed guard walking you the two miles to the river and then staying there with you all day!
That helps me not to worry so much because this is the largest congregation of brown bears in the world. It is a once in a lifetime adventure!

Thanks to everyone for the kind words and actions during the last few months. My Dad was a wonderful man and I miss him every day. It helps knowing others also loved him and knew how special he was. I was fortunate to be able to spend those months with my family and friends.