Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Liard Hot Springs

A really great place to stop along the Alaska Highway, just south of the Yukon border is a spot along the Liard River called Liard Hot Springs.  The campground is well taken care of by the folks in British Columbia, and if camping isn't your style, there is a nice hotel across the highway.  I chose the camping for if nothing else, the $21 tag.  I asked about some firewood, they delivered a robust armload of nicely split oak to the campsite along with a handful if dry kindling.  A scrap of paper and a match and I had a nice fire, and with the good wood there was virtually no smoke to bother other campers.  Likewise, no one else in the campground had smoke billowing through the trees.  Maybe some campgrounds in the states could learn a bit from this!  Of course there are the few that couldn't build a fire no matter what they had .. the guy in the site next to me spent about 10 minutes banging around with an axe, I was surprised he didn't hurt himself .. then the next 20 minutes smoking the place up trying to get a fire going.  At least he gave up quickly and retired to his motor home with the family. 
 The real reason the stop here though is the hot springs. A short 15 minute walk from the campground, along a well done boardwalk, and the hot mineral water springs will ease tired muscles and make you relax for a great nights sleep. I had much of an afternoon there, and then after I made some dinner on my nice campfire, I headed back along the trail in the dark for another soak before heading to my tent and nice warm sleeping bag. I can't imagine driving by this place and not spending at least an afternoon there.

 A well done changing room, the bottom is small pea rock instead of the mud from years ago.  I was here in mid September, and even then, the nights were below freezing.  The fall colors were just beginning.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Where did the Summer go?

So its been since July 1st since I took the time to come here and write some things.  I hadn't forgotten about the blog, just staying busy here with the day to day stuff. Also with facebook I have another internet social place to keep track of.  Although I've had time to sit down and write, it just hasn't been and where I could bring the laptop along.  Now the time has come when I need to finish all my little projects I've started, and gather all the stuff I brought along with me last April, and think about the trip back to Minnesota.  Just a bit over 3,600 miles through some of the most beautiful country a person could ever see.  Also some of the toughest roads I've run across in a long time .. I hope the frost damaged road from the Alaska border to Destruction Bay in the Yukon Territory has seen some repairs, or at least been smoothed out over the summer.  That was a tough stretch!  And it wasn't much better in June when Dee and I did the marathon road trip to pick up Elena in Whitehorse after her car broke down on the highway. 

Well the only way I can keep track of what I've been up to here is go through the pictures I've taken since my last post in July .. so here's a few photos to catch up for July and August.  These are mostly the highlights.  Some of the day to day stuff is fun to talk about too, like flying out to do aircraft repairs on a beach and ending up spending the night there with the bears .. more on that one later ...

Just during a walk on the beach .. lots of eagles.  This is a young bald eagle, before the distinctive white head.

On a fishing trip to the Kenai we flew through some nice glaciers on the Harding Ice Fields. 
July flowers.
Some of the sights across Katchemak Bay.

Stephanie and Dee.  Steller Air flew us to Brooks Falls for a great bear trip.  The flights in Alaska are always good!


Well that gets us to mid August.  Some friends came up to visit around the end of August, we took a week and saw sights, went to see the bears in the Katmai National Park, and did 4 days kayaking Katchemak Bay.  I'll try and get some photos up from the trip soon.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Just fooling around

In the bay working on some different rolls this afternoon when a sea otter seemed curious and came right up to me to watch.  Usually they are gone at the first sound you make, this guy truly seemed curious.  He was doing the same as me .. just fooling around in the water.  I did a few rolls, and he would do the same.  This went on for about 20 minutes.  What a fun rolling partner!!  He stayed right with me about a paddle distance from the boat. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Homer Spit is probably the best place I've found for eagle photos.  Years ago there was a woman that fed them, she is now gone, but the eagles have remained.  If you hang out here long enough, you will come up with a few good eagle photos.  These I got today near the Pier One Theatre on the spit.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Lets go for a walk

Bishops Beach is a great place for a walk during low tide.  Small rivers flowing from tide pools make tall rubber boots a necessity, and the real cool thing is that all the rocks are covered in barnacles, so the walking is easy with no slippery rocks.  Where we walk during the low tide is under roughly 15 to 20 feet of water during the high tide, so there is always plenty of cool stuff to see.  The seagulls and eagles are hanging around at low tide looking for a meal.

 This little hermit crab kept getting tipped over by the waves as he was trying to get back to the water.  I think he was trying to hide out from the seagulls.  I gave him a little help back to the water.
How would you like to be a hermit crab stuck in the middle of this bunch!
 And I have absolutely no idea what this is .. and I'm not going to touch it!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Matanuska Glacier

Just off the Glen Highway between Glennallen and Palmer Alaska is the Matanuska Glacier, a 27 mile long 4 mile wide river if ice that is the source of the Matanuska River.  On the drive back to Minnesota this Fall, this will have to be a for sure stop and hike up to the glacier.  I drove past the glacier this week on a marathon road trip from Homer to Whitehorse.  Really the best and most stunning scenery on the whole Alaska Highway lies between Haines Junction in the Yukon, and Palmer Alaska.  The Glen Highway in incredible.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Dashboard Mascot

The last mascot I had was a lizard that my daughter made for me when she was about 4 years old. It was all made of beads that were strung together to shape a little lizard, and it was red and white like the sail on the ship. When she gave it to me I thought it was an alligator, but she corrected me right away saying it was a lizard. Well she's 22 now, and the lizard made it all the way to about 3 years ago. I think the string finally fell apart and the beads all found their way into the small places of the last pickup truck I had. I hadn't thought about replacing it with anything until a friend gave me this one. At first I just set it up on the dash, it kept falling over and I kept setting upright again. Then I had to make the decision to keep it up there so, it was time to fasten it down to keep it in place. The little ship reminds me of my Scandinavian heritage, and the travels I've made with it guiding my way. It also reminds me of the friendship of the one who gave it to me. Now after a trip up the Alaska Highway and a Summer of traveling Alaska this one will have some good memories too.

Saturday, May 28, 2011


Some interesting clouds were forming over the Kenai Mountains this morning. Most people would maybe give them a curious glance, but a pilot should know a little about them, especially if they were planning a flight in the mountains. Standing lenticular clouds are formed when the air rises up over the mountains, cools to the dewpoint and the cloud forms. Then the wave descends into the trough, and as the air warms past the dewpoint again, the cloud dissipates. The cloud has the deceptive appearance of being stationary. Once in awhile a churning rotor cloud will appear below the lennie, but not always. Strong turbulence is always associated near the rotor cloud, or where it might be if the conditions were right. Gliders on the other hand will seek out the lenticular clouds because of the lift they can generate over the top. Altitude records in gliders have been set riding the lift associated with the mountain waves. At any rate, they are really an interesting phenomena, and have a very calm and serene appearance.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Fun with Tides

At the Cook Inlet we have near a 28ft tide. A decision to head to the beach for some kayak fun has to first be checked against the tide charts. Here in town and on the local beach it is nothing more than a nasty carry for a 1/4 mile to find the water at low tide, or it could be a wild ride in China Poot Bay during the change. Last Summer when I had the chance to get some paddle time in with Tom Pogson at the Alaska Kayak School, we ventured into China Poot at somewhere near slack tide, and never really got into the tide race. Tom did give me some idea on what a person might encounter, and to give the area a great deal of respect. This year I have a little more time, but I still may have to get my good kayak time in during the end of an Alaska Summer.

Anyway, here is an image of Bishop beach at both the high and low tide. These are not extreme tides .. if I remember right, these are at a -4ft and a high of around 17ft. You could add a few feet to the high and low for a max tide day.

You can click on these images and look closely .. on the low tide shot, there are some peope out on the beach.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Ealgle Stuff

I've been trying to get out to the bay after work for some kayak activities. At least spend some time playing in the waves and doing some of the different rolls I've learned over the last few years. I need to work on the balance/static brace to get some of the other rolls working good, the balance brace has been just a bit elusive for me. I get it for awhile, then it seems to go away. I'd like to spend some time this summer getting this one down a little better. While loading the boat up on the Jeep the other day, I had an eagle come by. He seemed real interested in something on the hill next to where I was parked and kept flying by, so I grabbed the camera and tried to capture some fly bye's.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Stand up Paddling

Well the wind picked up, and the stand up paddlers came back, and this time they had some waves to play in. My comments earlier about them not going very far, and very fast will have to be re-thought. But I will stand my my statement that they look like they are having fun! I may have to re-think this paddle board thing. I thought about taking the NDK out for some fun, but it was a nasty carry over the rocks, and the dumping surf looked a bit intimidating. These guys seem to have it figured out. Just push the board out and climb on!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Bear Trip

With the bear viewing season soon upon us we needed to go check out Hallo and Chinitna Bay. These are the areas we bring people to photograph and view the big bears up close. We were happy to see the bears out and about and digging clams. Early season, the clams are a major source for their diet. One of the reasons the bears are so tolerant of us being there is the abundant food supply in the area. There is always either the clams, the sedge grass that grows along the tidal areas, or the salmon. They have no reason to assume we would have food for them. Unlike the black bears I'm used to seeing in the Apostle Islands on Lake Superior, nobody here has fed them, or left anything laying around for them to associate us with food. Its an opportunity for us to see them up close and still feel safe. Augustine rises 4,134 feet from the sea ...

The flight out to see the bears is an incredible experience, and second only to seeing the bears. With good weather we can see three volcano's .. there's Augustine, Iliamna, and Redoubt. If the visibilty is really good, I'm told Denali can be seen, but 250 miles distant. I was able to get some good shots of Augustine on this trip. I had a couple photos earlier this week from the beach in Homer of Augustine with smoke, but at 75 miles distance it wasn't the greatest. The images here are pretty close, but no smoke.

It's hard to describe the flight from Halo to Chinitna, the whole distance is full of glaciers, mountains, waterfalls, and all the stuff that makes this place Alaska. I have a few of the images here from the flight, but a better way is to experience it first hand.

As we leave Chinitna Bay to cross the Cook Inlet we climb to 10,000 feet msl to make a safe crossing back to Homer.