Saturday, October 15, 2016

Altoona, IA - Favorite Alaska Pictures

We have an 8 picture frame in our RV and every year I change the pictures in it to reflect our adventures of the past year. Well, Alaska gave us lots of adventures and things to photograph. I’ve been reviewing all our pictures and came up with these and now I’ve got to winnow them down to 8. 

The first is when we flew up to Prudhoe Bay where the oil fields are. Now, I’ll admit that this trip cost a bit more than I might have spent except that our friends, Shirley and Jerry, had made this trip the previous year and recommended it. Their philosophy was that this might be their only trip up to Alaska and they wanted to make it a great one. I thought that philosophy a good one so signed us up for this trip. While we were up there we made it up to the Arctic Ocean. Now, whenever I show people some of our pictures of our trip, I always start with this one. Bare feet in the icy Arctic. We’re wearing long underwear, down jackets, wool caps and about 3 other layers of clothes. We’re on a rocky shore in icy water. Wow, was it ever cold. We were there long enough to got this one picture and, luckily, it was a good one. 

The next picture was when we took a glacier hike. When we signed up for this one, we never knew it was dangerous. Just a hike, you know. But our guide began listing the rules for the hike: if you drop something, don’t reach for it until it stops, stick your crampons hard into the ice so you won’t slide, walk wide so you don’t clip your pant leg in the crampons and fall, follow me. Well, I was scared silly the whole time. I enjoyed the hike much more AFTER I had gotten off the ice. And, again, I always show this picture when people ask about out trip to Alaska. 

We hiked in Denali National Park and it was a super hike. Great weather: sunny and warm, great views the whole hike, a bit of a challenge and long enough to get a good hike in. 2 days later they closed this trail because a bear had come near several hikers. No one was hurt but the rangers thought it a good idea to close the trail. We were above the tree line so the view was a 360°. Here you can even see Denali in the background behind Big Gar. I like this one so much that it is now the screen saver on my computer.

We took a cruise from Seward and it was so cool. Again, we took the longest cruise available so we could see the most glaciers and the most wildlife. We saw orcas and humpback whales, puffins, seals, sea lions, waterfalls and glaciers, glaciers, glaciers. A small boat so we got better views than on of those huge boats with hundreds on it. Everyone on the boat took turns sitting in the bow of the boat with Northwestern Glacier in the background.

We took many hikes while we were in Alaska. Given the rain that Alaska gets, it would be hard to hike in the sun every time. Sure enough, we had planned a hike and noticed fog as we got into the car, drizzle as we drove up the mountain and rain as we started up the trail. Pretty cool hike though up to a mountain lake where we saw a paddle boarder gliding across the lake. This must be why we have Gore-tex raincoats and pants. 

We took a flight out of Valdez up to the ice field above the city. The forecast was for 17 straight days of rain so we took the first day available which was foggy and cloudy but not rainy. Because of the fog and drizzle, we never made it up to the ice fields but we got to the front edge of the glaciers. Here we are on the ‘shore’ of the glacier where it has melted. Glassy water, reflections of the mountains across the water, a small ‘ice berg’ on the rocky shore. A perfect helicopter ride. 

This is Exit Glacier in Seward, the one we hiked on when we were scared silly. We wanted to see where we had hiked and took the trail next to the glacier on a lower trail up to the glacier’s leading edge. When we hiked ON the glacier, we were above the brown hill cutting into the glacier on the right hand side. Interestingly, the glacier used to cover the ground we are now standing on but, over the last hundred years has retreated as the temperatures have gotten warmer.  We don't usually get a lot of photos of us together (do we not get along) so this trip, I made an effort to get some. 

Alaska is filled with mountains. We flew over the massive snow-covered Brooks Range on our way up to Prudhoe Bay and took a 2-day drive back to Fairbanks where our RV was. In the middle we crossed the Brooks Range of mountains. We started out in a snowstorm with several inches of snow and in the mountains it was a beautiful drive as we headed over the pass. 

And, of course there are the animals. You know you are not in Iowa any more when you see the moose, the sea otters and the bears. My favorite is this shot of this moose, looking back at us as if saying: ‘Aren’t I the cutest moose you’ve ever seen? Check with my agent for special appearances.’ 

And, this bear checking us out as we drive by. We were on the road at 8:00 pm and found this bear forraging for food as he wandered by the highway. There was no other traffic on the road this late at night and we stopped to get a good shot. Then Gary began driving to get closer to it and, when it looked back at us, I was taking pictures with my right hand and rolling the window up with my left. 

And, the sea otters. Cute. Floating on their back as they eat dinner. 

But one of my favorite pictures was this one. As the sea gull flew over us, I snapped a few shots, not having any idea what I might have gotten. Of course, one of the shots got only a bit of the right wing. But this one captured the gull perfectly. Every now and then I’m lucky. 

Now, I need to winnow these down to 8. I’m in trouble, I like them all. 

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