Why do we do what we do

when we do it? That is a question Roy asked me after this day was done. Saturday, we got a late start even though we had all intentions of attempting the farmer’s market again. (I would stay in the car.) Needless to say, we stayed in bed. When we did get up and moving, we were side- tracked by a nice rack of halibut. After a few pictures, we head down to Anchor Point just to find out they are paving the road and to expect long delays. We decided not to wait. Roy has been reading the Milepost (a book that is published yearly for travelers in Alaska). He read about a small Russian village of ‘Old Believers‘ (the link is to an article from 2013). On a side note. In our exploring of Homer in 2017 we discovered the road to the village Kachemak Selo mentioned in the article. They are a very closed off community

After not wanting to wait for the construction we stopped for a coffee in one of those non-Starbucks drive through coffee huts. Saw there was a pizza place in the same parking lot. So we got a fresh made slice (1/4 of a large pizza). Roy and I split one slice. It was good and even had glazed garlic butter on the crust. Then, we travelled ten miles down a paved road in Anchor Point Alaska and found the village of Nikolaevsk Alaska.

the driveway
old church

The town itself is very quiet when you drive through. To me it felt a little like pulling back a curtain to peek in on someone or something. The center piece of the town seems to be the church A little explanation about the church (the link is to an article from 2015). They have service on Saturday night I was able to take the pictures right before people started to arrive for service. You could see a sense of community along with a reverence for the church.

work in progress

The congregation is in the process of building a new church, it looks like they have been at it awhile.

waiting for the dome

I am including some links about the architecture of Russian churches and Onion Domes

I hope you enjoy the pictures of the church.

all ages

So, we head back to town but before we leave, I took a picture of the school which teaches all grades under one roof. I thought it interesting that there was even a school for a community that small, being they are so close to Anchor Point.

even little birds get a share

We decide to give the road to the beach another shot. We were first car by the flagger, he said it would be about a half hour, so we waited. I am so glad we did. Had we come through when we first stopped, we would have missed the feast that was occurring on the beach. When the fishermen are done with fileting the catch the scraps get thrown on the beach for the birds to eat.

I’ll take mine to go
takeoff

It was cool to see them all swarm on the beach and even fight over some pieces. I was not able to get any real fighting on camera, I did however capture the landing of an eagle after the fight. I think he thought He was victorious, because the wings are up saying: “he is the champion!”

I won

So, to answer the question Roy posed. I am not sure why it happens. I am just happy Roy listens to whatever voice or thought tells him what direction to go in.

Tracking Eagles

The Holy Transfiguration of Our Lord Chapel

First part of the day we decided to be lazy I caught up on my blog and edited some pictures, Roy slept. After lunch we decide to get moving and photograph the Russian Orthodox Church in Ninilchik, the lighting was ok for landscape/ building photography.

cemetery view
Honor wall

The cemetery at the church used to be a little less overgrown than we discovered it to be. There is also a Veterans cemetery next to the original one in much better condition. I was disappointed, but it also gave me a chance to explore the front of the church and the cemetery from the front.

The Fleet

The church overlooks the small village of Ninilchik AK. The village is small and old but with good bones. I have enjoyed the beach and it is one you can still drive out on. We haven’t done that yet. I am stressing the word YET. The town is also home to a small fleet of fishing vessels. One of the days we were down by the beach they were in harbor.

View from the beach

The beach here has an advantage over Deep Creek and Anchor Point as there is a dock where the vessels can tie off. On one of our recent visits to the beach we saw a salmon tender. These vessels collect the fish so the fleet can continue to fish.

the road

We have enjoyed parking on the road so I can take pictures from it. There have not been very many eagles down at this end of the beach but that is still good. I was able to photograph some of the few breakers I’ve seen.

DANGER

The beach here does have some shallow rocks near shore, so there are some danger signs.

Incoming

The road that runs on the other side of the harbor has a turn out right before you head down the road. It is below the bluff that the church sits on so the opportunity to practice tracking eagles with my camera was ample.

outbuilding

Before we left Ninilchik I happened upon this building I am thinking that it hasn’t been active in a long time, or it has a well-hidden path to the entrance.

Deep Creek View Campground

When tracking eagles, we always have to stop at Deep Creek which used to be a favorite spot for me. At the top of the road down towards the beach is a charter fishing service J&J Smart Charters and Deep Creek View Campground RV Park. They go out and fish for halibut. When the boat returns the crew hangs the catch for the day up so pictures can be gotten of the fish. So far this was the first time this trip that we were able to capture it as it was happening.

cool paint jobs

There is going to be a rodeo right down the road on July 2nd & 3rd at the Kenai Peninsula State fairgrounds. I am looking forward to the beach horse race earlier in the day. This is all being sponsored by the Peninsula Horseman’s Association. I do plan on concessions food on the 2nd.

I can’t believe that we have been in one place with the trailer for over a week. I do know there is so much more to explore. I have to run now and get to exploring.

We Saw a Few…

moose that is. I was beginning to lose faith that I would ever get anything but eagles on my camera this trip. I can’t believe it, but I have a picture of a moose an actual bull moose. Maybe his second year. Ok, I am getting ahead of myself.

The sign

We got up semi early for us on this trip because we were headed to Skilak Lake Loop Road. This area fell victim to the Swan Lake Fire of 2019, that was started by lightening. We had driven past some of the damage you could see from the Sterling Highway, we wanted to see the damage done to the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge mainly the Skilak Lake area.

Our friend who we met on the ferry and met for dinner the other night mentioned the Ninilchik Beach as a place you can drive on the beach and could possibly see some eagles we decided to stop and check it out before heading up the road. The funny thing is who do we run into Tom our friend. He was taking his two dogs for a run. We talked for a bit about the fishing, the old cannery for fish, eagles, and dogs. (side note I saw 1 eagle while we were there.)

fireweed

I can say it was devastating although hopeful. The area is starting to come back to life with plants fireweed which is one of the first plants to appear after a fire.

Our other motive for traveling the 19 miles of dirt and hard packed gravel was for animals. We had no real luck in this area until after we passed the worst of the burn scar. Although, we had an Aha moment. Brush grows. We know this because one of the areas where we saw lots of bear activity 5 years ago grew in. It had been an open hillside. The lake where we saw mega moose had also become overgrown. We had all but settled on seeing no animals when we come upon a car in each direction stopped. This usually means animals. It did, we saw bears. We were not first in line so I had to depend on the dash cam. I still don’t know if she had 2 or 3 cubs. Check out the video look towards the left side

2 or 3 cubs
so little
see the ear and the fur

I do know they were the tiniest cubs I’ve ever saw. Roy pulled a u-turn and we tried to see if she would come back out of the trees, she did not. I was able to zoom in and get the mom’s back and if you use your imagination a shot of baby bear. It was just wonderful to see that there is still new life here.

pretty as a picture

After we ate and headed home, we finally see a moose that I could take a picture of. Roy watched it cross the road and realized the moose was still on the side of the road. So, Roy does another U-turn (had an awesome break in traffic). This guy, yes, he was a guy, had just started to get his paddles.

I see you

The velvet on his antlers looked so soft. He was standing ankle deep in water and the light was bouncing off his back perfectly. I had my camera in hand he posed and waited until I had focus and then I snapped three pictures. He looked at me turned his head and moved on. You know when they say right place, right time. There was something magical about the moment.

We then headed to Wal-Mart needed duct tape and some other stuff like milk and creamer I have to have my coffee. We were on a hunt for caribou yes there is a small herd on the Kenai. We followed the direction for a likely viewing spot and we got nothing. I am hoping maybe sometime this month, fingers crossed. Back down the road to get back to the trailer and keeping our eyes open for wildlife, we were treated to another moose along the side of the road. I have to say Roy’s U-turn did not produce this time. However, the dash cam did catch him out of the corner of its eye.

moose
waiting to cross

Here is a still from the video

The rest of the trip home was uneventful. We did stop back at the beach we visited in the morning and believe it or not we run into Tom again. He swore he had just gotten back to the beach. The weird thing about the beach in the evening was no eagles. We went down to Deep Creek also no eagles. When there is no boats or fish no eagles. It was a strange sight.

You can do it … FAMOUS last words

I was told when I got my chair DO NOT take it on gravel. OK I understand. Did you know there are different types of gravel? I did not. To me gravel is anything that had some sort of small rock. In my mind I was rolling over a bunch of gravel (actually I now know that was stone). So now you know what I was told, I now know why.

We decided to do the farmer’s market in Homer on Wednesday because it was in the afternoon and shorter then Saturday’s market. The parking lot is full of gravel the sinky kind. You know the stuff that is thick and heavy. We thought what a great way to get around the market use the scooter and chair. The thing is you have to get to the market first. We unload and put together both the scooter and my chair. We start out. I immediately get stuck. Not a problem I get up and try and move it after I put it in neutral. I got it free, sit down try again go a few feet, stuck again. Well now we have a crowd. So the next time I get stuck it isn’t freeing up. So we came up with a solution have the crowd of men carry it back to the car.

We did not get to the market because Roy also got bogged down. So I guess our fresh produce will have to come from SafeWay now.

So I learned a few things here.

  • Listen when the people who know say something.
  • When your gut says this is a bad idea.
  • People still are helpful.
  • If you do something embrassing do it where people will never see you again.
  • Make sure there are no photos (THERE ARE NONE)

Boat Launch Alaska Style

It is interesting to watch how boats enter and exit the water without a boat ramp. Places like Anchor Point, and Deep Creek have it down to a science. How you ask? They use a tractor attached to your boat trailer. It is like a push me – pull me relationship. In the Cook Inlet the widely varying tides make it impossible to have a harbor or ramp, this is why the tractor is used. The launches occur based on the tide tables. For a You Tube video of a boat launch Alaska style.

In this video you can see the guy winching up the boat on the trailer. The audio comes with no extra charge.

my version of how it is done
out of the water
making progress
dry land

The video was shot at Deep Creek, we did not stay long as there were very few boats coming in. Here are a few photos of the boat in the video.

Mount Redoubt

While we were still at Deep Creek I was able to take a few pictures of the volcanoes across the bay. There was no letting off steam today which is a good thing. Here is some information about Mount Redoubt. As you can see this was a clear view of the volcano and the reason we came down to Deep Creek in the first place. Mountains in Alaska always seem to make their own weather, so a clear mountain is rare. It does seem like this trip is all about the eagles and I think you might be correct. We headed off in search of some more in Anchor Point.

I set up my chair and grabbed my long lens because there were eagles on the beach, along with horses, people, boats and tractors. I had an amazing amount of subject matter to choose from. It brings into the mix timing, lighting, and patience, (I’m developing all of those this summer.) Sitting in the chair, I want to stay longer because it is senseless to take it out and put it together for five minutes’ worth of shooting. I love the fact I can move around without being exhausted after one stop.

Coming to get you
let’s dance

Getting back to the boat launch process here, it was definitely a well-timed dance as can be seen from some of my pictures. I enjoyed seeing one come in and go out at about the same time. The cool thing is the eagles were not fazed by the tractor or the movement of the humans.

ready to go
I said this is mine

In between the launches I got a treat because when the fisherman dumps the scraps the eagles and the other birds get easy food. The funny thing is just like kids, juvenile eagles fight over the thing someone else has even though there is plenty to go around. This argument was settled when the adult eagle came in and took it for their own. In the photo you do see a more major juvenile in possession of the fish. It did start in the talons of the little guy so I give him credit for trying. Although who knows let the younger one do the work then as the elder you reap the reward.

Ask and answered

Roy and I had been talking in the morning about wouldn’t it be cool to see some horses being ridden on the beach. I guess all we have to do is talk about wanting to see something for it to happen. (It hasn’t worked for moose yet.) Reason being is just as I was thinking of packing up to go along the beach comes a few riders on horseback.

look left

I do say I am not the only photographer who gets tunnel vision when taking pictures. I wanted to yell down the beach and say look to your left you are missing the horses. I do not think that would have gone over well. I do understand how Roy feels when I am totally absent to my surroundings. I had watched her creep down the beach ever closer to the eagles who were hanging around.

We then headed down to Homer again just to see if anything was happening down there, it wasn’t. But Roy does say you don’t know if you don’t go. That saying also applied to dinner. He wanted to see if the Thai restaurant Keen Kow (check out the facebook page). I will say it did not change his Pad Thai was still delicious, I even tried the Cashew Pork. So, this was a perfect ending to the longest day of the year, 19 hours and 44 minutes. Although it could be 24 hours of sun, because the sun may dip below the horizon, but it never gets truly dark.

Going through the shots

Day three on the Kenai I think we have developed a routine. It has been rainy during the day which gives me a good chance to go through the photos from the evening before. It also gives me a chance to continue kicking this cold. We seem to be going out around 6 to 6:30pm driving a few back roads to figure out if they are worth coming back to when the weather is nice. Last night we went down to the fish ladder near our campground to see if it was still there. It is and it looks like they are getting ready to begin once the salmon return. On our way back hiding perfectly in the woods not to be able to get a picture was a moose.

Speaking of moose; have you ever wondered what they do all day. I mean what a life to just walk, stand, eat and sleep. The other thought I had was how elusive bull moose are. I think that I’ve only encountered one in all the times we’ve been coming to Alaska. He was definitely an enormous one. Large enough to get the ranger’s attention.

Plans for the month are coming together. One day for Homer and views of the Spit, maybe a trip to Salty Dawg depending how handicapped accessible it is. (scooter and chair will get a workout.) Driving back up the Kenai to Skilak Lake Loop road, hopefully for some bear and moose. Driving back roads just to drive and hopefully see some wild life.

So today, I am trying to keep up with photos and even editing a few along the way. I came across this one. I almost wrote it off as something not worth saving, until I saw it on a larger screen. The back of the camera can be deceiving, this is why I never delete even when I see it on the computer screen it just gets a 1 for rating.

I am sitting watching this juvenile bald eagle standing on a small rock. It took all of 15 minutes before the rock disappeared and he had to take flight. It was funny watching his movements gingerly trying to avoid getting his bird legs completely covered. I have to wonder if he does this every night when the tide comes in.

taking flight
you bother me

Once he did find some dry land the look on his face was that of a grumpy old man who was disturbed and bothered. I just that it was cute he had to land on a populated part of the shore.

Tonight, I am hoping it will stop raining so we can go explore another state beach and at $5 a day for a parking pass this is definitely cheap entertainment

He Delivered

even though it was damp and deary Roy was able to deliver on animals or at least bald eagles. We have this place called Deep Creek State Recreation Area. So camera in hand we head there. We discover no more driving on the beach but it all worked out.

In the Distance

Being a kind of deary day I did not expect much. There also did not seem to be much eagle traffic and even less RV traffic in the campground. We did see a few eagles in the distance I took a few photos and then I was ready to leave. I am so glad Roy has a watchful eye, plus the fact that I wasn’t super hungry yet kept us there.

watchman
waving by

This one lone eagle was sitting on the Deep Creek sign, so I felt it was only right I get a Picture of it. I was hoping he would fly away or do something unique no such luck. He did however show me his various good side and I was able to get a background change along the way. After about fifteen minutes with no real action, I said let go, in a while he says.

lunch?

We drive up on the berm where there are more eagles, waves, and high tide. For a second, I thought this is what I’ve been waiting for. I’ve been blessed to be in the right place at the right time for some amazing photos and my feeling was tonight would prove to be one of those. Just then I see a fish carrying something in his talons and in comes another eagle trying to take it. The artistic dance that occurred when the second bird entered the picture took skill and grace. I was able to capture this action and I have to say I was speechless. (that’s hard for me). Sad part for the eagle he did drop his dinner. I did get the shot so that was the good part.

There were only about twenty eagles on the beach and a ton of seagulls. I still enjoyed watching them fly, soar, and look dignified when wet.

Determined
You are not our mom
all wet
fly by

The Eagle has Landed

We have put our wings down for a month here in Ninilchik, Alaska. We are 40 miles from Homer and 6 miles from Eagle beach (actually, it is Deep Creek). This is the beach we could drive on before, not the case. They have put up a berm and charge for parking. It is all good because I can make parking pay for itself. In the enjoyment I’ve already experienced, I will cover that enjoyment soon.

So, what are we to do for a month, you ask? Get started looking for animals. This is after the sticker shock of $7 a shower. (I am so glad that we are self-contained.) I am also wondering how we will get along with no TV and very limited radio for a month. I know look for animals.

resting Lance
seascape

On the journey down from Anchorage we stopped at a turn out Beluga Point to look for Beluga Whales. You guess it no whales but I did capture a resting Lance trailer and a beautiful seascape.

The last time we had been on the Kenai Peninsula was prior to the fire of 2019. It was sad and a little devastating to see the damage done. There is a glimmer of hope as we saw a lot of fireweed growing which is great after a forest fire. There is a plan for a whole day in the area of the fire. I will be sure post some pictures. There is a lake called Tern lake which is right by the turn-off to head to Cooper Landing (hear me out memory at work). I mentioned to Roy I want to stop on the way in. That can’t be done, there is no pull off area coming from the north. That is for the return trip.

I understand we are a little early for some of the salmon run that did not stop one group of socially distanced combat fishing. It was interesting to see. At this point no animals still. That does change here soon. We got set up in the drizzle but that was ok Roy promised a good dinner in Homer and some animals he delivered on both.

YUM
shiny thing 1

We got distracted by shiny things on our way down to Homer so food wasn’t actually what we had planned on doing. It did however work out because I had leftover seafood mac n cheese for lunch. We tried to eat at The Fat Olive they have good food and good wine, this is where Roy discovered his rhubarb chardonnay. After a drive down the spit and back they were getting ready to close. We ended up at the Harbor Grill and had the seafood mac n cheese.

Speaking of the Homer Spit was surprised to see how not busy the RV parks were.

On the way home we saw a mom and baby moose walking along the side of the road towards our campground.

ALERT …. ALERT …. ALERT ….

Wait false alert. I am hoping that the Kenai Peninsula will bring a few animals out of the wood work. The last few days have seen us in Anchorage and the Mat-Su valley before that.

I have been trying to get over a cold and we had to stock up on a few things before the month on the Kenai. We also made a stop at Stewart’s camera shop I thought I had lost one of my filters on a lens because I could not get them apart. Crisis was avoided and the clerk was able to get them apart. This camera shop was instrumental on our first trip to Alaska. I’m glad they are still in business. We were able to take a drive out to Eagle River Nature Preserve still no animals there. It seems the only thing I have been able to find is Cottonwood trees. (My allergies are not happy).

back ground
view one
view two
close up

So you ask what is there to take pictures of? The day we were at Sheep Mountain Lodge I practiced composition and up close photography. It is amazing how when presented with a so-so landscape start looking at the small part and you can come up with pictures. Roy discovered these three dandelions and I walked around and clicked many different views of them here are two, plus one with a sweat bee on it. I don’t take flower pictures but this was an exercise I enjoyed. When I shot the purple blue bells had me move around until there was no shadow from a hose hanging on a wall.

The owner of Sheep Mountain Lodge is also a helicopter pilot I here is one of the pictures. I also was able to get a picture of Roy

what a ride
Roy’s blowing in the wind
the lodge

The Lodge here is a nice place to spend the night. We also were able to have our first taste of Copper River Salmon. It was so good we made this a stop twice this year.

I was able to stop by the Matanuska Glacier where I was able to get a few pictures from two overlooks.

glacier
glacier

Headed for the Kenai tomorrow keep your fingers crossed for animals,