Sunday, October 2, 2016

Fall is all most over

It's that time of year where the awesome summer is over and winter is on the big push to make an entrance. The temperatures during the day are in the mid 50's and at night hovering around freezing. The motorhome is being winterized and I'm trying to get the last of the yard chores completed. The sun is coming up after 8AM now and going down about 7:30PM. The days are definitely shorter and cooler now.
 I'm not ready for winter, but go ahead and bring it on. But only make it a real winter and not the ones we've had the past couple of years. I'm ready for some real winter photography to include some mushing photography.
But the pups and I will also be ready for next spring when we thaw out the motorhome and hit Alaska's highways. A little test for you. How many US Routes are in Alaska? How many Interstate Highways? How many Alaska Routes?

There at no US Routes in Alaska, although at one point, the Alaskan portion of the Alaska Highway was proposed to be designated part of U.S. Highway 97, but this was never carried out. There are no connecting states to Alaska, so there can be no Interstate Highways. There are 12 Alaska Routes, 1 though 11 and 98. The Klondike Highway, built in 1978, was unnumbered until 1998, when it was given its designation during the centennial of the Klondike Gold Rush. However, many Alaskan highways of greater length than the Klondike Highway remain unnumbered. Most Alaskans don't know them by number anyhow, they know them by name.

In case you're curious for more, check out List of Alaska Routes.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

It's been how long???

I couldn't sleep last night, just wide awake for some reason. I don't have cable TV, satellite TV nor can I pick up local TV. I watch TV from the internet. So that wasn't keeping me entertained. I let the dogs out but when they came back in, they went back to sleep. All three were snoring, asleep in different spots in the bedroom. I went on Facebook and everyone I know on there was asleep. So time had gone buy and yep, I was still awake.
I started looking at my blog, making little changes, cleaning things up, deleting links to blogs that hadn't updated in a while or they started posting about things that weren't related to what I do post about. I started reading some of my recent post and continued reading the whole blog from present time to the start in 2007. 9 years? Holy cow!
9 years. That's almost too hard to believe. I was married when I first started posting. I never heard of Facebook and didn't understand Twitter.I've posted with friends, some I've never met in person, just online. I've done photography with a Sony H9, Canon T1I, Canon T3I, Canon 7D and now a Canon 7D Mark II. I've traveled all over Alaska (and got more to cover) with cameras, friends and birds. I've written for a news blog back east and reviewed books about birds for a major publisher. I've posted over 650 post. I was doing several a week but now maybe once a week.
My photography has been published in Alaska Magazine, Anchorage Daily News (now Alaska Dispatch News), several local airlines onboard magazines, other blogs and the cover of a CD for a Finnish folk band. The airplane photo the band used is still one of my most popular post.
I tried to stay away from politics, but have gone there a couple times letting people know what my views were. I've kept my rants to a minimum. Most have been about what I see around Alaska, my family, my beagles or the volunteer work that I do at Bird TLC. I've changed its name. It started out as Around Anchorage, but when I moved to Wasilla, it became Around Alaska. I figured I was covering more of Alaska than just Anchorage or now Wasilla. I even call my photography Around Alaska Photography.
I've covered al lot about Ghost and the building of his mew. His mew is complete now, just waiting for USF&W approval before he moves in. Both of us can't wait. I've also written about my travels and work with other owls and some eagles too. I actually started a blog for Bird TLC long before I started this one. It's still active but I don't have the time for it that I use to.
I always have the respect for my fellow brother and sisters who gave some or all of their lives to protect what is ours. We are the most free country in the world and it hasn't come cheep.
There's more to come, but what a trip it has been so far. There have been happy times and sad times, good times and bad times and all in between. Facebook has probably taken some of the readers. It is a easier and quick media to participate in. But, you can't change a few of us. 9 years! Holy cow!

Friday, September 9, 2016

Visiting the Chacon

I've passed this old ship for years, always curious about it and wanting to shoot photographs of it. Different reasons why I couldn't shoot always came up and the years went by. Today it was the foggiest I've seen it around here in some time, I had the camera with me and drove past the Chacon. I turned around and went back.
The fog made for a spooky setting. You thought you could feel the ghost of fisherman past. There's a marker on the boat, but it's way up and I figured I go online and find out more about her when I got home.
She was built in Seattle in 1912. The Chacon, a 100 ton wooden boat was owned by Thillman Wallace of Chugiak, and has been sitting along the Old Glenn Highway since 1984. Wallace first spotted the grounded vessel while on a fishing trip out of Homer. An adventurer at heart, Wallace fell in love with the old fishing boat that was half tipped over and grounded on a beach. He paid the owner $5,000, and rescued it with the intention of restoring it for a trip around the world.
But the project was much more extensive than Wallace expected. At 82 feet long, 18 feet wide, and 100 tons, the old ship turned out to be what Thillman called “having an elephant by the tail”. To get the old boat from the beach in Homer to the Port of Anchorage required a ship surveyor, multiple patches, floating it loose at the highest tide of the year, and a crew of helpers. Then, Wallace had to pay a building mover $15,000 to truck the boat along the Glenn Highway to its present resting place.
After Wallace died last year, members of the community and the Chugiak Volunteer Fire & Rescue Center came together to clear away the moss and growth on the Chacon, and placed a plaque on it in memorial. She has been moved a short distance to her own spot that was donated to the Chugiak Volunteer Fire & Rescue Center.
Time has taken its toll on the Chacon, but a Go Fund Me page has been set up to care take her and to do some restoration. If you'd like to read more about what going on with her, read her Go Fund Me page or check out these stories from the Alaska Star;

Monday, September 5, 2016

Take the Highway, Denali Higheway that is

Macy and Cooper doing the Denali Highway

We left a little late. There's a first. My work tends to get in the way sometimes. We got on the Parks Highway, Alaska Route 3 about 7pm, so that means we'd get into Cantwell real late. Traffic wasn't bad after we got past Willow. Lots of hunters on the road. We made a few potty stops but we were making good time. It'll be dark when we get to Cantwell.

We pulled into the Chevron gas station in Cantwell about 10:30pm. We weren't alone, there were plenty of RV’s lining up to gas. We gassed up and cleaned the windshield and lights and then headed for the Denali Highway, Alaska Route 8. They repaved the road at the entrance and painted the lines since we were here last month. Looks nice, but deceiving. If you hadn't been here before, it’s only paved for two miles.

We passed where we camped on our first last trip. I pointed it out to the pups. Someone was already camping there. I wanted to see if the spot we camped at the second night about mile 98 was open. We passed a lot of people pulled off into the nooks and crannies to camp. Sorry, I don't like it right next to the road. However, it is hunting season so there are lots of people out here parking wherever they can. You see some really neat rigs. We crossed the Nanana River, the Brushkana Creek, but it was fairly dark.

I pulled over several times to let people pass. 55mph is the speed limit but 35 mph is as fast as I go and then some parts are washboarded pretty bad, so I slow to 25 mph. I'm tired and ready to camp and so is Macy. She's been giving me that “pay attention to me nudges”. We got to mile 98 and everything is full, so we’ll head on for a bit.

We made it to mile 90 and there's several pull outs that are empty, so I pulled into what I thought was best. We’ll move on tomorrow afternoon and find another spot up the road. I got out to check the spot and the northern lights were out big time. I parked the motor home and got the pups out to go potty and we enjoyed the lights for a while. Time to feed the pups and me and then get ready to crash. I'm tired.

Joy woke me at about 3am needing to go potty. I got all the pups up and out we dashed into the chilly night. The northern lights were putting on quite the show. It's been a long time since I've seen them out like this. It's hard to describe how really cool it is. I wish we had got here earlier so I could have my camera gear ready for them. I'll be ready tomorrow night. I hope they come back.


Silly me left his alarm clock on his cell phone, so we were up at 6am. There's no cell phone service out here but the alarm works just fine. Puppy parade time and a chance to get a daylight look at where we’re at. Ahhh, I remember why we came and why I live in Alaska. What a view of the Monahan Flats and the Alaska Range with the Susitna and West Sustina Glaciers way off. OK, coffee and breakfast time.
So after breakfast we took a short hike. It was chilly when we started out. I put on a hoodie and my Carhart jacket. I was carrying them both on the way back. The sun was out and everything was warming up. The fall colors are gorgeous. We were on top of a valley way above the tree line and could see all around. Most campers had moved on and I figured we would also.



The highway went from good to bad to worse and all over again. You could tell it hadn't rained in a bit because the vehicles were making a lot of dust on the road. The roads through here are built atop glacial eskers. The pups did real well, trading out the copilot seat from time to time. We crossed the Susitna River (1000 foot single lane bridge), Maclaren Summit (4800 ft) and Glacier Gap. We found a good spot to pull into before we got to the Tangle River.
We set up camp and I got a fire going. Fed and watered the pups and sat down for a bit. All of a sudden these pesky little flies were every where. I put on some bug dope and the flies seemed to like it. The citronella candles weren't any good either. So we retreated to the motor home. After a break we decided to take a hike. It be short because it's hot out. I don't know the temperature because there no cell service, but it's hot. Well it was short like I said but mainly because of those pesky flies. We did see some moose prints, blueberries and current. We again retreated to the motor home ( I really need to name it). Time to just chill and prep my camera gear in case the northern lights are out tonight. The pups are crashed as I write this.
 Good Night Mrs. Calabash, where ever you are
Well the northern lights came out, but very sporadic. Nothing like last night. We watched for a while but then called it a night. There was no argument  from the pups. There were no pesky flies out. They must have went to bed. Copper crashed on the dinette seat, Macy jumped in the drivers seat and Joy hopped in bed with me. I think Macy wanted to keep an eye on people who were tent camp a little ways from us.


My alarm was Cooper this morning. He said everyone wanted to go potty. It got chilly last night but it made for good sleeping. No flies this morning. Time for coffee and breakfast. As I sat and drank my coffee while listening to the crunch, crunch, crunch of the pups eating their breakfast, the sun came up and the whole place lite up fast. An eagle flew from the Tangle River area and was almost overhead. I couldn't tell if it was an adult or not. The sunrise back lite it and all I could see was its outline. Sure was a beautiful sight with the Amphitheater Mountains in the background. It's going to be a good day.
Got the camp torn down and squared away. While doing my walk around before taking off I hear an eagle calling from across the road. I couldn't see it, but I heard it.

We got to Tangle River and the paved road began. Nice to have asphalt again. Traffic was next to nonexistent but lots of campers in different pull outs. The Tangle River Campsite had a "Campground Full" sign posted. We weren't stopping anyways.

We’re passing through the Tangle Lakes Archeological District and found Rusty Lake and it said there was a trail, so I asked the pups and they said they wanted to check it out. Well there wasn't much of a trail, but we made it to the lake. It was a gorgeous day and it made for some good photography. They say the ancient people had lived here up to about 10,000 years ago.
Back on the road and we found several empty pull outs with awesome views. The pups watched from the motor home while I took some photos. We made it to the only rest area and it was the nicest I've seen in the state. It also has a great view.

We made it to Paxson Lodge where there was a steady drizzling rain coming down. The lodge has been closed a long time. We headed towards Glennallan on the Richardson Highway, Alaska Route 4 looking at all the beautiful fall colors all along the way and sometimes a view of the pipeline. Once in Glennallan we got on the Glenn Highway, Alaska Route 1 south towards Anchorage. We stopped at the Tessoro gas station to fill up and ran into one of the national park rangers we met a few weeks ago at the Wrangell Saint Elias National Park Visitor Center. She was done for the season and headed home. We were kind of doing the same thing.

Back on the highway it started to drizzle again. We went through Tolsona, Nelchina, Eureka, Sheep Mountain and Glacier View with it raining most of the way. We did get some photos of the fall colors though. We got as far as King Mountain Campground when it started raining harder so we decided since we were only about 2 hours from home, we would head there. So we did.
 Some of the Glenn Hwy around Caribou Creek
What a fantastic trip it was. We will do it again, but we’ll avoid hunting season. Maybe in August when we can get some blueberry picking done also. The colors and views are something to experience. I think the pups will agree.
 Joy enjoying naptime

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Where have you been?

Well, I went to Wrangell St Elias National Park. Do you know where that is? Well it's the largest National Park and is located in south central Alaska. It is over 13 million acres in size. That's right, 13 million acres. That's 6 times larger than Yellowstone NP. In addition, 9,078,675 acres of the park are designated as the largest single wilderness in the United States.
Hal (bald eagle), Ghost (snowy owl hiding in the motorhome) and I went to Wings over the Wrangells for the National Park Service. Of course we had to play on the trip back home, or I did anyways.
The majority of the time it was cloudy or raining. Fortunately not during the presentation but unfortunately on the trip home. But while I was at our campsite. (btw, thanks go out to Copper Center Princess Wilderness Lodge for donating our camp spot with water and electricity) I went for a hike around the lodge before getting ready for bed. Mt Drum was starting to light up. Dummy me didn't bring his camera, so I had to go back and get it.

Usually when I have to go retrieve my camera, I miss whatever I was wanting to shoot. Not this time. I was patient and the sun lit her up like a light bulb. It was just me and a couple with their young daughter enjoying this show being put on by mother nature. It was awesome.

Driving back on Sunday, I stopped for coffee and saw there was no waiting at the DMV in Glennallen. It sure is a small one.
One more photo on the trip back not far from the Eureka Roadhouse. It started pouring rain right afterwards so we headed straight home.
Though the trip was wet and a little rush, it's always great to see more of my home state.