Tuesday, July 11, 2017

driving in alaska

With errands dotting our to-do list, Anchorage was the first stop on the summer travels.  

 The city is full of trails and we were fortunate enough to be staying within walking distance of an entrance.  

Between errands we managed to get out to Girdwood.  Girdwood is home to Alyeska Ski Resort and in the summer they have great trails for short hikes.

 We stopped at Beluga Point on the way.

 There are ski runs in the distance on the drive into Girdwood.  Having grown up on flat land, mountains just blow my mind.

 The trails were pretty busy that day.  It was cool yet sunny.

 The color of these falls was just incredible.  

Towards the end of the week Isaac's parents, and then sister, joined us in Anchorage.  We took them to some of our favorite places.  Just in the last year we have had quite of few trips to and through the city.  A few favorite and regular spots have certainly developed.  Isaac already had a few from the summer he spent doing his teacher training.

 Checking out Sleeping Lady with Don and Mary.

Monica came into town the next day and we all went for a climb up Flat Top Mountain.  

 Even part-way up had a spectacular view of downtown Anchorage and Sleeping Lady.  

The next day we packed up, stocked up and headed out down Highway 1.  Our first stop was Sterling.  The drive there is along the Kenai River and through the Chugach Mountains.  The drive was pretty spectacular.  Salmon season hadn't opened so traffic was easy.  In the weeks to follow the road would become full of folks in search of this year's catch.

 Don and Mary rented a Minnie Winnie for the adventure and it was fun to watch them roll through the scenery.  

We took a day to drive to Seward.  I had never been there.  We had lunch by the old depot and saw some whales spouting in the bay.  Seward is were the original delivery of medicine to Nome began.  There were markers to commemorate that fact.  Today their is a ceremonial start in Anchorage and race actually begins from Willow.

 Stopped at a scenic overlook on our way to Seward.

A pack of Paulsons walking by the water.

Our sled dog will have quite a bit of training before she is ready for the Iditarod.  Two seconds later she had pulled loose and taken off.  

Driving back we stopped to look at Exit Glacier.  Along the road there were markings to show how big the glacier had been year by year.  As we got even closer the shrinking was shockingly visible.

 Where Isaac is standing in the picture is where the glacier had been ten years ago.  

 As the glacier continues to melt the valley shifts, establishing plant growth.  The melt has become much more rapid in the last few years.

The following day we went for a hike around Skilak Lake. 

 Ada charged ahead to warn any animals of our presence and then checked back to make sure we were all still walking.  She was a great hike leader.

 The view from the top was amazing.  The color of the water comes from the silt left by glacier run-off.  

The next stretch of our journey took us farther down the Kenai Peninsula, to Homer.  We stayed at the Homer Spit Campgrounds out on the spit.

 The pup finally got her car legs.  It took about a week for her to learn to relax and nap during our road journeys.  

Isaac pitched our tent right on the beach.

 Don and Mary had the campsite right behind ours.  We experimented in dutch oven cooking and enjoyed halibut fish tacos.  

 Ada experienced waves and salt water for the first time.  She's a big fan of seaweeds.

When on the Spit in Homer, stopping by the Salty Dog is a must.  The inside is covered in autographed dollar bills and miscellaneous items left by patrons over the years.

 Using a photograph for reference we were able locate our dollar bill from last year's visit.

 We added a bill that had been riding around in my purse since Mexico.  

 It was a fun atmosphere and so nice to share with family.

 From the hills of Homer we met friendly groundskeepers and viewed glaciers across the bay.
 The rocky coast is my favorite kind of beach.

 Don, Monica and Mary down on the beach.  

 Seaweed is such a new thing to me.  Having grown up land-locked all the variety of vegetation found in the ocean is just fascinating to me.

While a study-abroad student in the south of France I met Eliza.  As we stitched through our experiences she talked about growing up in Alaska.  Her stories of Halibut Cove were so intriguing.  Getting to see the Cove was high on my list of expectations for this trip to Homer.  It was so exciting to get to go and share that with the whole Paulson clan.

 It was a smooth ride over on the Danny J.  The wooden-decked ship was once a troop transport.

 The highlight of our trip was a delicious dinner at the Saltry.  Their local oysters, harvested nearby, were the best I have ever eaten.

 The Cove is home to artists, galleries, and the only floating USPS post office in the country.

The return ferry trip highlights included a deck-wide happy birthday song to a fellow passenger and...

 an orca pod sighting!  It's the tiny black protrusion in right side of the water.

 Monica, Mary and I went to explore tide pools and barnacles.  Tides, another one of those magical ocean features.

 The view of the Spit and the Bay from the hills behind Homer.

It sure was fun to explore a bit of Alaska with this crew!  Ready for Denali next year?

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