Alaska-Part II

Seward, Alaska

After family and friends left, we packed up and moved down to Seward where we stayed at the Creekside Cabins. The cabins ere very rustic but they had a new building with an upstairs and downstairs apartment with all the amenities. It was fairly nice and in a very woodsy area. We were originally supposed to have the upstairs, but it wasn’t finished in time, so we were downstairs.
It was a nice place with good views (except for the fishing boat outside our window)
This was the view from the dining area window.
The area around the building was very lush with greenery!

Kenai Fjords National Park and Exit Glacier

We realized that the Kenai Fjords National Park and Exit Glacier were just up the road a bit. What’s interesting about the drive there is there are signs on the side of the road marking where the glacier was in years past starting in 1950. It was a few miles larger then than where it is today! Exit Glacier is one of several glaciers from the Kenai Peninsula ice field on top, which is 700 square miles!
The river you see here is melt off from the glacier. The grayish tint is from the silt of the glacier.

This is a close up (via my 300mm lens) showing the detail of the glacier including the hole in the middle that was created by once flowing water of the melting glacier.

Seward Kenai Fjords Boat Tour

We love boat tours and this one did not disappoint!
The combination of dark green foliage, snow and low hanging clouds is beautiful!
Minutes into our tour we spotted a few  Orcas.
They were kind enough to put on a show for us too!

The shoreline was spectacular with lots of greenery and rugged rock cliffs.

When the captain spotted these guys he really got excited! He said it was the largest pod of Grey whales he’d ever seen! There were about 10!

There were also hundreds of gulls waiting for any scraps they might leave behind!

We passed this glacier in the distance along our tour. (Close up via my long lens)

Finally arriving at the captains destination, this beautiful glacier.
I couldn’t resist the shot of this passing gull.

This close up reveals the blue tint to this glacial ice.
Here are a couple of seals lounging on an ice flow to temporarily get out of the freezing water. It must be cold water if they consider lying on ice instead!
As we approached this chunk of ice “calved” off.

The captain had his crew retrieve a chunk of the ice and we all had a glacial cocktail!
Jan’s holding a piece here, it’s very clear ice!
Here are some sea otters playing in the ice field.

Two of the many waterfalls from the top of the glacial field.

Lots of summer foliage from the nutrient rich water and rock.

Farther down the coast we came upon these lounging seals.

This fellow must have had a rough day!
Notice the marking on the big fellow, it’s an identification marking for the rangers.
This one almost looks like a ground hog the way he’s posed!
How do those little pine trees grow up there?

We even saw a mountain goat!
This map shows where we went as well as a couple of other tours from this company. We were on the Northwestern Fjord Tour.
On the return trip I enjoyed a Puffin Pale Ale, pretty tasty!



One last shot from the boat as we returned to port.

Seward-Mural Capital of Alaska

These murals are scattered all over Seward on various buildings. It’s a day’s adventure to hunt them all down!

This one is on the local Seward Library and Museum, which is a beautiful building in it’s self as you can see below!

The views around Seward are beautiful as well.

The town itself is quaint and pretty cool!
This little restaurant was very nice. Good food and locally owned.
Seward had a 4th of July parade and street party.

Day Trip to Hope, Alaska

On the 4th of July we decided to go check out Hope since we have a very good friend named Hope! This truck and water wheel grinding wheel were on the side of the road on the way there. Anybody have an axe to grind?!?

Shortly after we arrived in Hope and after Jan was able to buy a coffee cup for Hope from Hope, the proprietor of the shop ran out the door saying”The parade is starting, the parade is starting!”, We followed to see the action! One fire engine…
One pickup truck…


Couple of ATVs…..


One convertible loaded to the hilt…
And a family on their bicycles, that’s it!
Oh, and a walker! Short but fun to watch, I’m sure everybody in town was either in it or on the side of the street watching and cheering!

This sign was in front of the store we bought Hope’s coffee cup in, pretty funny and great advice!
We stopped at this little restaurant/bar on the way out of Hope. Cute place and good food.
But they did have wine! Jan said it was actually okay!
The scenery on the drive up and back was beautiful!

Day Trip to Whittier

Whittier was a different kind of drive. The only way to get there is drive through this one way tunnel or by boat. we paid a roundtrip toll.
The tunnel is one way only, monitored by stop lights, AND shared by the railroad!
You can see the tracks in the tunnel here, they have that rubber plate they put between the rails at railroad crossings so you can drive on them. Before you freak out; they run the trains through at night and vehicles during the day!
The light at the end of the tunnel! Even though it’s one way traffic and trains only run at night, it’s still a little weird driving through it!
Oh, and when you exit the tunnel be sure to make that left jog or you’ll end up driving onto the tracks at the other end!
Once in Whittier there wasn’t much to see, it’s strictly a fishing port!
The drive there and back was pretty despite the drizzle.

Homer, Alaska

After Seward we moved on to Homer where we stayed in this lovely B&B, Juneberry Lodge. The couple who ran it were wonderful hosts! We had the room on the right of the red door overlooking their beautiful property and the bay and mountains in the distance.

This was the view from our window; this picture was taken at 11:15PM!

This is a zoomed close-up of the glacier from the previous picture, one of the many glaciers on the Kenai peninsula.
Here are a couple of more shots from our drive around Homer. We spent some time down on the spit you see in this picture. It was cool, nothing picture worthy but fun to explore the various shops.

Homer-Rainbow Connection Tour Boat to Soldovia

While in Homer, we did yet another boat tour, this time to a small town across the bay called Seldovia, population 265. There are no roads to this community, so the only way to get there is by boat.
This is one of the water taxis that goes there regularly.
Here is another familiar shot; another glacier!

Alaskan seagull taking a little nap.

Here’s an Alaskan seagull taking a little siesta!
From this angle the hole in this rock formation appears to be a heart!
I got a couple of shots, not the best, of a Bald Eagle landing  on one of the channel markers.

Another Bald Eagle in the top of a pine tree.
Here is a Bald Eagle feasting on a piece of fish on the beach. We didn’t know until the guide told us that Bald Eagles are quite the scavengers!

Here you see a fixer-upper boat and beach house!
The locals call this “Frustration Point” or, our favorite, “Man Banging his Head on the Wall”.
And here is yet another Bald Eagle!

A family of Sea Otters enjoying a lazy float.
A female Sea Otter and her pup.

We’re approaching Seldovia.

We ate at this Boardwalk Pub & Grill; this was behind their bar!

There were some great wooden sculptures here.

The interesting thing about satellite TV in Alaska is all their dishes seem to point at the ground, but the receptor is low on the dish so it reflects the signal from the top of the dish. It actually makes sense since the satellites are near the equator of earth! In researching this I also read that satellite dishes near the equator point straight up versus to the south as they do here in the US!
The boardwalk

Cooper Landing, Alaska

We didn’t take any pictures in Cooper Landing since it was pretty steady rain the entire 3 days. We had planned a float trip and wildlife center trip but canceled both due to the rain. We did make a trip out to Kenai and got a few natures photos along the way though.

Alaska with Family and Friends


Alaska was the last state to complete our map. Since Canada was still closed, we decided fly to Anchorage. We stayed at this beautiful VRBO home in Anchorage. It was a great place to stay while we adventured out for exciting day trips! By the way, this photo of the front of the house was taken at 11:30 PM! It was weird to have sun up at 4:30AM and sunset at 11:42PM! Thankfully, the home has black out shades in all the bedrooms!



Bryce, Laura and Reeve at the house.
We took Reeve To the Anchorage Alaska Museum of Science and Nature. Reeve really enjoyed all the interactive displays including this one where you can create a bubble ring around yourself!

And of course we stopped at the gift shop on the way out and Reeve got this awesome Star Wars kit. He put it together in record time!

Denali National Park Trip

We went to Denali via train; it was a 7 hour trip but lots of great scenery along the way.
Here you can see remnants of the old teletype wires along the route
They obviously get lots of rain here, everything was very lush!
If you notice, this river water has a grey cast to it. That’s silt from the melting glaciers.
Ferns, ferns and more ferns everywhere! They have a short growing season, but with almost constant daylight things grow fast and abundant! They hold many world records in the size of pumpkins, melons and other produce!

Some remnants still remain along the way of the old trains too.

While in Denali, we stayed at the Denali Bluffs Resort. Very nice resort just minutes from the entrance to Denali.
VERY Large Mosquitoes here! On the way up the entrance to Denali Bluffs they had many of these whimsical signs along the way. I didn’t take pictures of them all, but of you go to their website you can see all of them, pretty fun!
Mary and Joni braved the wind for a photo-op with the scenery from the resort deck.

The wildflowers were everywhere, sometimes growing right out of the rocks like these hardy ones!
Reeve, Joni and Mary hamming it up with their new furry friend in the lobby!
Jan and I are enjoying a cocktail on the deck.
This is a Yukon River Scow from 1915 used to haul freight during the Gold Rush.
Another view of the magnificent scenery all around us!

Denali National Park

The entrance to Denali National Park. Although it was a great part of the trip, we were very disappointed that, due to poor communication on the part of the park website, we were unable to get on a tour of the park. The park shuttle system, which their website said was running, was NOT! By the time we arrived, all the commercial tours were fully booked; so our only option was to rent a van and drive in. Unfortunately, private vehicles are only allowed to drive in 15 miles of the 92 mile trip to the Denali peak! BUMMER! This just means, we will have to return.
Our van, the only available rental vehicle we could find!
Here we see a Japanese tourist doing what they do, take pictures! Sorry, Joni, I couldn’t resist!

Despite the fact we had a limited exposure to this park and did not see any animal life, the flora and fauna was spectacular!

Reeve, Bryce and Laura did a short hike around the lake near the train station.

Denali National Park Sled Dog Kennels

We think one of the top highlights of the trip for Reeve was our stop at the National Park Sled Dog Kennels! It got especially great for him when he was told he could pet the dogs!
Royal enjoying the lazy warm days of summer!

One of the retired sleds, it appears to have had many hard miles put on it!

The cart they use in the warmer months for training of the dogs.
This is as close as I’ll EVER get to riding on a dog sled!
Reeve trying out the dog sled.
The modern day sled and cold weather gear they use.

As you can see by his face, he hated coming here! More like he hated leaving I think!

Drive to Seward and the Marine Wildlife Tour

Bryce drove us down to Seward to take the Marine Wildlife Tour, so I was able to get these few pictures of the trip down. Although it was drizzling for most of the trip, the scenery was still gorgeous, maybe even more so!

This was our vessel for the tour; we’ll ignore the misrepresentation of the current weather conditions in it’s name!
Despite, or maybe enhanced by the weather, this harbor is beautiful!
Sea Otter carved bench.

Reeve with his new digital camera ready for the adventure!
One of the many “parking lot” style campgrounds here! You better like your neighbors!

This was an apparatus used to load cargo (cement I think ) onto ships. The guide told us that the cruise ship’s captains would tell the passengers arriving here that it was a new slide for quick dis-embarkment of the ship!

Our first wildlife sighting; a mother and calf grey whale! The guide explained that she was teaching him/her how to breech!

Here’s momma showing him how it’s done!
Junior’s attempt; not bad!
She waves Adios!

There were hundreds of Alaskan sea gulls everywhere you looked on these rocky shores!
There were lots of these nests they built for their eggs too.
These strange looking birds are called Murres. They kind of look like Penguins, but are not even related to Penguins. According to Reeve, these birds can fly and Penguins cannot!

This was one of Reeve’s favorite sightings; a Mountain Goat and her baby.

This was my only useable picture of a Puffin, they’re very small and hard to photograph.
Here’s an elderly seal (according to Brandt) enjoying the sun. Jan thinks it’s an older otter.
This is one of the many waterfalls from the melting glaciers above.

Mary insisted I should be in one of my pictures sporting my new beanie from our boat! A little free advertising for the cruise company!
Jan loved this shot; silhouetted rocks in front of the foggy backdrop!
The girls! Jan, Joni, Mary and Laura, trying to stay warm and semi-dry!
This was the only Bald Eagle we spotted close up, hanging out on a buoy on our way back to port.

Palmer, Alaska- The Reindeer Farm and Sanctuary

This was most likely Reeve’s favorite stop on the entire trip; the Reindeer Farm!
Jan & Laura
One of the many Reindeer they have. The reindeer are their business and all the other animals are rescues, mostly donated from the park service.
Some very impressive antlers! We learned an interesting thing about these! The reindeer loses his antlers every year and they regrow in the spring. The interesting thing is, the individual reindeer can be identified by their antlers because when the regrow, they come back in the exact configuration they were! It’s kind of like their “fingerprint”!
Here Jan and Laura are feeding the reindeer.
One of the larger residents was this Moose. He’s been here since a baby, so he is very friendly!
As a matter of fact, if you hold a small branch in your mouth, he’ll give you a “kiss”!

Reeve is giving this little guy some love!
This Bison was another interesting resident, he’s also a rescue who’s been here since he was very young! He’s not so small anymore!
Here’s a portrait of this handsome dude!
There were several Alpacas as well.

And of course they had two Yaks! They are very furry beasts!

They also had Elk but they were not as friendly, so they were in an enclosure all by themselves away from people and other animals!

This was one of my favorites; an old Ford tractor that they are still using today!
Reeve couldn’t resist petting the resident friendly Calico cat on our way out!