Thursday, July 14, 2011

returned from 10 days out traveling...

this is the first time i've been able to sit down and write in the blog. still tons to do, but it feels good to do something normal. the floor installers came wednesday morning and have been working on these two rooms the past 2 days. i returned tuesday afternoon and was busy unpacking, doing laundry, prepping the two rooms and trying to load pictures from the various cards onto this computer. that has been tricky. will take me weeks to load pictures onto the blog and tell the wonderful tales of a fabulous journey. please be patient. hopefully, the pictures will be worth it all.

loved these pictures of the ice at mendenhall glacier in juneau. sandra and i took the milkrun to juneau so it took hours to arrive. we met up with val and settled into our accomadations at the westmark baranof hotel there. love the historical aspects of the actual building. was bummed that they didn't feel the need to offer shuttle service from airport. also bummed that there wasn't a jacuzzi at this swanky hotel. oh well.

the flight from anchorage to cordova was spectacular. flying any plane in alaska often offers you the chance for a flightseeing excursion. we were grateful for that despite making a few stops along the way. mostly, i am always grateful to get to my destination safely and with minimal discomfort. we had a poor kid, looked less than 8 years old, traveling solo. the plane wasn't full and he had the back row to himself. he obviously doesn't like to fly and yelled all during take off, "i hate this part, i hate this part" or something similar. felt bad for him.

rain at times in juneau, which in southeast is totally to be expected. we all planned dutifully for rain at all times and we were blessed with rather decent weather, especially once we were out on the kayaks. whenever i paddle i am chill with rain, but want to avoid wind. we really had minimal wind and very little rain. in the end we all came home with sunburns. we returned to rain in anchorage. strange to have sunshine in southeast and rain in anchorage. the opposite of what one would expect. we were thrilled though.

the floors look great by the way. now the arduous process of putting stuff back in. want to be totally organized about it all. the closets are bare though. the old closet organizers were pretty crappy and falling apart. had the workers set those on the street. they were taken happily within hours. love giving stuff away. people love free stuff. it's the easiest way to bring on a smile. not sure if i'd be called lazy or generous. just seems such hassle to try and sell stuff. i always figure i've gotten the use out of it and better to just give it to someone who may need it and not be able to afford such things. they would be more willing than i am to refurbish and reuse.

mendenhall glacier is a beautiful and easily accessible glacier. we've all seen glaciers but it was sandra and vals first trek out there. i went several years back when i lived in ketchikan. my friend janet and i took the ferry to juneau and we went on a fun hike out there. never bore of glaciers and the beauty and power they hold. don't remember there being the number of tourists that now go there and there was 5-6 helicopters seen over the glacier at any given time. i recall reading a report about how the people who live in the area are frustrated by all the copter noise. i can totally see that would be annoying. the cruise ships bring alot of money to the communities in southeast alaska and these are the things they want to do. people asked which boat we were on, of course, we were just passing through. we took the tour bus from the dock to the glacier. it was packed coming back.

there was actually only standing room headed back to downtown. val and i stood with the others, but sandra was offered a seat by a guy. who knew such things ever happened anymore. those tourists really can be pushy and overbearing. i love the native artwork of southeast alaska and wish i'd bought more pieces when i lived there. did find a cool paddle that i liked that was reasonable. a cruise ship lady pushed me aside as i was making my purchase to buy $4 of beads. totally rude, but we all got a good laugh out of it. people have no idea how rude they are. i'm sure she had a time limit and had to get to the boat, but really...that behaviour for $4.00 of beads. crazy. had my paddle shipped and it's here already. will have to decide where to put it. haven't put any new holes in the freshly painted walls yet. will have to breakdown soon.

we did wander about and get some shopping done. always fun to just be a tourist...hopefully, i nice one though.

we had thoughts of going to a few museums downtown, but that never happened. limited time.

the visitors center at mendenhall was small, we went there. i'd found a tourists armband so got in free, the others paid a small $2 fee. enjoyed the history movie they played. that was worth 2 bucks i guess.

it was relaxing just wandering around the various trails at the glacier. despite all those tourists being there you can find some quiet spots and get some nice pictures. as most glaciers this one has receeded quite a bit. the hubbard glacier is advancing as are a few others. that one is up in glacier bay and often threatens to cut off this body of water, making it a lake. if that happened the steelhead would have a hard time surviving. the people of yakutat depend on that from what the article i read said. could be devastating.

here are val and sandra at the glacier

we wasted time downtown juneau in the morning searching for a breakfast location that we'd heard about for eating. we finally found it and it was worth it. the sandpiper makes a great breakfast. we'd heard about it from our waiter at the twisted fish the night before. that place was on the dock and had great food/atmosphere as well. looked fairly new. loved the architecture inside. got the halibut fish and chips there.

slowly loading back some of the old photo albums in hopes of seeing if i can locate the one from our cruise of southeast alaska. i believe this is the ship we were on and thus i took the photo.

seemed fitting to take a picture of this cool humpback sculpture. this was some sort of arts center there in juneau. loved that they had the reflection painted on the building. we saw an amazing number of humpback whales while out in glacier bay and point adolphus. can't say as i got a shot like this. val did, lucky girl. i may ask her permission to post one. mostly there are so many whales and often at a distance. they often breached or did leaps and tail slaps. usually, i wasn't quick enough with the camera to capture anything but the splash. in the end i was content to watch happily all the activity and accept defeat. photographing wildlife that flies randoming out of the ocean is tricky and requires alot of time and patience. one of our closest encounters came when we were paddling through the south inian passage. more on that later, but we had 3 humpbacks very close and tons of sea lions leaping everywhere, but that passage can be treacherous if you miss the tides and currents.

we had no idea we would even have that opportunity. last i'd spoken to spirit walker ( the company that we went with) they had said the currents and tides were too difficult and it'd be doubtful. i was just hoping we'd maybe get a boat ride through on our way to getting dropped off. we didn't know we would be going there until the night before we left gustavus when we met with the guides. paddling was pretty serious there as we were moving very rapidly so the camera stayed stowed. i think val got a shot here as well, so i may have to borrow that one as well. it was amazing though.

i think i was a bit camera shy as well as the first time we went to get in our kayaks i leaned over and my little canon powershot fell in the drink. the card and the battery were fine, but the camera was dead. luckily, i'd brought a spare powershot along. there were 4 waterproof cameras in the group. all purchased at costco and all the same camera, but different colours. it was comical as those 4 taught each other the various options available. none had brought the power cord and only one had a spare battery for it i believe. i brought my solar charger and they could have used that, but no cords. oh well.

my batteries did fine. don't think i ever ran out on the big camera. did go through some memory cards though. will take me weeks to share all of those, but got a few shots i'm pretty happy about. you always get some good ones and lose others. being on a kayak is a bit limiting. sometimes i yearn for a bigger lens and all that but the truth is the place i take my cameras limits me. i'm cool with that. kayak photography is fun.

these are some examples of the cool native craft in southeast alaska. love the totems and the paddles and the bentwood boxes and drums....wish i had tons of cash to purchase more, but i did get my cool paddle, which is a sweet reminder. always cool how the various native cultures around the state have thier own type of crafts. there was another article in the paper about the various languages across the state. a few are at risk of disspearing. apparently, there are many languages across the globe that disappear, 1-2/month. the elders pass on and the language goes with them. sad really. alot of lost history everytime a death occurs.

it was great to be back in southeast alaska. i still love it there and miss living there some days. the beauty there is incredible, especially when the sun comes out. there is still much in southeast i have yet to explore and hopefully, we'll be able to return that way again for another trip one of these years. would like to do a paddle in glacier bay and repeat misty fjords so i can visit in ketchikan again. haven't been since i left there.

the totems tell stories. have heard how it works, but have forgotten much of what i learned. still love it though and the colours that are used in the carvings.

i know in the old days of totem building they never would refurbish them, they just allowed them to rot over time and fall, then put up a new one. the raising of a totem pole is a huge community event usually accompanied by a potlatch.

juneau is our state capital. this is the state building. many want it moved closer to anchorage as we are the bigger city. i'm happy with it there in juneau, despite it being inconvenient at times i'm sure. it's good for southeast and the community depends on the revenue it brings.

liked all the artwork around the docks.

we did stop by the red dog saloon. sadly, it has been taken over by the tourists. wasn't so crowded years ago when i went. we got appetizers, it's not known for it's good food. the inside has been decorated over time. it's pretty cool. when we were there we were annoyed by this crazy tourist. strange. we did laugh at this other tourist, no idea what nation they hail from, but the guy was eating a hamburger with a fork and knife. fascinating.

hopefully, i can piece together the trip and share it without jumping around too much. it really was another wonderful adventure. everyone got along, we all laughed tons and we saw so many wonderful things.

was able to swing an on call for tonight. hopefully, my phone doesn't ring, but with my luck it will. nice to finally not be in go mode so much. i've been running since i got home. the flooring guys said they'd be here first thing today which turned out to be 2pm. felt quite housebound. the workmanship seems fine though. poor rio was pretty stressed over me being away. that dog would die of a broken heart if i left her permanent. she was eating less and vomited for jana. poor jana. thanks jana...hope it wasn't too bad. of course, it didn't help that the flooring guys came and the furniture all moved. she was pretty blitzed still last night though she seems more relaxed than 24 hours ago.

hopefully, next week we'll get back to a more normal routine. i want to get to the pool and swim and get out for some good hikes again.

this is the place we ate saturday night in juneau. good food.

the rest of these are from our trip out. i've always wanted to get to yakutat, but this is all i saw of it this trip. would also love to see the communities of pelican and elfin cove. we were close but didn't quite make it. we could see elfin cove from the distance and there was talk of paddling over, but we had to catch the tide out inian so we had to pass on elfin.

so that is yakutat from the air. pretty wet there the day we landed.

the sights from the plane are always amazing if the clouds lift for you. alaska has miles and miles of wilderness that is totally free of human encroachment. it's amazing and hard to imagine til you fly over.

the land above is very marshy and difficult to get through. looks pretty cool from the air though.

confused scott as i sent him a text from the plane saying we were in cordova. of course, he didn't see the text for a few days and was concerned that we'd gotten trapped there by weather. looked like a pretty day there when we dropped in though we could see some pretty dark clouds heading in as we left.

you can see one of the glaciers near cordova there in the distance. not sure if it's childs or the other one that is fairly accessible there.

love how the water impacts the land around it.

this is a shot of cordova taken before we landed

i'm guessing this is columbia glacier. lots of ice out there.

this is what glaciers look like from above. pretty cool and very distinct.

must be cook inlet and the airport in anchorage. was raining when we returned. looks pretty nice right now though. should get out and walk the pups. i'm feeling pretty beat though, may just eat and try and take a nap in case the phone rings. while on vacation seems i have been getting up by 5-7am every day. not that i like waking up that early, but we always had some place we had to be. when i'm camping i always wake earlier than normal.

another shot of the columbia glacier below.

well, it's a start. hopefully, i'll be able to post more soon. always fun reliving the vacation through the blog. the craziness should be settling and i can get back to some sort of normalcy. the blog was mentioned often during our trip. "getting low on chocolate"..."that will be in the blog". i had taken some snacks with me but was convinced by the guides that they'd have enough snacks to satisfy me. of course, i tend to be picky/selective in my eating and i also tend to not finish a meal only to be hungry again soon after. i eat small amounts frequently. my friend sandra was shocked that i'd left my snacks behind and said she would have never let that happen. ended up snagging carrots from the guides and nibbling on those between meals. was at the grocery store and saw the carrots...i need a break though.

1 comment:

  1. we were on the vision of the seas by the way. betsy