Yukon Territory, May 2016

One of the things we were most excited about when we booked the Alaska cruise was the opportunity to see some of the last true wilderness areas in the world.  Our excursion to the Yukon territory let us do just that.  It also gave us the opportunity to see wildlife, snuggle puppies, and ride a historic train.

We took a bus from Skagway along the Klondike Highway.  We made a few stops along the way so everyone could get out and enjoy a beautiful day and the spectacular scenery.  Along the way we crossed an unusual bridge, the Captain William Moore Bridge, an earthquake-proof suspension bridge.  It’s only anchored on one side, so if the ground shifts due to an earthquake the other side will move freely.

Captain William Moore Bridge HDR Dark

The scenery was amazing.  I would have never imagined the amount of greenery and blooms that we saw in May in the Yukon.  There was still plenty of ice on the ground but there were plenty of signs of spring as well.

The main destination on the excursion was Caribou Crossing, a tourist stop not far from the little town of Carcross.  Carcross, by the way, was once named Caribou Crossing, but the town changed its name to Carcross to differentiate it from the other six towns in the Yukon named Caribou Crossing.

We had a nice lunch at Caribou Crossing and then explored the taxidermy museum.  We were not excited about taxidermy but I will say the museum was really interesting and the taxidermy was some of the best I’ve ever seen.

Caribou Crossing was also our first opportunity to interact with sled dogs.  The sled dogs at Caribou Crossing are racing dogs and are a good bit smaller than working sled dogs, the National Park Service sled dogs, for instance.  We got to pet on some of the adult dogs, watch a team pull a cart filled with tourists, and pet on puppies.

After our time at Caribou Crossing we took a short ride up the highway to Emerald Lake, a lake known for its intense green color.  Quite beautiful.

Emerald Lake HDR Outdoor 1

Our last stop before connecting with the train ride back to Skagway was the small town of Carcross.  Carcross has been the home to Tlingit and Tagish First Nations people for at least 4,500 years.  The town of roughly 300 residents and is where we caught the train.

After a quick stop in Carcross we hopped on the bus to catch the White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad for our trip back to Skagway.  We were delayed for a few minutes so we could observe a black bear that was scavenging along the highway.  It was our first bear sighting of the cruise.

Black Bear Color Efx Detail and Vignette

Black bears can be any color, like this ginger colored bear.  Similarly, Brown bears can range from black to a unique blush color.  Black bears are smaller that brown bears and are missing the large hump over their front shoulders.  Also, black bears don’t have the dished out nose like brown bears do.

Finally, we were ready to board the train for our ride back to Skagway.  The White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad is an N-scale that had its origin in the Yukon Gold Rush.  The railroad was started in 1898 and when it opened in 1900 it supplanted the Chilkoot trail as the primary route into the Yukon.  Today it’s primarily a tourist train but does make several stops along the way to pick up hikers, campers and off-gridders who need a ride into Skagway.

The train ride is one of the more popular excursions on the cruise lines and it’s no wonder.  The trip was enjoyable and the train ran through some of the most beautiful scenery in North America.

Juneau, Alaska

The second port of call on our Alaska cruise was Juneau, the only state capital in the United States has no roads connecting the city to the rest of Alaska (there is ferry access for cars).  Nestled at the base of Mount Juneau and adjacent to Mount Rogers, Juneau may be the most beautiful capital city in the country.  Waterfalls tumble down Mount Juneau and mountain goats and dall sheep can frequently be spotted on the surrounding mountains.

Juneau PC Landscape Ektachrome 100 Graduated ND

My wife and I are dog lovers so we were excited to see the monument to Patsy Ann, a local legend named “the Official Greeter of Juneau, Alaska” by mayor Isadore Goldstein in 1934.  Although deaf from birth, Patsy Ann could unerringly sense when a ship was arriving and the dock where the ship would moor.  Although owned and cared for by a local dentist, Patsy Ann was more of a dog about town, making her rounds to the shops and businesses around the docks and eventually choosing to live at the Longshoreman’s Hall.  She continued her job of official greeter until 1942, when she passed away at the age of thirteen.  Upon her death her coffin was lowered from the dock into the Gastineau Channel near where her monument stands.

Patsy Ann Ektachrome 64 HDR Outdoor 2

The weather was beautiful on the day we visited Juneau and we had a great time on our excursion, a whale watching tour on Stephens Passage and a visit to Mendenhall Glacier.  The whale watching tour started at Auke Bay and there was a short bus ride to get there.  On the way we saw one of the most remarkable sights of the trip.  We passed over a small creek and saw about fifty eagles standing at the edge of the creek.  As an Easterner who thinks seeing one eagle is a special event this was amazing.

The whale watching tour was great. Although it was very early in the season we quickly located a pod of six orcas.  We also saw several humpback whales, a group of stellar sea lions and several eagles.

From the whale watching tour we went to Mendenhall Glacier.  The glacier is part of the Juneau Ice Field and is located across Mendenhall Lake and about a mile from the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center, the first U.S. Forestry Service Visitor Center built in the nation.  When it was opened in 1962 the visitor center was located at the foot of the glacier.  Due to the retreat of the glacier it’s now a mile from the visitor center to the glacier.  Another popular sight is Nugget Falls, a 377-foot waterfall adjacent to the glacier.  Inside the visitor center we were able to use spotter scopes to view mountain goats on the side of the Mount Bullard.  It was our first view of mountain goats.

After our visit to Mendenhall Glacier we returned to Juneau for a quick visit to the Red Dog Saloon, recognized by the Alaska Legislature as the oldest man-made tourist attraction in Juneau.  We sat at the bar and had a great view of the memorabilia displayed on the wall, including a gun that Wyatt Earp checked but failed to claim on his way out of the bar.  With live piano music, the bar was a fun place to enjoy lunch with a beer, or in my wife’s case, a duck fart, Alaska’s original layered shot named for the sound you make when you drink it.  Red Dog Saloon is very touristy but a fun time was had  by all.

Ketchikan, Alaska

In May of 2016 my wife and I took an Inside Passage cruise of Alaska.  An Alaska cruise has long been on our “to do” list and we were fortunate enough to be able to do it.  The first port we visited on our cruise was Ketchikan.  The city of just over eight thousand residents is the fifth largest city in Alaska.

Ketchikan calls itself “Alaska’s First City”, not because it was the first permanent settlement in the state but because it’s the first port on the cruise route.  The city is also known as “the Salmon Capital of the World”.

1st City Sign HDR Efex Deep 1

It was raining when we debarked because, well, it rains in Ketchikan.  A lot.  Ketchikan is in the middle of the Tongass National Forest, a moderate rain forest that keeps the weather fairly mild by Alaska standards.  It also makes Ketchikan one of the rainiest places on earth.  The average annual rainfall is 153 inches (over 12 feet) per year with the record year of 1949 seeing 202 inches of rain.  Ketchikan celebrates its rain with a “liquid sunshine gauge” located at the welcome center.

Rain Gauge Ektachrome 100 HDR Deep 2

We had booked an excursion to the Misty Fjords National Monument but the trip was cancelled due to the weather.  We decided to make our time in Ketchikan nice and leisurely with a self-guided walk through the town.

Next to the rain gauge on the cruise ship dock is a relatively new attraction.  The Rock is a beautiful sculpture by Ketchikan artist Dave Rubin.  Unveiled in 2010, the massive sculpture celebrates Ketchikan history with seven life size figures- Chief Johnson, a logger, a fisherman, a bush pilot, a Tlingit drummer, a miner, and an elegant lady.

The Rock Ektachrome 64 HDR Outdoor 2

Just up the hill from the cruise ship dock is Whale Park, a beautiful little green space.  One of Ketchikan’s many totem poles is located in Whale Park, The Chief Kyan totem, a lineage pole.  with three figures celebrating the history and social standing of Chief Kyan’s family.

One of the things that surprised me about Ketchikan was how many flowers were blooming in and around the city.  May is the beginning of the tourist season and I expected it to be cold and gray.

Chief Kyan Totem Color Efx Yarra Sunset

Just a few yards from Whale Park is the Chief Johnson totem, a very tall story pole which depicts the legend of fog woman and the creation of Salmon.  It’s 55 feet tall and carved from a single western red cedar log.

Chief Johnson Totem Agfa Optima HDR Deep 2

Just past the Chief Johnson totem is the entrance to one of the most photographed streets in the world, Creek Street.  Creek Street was the red light district for the first 50 years of the 20th century.  It’s actually not a street, but a boardwalk running along the east side of Ketchikan Creek.  During the summer the creek is full of bears who come to feed on the salmon.  We were there too early for the bears but it was still an interesting place.

Creek Street Ektachrome 400 Pro HDR Deep 1

Originally the red light district in Ketchikan, Creek Street is now the location of shops and the occasional museum.  Dolly’s House is a museum that was once the bordello of Ketchikan’s most famous madam, Dolly Arthur.  The museum is full of photos and memorabilia belonging to Dolly and the rooms have been left much the same as when Dolly lived there.

Dollys House HDR Efx Deep 1

The last place we visited was the Raven Stealing the Sun totem, located at the Tongass Historical Museum and near the Ketchikan Creek Waterfall.  On the east side of the creek is the Yeltatzie Salmon, a sculpture by local artist Terry Pyles.  The mosaic sculpture was commissioned to replace the original cedar sculpture which had been removed due to extreme deterioration.  The original sculpture had been created by Haida carver Jones Yeltatzie.  Pyles named the replacement after the the creator of the original salmon sculpture.

Yeltatzie Salmon HDR Deep 2

While it rained the entire time we were in Ketchikan we didn’t let it stop us from enjoying our time in the town and from learning a little about Alaska.

 

SS Noordam, May 2016

We selected Holland American for our Alaska cruise.  One reason we selected Holland American was that they had options to extend your cruise to a stay at Denali.  Another reason was that their customers were older than most cruise lines and, since we’re not getting younger, we liked the idea of a fairly quiet cruise.

We had never been on a cruise before and we soon found out that a cruise ship is basically a resort hotel and mall that floats.  There were plenty of opportunities to send lots of money- casinos, shops, an art seller, a jeweler, a spa, even an acupuncturist- but we did our best to avoid the temptations.  We looked at the cruise ship as another part of an adventure and explored the many areas of the ship.

Holland America is famous for the art aboard their ships.  The Noordam had several million dollars worth of art, including several Andy Warhol prints and a Warhol painting of Queen Juliana of the Netherlands.

Warhol CFX Detail Extractor Low Key

Warhol seems to be a favorite of Holland America.  In addition to the prints above and the Queen Juliana portrait, the entrance to the nightclub had a Warhol theme.

Entry to Nightclub HDR Chrome Preset

There were a lot of really beautiful places on the ship and we spent a lot of time just exploring the spaces.  We enjoyed the library and the game  room, but one of my favorites was the Ocean Bar, which had a jazz theme.

One of the most grandiose spaces on the Noordam had to be the central staircase, which was three stories high and featured a huge Waterford crystal compass.

Central Staircase HDR Outdoor 2

Here’s a view of the Waterford compass.

Waterford Compass Ektachrome 100E

There was artwork everywhere.  Ship paintings and models, a bust of King William II, sculptures, antiques, and more.  There was always something to catch your eye.

 

As you would expect with a resort hotel, the service was great.  One fun thing was the towel animals we found in our room every day.  They even had a towel folding exhibition to show how to make the animals.

Towel Bunny

But, even with everything there was to do inside the ship we spent a lot of time on deck enjoying the views.  The Inside Passage is truly spectacular. The Pacific Ranges of the Coast Mountains run along the eastern edge of the Inside Passage.  To the west are a series of islands including Vancouver Island, Princess Royal Island and Pitt Island.

Canada's Inside Passage

The weather, other than in rainy Ketchikan, was great and we had plenty of opportunities to enjoy the sites from on deck.  We especially enjoyed watching the sun set.

Sunset last night CFX Sunset Landscape

We had expected the ship to be just a way to get to the various ports so we could enjoy the nature and history of Alaska.   It turned out that there was plenty to enjoy aboard ship as well and being on ship didn’t keep us from enjoying the natural areas around us.

Vancouver, May 2016

In May of 2016 we were fortunate to be able to take a trip that we had always wanted to take, an Alaska cruise.  We selected Holland America for the cruise line and opted to extend the cruise with a couple days in Denali.

The cruise departed from Vancouver, British Columbia.  We flew in the night before the cruise began so we could have a little time exploring the city.  We didn’t have a lot of time but we made the most of it.

We’re big into finding good restaurants to enjoy and we’d done a little research in advance.  We had dinner in Chinatown at Bao Bei, a modern Chinese restaurant a block or so from the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Memorial Garden.  We arrived at 10pm and the place was packed.  We sat at the bar, which had the benefit that we could watch the bartenders show their skills with a shaker.  The food was good, the drinks were good and, despite a long and trying day, we enjoyed our time there.

I’m not sure what was going on, but Chinatown and downtown Vancouver were packed that night.  There were lines of limousines cruising the roads and literally thousands of young people dressed to the nines filling the sidewalks.  My guess is that it was prom night, but it gave Vancouver a young and vibrant feel.

The next morning, Sunday, we had a few hours before we had to be at Canada Place to begin our cruise.  We found a great little restaurant in the shadow of the hotel called Scoozis.  We were the first customers through the door that morning and we were greeted by the very friendly owner.  We had one of the best breakfasts we’ve ever had, a deep dish casserole breakfast that was absolutely wonderful.  If you have the opportunity I highly recommend breakfast at Scoozis.

Vancouver is a beautiful town, with a mix of ultramodern, art deco and classical European style architecture.  It also has a lot of green space, including the world famous Stanley Park.  One of the architectural highlights of Vancouver is the art deco Marine Building, a skyscraper opened in 1930.  Although it is now dwarfed by the surrounding more modern towers, it was Vancouver’s tallest building until 1939.

Marine Building CFX Stormy Sky

As I said, there are a lot of green spaces in Vancouver.  This little park was just a couple blocks from our hotel.

Downtown Vancouver HDR Deep 1

Another architectural highlight is the beautiful Canada Place, the place where all cruises start or end.  A fabric roofs resembling sails covers the structure.  It’s quite a sight.

Canada Centre HDR Deep 1

It took a few hours to work our way through the embarkation process and to get settled in our room.  Once we were on board and settled we grabbed a drink and headed for the deck to enjoy the cruise out of Vancouver.  We said goodbye to Canada Place and began our journey.

Canada Place Grad ND Ektachrome 64 HDR Hyperrealistic

The sun came out for a minute as we passed the Point Atkinson Lighthouse, marking the Burrard Inlet.  Once we passed under the Lions Gate Bridge, we were officially in the Inside Passage and on our way.

Point Atkinson Lighthouse

 

 

 

 

Booth Western Art Museum, Cartersville, Georgia

It had been many years since I’d visited Cartersville, a small city of 20,000 north of Atlanta.  In October of 2017 my wife’s sister took us to the Booth Western Art Museum.  I never imagined that this gem of a museum was in the little town famous for the world’s first outdoor Coca Cola sign and the Etowah Indian Mounds.

The museum is home to the largest collection of western art in the United States and is the second largest art museum in Georgia.

Booth Museum of Western Art
Booth Museum of Western Art

The grounds contain sculptures by leading western artists, including the wonderful “An Honest Day’s Work by Fred Fellows.

The museum hosts hundreds of paintings and sculptures from artists as diverse as Frederic Remington and Charles Russell to Andy Warhol and Leroy Neiman.  The art is divided into galleries focusing on various aspects of western art.  There are also galleries dedicated to the American Civil War and U.S. Presidents.

 

 

The Millar Presidential Gallery is fascinating, with portraits and information about each of our presidents.  There is a trivia question for each president.  Did you know that the “S” in Harry S. Truman doesn’t stand for anything and that Ulysses S. Grant was the first president to be pulled over for speeding?  Interesting and fun stuff.

My favorite gallery was the Modern Art gallery, but all the galleries were full of beautiful works. There was a lot of art by Native American artists and African American artists as well as famous artists like Frederic Remington.  Here’s a wonderful painting by Shonto Begay titled “Our Promised Road”.

Shonto Begay, Our Promised Road
Shonto Begay, Our Promised Road

Bob Vann has a couple pieces in the museum including “The Victorio Campaign”.

Bobb Vann, The Victorio Campaign
Bobb Vann, The Victorio Campaign

Andy Warhol’s “Sitting Bull” is one of the highlights of the Modern Art gallery.

Andy Warhol - Sitting Bull
Andy Warhol – Sitting Bull

And now for something completely different.  Bill Schenk’s beautiful “From Dust to Dusk” celebrates the beauty of the western landscape with an unusual jazz theme.

Bill Schenck, From Dust to Dusk
Bill Schenck, From Dust to Dusk

We spent hours at the museum and could probably return to find new art or art that we failed to notice on the first trip.  If you’re in the Atlanta area I hope you’ll visit this wonderful museum.

Winter Storm 2010

We’re in the middle of a winter storm here and while I’m not looking forward to the ride to work tomorrow it is beautiful.  We seem to get a winter storm every two years or so.  Here’s a photo of our house taken during the winter storm on 12/4/2010.

House HDR Efex Pro Detailed 1

Seneca Falls, New York

In August 2015 we visited Seneca Falls.  Seneca Falls is a beautiful little town in the Finger Lakes region of New York famous for its ties to the women’s rights movement.  Seneca Falls may also have been the inspiration behind Bedford Falls, the fictional town from Frank Kapra’s classic movie It’s A Wonderful Life.

Seneca Falls Canal Ektachrome 100 HDR Bright 1

The town is built along a canal linking Seneca Lake and Cayuga Lake.  By 1828 the canal had been linked to the Erie Canal and industry began to move to the area.  The town was established in 1829 along the canal and was incorporated as the Village of Seneca Falls in 1831.

In 1848 the first Convention on Women’s Rights was held at the Wesleyan Chapel.  Among the organizers of the convention was Elizabeth Cady Stanton, one of the most famous figures of the women’s rights movement.  Today the Wesleyan Chapel is part of the Women’s Rights National Historic Park Visitor Center.

Seneca Falls Wesleyan Chapel Ektachrome 100 Outdoor 2

Tourism has become a large part of Seneca Falls.  In addition to the Wesleyan Chapel, you can visit Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s house, called “the Center of the Rebellion” by Stanton.  Stanton and her family lived in the house, now managed by the National Park Service, from 1847 until 1862, when the family moved to New York.

Seneca Falls EC Stanton House Ektachrome 100 HDR Deep 1

Stanton’s presence is all over Seneca Falls.  A few blocks from the Stanton House is a statue commemorating the first meeting between Stanton and Susan B. Anthony.  The two were introduced by Amelia Bloomer after an antislavery lecture.  The beautiful sculpture is by Ted Aub.

Seneca Falls Meeting Statue Ektachrome 64 Pro HDR Outdoor 2

Stanton is also among the women depicted in the First Wave sculpture in the Visitor Center.  The sculpture features the women who organized the first Convention on Women’s Rights as well as a few of the men who supported the movement.  Elizabeth Cady Stanton is on the far left.

Seneca Falls First Wave Fujichrome Sensia 100 HDR Indoor 1

Finally, the Trinity Episcopal Church, along the canal, is one of the most photographed churches in the world.

Seneca Falls Trinity Episcopal Church Ektachrome 64 Pro HDR Outdoor 1

 

Chincoteague Ponies

Back in the 90s we spent Easter weekend on Chincoteague Island, home to the wild horses made famous in Marguerite Henry’s “Misty of Chincoteague” books.

There are actually two herds of horses, also known as Assateague horses, living on the island, one herd on the Maryland end of the island and one herd on the Virginia end.  Each herd has about 150 horses.

The Maryland herd, or Assateague herd, is owned and managed by the National Park Service and, other than contraceptive and emergency medical treatment the Maryland herd is treated like other wildlife, with no special attention or treatment given to them.  They’re one of the last free-ranging feral horse herds in America.

The Virginia, or Chincoteague herd, is owned and managed by the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Department.  Through a special agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service the herd is allowed to live and graze in the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge.

Each year the Chincoteague fire department holds a roundup and auction of the horses.  The auction serves two purposes.  First, it controls the size of the herd.  Second, it helps finance the fire department’s operations.  The auction draws as many as 50,000 people who watch the herd make its annual swim from Assateague across the channel to Chincoteague.

The horses are quite beautiful and seem oblivious to the tourists around them.  We saw many of the horses around the island, usually from a distance, but we did have the opportunity to see several of the horses grazing along a bike path.  While they may seem harmless, it’s important to remember that they’re wild animals and can easily run over a nearby person.

Here are a couple photos of the horses from our visit to the island.

Chincateague Stallion Color Efx Graduated Ektachrome 64p foliage

Grey Horse Chincatigue HDR Realistic

Lighthouses

I love to photograph lighthouses.  When we travel, if there is a lighthouse nearby we’ll take a ride to visit the site.  Here are a few we’ve visited over the years.

Bodie Island Lighthouse, Outer Banks, NC

The Hattaras Light is probably the most famous Outer Banks lighthouse but I think the Bodie Island Light is much prettier.  The light was built in 1872 and stands 156 feet tall.  It’s one of the few brick tower lighthouses and has an original first-order Fresnel lens.

Bodie Island LH HDR Efx Deep 1

Crooked River Lighthouse, Carrabelle, Florida

Also known as the Carrabelle Light, this cast iron skeleton lighthouse was built in 1895 to replace the Dog Island Light, which had been destroyed years before in a hurricane.  The light stands 100 feet tall and housed a fourth order Fresnel lens.  The light has been decommissioned and the Fresnel lens has been replaced with an acrylic replica.

Crooked River Lighthouse Ektachrome 100

St. Augustine Light, St. Augustine, Florida

This beautiful brick lighthouse was built in 1874 and stands 165 feet tall.  It contains a first-order Fresnel lens.  In 1980 The women of the Junior Service League of St. Augustine signed a 99-year lease on the house and grounds and began restoration.  Shortly after they began the restoration the League signed a 30 year lease of the actual lighthouse and began restoration.  At the end of the 1980s the League had the original Fresnel lens restored.

St Augustine Lighthouse HDR Efex Deep 2