Saturday, February 7, 2015

Fat Tire Bike Event in Homer

After a couple days in Anchorage for a conference with howling winds I was looking forward to a beachwalk in Homer. A friend called me up and she took me to a "secret" beach access point I'd heard about but never checked out before.  A short walk over a frozen boggy area got us to the top of the bluff where we were amazed to be greeted by the sight of dozens and dozens of fat tire bikers streaming by, the line stretching off in both directions. What the heck?

Yep, those are bikers down there!

We clambered down the bluff and immediately came across a man we knew who filled us in. Apparently it was the annual Fat Bike Festival in Homer. Each year they have a different ride or events, and this year's was to start at Miller's Landing off of Kachemak Drive and ride to McNeil Canyon where they would have food and a fire and then bike back, a ride of about 8 miles each way. Apparently the first couple miles were really rough. Where we'd come down it was ice alternating with slush and not ideal walking by any means. It didn't look ideal for the bikers either. They didn't particularly look like they were having fun, and not long after we got down to the beach it started snowing so pretty soon there was no beautiful view that you see in these pictures and was just gray snow coming down.

There was a stream crossing right where we came down the bluff and some folks were nervous about that. A number of bikers congregated but eventually they all crossed.

By time we started heading back some of the bikers had turned around and headed back too, opting to have the wind (and snow!) on their backs and get home. As one man told us, you can't choose pain but you can choose whether you suffer!

Congregating by a stream crossing

A dog with a camera mounted on his back!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Misty Morning on Engineer Lake

A few years back I took a weekend trip with some Homer Women's Nordic gals to the Engineer Lake cabin. We had a beautifully foggy morning, though it made things a bit interesting rowing back to the parking lot through the fog!

Well, folks, a few months ago I went through all my Alaska photos to date and chose ones I thought I might not have shared or that were my favorites. These photos are the end of that list of to-share pictures. It is perfect timing because I will begin working Monday at Kachemak Bay Campus as an Adult Basic Education instructor, on top of my online teaching responsibilities and community communication workshops. My free time will go down to zip till summer, which thankfully I will still have off to go adventuring around Alaska. Part of my new job will be taking me across the bay to the villages of Seldovia, Port Graham and Nanwalek, so I'll keep you posted on adventures over that-a-way. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Kenai Lake Reflections

Here is an example of termination dust on the mountains--light snow that has fallen on the peaks but not yet made its way down the mountain. These photos are of Kenai Lake in Cooper Landing. It seems so rare that the lake is so calm that the mountains are a perfect reflection, so I snapped a few pictures.

While the trees in this second photo are blurry, as I snapped this photo from the car as we drove, the mountains are still clearly reflected in the water. The trees create an interesting foreground--not my usual "pretty picture that I post, but interesting I thought!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Wintery Mountains

I'd never seen the mountains by Summit Lake looking so dramatic before. It was one of those times it was worth taking a picture! That winter lighting again.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Turnagain Arm Winter Bergs

Looking north towards Anchorage over Turnagain Arm

Looking south towards Turnagain Pass

It is fascinating seeing Turnagain Arm just south of Anchorage each time we make the drive. The difference between low tide and high tide is fascinating, whales make fairly regular appearances, and every so often a bore tide can be fun to watch. Because the tide differential from the lowest low tide to the highest high tide is somewhere around 38 feet, a low tide can appear to drain Turnagain Arm of the water leaving mostly mud flats. A high tide fills it up right to the rocks that hold up the railroad tracks. In the winter that means that the water will freeze and when a tide comes in the ice is pushed up and icebergs build up in a messy pile like you see in the pictures.

One interesting fact I learned about Turnagain Arm from an interpretive sign by Bird Creek is that there is 1000 feet of mud below Turnagain Arm from many hundreds of years of sediments flowing in from those strong tides. Since I learned that I like to try to picture a 1000 foot dropoff below the Seward Highway. Yikes! That's a lot of mud! The process of silt coming in continues each day.

Another day on Turnagain, with more mud on a lower tide

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Sunlit Mountain

Having driven the road to Anchorage from Homer many, many times in the past 7 years of living in Alaska, I have seen these mountains in many different states and light. One of my favorite times of the year is late fall (October) when the plants make the mountainsides colorful and the termination dust is creeping down from the peaks. The other favorite time is in the winter. Once again, the lighting can be exquisite, making a plain old mountain (like the ones you see in this photo) suddenly something special, awesome and breath-taking. I prefer to be the passenger on the drive to Anchorage so I can gaze around at the peaks and oooooo and aaaaaaah. Of course, plenty of times it is pitch black or snowing and socked in so I can't see anything, but then there are the gloriously beautiful days too. This photo reminds me of one of those days.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Alaska Above the Clouds

Some flight or other between Homer and Anchorage I took this photo on a low-lying cloud day. Those peaks are perhaps 3500-4000 feet, probably in the Kenai Range, so if they're peeking above the clouds then the clouds are hanging pretty low. To be a pilot and get these amazing views daily! I don't fly often between Anchorage and Homer, but often enough there have been some spectacular sights.