Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Return from "The Last Frontier"

Someone I recently emailed hinted that I ought to show you all some scenery from our Alaska trip. Here's a sample of the over 350 pictures and 7 videos I took.

Too late we realized how to use the video part of the cameras on our iPhones. "Had I But Known..." (HA!) I would have some amazing video of whales spouting and diving, moose eating grass, sea otters cavorting in Resurrection Bay, and sections of the Pedersen Glacier calving and crashing in the ocean. Ah well... When we go back we'll remember to take more video and less photographs. And I think we will definitely go back.

Some of these photos are very large. Click to enjoy in full view. But please don't click on the out of focus ones. ;^)

The only brown bear we saw.
I got so nervously excited I shook the damn camera. AAARGH!
Mama Moose & two calves
Converted EMT vehicle made into a camper (right)
Never got to talk to the guy. He was behind us in the restaurant, but kind of a grump.
Denali National Park tour bus. Only the first 15miles are accessible by private vehicles. To see the
rest of the park you need to board a tour bus. Our driver was an extremely talkative raconteur.
Denali (formerly Mt. McKinley) at around 7 AM on one of the rare clear sunny days
Exit Glacier. In 1998 you used to be able to walk up and touch this one.
Independence Mine Historical Park.  A working gold mine from the 1930s through late 1950s
Musk Ox (bull) at the unique musk ox farm in Palmer, AK
Sea otter, sort of winking at us
Mysterious wreck of an RV.
We think it was the result of a propane gas tank explosion.
Pedersen Glacier  It calved three times while we were on the boat.
Click to enlarge and look at the center edge of shore. Two guys!
I enlarged this on my laptop and we saw that one of them has a movie camera on his shoulder.
He seems to be filming someone in a boat or a kayak out to the right.
Holy Assumption of the Virgin Mary, built 1895-1896
One of the oldest Russian Orthodox churches in Alaska
I think this is Flat Top Mountain near Anchorage.
Seen from north side of Turnagain Arm

My best series of shots (not exactly in sharp focus)
of one of the FIVE (!) humpback whales we saw in a single day.


  1. We went in 2007, and we were able to walk to Exit Glacier and touch it, and then hike up the trail along side it. We went as far north as Fairbanks, then to Denali and I took that bus ride. That's a great shot of the mountain you got! We were surprised at how large the moose were. One ran across a trail right in front of me, it was almost as big as a horse.

    Perhaps our favorite part of the trip was a half-day boat trip out of Kenai, saw many whales, Puffins, otter, some bear on shore, glaciers, Orca, Gullets, Cormorant, many more, and the scenery is stunning. A. Ust for you on your next visit.

    1. We did take a Kenai Fjords tour, Richard. That's how I got the pictures of the otter, whales, and Pedersen Glacier. We saw everything: one orca, five humpback whales, two bald eagles, puffins, flocks of gulls and cormorants. Far away from us some sharp-eyed person managed to spot a mountain goat making its way up a mountain trail. My telephoto lens was too lame to get close-ups. I have four pictures but they show nothing more than a white dot among the green trees. We could see it very well with our binoculars.

      In one trip to this state we saw at least one of almost every native animal and bird that you would want to
      see. Spotting both species of bear was the most exciting for me. In addition to the one grizzly in Denali we saw two black bears. But they were too quick for a photo because they were running alongside the highway as we were driving to Denali Park. Another time I should have remembered the video on my iPhone. Darn it! The only animal we didn't get to see was the Dall sheep -- the one indigenous animal that Denali National Park was created in order to save. Maybe next time...

  2. That last sentence was supposed to be a must.

  3. Great pictures! You are much better at taking photos than I am. I think my favourite is the picture of the otter.

    1. Thanks, Kate. Most of these were pure luck -- like the whale sequence. I obviously didn't want to post the duds. There are a lot of those! :^)

      The otter was about 50 feet from our tour boat. I was up on the second level looking down on him. The telephoto worked very well with that short distance between us.

  4. John – Thanks for the pics. What a great trip. Can’t blame you for the bear shot. Being that close to one of those guys will make anyone’s hands shake. Once, on vacation we saw black bears. One crossed a two lane road in the woods right in front of our car. We had to caution the kids that, yeah, they look cute, but we don’t ever want to get near one.

  5. So THAT'S where you were. I wondered. Looks like you had a wonderful time, John. LOVE the pix of the mama moose and her babies. Hey, did you spot Sarah Palin? HA!

    1. We stayed in Wasilla right on Lake Lucille our first two nights and thankfully no sight of Palin or her crew. And let me tell you: no one can see Russia from anywhere in Wasilla, let alone Palin's backyard. DOUBLE HA!

  6. That looks a wonderful vacation, John, and such good pictures. The one of Denali at 7:00 a.m. ... just gorgeous. Thanks for sharing with us.

  7. Terrific. A place I'd love to visit.

  8. Great pix! Reminds me of the wildlife I used to see when I worked "up north".