Wednesday, July 28, 2010

ALASKA Day Two Fairbanks

I awoke at 2:30 AM and peeked out between the room darkening drapes.  The sky was pink.  In Fairbanks the sky never really got dark.  Being just south of the Arctic Circle the sun did dip below the horizon for an hour or two but it never got darker than dusk..  I grabbed my camera and took the picture, Fairbanks Dawn, and went back to bed. 
            The dining room opened for breakfast brunch at 6:00 and we were up to taste the caribou sausage and have scrambled eggs, bacon, strawberry yogurt crepes and many other delicious and filling things. 
            The bus left for the gold mine tour at 8:00.  On the way to the gold mine we stopped to see the Alaska Oil Pipeline.  It was quite an engineering project.  They seem to have thought of everything.  The oil is very hot when it is pumped from deep in the earth and the pipeline is built over permafrost.  In the photos you can see the heat dispersing flanges atop each leg of the support system that keeps the pipe above the ground.  Another consideration was the frequent earth quakes in the area.  The structure is designed so the pipe rides on crossbeams and can bounce up and down as well as shift side to side if it needs to.  Another interesting fact,  the caribou herds in the area are thriving,  they love to huddle near the pipeline to enjoy what warmth is gives off in the cold Alaska winter.
            We stood in the pouring rain to watch how the gold ore is pre-washed in running water and  caught in a washboard like ditch to eliminate much of the gravel before panning for the actual flakes.  We were each then given a pan with some gravel in it and taught how to wash the rest of the gravel away to reveal a few flakes of gold.  Together we both found about $20 worth of the yellow metal.  The gift shop weighed everyone’s findings and put them in a plastic container for us.  We then shopped for souvenirs until the bus left.
            The next adventure was an afternoon  riverboat ride on a stern wheeler.  The spruce trees in the area are strange looking because they struggle to grow in the permafrost.  They are tall and skinny and the branches are not neatly graduated from top to bottom like we are used to seeing.  They had lots of “character”.  We floated past log cabins and the home of  Iditerod champion, Susan Butcher, and saw her dogs.  After training runs around the property they all jump in the river to cool off during the summer.  The boat also went to a replica of a native village where we saw examples of furs, native clothing, salmon being smoked and there was a huge stuffed moose. 
            Our third event of the day was an evening salmon bake and a comedy show about life in Alaska.  The best skit was a take off on the “whose on first” done as a sled dog race.  It was still daylight when we arrived back at our hotel. And, though it was still daylight,  we were tired and ready to sleep and we had to have our bags out in the hall at 7:00 the next morning.

To see all the photos for day 2 please visit my photostream on Flickr

Coming soon,  Alaska Day 3 Denali

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

ALASKA Day One Flying from Grand Rapids MI to Fairbanks Alaska

            We lifted off from the Grand Rapids airport early in the afternoon on a beautiful day.  The sky was blue with just a few little white clouds along the horizon.  Soon we were soaring over the coastline of West Michigan.  I took a beautiful photo of the Lake Michigan shoreline.  The horizon is diagonal as I wanted to get the full length of the curving shoreline that was visible from the airplane window.  If you look closely at the shore you can even see several rows of sandbars all along the edge in the water. 
            After an hour or so in the air we landed in Minneapolis before flying on to Alaska.  I found the repetitious shapes of roofline and plane windows interesting and took a photo of the sight while we were waiting for the plane to take off again.
            As we flew north and west I snapped a lot of pictures out the window.  The buttermilk sky below us was beautiful.  It was almost as if there was an upside down view of the ocean and sky but the dark blue was really the clear sky we were flying in and the clouds were below us.
            As we got further north and near Alaska  the clouds became very small and far between.  I could see lakes below.  Some of them were smooth and reflected the clouds and sun like mirrors.  Others were rippled with wind currents that made them shimmer and glitter in the sunlight.  I could see little clouds above the lakes and the shadows they cast on the  water below.              Occasionally we flew over more dense banks of white clouds all beautiful expanding puffs of moisture in the blue sky.  Since I love the color blue I could hardly stop taking pictures it was all so beautiful.  Once I had just put my camera away when Don said “Oh!  Look”  and pointed to a small jet below us.  I quick grabbed the camera and turned it on again in time to snap the shot of jet and jet trail zooming out of a big bank of clouds.
            As we got closer to our destination, mountains began to appear below us.  Blue and blue green and mossy green, they were jagged and still covered with snow in places.  One mountain had what looked like a glacier flowing in stripes of white and blue green.  At other times there were small lakes and crazy looking rivers that glinted in the sun.  A spot of sunlight seemed to be following us on the ground and reflecting in the water like a silver mirror.  It moved along as we moved over the ground.  The sparkles progressed over the landscape as we continued towards Fairbanks.
            Once we landed in Fairbanks it was a short bus ride to our hotel which was owned by Princess Cruise Lines.  It was located on a river and had a lovely deck overlooking the water.  We ate burgers in the little restaurant in the hotel and then relaxed on the deck for a while before turning in for the night.  It was still daylight as we were near the longest day of the year and this was Alaska. It was still early in the evening Alaska time too,  but at home it was probably after midnight as Alaska is one time zone further out than California and we  had been up a long time.

To see all the pictures that illustrate this blog please go to my photostream at Flickr.   or search for alicehuntstudio once you are on Flickr 

If you haven’t been to Flickr before, it is a huge photo sharing website with beautiful pictures from all over the world.  It is free and you might have to “sign up”  to get into the  photos but it is easy to do and well worth it if you like photography.

Soon I will have Day Two photos edited and the journal entry edited for a blog so check back soon for the next installment.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


It has been a while since I wrote.  Early June I was focused on weeding thinning mulching and pre/deadheading the gardens before leaving for two weeks in Alaska.  The house also needed to be left spic and span for the big annual party/picnic/family reunion that was to occur the day after we returned..........

June 19th we flew to Alaska for two weeks.   Two weeks with no internet!  It was a real vacation.
A photographers dream come true......... and something Don and I have always wanted to do.

Now I am back and getting all the photos out of the cameras.  As soon as I have some of them edited I will start putting them up on Flickr and Facebook and writing more blogs to share all the fun.