Monday, October 8, 2012

interior to life at sea

alaska, the largest state in the united states of america. it's over twice the size of texas, and it is larger than the combined area of the next three largest states: texas, california and montana. 

our adventure in this mostly uninhabitated wilderness began in fairbanks, we ventured furthest north to the arctic circle, and then bused our way down through denali. the town of talkeetna and the mt. mckinley lodge is our next stop, passing cantwell, 'into the wild' was filmed here oh and trapper creek, population 30. the weather was windy and rainy, just perfect...

this is gandolf, a great grey owl. she was at the mt. mckinley lodge, i met her while my sister was horseback riding (in the rain) and rose and bob, our travel companions, went atv-ing. gandolf was the best part of staying at the lodge! well and the salmon chowder i had for lunch and the reindeer lasagna and an alaska gin martini for dinner!

the next day, we arrived at talkeetna

talkeetna was my favorite town in alaska

it's an authentic alaska pioneer town with historic buildings and log cabins

talkeetna is the nearest town to denali (the mountain) and is a base station for climbing expeditions

this town is at the confluence of three rivers, the chulita, the susitna and the talkeetna

with my map in hand i looked for the ranger station first

but kept getting distracted

found it

in the station there were photos and books and climbing paraphernalia of climbers past. here is a record of this years climbing season, can you see? 41 percent reach the summit, it's a difficult mountain

i found the river next but did not stay long, i was alone and i had just read a sign 'welcome to bear country'

the rain continued to fall as the shops began to open

this is nate and leslie of grizzly gold. they offer alaskan art, prospecting, chainsaw carving and forest and river wares

and leather bags made by their friend bill. know as bilbo baggins, they said. bill was a kind of mythical character, living on the other side of the river and keeping to himself mostly. sometimes forcibly when the rivers run full. i love this bag made of butter soft black tailed deer, thank you bill who i've never met

in every town we discovered flower boxes so beautiful they almost looked artificial. this seemed a true appreciation for a very short growing season

everything in talkeetna was beautiful

and friendly, meet gerry

warming up with a cup of hot tea and then...

we boarded the alaska railroad! (while waiting for the train, we stood, by the track, in the forest, surrounded by trees, with a warning not to wander off, bears you know) 

i looked for moose and bear

and the spectacular scenery

the windows are large so you can see everything. we crossed rivers and towns, willow and wasilla, and one short stop in anchorage

and here was my favorite part, the cook inlet and turnagain arm. it was here that i discovered a place to stand between cars, and it was possible to take photos without a window

we sped through the inlet, portage valley to prince william sound and finally whittier where our ship sat waiting for us!

oh my gosh! i never thought i'd ever go on a ship like this, getting on was a bit like airport security, only quicker and simpler

eeps! this was exciting!

we explored



and celebrated a birthday, and this was only our first night. i've already learned that this is called 'embark' day, and starboard is the right side, port the left (easy to remember if you think: port has 4 letters and so does the word left) (( i still got lost))

the next day

yakutat bay

and the hubbard glacier

the hubbard glacier is 76 miles long and 6 1/2 miles across and still growing elias, looming above

we stayed in the bay through dinner. it is amazing (for lack of better words) to be near such wild harsh beauty, such stunning landscape and to be at the same time...

being treated like a princess on the princess cruise, really!

the next morning we entered...

glacier bay from the waters of icy straight

at the entrance to the park a ranger came on board, she did a fantastic job of telling us what we were seeing. the day before i had attended a lecture given by an alaskan naturalist, author, speaker and educator kathy stamp. i learned about all the glaciers we would be seeing today, and from kathy, i learned the best place to view them from...

she told us to go through a door marked 'do not admit', then another, this one also had a high wind warning. we went through and found...

the best viewing area! and i think the coldest

this is the margerie glacier. this glacier is about one mile wide, with an ice face that is about 250 feet high above the waterline, and a base about 100 feet below sea level. behind it are the fairweather mountains

if the statue of liberty were superimposed on the glacier, it would not even measure half way up

the ice isn't really blue. here is the scientific explanation of why it seems to be: when light hits highly compacted ice, long wavelength colors (reds) are absorbed, while short wavelength colors (blues) reflect back through the ice to your eyes

we were told to listen carefully, tidewater glaciers calve several times a day

my sister and i and the margerie glacier, glacier bay national park

we ran down to our room for a up of hot tea. still so amazed at the luxury of a cruise!

oh good, a smaller boat is coming, i was hoping for something in the picture to give a better perspective of the glacier

but then! we heard it! an unearthly cracking sound, like glass breaking

this is what is called calving

the boat was close, even though it's hard to tell in these photos

that's better

now it's easier to see the size of the glacier

another view from the top deck

these are very huge icebergs, but from waaay up here, they look like  ice chips

much of the bay is over 1,000 feet deep

i took one million photos of all the glaciers we saw

and another million of icebergs

being on a cruise ship is an experience i didn't think i'd have (or wish for), but i'm truly glad for it. it is the only way to see some of these incredible sights

life at sea. in alaska. magnificent.

next, our first port skagway! then haines, juneau and ketchikan. we're off tomorrow for nine days, a road trip, so my lap top is coming too! owen our pup is staying behind but will be quite happy since his uncle is coming to keep him company. if you'd like to enter my giveaway, open till october 21st, go here.

 thank you so much for coming along on this alaskan adventure, it's truly a pleasure to share!
xxx lori


  1. Lori this is incredible i love it all. thanks for sharing with us this fantastic voyage ! an alaskan cruise is definitely on our list :)
    and it puts life into a nice perspective right now from where i sit.

  2. Lori, your pictures are wonderful! It gives a great insight into what Alaska must be like. Thank you for making us part of such a once in a lifetime experience!

  3. oh my goodness. such stunning photographs. i really love the ones of the birds... perfect. and a calving ice berg! wow. what an amazing adventure you are having.

  4. All so stunning! Where are you going next? I'm loving your travel diaries :) xxx

  5. Thank you very, very much for sharing of this amazing photos! It´s just...amazing...

  6. thank you from the geologist that is still in me!!!!!
    xxxxx Alessandra

  7. oh my! Absolutley stunning.Nature at its most spectacular..though I have to admit I enjoyed being transported to the little pioneer town the fascinating to see the worlds that other people live. Thankyou so much for the trip :) And thankyou also for the lovely comment you left..when you get your hands on that magic carpet would you consider lending it out? :) It is truly touching that your daughter has a tattoo that honors the love that you are :)xx

  8. WOW. What incredible photos. Thanks so much for sharing them with us. Even being there when the glacier calved! Unbelievable. I'm just totally stopped for words! I so look forward to seeing your other photos!! Joan

  9. I absolutely love being able to travel to the incredible places you go from the comfort of my home. I woke early this morning and visited your blog and was instantly carried away on your breathtaking adventure. A wonderful way to start the day!
    Loved everything about it! Oh, we actually saw a Great Grey owl many winters ago in our town in Maine and had our camera with us, what a majestic owl and it was so nice to see it on your trip. Many thanks!

  10. I think I might have to do an alaskan cruise in my future. I love the cold, I love to wear wool and I love snow! Thank you for taking me along your journey through your photos :D

  11. I cannot WAIT for my husband to come home from work so that I can share all this with him! I was totally engrossed and in awe. That cruiser is unbelievable. I too am lost for words. Hurry up with the next chapter, Lori, please!

  12. If I'm being honest, up until I saw your beautiful photographs of Alaska, I never thought I would want to go there. Now I think it would be a trip of a lifetime! It's absolutely gorgeous!

  13. Thank you once again for these posts Lori. I spent the weekend trying to talk Mike into selling our property and moving to Alaska, but no such luck. Mike has been to Alaska and keeps telling me how cold it is; I keep telling him it is a knitter's heaven! One day I will make it! Have a great time on your road trip.

  14. years ago (pre digital camera days!) we did just the inside passage; it was stunning, but certainly not the adventure you had!!! Guess that is reason to go back!!! (we did see some calving---what an experience! your fabulous photos--makes me want to hop the next cruise ship!!!) thanks for sharing!

  15. Lori, I am so thankful that you did take those millions of photos! It is fascinating to have your truly excellent reporting of your visit to a place not many of us will even visit ourselves.

    It is very difficult to keep reminding myself of the immense scale of the landscapes you are showing us, even with that brave little boat.


  16. Talkeetna reminds me just a tiny bit of the gold rush country in california.
    You can see all the gold references and then the architecture too. Those colorful hanging pots are like jewels and very cheering. Lori I love that picture of Nate and Leslie, and their enterpising tent store. What a good idea, then when the cold weather comes, just fold it up and wait til spring. Your purse is perfect. Its all so magnificent, the gargantuan mountains and sea. That boat looked like a fishing rig; halibut maybe?

  17. I'm breathless. I never, ever thought I'd want to visit Alaska (brr) but your photos and your story are so beautiful, I have changed my mind. The gorgeous light, the contrast between the rugged and the luxurious, the terrifyingly huge ice and then the tiny cozy warmth of your cabin. So stunning, so delicious. Thank you for taking us along on your travels. I am having a wonderful time!

  18. I had to bundle up to view your photos, but simply breathtaking! You are such a wonderful tour guide and I always come away with such respect for your storytelling. The glacier photos reminded me of what my husband came back with from Alaska--that's mostly what he used up the film on (pre-digital days)!
    Thank you for your sweet comment on my blog, I know Kelly would have loved you too, as I do, XOXO

  19. Thank you so much for sharing all these awesome photos! Even those of us who live here sometimes forget the beauty that surrounds us. I especially love how you captured Talkeetna - one of our favorite weekend getaways.... Your trip looks like it was amazing!

  20. I've always wanted to visit Alaska, and after yet another one of your fantastic posts I want to even more! You can just feel your excitement oozing out of every word and in every image!! Glad to hear that there are still glaciers that are growing. Here in the alps they are all receding. We live at the foot of the Bossons glacier and quite often blocks of ice fall off making a horrendous sound, and I think what a shame another bit gone forever!
    I'm going to quiz my husband later about why the glaciers look blue!

  21. Wow, just stunning! Thanks for sharing and enjoy your road trip.

  22. Comment 1: SWOON!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Comment 2: ♥

    Comment 3: to be continued


  23. I pretty much forgot all that I was going to write after looking at those glacier pictures. Wow. So breathtaking and all the while my favorite color, robin's egg blue. Your pictures capture so much of the life of Alaska, that pop for color in the blandness of frigid cold. What a magic trip. I like looking up the coast from our beaches, into Canada and dreaming of going to Alaska. Someday. Thank you for this lovely post.

  24. I am going to be late to work,but this was so worth it. I want to go to Alaska, I think I will start saving and maybe by my 60th birthday I can go. Your photos bring it to life so beautifully.
    Another trip! Where to this time? Have fun!

  25. Thank you for an amazing Alaskan post, Lori! I loved it ALL....the wonderful places you visited with the fascinating colourful too....and then the stunning pictures of the glacier and beautiful country all around, and the birds over the water, all in the most perfect shades of blue and white...just gorgeous.
    Helen x

  26. woowee again - these are gorgeous! i love seeing the wild and then seeing you on a fancy cruise - how fun! keep em coming, this is one incredible trip

  27. Lori...all I can think of to say, is Wow! How beautiful ~ and what fun to do it with your sister. I think just about the best thing I've heard all week was when you wrote that the glacier was growing!!! I love that!
    xo Jules

  28. I am speechless, what a dream....again I live vicariously through you!!!!

  29. Innnnnnnnnnnnnn-credible! Whoa. Your gorgeous photos had my heart pumping at the calving. How utterly fantastic that you were able to capture it! Thank you so much for sharing. It's all astonishingly beautiful!

  30. Wow! Not only did I have a blast looking through your photos, but my youngest son was also enthralled. Trains, ships, glaciers and icebergs - what more could a young boy ask for? AND YOU GOT TO LIVE IT!!!


xoxo lori