22 July 2016

Alaska!! Part Two--Denali National Park

One of the main reasons we flew to Alaska instead of taking a cruise is that I wanted to go to Denali National Park. It was an amazing place.
Besides the hope of seeing Mount McKinley (recently renamed Denali) was chance to see lots of wildlife, which we did. Below is a caribou.
We saw many grizzly bears as we spent the day driving the park.
The bus driver/guide stopped the bus frequently if anyone spotted wildlife.
The only way to go into the heart of the park is on buses run by the park service. We paid extra to have a tundra tour and guide.
As the bus came around a corner we saw these two moose in the stream. They bolted as soon as they saw us, which is why I got a picture of their backsides.
Because no POV's are allowed in the park past a certain point, the wildlife is not accustomed to people and roam freely.
We definitely felt like we got our money's worth in terms of seeing the wildlife of Alaska. Unfortunately, it was too cloudy to see Mount McKinley.
Most of the bears didn't get this close to the buses.
It was interesting to go through Denali National park the weekend after we'd driven through Glacier National park in Montana. The park in Alaska was more tundra and Glacier was mostly mountains.
These mountain sheep live mostly in the area of Denali.
This fireweed was very pretty and growing all alongside the roads. We tried some fireweed flavored ice cream in one of the towns we stopped in on the way home from the park.
We saw a whole heard of caribou crossing in the valley below our bus.
This type of landscape was fairly common, so not nearly as picturesque as Glacier was.
This was a fun little cafe we went to for lunch on our way to Denali. We loved the flowers and the location next to a babbling brook.

  As we were driving back to Anchorage we caught just a glimpse of the top of Mount McKinley. Guess it was better than nothing!!

20 July 2016

Alaska!! Part One--Anchorage and Whittier

During the steamy hot days of March when we were visiting the Lees in Nigeria, I dreamed up the scheme of going to Alaska this year. So I worked out the details. Our friends from Germany, the Andreasons, had moved there last year and I told her to expect a visit from us.
 Little did I know when I made our reservations to go in July is that it's the most expensive time to travel to Alaska because it's salmon season. It was a real blessing that we had a place to stay! For some reason I don't have many pictures of the sights we saw in Anchorage the first day we were there. One thing we saw LOTS of as we drove through the state were signs like the one below.
And actually, we saw moose along the side of the road almost every one of the six days we were in Alaska!!

One of the things we learned quite a bit about was the big earthquake that hit the coast of Alaska in 1964. I was only five and living in Canada at the time, but Kent said he remembered hearing about it since he lived on the west coast of Washington and is three years older than I am. It was very interesting to learn about. We saw a film about it at the visitor's center in Anchorage and went to "Earthquake Park" outside of Anchorage.
Another place we went to a few times since it was very close to the Andreason's house, was the Anchorage Temple. We first saw it on a clear day and took the picture below.
We next saw it on a rainy day.
 And finally on an overcast day when we were able to pose in front of it.
It was mostly cloudy, rainy and overcast for most of the six days we were in Alaska. That was especially true when we went to Whittier, which is on the coast near Prince William Sound.
We could see glaciers in the distance as we drove to the dock.
 The glacier ice was a lovely light blue color.
 When we got to the dock I saw that my boat was in port, so I had to stop and take a picture!
 This is the ship we took on our "26 Glaciers" cruise. We were served a nice fish and chips lunch on the cruise.
 One of our first views was of an island of sea lions. It was foggy and rainy and hard to get a good picture.
 As we went through the water we would randomly see sea otters floating along side us.
 Most of the glaciers we saw were in the distance, but this was one that the ship's captain took us up close to see.
 We could see and hear the glaciers "calving" as big chunks of the ice fell into the water.

 It was VERY cold and wet outside on the boat. I was wearing a sweatshirt under my coat and wished I'd brought gloves.

 As we were heading back to Whittier it cleared up a bit. The landscape around us was beautiful.
 It's hard to see, I took this picture because there were hundreds of birds all flying around this particular spot and it was amazing to see.
 We learned a bit about the Alaska railroad, but didn't ever ride in it. We had a rental car we drove to get around while we were in Alaska.
 This waterfall was alongside the road on the way back to Anchorage, and we thought it was a good place to take a picture.
 I think it reminded Kent of his teenage years in western Washington.
While we were there Josh Andreason, who had been one of my piano students about ten years ago, gave his farewell talk before we left on his mission to Bulgaria. We were very impressed with him; he's going to be an awesome missionary. He had even continued with piano lessons and played a couple of songs for me. That always warms my heart!
We were very appreciative of the Andreason's hospitality. On Sunday evening April made a wonderful meal of freshly caught Alaska salmon.

18 July 2016

Glacier National Park with the Stinson Family

While we were in Montana for Alexa's blessing we took a couple of days to go to Glacier National Park.  We drove from Garrett and Krystal's house in Great Falls, and it took us about two and a half hours to reach the eastern entrance to the park. 
Our goal for the day was to drive through Glacier from east to west on the famous "Going to the Sun Road".
It was a gorgeous, clear, sunny day.
There were lots of scenic viewpoints and we stopped to take pictures of the spectacular scenery.
There were many waterfalls, lakes and streams.
Every where we looked was more incredible scenery.
This picture was taken at the continental divide.
Hooray for national parks!
I'd been to Glacier when I was a teenager but didn't remember much about it.

We arrived in Kalispell, Montana on the western side of Glacier in time to have dinner and check into our Marriott hotel. Later in the evening, the Stinsons joined us at the same hotel. They'd been visiting Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone, and were on their way to Great Falls to visit Garrett and Krystal's family and to be there for Alexa's blessing.
So the next day we drove back through Glacier again on the "Going to the Sun" road in caravan with the Stinsons, driving from west to east. The day started off rainy and was overcast most of the day.
On the way back through the park we stopped at some places we hadn't stopped the day before.
This is a view of the same stream.
This picture was taken at Lake McDonald on the western side of the park.
Kiera and Savannah thought it was a great place to throw some rocks into the water.
This waterfall was a section of the roadside called the "Weeping Wall" because there's always water running down it's sides.
It was great going back the opposite direction because we noticed different things than we had the day before.
If was also fun to see the park with the Stinson family.
These snow caves were along part of the road.
Kiera and Savannah are always interested in seeing snow!

"Going to the Sun Road" was quite a feat of engineering.
I wanted to get a picture of Lissa in this blog post and this was about the only one I had.
On the eastern end of the park we could see the results of the major forest fire that had burned a large portion of the forest in 2015. It was neat to see the way the wildflowers were growing and beautifying the barren landscape.
Jason thought it was cool, too, and took pictures of the flowers growing.

We feel very blessed to be able to see such a stunning part of this beautiful world of ours!