Seward – Alaska’s deep water sea port

Seward was founded in 1903 as the ocean terminus of the Alaska Railroad and is Alaska’s only deep water port with rail, highway and air transportation to the interior. It’s natural beauty surrounds the seaport with Mt Marathon and the Harding Ice fields as the gateway tonKenai Fjords National Park. Glaciers too numerous to mention wrap the cold bay in moving crystal castles through ancient mountains and valleys. It is a welcoming place with many RV campgrounds including one on the bay downtown. The Alaska Aquarium is here and helps celebrate the seaport culture. We planned an exciting side trip here – a helicopter ride over the glaciers with a stop on the glacier for a sled dog ride atop Godwin Glacier. First we visited the Aquarium and took a boat ride through Kenai Fjord National Park.

Aquarium

Kenai Fjords National Park via cruise boat for a close up view of glaciers and the remarkable animals who inhabit the waters of this park

Approaching a huge glacier in our cruise boat.

A glacier calving …. pieces breaking off into the bay as the leading edge melts.

Bull sea lion schooling a younger family member in sea lion protocol.

My first killer whale or Orca sighting! Magnificent animals.

One of the hundreds of cruise ships that you see along the coast during summer season.

Seward Helicopters and Turning Heads Kennels at Godwin Glacier.

A three person helicopter not including raw meat and kibble fir the sled dogs.

Tidal area that is dry during low tides – tides are 15 + ft up in Alaska coast.

Goodwin Glacier – photos from the Seward Helicopter

Turning Heads Kennel on Godwin Glacier – living with and training champions for the Iditarod and Yukon Quest races

The dog on the right is named “Lola” – couldn’t resist the name sake pic.

Nine week old puppies were adorable!

Our sled dog team! The ride with them was amazing and sort of scary – they run so fast and it’s on the slippery glacier ice. We saw a big bear paw print left when the kennel had a bear visitor the previous day.

The helicopter view returning from the glacier tour – heading back to Seward. Gorgeous bay view

Seward in the distance as we prepare to land in our tiny helicopter.

Skagway – the Alaska Inside Passage to Juneau.

We both made it to Skagway safely but the road into the seaport was tricky and one didn’t want to look over the edge very often. However Skagway was amazing and it’s history and heritage was fabulous to learn about. It was however raining steadily and not a great arrival. Other coaches had some difficulties. We were all exhausted and needed a good rest that the first night, but we were looking forward to next few days which included a train ride mirroring the historic White Pass train followed by what was an amazing boat trip ride to Juneau.

Fireweed growing along the waterway that bordered the rail line.

A relic building of the early rail line

Flags of USA, Alaska, The Yukon Territories, Brutish Columbia and Canada.

Trees shrouded in fog as the train retraces the passage prospectors took 150 yrs ago on their way to find gold and silver.

Boats and cruise ships line the Skagway Harbor as the port is the most northerly stop for them. It is also important to fishing as are Valdez, Seward and Homer.

A big red machine…….

The snow removal machine used by the railroad to clear the tracks for access during winters difficult weather.

A memorial was erected in Skagway to all those who sought their fortune in Alaska and the Yukon Territories during the Gold Rush.

Cruise ships lining up – disembarking passengers for their visits to Skagway and points northeast

A cool building down on Main Street

More Main Street buildings and below is the view south at the end of that street.

Brothels were common in the 1800s as the men came into town to spend time and their earnings.

Restored buildings make it seem like time stood still in Skagway.

A space ship? No Royal Caribbean Cruise ship.

Cruise ships depart and that night the harbor grows quiet. The next day we took our cruise to Juneau.

Another bald eagle up on a cliff as we pulled out of Skagway Harbor.

We picked up other passengers in this tiny harbor – just a short distance from Skagway Harbor – remember the only way to Juneau is by boat or airplane. No road or bridge connects it to the mainland – the people who decided it would be the state capitol were far sighted methinks……

Glaciers line the Lynn Canal passage on our route – another picturesque glacier !!!

A beautiful statue of a humpback whale – those fantastic mammals who call the waters here home.

The view from the restaurant where we had lunch – Hangar on the Wharf – named because seaplanes land alongside the restaurant and it offers a terrific view as well as a fabulous menu. The capitol city and port is famous as a stop for cruise ships – thousands of people visit the area every year and enjoy a seaside Alaska cruise. We did trips by both land and sea – our perspective is much broader as a result. But – the intimate sea and land relationship in Alaska is a vital part of its heritage as well as its beauty. Don’t miss it if you get a chance.

Seaplane travel looks like fun and fascinating.

This historic Orthodox Church, named after St Nicholas, was built near the top of the hill in Juneau – it survived several catastrophes including fire. Inside we felt a remarkable feeling of calm and peace. It’s parishioners are dedicated to their church and their pastor greeted us as friends. It was a lovely experience.

St Nicholas Icon that was hanging in the front of the church.

The bell was recently restored and welcomes its believers to the daily services.

An example of the small sweet homes that line the streets up the city’s hills. Many have been restored and preserved as part of the city’s record of its earlier heritage.

Couldn’t resist getting a shot of this wild mural in a parking lot.

Cranes made by local children in an effort to bring peace to the world.

One of several sculptures along the harbor that celebrate the integral sea / land relationship.

A humpback whale spotted on our return ride to Skagway.

Brown fur covered sea lions occupy one of the Passage islands – like a huge moving brown velvet carpet – they eat, sleep and roar.

One of several waterfalls we saw along the way.

Eldred Rock is an island in the boroughs of Juneau and Haines, Alaska, United States. Located in Lynn Canal, it is 2.7 miles southeast of Kataguni Island and 55 miles northwest of the city of Juneau. The structure has been rebuilt and remains an important touchstone for passage travelers.

After hours of rain and fog – the sun breaks through and brings a shimmering golden hue to one of the glacial peaks. The sun and the warmer weather made our voyage back to Skagway beautiful with many creatures to watch and fantastic landscapes to enjoy.

Falling waters as glaciers melt and then freeze again as temperatures get cooler each fall.

These were a group of White sea lions far off in the distance – who were on a small island that we passed on the return trip.

Our one serious incident – our tow gear gives way – and I drive behind the Taj the next 2000 miles.

So there we were driving East on Highway 1 heading to the Alaska/Yukon border on our way to Skagway – suddenly our tow car was visible in the right rear view mirror. Not Some Thing You Ever Want To See! So as luck would have it we were near a pull off – one of the few- and we slowed way down to pull in very carefully.

Several other coaches from our group were there – they all stepped up to help. It seems our tow gear bolts on the car’s right side sheared off and there were no safety cables so it let go. But left side held and the car did not damage the coach or tear off into a ravine.

We were able to remove the gear and with no serious damage to the car I could drive it just fine. I would now be the chase car – and follow Rick in the Taj for the next 2000 miles. Dogs would travel with me most of the time – something they would not choose but survived

It provided me an interesting perspective and I learned to snap Iphone pictures while the phone was mounted on the car dashboard. Don’t try this at home! No one was hurt in this incident but it did shake us up a bit so drinks were evident at the evening meal.

Ravens are the supervisors of the highway.

They watch, warn and never waiver.

Fog and forest fire smoke enveloped the mountains along the highway shortly after the “incident”.

Forest fire across the river burning for several days.

Lola – my partner in the front seat this trip.

I stopped for these two pictures with Rick – it’s on the long winding road to Skagway.

Here we are going back into Alaska – Skagway and Juneau – after a day drive thru a part of the Yukon. The Canada and American border police were very understanding, but we did not love doing this in separate vehicles.

The tow gear was replaced once we returned to the USA. We actually got different tow gear and I think it’s better gear, and USAA, our insurance company paid for everything. So what ends well ……..

Homer, a stunning coast town, vital fishing port and a beautiful place for a Halibut fishing trip.

Halibut are very big fish! This is the posed shot with all the big ones! The 30 lb. one next to me was one of my two. We took home 27 pounds – and we ate it through January 2019. Flash frozen in vacuum packs we each got 13 pounds to take home. The Captain and his two female first mates were terrific and enormously helpful teaching us everything about deep sea fishing – lines were down 100 to 200 feet – and how to reel in the extremely powerful fish once they were hooked.

Our big pile of fish – a hell of a lot of halibut! A master with a rod and reel as well as a filet knife. That’s my halibut before it was gaffed and brought on board. Rick took pic as the mate and I pulled the catch in slowly and carefully. There’s our coach – The Taj – parked third from left staring out at the bay Up the hill from the seaport area, Homer continues to tantalize – we’d love to go back. Harbor view from the jetty.

“The Deadliest Catch” ships use this Harbor too.

Very cool restaurants and fishing bars here. Another harbor view toward the mainland. This sea captain had a great day and she was returning home to celebrate. Moorings and net markers look like a pile of Jellybeans. A dreamy shot of the bay and a tanker awaiting a higher tide. Beach on the other side of the harbor in sunset. Walking the beach in black and white.

Couldn’t stop taking photos here.

We had a fabulous fish dinner here after a day of halibut fishing.

This ship has been on the show “Deadliest Catch”.

Mooring buoys at rest.

The longer pier for larger ships.

❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ I loved Homer – photographer’s dream location ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

Cultural relics and artifacts from several museums and flower photos I had to share.

Jade is mined in the Yukon by First Nations tribes and sent to China & Japan for refining into jewelry.

Exhibits from a family museum in Anchorage are below.

The dolls in the photos below represent a variety of clothing made by the native people – for them using the entire animal once it was killed was important – and clothing was also seen as artwork and vital creative endeavor.

Woman with baby on back

Warm and toasty

Typical dress for a whale hunt.

Two examples of tusk carvings representing sleds and the dogs that pulled them.

Walrus tusks below were carved into fantastic shapes and beautiful animal representations

Above and below are photos of more carvings – some depicting the walrus and sea lions, polar bears and puffins.

Ceremonial masks from wood, fur, bone, clay, leather and feathers

Above are models of the fishing vessels used to catch fish and hunt whales in open ocean waters centuries before Europeans came to the Yukon and Alaska.

Models of creatures important to their native culture. and miniature families in large fishing boats as well as in their sleeping quarters.

A ceremonial hat widely used by early Alaskan people and written about by early explorers.

Blue beaded neck or head ornament highly valued because of rare blue colors. Beads were brought by Europeans to trade and their unique colors increased their value in native jewelry and clothing.

A beautiful sculpture found carved into the concrete at Alaska Museum – possibly a flounder.

In another small wildlife museum describing animals and birds of the Alaskan mainland as well as Aleutian Islands, we learned about the many unique bird species that thrived there and why they successfully mastered a such difficult environment.

Below Fox Island in the Kenai Fjords National Park was a neat retreat and a beautiful place to stop for a meal after puffin and whale watching all day. Even in the rain it was lovely.

We visited another Alaskan Heritage Center to learn more about the native people in Alaska. The Center was beautifully designed with many outdoor exhibits of art and architecture. The museum was staffed by young Alaskans who were members of various tribes and happy to share their heritage with us. Below is an example of a native dwelling common among certain tribes – there are no igloos in the great North – that is a common misconception.

Homes were constructed of all kids of materials – wood, hides, branches, rocks etc. This beautiful dwelling was for ceremonies and gatherings.

A gorgeous wooden mask that I had to photograph.

Hung high from the ceiling for storage this vessel structure would be covered in material each season for use.

This Beautiful Mask hung in the ceremonial building included above. The second photo shows the inside of the building.

Grey whales were essential as food and and household goods.

This skeleton helps you understand just how big the Grey whales were.

Below Carvings in the doors to dwellings celebrate animals and birds that were sacred to the people.

Seals and sea lions

Eagles and whales

Caribou

Below is a typical family dwelling built into the side of a hill – several such buildings would surround the family – one for people and one for food storage. These buildings covered with snow may have lead to the idea of the igloos.

One of the larger tribal nations were the Inuksuk – we learned about their music and art at this amazing native heritage center that celebrated the major native or first people as I like to call them. Salmon, halibut and other large ocean fish were vital to the native populations and were revered and respected as well as sources of food.

And now for some flower photos – the colors everywhere were staggering – clearly the few months that they bloom mean they take advantage of that brief warm weather and sun. The weather is moist as well with rain a frequent visitor.

Fireweed blooms all through the Yukon and Alaska along highways and on hillsides and mountains. It got its name because it is the first flower to return after a forest fire.

Queen Anne’s Lace

More Lace with Shrub Roses

Petunias

Dalias

Sunflowers and Petunias

Poppies

Wild strawberries and asters as well as sweet purple wildflowers.

Our Gold Dredge # 8 Visit

We had a fabulous tour of the dredge – one of the original dredges responsible fir millions of ounces of gold in its day- and we got a chance to pan for Gold ourselves. We combined our flakes and I got a necklace!!! No photos inside but it was a cool experience. Lots of flowers here too benefiting from the sun and warm temperatures.

Here we are departing the gift shop at the Gold Dredge #8 after securing our gifts made from gold flakes we all panned ourselves.

❤️❤️❤️Alaska, Alaska, Alaska ❤️❤️❤️

Dreamy Denali National Park and her remarkable wildlife.

The Alaskan Range as we enter the park area – over 7 million acres of preserved and protected land and precious wildlife. Moose were everywhere and we saw mothers with their offspring as well as the larger bulls who were solitary travelers. Young males tend to travel together – reminding us of boisterous reckless teenagers.

Moose, moose, moose everywhere….

This female observed us for a minute and then went back to her meal.

Grand landscape that takes your breath away

A spectacular sight even with cloud covers and mist falling. We braved all sorts of cold and precipitation to experience this park. It was more than worth it.

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Mount Denali formerly Mt McKinley is often wrapped in clouds or mist. It’s over 20,000plus feet and appears to touch the heavens. It’s not hard to see why the native Alaskan people saw her as a sacred sight. It’s the tallest mountain in North America – dwarfing all the contiguous 48 states mountains. We did not get a sunny day in the park but that did not stop us from visiting and searching out the delightful inhabitants.

The road through the park towards the grand dame of all mountains. Hiking is allowed through out the park but the mountain is for those with a lot of experience. The weather there can change is a minute and rescues are difficult and challenging.

But you can never have too many photographs of a place so beautiful.

Below are photos of caribou – distinctive with their light fur rumps. They travel in groups of females with young calves and a senior male – we watched a herd of caribou enjoying a rich grazing area from our bus window.

The sign below warns all to pay attention to the very large wild creatures in the park.

Momma moose and calf munching along road side.

A grizzly far off but huge even at that distance.

Caribou antlers are so lovely and graceful looking but they are also very heavy and look silly on humans.

I liked this illustration and explanation of what is now Mt Denali – the name was changed a decade ago to reflect its original native tribal identity.

A solitary caribou in the distance with a full rack of antlers.

Below is a long shot

toward the main entrance of the Park from the Grande Denali Lodge (above) high above our campground.

More moose…..

A moose family came directly toward us to check us out…

I actually got out of the car in the pouring rain to shoot this picture – momma was nearby but not worried. The fireweed is a delicious snack.

A grizzly bear momma and her two cubs enjoying berries on a slope along the park road.

This moose was with his mother, who crossed the road first, but he was very curious about us and walked slowly around our car – our vantage point thru the rear window was close enough for us.

They really are enormous creatures – looming over the car as they determine if it’s edible.

The moose family after inspecting us and heading to the other side of the road.

The colors in the sky as the weather changes front one minute to the next were staggering.

Signs along the road to the Grande Denali Lodge – the restaurant and hotl has a general manger with a terrific sense of humor as well as a keen sense of how to folks to pay attention while driving these narrow roads.

There really is a wooden bridge here – can trolls be far behind?

Early morning fog ……

Today’s sign at the east entrance to this glorious national preserve and park.

A photo of the early sign at the park.

Fannie Quigley was a heroic character in Denali, living and hunting alone as a singular female. We enjoyed a theatrical presentation about her life and times.

Above are the names of the areas where the traditional native tribes populated the central part of Alaska – we learned a lot about the different cultures and the intertwining heritage that makes Alaska such a rich culture.

The Tundra is the greatest part of Alaska – where the permafrost never melts and the richness of her plants and flowers are glorified each spring and summer. We found some of the most colorful wildflowers we have ever seen here – it’s a feast for your eyes and soul.

Forest fires enrich the soil and naturally control undergrowth. We saw a few in our travels and came to respect the fire gods as a result.

We spotted these “Dall sheep” high on one of the mountain slopes – they are the most surefooted creatures who seem to walk these slanted areas with grace and aplomb. They are very reserved and hard to see up close.

A ray of sun peaked through however briefly.

More shots as we traveled through the park – very interesting rock formations in this remarkable place. We loved this place will return another time we promise.

The Yukon River Steamboat, a champion Sled Dog Kennel and the Athabaskan Heritage site

Susan Butcher was the first woman to compete in and win the classic Alaskan sled dog race called the Iditarod. She was a champion in every sense of the word and an amazing role model for young women eager to take their place in sled dog racing competition. She passed away several years ago after a long battle with breast cancer. Today her husband maintains and operated the champion Kennel they founded on the banks of the Yukon River. We were lucky to get a tour while we were traveling the Yukon River by Steamboat. The dogs are handsome and obviously irrepressible and they live to run.

The dogs train in summer and fall with a converted ATV rather than a sled. Keeping them active and in shape is vital to their development as racing dogs. After a good workout they love a quick dip in the river with the trainers.

A sweet cabin on the riverbank with the required moose antlers adorning the entry.

The Athabaskan Village Tour – another remarkable heritage site

Bear skin being stretched and prepared for use as warm clothing mBeautiful flowers everywhere this time of year!

Storing your food up high protects it against beards stealing it- this is the Alaska refrigerator and pantry. Our Riverboat cruise was terrific with a female captain who represents the third generation of her family to work the Yukon River.

Now that’s a warm coat!!!

Salmon was and continues to be vital to the native people – here they demonstrated catching and smoking it for consumption during long cold winters. A fish wheel trap on the river – an intriguing tool.

Caribou were a vital source of meat and fur for clothing and blankets.

You must have your own float plane in The Yukon and Alaska. Three beautiful homes built on the Yukon Log cabins are most prevalent and come in a variety of styles – traditional and modern.

Our travels continue as we prepare to spend several days in Denali National Park – largest National Park in the USA.

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