Sunday, September 13, 2009

Alaska 2009 - part 4: Valdez to Seward

A nine and a half hour drive. Pretty much all we did that day was drive, so not a lot of images. I believe it was raining on and off with mostly clouds again, so the sights weren't spectacular. I don't remember where, or if, we stopped for breakfast somewhere, but I do remember we stopped at the Greater Copper Valley Visitor Center which has info for everywhere in Alaska.

In the Visitor Center the woman who runs the place is perfect for the job. I remember her from the last time I was there. She has plenty of stories and lots of advice. In addition, the center has stuffed wildlife including a big brown bear and a wolverine. On her desk is a piece of artwork someone at the local Senior Center created and gave to her. I believe it's called Moosquito Musher as it's a musher with mosquitos pulling the sled, all on top of a moose antler.

Moosquito Musher

After grabbing a few Kenai Peninsula magazines for ideas, we headed on our way. The plan was to drop My Dad, his friends, & my brother off at their trailhead for their 3-day backpacking trip while I do whatever the heck I feel like the next few days. So, as you can imagine, we didn't stop for much.

We stopped for lunch a bit north of Palmer at Pinnacle Mt. RV Park & Cafe. The food was of gigantic proportions, but only moderately tasty. The desserts sure looks great, but I didn't even finish my salad, so we passed on the pies. They had a lot of cute antique stuff on the walls, so that was fun. They also had llama & other animals to pet in their yard decorated with old tractors.

We quickly passed through Anchorage and went on down the Seward Highway along the Turnagain Arm. The following picture isn't what it looked like that day, but that is how beautiful it can be. I took that in July 2004.
Turnagain Arm & Alaska Rail

About an hour or so later, we came upon their destination that afternoon; the Devils Pass Trailhead. They hiked in a couple of miles and camped for the night. From what I understand, it's a pretty easy backpacking trip with little up & down and beautiful views. I could have done it, but I was thinking there's SO much more of Alaska to see and I can't see enough on foot.

After double checking our meet-up spot (which turned out to be different anyway), I went on my merry way to Seward. The next day I was set to take a wildlife & glacier day cruise. In my original plans, I had planned for it to be Thursday the 13th, but as it turned out, by the time I remembered to make a reservation it was booked. Luckily there were two openings on Wednesday the 12th. I had to adjust my solo plans, but it probably worked out better this way.

Upon arriving in Seward, I decided to drive down to Lowell Point while the light was still good enough. It seemed all the hiking trails were paid, so since I didn't have that much time, I didn't bother to go hiking. But it was a nice drive and basically I staked out a place to go in the future with more time. After I got home, I discovered there is a whole network of trails that would be perfect for a future backpacking/camping trip... perhaps even kayaking.

On the drive back to town, I noticed an otter out in the bay so I pulled over and took a few snapshots. It was getting dark by this point with the clouds and late time, so they aren't the best. But, they are cute ;)
Sea Otter

This guy dove down a couple of times while I was taking it's picture. I think it was showing off because each time it came back up and looked at me. Hey lady... take my picture! I wanna be a star!
See Otter with clam

I also saw a bird that at the time I was unfamiliar with. At some time during the trip I realized it was a murrelet, but which one I wasn't sure since I couldn't blow up the picture to verify. Turns out it was a Marbled Murrelet.
Marbled Murrelet

Like the Otter, it also dove a few times. I don't think it was looking for clam though.
Diving Marbled Murrelet

Next up... more water bird pics... puffins & whales were my goal and I got them.


Linda in Erie said...

Wow, what great memories to have. I had to laugh at the moosquito musher. I really, really want to see Alaska but I'd like to see it while staying in hotels. I don't think I'd be able to camp out like that. I just love the sea otters. So cute!

Anonymous said...

Greetings. I am the author of the book Rare Bird: Pursuing the Mystery of the Marbled Murrelet (Rodale Press, 2005). I wonder if I could get your permission to post your photo of the diving marbled murrelet on my website, It's a great shot for birders interested in knowing what this bird looks it dives away from them. Thanks--Maria

Heidi said...

Well Linda, there's always motorhome style :) Many many people do that. There are hotels and inns all over the place, including rustic lodges for fun, but they are all over $100 or even more during tourist season.

Thanks Maria, I'll send you an email.

Mary C said...

Did you ask the storeowner if you could take a picture of that moosquito musher? Now that is a great advertisement for AK. Comment on Maria's comment: Does this mean that someday you could give up your day job and go pro as a photographer? (hee, hee) Only kidding.

Heidi said...

Oh, if only I could get money for my photos... and consistent money. I could go superstock, but nah... that's no fun. I'd rather be a fine artist type than stock photographer. Of course, I've got to work out the printing kinks.

I didn't ask the lady if I could take a picture, but she saw me taking it, and appreciating it. I asked who made it and she told me.

RuthieJ said...

Marbled Murrelet would be a lifer for me! Great picture Heidi!
And who doesn't love otters? (especially when they're hams!) ;-)

Heidi said...

Yep, can't go wrong with Otters... they're just so darn cute!


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