June 9, 2015 Seward, Alaska

Sea Otters
Sea Otters

Eight Soggy Days

Well, it’s been a week since my last post, a longer than usual pause caused by a couple of factors, a lack of internet availability and a lack of any kind of activity worthy of posting. Eight straight days of rain and leaden gray skies have put my Alaska adventures on hold. Without an internet connection, I am not sure just how long this bad weather streak is going to continue, but the long range forecast, back when I was in Anchorage, was calling for two weeks of this wet stuff, so I suppose I’m only half way there.

I left Cabella’s parking lot/campsite last Wednesday at noon, but only made it about 25 miles south on the Seward Highway, deciding to pull off and camp at the turnoff at MM 92.5. The strong wind from the south and heavy rain was making driving a little uncomfortable and I knew I was in no rush to get anywhere, so better safe than sorry.

I awoke the next morning to rain … and the odd sight of two individuals on paddle boards working their way seaward at 5:30 AM in just horrible weather conditions. For the life of me, I just couldn’t figure what was going on there. And about five minutes later, it became clear just what these two were up to as the infamous Turnagain Arm tidal bore came rushing in. This was the first time I had ever seen anything like this, a wall of rushing water, pushing a wave of perhaps five of 6 feet in height, moving at an incredible speed down the waterway. And these two guys had been paddling out to meet it and ride it back in. Both had fallen behind the crest and were paddling furiously to catch back up with the front of the surge, but never were able to get there.

Five minutes later, once again through my rain streaked windows, I saw what I at first thought were some white caps racing in the direction of the surge, only 30 feet from the shoreline, at least I assumed that must be what I was seeing. It took a few seconds to realize that what I was looking at was a pod of Beluga Whales racing in with the tide. They were gone in just a few seconds and the sighting was not as spectacular as one might think since Turnagain Arms waters are a cloudy, silt laden gray and all you actually see of the whales is a quick glimpse of their backs as they roll along with the tide, no head, fins, or tails, just a three or four foot section of back. Still kind of neat to finally actually see at least a part of these creatures.

So Thursday morning, I continued on south to Seward on what probably is a beautiful drive along the water and through the mountains, but with the rain and low lying clouds, there wasn’t much to see today. I will have to hope my return on this road coincides with some clearer weather. I arrived in Seward and was able to snag a waterfront campsite with electric and water. I had decided to forego boondocking because of the inclement weather that was forecast for the next couple of weeks, weather conditions not terribly favorable for generating electricity with my solar setup.

Seward Waterfront Campsite, View to my Right
Seward Waterfront Campsite, View to my Right

Seward Waterfront Campground

The Seward waterfront campsites are $30 for utilities and $15 for primitive. The sites are flat, stone surfaced and really tightly spaced.

Seward Waterfront Campsite, View to my Left
Seward Waterfront Campsite, View to my Left

I had to actually ask my neighbor to move his truck so that I could access my basement storage doors the other day … now that is what I call very tight spacing. So I have constant rain, absolutely no privacy, no satellite TV ( too far north ), no over the air TV, no phone, and no internet signal. And there may well be another week of this to endure.

Seward Waterfront Campsite, View out Front
Seward Waterfront Campsite, View out Front

The one redeeming, life saving, feature of this particular site is the view out the front windshield. So far, through the rain streaked windshield, I have seen a humpback whale semi breach only a hundred yards out, sea lions snagging fish close to shore, bald eagles flying overhead, and my favorite entertainers, a pair of sea otters that hunt near the shoreline every day, plucking mussels from the rocks just offshore then surfacing and devouring their catch while floating on their backs, no more than a hundred feet away. The red arrow in the image above is pointing to one of them out there when I happened to take this shot. Unlike me, I suppose  they don’t really mind the rain.

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Sea Otter
Sea Otter

 

The Rain Stops ! ( but only for five hours )

Two days ago, the rain actually stopped for a couple of hours and I was able to get my long lens and tripod out and get a few shots of these guys, actually, probably gals, as I think, from their interactions, that they may be a mom and last years offspring, though I don’t know that for sure.

As always, click any image for a larger, sharper version.

Sea Otter
Sea Otter
Sea Otter
Sea Otter
Sea Otters
Sea Otters

 

Sea Otter
Sea Otter
Mew Gull
Mew Gull
Mew Gull
Mew Gull

During this short break in the weather I also got a couple shots of the Mew Gulls when they came close to get a drink of fresh water in the puddles in front of the motorhome.

Seward Waterfall
Seward Waterfall

While the rain held off for a few hours I drove north a couple of miles and took the Nash Road around to the other side of the sound to explore a little and ran across a beautiful waterfall on the side of the road.

Seward Waterfall
Seward Waterfall

SewardDetail5

SewardDetail3

Seward Waterfall
Seward Waterfall
Seward Waterfall
Seward Waterfall

At the end of Nash Road there is a large gravel parking area where I found several folks camping, despite an older sign on a bulletin board there stating that the campground was closed. There had to be at least twenty Rvs and tenters set up there though, so obviously, no one is stopping people from camping there. A definite boondocking possibility for the Seward area.

Well, I am off to the Seward Library in hopes of being able to post this blog entry, if you are reading this, then I guess I must have had some success there. Once again, it may well be a while until the rain ends and I have reason to do another post, but stay tuned.

 

May 20, 2015 Valdez, Alaska

Above the Clouds
Above the Clouds

Head in the Clouds and Water, Falling

In actuality, technically, my head was above the clouds!

Above the Clouds
Above the Clouds

When I awoke this morning, around 3:30 AM, there was a solid gray cloud cover over the area, with just a ray of light shining through here and there.  So, nothing to shoot here below the cloud cover, let’s climb back up Thompson Pass and see what’s happening there, if nothing else, I can do waterfalls with the soft diffused light from the cloud cover.

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version, and many of these shots do deserve that you do so.

Above the Clouds
Above the Clouds
Above the Clouds
Above the Clouds

As I climbed the grade up Thompson Pass, I actually entered the clouds I had been viewing from below, soon a solid dense fog bank, all but obscurring the road. So much for any dramatic shots from Thompson Pass, I thought as I continued my climb to the top.

Above the Clouds
Above the Clouds
Above the Clouds
Above the Clouds

But I persevered onward, and upward, and there suddenly appeared a little shimmering of light from above, and then I emerged from the cloud cover, was at the top of Thompson Pass, and, boy, was I ever wrong about no dramatic shots from up here this morning!

Above the Clouds
Above the Clouds

Here, at the top of the pass, it was as if you were in a plane doing a flyover of the mountains, high above the clouds, yet I was able to set the tripod up on terra firma.

Above the Clouds
Above the Clouds

Just a magical morning at the top of Thompson Pass, gray and gloomy below, simply spectacular above. As I mentioned in my last post, catching the “Golden Hours” here in Alaska is going to require some severe self discipline, seeing as they occur at some very early, and very late times. Getting out before 4 AM this particular morning, I was well rewarded for the effort.

Horsetail Falls Detail
Horsetail Falls Detail

Keystone Canyon Waterfalls

Keystone Canyon on the road to Valdez
Keystone Canyon on the road to Valdez

On the road to Valdez, after descending from Thompson Pass, you enter the very dramatic Keystone Canyon, where suddenly, the road is swallowed by immense rock walls, towering over you to all but unimagineable heights. And as you round the first bend in the canyon, you are greeted by a pair of incredibly tall waterfalls.

Keystone Canyon Waterfalls
Keystone Canyon Waterfalls
Keystone Canyon Waterfall
Keystone Canyon Waterfall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This morning, since the falls were still completely in the shade, I decided to stop and spend a little time ( ended up being well over an hour ), searching out details of rock and spray, looking for that ideal composition of water flowing over rock.

Horsetail Falls Detail
Horsetail Falls Detail
Horsetail Falls Detail
Horsetail Falls Detail
Horsetail Falls Detail
Horsetail Falls Detail
Bridal Falls Detail
Bridal Falls Detail
Bridal Falls Detail
Bridal Falls Detail
Bridal Falls Detail
Bridal Falls Detail
Horsetail Falls Detail
Horsetail Falls Detail

Extensive playing around with various ISO’s, DOF, and shutter speed settings produces a wide, and sometimes wild, variety of images of the very same portion of a waterfall. One of the things I enjoy about photography is being able to capture images that your eye actually doesn’t see.

Horsetail Falls Detail
Horsetail Falls Detail
Trumpeter Swan on Her nest
Trumpeter Swan on Her nest

On this same road I noticed this Trumpeter Swan dutifully sitting on her clutch of eggs. I will have to keep an eye on her over the next few days here, just in case I am lucky enough to catch some newly hatched signets.

Yet More Watercolor Subjects

Valdez Drydock
Valdez Drydock

And lastly, back in the village of Valdez, I found three more potential watercolor subjects sitting in dry dock. Though I know I’ll never get the brushes out this summer while here in Alaska, I swear this winter I will resume my painting career.

Valdez Drydock
Valdez Drydock
Valdez Drydock
Valdez Drydock

Thank you for shopping Amazon from my site!

When you click through to shop Amazon from here, I get a tiny commission, one that does not in any way impact what you pay, and all those tiny commissions eventually add up and that helps me keep this blog going !



 

July 25, 2014 Quinault Rain Forest

Floating the Quinault River
Floating the Quinault River

I did a walk around the campground loop this morning, and since the back is starting to feel a little stronger, continued with a walk down the beach.

Late morning, I took off down Route 101 south to Lake Quinault and South Shore Road that follows along the shore of the lake and ventures about 10 miles up into the Quinault Rain Forest.

Blue Hydrangeas and day lilies
Blue Hydrangeas and day lilies

As a former fairly avid gardener, I have been fascinated by the all the gorgeous flower beds and flowering shrubbery I have encountered almost everywhere this summer on the Olympic Peninsula.

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Hydrangeas
Hydrangeas
Blue Hydrangeas
Blue Hydrangeas
Blue Hydrangeas
Blue Hydrangeas

Once again, I found an abundance of beautiful gardens along this road, but the blue hydrangeas really stood out.

Thomas Kincaid Cottage
Thomas Kincaid Cottage

Couldn’t help but think of the late artist (?) Thomas Kincaid when I ran across this cottage set back from the road.

Floating the Quinault River
Floating the Quinault River
Floating the Quinault River
Floating the Quinault River
Quinault rain forest
Quinault rain forest
Floating the Quinault River
Floating the Quinault River

 

 

 

 

I did run into this guide taking a couple down the river and the gentleman in one of the pontoon boats was making a few casts every once in a while, but he was only fishing, not catching. The Quinalt River is a crystal clear shallow stream that hosts several salmon runs plus a steelhead run, although I wasn’t fortunate enough to be here during one of these runs. Check out some of the catches on this river.    quinault river fishing

Quinault rain forest
Quinault rain forest
Quinault rain forest
Quinault rain forest
Quinault rainforest
Quinault rainforest

Quinault rainforestQuinault rainforest

The Quinault Rain Forest is a temperate rain forest. Moss and lichens cover almost every surface  in the forest.

Rust in Peace
Rust in Peace
Rust in Peace
Rust in Peace

And that would include abandoned vehicles.

Quinault rainforest waterfall
Quinault rainforest waterfall

There are several small waterfalls along this road and a few more accessible by a short hike into the rain forest. I apologize for getting a little carried away with these but it has been a while since I have been able to get out and do some photography!

Quinault rainforest waterfall
Quinault rainforest waterfall
Quinault rainforest waterfall
Quinault rainforest waterfall
Quinault rainforest waterfall
Quinault rainforest waterfall
Quinault rainforest waterfall
Quinault rainforest waterfall
Quinault rainforest waterfall
Quinault rainforest waterfall
Quinault rainforest waterfall
Quinault rainforest waterfall
Quinault rainforest waterfall
Quinault rainforest waterfall
Quinault rainforest waterfall
Quinault rainforest waterfall
Quinault rainforest waterfall
Quinault rainforest waterfall
Quinault rainforest waterfall
Quinault rainforest waterfall
Quinault rainforest waterfall
Quinault rainforest waterfall


Well, you have probably noticed the new Amazon ads. I am doing this to hopefully generate a small revenue stream from this blog to cover some of my blogging costs ( hopefully ). If you click through to Amazon from one of the ads, Amazon pays me a small commission on whatever you may be interested in purchasing, it in NO WAY adds to what you will pay for the item, it simply helps this traveler stay on the road a little longer, and share his adventures with you.

Thank you for shopping Amazon from my site!