Wide Open Alaska

P1050479

The scenery in Alaska is just incredible … no other word describes it better. Other than photo opportunities by living full time there, I’ve been extremely fortunate to have visited our great frontier state five times since 1999 and thus I’ve accumulated a very nice collection of photos. Of course, weather plays a key part up there because much can be hidden from view with low clouds, fog and misty conditions. I’ve said to many of my friends, if you’re worried about weather in Alaska, don’t go. My latest visit this month was just about perfect in that regard. But the week after, it all went downhill. In a way I felt like we stole all the perfect photo weather. Having said that, however, there really is no “bad” weather in Alaska. It’s what you make of it.

P1050474

P1050473

IMG_0919

IMG_0924

World’s Largest

Lake Hood is the world’s busiest seaplane base, handling an average of 190 flights per day. It is located on Lakes Hood and Spenard, next to Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, three miles from downtown Anchorage. Last week I was there, enjoying a picnic supper with our daughter and grandson, watching float planes land and take off. As you can see, the weather was perfect for photography.

P1050544

Along most of the lake’s shoreline there are small “hut’s adjacent to the dock where planes are secured. Some are decorated in unique ways.

IMG_0958

IMG_0959

The best part of our evening was making photos of planes, close up. It took my telephoto lens to make a few, and the images I was able to capture made me smile.

P1050547

P1050551

There is lots to do in Alaska, watching small planes is just one activity. There are more small planes in the state than anywhere else in the country, because that’s the primary way to get around such remote and wide open spaces. That’s what makes our “last frontier” so special. Go if you can.

I’m back … from Alaska

IMG_0932

My fifth time in my absolute favorite place on the planet. Each visit had its own character and experiences, but this one was special to me because I was able to share my joy with our youngest daughter and youngest grandson. Over the next several blog posts I’ll share with you some of the best things we saw. I’m almost 76 and whether or not I’ll be able to go back again is a question to be answered later. But for now, I’m sitting here kinda tired, because long distance traveling isn’t as easy as it once was. However, for the first time ever, we flew First Class both ways and that made it much, much more comfortable and enjoyable. Thank you Alaska Airlines! Commercial intended. So, here we go, my first entry. Mind you, these photos were all made within a relatively short drive from Anchorage. These were made near Portage Lake with its surrounding glaciers. Oh yes, over five trips up north I’ve learned to take the weather as you get it. Some days are perfect, others not so much. If you’re more worried about the weather than the place you’re standing, don’t go.

P1050497

Three “hanging” glaciers on the peak of the mountain in the first photo. (top left, right and bottom center)

P1050489

That’s Alaska Fireweed in the foreground. It’s all over up there and beautiful every time.

Transformation

IMG_0886

Per Wikipedia: “The Hens and Chicks plant grows close to the ground with leaves formed around each other in a rosette and propagating by offsets. The “hen” is the main plant, and the “chicks” are the offspring, which start as tiny buds on the main plant and soon sprout their own roots, taking up residence close to the mother plant.” A few years ago I discovered a single rosette growing toward the back of a flower garden left by our home’s previous owner. I didn’t like it there, so I carefully moved it to a new location where I could protect its growth, which I then knew little about. What began as one rosette, multiplied year by year to about ten. The mother plant I’d moved, stood firm and gradually enlarged, being surrounded by numerous smaller rosettes. A few weeks ago I was surprised by the “mother’s” abrupt transformation.

IMG_0873

A cactus-like stalk quickly grew vertically, and “flowers” began to open from small buds. Today, it’s about eight inches high and is beautiful in its unique way. What I learned is that the stalk produces buds, which produce flowers, which produce seeds, which result in more “chicks,” The stalk then will die off, creating compost to encourage growth of others. So, one “Hen” became several “Chicks”, and I assume some of them may one day transform into a seed-producing stalk. Nature is amazing isn’t it. This plant is just one example.

IMG_0885

IMG_0867

Friends together in the High Mountains

IMG_0866

This image is our daughter Amy (left), who lives in the mountains, and her very close friend Loree, currently visiting the high country of Western North Carolina above 6000 feet, from flat land Texas. They are seen resting well above 6000 feet after a strenuous climb up a rocky and steep path. Since this Blog is my “place” to share images I make, I typically do not use the work of other folks. But, in this case I’m making an exception because Amy made two spectacular photos of her own (iPhone 7) that I just have to share. It’s fitting they were taken with Loree along to enjoy the incredible views.

IMG_0864

IMG_0865

It’s summer for sure

temporary

I’d like to start this post with a “special treatment” I made recently, to one of my originals so that it looks a bit different.  I like to experiment. It’s too hot here in SW Virginia, but so it goes … in summer. The following images might make you cooler.

IMG_0832

IMG_0831

IMG_0839

 

Always Looking Up

There was a time when friends of mine would notice me walking and ask why it was that my head and eyes were usually looking down in front of where I was walking. Versus eyes forward, or perhaps looking around. I still do this out of habit, but I do spend a lot more time looking up, especially when there are nice clouds above. Such as in the above image I made following a recent thunderstorm. In times past, I didn’t notice such things as much as I do today. Age, medical challenges, and just plain faith and trust that what lies about us in nature, hoping we’ll take notice, is not there by accident. I’m thankful for that blessing. So, I’ll keep on looking up. Both in my state of mind (attitude) and with my “photographic eyes” to see what opportunities are waiting to be recorded.

A Peek at the Peak

As stated on the North Carolina State Parks website, “Since its creation as a 1930s Civilian Conservation Corps project, Hanging Rock State Park has offered the best of a traditional outdoor experience with 73-site campground, picnic grounds, stocked lake for swimming and canoe rentals and more than 20 miles of hiking trails that climb onto spectacular views and weave alongside clear streams and waterfalls.” For me, the attraction has always been “hanging rock” cliffs and rugged trails that lead to great views of the surrounding North Carolina and Virginia Piedmont region. My age and weaker legs have prevented me from hiking and climbing today, but I have fond memories of once doing so on several occasions. It’s near Danbury, NC and is a jewel just waiting for fun and exploration. Here’s a “peek” of what gave the park it’s name.

P1050459

P1050456

P1050455

P1050457

Mikey’s Ridge

P1050461

Our daughter Amy lives in a beautiful location in the mountains of Western North Carolina. I wrote a fictional short story about how I think growing up would have been living there. I titled the book, “Hiking with Mikey” and a primary geographic feature in my story is “Mikey’s Ridge”. There is an actual location like that, and this view from Amy’s porch is what I call “Mikey’s Ridge.” I was lucky recently to be able to make some photos of Mikey’s Ridge. Here are a few more images I made right after a thunderstorm had passed, with cooler temperatures, and thus the fog and wispy clouds. Perfect time for photography.

P1050462

P1050470

P1050464