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Updated: Saturday, July 2, 2005

Wednesday, June 1 - Rain, rain, go away...

What is one to say about June, the time of perfect young summer,
the fulfillment of the promise of the earlier months, and with as yet
no sign to remind one that its fresh young beauty will ever fade.
~ Gertrude Jekyll, On Gardening ~

For the past two days, we have had rain and dreariness. Looking at the weather report for the upcoming week, it doesn't look like there will be much improvement. Saturday, there may be a few spurts of sunshine forcing its way between the clouds, but other than that, we're looking at dismal weather. This rain is more depressing to me than the dark days of winter were.

Nevertheless, I've continued walking with Rachael and our pups. Yesterday, we walked 5 miles and today we walked about 3.5 miles. It's good to get out and get moving, and it really wears out the furkids. Sedona sleeps for hours when we get home. One of the highlights of our walk (when it's sunny), is letting Sedona swim in the Chena River. She is definitely a water pup and loves to 'doggy paddle' around the river.

Sedona Swimming

"The one absolutely unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him, the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous, is his dog. . . . He will kiss the hand that has no food to offer; he will lick the wounds and sores that come in encounters with the roughness of the world. . . .When all other friends desert, he remains."
~ George G. Vest ~

I love my girl, Sedona. She is my friend and my defender. This month, she will be 9 years old. I hope I have her by my side, at least another 9 years.

Steve and I had made plans to drive to Deadhorse this weekend (the Arctic Ocean), but that's not going to happen. The day before yesterday, Steve blew a seal on his back wheel so it's in the shop being worked on. I'm just glad it happened here in town and not while we were 400 miles away in complete wilderness. Things certainly happen for a reason. With the weather prediction being so poor, we would have been miserable anyway. We did hope we could get away for an overnight camping trip to the White Mountains, but might just scrap that idea too depending on the weather. He's got a four-day weekend and it's such a shame that Mother Nature isn't cooperating with us.

The camper is at the RV place being made ready for summer fun. When we unwrapped it, it looked good as new (and smelled new inside too!). I love camping and can't wait to take it out. We leave on *block leave* on June 24th and won't be home until July 10th. I'm hoping I'll be able to keep this journal updated, but I'm not too certain. Perhaps I'll be able to upload in fits and spurts.

It's hard to believe that it's June already. On one hand, I'm thrilled that summer has pretty much arrived, and that everything is beautiful and lush and green again. On the other hand, I hate that the deployment is now only about 11 or 12 weeks away. I have a sad feeling that the time is going to fly by. It is important to make the most of the time we have left.

Tuesday, June 7 - Lots of Roadtrips!

Sorry to have been absent for so long. Steve and I took advantage of the four-day weekend he had and went on two roadtrips. On Friday, we drove up the Steese Highway to Davidson Ditch - and then in on the gravel road to Prindle and Ophir campgrounds. The views were marvelous; much more scenic than last summer, when we were plagued with wildfires and a smokey haze hanging over much of the state. The campgrounds are wonderful, and I'd love to go back and tent camp before Steve deploys. The mosquitos were a bit of a pain, but we sprayed down with DEET and managed to fight them off sufficiently enough to avoid having a miserable day.

On Sunday, we drove the Denali Highway. We were on the road for 14 hours and drove about 460 miles. But what an adventure! The Denali Highway connects Paxson (on the Richardson Hwy) to Cantwell (on the Parks Hwy). The road is mostly gravel (about 100 miles is gravel out of 136 miles), but was a good road. We took our time traversing it - a good four hours on the Denali Hwy alone. I took so many photos, as it was absolutely breathtaking! Despite the overcast and stormy skies here in Fairbanks, we had beautiful weather throughout both drives, with only periods of rain or cloudiness.

I'm going to post many of the photos in thumbnail size to save on speed for my dial-up readers. A few of my favorites, I'll post full size. Enjoy!

Traveling the Steese Highway
(click thumbnails for enlargement)

There is no one I'd rather explore this great state with than Steve. He shares my love for roadtrips and loves to explore new - and old - places with me. Nothing can stop us when we get the urge to 'escape'. Rain or shine - Alaska is a gorgeous place to live.

We load up the CD player with music of all types. We sing along, or sometimes just listen. Sometimes we talk, and sometimes it's quiet. But always it is rejuvenating.

I think that, more than anything, I will miss our roadtrips while he is deployed. Not having him here to share the beauty of Alaska with will be the hardest thing of all. I am so glad we're taking the time to see as much as we can now.

"A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person" ~ Mignon McLaughlin

Now onto the photos from our trip across along the Denali Highway. Again, I'm going to post some in thumbnail size to ease downloading.

The love for all living creatures is the most noble attribute of man.

Charles Darwin (1809-1882)

The camper is now ready to use and we're both getting the itch to go camping again. Block leave is in a few weeks, but we'd both like to take the camper out before then. Now that the weather is gorgeous, you'll find most Alaskans outside enjoying the all-day sunshine. If I don't update very often, you'll know why.

Saturday, June 11th - Lazy days and car woes...

My car died. I turned the key in it and it seemed to want to turn over, but wouldn't. It is currently sitting behind the AAFES auto shop waiting to be looked at. I hope it's nothing huge and/or expensive.

Courtney JaneShawna came and picked me up on Thursday afternoon, and we went out to lunch. It was so wonderful seeing her and Courtney again. Courtney is just the most precious little girl I have ever seen. After lunch, we headed over to Pioneer Park so I could get some photos of her. It was extremely crowded over there -considering it was midweek. The tourist season is definitely underway.

School is out now too, so there were lots of children in the playground as well. Church groups were having picnics/BBQs, and tourists were in the shops, which are now open for business.

It was a gloriously warm day and the sun was shining. We all got a bit of pink on our cheeks. I love spring and summer in Alaska!

On Friday, Steve had to work a few hours and then met me at the Soldier Appreciation Festivities. Community businesses had set up booths, and had drawings to win lots of great stuff. There was free food and drinks, and entertainment. We stayed for a few hours and left just after the smokejumpers jumped in. I got a huge bag of 'goodies' (the typical freebie stuff you pick up at community expos), as well as some neat things - like books, videos, and toys.

From there, we ran to Blockbuster and took out a few movies (some horror flicks) and sat in for the rest of the day. The heat has been oppressive and we've had fans going all over the house. The one downside to living in Alaska - very few homes have air conditioning. The upstairs is even warmer and sleeping can be uncomfortable. Steve came downstairs and slept on the sofa last night. I didn't have a problem. I didn't even realize he was missing until I woke up this morning. With it being light out all day, waking up at 4am feels like 8am.

James and Rachael rented a boat from Outdoor Rec today and took it out this afternoon on the river. The four of us are going to take it to Pike's Landing tomorrow for lunch. I'm really looking forward to spending time on the river. I hope the weather is nice - and not too hot. Steve and I may take it out tomorrow night. It doesn't have to go back until Monday. Not a bad deal, since the Rec Center is closed on Sunday. We're splitting the rental fee and other expenses with them. That way everyone saves money.

I've missed walking with Rachael in the morning. It feels good to get out there and get some exercise. When Steve's home, we tend to be lazy and eat way too much. I'm thankful for the walks during the week; they *hopefully* counteract the bad habits we have all weekend.

Sunday, June 12th - Boating on the Chena and Champagne Brunch

We woke to rain and all four of us were keeping our fingers crossed that the rain would at least stop long enough to allow us to take the boat out on the river. We got our wish at about noon. About twenty minutes later, we were on the river and on our way to Pike's Waterfront Lodge at Pikes Landing. The river was like glass in many places, and not choppy at all. We weren't the only ones taking advantage of the break in the weather. We passed fisherman standing on the shore, kayakers paddling lazily along the river, and other boaters enjoying some time on the Chena.

It took us about 40 minutes to get to the lodge. A nice, leisurely and wonderful ride. The fresh air was a welcome respite from the periods of cloudiness we've been experiencing. When we arrived at the restaurant, our hope was to order lunch. Little did we know, we had arrived during the Champagne Brunch (buffet style dining). We did a quick walk around the buffet tables to see if there was food we wanted to eat, and decided we would indeed be staying for the Champagne Brunch. For $18.95/pp, we ate until we were exploding. Washing it down with two glasses of champagne was a nice touch. The menu included salmon, halibut, prime rib, ham, breakfast fixins (eggs, biscuits and gravy, sausage), fruits, veggies, and cheeses, and lots of different salads (potato, pasta, macaroni, etc). The dessert table was heavily picked over (we got there at the tail end of brunch), but still offered up some chocolate cake with chocolate icing, chocolate mousse, and key lime pie - as well as many cookies and small finger cakes. We ate until we felt like we would explode. We certainly got our money's worth (Steve got his AND my money's worth!).

The ride back was even more pleasurable as the sun was starting to break through the clouds. I took my Canon G2 with me (just in case I would have gotten it wet, or flipped the boat, or any other disaster), so I was able to get photos.

James and Rachael
James and Rachael Trujillo
Me and Steve
Me and Steve - just chillin'
Downtown Fairbanks from Chena
Downtown Fairbanks from Chena River
Pikes Landing Restaurant
Pikes Waterfront Lodge - Dock and Deck
Wednesday, June 15th - Anniversaries and Cotton Snowstorms

The first thing I want to do is congratulate Steve and I on our SECOND anniversary of living in Alaska! Two years ago today, we pulled into Fairbanks and began the adventure of a lifetime. Of all the moves that Uncle Sam ordered us to make, this has indeed been the most spectacular. If not for the army, I'm not sure we would have ever had the opportunity to explore such a wondrous state - let alone live here, make wonderful friends, and experience some of the best of God's handiwork. I never want this fabulous dream to end...

Today, the balsam poplar is shedding it's seed pods in a riot of blizzard-looking snowflakes. (We also call them cottonwoods, but I did some research and discovered that cottonwoods do not grow in interior Alaska.) These snowflakes are not made of ice crystals, but they fill the sky as if snow is indeed falling. The pods are quite the bane for someone with allergies, or asthma (as I have). The tiny fuzzy pods are heavy in the air and somehow even find their way into our homes.

The window screens, where we have fans perched, are thick with the fluffy snow-like pods, and cleaning them will surely be a chore when the onslaught is finally over. When it rains, the seed pods are swept from the trees and rinsed to the ground, but when it's windy - look out!

Tonight, while eating dinner, Steve and I did a perfectly choreographed dance of waving away the minuscule pods before they could land in our meal. Some are so small, that they are sucked through the window screen and circulated around the house by the fans. I find them everywhere.

Balsam Poplar Tree

Flying pods over the house

This photo was taken from my back porch up toward the eaves.. You can see the pods in the air flying around. It is not a pleasant feeling to inhale one or two while you're outside walking, or running, or doing some other activity. I'll be glad when the 'shedding' season is over and the air is clear again. I've inhaled so many pods, I can only hope I don't grow a poplar tree in my nose. *grin*

Vacation is now only 10 days away. Both Steve and I are looking forward to getting away and doing some camping and exploring. Next week, a friend of mine from Anchorage is coming to Fairbanks with her husband (he'll be doing some work here on Wainwright and Eielson). She has three great kids and will be here for more than a week. Unfortunately, we're going on vacation, so I can't spend the entire period of time with her, but I do intend to spend the first few days with her at least. I'm planning a BBQ here at our place next Thursday. I plan to invite the Spivey's and the Trujillo's to join us too. I'm also looking forward to showing Lisa around Fairbanks. She's never been here before, so it will give me a chance to play 'tour guide' for the area. Lisa is also an avid photographer, so we'll surely have our days filled with looking for photo ops.

On a downer note, my Nissan is still dead. Tomorrow it is going to the dealership to be diagnosed. I'm already hearing the 'cha-ching' sound of dealership fees in my head. The local mechanic couldn't figure out what the problem was. All I know is that, after almost a week without wheels, I'm ready to part with any amount of money to get me mobile again. I hate being stuck at home. At least I still have foot power. Rachael and I have been very good about maintaining our 4-5 mile walks every morning. I feel beat up when I get out of bed the next morning, but it's a good feeling to be out exercising.

Sunday, June 19th - Father's Day, Missing Daddy, Preparing for Vacation

Yesterday, Daddy has been gone for 9 years. I thought about him all day long, but I didn't let it get me down. He wouldn't want that. I wish he was still here. I miss him so much! Especially since he died so close to Father's Day. That makes it even harder. I wish I could pick up the phone and call him and wish him a Happy Father's Day. *sigh*

Today, for Father's Day, Steve and I went out to breakfast. We ate at The Bakery - our favorite place for breakfast in town and it was crowded - even at 9am on a Sunday morning. Apparently everyone was celebrating Dad's Day with a breakfast out.

It's been raining all day - and downright chilly too! I don't think it got out of the 50s today. We had to move through the house closing windows to get it warm in here. What a horrible turn of events weather-wise! I hope the sun comes back again tomorrow.

This past Friday afternoon, Steve and I attended a BBQ for the company. He and I slipped away and took a walk through the campground and the woods. It was nice to spend time together, holding hands, and talking about when we arrived in Alaska. We passed by the campsite that was our 'home' for two weeks and smiled with the memories of walking Sedona along the path that runs through the campground. Wildflowers abound and they are such a beautiful thing to see! Later on that afternoon, we drove up to Birch Hill - taking the dirt roads for some different scenery. We saw a lone moose and a lot more flowers. It was nice to get out in nature.

Fireweed
Fireweed
Field of Wild Iris
Wild Iris Field
Dwarf Dogwood
Dwarf Dogwood

I look forward to vacation and photographing more wildflowers that are usually only found growing on the Kenai Peninsula. And of course, the wildlife cruise will be great too! But mostly, I'm excited about the bear viewing trip on July 4th. I can't wait to see the brown coastal bears again.

I have a friend coming to Fairbanks tomorrow from Anchorage. Her husband will be here doing some work and we're going to hang out together. I'm looking forward to seeing Lisa again. I met her in person when I went to Anchorage back in January to see my friend, Nikki.

Thursday, June 23 - Midnight Sun, Baseball Games, BBQs and Vacation Time

I have been a horrible journalist over the past few days. Time has just gotten away from me, and I've been very busy visiting with a friend from Anchorage. Lisa is a gal I met online a while back. I got the opportunity to meet her in person back in January - when I went to Anchorage for a visit. She is in Fairbanks this week with her husband (and children), while he does some work on base. Lisa has never been to Fairbanks before, so I was enjoying my role as tour guide for the city. It really helped that this week was such an entertaining week in Fairbanks with the Summer Solstice Festival and the Midnight Sun Baseball Game. In addition, Fairbanks is a flurry of activity with all the tourists who have descended upon us. I like when the tourists come to town. I like that I am considered a 'local' now.

On Tuesday, Fairbanks had our longest day of the year - a full 22+ hours of daylight. In actuality, it hasn't gotten dark in a while, but officially, June 21st is the longest day of the year. To celebrate, downtown Fairbanks puts on a street fair with musicians, food, arts and crafts, classic cars, games, etc. I took Lisa and her children downtown to check it out and snapped a few photos.

Later on that evening, Rachael asked me if I wanted to go to the Midnight Sun Baseball Game to see the Goldpanners play. This year is the 100th anniversary of the game, so ticket holders got commemorative baseballs for the event. The Midnight Sun game starts at 10:30pm and is played with no artificial lights. There's no need for lights, as the day goes on forever. We stayed for a few innings until our eyes got tired (despite the light!). I did manage to take a photo of the (nearly) midnight sky. These photos from the Solstice Celebration and Goldpanners game are in thumbnail size. Click on them to see them larger.

Click thumbnails to enlarge
Street Musician
Street Musician

Most Unrestored Car
Downtown Fairbanks
Downtown Fairbanks
Cotton Candy Boy
Cotton Candy Boy
Golden Heart Plaza
Golden Heart Plaza
Afternoon Nap
Afternoon Nap
Goldpanners
Fairbanks Goldpanners
Midnight Sun Fairbanks
Midnight Sun
Summer Solstice - Midnight
Nearly Midnight

In other news.... my Nissan is dead. The engine is blown. The Alaska estimate to put a rebuilt engine in? $5200. For that kind of money I might be able to find a vehicle from this decade. I'm glad it happened now, and not before. I hate being without my own car, but once Steve leaves, I can use his truck.

Today, we picked up the camper and towed it over to the house to load up for our trip. It's so hard to believe that we're leaving in two days. We're both so excited, but there's a degree of melancholy surrounding this adventure. We know that when we get home, time will be slipping away from us quickly. I hate that he's leaving.

There are wildfires in Fort Yukon (NE of Fairbanks) and they are affecting the air quality in the area. Today was a good day.... the winds were blowing away from us and the sun came through for our BBQ. It was wonderful to have the company of friends around us. Susan and Stephen came over - with 'dad' Butch. James and Rachael were here; Lisa and her husband Rob came with their three children, as well as another coworker of theirs, Mike. Steve played BBQ chef. (He's the best!) And then Steve and James cleaned up. What great guys!

Tomorrow, we load. Saturday we leave. I don't know when I'll be able to post again. I will try to keep this journal updated as we are traveling, but internet connection could be iffy. I'll do the best I can. But if you don't hear from me for two weeks, you'll know why. Until next time...

Sunday, June 26 - Anchorage Hiking

Although I am posting this on the 26th, I have no internet connection here, so you won't be reading it until later. I'm going to continue to update my journal with commentary and photos, even though I can't publish it yet. I'd rather keep on top of it while we're traveling, then try to play catch up. Hopefully, I'll be able to get online in Seward (we'll be there until the morning of the 30th).

We left Fairbanks yesterday - a little later than we planned - but we weren't really on any time crunch, so it was no big deal. We pulled away from the house at 9am, stopping to eat at McDonalds before getting on the Parks Highway and heading toward Anchorage.

The drive was long, and mostly uneventful. There is road work going on just west of Fairbanks, so we had the dreaded pilot car situation for several miles. I didn't even bother taking my camera out until we got south of Denali. Even then, there wasn't much to photograph. Mt. McKinley wasn't out, so there was no sense stopping at the lookouts.

We rain into rain once we hit Wasilla, and the temperature went from 73F to 51F in about a mile's drive. There was road construction there too, which caused its own stresses. We were happy to hit Anchorage (and sunshine!) and pull into our camping spot at Anchorage RV Park.

Some photos from the drive down. They are posted in thumbnail size. Click to enlarge:


Hurricane Gulch Bridge

On the road again

The Range southwest of Denali

After setting up camp, we went out to have dinner at TGIF. I was craving an Italiano Sandwich and Potato Skins, and when you don't get a chance to eat at TGIF (there isn't one in Fairbanks), it's a real treat! After dinner, we came back to the camper, finished unpacking our luggage into the camper, and watched a movie. We were in bed by 10pm - exhausted from our trip.


This morning, at 10am, my friend Angie picked me up for a day of hiking in Chugach National Forest. I met Angie online and was looking forward to getting to meet her in person and go hiking. We picked up another friend (Jennifer) and headed to Girdwood (40 minutes southeast of Anchorage) - home of the Alyeska Prince Hotel. It's a wonderful resort which does a booming business in winter, and a terrific business in summer too. Just beyond the sky tram that takes you to the top of the mountain, is the start of the Winner Creek Trail. This trail was ours to conquer today.

As soon as we got to the start of the trail, we couldn't miss the hand-lettered sign warning of a fresh moose kill and a black bear in the area. The sign unnerved me a bit, but at the same time I didn't want my apprehension of encountering a bear to overshadow the enjoyment of exploring new territory and seeing beautiful landscapes.

The trail is fairly level initially, and boardwalks lead across the boggier areas. Soon, a gorgeous turquoise stream comes into view and the urge to jump in and cool off is overwhelming. The mosquitoes were annoying, but the bug spray I carried helped to fend off their attack.

A few wildflowers were blooming along the way, but mostly I was intrigued by the overabundance of ferns - many species - which lined the path. And the trees... so much taller than what we're accustomed to in Fairbanks. The path led through a rainforest and it was a lot more humid (and full of mosquitoes) in many places. But, what an adventure! Especially when we reached the gorge and stood on the bridge looking down on the fast running water and falls below. Just beautiful!

At the end of our climb was a hand-tram car which crossed the gorge. If you wanted to continue on the hiking path, you had to take yourself across on the tram. Since fear of heights was an issue with both Jennifer and myself, we were looking to Angie to try out the tram (for photo ops). As soon as she stepped on it and it started swaying back and forth, she decided she wasn't going to be adventurous. I can't say I blame her. Just standing on the platform looking down made me have an attack of vertigo! We turned and headed back - hiking 5 miles roundtrip. My muscles are feeling it now, and a foot rub would be wonderful. We stopped for lunch in Girdwood, at "Chair 5" - a bar/grill with delicious sandwiches and a wonderful atmosphere. When I got back to the camper, Steve was already back. And on the kitchen table was a glass with wildflowers (which he had picked) in it. What a guy! *sigh*

Here are some photos from our adventure. Click on the thumbnails for larger size images:


Sign at Trailhead

Map of Trail - we went to the tram

Lower Creek View

Boardwalk through Rainforest

Sunshine through the leaves

Jennifer and Angie on Path

Alyeska Prince Hotel

Waterfall in Motion
 

Steve went fishing while I was gone, but didn't catch a thing. He's chomping at the bit to get down to Seward and hopefully catch some salmon. I wish he'd catch some too. It's all he's talked about for weeks...

Monday, June 27 - Trip to Seward

The drive from Anchorage to Seward - as always - was breathtaking. The mountains grow tall on the horizon and are striated with snow and ice. Glaciers are visible as you make your way around Turnagain Arm and onto the Kenai Peninsula. It's a humbling experience and one that makes a person feel so small. The Seward Highway is two lane - one in each direction. There are several turnouts along the way for slower moving traffic to pull off and allow people to pass. There are also gorgeous rest stops; places not just meant for stopping to use the restroom, but for stopping to gaze out upon the spectacular landscape. We stopped at one and enjoyed lunch, while looking out across small rolling hills which led off to mountains. Even Sedona enjoyed a romp in the tall grass.

After setting up the camper at the Seward Military Resort Campground, Steve and I took a drive 'downtown' to check in for my glacier/wildlife cruise (tomorrow). The tide was in, and the wind was strong. We were glad to have sweatshirts with us. But when the wind stopped, the sun was warm. You just never know how to dress to be comfortable, so you have to prepare for everything!

We stayed in for dinner - stuffed shells and meatballs (Mmmmmm) - and will be hitting the sack early. Steve has to catch his shuttle bus to the marina for his halibut fishing trip at 5:45am. I leave on my wildlife cruise at 8am. I hope he catches some fish. He had no luck yesterday. Bringing in some fish would make him a very happy guy!

And now.... photos. Click on the thumbnails to enlarge the photos:


Remnants of Portage

Rest Stop

Sedona romping in the grass

Rest Stop Panorama - Heading to Seward

Tern Lake - Heading to Seward

Enjoying the Thermals

Lily Pond Lake

Lily Pond Lake Panorama

Seward Marina Panorama

Water Lillies

Bunny at Seward Marina

Dock at Seward Marina

Seward Marina

Resurrection Bay

Waterfall

Resurrection Bay Panorama

Resurrection Bay Panorama
Tuesday, June 28 - Cruising Kenai Fjords

I had a hard time sleeping last night, and woke at 2am - wide awake and staring at the ceiling. It was chilly in the camper too, and I even considered turning the heat on. Instead, I snuggled into Steve hoping for some more shut-eye. I think I finally fell back to sleep at 4am. His alarm went off at 5am so he could get ready for his fishing trip. I got up with him, had a big cup of coffee and managed to get my second wind.

After checking in at the Kenai Fjords Cruise desk, I walked down to the boat and waited until it was time to board. Always the talkative one, I struck up a conversation with a woman standing next to me. She and her husband looked to be in their 60s. Dressed in leather, wearing Harley t-shirts, and heavy boots, it was pretty easy to tell they were bikers. They came up on their bikes - all the way from Texas! - sleeping in a tent the entire way. They were halfway through their month-long vacation and were heading to Valdez next.

I decided to sit topside, and in the rear of the boat - outside. I was certainly dressed for any kind of weather in several layers. I was wearing a thermal top, then a fleece vest, and then Steve's arctic fleece jacket. I even had wool socks on. Boy was I glad! Once the boat got into open water and opened the throttle, the wind was kicking and it was chilly! But I wasn't about to give up my good seat (and view) to go inside with the less hardy (or dressed inappropriately) people.

We saw otters almost immediately, and once we hit the more open area of Resurrection Bay, we saw the first of many spouts from a humpback whale. All of the whales we saw seemed to be in feeding mode; sliding smoothly just beneath the surface of the water, taking a breath when needed, and then submerging again. I did manage to get two photos of a whale tail as one dove deeper.

I struck up a conversation with two couples sitting near me. One couple - from Ontario - started their trip in upstate New York, made their way across the northern USA, stopping in the Black Hills of SD, visiting Glacier National Park in MT, and then crossing back into Canada to pick up the Alcan to Alaska. They towed a 5th-wheel and were camping right on Resurrection Bay.

The other couple were from West Virginia. Both are artists (she is a potter and he is a leather worker), and she also works in the school system as a counselor for children. They flew into Anchorage, rented a car, and explored the Kenai Peninsula for 12 days. Seward was their last stop (they are leaving today). They hiked and kayaked out of Homer, took a bus into Denali (McKinley wasn't out), and visited all the galleries and museums they could find.

Both couples had a lot of questions for me about life in Alaska and I was happy to talk to them about it. I gave them my business card - with a link to my photo gallery - so they could see photos I've taken of other areas in Alaska. Both couples were very interested in the Northern Lights. I hope that they get an opportunity to visit in the wintertime, so that they can experience them firsthand. Of course, when I mentioned lows in the -50F range, they didn't seem very happy!

And now... onto the photos. Click on them to enlarge.


Puffin

Whale Tail

Calving Glacier

Cataract Cove Waterfall

Glacier View

Cataract Cove Waterfall

Whale Tail

Glacier View

Dall Porpoise

Puffin Taking Off

Feeding Frenzy

Rocky Shore

Lazy Sea Lions

Sea Lions

Territorial Fight

Thar She Blows

Humpback Hello

Sea Otters

Cruising Panorama

Glacier View Panorama

Northwestern Glacier
 

I'm not sure when I'll have time to update again. It might not be until we get to Homer on July 2nd. I'll do the best I can. :)

Wednesday, June 29 - Exploring Seward

It was a fairly lazy day for us today. We had to tackle laundry, and managed to sleep in until after 9:30am. Once the chores were complete, Steve and I drove around Seward and down to Lowell Point Beach. Lowell Point is a 'bedroom community' of Seward and a few miles past town. There were a couple of little waterfalls along the way, and we stopped to get a few photos. Lowell Point is very small and self-contained. There is a public beach and we made our way to it. Although we've been to Seward several times in the past, this was our first time exploring Lowell Point Beach. There's also a hiking trail that leads along the coast. But it's called a 'tidal trail', since it's dependent on low tide to be passable. It was chilly on the beach, but the views were magnificent. The sky was a bit overcast, which added to the mood of the walk. There aren't any seashells on this beach. Instead it's comprised of a soft ground shale-like substance (the texture of sand), and larger pieces and slabs of shale-like rock. Going barefoot could be tricky. Besides, the water is sure to be cold. We weren't feeling adventurous enough to wade in it. However, there were several children frolicking in the surf. BRRRR! It didn't look very appealing to us.

We drove back into Seward and took a drive up and down the streets of the historic area. (Only a few square blocks) We also drove out to the start of the trail up Marathon Mountain. Marathon Mountain is the location of the yearly July 4th footrace. Runners literally race up the face of the mountain - more than 3500ft in elevation - and then down again. The record is just over 40 minutes. We stood at the base of the mountain, where the trail starts, and looked up in amazement. How anyone could run that trail is beyond me! It is said that those coming down can get pretty beat up on the rocks and shale - since many fall. With my stamina, I'd roll down the hill. :)

And now for some photos from Seward. Click on the thumbnail to view it enlarged.


Wild Daisies

Waterfall

Wild Daisies and Mountains

Beach House

Lowell Point B&B

Beach Houses

Kayaker in Resurrection Bay

Lowell Point Beach

Lowell Point Beach

Lowell Point Beach

Van Gilder Hotel

Liberty Theater

Resurrection Bay

City Pond

Seward Stable

Fireweed

Glacier View from Seward
 
Thursday, June 30th - Cooper Landing, Kenai Lake, Russian River...

We left Seward fairly early and took our time driving the short distance to Cooper Landing. The highlight of our morning was coming upon several eagles sitting in the trees and watching the salmon traveling upstream in the creek below. We pulled off onto a turnout so I could take a few photos. How exciting! I hope to see more eagles when we get to Homer.

When we arrived here in Cooper Landing, the campground (Princess Lodge RV Park) wasn't full and we were able to take our spot immediately. It was still early enough for breakfast, so we ate at the Lodge. Breakfast there has always been delicious, and we weren't disappointed today either.

We then took a drive to Sterling - which is where Steve is leaving on his guided fishing trip tomorrow. I have to take him to the meeting place, and Sterling is about 35 minutes from Cooper Landing. He has to be there at 5:30am, so it looks like it's going to be an early day for me. After I drop him off, I'm coming back to the camper, walking Sedona, and grabbing a bite to eat before I drive back toward Sterling and meet up with another online friend named Sybille, as well as seeing Ron again. (Steve and I met Ron in person last year when we traveled the state. I met him through the Alaska Living group.) Sybille lives in Nikitski (north of Kenai) and I met her through the Alaska Living group as well. I'm looking forward to meeting her in person and spending some time with both of them. I'm not sure what time I'm going to have to pick up Steve from his trip, but at least I'll be keeping busy myself.

The three of us don't have any hard plans (at this time), and I'll be happy even if we just spend a few hours visiting with one another or driving around sightseeing. On Saturday morning, we leave for Homer.

Steve and I took a drive along Skilak Lake Drive - a gravel road that leaves the Sterling Highway and then meets back up with it. It takes you past some gorgeous overlooks of Skilak Lake and other lakes and streams. Unfortunately, there are wildfires in the area (sparked by lightning), and the horizon is very hazy. I'm hoping the wind continues to blow away from the Peninsula, so that the rest of our trip is enjoyable.

Later on this evening, Steve went fishing in the Russian River. Taking the ferry across, he found a spot between the other anglers and cast his line. He returned to the camper 4 hours later - wet. The third Red Salmon he hooked broke the line, he lost his footing, fell into the river, and his waders filled with water. He wasn't cold, but he said he felt like an idiot. However, when a guy a few yards downriver had the same thing happen, he didn't feel so bad. He came home with three nice size Reds. They're filetted, shrunk and sealed with our Food Saver, and packed on ice in the cooler.

Here are a few photos I took today, while out driving (Click on the thumbnail to enlarge).


Ready to Soar

Eagle Eye

Salmon

Kenai Lake - Turquoise Waters

Skilak Lake

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