Adak, Alaska, Part 1: History, beauty and destruction

The map was useless. This backroad, like the others we’d driven that evening, had once led to somewhere relevant—a barracks maybe, or a bunker, or an underground hospital—but now it was no more than a groove in the tundra.

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Trapped in a bathroom by bears: The Brooks Camp experience

 

We watched through the windows as four bears, a mother and cubs,  strolled up the path.  These were Alaskan coastal brown bears, one of the largest land carnivores in the world, and Dale and I had just ducked into the bathrooms to avoid them.  

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The outdoors can kill ya: Essentials for a day hike

Umm, what happened to the trail?

We went on a hike a few weeks ago and were totally unprepared.

No, it wasn’t an overnight backpacking trip or a backcountry excursion; it was a short hike on an established trail a few miles from home.

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9 lessons from a travel mistake

It was October 2013 and I was in Charleston, South Carolina, for a three-day speech pathology symposium.  At the end of that third day I was fried and more than ready to return to our hotel.  2013 being pre-Uber, I called for a cab.  “We’ll have a taxi there in five,” the dispatcher told me.  

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Anchorage, Alaska: Yup, we visited Blockbuster Video and Russell Crowe’s jockstrap

Blockbuster Video, Anchorage Alaska

So this happened: While visiting one of the last Blockbusters in America, I had the opportunity to hold Russell Crowe’s “groin protector” (i.e., jockstrap), and it’s all thanks to comedian John Oliver (and Mr. Crowe himself).

Here’s the story:
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Adak, Alaska: Eagles amongst the ruins

We’ve just returned from Adak, Alaska, a place that is equal parts rotting civilization and pristine wilderness.  You wouldn’t think the two could co-exist, but they do, in Adak, as evidenced by the the 300 or so bald eagles that call the island home.  Not only did we see them soaring high in the air and gliding near the water’s surface, but they also perched on the eaves of  decaying buildings and rusted street signs.  It was both beautiful and jarring.

Adak, Alaska
A collapsed home or barracks, complete with bunkbed frames

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Katmai National Park, Alaska: Photos from a float plane

Alaska Peninsula as seen from a plane

Like most visitors, Dale and I took a floatplane to Brooks Camp, which is in Katmai National Park and can only be reached by air or water.

Dale had been on a floatplane before, but this was my first time on such a unique form of transport, and it was very, very cool.  When the experience starts out with a photo-op like this, it’s gotta be great, right?

Me on the float plane headed to Katmai
Me, standing on the pontoon of the plane that would take us to Brooks Camp.  And yes, I do feel like a badass.

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Homer to Seldovia, Alaska: A whale of a trip across Kachemak Bay

Kachemak Bay, Alaska
Gull Island, with the Kenai Mountains as a backdrop

In a recent post, we talked about our trip to Seldovia, a remote town that can only be reached by air or water.  There are several options for getting there, and we chose the Seldovia Wildlife Tour, a sightseeing excursion with Rainbow Tours.

This boat tour, which was seven hours round-trip from Homer to Seldovia and back, took us across Kachemak Bay, an incredibly rich habitat that supports many wildlife species, from sea birds to sea otters, seals, and porpoise as well as whales.  And the view—of the glacier-carved Kenai Mountains—is spectacular.

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Seldovia, Alaska: Artists with chainsaws and a carving competition

While in Seldovia, we watched as five master carvers used chainsaws to transform blocks of wood into amazing pieces of art.  The Seldovia Craft Invitational Chainsaw Carving Competition, held annually on Labor Day weekend, was happening while we were there, and it was a treat to witness these unique artists in action. Continue reading “Seldovia, Alaska: Artists with chainsaws and a carving competition”