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2019/09/21 24H in Vancouver
π 2019-09-21 01:01 in Trips
After our trip in Alaska, our cruise finished in Vancouver. It felt silly to fly off right away (and flights were expensive anyway), so we spent a day there to hit a few attractions that I had been to, but Jennifer hadn't (except for one, but a long time ago).

After getting our rental car, we drove to Grouse Mountain and elected to work off all the food and fat we got on the cruise by hiking up "the grind" instead of taking the gondola up. I had done it in 2011 in just over 1H, but this time with my not so light backpack, being way out of shape, and still carrying the food we had eaten on the cruiseship all week, I definitely had a harder time and it took me close to 1h09, which is pretty poor time compared to my last 1h flat in 2011. I wasn't with Jennifer when she got to the top, but apparently she got there just under 1H. Well done.






I got there a bit later than Jennifer but just in time for their scheduled nature hike. It wasn't much of a hike, but an interesting walk/chat with the volunteer guide:




Next was a short nature hike, we saw the presentation on the two grizzly bears they ended up raising when they were found abandonned and dying:






the blue jay happily eats the bear's crap to get undigested berries in it
the blue jay happily eats the bear's crap to get undigested berries in it

The chair to the top peak was slow as hell, and there was no view, but we took it since we were there:




we hiked it down which wasn't pleasant, steep and gravelly/slippery
we hiked it down which wasn't pleasant, steep and gravelly/slippery

After that, we had a quick presentation of their barn owl that used to be part of the bird show (which sadly was already over for the season):



Last was the lumberjack show. Unsurprisingly, it was somewhat simliar, albeit not identical, to the one we had seen in Ketchikan a few days earlier:












After we were done, we took the gondola down (you aren't allowed to hike the down "the grind" as it is generally not safe and would really get in the way of people hiking up):




5mn down the road was Capilano Park. By then, we only really had 1H to visit, which is a bit rushed, especially with all the people who were there and clocking up the bridges and platforms, but we did the main attractions within that timeframe:



the bridge was crowded
the bridge was crowded





it was empty last time I went early morning, but packed that saturday afternoon
it was empty last time I went early morning, but packed that saturday afternoon




Getting out of Capilano not too late allowed me to drive to Bloedel Conservatory, with its lovely little birds. It's a small place, but still easy to spend 45-60mn while watching them:



get a haircut, buddy
get a haircut, buddy









Last for the day was Grandville Market with nice surrounding views:






After that was a quick dinner, some sleep, and our morning flight home the next morning, with a nice upgrade to first class in an Air Canada plane (thanks to united gold)

See more images for 24H in Vancouver
2019/09/20 Golden Princess Cruise Ship from Anchorage/Whittier to Vancouver
π 2019-09-20 01:01 in Ak2019, Trips



This was our first time on a cruiseship. Given that we like having flexibility in our travels and exploring, cookie cutter tours are already something we avoid, although sometimes they can make sense. I was however not very hopeful about an entire week or more or a cruiseship where most people's goal is not to see as much as possible, but maybe optimize their time on a city at sea that happens to bring them to ports from time to time where they might go look at for a short while before quickly getting back to the sanctity of said ship (or am I being unfair? :) ).
Given my expectations, things were mostly in line with what I was prepared for. While the boat seemed big to us, being our first cruiseship, the boat we were on was actually not that huge by cruiseship standards, but honestly it was big enough for us and getting lost in during the week we were on it :) It had:

  • one big enough concert/showroom on 2 floors with live orchestra and performers
  • a 2nd show/movie room on the other side of the ship
  • very bright and huge outdoors screen for movies under the stars (sadly the sound was often not high enough to properly enjoy a movie there)
  • enough restaurants (although more is always possible)
  • a few hot tubs for Arturo :)
  • and more I won't list here
  • This was probably an average cruise (not cheap, not high class), and honestly, I found that we got good value for our money: room with partial view for about $600 per person. The food wasn't best ever, but it was more than decent, especially for the price. This was the obstructed view we had outside our window. Not great, but enough to see still, and enough for my GPS :)


    Thankfully it also had no waterslide and therefore hardly any kids, which was good. On the flipside it did have many older people, some had a hard time getting around and made it difficult at times for us to get around them, given that we were walking twice as fast :)

    movie under the stars, except it was pretty cold and the movie volume was a bit too low
    movie under the stars, except it was pretty cold and the movie volume was a bit too low

    one of the two performance stages
    one of the two performance stages

    it was a decent room
    it was a decent room

    Tech-wise, there was overpriced satellite internet (50c/mn or so). The room had a satellite map for those who didn't have their own GPS :)



    and low resolution picture of the front of the ship
    and low resolution picture of the front of the ship

    It felt like 2/3rd of the staff was either from Malaysia or the Philippines. A few were also from eastern Europe. All from countries were money was worth more. The chefs were good and did a pretty fair job given the food they were given for their menus. They also did carving competitions:




    high tea in our dining room (several on the ship, this was the closest one to our cabin)
    high tea in our dining room (several on the ship, this was the closest one to our cabin)

    outside of our assigned dining room with servers, there was a buffet that was just above average
    outside of our assigned dining room with servers, there was a buffet that was just above average

    but it was fun to see at times
    but it was fun to see at times

    leaning tower of pisa
    leaning tower of pisa

    they were quite good about trying not to spread germs and get everyone sick
    they were quite good about trying not to spread germs and get everyone sick

    we also got a tour of the kitchen
    we also got a tour of the kitchen


    it was big, over 2000 people to feed
    it was big, over 2000 people to feed


    not sure if we were supposed to see this
    not sure if we were supposed to see this



    The boat tried its best to sell you stuff while you were onboard, from jewelry, to art. They did an art expo for us and tried to auction off some pieces:







    A few random boat pictures:






    wine tasting, not sure how good it actually was, though
    wine tasting, not sure how good it actually was, though

    they had a good live band
    they had a good live band

    During the evening activities, some were gameshows, and Jennifer also sung karaoke:


    I played the yes/no game, went first like an idiot and got close but didn't quite make it
    I played the yes/no game, went first like an idiot and got close but didn't quite make it

    Jennifer got a bit farther than me, but lost too
    Jennifer got a bit farther than me, but lost too

    another night, some boat staff gave us true and wrong definition of words and we had to guess who was who
    another night, some boat staff gave us true and wrong definition of words and we had to guess who was who

    cooking show
    cooking show

    2019/09/20 Alaska Trip Wrapup
    π 2019-09-20 00:00 in Ak2019, Trips

    This was our first trip in Alaska. September was definitely end of season when things were shutting down, but we got to hit most attracions before they shut down, sometimes by a mere day or two, but in return they were less busy. The cruise we took from Whittier on Sept 14th was the last cruise of the season leaving towards north america
    I'll use this page to post some best of pictures that I bought from National Geographics while in Glacier Bay National Park.

    While we got 3 days that were clearly impacted by rain, out of 17, it wasn't too bad, and we didn't miss out on any major attractions. This year was the warmest year on record for Alaska. This caused the salmon run to be shifted and allowed us to see some Salmon catching in Katmai



    We didn't see bald eagles fishing though:



    didn't see wild ones that close either :)
    didn't see wild ones that close either :)

    or this cutie
    or this cutie


    In Denali, we got reasonable weather considering. The bus ride all the way deep into the park is questionable time-wise (12H or more), but close to the entrance of the park, we saw some good life. We just wen't equipped for seeing mountain goats super far away:


    we didn't get that lucky, but close to it :)
    we didn't get that lucky, but close to it :)

    this would have been awesome too, but likely pretty rare
    this would have been awesome too, but likely pretty rare


    we did see a stellar jay
    we did see a stellar jay

    but none of those pretty harlequin ducks, even if we saw cool ones in denali
    but none of those pretty harlequin ducks, even if we saw cool ones in denali

    Going through the glaciers was quite nice, we didn't get to go inside, which isn't safe most of the time, or see huge bits of ice calving, but we saw some:





    that's farther than we went :)
    that's farther than we went :)


    On the ice, usually you'd see seals, but apparently bald eagles can be found there too:


    we actually saw more seals on the ice than sea lions
    we actually saw more seals on the ice than sea lions


    rafts of sea otters are so cute :)
    rafts of sea otters are so cute :)

    In Juneau, the whales have learned to hunt together with bubbles and pushing fish up to the surface. Sadly, we didn't get to see that the day we went:


    would have been really cool to see this
    would have been really cool to see this


    At least for Orcas, we saw them reasonably well on one trip, even if not as well as this:




    I'll end with some random nice pictures I found:





    All in all, our trip was reasonably successful, and despite how bad it is that weather is getting warmer and is nice longer into september with very little rain compared to what is expected and needed by the echosystems, it worked out for us (we did have several days of rain, though, but thankfully not on the most crutial days).
    I'm very glad that we got to see an Aurora so early in the season, even if it was faint, and probably the only thing we missed out on wsa not having high power binoculars and high zoom cameras (mine was only 20X when 100X or more would have been useful on multiple occasions).

    See more images for Alaska Trip Wrapup
    2019/09/19 Alaska Day 16: Ketchikan
    π 2019-09-19 01:01 in Ak2019, Trips

    For our last land excursion, we stopped at Ketchikan. We arrived in port a bit late, just before 10:00, and darted right for the visitor center to confirm things I had researched and finding a tour that was worth doing, given that my research showed that staying in town would not fill the time.



    this is not even a real duck, we didn't do that tour
    this is not even a real duck, we didn't do that tour

    We started with the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center, which had some good displays worth maybe up to 1H and movies if you had time:







    Just next door was the lumberjack show, which although completely fixed (as in wrestling fixed), was both fun to watch and a great display of skill:











    Here is a 5mn summary of the show: https://youtu.be/KShwsYQ9vpU


    Next was our excursion to a rainforest:




    lots of leftover dead salmons
    lots of leftover dead salmons

    salmon ladder
    salmon ladder

    several seals came up the river to eat the exhausted salmon
    several seals came up the river to eat the exhausted salmon


    I was lucky to find a black bear
    I was lucky to find a black bear


    the seagulls were there to eat salmon leftovers
    the seagulls were there to eat salmon leftovers

    After the rainforest, they had a few extra things to show us, including some totems:








    They also had a wounded bald eagle


    After our tour, we went to the Tongass Historical Museum, worth 30 to 60mn (albeit not that big):



    we went by creek street, where we saw many salmon, some still trying to get up the river, while many had died from exhaustion already:






    lots of dead salmons
    lots of dead salmons


    Obviously there were a few shops too:





    We finished with the Totem Heritage Center:




    and we made it back to the boat with a whole 2mn to spare, we were the last 2 people to get back on board, yeah us ;)

    See more images for Alaska Day 16: Ketchikan
    2019/09/18 Alaska Day 15: Juneau
    π 2019-09-18 01:01 in Ak2019, Trips

    Our next port was Juneau. It wasn't a very long time, the boat was leaving by 16:30, so we had to rush somewhat and skip the glacier, which wasn't a huge deal given that we had seen a bunch by now, and the weather sucked anyway.
    We started with a whale watching tour, which was ok, but not great. We saw a few whales and a couple of tails:





    Here is a quick video:

    Juneau has more bald eagles than residents:



    Despite the worsening weather, we took the tram next. The few was so-so, especially since we couldn't see the horizon:




    downtown juneau
    downtown juneau

    They had some nice totems on the nature trail:






    Next, was the Alaska State Museum, which deserved a good 2H, more if you have time:




    snow goggles
    snow goggles







    a section on how the japanese invaded part of AK during WWII
    a section on how the japanese invaded part of AK during WWII

    Also, a section on fossils:







    Last, was the Sealaska Heritage Institute, worth 30 to 60mn depending on how much time you have:





    Then a few shops and back on the boat before it left without us:



    See more images for Alaska Day 15: Juneau
    2019/09/17 Alaska Day 14: Skagway
    π 2019-09-17 01:01 in Ak2019, Trips

    Our first land excursion on the cruiseship was Skagway. There were plenty of things to do there, but sadly I was not able to secure a spot on the earlier tour before it sold out, so we wasted our time getting up early, showing up at the early tour at 07:00, not getting, and then walking in town while everything was still closed and only catching 30mn at the visitor center after it opened at 08:30, running back to the ship for the later 09:15 tour. Cruiseships and excursions suck, but in this case it felt difficult to find a tour that offered all of this, and late in the season when many tours were shut down for the year already:


    nice and quiet, everything still closed
    nice and quiet, everything still closed

    checking the different houses that you are supposed to be able to visit when they are open (which they only were while we were on our tour)
    checking the different houses that you are supposed to be able to visit when they are open (which they only were while we were on our tour)

    The visitor center eventually opened, so we had a very quick look at their museum before we had to run out (frustrating). It mostly explained how the early prospectors had to go through one of very two difficult routes from Skagway to Whitehorse to get to the gold prospection fields they were trying to reach, and how the canadians required them to have one ton of supplies to last the winter or would not let them in:



    the rich people were able to go around via boat only
    the rich people were able to go around via boat only


    We then started our tour which went by bus to Canada:



    Scenery was beautiful:






    I climbed up a hill for this winning shot
    I climbed up a hill for this winning shot


    We eventually got to Chilkoot in Canada for some touristy stuff. Sadly, like everything, it was super rushed;





    it sucked for people who had to get there on foot before the train was there
    it sucked for people who had to get there on foot before the train was there


    They had a really good taxidermy collection:









    They also had a small petting farm. Corny but still fun :)



    friendly animals :)
    friendly animals :)

    We did the sled dog tour, which kind of a joke. They dragged an ATV on half power:



    but thankfully we got to pet puppies at the end
    but thankfully we got to pet puppies at the end



    More time in Carcross:











    More awesome scenery on the way, yeah for fall colors:







    And then it was finally time to take the train back down:










    one of the 2 trails up
    one of the 2 trails up



    is that what 'bridge to nowhere' means?
    is that what 'bridge to nowhere' means?





    Eventually we got back to town at 17:30 when everything that mattered, was closed:









    We then got back to our cruiseship, disappointed that we missed everything in Skagway. We could have used a 2nd day to see what was in town, but the ship doesn't wait.

    See more images for Alaska Day 14: Skagway
    2019/09/15 Alaska Day 12-13: Hubbard Glacier and Glacier Bay NP
    π 2019-09-15 01:01 in Ak2019, Trips

    After arriving on our cruiseship, the next 2 days were cruising around glaciers. The first day, we went to the huge Hubbard Glacier. It's the 2nd biggest glacier in the world, 6.5 miles wide and 76 miles long!



    the 3 story boat in front of it gives a sense of scale
    the 3 story boat in front of it gives a sense of scale





    The 2nd day, we went to Glacier National Park, lots of glaciers that end up in the water. A cruiseship was not the best way to see everything, but convenient enough. SAdly the weather was rainy and foggy that day, so I have few decent pictures:

    a few of those were around
    a few of those were around

    if you had big binoculars, you might see these
    if you had big binoculars, you might see these

    or those
    or those

    one of many glaciers
    one of many glaciers



    I have more pictures, but after a while, all glaciers start to look the same ;)

    2019/09/14 Alaska Day 11: Whittier and 26 Glacier Cruise
    π 2019-09-14 01:01 in Ak2019, Trips
    We returned our overpriced rental car in Seward and after our activities there, we took the seward shuttle that took us to Whittier (which really helped out given that we could not return our rental car in Whittier). Once we got to the junction with Anchorage, a 2nd driver picked us up and took us to Whittier through the tunnel. The tunnel is both train + cars in a single track, sometimes the train goes first, sometimes the cars go first. You only have a 10mn window to get through and then you have to wait for the next hour if you miss it:




    When we got on the other side of the tunnel, we saw our cruiseship, and checked in our luggage there for the 26 glacier cruise that was starting from the same location:




    The 26 glacier cruise was a lot better glacier-wise than the cruise we had taken from seward the previous day, so in hindsight we could have skipped that.






    the views did not suck :)
    the views did not suck :)








    The crew picked up some ice for margaritas:



    We got to see even more glaciers on the way out:





    lot of seals sleeping on the ice to avoid the orcas
    lot of seals sleeping on the ice to avoid the orcas




    we then ran into a raft of sea otters
    we then ran into a raft of sea otters

    so many
    so many

    And then it was time to get back to Whittier and transfer to our cruise ship:


    some passengers also arrived by train
    some passengers also arrived by train

    2019/09/12 Alaska Sealife Center in Seward
    π 2019-09-12 01:01 in Ak2019, Aquariums
    We used our monsoon day to go visit the sealife center. It was quite decent, and they nicely offered $75 animal interaction options, first feeding puffins, and then feeding and touching giant octopuses. That did add up to over $350 with the two of us and 2 interactions (1H each).











    wolf eel, had never seen one of those, they're huge
    wolf eel, had never seen one of those, they're huge


    After going through the center, it was time for our puffin encounter. We got a briefing on them and their family:










    After the puffins, it was time for our even more exciting giant octopus encounters:




    that one was small
    that one was small

    pretty though
    pretty though

    feeding time
    feeding time

    it made friends with us, tasting us with its tentacles
    it made friends with us, tasting us with its tentacles

    here's a claim for you, enjoy :)
    here's a claim for you, enjoy :)




    That sure was loads of fun:

    Great way to spend a most of day, especially a rainy one.

    See more images for Alaska Sealife Center in Seward
    2019/09/12 Alaska Day 09-10: Seward
    π 2019-09-12 01:01 in Ak2019, Trips

    We arrived at the end of day #8, and given that the next day was forecast to have monsoon weather, we went to Exit Glacier the day before as sunlight was fading. We only had the time to do the short hike to where the glacier used to be in 2010, and sure isn't anymore:

    it's visible from the road already
    it's visible from the road already

    the nature center had already closed for the season
    the nature center had already closed for the season

    the placards outside were enough
    the placards outside were enough


    As usual, it's sobering to see how far the glacier has receeded:



    note how all the vegetation has grown where the glacier used to be
    note how all the vegetation has grown where the glacier used to be

    Eventually, we got there:


    the glacier looks close, but it was still a 15mn hike away on an unofficial trail
    the glacier looks close, but it was still a 15mn hike away on an unofficial trail



    After a somewhat tricky hike past the do not cross line, I got to the foot of the glacier:




    I got to peek under the glacier in a spot that may not have been super safe, so I didn't stay too long
    I got to peek under the glacier in a spot that may not have been super safe, so I didn't stay too long

    The next day, due to the pouring rain, we just went to the town's visitor center:


    pigeon duck, what kind of forbidden sex was this?
    pigeon duck, what kind of forbidden sex was this?



    We spent the rest of the very rainy day at the Alaska Sealife Center on its own page:


    The next day, the weather had cleared, so we went to the havbour for our cruise:





    We had a look at the train that slowly links seward and anchorage:






    some fake carriages with businesses
    some fake carriages with businesses

    We then boarded our boat for our tour:

    this was used to load coal on boats
    this was used to load coal on boats


    After a long boat trip that made a fair amount of people sick, we got to Aialik Glacier:







    lots of seals resting on the ice, but sadly a bit out of range of my 20x zoom
    lots of seals resting on the ice, but sadly a bit out of range of my 20x zoom


    the crew then made us margaritas using the glacier ice
    the crew then made us margaritas using the glacier ice

    We got lucky to find some orcas on the trip back:




    We also found some seals on a closer rock, as well as some far away bald eagles:



    sadly, I also needed a bigger zoom
    sadly, I also needed a bigger zoom

    and a rainbow on the way home for good measure :)
    and a rainbow on the way home for good measure :)

    Despite the boat sickness, it was a nice boat trip, even if the one from Whittier the next day was going to beat it easily. And that as it for our time in Seward. We missed out on the long hike to the top of exit glacier, but still had a good time there.

    See more images for Alaska Day 09-10: Seward
    2019/09/11 Alaska Day 08: Seward Highway, Girdwood, and Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center
    π 2019-09-11 01:01 in Ak2019, Trips

    Our next destination being Seward, we drove south towards Seward. The highway is very scenic, so we stopped a few times for pictures:







    Next, we stopped at Girdwood/Alyeska Ski Resort and took their somewhat overpriced tram up for a view and a short hike (we only stayed 30mn so as to arrive in time at our next destination for animal talks):



    had we had more time, we could have hiked up
    had we had more time, we could have hiked up

    sadly all the ski lifts were closed, the snow was also gone, and I forgot my snowboard. Luck was not on my side :)
    sadly all the ski lifts were closed, the snow was also gone, and I forgot my snowboard. Luck was not on my side :)





    We then hurried towards the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center for their 14:30 fox talk and 2 more talks after that:




    Their neighbours were coyotes:



    They had some adorable porcupines, including one that was missing a leg:




    they taught it to walk up and down its new 3 floor condo despite the missing leg
    they taught it to walk up and down its new 3 floor condo despite the missing leg

    another one, next door
    another one, next door

    nie haircut, buddy :)
    nie haircut, buddy :)

    haha, this one was eager with its food
    haha, this one was eager with its food

    The Alaskan cat is the lynx:


    sadly it didn't come out to see us
    sadly it didn't come out to see us

    Bears of course (both brown/grizzly and black):







    the michoko bird was fighting the bears for their food
    the michoko bird was fighting the bears for their food

    that's an unbearable paint job :)
    that's an unbearable paint job :)


    Plenty of other animals:












    After that, we continued the drive to Seward:



    2019/09/10 Alaska Aviation Museum in Anchorage and Fairbanks Pioneer Air Museum
    π 2019-09-10 01:01 in Ak2019, Flying
    Anchorage has a very big seaplane base just next to their international airport. It happens to have a nice aviation museum which is worth a good 2H+ if you read up on the history, including how Alaska was partially invaded by the Japanese during WWII:







    The museum focuses on Alaska related planes, and they have a good collection thereof:










    choose your ski
    choose your ski



    pilot licenses used to have pictures on them
    pilot licenses used to have pictures on them

    The day prior, we went to the smaller air museum in Fairbanks. It's much more compact:







    cool, the japanese designed float planes that would fit inside a submarine
    cool, the japanese designed float planes that would fit inside a submarine





    2019/09/10 Alaska Day 07-08: Anchorage
    π 2019-09-10 01:01 in Ak2019, Trips
    We only really spent 1.2 days in Anchorage. It had a few extra things to see, but they were minor and we got all the highlights in 1.2 days.

    We landed the previous evening and had dinner with my friend Marcel Bolzern in a very nice restaurant with view (I'll skip the part where Hertz didn't have any cars for anyone when we arrived, had no Hertz Gold at all, and made everyone wait almost 1h or more for their car. Lesson learned, avoid Hertz at any location that doesn't have gold pickup):




    yummy fish
    yummy fish

    On the first day, we started with the Alaska Native Heritage Center, which had very nice presentations and demos on the Alaskan natives:


    they gave us a demo of the songs and dances they have
    they gave us a demo of the songs and dances they have

    They then showed us the games they play, they were quite physical and hard:



    After that, we took the tour around the different style houses they had. The young guide was very knowledgeable:






    seal gut outfit
    seal gut outfit





    seal baloon
    seal baloon




    seal guts is also used as windows
    seal guts is also used as windows



    Nice placards and artifacts:



    sadly the americans also tried to wash out the cultures and languages
    sadly the americans also tried to wash out the cultures and languages


    Next, we went to the Wells Fargo Museum which had a nice private collection of artifacts:



    the canoes are made with skin
    the canoes are made with skin




    another outfit made with seal stomach
    another outfit made with seal stomach

    very cool chess set
    very cool chess set

    The aviation museum followed, it was quite good (on its own page)


    And we finished with the Anchorage Museum which we almost finished but not quite in 2H. I had to go back the next day to see a few extra rooms and the special exposition on the Franklin Expedition that was looking for the elusive northwest passage:













    price differences between locations
    price differences between locations

    The franklin expedition was interesting:



    they got really close, but got stuck in ice
    they got really close, but got stuck in ice

    they didn't quite have the satellite pictures we have now
    they didn't quite have the satellite pictures we have now

    they had to abandon the boat in the ice after a year of the ice not melting, continued on foot and died off eventually
    they had to abandon the boat in the ice after a year of the ice not melting, continued on foot and died off eventually

    just a few years ago the boat was found under water
    just a few years ago the boat was found under water


    And after this museum, it was time to drive out to Seward

    See more images for Alaska Day 07-08: Anchorage
    2019/09/09 Alaska Day 06: Fairbanks Aurora
    π 2019-09-09 01:01 in Ak2019, Trips
    While it was early for Aurora Season, we were lucky to have a somewhat faint but visible Aurora on our 2nd night in Fairbanks. We did have to drive away from town lights on a deserted road, and were able to get these shots. These were between 00:30 and 01:30 or so, in a pretty cold night :)










    It was difficult to get people in the shots, but with a little luck and HDR, I got those two:



    Auroras can get more bright and colorful, but given that our odds of seeing any, were low to start with, we were happy to have seen this, even if it ruined our night somewhat :)

    See more images for Alaska Day 06: Fairbanks Aurora
    2019/09/08 Fairbanks Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum
    π 2019-09-08 01:01 in Ak2019, Cars
    While in Fairbanks, I noticed that they had a car museum, so out of habit, I figured we should go check it out, not expecting much. Well, the joke was on me, it was a fantastic museum with very rare cars, several more than 100 years old, and including many I had never seen before, including one even that had a magnetic transmission and was a hybrid electric, over 100 years ago!

    doesn't look like too much from the outside, until you walk in
    doesn't look like too much from the outside, until you walk in




    The 1917 Owen Magnetic ar was a masterpiece. It used a gasoline engine to make electricity which turned a magnet which in turn created induction power and turned the wheels without needing any direct link or transmission. Genius! There are only 12 left in the world:





    And may other cars I hadn't seen yet:








    early open wheel racing
    early open wheel racing



    Are you complaining about your drives to the ski resort:


    they got you covered
    they got you covered

    that's also cute
    that's also cute

    this beats chains big time :)
    this beats chains big time :)

    More cars:








    this car looks like it was designed to have a mean face, back in 1912
    this car looks like it was designed to have a mean face, back in 1912





    mirror on top of the spare tire, interesting :)
    mirror on top of the spare tire, interesting :)








    There are more cars, some still being restored, but hopefully those give you an overview. If you'd like to see them all, see https://photos.app.goo.gl/7Bwc4wrCAJQitJ9W8

    2019/09/08 Alaska Day 05-06: Fairbanks
    π 2019-09-08 01:01 in Ak2019, Trips
    After Denali, we drove to Fairbanks and arrived there just in time for a late dinner in a good and historical restaurant:



    The next morning, we got breakfast at our hotel and went to our reindeer tour, which sure was fun:



    The story is a family who bought a couple of reindeer for their daughter who really wanted some, and then they ended up with a bunch of them that they keep as pets and now show around to tourists to help pay for their fees:










    After the reindeer fun, we went to see Mary Shields next door. She was the first woman to win the 1000+ mile dog sled race in Alaska. She still keeps her sled dogs and tells her stories over milk and cookies to people who come visit her. Our conflicting schedule didn't allow us to spend the full tour time with her, but she nicely gave us a quick tour and showed us her nice dogs:




    Mary sadly had to get part of her leg amputated, but that doesn't stop her from getting around
    Mary sadly had to get part of her leg amputated, but that doesn't stop her from getting around



    We then went to the AK pipeline viewing point, and saw some people training on the street. The pipeline took 8 billing dollars to build and is an impressive achievement:





    the pigs are used to clean the pipeline
    the pigs are used to clean the pipeline


    After the pipeline, we went to the fantastic Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum (on its own page)


    We then went to the excellent visitor center, watched a couple of its movies including one on the aurora, and then went through its museum which was well worth an hour:




    oil revenue after the pipeline was built was shared with AK residents as a dividend
    oil revenue after the pipeline was built was shared with AK residents as a dividend




    We then went to see the ice museum, which was a lot of fun (19:00-20:00), and its own aurora show that was right afterwards (20:00 to 21:00):

    It wasn't a huge slide, but for an indoor ice slide in the middle of warm weather, it was fun :)


    weee
    weee

    The rest of the scupltures were nice too:



    ice bar
    ice bar



    the owner is an expert ice sculptor and gave us a demo
    the owner is an expert ice sculptor and gave us a demo


    we then just had enough time for dinner next door
    we then just had enough time for dinner next door

    The next morning, we started with Museum of the North, which was closed the previous day. It was quite good and worth multiple hours:



    we learned about more 'evacuation' camps in AK during WWII
    we learned about more 'evacuation' camps in AK during WWII










    climbers of denali
    climbers of denali

    more climbers but they don't all make it up, it's a long trip
    more climbers but they don't all make it up, it's a long trip

    We learned about the very long road that was built to Canada in record time (10 months):


    And earthquakes:


    Next, we went to the botanical garden which was in surprisingly good shape despite it being late in the season:





    Next, was pioneer park to see the air museum, and it also happened to have an old town for tourists, although it was mostly shut down that late in the season, but we found a couple of other museums:









    The air museum was quite small, but worth 30mn or so:





    It was then time to get back to the airport to catch our plane to Anchorage:


    See more images for Alaska Day 05-06: Fairbanks
    2019/09/06 Alaska Day 03-04: Denali National Park
    π 2019-09-06 01:01 in Ak2019, Trips


    After arriving to Denali NP the previous late afternoon, we got up early (05:45) to get to the bus depot and take the 06:45 bus (busses are required to get deep inside the park). After a night that was a bit shorter than ideal, we parked our car and got in line for our bus. We lucked out with a great driver that had good narration and stories. He also helped us spot a lot of wildlife:










    denali
    denali




    one of our rest stops
    one of our rest stops

    perfect fit :)
    perfect fit :)

    Pika!
    Pika!

    I told her it was a bad idea :)
    I told her it was a bad idea :)




    We eventually got to Eielson, the far visitor center where we only had a short stop so as not to miss our bus that was continuing on:





    they found dinosaurs
    they found dinosaurs

    nice view from the visitor center
    nice view from the visitor center

    ground squirrels are food for many bigger animals
    ground squirrels are food for many bigger animals




    Jennifer had wanted to go to mirror lake, and we got a partial view of denali in it. We had to be dropped off the side of the road, and walk there. Many things have to align for the picture perfect view, and we only got a partial view:



    From there, we figured we'd walk to Wonder Lake, which was a 2.5 mile walk, mostly downhill. It was a pleasant walk but we were rushed for time as we wanted to make the next bus getting out and we made it with just 5mn to spare (the next bus was 1h30 later and it was unclear if it would have space):





    some people went to try and pick berries, but they were quite far from the road
    some people went to try and pick berries, but they were quite far from the road

    We then did the same rest stops in reverse all the way back to the bus depot (around 5H to get back)


    We found more wildlife on the way back:








    And after 12H in the park, most of them in a bus, it was the end of our long day and time to go back home for dinner and Zzzs

    For Day #2, we got a bit more sleep, and went to the Dog and Kenel show. The Alaskan huskies were very eager...








    We then went to mile 12 to drop off our car at the end of our planned hike:

    the rotor clouds were a clue that wind was hellish
    the rotor clouds were a clue that wind was hellish

    from the parking lot, we got a ride in the back of an SUV, riding on top of their ATV that was in the back. That was fun and weird :)
    from the parking lot, we got a ride in the back of an SUV, riding on top of their ATV that was in the back. That was fun and weird :)

    great views :)
    great views :)

    Jennifer was enjoying her ATV ride
    Jennifer was enjoying her ATV ride







    the only wildlife we saw, The rest probably hid from the wind
    the only wildlife we saw, The rest probably hid from the wind


    lunch at the top where it was somewhat sheltered
    lunch at the top where it was somewhat sheltered

    I enjoyed my huge Alaskan beef jerky
    I enjoyed my huge Alaskan beef jerky

    nice colors
    nice colors

    On the way back, we saw a family of moose. The dad was hard to see, but mom and child almost came to the road. Closer than it was arguably safe:




    We then went to the visitor center for a couple of hikes:






    We then went to beaver lake, and got to see a bunch of beavers in action, that was great:










    they were good at diving and swimming under water
    they were good at diving and swimming under water

    I even found a beaver cutting a tree trunk
    I even found a beaver cutting a tree trunk

    and this was the dam they made
    and this was the dam they made

    Two videos of the beavers:

    After all this fun, it was time to go home. I had a quick look at the Anchorage-Fairbanks train that happened to stop:




    and then we did the 2H drive to fairbanks

    2019/09/05 Alaska Day 02: Denali Overfly and Glacier Landing from Talkeetna, and Off to Denali NP
    π 2019-09-05 01:01 in Ak2019, Flying, Trips

    We left Anchorage not too late and headed towards Denali. We stopped at Talkeetna for a super scenic flight around Denali with glacier landing. We were super lucky to be first plane to land on the glacier after 3 weeks where it was not possible. Even the flights that came back before we left that day were not able to land due to too much fog. Our pilot did 4 different landings to "pave" the runway on the snow for a few more planes to land behind us:


    this was the same plane than our float plane, but it had skis instead
    this was the same plane than our float plane, but it had skis instead

    got the copilot seat again
    got the copilot seat again

    lots of taildraggers
    lots of taildraggers






    several glaciers
    several glaciers

    which don't always look good when you zoom
    which don't always look good when you zoom






    I wouldn't snowboard down this :)
    I wouldn't snowboard down this :)

    beautiful field
    beautiful field






    Then, it was time for our glacier landing. This is normally the base that people who climb denali, start from. It's still a 3 week climb:





    t is a big plane
    t is a big plane




    Then it was time to get back in the air:




    hard to tell that all that dirt is a glacier, until you see this
    hard to tell that all that dirt is a glacier, until you see this


    back to Talkeetna
    back to Talkeetna

    After the flight, we had a quick tour of downtown Talkeetna:





    cheap gas
    cheap gas

    We got back on the road toward denali, and did a stop at a nice viewpoint:




    Then back on the road, and got to the visitor center by 17:15 before they closed at 18:00


    and after a total of 5.5H most of which Jennifer drove (thanks), we arrived at Denali
    and after a total of 5.5H most of which Jennifer drove (thanks), we arrived at Denali








    It was then time for dinner, some food grocery shopping for our next day, and some sleep in preparation for a 05:45 wakeup. We got to see a bit of wildlife:



    2019/09/04 Alaska Day 01: Katmai National Park
    π 2019-09-04 01:01 in Ak2019, Trips
    As soon as we arrived in Alaska the previous evening, we got some sleep for an early rise to catch a couple of planes to Katmai. Katmai is quite remote, so we just took a Pilatus which gets you to King Salmon airport, the closest airport with a proper runway. You then connect to a seaplane that flies you to Brooks Lodge, where a lucky few can stay for the night, and from where you can walk to some viewing platforms to see the bears.


    we took some amazon prime boxes as cargo :)
    we took some amazon prime boxes as cargo :)

    the pilot was nice enough to let me sit in the copilot seat
    the pilot was nice enough to let me sit in the copilot seat

    we flew over a glacier on the way
    we flew over a glacier on the way

    king salmon airport
    king salmon airport


    A native gave us a quick intro of the land around katmai and the different tribes that live in the area
    A native gave us a quick intro of the land around katmai and the different tribes that live in the area

    then we transitionned to a seaplane
    then we transitionned to a seaplane

    our plane was already in the water
    our plane was already in the water

    got another copilot seat
    got another copilot seat

    arriving at brooks camp
    arriving at brooks camp

    We got lucky enough that a bear was on a beach and walked right past the NP sign when we arrived


    there were a few other planes
    there were a few other planes


    we got a briefing from the ranger on how to deal with the bears
    we got a briefing from the ranger on how to deal with the bears

    the lodge was nice, but we didn't spend any time there, not even lunch
    the lodge was nice, but we didn't spend any time there, not even lunch


    lots of salmons in the river
    lots of salmons in the river


    nice license plate
    nice license plate


    Finally we got to the viewing platform, you wait in line for a spot (only 40 allowed), which thankfully was only a 20mn wait for us. It can be as much as 2-3H for a spot. Thankfully we got there during lower season and it wasn't as bad:

    we waited at the lower platform
    we waited at the lower platform



    they look for fish
    they look for fish

    Finally we got our turn on the platform, definitely good views:







    some bears wait for the fish to jump up, miss, fall back and then they catch them
    some bears wait for the fish to jump up, miss, fall back and then they catch them








    I took some rapid action shots of mostly one younger bear that was pretty bad at grabbing salmon, it was endearing to watch. It did get one eventually but it took a good half hour. Here are some motion action shots of it:

    After 1H, we were invited to leave the platform. We didn't want to waste too much time by going back to the lodge to get our food we were not alloweed to carry (it had to be locked up in a bear proof room), so we sucked it up and didn't eat outside of an emergency granola bar I happened to have in my jacket. We then went to check out Naknek lake, which was nice, but nothing to write home about:


    we found evidence of bears being there, but no actual bears:
    we found evidence of bears being there, but no actual bears:

    more salmons in the lake though
    more salmons in the lake though


    We then went back to the viewing platform after the line died down and spent a 2nd hour there:







    it was the end of that salmon run but from time to time we still saw a few trying to climb
    it was the end of that salmon run but from time to time we still saw a few trying to climb

    finally the bear was able to nail one
    finally the bear was able to nail one




    We saw a few other things too:


    there were a few weird ducks
    there were a few weird ducks


    there was an old settlement
    there was an old settlement


    It was then time to take the planes in reverse and get back to Anchorage after a long day


    More pages: November 2019 October 2019 September 2019 August 2019 July 2019 June 2019 May 2019 April 2019 March 2019 February 2019 January 2019 December 2018 November 2018 October 2018 September 2018 August 2018 July 2018 June 2018 May 2018 April 2018 March 2018 February 2018 January 2018 December 2017 November 2017 October 2017 September 2017 August 2017 July 2017 June 2017 May 2017 April 2017 March 2017 February 2017 January 2017 December 2016 November 2016 October 2016 September 2016 August 2016 July 2016 June 2016 May 2016 April 2016 March 2016 February 2016 January 2016 December 2015 November 2015 October 2015 September 2015 August 2015 July 2015 June 2015 May 2015 April 2015 March 2015 February 2015 January 2015 December 2014 November 2014 October 2014 September 2014 August 2014 July 2014 June 2014 May 2014 April 2014 March 2014 February 2014 January 2014 December 2013 November 2013 October 2013 September 2013 August 2013 July 2013 June 2013 May 2013 April 2013 March 2013 February 2013 January 2013 December 2012 November 2012 October 2012 September 2012 August 2012 July 2012 June 2012 May 2012 April 2012 March 2012 February 2012 January 2012 December 2011 November 2011 October 2011 September 2011 August 2011 July 2011 June 2011 May 2011 April 2011 March 2011 February 2011 January 2011 December 2010 November 2010 October 2010 September 2010 August 2010 July 2010 June 2010 May 2010 April 2010 March 2010 February 2010 January 2010 December 2009 November 2009 October 2009 September 2009 August 2009 July 2009 June 2009 May 2009 April 2009 March 2009 February 2009 January 2009 December 2008 November 2008 October 2008 September 2008 August 2008 July 2008 June 2008 May 2008 April 2008 March 2008 February 2008 January 2008 December 2007 November 2007 October 2007 September 2007 August 2007 July 2007 June 2007 May 2007 April 2007 March 2007 February 2007 January 2007 December 2006 November 2006 October 2006 September 2006 August 2006 July 2006 June 2006 May 2006 April 2006 March 2006 February 2006 January 2006 December 2005 November 2005 October 2005 September 2005 August 2005 July 2005 June 2005 May 2005 April 2005 March 2005 February 2005 January 2005 December 2004 November 2004 October 2004 September 2004 August 2004 July 2004 June 2004 May 2004 April 2004 March 2004 February 2004 January 2004 October 2003 August 2003 July 2003 May 2003 April 2003 March 2003 January 2003 November 2002 October 2002 July 2002 May 2002 April 2002 March 2002 February 2002 November 2001 October 2001 September 2001 August 2001 July 2001 June 2001 May 2001 April 2001 March 2001 February 2001 January 2001 December 2000 November 2000 October 2000 September 2000 August 2000 July 2000 June 2000 April 1999 March 1999 September 1997 August 1997 July 1996 September 1993 July 1991 December 1988 December 1985 January 1980