Marc's Public Blog - Trips to other locations


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This is a collection of my blog entries related to short or long trips I, or Jennifer and I went on.
I have some master pages for some specific locations/trips:

Paris over many years | Australia over many years | Canada over many years | Japan over multiple trips | Italy in 2011 | France in 2013 | Indonesia in 2013 | Japan in 2013 | Japan in 2014 | Taiwan in 2014 | Indonesia in 2014 | New Zealand in 2015 | Japan in 2015 | Costa Rica in 2015 | Singapore in 2016 | South Korea in 2016 | Japan in 2016 | Germany in 2016 | Belgium | Tasmania 2017 | Japan in winter 2017 | Great Britain in 2017 | Australia Flying Safari 2017 | Philippines | Spain in 2018 | Alaska in 2019 |

Table of Content for trips:

More pages: September 2019 June 2019 May 2019 March 2019 February 2019 January 2019 December 2018 November 2018 October 2018 September 2018 June 2018 May 2018 January 2018 December 2017 November 2017 October 2017 September 2017 August 2017 July 2017 June 2017 February 2017 January 2017 December 2016 October 2016 September 2016 August 2016 July 2016 June 2016 May 2016 April 2016 February 2016 January 2016 December 2015 October 2015 August 2015 July 2015 June 2015 May 2015 March 2015 February 2015 January 2015 December 2014 November 2014 October 2014 August 2014 July 2014 June 2014 May 2014 January 2014 December 2013 November 2013 September 2013 July 2013 June 2013 May 2013 March 2013 February 2013 January 2013 December 2012 October 2012 September 2012 June 2012 April 2012 February 2012 January 2012 December 2011 October 2011 September 2011 August 2011 June 2011 January 2011 December 2010 November 2010 September 2010 August 2010 May 2010 January 2010 September 2009 August 2009 June 2009 January 2009 December 2008 August 2008 February 2008 January 2008 October 2007 July 2007 February 2007 January 2007 December 2006 October 2006 August 2006 July 2006 April 2006 March 2006 January 2006 December 2005 September 2005 August 2005 July 2005 June 2005 April 2005 December 2004 October 2004 July 2004 June 2004 January 2004 January 2003 January 2001 August 1997



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 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 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: September 2019 June 2019 May 2019 March 2019 February 2019 January 2019 December 2018 November 2018 October 2018 September 2018 June 2018 May 2018 January 2018 December 2017 November 2017 October 2017 September 2017 August 2017 July 2017 June 2017 February 2017 January 2017 December 2016 October 2016 September 2016 August 2016 July 2016 June 2016 May 2016 April 2016 February 2016 January 2016 December 2015 October 2015 August 2015 July 2015 June 2015 May 2015 March 2015 February 2015 January 2015 December 2014 November 2014 October 2014 August 2014 July 2014 June 2014 May 2014 January 2014 December 2013 November 2013 September 2013 July 2013 June 2013 May 2013 March 2013 February 2013 January 2013 December 2012 October 2012 September 2012 June 2012 April 2012 February 2012 January 2012 December 2011 October 2011 September 2011 August 2011 June 2011 January 2011 December 2010 November 2010 September 2010 August 2010 May 2010 January 2010 September 2009 August 2009 June 2009 January 2009 December 2008 August 2008 February 2008 January 2008 October 2007 July 2007 February 2007 January 2007 December 2006 October 2006 August 2006 July 2006 April 2006 March 2006 January 2006 December 2005 September 2005 August 2005 July 2005 June 2005 April 2005 December 2004 October 2004 July 2004 June 2004 January 2004 January 2003 January 2001 August 1997