The Pink Salmon of Anan

Tue, July 18, 2017

As we were walking up to the Anan bear observatory, we noticed the pink salmon in the creek.

Shooting into the creek is tough due to the glare. But I had a polarizer that reduces, but doesn’t eliminate, the glare.

The salmon in the front are clear but all those dark things in the back are also pink salmon. This is what the bears are after.


Anan Wildlife Observatory

Tue, Jul 18, 2017

In Alaska, bear viewing is a big deal and one of the best spots is Anan Wildlife Observatory.  I’d never heard of it before I got to Wrangell but it’s only an hour away.  So I started calling around and got lucky with Alaska Charters and Adventure.  It turns out that someone cancelled and I got their permit (only 60 people per day).

Just like the more famous Brooks Falls in Katmai National Park, Anan is located at a falls on the Anan Creek in the Tongass National Forest. The creek supports a huge run of Pink salmon and that brings out the bears, eagles and ravens.

Brenda runs Alaska Charters and Adventure and was our guide.  She’s been doing this for nearly 30 yrs and was awesome.  Here’s her boat and she’s a quick one:


An island on the way to Anan.


The creek where it empties into the ocean.  When we came in on high tide, it was a lagoon and no islands.


And the falls. When I took this picture, it didn’t occur to me to wait until a few bears where in the shot LOL


The Mendenhall Glacier

Sat, Jul 15, 2017

Just 3.3 miles up the road is the fabulous Mendenhall Glacier.  We’re just 12 mi from downtown Juneau, Alaska.

Here’s the glacier from the visitor center trail.  As recently as 1930, the glacier extended to the point where I’m standing and there was no lake.


Glacial ice is blue because blue light has a short wavelength and is able to penetrate the ice, reflect and make it back to your eyeballs.  Green, yellow, orange and red have longer wavelengths and are absorbed.

It’s the same reason that lakes are blue.  Water is clear but the color is from light that penetrates to the bottom, reflects and makes it back out.  Green, yellow, orange and red can’t.  Blue can.  The deeper the lake, the bluer the color.  You should see Crater Lake.  That blue will blow you away.

Humpback Whales

Sat, Jul 15, 2017

Woke up to sunny skies today and the timing couldn’t have been better.  Why?  Because I’m going whale watching 🙂

The Inside Passage is home to Humpback Whales and Juneau is no exception.  These beautiful animals spend their summers in the Alaskan waters gorging on krill and other small fish while building their fat reserves.  Then they migrate to warmer waters to raise their calfs where they’ll fast all winter (it’s not that they want to fast, it’s that there’s no food for them to eat).  Hawaii and Baja are two popular destinations.

We saw a number of whales and it didn’t take long to see a pattern.  They’d surface and blow 4-5 times to catch their breath and then dive for 5-10 minutes to feed.  If you want a shot of them, better be ready for the dive.  These whales are building strength so they don’t breach or do anything else photogenic.

Humpbacks got their name because they bend their spine creating a hump when they dive.  Here’s what it looks like:


The shot above is of Flame, one of the whales that live in the area.  She’s a big one and has successfully raised 12 calfs, this per the naturalist on board.

She’s easily recognized by the ‘check mark’ pattern on the bottom of her fluke.  I got a great shot of it.


And finally a parting dive before we had to leave.  See the barnacles?


Exploring Juneau

Fri, Jul 14, 2017

We went into Juneau to check it out.  And we were warned about the cruise ships.  Luckily there was only one in town so it wasn’t a zoo.  But we were told there were six on Tue and yikes, I don’t even want to think about it.

The weather was heavy so no views of the mountains for us.  But boy oh boy the potential.  Mountains all around.  A channel separating Douglas Island.  Can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings 🙂

But we did find Tracy’s King Crab Shack for some crab cakes and crab bisque.  Yummie 🙂


The Inside Passage

Fri, Jul 14, 2017

Sailing the Inside Passage has always been on our bucket list but has never been high enough for us to pull the trigger.  So when we decided to take the ferry back, we were able to get two birds with one stone.  And save 1,100 miles of towing through the Yukon, Alberta and British Columbia.  Win win.

Alaska operates a Marine Highway that connects the cities in Southeast Alaska.  Since none of the cities are connected by roads, the ferries really are essential.

On our first leg, we ferried from Haines to Juneau where we’re camped at the Spruce Meadow RV Park.  We ‘enjoyed’ the typical Alaska weather, i.e. rain and a low ceiling.  Still pretty in its own way.



One of the many glaciers in the area.


Last Day in Haines, AK

Thu, Jul 13, 2017

We enjoyed our five days in Haines and why not?  It’s a beautiful location that sits on a penensula formed by the Chilkat and the Chilkoot Inlets.   Skagway is around the corner and is the northern end of Alaska’s Inside Passage.

Today’s visit is to the Chilkoot Lake and Chilkoot River.

Chilkoot Lake is glacial fed so it has that characteristic green color.  Green because the glacial silt absorbs the visible spectrum except the green frequencies that are reflected.

Here’s the lake and the green didn’t really come out due to the sun position.


And here’s the river that flows out of the lake and the color is really nice.  This is an iPhone picture so I couldn’t use my polarizer to reduce the glare 😦


Another shot of the river.  This is someone’s back yard.  Nice 🙂


On the left is a homemade dry dock and the Chilkoot Inlet is to the right.  To use dry dock, just wait for the 25 foot tide and then pull right in.  You’ll have about 12 hours to make your repairs and then sail away on the next high tide.  Alaska.  I love it!


Hummingbird Moth

Wed, Jul 12, 2017

We’ve moved to the beautiful Haines Hitch-Up RV Park and boy is it nice.  A five star park if I’ve ever seen one.

And guess what flew into the local garden?  A hummingbird moth!

I’ve seen pictures before but never in real life.  So I ran for my Nikon 800 and 200 f2 lens only to learn that this lens isn’t one that has a close focus.  Slaps forehead (duh).  Then back to the rig to grab my 85mm lens. [Edit: I had the focus range limited to 5m – infinity. Slaps forehand again.]

They fly and move just like hummingbirds. Like them, they can remain suspended in the air in front of a flower while they unfurl their long tongues and insert them in flowers to sip their nectar.

I always thought they were hummers that look like moths but they are moths that look like hummers.  You know, they start life as caterpillars.  I learn something new every day (sadly, I forget something every day too).

These critters are small, half the size of a hummer, so it’s not like I have a full frame of one.  This is heavily cropped and was shot at ISO 400, 1/4000 sec and f 2.0.


Another view.