timistravels

My job allows me to visit a lot of Alaska on a yearly basis. I wanted to capture the trips in one location!

Cordova Alaska, 2012 Record snow, 2015 NO snow!

Feb. 3/4, 2015

I have visited Cordova a lot over the last few years, but it is stunning how different a few years can make.  3 years ago they were buried in snow and today there is NONE… the white stuff on the ground is frost. Here is the post from 2012 and some photos from today!  They made national news in 2012 because of the snow and the National Guard was called in to help shovel the snow off of roofs.

https://timistravels.wordpress.com/2012/01/16/cordova-alaska-during-snowpocyolypse-2012/

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Much like my last blog I am here help the board hire a superintendent, this is the information they put in their ad.  Enjoy

“Cordova is located at the southeastern end of Prince William Sound in the Gulf of Alaska. The community was built on Orca Inlet, at the base of Eyak Mountain. It lies 52 air miles southeast of Valdez and 150 miles southeast of Anchorage.  Winter temperatures are mild with average snowfall of 80 inches though this winter they have made national news with their record snowfall! Cordova has become home to those that enjoy the natural beauty of the area and for those that love the out-of-doors. Fishing, hiking, hunting, and most outdoor activities make Cordova’s unique surroundings desirable for many. Summer temperatures average from 50 to 63. Cordova is accessed by plane or boat. It is linked directly to the North Pacific Ocean shipping lanes through the Gulf of Alaska. It receives year-round barge services and State Ferry service.

 

The area has historically been home to the Alutiiq, with the addition of migrating Athabascan and Tlingit natives. Orca Inlet was originally named “Puerto Cordova” by Don Salvador Fidalgo in 1790. The town of Cordova was named in 1906 and the City was formed in 1909. Cordova became the railroad terminus and ocean shipping port for copper ore from the Kennecott Mine up the Copper River.

 

Cordova supports a large fishing fleet for Prince William Sound and several fish processing plants. Over 300 of the 2100 year-round residents hold commercial fishing permits, and nearly half of all households have someone working in commercial harvesting or processing. In the summers, Cordova doubles in population as fishermen and others flock to town for involvement with the fishing industry. Copper River red salmon, pink salmon, herring, halibut, bottom fish and other fisheries are harvested. The largest employers are Trident Processors, Cordova School District, Cordova Hospital, the City, and the Department of Transportation. The U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Coast Guard maintain personnel in Cordova.”

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Petersburg, Alaska’s “Little Norway”

Jan. 28-29, 2015

This will be the first of 3 visits to Petersburg, Alaska for the year 2015.  I am assisting them as they hire a new superintendent of schools.  This is a short blog which highlights the community of Petersburg in the words outlined in job description for the superintendency!  map

Petersburg is an island home to approximately 3,000 residents, where small town life influences the social and work environments. The town, located on the north end of Mitkof Island, is nestled among the forested islands and mountains of Southeast Alaska’s Inside Passage.  Nearby Frederick Sound is a summer feeding grounds for hundreds of humpback whales. The Stikine-LeConte Wilderness Area, with its beautiful LeConte Glacier calving off tons of bright blue icebergs, is a short boat ride away.

Mitkof Island was once home to Tlingit fish camps. Present-day Petersburg was settled in the 1890’s by Norwegian fishermen and families. To this day, Petersburg reflects the cultural and artistic influences of its early roots.

Petersburg is surrounded by the Tongass National Forest, the world’s largest temperate rainforest. In 2014 Petersburg had record rainfall receiving over 115”, though this rain helps the lush environment. Its maritime climate means that summers are cool and winters are mild. Average precipitation is approximately 110 inches, which mostly arrives in the form of rain. Recreational opportunities abound in this area of natural beauty including boating, hiking, camping, fishing, hunting, sea kayaking and whale-watching.

Homeport to one of the most productive commercial fishing fleets in the state, Petersburg has three busy fish processing plants operating in the summer. Both the Forest Service and Coast Guard have a presence in Petersburg helping add to the diversity of the community.

There is twice-daily Alaska Airlines jet service to either Juneau/Anchorage or Seattle, and the Alaska’s Marine Highway System ferries dock in Petersburg. Excellent medical services include a hospital with a clinic and long-term care unit, four doctors, two dentists and a full-service pharmacy. Attractive senior citizen housing is also available. Many families are second and third generation residents who have grown up in Petersburg and graduated from the schools their own children and grandchildren now attend. The stability of the community and educational environment contributes to a longstanding reputation for high student expectations and achievement.photo (14)

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Guided Trek on Mendenhall Icefield with local company, Northstar Trekking

July 22, 2014

What better way to celebrate our 14th anniversary than to go on a helicopter ride and trek on Mendenhall Glacier Harry and I once again took advantage of a certificate we had gotten during a fundraiser earlier this year. We have gone with Northstar Trekking 3 other times and each time it is a new adventure.

After realizing we were locals AND had gone with NST before our pilot Tracey wanted to know ‘what we wanted to see’, after telling her where we’d been before she headed N almost directly over our house then curved over towards the icefield.

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flying over Herbert Glacier. We ride our bicycles to the face of this a few times a year

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Eagle Glacier is receding quite rapidly.

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looking into Canada, this is probably Camp Peak

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some of the smaller glaciers in the icefield

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the pointed tips were never covered by glaciers, but the more rounded peaks were made rounded by glacier ice smoothing them out.

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other than being on the glacier this is my favorite picture of the day. This is Snow Tower Peaks

First we flew over Mt. Stroller White towards Herbert Glacier and continued N to Eagle Glacier. The amazing part of the flight was that we could begin to see Canadian Peeks. Along the way we also saw so many peaks that it is hard to describe let alone name them all, though Snow Tower Peaks were stunning.

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swinging around to head down to our trekking spot

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we’ve landed and I want to point out the people in this picture, it gives perspective of how large the glacier is.

The Juneau Icefield is the 5th largest icefield in America covering 1500 square miles. It is about 100 miles deep and 50 miles east to west. This icefield is about 3000 years old, so indeed there are pyramids older than this ice! Think about the icefield as one big lake with many rivers flowing out of the lake, these rivers are the glaciers. There are approximately 40 significant glaciers flowing off this field and about 100 smaller ones.

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in front of a ‘cave’ that was not here last week and will probably be gone in a week..

Yes Mendenhall melting and yes it is moving. It takes about 10 feet of snow to create one foot of ice, so each winter a layer is established on the icefield, but it is not growing as fast as it is melting. I have seen significant movement in the glacier in the 19 years I have lived here, it is the sad truth.

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filling water bottle to drink some of the clear, cold water flowing through the glacier.

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just as we were to depart, the tent is there for staff to store things in or to get out of the elements on not so nice days.

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These crevasses are about 150 feed down, you don’t want to fall.

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again for perceptive, this has tent and helicopter as well as people.

This is the same glacier that we were able to hike in the ice caves earlier this year, sadly they have started to collapse and it is very unsafe to return now.  http//timistravels.wordpress.com/2014/03/08/mendenhall-glacier-ice-caves-and-some-northern-lights/

 

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Small town Charm in Seldovia, Alaska

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do you see the face of a bear in these rocks? I do and I love it!!! taken from ferry ride.

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wish I would have caught this, but I just decided to stand by it! It’s about a 90# Halibut.

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locals call this camel rock, I can see why!

 

July 18, 2014

A day in Seldovia, Alaska

I, for one love quaint little towns that embrace what Alaska is all about and Seldovia is just that kind of town. We were in Homer for work but had the opportunity to take the ferry ride over to Seldovia and spend the afternoon there.

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view from the ferry as we left Homer

 

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we saw whales breaching during the ferry ride. I almost caught the ‘fluke’ (whales tail)

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sea otters are everywhere in the waters in this area

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little sea otter playing in the harbor

 

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arriving to Seldovia, can you tell it’s a fishing community

 

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such beautiful flowers welcoming the ferry

 

 

It is a quieter community, as it is not on the road system; you have to try to get there! The community is far removed from the hustle and bustle of life in bigger communities in Alaska. It’s a town full of small town charm including Christmas Light contest, an annual chainsaw competition (with many of the carvings decorating town), and a solstice music festival just to name a few.IMG_1124IMG_1133

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a bowl of salmon berries is a summer treat!

We were hosted by a local for lunch and had yummy fresh salmon and halibut! What a treat. We then visited the Susan Early School on our way to the Otterbahn Hike and visit to the beach. I collected a lot of beach glass, (which I love) as well as filling 2 bags with salmon berries!IMG_1138IMG_1134

seldovia map

just in case you were wondering where it is on the map of Alaska

I’ve read a trip advisor reviews where people complained that there was “nothing to do” but I disagree, it is a delightful step into a beautiful community that isn’t full of tourist shops and billboards, it is a quaint Alaska community full of kindness and great old-fashioned hospitality.

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Mendenhall Glacier Bear Activity

June 1, 2014

This was sent in an email to my by Laurie Craig the Lead Naturalist at the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center.  She wrote that “A few of us observed a fascinating bear family interaction. No camera was handy so I recreated the event in a different manner. Enjoy!”  I asked and she gave permission to share these.  cartoon 1 cub climbs tree 2014 june 1 cartoon 2 bears dangle 1june2014 cartoon 3 bear chew branch 1june2014 cartoon 4 munch 1june2014 cub tree2 cub tree

Then, I found some photo’s taken by Janice Gorle that go along with the adorable story.  Thanks Laurie and Janice.

 

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Juneau’s road side bears; Mom and 3 cubs

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3 cubs playing on a log. (Photo by Janet Lopez)

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Mama watching her 3 babies in the spring of 2013. (Photo by Janet Lopez)

Last May (2013) we had a treat almost daily this black bear and her cubs would be eating dandelions on the by-pass near our house.  Several time I’d see them OR at least knew they were there because cars were parked all along the road trying to get photos. NONE of these pics are mine, but I will get credit to my sweet friends who took them. I am usually on my motorcycle this time of year and I am NOT stopping to grab the camera.

 

This May (2014) I was thrilled to see them early in May and almost every day since. Sometimes they are just playing around and others simply eating. It means that the babies made it through winter and are now one year old! Very fun.

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May 2014 Mom and 1 year olds return. (Photo by Katy Giorgio)

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This is a Juneau traffic jam… I drive this road daily and see them all the time. (May 2014 photo by Jennifer Hardy Brown)

 

So, for the educational part of this blog…. Some maybe wondering, ‘how come 2 cubs are brown and mom and other cub are black?’ Well the answer is actually quite simple. Black Bears, are all one species, but can be black, brown, cinnamon, blonde and yes, even white, which in Alaska and the Pacific NW are called “Spirit Bears” . Scientist speculate that there are many different colors to their coats: 1. to help camouflage them or 2. Because of climate and what they eat.

 

These brown cubs could lose the brown color and turn to black over time. It usually doesn’t happen until they are a bit older.

 

One other thing to note is the ‘chest blaze’ that is clearly viewed on the mom and the cubs. It is basically a “V” like marking, and her cubs are more likely to keep theirs throughout their life because she still has hers. It is not uncommon for a cub to lose theirs as they mature.

 

****These brown coated ‘black’ bears should NOT be confused with the Brown or Grizzly bears that I wrote about in my blog last summer.https://timistravels.wordpress.com/2013/07/ They can inhabit the same areas, but the Brown/Grizzly bears are much larger and have distinct characteristics that label them as such.

see the V marking on chest?  photo by Sue Reishus

Take note of the V marking on chest? photo by Sue Reishus

watched this guy stand up and walk over to car; it is worrysome how comfortable they are around humans. Photo by Sue Reishus

mom crossed the road leaving the cubs on one side. There was an attempt to stop traffic and allow cubs to join mom, here they are reunited again. Photo by Sue Reishus

UPDATE: Last night on ride home stopped and watched them play, my friend Sue Reishus captured these shots.

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Eagle fight; Lena Cove, Juneau, Alaska

April 17, 2014

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the one on top was hurting the weaker one

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While on walk in the neighborhood, my neighbor and I had a National Geographic moment. While walking towards Lena Cove, we had seen 2 eagles flying and chasing each other.  They looked like they were either fighting or flirting (bird style).  

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they eventually laid like this for about 20 minutes while we waited for the professional to arrive

We got to the recreation area and suddenly we heard a crashing sound, I actually thought it was a bear falling out of a tree.  However,  once we focused we saw 2 eagles fall from top of tree to the ground intertwined.  That was about 30-35#’s falling straight down.  It was exceptionally loud and again sounded like a much bigger object.   

We realized that the eagles were attached so at first I thought they were mating until the one on top started pecking at the neck of the other one,  and we realized they were fighting. Because of the pecking, there was blood everywhere and we actually thought the one on the bottom had died.  It was not moving, but the one on top was barely moving.  

We called the “raptor center” http://www.juneauraptorcenter.org to see if they could come and help.  They told us, “oh this is not that uncommon this time of year, if you approach them they will be more scared of you and forget they are mad at each other.”  We walked over to them but there was no movement and they were not letting go of one another.  We still worried about the one on the bottom.  Apparently this time of year it’s all about fighting over females and territory.

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look at the talon grip on the head. That is the more injured one trying to keep the more dominate one awas

Ultimately a member of the Raptor Center arrived and walked right up and tried to pull them apart.  They were not happy and did not let go of each other easily. They had their talons dug into each other. IMG_2672 Finally he tore the two of them apart enough that the top one flew off, followed by the injured one on the bottom, however we could see he had a broken leg and worried he won’t be able to get food.

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he was pulling them apart

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neither one was willing to let go

UPDATE 8 days later a neighbor had a dead eagle in her yard, and it had a broken leg, it looks as though he didn’t make it

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Mendenhall Glacier Ice Caves (and some Northern Lights)

March 1, 2014

Almost every Feb. or March Juneau has a cold snap where Mendenhall Lake freezes enough that individuals can get out on the lake to cross country ski, or hike etc.  Typically during that time it is also quite sunny and the rain or snow subsides for a few weeks.

These explorations around Mendenhall Glacier are typically astounding, and the photos that come out of the visits make our Christmas Card each year, it is truly part of what makes Juneau such an incredible place to live, these things are in our back yard.

This year the glacial caves are getting a lot of attention from National news outlets but here are a few of my photos from the weekend of March 1 and 2, 2014.  I went on my own Sat. but did not enter the caves.  I made Harry get up early with me on Sunday and get out there when 1) there were not many people there at all and 2) I felt a little more safe with it being colder in the morning.  There is danger doing this but it was worth the risk!

The few Northern Light pictures are NOT taken by me, rather a friend of a friend.  Thought you may enjoy seeing them!

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out near the face of glacier

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harry inside the cave, yes, real colors, not altered at all

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me enjoying being silly

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over my right shoulder is a ice column in the cave, facinating

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just outside the cave with the peaks above my head being higher up on glacier.

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harry at the face being silly himself

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while in the cave we are looking up out of these holes…

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this ice cave I would not venture into, there were sounds coming out of it and that triangular piece above Harry’s left arm looks to scary to me.

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I hiked out to face on Sat. by myself, but did not venture into the caves

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just as you enter the cave

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that ice column that is in the middle of the cave, not quite sure how it formed, possibly a water drip that grew???

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the natural heart cut out I found hiking around the face of glacier

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out near face so much BLUE

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not touched up at all, the colors were simply incredible, almost looks fake doesn’t it?

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during this same time period we also get great Northern Lights. I did NOT take this photo rather it was taken by David Reed, a friend of a friend of a friend.

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again by David Reed, this is taken out on North Douglas. the lights along the bottom are car lights. the light over the hilltop to the right is near our home!

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Kodiak Island ~ Fossil Beach and more

Kodiak, Alaska Nov. 25/26, 2012 and Dec. 9/10, 2013

Kodiak Island is known for its brown bears and remoteness.  I have gotten there a few times in the last few years, and didn’t do a blog last year (as we were taking off for another trip once I landed at home.)

Kodiak is the 2nd largest island in the United States (earlier this year I visited Admiralty Island which is the 7th largest in the US),  and #80 in the world. The island is 100 miles long from tip to tip and ranges from 10-60 miles wide.  The city of Kodiak is the largest on the island, though there are 7 communities/villages as part of Kodiak and part of why I was there was to do training with their advisory boards.  These villages are Akhiok, Karluk, Larsen Bay, Old Harbor, Ouzinkie, Port Lions and then Afognak Island (a smaller island near Kodiak).    Some of these villages have been in existence much longer than Alaska was part of the United States and remain subsistence villages as much as possible.

Kodiak reminds me a lot of Southeast, (SE) AK where I live, as it has mountains, and yet has a lot of forest on most of the island.   As in SE the only way in/out is on a boat or plane.  The great part of Kodiak is there is quite an extensive road system and I was lucky enough to have my good friend and colleague, Norm take me on a tour of the island.

We headed out early and drove to Fossil Beach.  Along the way we saw Bison, eagles, surfers and a lot of other amazing sites.  Though the road is only about 46 miles it take about 1.5 hours to get there.  The roads are curvy, and slow going, but again worth it.  And in the morning there was a lot of fog, buy by the time we headed back towards town it had lifted a bit.

Kodiak offers so much to see and do, there is not a ‘best time of year” to visit, you simply should just add it to your MUST VISIT list.  Alaska Air and ERA Airlines fly there daily and it is a place to be seen!

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Not the Iditarod, but a “pre race” in Galena

Galena, Alaska 2003 or 2005

As the Iditarod race is running this year, on VERY LITTLE snow, I am reminded of a trip I took to Galena, Alaska about 10 years ago.  I was in town for work and picked a great weekend to be there for the Spring Festival.

Every other year, the Iditarod Race stops in Galena, this was the off year, so this race was the highlight.  It was cold that day, I’m remembering about -30 to -40 below, though a few days later it was up in the 20’s.  It was a dry cold which makes it better than the wet cold of Southeast, Alaska.

I don’t remember a lot of ‘facts’ from this day, but what I do remember is that those dogs were so pampered and loved by their owners (contrary to what others might think), and those dogs LOVE to run.  The other surprising part is how small the dogs are.I had always thought they were larger dogs but once I saw in person they are much smaller.

All and all a fun time and one of these years I will get to see the actual Iditarod!      Enjoy the pics!

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