A trip to Alaska

I recently went to Alaska on vacation with my good friend Pam.   Pam and her husband, Henri had lived in Alaska for several years.   Therefore Pam is an experienced “tour guide” and was the perfect person to tag along with for this Alaskan adventure.  And since we couldn’t find a workshop to take at the weaving conference, we choose Alaska. My quilting friend Lori joined us as well as she had long wanted to visit here.

the salmon hurtling upstream seeks

the taste of the waters of its birth

but the seabird on its four-thousand-mile

trek follows charts mapped on its genes.   (Marge Piercy)

Our first destination was Denali NP or Mt. McKinley.   We took the park shuttle bus to Wonderlake which was a destination Pam had never been before.   We caught the 5:15am shuttle (very early) but of course not dark outside as it’s summer and the land of the midnight sun.    Off we went on this old green bus that reminded me of the school buses I used to ride back and forth on to school.  Our driver, Mike had been driving for the park for 25 years.  He said at one point that he used to be like all of us, so excited to see this animal or get that picture.  But there were times when you could notice he got excited about something we stopped to see.   Even the tree that he thought was something else.

A cloudy overcast day awaited us with lots of cold air blowing in from the windows.  Thankfully I had brought along a pair of borrowed binoculars and was able to see of the animals up closer.   Our first glimpse was a herd of caribou lounging around in the tall grass.  Then we got to see a grizzly bear wandering around eating blueberries of bushes trying to get his fill before winter.   The bull moose eating away in this huge bush was really something.   You could see the light colored velvet from his antlers.    We were also surrounded by tall mountains, glistening with snow and glaciers.   But we didn’t see Denali at all as she was socked under the clouds.

IMG_0493IMG_0319

We stayed in this motel outside Denali that had an old railroad car as it’s lobby plus 2 rooms that you could stay in that were also railroad cars.   We were in the old fashion motel room with two small beds but it was clean and quiet.   There however were not any moose wandering around the parking lot.

Denali in view

Denali in view

On the way back to Anchorage, we had blue skies and sunshine and Denali.  The Mountain was out!    We even had to pull of the side of the road to take pictures.   For many people seeing Mt. McKinley never happens when in Alaska so I feel rather fortunate.

But there was more to come!   After a morning hitting the resale shops in Anchorage, picking up some low costs Alaska tshirts and having a nice lunch, we joined Anchorage Knitting guild at our friend, Marty’s house.   What a lovely bunch of women.   And what great knitting projects.  Socks, a lovely white bedspread, pretty baby blanket and a ribbon scarf.   It was fun just sitting there knitting along and listening to discussions about local restaurants and more.   One of the highlights.  Made me want to stay in Anchorage just to be part of this great group!

Then after dinner at a mexican restaurant – with alfredo sauce as one of the options (really?!), we left early the next morning to sea otter up closehead down to the Kenai and to take our 3 hour cruise.  (No need to pack our evening gowns).   The cruise on rough water, was fantastic.   We got to see the sea otters wave us out to the bay.   Sea birds, puffins, mountain goat and then the highlight – humpback whales leaping and waving at us.   It was a sight I’ve never seen before.

whale breeching water

Cirque Glacier

Cirque Glacier

And this was only halfway through my alaskan trip.   I must admit that Alaska is a wonderful place to visit.  So much to see and I hardly touched the tip of the iceberg.   And after all this driving back and forth on the roads (all under construction) behind many many RVs and seeing lots of fishermen/women as it was the salmon spanning season.   I still enjoyed it all.

We spent a lot of time visiting galleries around the Kenai and Anchorage and it was very inspirational.   I got some alaskan inspired fabric from some of the fabric stores – lovely batiks, a few antler buttons, beads and charms, and even a knitting pattern to make some washcloths with moose on them.

It made me miss living by water and huge trees.   Though I have the mountains in Tucson, there is something nice about that slight chill in the air and the smell of spruce trees.

After we dropped Lori off at the Anchorage airport, we picked up Pam’s husband HeIMG_1015nri (who had been fishing for 2 weeks in the Kenai) and headed back to Soldatna for the final few days of vacation.   The cute cabin we stayed in had two lovely St. Bernards living there as well.  I slept under two lovely hand-stitched quilts and looked every morning and night for that moose to wander up to my window.   Here I got to see an eagle fly over my head, bears fishing in the Russian River and relaxed with fishing friends and continued knitting on my shawl.  Henri can spot eagles and bears while he’s driving along rather well.

Heading back to Anchorage for our last day in Anchorage, we passed dahl sheep on the Turnagain Pass and an eagle sitting on the water’s edge waiting for lunch.   The rain followed us up the coast.  Clouds heading back into Anchorage last day

Then we had a bbq at some of Pam and Henri’s friends.  And while sitting at the table, the entire house and table started shaking.  An earthquake!   6.3!

Once I can get my printer to talk to my computer, I will be printing out pictures and doing new artwork ideas.   And knitting up moose dishcloths.

But I can at least say this about Alaska:

The glacier blue in the sunlight

Floated on the water

While the sheep stood on the ledge

Watching the mudflats holding fast to their lost souls

 

Puffins swam in the water and the

Whales waved as our boat passed

 

To Romeo and River who welcomed

me to the 49th state

as I was a traveler from the outside

 

Looking in amazement as the tallness

blueness

wetness

remoteness

And sought reflections of my dad

 

Looking for a bit of peace

and

encouragement

For the future of my life ahead

and the blessing

of my life behind

 

And yet seeking a glimpse of something

wild and untamed

in the wilderness

 

reflecting on the blessings

of friends

the mountains

the sun

the ocean

the whales

and more

 

Until the next time that I head to Alaska

I bid her au revoir

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