After the first day of cruising Alaska’s coastline we came to Hubbard Glacier. It is a scenic winter wonderland of ice floes and fjords nestled up against the gulf of Alaska’s Inside Passage.
The water is almost transparent, like crystal blue glass mirroring the reflections of snow and ice formed on the ridges and peaks.
The dark-colored water lines show sediment formed on the melting glaciers as water levels change.
Chunks and pieces of ice floes from the glaciers dropped off into the water while the ship was stopped. Then the ship did slow spins and turns so passengers could see the glaciers from all angles to photograph. The noise was like a loud roar heard through the straight as chunks began to slowly break away from the icebergs.
Cruising the Inside Passage of Alaska’s gulf to see this scenic wonder was my favorite part of the cruise. The scope and size of these glaciers, their beauty, magnitude and the quiet had a calming effect, an incredible, peaceful sight.
Joyce E. Johnson (2016)
A view from the train
Capturing a view from the train is one hurried, like the flash of a camera lens, literally. Timing and preparation while racing past the intended object is essential, but difficult to get focused and shoot quickly. Some say a real photographer, professional or otherwise does not put away their camera for even a moment, lest they lose their opportunity to get what they set out to find, like the wildlife perched from atop a cliff like in the case of the Dall sheep seen in the photo below.
And then the lighting, reflection and rays of bright sun showing through the cars’ viewing windows reflects back distorted images, like this one below, none of which one wants in their final edited image.
That is what happened a number of times as we tried to get quick shots of scenes in passing. So, most of these images we quickly deleted and others that showed up with what looked like smudged or clouded areas on the windows. But, we worked with the options we had in getting what we ultimately wanted to photograph on a cruising train through Alaska’s dense overgrowth, forests and mountain ranges seen on either side of the rail tracks. The image of the couple seen in the photo above sat across from us at the table assigned to us in our domed rail car, with good food and service, and gave us opportunity to socialize. A Princess cruise guide shared much about Alaska’s history on the regions we traveled through. Having always loved train rides, I found the five and a half hour trip comfortable and relaxing.
After passing through towns, river channels, across bridges and skirting the shores of marshlands we came into view of an open water mass to the port of Whittier, Alaska where the Coral Princess waited, and our check in and embarkation process could commence with the now much greater increased security measures in place.
In a few hours our luggage sat waiting for us in our stateroom while we immediately headed out on an open deck to watch with excitement as our ship pulled out of port and headed for the open sea at sunset.
Joyce E. Johnson (2016)
A field of Fireweed blooms abundantly all along the Alaska range below Mount McKinley. It is said to have many benefits, used for making cosmetic products, medicines and chamomile teas. Everywhere we went there were beautiful gardens and flowers of all varieties in bloom. Although Alaska can dip down to -40 below zero in the winter months its summer temperatures can reach into the 90’s in Alaska, so they can plant and grow many different kinds of flowers.
Rafters on the Nenana River below the Alaska mountain range. The waters from this and other rivers are fed from Alaska’s many glaciers as they begin to melt.
A view of Denali National Park’s mountain range where Mt. McKinley can be seen from the distance covered in a fresh blanket of snow. Denali National Park totals six million acres.
The peak of Mt. McKinley is partially covered by clouds above and below. Mt. McKinley is the highest peak in the United States and North America at an elevation of 20, 320 feet above sea level, and seldom ever seen without snow or cloud coverage. It is also called, Denali, “The Great One” by the Athabascan native Alaskan people.
Our first full day of the land tour in Fairbanks, Alaska was via the paddleboat, Discovery. About a two hour trip up and down and around the Chena River provided shoreline views of life, the way it is now, and the way it was in the early years of the gold rush exploration in the Yukon territories. Gold mining, adventuring across untouched wilderness areas, homesteading, salmon fishing, and hunting caribou and moose were just a few of the reasons that brought thousands into these upper regions giving the state of Alaska its symbolic fame and iconic name, “The Last Frontier.” The town of Fairbanks now has about 100,000 inhabitants, second in size to Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city.
The instructional guided tour on this pristine river allowed us a glimpse into the culture, history and habitation of native Alaskans, the Iditarod sled dog races, the wildlife, game and environment preserved along the banks of the river and coastal waters.
On the Chena River, as seen from the paddleboat, Discovery 1.
A group of caribou in protected preserve, along the Chena River.
An Iditarod sled dog team in training along the Chena River. The competing sled dog teams are a mix of Alaskan Husky, for their ability to withstand the extreme cold, and pull weight, and the Greyhound breed, for their speed. Bred together these dogs know two things well; to pull weight and run fast. Mushing is a word used in training and competing with these sled dog teams. Sled dog teams are not only used for the races, but also for a means of transportation to carry people in the bush country commuting to work, and also their children to school. During the dogs’ training in warmer weather they use ATVs (all terrain vehicles) to train them as is the case in this picture as they prepared the dogs to give a demonstration for us on the paddleboat during our excursion.
After a workout the dog sled team is let off their tethers to go cool off in the river.
Joyce E. Johnson (2016)
Looking down over Fairbanks, Alaska, July 13, 2016, Photo credit: Joyce E. Johnson
What one can see beneath the wing and blades of a turboprop plane may be fleeting, a passing moment hurried by, and I did not want to miss it. This picture is out of focus, with no description or knowledge of what we were looking at, but it is the moment captured that counts. It’s as if time and motion slowed, and one sees things from a bird’s-eye view, even if a very high one. The unusual way propellers look as if slowing their speed while looking down from the plane window gave me just enough time to get this quick shot looking down onto Fairbanks, Alaska. We took this one hour flight to Fairbanks from Anchorage, Alaska on a De Havilland Dash 8-400 turboprop on July 13th.
There have not been many times when I have ridden on a turboprop plane, but this was one time when at least I had a camera to use for this picture. I had my Nikon stuffed away in a tote bag under the seat, but for some quick shots at something I wanted to capture, I used my Amazon Fire tablet camera, or my smart phone camera, both devices more handy and accessible at the time. Although there are editing options for both it is hard to focus on things when moving at high rates of speed. Of course this picture does not look like we flew at a high rate of speed when one can see what looks like the slowing of propeller blades that couldn’t keep up. It makes it look as if hardly moving at all. So, when I saw how this picture came out I thought it unique and worth sharing. It was day one of our recent trip and cruise to Alaska. I will share some of my favorite photos with descriptions and stories in the next several weeks, and my perspective on a very vast, wonderful place to visit with history that dates back to the beginning of its discovery and exploration, and its famous Denali Peak (formerly Mount McKinley, largest peak in the U.S.) the ice glaciers, caribou, Iditarod sled dog teams, gold rush, and much more, seen while on this journey.
Joyce E. Johnson (2016)
We were nineteen years old fifty years ago today (July 16) when we were married in Kansas City, Mo. We stood at the church altar exchanging our vows, pledging our love, and devotion to one another, feeling as if ready in some ways, yet somewhat apprehensive about what life might bring. Two weeks later, Wayne went to his appointment at his draft board to hear their decision.
It was 1966 and the draft was in effect for the Vietnam war in southeast Asia, which meant that all males, eighteen to twenty-five could be called up to serve. They all had to carry their draft cards with the status, age and identification current and listed, registered and ready. Those who refused to serve were arrested, or dodged service and ran off to Canada. Hundreds more protested in open street demonstrations and things became violent. If they were in college, or enrolled in one by the time they were drafted they were required to keep a GPA of 3.00 or better to be in an exempt status.
Our prayers, faith and an acceptance letter from the college where Wayne was enrolled that fall exempted him from serving, so it was California, “Ready or Not, Here We Come,” and we headed off to school and new jobs in Los Angeles.
Four years later in 1970 we headed back to Kansas City after our daughter’s birth and his graduation. Our second daughter was born before we moved out to Colorado, which was like coming back home for me. Though we met and married in Kansas City while living there neither of us were originally from Missouri. He was from Kentucky, and I, from Colorado.
Life during those fifty years threw us some curves; tough times that challenged our faith, and what seemed at times like ‘Mission Impossible’ assignments. But, we got through them, and grew stronger through the experience because we have a friend in Jesus, who’s always there, always forgives, and wipes away every heartache and tear. We learned to rise above difficult situations, not give up and overcome those obstacles, or mountains in our path in order to climb to this point in life, today. Whether we will make it beyond our fiftieth, God only knows, but we will be together, until death do us part, rich or poor. Our moments here on earth are temporary, fragile and unpredictable, but those with Him are eternal.
At the time of this posting Wayne and I will be in Alaska seeing some beautiful country and embarking on an Alaskan cruise enjoying this moment in our lives, celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary. And when I return I will have photos and stories to share of our journey.
Joyce E. Johnson (2016)
Looking out over ‘Purple Mountains Majesty’ in the Colorado Rockies. This photo was taken during the very early hours of sunrise of the majestic Rockies in Estes Park, Colorado. Photo credit: T. Wayne Johnson
Let the mountains rejoice,
let them cry out, Glory to the One
who set us upon
the earth with all like wondrous kind.
Lift up His name, let Glory reign,
and bless all who honor Him with voice,
and with their promised inheritance gain
their eternal place, like an eternal flame
that burns forever, always bright
and with the Father, all blessings claimed.
Joyce E. Johnson (2016)
Today is Independence Day in the U.S. If you are an American and have sung and know the words to the song, America the Beautiful, then you might remember the phrase that goes like this, “purple mountains majesties.” I have used this photo for today’s post to honor our national holiday. Happy birthday, America, and may it always be one that is the land of the free, and the brave, and above all, one that honors its creator, Father God. Happy 4th of July to all Americans, today. JEJ