Monday, December 31, 2007

New Favorite Place

Hi Gang,
If you want to see a true Alaskan Adventure checkout my new favorite place titled Journey on the Wild Coast. I don't think I've seen many greater adventures than the one this couple is on. Great photos and great stories and it's for a good cause!

Happy New Year!

Lots of people told me that Laird Hot Springs is a must stop when driving the ALCAN on the way to or from Alaska. It was cold and dark when I arrived in mid January but it's one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen. I pulled into the lodge parking lot after an amazing day of seeing lynx, caribou and a wolf.
After dinner I put on my headlamp and walked down the trail listening to the crunching snow beneath my feet and considering taking a dip in the naturally heated hot springs. As I got closer I could hear voices of several others and I was afraid I would shine my headlamp on some skinny dippers or kill somebody's mojo. Also it was about -3 degrees so I chickened out.

The next day I got up early and decided to head back to the springs for some photos. It was amazing to see. Probably in the top 5 most beautiful things I've ever seen. I don't think I did it justice with my little point and shoot. Everything covered in snow and frozen except the warm water of the hot springs which can be up to 108F. There's steam everywhere from the springs which then freezes and falls down like snow on all the trees and other vegetation.

So it was less than ten degrees and the changing building isn't heated! I decided that you only live once, stripped off many layers of clothes, put on my bathing suit and made a run for the springs. What a great feeling to be soaking in the hot water looking at the beauty of nature all around me. After a few minutes a nice guy from Ft. Nelson and his ten year old son showed up. We got to talking and then his son told me I couldn't leave Laird Hot Springs without doing the most fun thing of all. Being adventurous I stand over in this warm spot with frozen overhanging branches of a huge tree above me. He stands nearby and counts to three then his father hurls a rock high up in the air knocking icy snow from the branches covering his son and I with ice! Talk about a wake up call.LOL! It was too funny:) I moved away while the kid made his father throw rocks until there were none left. Finally I climbed out of the water and went to the shack to towel off and realized the puddle forming at my feet had frozen causing my feet to stick to the floor and my bathing suit was stiff as a board while I walked back to the car. My New Years resolution? Find more beautiful places like this and go visit them! Have a Happy and Healthy New Year and thanks for visiting!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Winter Fun at Mendenhall Lake

Well I had just gotten done complaining about not enough snow here in Juneau as it's been very warm(high 30's low 40s) through most of November. Then it hit single digits for several days and we had winds up to 68 MPH even knocking some boats off trailers in down town Douglas. That allowed the Mendenhall Lake to freeze and today I went there for some exercise and to see how close I could get to the glacier. There are always iceburgs but I didn't realize how huge some were until I today when I was able to walk right up to them.

This wasn't a very big iceberg but these kids were hanging from the ice axes and taking all sorts of fun action shots.

Here's two more adventurous folks(the tiny figures in the middle of the photo). I zoomed all the way in on these guys who were waking around about a thousand feet away on the Mendenhall Glacier. Seemed a bit risky as visibility was getting low with all the snow falling and the glacier making everything on top look white. The longer I live here the more toys(outdoor gear) I think I'll need to buy but then again maybe it's better if I stay away from ice climbing until I find somebody who knows what they're doing.

This one is the Glacier with a skier in front for perspective. It's tough to see with all the snow falling. There were many Xcountry skiers around the lake area today. I think that's my next investment. It seems like good exercise, lots of fun and probably less likely to cause me to use my health

Then I turned around and couldn't see the visitor center with all the snow falling. You can see the snow covered iceberg with the people on the right but the visitor center is only about 1/4 mile behind them and at this point was invisible until I got much closer. It was not even close to a white out but certainly gave me a friendly reminder to use caution.

Friday, December 7, 2007

West Juneau/Douglas Alaska area

This is a view across the Gastineau Channel from the Douglas highway which is the road I take to work every day. The channel seperates Douglas Island where I live from the Juneau road system. The boats were out fishing for King Salmon in June. In the background is the Mendenhall Glacier which I think I posted photos a few months ago on this blog. It's one of the only glaciers that you can just drive to within about a 1/4 mile away and then get a very close up view.
This is what the "beaches" look like in Southeast Alaska it's another photo of Gastineau Channel form a different angle. I frequently see harbor seals there but there are also humpback whales, occasional Orca(which sometimes block the channel and shut down cruise ship traffic) and some other marine mammals such as sea lions. It's truly amazing especially on sunny days like this one last June. Imagine coming to visit one of the people that lives here and kayaking with marine mammals. I didn't get the chance last summer but it's on my list for next summer:)

More Juneau Alaska Area Photos

To get to Juneau I drove from the Kenai so I went through Haines and took the Ferry. I spent a couple of days there at the Bear Creek Cabins which I highly recommend. The owner Mike is a great guy and told me a bunch of places to see wildlife. The young brown bear was eating grass right next to the Lutak Rd. Behind the bear is a view looking across Chilkoot inlet. The vessel in the background is mostlikely coming back from Skagway further north. If anyone wanted to come visit me (hint hint) this is only short 2-4 hour ferry ride(depending on which ferry) from Juneau. I think it cost about $109.00 including my subaru forester if I remember correctly. Anyway it's breathtakingly beautiful! My uncle Michael was there for the filming of the movie White Fang which was filmed somewhere in the Haines area.

This is Chilkoot Lake also in Haines. It's very tough to see but that v in the water in the right hand side is a beaver swimming away. Anyway the weather was pefect and as you can see the lake was so calm the mountains were giving a good reflection on the lake.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Juneau Photos

A while ago my friend asked me to add photos of the Juneau area near where I live. This one is downtown Douglas Alaska taken when I first moved to the Juneau area.

In downtown Juneau they build the houses right up the mountainside because they don't really have a choice. Some folks have houses or apartments up several flights of stairs. This guy who looked to be in his early 70s designed a way to make his garbage can into a backpack. A neighbor saw me taking the photo and told me he fills it with firewood in the winter. I guess if you live here long enough you get in great shape. Amazing!

Here's the full view of the stairs. He climbs to the top set!
I'll try to get more Juneau area photos up soon. Hopefully before I come down south for a XMAS break:)