Thursday, November 18, 2010

Alaska Day Six The Bus to Kenai

Alaska Day 6 Kenai Peninsula

We boarded the bus at 8:30 am arriving in Anchorage in time for lunch.  Don and I decided to eat our granola bars as we walked and do some shopping.  We still had lots of birthday and Christmas gifts to find for all the people on our lists.  We found the tourist center and a nice gallery called Cabin Fever where we made many purchases. Back at the bus at the agreed departure time, we found our seats and were in for a photographers dream drive.  We traveled on the Seward Highway.  It goes along a fabulously scenic inlet.  Captain Cook thought this was a river it is so big.  It was low tide and there were interesting patterns in the glacial silt as well as large shallow calm stretches of water mirroring the mountains on the other shore.  It was a beautiful ride.
We arrived at the hotel which had a lodge building with two restaurants and a huge deck overlooking a turquoise blue river and millions of spruce trees on the mountains.  Up the hill from the lodge was a gift shop, another building with a hot tub and many building with guest rooms.  Our “room” was a bedroom and a living room.  The living room had a woodstove in the corner and opened up on its own private deck that looked out on more mountains and trees.
After checking in and putting our bags in our room, we went back to the lodge and decided to walk the trail below the deck down to the river.  It was a steep road, much better going down than coming back up.  Once down to the river there were wild roses everywhere as we had seen so many times in Alaska.  We explored the trail and came to a lookout deck beside the river.  After taking lots of pictures we hiked back up the trail and met our tour guide Connie and people from our group for dinner.

To see all the photos for this day:    Look up alicehuntstudio   
on Flickr or try the link below.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Alaska Day Five Mt McKinley

         Don left early in the morning for a fishing trip.  I bought  some breakfast snacks and ate on the observation deck.  It was overcast and so there was no sign of Mt McKinley.  Then I walked around the grounds taking photos of flowers (there were big Alaska lupines, huge white daisies and beautiful pansies) until the bus came at 9:00 to pick me up for the nature walk at Byers Lake.
         The nature walk was fun.  Byers Lake is beautiful with a narrow path along the edge.  Our guide was kept busy pointing out the wildflowers.  There were blue geraniums, blue bells, purple wild iris, ground cover dogwood, twin flower, devils club(nasty thorns on the leaves and stems) and ground creeping raspberry.  There were interesting tree roots and mosses and lots of ferns.
         As we reached the farthest end of our trail we spotted a loon.  He/she,  followed us back toward the bus as we walked we watched the bird swimming and surfacing keeping up with us as if posing for photos.
         Back on the bus to return to the lodge, we stopped at a high lookout point to see if Mt McKinley was out of the clouds yet. It wasn’t, but we had a great view of a big river bed and a melting glacier at the base of the mountains. 
         We arrived back at the lodge a bit late but in time for me to catch the horse wagon ride where I did some more panning for gold and saw some reindeer.  There was a beautiful mountain lookout with one lone cabin.  What a place to live that would be.  The wagon ride lasted most of the afternoon.
         In the evening Don and I went to Talkeetna on a bus to catch a jet boat ride on a big wide and shallow river.  Many of the trees along the river bank were broken stubs.  They had been mowed down in the spring by the ice jams.  We took lots of pictures including a distant storm,  and an eagles nest. 
         Along the way we stopped to see a replica of a native village.  The cabin had grass growing on the roof,  there was a hole in the ground lined with twigs we were told was a native refrigeration device.  They would put the food inside and cover with more sticks and the cold of the ground would keep the food.  Also there was a little cabin on very tall stilts in which they kept  more food out of reach of bears.  There were furs on display as in all these little villages.  One was a big bearskin with the paws still on.  I took a photo of my hand holding the paw and the claws were as big as my fingers!  The wide flat river gave spectacular views of the sky and we took so many pictures.  I could only select a few of them for my flickr photostream. 
         On the way back to the lodge on the bus the clouds parted and Mt McKinley appeared.  We tried to get a photo from the window of the bus as it turned to face the mountain.  By the time we arrived at the observation deck at the lodge the clouds were closing in again but the top of the peak was still visible above a layer of clouds.
         We ate some pizza and walked around the grounds a bit taking photos.  It was still a light twilight when we went to our room at 11:30 pm.

To see all the photos for this day:    Look up alicehuntstudio   on Flickr or try the link below.