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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A weekend in charming Seldovia, Alaska

Seldovia, Alaska
Chainsaw carving (Artist: Derrick Stanton)

Seldovia isn’t on an island, but it might as well be—it’s practically surrounded by water, it can only be reached by plane or boat, and its single main street is lined with small businesses owned by locals, with nary a fast food joint to be found.  The minute we stepped off the boat, I felt myself relaxing into the place.  We were in the hands of the locals, and the stresses of daily life were behind us.  There was no place to be and nothing urgent to attend to.  The only thing missing was my flip flops (it was too chilly); otherwise, the trip was perfect.

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Katmai National Park: Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes

Hey, Otis, it wasn’t always about you.

Katmai National Park is known for its brown bears, but the origins of the park are centered around something entirely different—the volcano Novarupta, which erupted in 1912.  It was the most powerful volcanic eruption of the 2oth century, and as part of our visit to Brooks Camp we took a tour to the site of the devastation, a place now known as the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes.

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Katmai National Park: About Brooks Camp

Brooks Falls

Alaska’s Katmai National Park is an immense, wild place, and there is much to see here, but most of it is undeveloped and challenging to get to.  That’s why the destination for most people is Brooks Camp, a little bit of infrastructure and comfort in all that wilderness.  The camp, which consists of a lodge, campground, and other facilities, is the most accessible part of Katmai, but “accessible” is a relative term.  Even a place as established as Brooks Camp takes effort to reach, and here’s some of what we learned as we planned our trip.

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Seward, Alaska: My near-miss bear encounter

Brown bear, Katmai National Park, September 2017
“Cheri!  Get inside!”

I was at work, walking from one building to the next, when I heard Dave, Facilities Manager, clapping his hands and yelling at me from across the parking lot.  How weird, I thought.

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Tonsina Point, Seward, Alaska: A short hike to a beautiful beach

Pausing to meditate on Tonsina Creek

This past weekend we shook off the inertia of winter, pulled out the backpacks, and went on a couple of hikes.

Sunday’s trek, to Tonsina Point on Resurrection Bay, was short, not particularly strenuous, and exceptionally beautiful.

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Anchorage, Alaska: A young moose sighting in Kincaid Park

We spent the past few days in Anchorage, and on Monday we went for a walk in Kincaid, one of the city’s fantastic municipal parks.  It was rainy and cool and we enjoyed having the trail all to ourselves, but because moose and bear are commonly seen here, we were also vigilant.  
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Happy Earth Day! A few photos from our beautiful home

Resurrection Bay, Seward, Alaska

To celebrate Earth Day, here are a few of our favorite pictures from our time in Alaska and from the road trip that brought us here.  These photos plainly illustrate just how quirky, fragile, and beautiful our planet is:

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Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona: Visions of heat and sun

Last year Dale bought a coffee table book called Treasured Lands: A Photographic Odyssey Through America’s National Parks, by photographer QT Luong.  It basically chronicles the photographer’s long love affair with our national parks.   It took Luong over 20 years and dozens of trips, all of them self-financed, but he visited and photographed all 59 parks, and the book’s 500+ photos showcase just how extraordinary the United States is, both in the diversity of ecosystems and landscapes as well as the vast national parks system that makes the U.S. unique. Continue reading “Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona: Visions of heat and sun”