Sunday, October 14, 2012

Alaska Travelog: Last Day September 24 2012


Our last day in Alaska.
Our last drift.
This time we were on Skilak Lake instead of a river.
It looked so lonely and lovely in light of early dawn.

As the sun rose we could just make out the white capped mountains far away.

The clouds above held rain and more rain.
So much rain that just before we launched word came through that the waters would "close" at 1 o'clock that day.
I had no idea that "they" (the Department of ??? some authority) could close rivers and lakes to boats but apparently they could.
The water levels and swiftness were deemed to become threatening in a few hours.
Our full day of fishing would have to be compressed into a half day instead.

I say "our" day of fishing; actually only Bernie fished while I enjoyed taking pictures.

Alex rowed us across the lake.
Yes, the water levels really were up.

Just the three of us out on the water in haunting quiet beauty.

The sound of rain on the turquoise glacial water, the lap of the oars pulling through the water and the plunk of the casted line were the only sounds to be heard.

The birds migrating overhead were silent.

The loons were silent too.

 

After awhile another boat was rowed into the waters near us.
They were silent too.

The bald eagle surveyed us all from high up in a nearly leafless tree.
(Probably thought we were crazy....)
His family was clearly hunkered down in the nearby nest.
I never saw any chicks or Mama Eagle peeking out from the nest's edge.
 

When the sun would break through the mountain snow glared at us.

While the loons floated low in the water close by I still struggled to get a clear shot.
The gentle rock of the boat and the rain smeared most of my shots.

I kept trying though.

And trying...

And was rewarded for my efforts when I caught both a loon and a salmon leaping in the same shot.

Pretty darn cool!

We were being rowed passed places that just days ago were part of the dry land.

(A moment when the sun broke through and the clouds reflected on the water. Seeing the sun started to become a noteworthy event!)

Ahhh...at last.
A good shot of a loon, including the signature red eye and the lovely wake of turquoise water.

I spent most of the time looking from right to left, ahead and behind, up and down.
There always seemed to be something interesting to see which ever way I looked.

Looking up...

Looking down...
With all my colorful gear I think I might have been the most lively view on the lake that day.

No fish were caught.
The water kept rising...

I was a little disappointed that I didn't get to see a swan.
Alex assured me that they had already left the area.

The way the water pattern looked in response to the oar strokes.
Each stripe represents one oar stroke.
Cool, huh?
(This is one of my most favorite non-rainbow shots of the trip.)

Alex pointed out the interesting cloud structure that formed overhead at one point.

Really interesting and beautiful!
I wish I could somehow capture how it felt to be in the drift boat that morning with human effort moving us to shore.  We talked about how Alex will be taking the test that will allow him to use a motor to propel a boat with paying customers.
That certainly would be easier on him and easier on my probably over developed reluctance to have human effort propel me anywhere.
But oh so much peace would be stolen by the roar of an outboard motor.

We went back to the lodge and took one last look around.
Each of the cabins had cute names.  This two story staff quarters building was named after Bob, the property's owner.
Since only a half day of fishing was possible, Bernie was offered a half day refund or an opportunity to re-book for a future fishing trip.
Go ahead and guess which one he took.
;-)

The river is definitely closed now.

Alex emailed Bernie when the river re-opened ten days later.
Wow.
That was amazing.

A drive back to Anchorage wouldn't take long so we just cruised along enjoying the scenery that hadn't been so vibrant when we drove the same roadway nine days earlier.
 
 

What we were seeing would have been enough for us to thank God for His awesome autumn colors.

But God being God...

Upgraded the scene!

Doesn't it look like one could run right through the edge of the rainbow?

(I have to smile as I recall how often I have been told not take pictures of rainbows because they never come out!)

I will point out that a rainbow against a dark background really shows up better than a rainbow photographed up in the sky.

See what I mean?

I saw absolutely no reason not to shoot a bazillion shots of this scene.

And if I had been really cool I would have had a camera that would have allowed me to "stitch" the shots needed to get the whole bow.
Um..that would have been my cell phone camera.
That was in my pocket. 
That I didn't think to use.
Doh!

Had to show you how our car looked as I was shooting these pictures.
Yup, I just bailed out the passenger side door.
Didn't bother to close it.
Yes it was raining.
Yes, Bernie just sat inside shaking his head at me.
 
 

I really could not stop taking pictures here!
If it hadn't clouded up enough to end the rainbow I probably would still be there right now!
But it did cloud up and we did drive on...

Since I had mentioned that I was a little disappointed that I hadn't gotten to see a bear, Alex had suggested we go to the drive through animal center on our way to Anchorage in order to see native Alaska animals up close.
It was just off the highway so we took his advice.
The notice about the area being where the salt water influx due to the 1964 earthquake was at the entrance of the park.

Well there you go!
A bull moose with a spectacular rack!

And elk...

They were behind a chain link fence just a few yards away from where we were standing.
 

Aww...moose and mallards!

What made this an especially cool moment:
This elk was bugling!
I mean this guy was sounding off every few moments, calling to the female elk that were penned just across the one lane dirt road.
A couple of years ago my friend Gail spent her October 1 birthday wandering out in the Colorado forests alone in an attempt to hear elk bugle in the wilds.
I thought that was a fantastic way to celebrate a birthday and was rather jealous of the fact that I had never heard an elk bugle myself.
I have now.
Granted, it was not technically in the wilds, but it was close enough.
Plus I got to see the elk's lips move while he did it too.
(Meanwhile Gail upped her birthday experiences by being in KENYA on Oct 1 this year for her 60th birthday!)

Back to my semi-wilds experience.
Muskox are not really very social.

Brown bears on the other hand will shuffle over to the low fence to check out a small Spanish speaking group of men.

As much as I would have loved to have seen a brown bear hanging out in the wild...

I definitely would NOT  have wanted to be this up close to the bear when it happened.

 

Love those claws!
He looks so cute.
(Looks can be deceiving I hear.)

Isn't that an impressive rack?

These caribou were just hanging out, trotting slowly around their area.

Munching on grass...

And then, ever so slowly, two of them started to lock horns.
I was so surprised!

They stayed like this for about three minutes, slowly shifting their antler positions slightly.

Lowering their heads ever so slowly...

then raising their heads again...

then lowering....

And then it was over and they just slowly trotted away side by side.
Kind of funny, huh?
Boys will be boys I guess.

A sleep owl was in a large caged area by the gift shop.

And across the path to the gift shop was another pen with what I first thought were stuffed lynx.

Then one moved.
Check out the size of those paws!

At this point it was just pouring rain and it was pretty cold.
The lynx clearly were perfectly content to spend the day out of the mud up on this shelf catching up on a bit of grooming.

(Something stinks...)
I will share that the lynx had done an over the top job of marking their territory.
Cat pee taken to a whole new level!
A spin through the gift shop then back into the car to finish the loop through the park.

I got out of the car again to take a picture of the oh so casual black bear eating grass.
Who knew black bear eat grass?
Not me!
 

The rain was coming down like it was being hosed down from heaven and the bear's fur didn't look the least bit wet.
 

Such a handsome animal.

I hope he enjoyed seeing me in the rain as much as I enjoyed seeing him.

Back on the highway and ANOTHER rainbow!
 

Is this typical?
Anyone who lives or visited in Alaska know?

The breaks in the clouds...

magnificent!

The  breaks hit the fall colors like a heavenly spotlight, making ANOTHER rainbow!

When the rainbows would fade I could swear they shattered and fell upon the surface of the mountains.
I figured that last rainbow was the final hurrah of the trip.
We were out of the mountain areas; figured we wouldn't be pulling over again.

 I was wrong.
We saw a swan!!!

Actually we saw TWO swans!

(and a bunch of ducks. I would tell you what kind but ducks..meh. GO BEAVERS!)

I was a bit envious of the Japanese guy who was taking pictures next to me using a lens about the size of a fire hydrant.
Still, I am happy with the shot, especially with the fall colors in the background.
 

Now if the sun had broken through...and a rainbow had arched over the swans...
Naw.
I am thrilled with just seeing wild swans in person.

A stop for dinner at the Moose's Tooth, a pizza restaurant recommended by Alex.
The place was packed, especially note worthy since this was a Monday night.
At this point I was starting to feel a bit sad.
Tired, ready to go home, and being back in Anchorage which is like any other small city underscored that the trip was over.
We ate and then drove to the airport.

Would you believe a moose in the field across from the airport runway?

Perfect!
Such a perfect way to end our time in Alaska!
 

11 comments:

Sara said...

Love the serene blue and white photos at the start of your post...I can imagine the stillness. The rainbow is beautiful!

ellen b. said...

Oh my...what a fabulous opportunity to see and enjoy the amazing things God has created for us! I love seeing it through eyes that appreciate it to the fullest!

Ocean Breezes and Country Sneezes said...

Wow!!! Your photos are stunning!

Pondside said...

You'll be responsible for an influx of tourists! I loved all the photos but especially the caribou - gorgeous.

Lorrie Orr said...

Your words and photos of your half-day on the lake are so full of beauty and stillness that it makes my heart ache, in the very best way. And how marvelous to have captured a salmon and a loon in the same shot. I am in awe of God's wonderful creation.

Judy ~ My Front Porch said...

One of my favorite pic's from our trip to Alaska is one of a rainbow! I guess they are a common sight up there. Beautiful...each and every one.

I like your toque! (You probably call it a stocking cap...or some other non-Canadian name.)

Rain or shine...you got wonderful photos of your time in Alaska!

Lovella ♥ said...

Your photos are so amazing that I hardly know which to call my favorite. I did love the one of the rippling water..amazing. That cloud formation also was so interesting, I have never seen anything even remotely close to that.
I really do love your toque. That is such a perfect warm and cozy look.

I'd love to go to Alaska this time of year...even with all that rain.

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Wow, Jill, what an amazing adventure you were on! I really hope to visit Alaska in a few years and I can only hope to see the same things you did. The rainbows looked gorgeous and seeing all those animals was a treat! When I move to Colorado I'll see elk and deer quite a bit, but I hope to never run into a bear! :)

Vicki said...

It never rained a drop during our two weeks in Alaska, except for the one day we were in Whittier. Earlier that same day, we had stopped at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center on Seward Hwy. Is this where you stopped?

I absolutely adore the peacefulness of the scenery all around you. I'm thankful that you were able to photograph all that was around you. I think God knew lots of people would be following up with you and He put on an extra-special display for you for that purpose!

Thoughts on Life and Millinery. said...

Vicki, It was the AWCC on the Seward highway. Bet it was nice to see it on a dry day!

Seema said...

heart-warming pictures..