Friday, September 30, 2016

Alyeska Mountainscaping

Just back from Anchorage, Alaska....short trip to attend Vets With a Mission's annual board of directors meeting.  Late September...between seasons....cold and rainy every day.  But, a great chance for some "mountainscape" photography and a couple of good hikes

The Hotel Alyeska was a great choice for our meeting....beautiful surroundings,  off season rates, great food, relaxing and well appointed rooms and common areas

Just a 45 minute drive from Anchorage, nestled in the Chugach Mountains and next to the Chugach National Forest.

You can hike to the top...or take the tram ride.  The sun popped out for a few minutes and we were treated to a rainbow.  Great view down to the little ski town of Girdwood.

Great ride on the tram....holds 60 passengers and takes 5 minutes.

Ten degree difference from valley to mountaintops meant some snow....and good photos!

Alaska weather and climate

Recently renovated, the Alyeska has many inviting common areas.

The VWAM board of directors and advisors spent several days in the hotel boardroom.... reviewing the past year and charting our future.

Vets with a Mission

Glaciers in every is the Goat Glacier as seen from Girdwood. 

Glaciers near Anchorage

  Bill, Mike, Steve and Kent had a very nice hike around Moose Meadow.....which is one of the Nordic ski trails in winter.

Alyeska Trail Map.

Mike and I had a great rainy day hike into the Chugach National Forest.

Chugach National Forest

Signs and hotel staff continually warned us of bears!  Bears, bears...everywhere...on the slopes, in the parking lot, downtown Girdwood.  They were in a feeding frenzy in anticipation of a long and cold winter. 

Bears in Alaska

No...we didn't see this guy on the trail....he was stuffed, but still quite menacing in the hotel lobby.  We did keep a sharp eye on our hikes....but didn't see any.....guess they saw us first.

Bear Spray!

Great time to see Alaska's Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides) in full color.

Alaska Trees

Too soon was our stay at the Alyeska over....time for a drive back to Anchorage along the scenic Seward Highway along the Cook Inlet....a long fiord with a rare bore tides.

Seward Highway Roadtrip

We stopped at Bird Point for some photos and met this gent....with an astronomical telescope pointed at the inland mountain slopes.  He showed us a black bear and several mountain goats!  Everyone we met in Alaska was friendly and hospitable.

The Cook Inlet is mostly mudflats and the home of globally rare bore tides.

We all overnighted in Anchorage to catch flights home.  My flight was a "red eye," giving me time to explore a bit and walk around the 6 mile trail at the Lake Hood Seaplane Base.
WOW.....1000 float planes!  Never seen anything like it.  Made me aware of the remote character of Alaska....many, many places you cannot drive to!

Lake Hood Seaplane Base

Click on the link below to see a Lake Hood video.

Also, lots and lots of bush planes at the airport.  Alaska has one private plane for every 58 citizens.....highest ratio anywhere in the world.
Listen to the Lake Hood tower!

Lake Hood ATC

Some long distance scenes taken from downtown Anchorage....urban, but on the edge of "The Last Frontier."

The mountains and glaciers are fascinating.  I found a great book about both at the Alyeska gift shop...

A great read about the renowned mountaineer and photographer.

Link to wonderful video about Bradford Washburn...

Time to head back to the sun in Florida.  Here's a last look taken with my LG phone.   Everything else taken with my Coolpix S6300.

Hoping to get back for a longer visit....maybe a fly in wilderness camp for some guided hiking and a view of Denali.  Thanks to VWAM board member and Anchorage resident, Cal Dunham, for hosting our meeting.....see you next year in South Carolina!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Carfree Acadia!

 Acadia National Park, on an island in Maine, is awash in cars and tourists in August.  Liv and I wanted a nice, quiet outing....a picnic and hike...without the mobs of Bar Harbor and popular spots in the park.   The solution...a ferry ride from Winter Harbor...across Frenchman Bay to College of the Atlantic...then free rides on the Acadia Explorer Seal Harbor.   A picnic of the green there, then a hike along Little Long Pond (not part of the park, but a scenic spot with link to the Carriage Roads and Jordan Pond House bus stop.  Back to COA and the ferry for a ride home!  No hassle, no traffic, no crowds.  A chance to enjoy the natural beauty of Acadia and Mt Desert Island without the crowds.

Acadia National Park

The Schoodic Ferry (part of Frenchman Bay Research Boating) makes the trip (about 50 minutes) several times daily.  Our ride to COA took a bit longer in some typically thick "Downeast" fog.

Schoodic Ferry website

The Schoodic Ferry dock and Island Explorer bus stop are in Henry Cove.  Free parking and a whale museum!

Schoodic Marine Center....ferry office, whale museum, hot coffee and homemade goodies for the trip.

More about whales and other marine mammals...

The Island Explorer shuttle runs everywhere in Winter Harbor and also on the Schoodic area of Acadia National Park.

Nothing better than a FREE RIDE!

I digress....but here comes the ferry....ghostly... out of the morning fog.

Formerly a dive boat, the Katie Grace's paint job makes her the coolest thing on the water!  Thanks to the Hinkley yard in Manset.  They are not all picnic boats, you know.

Out of the fog, at the dock.   But, not everyone wants to go for a ride when the mackerel are running!

Mackerel fishing in Maine

Capt Kaitlyn ready to go!

Weather, wind, tides all change the ferry route as it makes it's way in and around the many islands of Frenchman Bay.

First Mate Sarah casting off the stern line.  Sarah is a graduate of College of the Atlantic with a special interest in whales.

College of the Atlantic

Fog is a photographers dream.

Fog photography

Even the cormorants aren't going out in this stuff! that a green can?

Starting to lift?

No...not yet.  Easy to get fooled in the fog.

Almost to Bar's one of the "porcupines!"

The local kayak guides are keeping everyone close together...good idea as ocean paddling is not as easy as is looks.

At the COA dock....loading for the trip back to Winter Harbor.

The Turrets....classic "summer cottage" part of the campus.

First stop on the Eden St the Village Green, change busses and on to Seal Harbor for a picnic on the village green.

Quaint village with a nice public beach and placid cove for the boats of the rich and famous "rusticators."

Village Green.

Public beach...also a bus stop.

Short walk to the next cove and across the street to Little Long Pond.....a gem known only to the locals...formerly part of the Rockefeller estate  (you can see a great view of the pond from Abby's garden).

Also a great place for your well behaved pooch!

The path leads into the park Carriage Paths.

A stop along Jordan Stream and one of the bridges....architectural beauties....this on built in 1917!

A great discovery....only a stone's throw from the Jordan Pond House bus stop!  Broad-leaved Helleborine (Epipactus helleborine).

Introduced from Europe in the 1930s....this little gem is the only nonnative wild orchid in Maine.

Back on the bus in time to catch the 3:55 ferry!

Better weather for the return trip....but fog rolling in again.

Schooner Margaret Todd, as we motored stately out of Bar Harbor.

Spectacle Island.....a private island rental for the very well heeled rusticator!

Egg Rock Lighthouse....a long way off as we turn toward Winter Harbor.

Mark Island privately owned, but the owner still run the light.

Headed through Mt Desert Narrows headed home ahead of the fog to Winter Harbor.

A nice boat bus...picnic on the village green...a peaceful walk in Acadia ...some nature....back home for supper! 
That's what we call