The Mountain

magic bus
needed the power today

I have gotten lucky this trip I consider myself in the 7.5 % because this is the third time, I’ve seen Denali in all its glory. We spent the week in Nenana Alaska and decided to head down to Denali it is only a 61-mile trip. Hell, in 5 weeks on the Kenai we put 2,500 miles on the car. I’m not sure how many of you have watch the movie or read the book ‘Into the Wild’ Here is a background article of Chris McCandles who inspired ‘Into the Wild’ I go down this rabbit hole, because I wanted to visit the replica of his magic bus. We did just that when we ate at the ‘49th State Brewing Company‘ in Healy.

which one do I want

Roy and I decided let’s get the scooter and chair out to go eat. That was a great plan until we get inside the restaurant. The bar area has booths and high-top tables (not that handicap friendly). The other area of the restaurant had low tables, but you had to go down a step. I have to give a shout out to the manager and the owner, because they brought a low table into the bar area so we could sit and eat. The manager came over and apologized for the oversight and that they might try and figure out how to keep on low table over in the area. I had a soda flight and Roy had a beer flight. He also had some smoky popcorn used to clear the palette. I tried one; smoky does equal hot here. I kept my mouth shut until Roy asked how I liked the popcorn. I liked the root beer and the spruce tip soda, the cola was ok, and the fourth flavor was not memorable at all.

After lunch we head to Denali there were no clouds in the area, so I knew there was another chance to see the mountain in its glory. We drove until the visitor center where I got back in my chair and decided to explore the visitor center campus like never before.

close as I could get
no clouds ever

In that way I am loving my chair. I had never thought about exploring museums or visitor centers before I actually was able to travel on some of the trails.

flag outside visitor center
inside cabin

After zooming around the campus, I got back in the car, and we drove as far as we could which was mile 15 on the Denali Highway. We decided not to take a bus further into the park because of the landslide that occurred at mile 46.

no clouds

We did not see any animals on this trip into the park. We did, however, see the mountain clear as day again. The other thing that was intriguing was the snow level and how it just stopped.

winter’s coming

One of the close mountains had a fresh light layer of snow. This is as close as I would like to get this year to any snow. I love seeing it from the distance.

dusk at 11pm

After a full day of sightseeing, we headed back to Nenana. My aurora app said that there was a chance for sightings that night. So, the skies were clear, it wasn’t that cold, and we found a good spot. All that was needed was some lights.

Roy light painting LOL

I did get some pictures of the barge that was right in front of the car. After a lit bit we decided maybe a change of scenery was needed. I also was getting cold. Back inside the car we head up the road to a wayside with a different view.

The new view was more profitable in the fact that the auroras had appeared. These were the first we had seen this trip. They were fleeting and very short. The most interesting thing was seeing the lights at twilight. I am hoping to see more of the lights this year but, the clouds are hanging around. This is not good. Here are three photos of the lights from that night.

Way TOO Many People

Dip netting. (I borrowed this video from YouTube). I did not have a drone to capture the massive amount of people. They were close together and it made me wonder how the salmon chose which net to get caught in.

the beach
looking at all the tents

The fact that dip netting is only open to Alaskans is amazing and good. It is called Subsistence Fishing this allows for Alaskans to fill their freezers for the winter. Here is a link to the permits required. We went to the Kasilof River on July 9th to experience the sight of salmon getting entrapped in a net. It was so overcrowded they were even parking under signs that said no parking anytime.

NO Parking
No Parking

It is interesting to learn that a permit is required and that you have to clip off the end tips of the tail this is to distinguish the fish that were gotten during dip netting and the ones caught with rod n reel. (Which has been hard to do this week July 17th too much rain means swollen rivers). Speaking of rain this is why I am catching up on blogs and photos. We extended on the Kenai to maybe get a few more pictures. We’ve gotten rain and a few less pictures. I got sidetracked back to better weather and the drive up the Peninsula.

Is it safe now

We headed into Kenai so I could do some grocery shopping. Headed towards Kenai on the Sterling Highway was where I was treated to seeing two moose. Roy was able to enjoy also but they were on my side of the car. (So, I was closer.) The first one was just hanging around a dirt lane popping in and out of the tree line.

What are you looking at?

The second moose was just chewing and minding her own business along the side of the road. I took some pictures and we headed onward.

a large chariot
the terminal

On we go to get me salad stuff which Roy struck out with Safeway. It was early yet so we decided to find out where the bear viewing boat trip left from so, we knew where we were going and how big the planes were. I was surprised at how rough the roads were getting out to the Alaska West Air, water terminal.


Sitting in the parking lot I got lucky and was able to catch a plane taking off. The taxi way is also the landing zone.

lift off

After a full day of travel, we almost found everything for my salads. Roy still had to pick up lettuce and some onions from Wal-Mart because Safeway didn’t have any. No onions but we were able to get fresh leaf lettuce and some farm fresh eggs. Roy pulled one of his favorite u-turns for a roadside stand that advertised fresh veggies.

The enjoyable thing about driving some of the backroads is you never know what good farm fresh things you’ll find.

I Almost Caught IT…


on camera. It is one of the things I have always wanted to capture, two eagles locking talons and falling through the sky. I’ve only seen this once and was not quick enough with my camera. There is such a wonder about how such a large bird can twist and turn while connected to another. Here is the photo I captured. This was taken with my long lens, and I cropped in quite a bit.

This happened on one of those trips when Roy said ‘you don’t know, if you don’t go’. We had just finished a fresh fish taco dinner, caught by Tom who we had met on the ferry. I need to mention the side of mosquitos were interesting. (I have a thermacell lantern that is making the trip with us next time.) I don’t brag or recommend a product but this one does work. Ok done with infomercial. The tacos weren’t any fish they were halibut smooth tasting fish not bad for someone who only sees from one side of its body. Tom’s place was cool because we ate in the garage which was two shipping containers and a truck trailer for walls. Just interesting and only in Alaska. So, after dinner we decided to visit my second favorite eagle spot. (First one is church and babies).

The spot where I took these photos from is what by a cliff this is where in the afternoon the eagles can catch the wind. Here is a page explaining how they catch the wind. This is also a spot where juveniles fake fight or sometimes real fight. Here are some of the pictures I took that night. I am hoping I get that opportunity to capture it this trip.

More eagle babies on the horizon.

50-Yard Line …

50-yard line

much better view for Sunday at the rodeo. I did say Roy got the seating chart right the second time. The rodeo started at 2pm so we got there a little early to grab the perfect seat. I was just going to just switch places with where Roy was yesterday. We get there and he decides that the corner might be a better place. I tried to enter one way no go to narrow. So, let’s take a trip in front of the bleachers that is also a no go. In fact, this is where I got stuck in a rut. My crazy bull rider from the other day came to my rescue. I call him crazy because I showed him his pictures and yes, he said those are cool. After we all decided I can’t get there we settled for the left side of the gate. That my friends ‘was the 50-yard line’. I did not know then how perfect it was. I saw everything from the calf wrestling to the break-away roping from a different angle. Roy was also able to put a few loving on some of the horses that were standing next to and behind him at the arena gate.

yes i did my hair
Blue eye

I even shot a few photos of the ones he was loving on, so I have evidence.

getting ready

Instead of barrel racing today was pole bending. We did see a few perfect runs and yes, we did also see a few tipped over poles. The set up for this event is interesting and can be found here.

Today there was more breakaway roping was also on the schedule today. Here is a short video from one of the riders

rope the little one

Also on the agenda they had a similar event to the roping but instead of roping the calf you have to put a mark on its shoulder using mustard and a tennis ball here’s a pic of it.

I do think this is called wrangling but I like calf wrestling. I do have to say she gave it her all and lost.

calf 1 cowpoke 0

We were again treated to some trick riding this time I was a little further from the rail, so no flying gravel.

The spectators had fun also my seat for the 3legged race placed me right in front of the winners. I felt like they were heading straight towards me.

You got this

The kids also got in on the action except they did not have to grab anything off the bull, it was a calf.

don’t run away
don’t back down

Like in good rodeo you have to have some drama when it comes to bull riding. Saturday was Kayden. Sunday was angry bull. The bull dumped his rider early and decided he was not going back in the holding pen. You could tell something was up as he was not liking being sat on just overall angry bull. The rodeo non clown tried to face off and stare him down that did not work. They finally had to release another bull to distract the bull who would not behave. Once distracted they were able to catch him.

that’s close enough

I will admit shooting action shots is a tad challenging to me. I am glad I’ve spent some time here tracking eagles with my camera it is the same techniques.

All in all, it was a good 4th and Roy enjoyed another small-town traditional holiday.

Here’s a slide show from day 2.

Hometown Celebration

That is what I saw this weekend at the Ninilchik Rodeo. I’m pretty sure we will see more of the same at the American Legion fish fry on the 4th. I have to say it has been an amazing time on the Kenai. I will be doing a couple of posts on just the rodeo. We also visited the cemetery where the Legion placed American Flags on the grave sites.

So please enjoy the pictures

It was a Bull. No, it was a Cow moose.

This is what happens when you have two different viewpoints, one from the driver side and the other from the passenger side. This occurred the other night as we were driving to see more eagles. Anyone who have heard our banter, can imagine the banter. I did however say don’t go back there will be others to photograph. Well, a u-turn was made, and we both realized that at the exact same time we both saw a moose. (Just of the opposite sex).

I cut out mom’s behind
first sight

How often does that happen when you are both right. As a bonus we were treated to twin baby moose, of course mamma tried to get in the way of my shot. During the u-turns and the banter I was not able to get a picture of the mom. (Unless a butt shot counts.) I do believe once mom felt our presence, she was eager to nudge her kids out of the way.

Almost saying no photos please.

moving along

There are some disadvantages from shooting from a car; no cross-yard pursuits. So where to next.

Remember though we did see the bull moose on the other side of the road. He was just standing there no care in the world. I’m thinking he was thinking they are too far away and can’t take my picture. (These paranoid thoughts are happening because lately every moose we see we can’t get a good photo of.) Back to the story. Roy sees a road where we can get closer, and I can use my camera from the car. After going down a near (dirt) road we cross the road that can get us close to the moose. I first try shooting with the 300mm close, but I think I can do better so, I brought out the big guns. Here are the photos side by. side. I did not realize the big difference until I saw the photos side by side.

300 mm lens
600 mm lens

I like both versions for different reasons the 300 mm lens gives you the look that everything is in focus. The 600 mm has you looking and concentrating only on the moose.

good grass

This moose was not photo shy, he was only concerned with the flavor of his grass. I took a few more photos than we had to leave. Our fish taco dinner had gotten rescheduled to the next night. Off to Homer. Roy had to find out if the restaurant where he was introduced to Bear Creek Winery Rhubarb Chardonnay still served it. I am getting ahead of myself.

view looking down on it

We did our normal pass throughs of the beaches in an off chance we would see eagles, because that is what this year seems to be focused on. No eagles tonight though. We get to Homer a little earlier than we wanted to. So, a trip to the harbor and checking for more eagles. No luck by the ferry terminal. We then find another road we had not travelled, (yes, we explored) a short trip around the small boat harbor.

Now to that restaurant and dinner. We had visited the ‘The Fat Olive’ on our last trip through Homer in 2017. The food was great, and Roy learned about edible flowers and wine. On this particular Sunday there were no edible flowers and no Bear Creek wine. What did happen was after dinner this group of three kids came over to our table 1 boy and 2 girls. The look on Roy’s face was quizzical because he was not sure what the shy boy was asking. The boy kept pointing to Roy’s nose and his oxygen, well the sister chimed in and asked Roy if they could lay hands on him and pray for healing. He agreed and it was just interesting to see the determination in the three kids when they were praying for him.

Where do you go from there? Home with leftovers and warm thoughts.

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

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.

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.

White All Around

blushing bride

These last couple of days we have been in Valdez Alaska and were surrounded by the color white from the swans, waterfalls, mountains and even a White Wedding. It was cool we are driving around looking for eagles which there were none and we pull in a park and get invited to a wedding. That came about because we were watching the ravens trying to figure out how to grab some food off of the pinic table we kindly said no but went off to hunt for more eagles or bears. We found out that they are not around yet.

What was around were powerful waterfalls. Keystone Canyon on your way into Valdez are where these can be found. I spent some time here playing with my Neutral Density (ND) filters on my camera until one got stuck when I tried to remove it. I then had to resort to trying to freeze the water rather than make it look smooth. The filter issue is ok it gives me a reason to stop in a camera shop in Anchorage. I was also intrigued by the water that was dripping out of the rock face on the other side of the road by Bridal Falls. I am easily amused. You can see by this picture if you look really close you will see the drip.

it’s left of the green middle of the picture.

I set up my tripod to accomplish this and did not even realize mosquitoes were loving me.

beautiful veil

You know how someone can step in front of your shot and you get irritated sometimes. I’m glad I didn’t. I had the opportunity to talk camera with a budding photographer and her aunt. She was on vacation from Montana and her aunt lives in Fairbanks. She talked about getting better lens and I mentioned the camera store in Fairbanks called Alaska Camera. It is always enjoyable being able to share with fellow photographers. Here is the picture from Bridal Falls.

I see the tail
White on white

We then headed back to town and stopped at the Horsetail Falls; the water was sure falling. We showed off the car in front of the falls which was fun. I think I made a car commercial. If that isn’t enough white, we added some swans. I had seen a swan sitting on what I thought was a nest on our way into town. I am so excited that I was right. So the next stop was to see if she had moved or not. She had not. It is amazing to watch the grace and care she took with her nest. Her is some information about the Trumpeter Swan

getting ready to sit
the male

I really hope they raise another wonderful family.

I enjoyed being able to spend 20 minutes just watching her take care of the nest and settle in to keep her eggs warm that I did just stop and watch. No bears and not many eagles but Valdez did not disappoint. In fact, I got a bonus with the setting full moon tonight from our campground. I would have not gone outside to even look but it is 2 am and we still have the same gull driving us insane. It did however get me outside to capture this.

Full Moon Setting