Wednesday, August 24, 2016

AK - Playing in the Snow on Top of Mt. Alyeska & Disappearing Land

Me sitting in the snow on top of
Mt Alyeska!!! 

Snowball fight in
August!!! August?!  You bet!  After riding the tram up 2300' from the Alyeska Lodge to the upper terminal where skiers catch a ride to the tippy-top in the winter, we decided to hike up a trail for another mile to the SNOW!  This trail was fraught with single track switchbacks and pretty steep runs.  There were a few 'stop and check the scenery' moments...LOL  We actually had no idea that we would encounter snow when we started...we just heard the view from the top of the trail was amazing and it was one of the few no-rain days we had so far in we went for it!  When I heard a kid say there was snow, I got all the more excited.  So each time I was ready to be satisfied with the current view and my thighs were screaming at me...I pushed ahead.  It was soooo worth it!  To be standing at one of the mountain crests, seeing snow in August AND the breathtaking view, well.....what else can I say...except Thanks!

A bee looking for a snack

The opposite direction tram car getting
 ready to pass us

From our tram car

Hanging glaciers in the distance

Trail shot taken from our tram car

Almost to the upper terminal

Views from the upper terminal



Glacier run-off

The observation deck from the first leg
of our climb to the snow

We can make it!!!


Back at the upper tram terminal, the view was not too shabby either.  The endless peaks of the Chugach mountain range, 'hanging' glaciers, sparkling streams, towering spruce and gorgeous flowers were all part of the vista.

We even saw a para-glider and a helicopter giving tours! No critters  We had a great lunch at the cafe then continued to enjoy the panoramic view from the observation platform. The entire experience was wonderful.
     We arrived 'on the ground' just in time to drive up the highway toward Beluga Point to witness a bore tide.  A tidal bore tide is a rush of seawater that returns to a shallow and narrowing inlet from a broad bay.  There are about 60 in the world.  Only a few are large enough to be noteworthy.  The 'waves' can reach up to 30' tall with movement up to 20 mph!  Also, the best time to see a larger bore is the few days before and after a new or full moon.  We caught one early on so no big waves...but nonetheless an amazing phenomenon to witness.  What was once was dry land, within a brief period of time, disappears right before your eyes getting swallowed up by a steady influx of water.   I hope the pics will at least provide a glimpse of what we watched that afternoon.
Keep an eye on the point of land to
the right and the amount of water this
side of it

Point smaller...waterway larger

Point much smaller...waterway widening

Land vanishing

Land completely covered by water...
pretty cool, huh?

On the other side we watched the rocks
as a reference point
See a large one and then a few smaller
ones in the water?

Tide rolling in covers the smallest rocks
and diminishes the visible land

Small rocks under water and
minimal visible land

Along Seward Hwy at one of the mileposts,
people were lined up to fill containers with
fresh and COLD glacier water...

Monday, August 22, 2016

AK - Alaskan Heritage - The Sky and Earth

 Two stops we made this trip to Anchorage were the AK Aviation Museum and the AK Native Heritage Museum.  In Alaska, the sky is a major avenue for travel even within the state as a very small percentage of it is developed...passable paved roadways are at a premium.  Residents of Alaska fly like the rest of us drive!!!  Most people have their own little private planes actually sitting in their yards!  So, the history of air travel here and its function personally and commercially is quite important.  The museum provided a wonderful visual of the old and the current aircraft and the impressive role of Alaskan air travel over the years.  Carl, of course, was in heaven since he is a pilot and has actually flown several models of the planes we saw at the museum!!!  He was like a kid in a candy shop!  It was great!
The museum was situated on Lake Hood so we were able to see quite a few float planes take off and land.  I loved the pontoons.
Commemorative stamps

This woman is a famous
pilot known for her amazing
skills at aerobatic maneuvers

Current picture

Specialty planes...Hi, Mickey!

Very clever!

Vintage luggage

Carl, in heaven!  Being a pilot himself,
he loves flying and has actually flown
and owned a couple models that were
in the museum!

The video viewing seats...very cool

I'm NOT a
Just playin'

Just hanging out

Taking off!!!

     Our second stop was at the Alaska Native Heritage Center.  We arrived just in time to see a beautiful dance.  It was wonderful seeing the young adults and teens expressing the love for their heritage in that way.  It reminded me of when I lived in NM.  There was always some event taking place honoring the culture there.  It was one of my favorite things about being there.

The master drummer and his little
son...hiding in the
     Our walking tour took us to several authentic life-sized Native dwellings.  Within each was a host to welcome us and answer any questions.  The whole area was lovely...the homes were surrounded by large beautiful trees and Lake Tiulana sat proudly in the center of it all.
A canoe completely hand made

Check out the eagle art!!!

An apparatus for catching scoops
up the fish, the fish falls through the
shoot and the men grab them out and...

Oh my...seal skins

Me taking a break...caught me!!!

The interior of one of the
Native dwellings


    Upon returning from our visit,  Sherry, our host and the Executive Director of MATI, shared some really neat information about the center.   Her family has a vested interest in its mission to provide a unique opportunity for visitors to experience Alaska's diverse cultures and their contribution to Alaska.  It is also hoped that visitors will recognize and appreciate the traditions and values still alive today even in an ever-changing world.  The center also serves the Natives by promoting self-esteem and pride.   The year after the center opened, in 2000, Sherry's husband, Lonnie, became vice president then moved into the position of  CEO.  So, it is no wonder that this center holds a special place in their hearts.   A well-known master carver named Nathan Jackson from Ketchikan, created the totem pole outside the main lodge building.  He carved the top piece in Lonnie's likeness in appreciation of his leadership and community spirit.  Lonnie, a Tlinket, was honored and humbled by this gesture, but requested that modifications be made to minimize the likeness.  Lonnie believed that with 200 staff on board, he was certainly not the only one who deserved recognition for the dedicated efforts it took to make the center as meaningful as it is.
The totem pole outside
the lodge with Lonnie's
likeness at the top

The lodge opening...bend down and back in!

 A final fun note about the lodge....anyone who came to visit had to enter backwards...each clan wore a specific symbol on the back of their robes and if you were deemed an enemy when your symbol was seen, you got clobbered and booted out before you even got in!!!