Wednesday, June 24, 2015

little of this, little of that...

 back from Denali Wildflower course.  not sure i know loads more.  i wasn't trying to become a flower expert in a weekend.  i knew i'd be happy with some good photos and more knowledge than i went in with. this guy was on the road ahead of the van we were in.  i tried to stay near the open window as the further back i am in a van the more ill i feel.  i did remember that i had my medicine pouch and it had some dramamine so i took that the second day.
 a few last shots from the zoom lens from my trip to Valdez and then the others are the zoom from the Denali trip.  i still have many pics from both trips to add in here, but well, that is how summer goes, right?  i had to put the pipeline shot in there...required, right?
 missed the dogs, cats and my time on the walrus web cam but they all survived without me.  the web cam has got loads of bug crap on the outer cover so that is giving them fits. no quick fixes out on Round Island.
 we had a great group of folks in the class out in Denali.  that always makes a huge difference.  the instructor was the writer of a well known Alaskan book on wildflowers.  she smartly divided the flowers by color.  i really wish someone would do this for Alaskan lichens and mushrooms as well.  Verna Pratt is i guess in her mid 80's but could probably out walk many half her age.  that is the sort of person i idolize.  just keep moving is what i say...maybe a wee bit slower as the years pass but don't let a few aches stop you from getting out on those trails and enjoying all that the earth has to offer.
 Our Alaska Geographic guide, Dana, was super nice too.  we were well taken care of.  we stayed in little cabin/tent structures and were quite comfy.
 i turned down the road towards McCarthy for a bit....thinking more and more of just making it the big trip next year and adding a side trip at the end to Valdez for a kayak at the Columbia Glacier.
 there is plenty to do in that area.
 TO, SH and i left early Friday for  Denali, with all these fires we wanted to make sure we gave ourselves plenty of time.  we had some construction stops but otherwise the fires did not slow our travels.  we did see the sad remains of many acres of destroyed trees and some structures as well.  there were also several hot spots smoking still along the road.
 we got to Denali with time to hit the Mushing show, watch a movie at the visitors center and get an early dinner.  we then had a meet and greet with Verna and Dana.
 this is Lions Head..a prominent feature as you head back from Glenallen toward Anchorage.
 now these are in Denali...see not many from the zoom left.  i will probably start on the small canon next and then the macro/wide angle which holds most of the photos.
 we had our own van.  one other guest mentioned that tinted windows was probably a bad way to go and i see his point.  did make the viewing a bit distorted.  pretty much everyone purchased the latest book which is specific for Denali wildflowers.  Verna graciously signed them for us.  i know TO was i heaven.  she got her to sign her old, beat up copy as well.  SH and i also put stamps from the various stops along the way in there as an added memento
 this is the regular bus service bus.  lots of summer buses moving through, but we had our own little van and did our own tour.  this is Polychrome rest stop...they have apparently removed the bathrooms for added parking.
 Verna had spots selected for us to check out flowers and then at night she would review the list and see what we had found on our check off list.  i focused more on taking pictures than on the book and lists.  i know SH was writing notes in her book so i decided she'd be my identification resource once i put the pictures in here...well i informed her that was my plan.  Verna moves fast through all the flowers and then is on her way . apparently her friends always called her mountain goat.
 overall lovely weather.  we got a wee bit of rain Sunday but at times on Saturday i was feeling the heat.  the Polychrome section in the van was a bit queasy inducing and the drop off's make my stomach turn even more.
 this is the Toklak River i believe where we stopped to eat lunch before moving on for more flower viewing.
 we stopped up higher on the tundra i think for our next spot
 then we followed this silly caribou who decided he wanted to wander on the road for a bit.  we must have followed him for 1/2 mile or so.  he'd stop and scratch himself.  he knows he had the right of way  ended up walking right past a bus so i'm sure the tourists loved that.
 the flies and mosquito's weren't all that bad. i've seen way worse. i was prepared but aside from a little bug dope my mosquito hood/jacket were left packed. the heat got to me more than one point i dipped my hemp hat in the creek and dumped it on my head to cool off.
 we packed lunches each day and really they just had to make us one dinner, which was good, spaghetti and meatballs even.
 Sunday night after our class was over we met up with TO's family and camped at Riley campground for the night. felt a bit chillier out there for some reason.  they have showers for $5 there so that was nice and then we headed in town for dinner and breakfast the next day...avoided the camp food on that night.
 i was attempting to get photos of this moose around the driver and seat of the van.  cropping was required but not too bad for behind someone through a window i guess.

 this moose was in Riley campground.  we saw the two babies but they were tucked into brush so no real photo ops.  this mama moose has been happy to charge people these past few weeks and there were signs up all over warning folks to give her some room.
 before SH and i headed back we went for a walk around Horseshoe Lake.  it was a nearly 2 mile walk i'd say...we don't totally believe the sign and my walking app for sure had it at more than the 1.5 miles the sign said it was.  i'd never done this trail and in truth i have never spent an actual night in the park.  so this was fun for me.
 if you look closely at this gull you can see one or two babies with her.  the trail wanders past the Nenana River for a bit.
 in the morning Sunday we had cruised up a pass by Cathedral Mountain in a light rain looking for flowers, ate up there and wandered back, then we'd ended up doing another Prattle (i'm calling the act of wandering in the woods/tundra/whatever with the purpose of looking at wildflowers Prattling-hope it catches on. :-) )  anyway we did prattled at Savage for a bit on the way back to the main campus of the park before we ended the course.
 looking forward to taking other courses in the future...they have a mushroom one and we thought they had a geology course, both could be fun.  a lichen course would be cool too.
 dwarf fireweed along the Nenana.
 looks like siberian aster below and then the one below that is elegant paintbrush...see i did learn a few new names...the scientific names not so much though.  we did have Verna laughing while we did a game in an attempt to learn the scientific names by charades of sorts.
 these are a few of my favorites anyway.
 fires continue to burn.  i think there may be over 200, give or take.  Saturday we saw lighting while we were driving and apparently lightning did start quite a few fires across the state.  we also got a little rain which has to help.  not so much as to get soaked or be miserable though.
 beaver homes across Horseshoe Lake.
several members of my family are headed off to Ireland for a trip.  hope they have a safe and fun trip over there.
 i should watch for some northern lights...though it's too light really to see them here..Happy Solstice by the way.  i guess the chance of lights has been super high and lights were seen quite far south in the lower 48!  i told my sister to watch for them from her flight.  you never know.
 some old relic from days gone by.  will need to stop in and see the movie about some history.  explore this park more and more.
 SH and I added this Pink Pyrola to our list...we hadn't seen it on our wanderings with Verna...though we did see many others on our lists.
 squirrels are in Denali in high numbers and not afraid of people at all.
 these last three are taken by others.  this one by Sandra below
 this very cute shot was taken by a course mate Ruth so i shall credit her with this shot.  we exchanged email addresses.
 i think this one was also taken by SH.  guess i should head for bed.  will write another entry tomorrow and continue to try and catch up.  today i walked with both dogs out to Cheney Lake and around...slow for Rio. got our 10,000 steps in though. didn't make all my steps this weekend, which is surprising, but when one prattles speed and distance do not always happen.
thankful for: 1. new experiences, new knowledge and meeting new folks.  always fun 2.  safe travels and fun times 3.  dogs and cats safe and sound upon my return.

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