Alyeska

I learned to ski late, in my thirties, but I was able to become skilled enough to enjoy the long runs at the mountainous ski areas of Utah, Colorado, Idaho and Montana.  My skills have atrophied as my skiing opportunities have diminished in recent years, so I was quite excited that a visit to Alyeska ski resort was in our plans.

Alyeska Peak is not as high as those in the Rockies, but the elevation at the bottom is essentially sea level, so one is treated to a large vertical drop without the high nosebleed risk (and out-of-breathness) of high elevations.

Poldi’s sister April joined us at this juncture of our Alaska trip.  She was once a world-class competitive skier, who early in her career came to Alyeska to compete.  One of her ski team friends, Heather, eventually came here permanently, raised a family and is still actively teaching.  I became her informal ski student as we explored the slopes of Alyeska. Here are some photos.

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Talkeetna

A town of about 1000 people, its population increases dramatically with tourists in the summer.  Its mayor is a cat named “Denali”.  At the beginning of Spring, the snow is still deep, requiring waist-high trenches to reach the decks of our cabins.  The highlight of our time in Talkeetna was a visit to a sled dog training center, the endeavor of the locally famous musher and Iditarod winner, Dallas Seavey.  There were 130 dogs under the supervision of 6 to 8 trainers.  In addition to their wrangling, feeding and scooping chores, the trainers host tourists, setting them up to ride a dogsled on one of their training courses.  This actually provides a training service for the dogs—giving them practice at maintaining a target speed and keeping a fixed pace.

Tourists are also used to socialize the dogs, starting with puppies.  We were encouraged to pet them and play with them; see the photos below.

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Denali

We travelled by van to Talkeetna, the gateway of Denali National Park, passing through spectacular mountain vistas.  By accident, I learned that there were vacancies on a sight-seeing small-plane tour into the park, and on a last-minute realization that the skies were clear and I would not likely be here again any time soon, I booked the flight!  It was an amazing experience.  Here are a few photos and a video sample.

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Chena Hot Springs

Two hours northeast of Fairbanks is a feature that is the focal point of a rustic resort, Chena Hot Springs.  The resort has been augmented by a geothermal power plant, greenhouses, and tourist attractions including the “Ice Museum”.  We spent an afternoon visiting, ending with a soak in an outdoor pool fed by the springs.

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Alaska!

The mountain range that hosts the Matanuska Glacier, one of many spectacular vistas we encountered (click for full size).

I recall as a young child my dad claiming that he had visited all 48 states.  I was quite impressed.  I wondered if I would ever be able to ever match that accomplishment. 

My dad had the advantage of being the son of a professor whose research and world war II assignments took him nearly everywhere.  Later, in the home that my parents made, travel was not mandated by an employer, rather, it was actively pursued to expand the experiences of their children.

And it did.  We visited many states on our summer vacation travels and gained an awareness of their local distinctions.  But some were beyond our range, including Alaska.  I have not been there until just now, this year, 2022.  It has been a wonderful addition to my catalogue of states visited.

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Arctic Power

The ocean of trees part to make way for electric power to cross the northern regions of Sweden.  The sun has momentarily peeked above the horizon and will soon drop below it again in the days before the winter solstice at this arctic circle location. 

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18 Dec 2019
Jokkmokk, Sweden


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Sunset at Mauna Kea

At the top of the tallest volcanic mountains on Hawaii are the world’s premier telescopes.  They are here because the air is calm and dry, high above the clouds and turbulence of lower elevations.  The tradeoff is cold and snow, a small price to pay for the chance to explore the secrets of the universe.

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Mauna Kea, Hawaii
3 January 2017
iPhone7+ panorama


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The Belt of Venus

The rosy glow of scattered twilight in the East is known as the “Belt of Venus”, which rides above the deep blue of Earth’s shadow on the sky.  Here it is witnessed from the vantage of Hawaii’s tallest peak, Mauna Kea, as the world’s premier telescopes prepare for another evening of peering into the universe.

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Mauna Kea, Hawaii
3 January 2017
iPhone7+ panorama


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