Alaska

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Things that are cold

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge is all about the things that are cold. Given that we live in Alberta, Canada, I am not short of cold things around me during the winters here, so here is a selection of things that are cold that I have photographed over the past couple of years.

Hoar frost on the trees

Hoar frost on the trees

 

One of our sparrows braving the start of a snow storm

One of our sparrows braving the start of a snow storm

 

Ice sculpture at Lake Louise

Ice sculpture at Lake Louise

 

The cold waters of a swimming pool in hot Southern France

The cold waters of a swimming pool in hot Southern France

 

The Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, Alaska

The Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, Alaska

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Categories: Alaska, Canada, Canadian Nature and Animals, Cee's Fun Foto Challenge, Europe Trip 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Wordless Wednesday

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Categories: Alaska, Wordless Wednesday | Tags: , , , , | 10 Comments

Wordless Wednesday

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Categories: Alaska, Wordless Wednesday | Tags: , , , , | 7 Comments

Alaska Road Trip – how to be bear smart and other useful advice

My guest blog post on TravelBloggers.
Some great travel posts and photos – so don’t be shy, go and check them out!

TravelBloggers.on.WordPress

Driving to or in Alaska is not as scary as some people would have you believe. Yes, you need to be mindful of certain things, but it’s not scary, honestly!

Last year I drove on my own from our home here in Southern Alberta, Canada to Alaska,  a total round trip of just under 7,000 km, and I would do it all again, and again, and again (although I think my family would not be best pleased!).

The start of the Alaskan Highway The start of the Alaskan Highway

The first thing I would advise anybody wanting to do a road trip to Alaska, is to go and buy the latest edition of ‘The Milepost’.
This fantastic guide has every mile in Alaska and parts of Canada logged. It has information on roads, towns, accommodation, shops, attractions, dangers you could face, and every natural beauty spot you could imagine. This book became my bible…

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My photo is featured on TravelBloggers

A little while ago I took part in a bloggers workshop run by WordPress, the people who host my blog and thousands of others. As part of that workshop we had the task of buddying up with like-minded people; out of this was born a group of people who love to write about all things travel – meet the TravelBloggers.on.WordPress. The blog went public not that long ago and work continues to attract readers and followers.

One of the features run on the blog is the Featured Image, which can be submitted to the editors by anybody, as long as it is travel related. Six images are chosen and run on the home page in the top banner, click on a picture on this banner and you will be taken to a short piece about the image, the post it was part of on their blog (if applicable) and a little bit about the person and what they are about.

Due to our upcoming trip to Europe I have not really been able to update my own blog, let alone get involved in our TravelBloggers site, so I thought it was time I got involved a little more. I submitted a photo of the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, Alaska from my trip to Alaska last year (see the original post here) and it is now featured on the TravelBloggers site as one of the featured images.

If you are remotely interested in different travel destinations, travel related tips and tricks, I encourage you to check the TravelBloggers site out (oh, and I will be writing an article for them hopefully before my trip to Europe – so watch that space!).

Categories: Alaska, Blogging 201 Workshop | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

A sneak peek of Chapter One of my book (as requested by some of my friends)

I am writing a book – scary, but also very exciting.

I only started properly 1 week and 2 days ago (yes, I am counting) and have only really had time to write anything on weekends, but my first chapter is complete (for the time being, until I decide it needs more work). The book is about my solo drive to Alaska and what got me onto the trip in the first place. I have never before contemplated writing anything, let alone a book, but it just felt the right thing to do.

Anyways, some of my Facebook friends have asked for a sneak peek at Chapter One; so here is an extract (I am feeling quite nervous to share this with the world):

“Death of a friend or family member does strange things to you. I saw things in a different light. I thought I had already had my moments of “waking up” after having nearly died in hospital in 2010, but my brother’s death at the age of 38, I was 40 at the time, did something else to me. I realized that our time on this world is shorter than we think and that we should make the most of it (very cliché I know, but oh so very true).

The first weeks back here in Canada after the funeral were tough, really tough. I thought a lot and considered my future. Where was my path taking me? Was I happy? I decided that I needed to fulfill some of my dreams. I didn’t want to reach 80 only to look back and say “I wish I had”, I wanted to say “wow, what an adventure”. Enter Alaska.”

There it is, a small part of the book so far. I really would love to have your feedback (I know there isn’t a lot to go on, but hey, it’s nerve-racking sharing this).

I don’t know if I will ever properly be able to publish this book, or even if anyone other than my family and friends would buy it – but I just feel the need to write this, regardless of its failure or success in the end.

Categories: Alaska | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Writing is harder than I thought (or the tale of the accidental author)

No, not the actual act of picking up a pen and setting it on paper and forming letters and words – the act of organizing your thoughts into meaningful sentences, chapters, pages etc.

After my Alaskan adventure I decided to put my favourite photos of the trip into a photobook; easy peasy I thought, oh how wrong I was!

It started off as a photobook with text, but it is slowly turning into a book with photos. I have never really before thought about writing anything, least of all a book about a trip I have made. I guess it all began with my photo blog. I had originally set up my blog for the weekly photo challenges that I take part in from an online group, but thought I might try my hand at a bit of travel blogging during my once in a lifetime trip to Alaska this summer. Turns out it wasn’t too shabby and I discovered that I quite like to write – this from someone who could never keep a diary!

So, this photobook, or book with photos, whichever really, is slowly coming together. It would come together much quicker if only I could stop changing things the minute I think I have finished a page! I haven’t done anything on the book for a little while now, but instead have thought about the pages I have created so far. I have had some more ideas, which means more changes to apparently “finished” pages. Which brings me to an unusual problem. We have all heard of writers block, in my case it’s more like writers overflow – I just cannot seem to stop new ideas from coming to mind, meaning, if I am not very careful, I will be forever working on this book without ever printing it!! Clearly not the goal here.

So then, how do I stop changing my pages every other time I work on this? (Answers on a postcard please!)

Now, I don’t plan to print more than one copy, just for me, but nonetheless, I want to make this the best I can, with my limited experience and ability. Perhaps it is time to set myself some realistic goals; something like a page a weekend (with full-time work, that’s probably the best I can do). Goals are they way to go I feel.

My husband is convinced that I should write a “proper” book about my adventure, and as nice as that compliment is, I cannot imagine anybody (bar from perhaps some friends and family, who would be humoring me) wanting to read about my Alaskan experience.  A very good friend of mine (Hi Clare!), thinks that I am destined to be a travel blogger – there is nothing I would love to do more, but one has to work to finance travel (ah, the never-ending cycle of work, play, work, work, play, work work – you get the idea).

Well, this is not getting this book done now, is it? So, just sharing my ramblings here today and grateful for any thoughts on making this process a little less challenging.

 

 

Categories: Alaska | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

Things I have learned/realized on my road trip and some Thank You’s

Besides my travel blog on Alaska I also kept a handwritten diary (I know, very old-fashioned, but I like it) of my daily activities. Halfway through the trip I penned an entry listing some of the things I had learned or come to realize so far. I thought I would share these and add some items from the second half of the Alaska trip.

Now these are all in a totally random order, so please forgive me if we jump around from subject to subject here (however, should make things more interesting).

1. The Alaskan Highway is nowhere near as bad to drive as people and some books would have you believe. I feel that I need to qualify this though. I did travel in a car, not a truck pulling an RV or driving  a motor home that is almost the size of a small house or ride a motorbike where you eat enough bugs that somebody might charge you for the extra protein you are consuming. Yes there are potholes, and plenty of them, but avoiding them became easy after a while and you soon get used to not seeing another vehicle on the road for up to an hour at a time. Really – it’s not bad.

2. Travelling alone has its merits (no backseat drivers, eat and sleep when you want, no arguments about the music or the directions – you get my drift), however, travelling with good company is better. Sharing a great moment with someone you like and/or love is just priceless and I missed that.

3. A sockeye salmon has no spots.

4. Wildlife is not as abundant along most highways as some travel books tell you. Apparently animals don’t wait by the highways for a car to approach and then come out and pose for you – strange that!

5. Tenting is definitely not for me!

6. Living in Alberta means that we are some ways away from the ocean. I missed the ocean, or any open waters for that matter.

7. I took way too many clothes.

8. This journey was no more dangerous than crossing a busy road. Despite some people telling me (and my husband) that I would be eaten by a bear, or mauled by a cougar, trampled by a moose or have a car accident, I managed to return unscathed, in one piece and no damage to the car.

9. I am capable of writing a journal/blog.

10. Haines, Alaska is far more beautiful than I had imagined.

11. Sea Otters are as cute in real life as they look on the TV.

12. I enjoyed Juneau more than I anticipated, so much so, that I would like to go back there (and to Haines). However, this time I would fly and take my husband.

13. Alaska got to me, in a good way.

14. I don’t mind my own company. Just as well, as I was on my own for nearly 3 weeks.

15. I missed my family and home more than I thought I would.

16. I don’t like salmon (or any seafood unless it’s haddock or cod) no matter how fresh and good it is.

17. You meet the most interesting and strangest people when travelling alone.

18. Seeing whales was the most incredible thing I experienced on this trip. It is easily my most favourite part and made everything worth it. As I said when I spotted my first humpback that day – I can now happily die.

That’s it really. Nothing too earth shattering, but nonetheless important to me in some ways.

I am still trying to find other subjects to write about on my blog and came up with “It’s a dog’s life”, writing from the perspective of our two Westie dogs Coco and Diva – it’s still under consideration and we’ll see what happens.

For now though I think this is my last Alaska entry – sorry folks! I want to thank everyone that followed me on this trip; for your kind words and your encouragement. I never thought that anybody would find my ramblings of any interest at all – so THANK YOU!

The last thank you however should go to my husband Warren. Thank you for letting me go on this journey alone, for never questioning why I needed to do this, for helping me with my kit, for your patience with practicing the tent set up and take down, for all your practical advice and for always being there at the end of a phone line when I needed you!

Haines

 

Categories: Alaska | 11 Comments

Home via the Icefields Parkway

Yes, I am home safe and sound, more about all that later. Firstly though, the question on whether the Icefields Parkway truly is the most scenic drive in North America (as per the statement in The Milepost) requires a response.

In my humble view I wholeheartedly agree!

The Icefields Parkway is 232 km long and passes through the heart of the Canadian Rocky Mountains taking you through Jasper National Park and Banff National Park. It takes you past the Columbia Icefields, which covers a 325 km squared area, making this the largest body of ice in the Rocky Mountains. Its highest point is Mt. Columbia at 3,745m/12,284ft, the average elevation is 3,000m/10,000ft, and the area has an average snowfall of around 7m/23ft every year. The unique part about this icefield is that it drains into the Pacific, Arctic and Atlantic Oceans! The Columbia Icefields are considered one of the largest accumulations of ice and snow south of the Arctic Circle and are incredibly important for the northern hemisphere’s water supply.

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The parkway is easily the busiest highway I have driven on my long journey of 6,934km/4,309miles. It almost felt like being back in Calgary rush hour traffic. Despite all this traffic, the parkway is great for wildlife spotting. The elk below caused a small traffic jam, and given that the hard shoulders are not quite wide enough for a car, it meant that the parked vehicles on either side of the road turned the highway into a single lane down the middle. Drivers of tour busses and RV’s had a job trying to get through. And why is it that there is always one individual that insists on getting dangerously close to the animal in question? In this particular case the lady already had a DSLR with a zoom lense, but apparently that was not close enough, she tried to get even closer by approaching the elk under the bushes! Given that elks are the largest of the deer family and this particular animal was easily 2m tall I just don’t understand why people think it is safe to get close. Aside from that though, it was amazing to see this elk so close up.

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The remainder of the drive was only interrupted by another small traffic jam caused by a black bear or two at the roadside.

I finally made it home that evening at around 1800hrs and was greeted by summery music in the garage, my husband in a hula skirt, loud hawaiian shirt, large sunglasses holding a confetti gun in front of the welcome home sign he had made. I laughed so hard that I cried – what a great surprise – thank you Warren!

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I have now unpacked, told my stories (or most of them at least) and am starting to get back into home life. The car has gone through the car wash, but needs another hand clean to get all the bugs off its grill, not to mention that the inside needs a very good clean (especially to hoover the confetti up!). I plan on one more post on the Alaska trip to wrap the trip up, but then I will have to find new subjects to write about aside from the weekly photo challenge. Perhaps photos and history from our current home location – not sure, so any suggestions would be more than welcome!

Categories: Alaska | Tags: , , , , | 8 Comments

Farewell Alaska, you stole my heart and hello open road (no stealing of hearts here!)

I am sorry I have not posted an update in 3 days, but I just did not have any internet connection up until this evening.

As per my last Alaska update, I left Anchorage on Saturday and was planning on staying in Tok (pronounced as in poke) for the night, but for some reason I felt the pull and it pulled me all the way over the border, back into Canada and into Destruction Bay (yes, that really is a place name!). Now, I have no photos of the place, but let me give you some facts about the place. It has a population of only 55 and only has one motel, the Talbot Arm Motel, which is comprised of a motel (the name is such a giveaway, isn’t it?), gas station, tire repair shop, full service restaurant and bar and a small shop where you can buy snacks, drinks and souvenirs. Destruction Bay is located on Kluane Lake and grew out of the building of the Alaskan Highway. It’s name apparently came from when a storm destroyed buildings and materials.

Day 2 of the long drive home had me overnighting back at Muncho Lake. The Northern Rockies Lodge is just fab and the staff there are excellent. So here is another photo from this morning, as I left the Muncho Lake area.

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Day 3 (today) saw me going to Dawson Creek and then swing south to Prince George, as I really didn’t fancy the boring drive to Edmonton and from there to Calgary. So instead I will be using the Yellowhead Highway to Jasper and then the Icefields Parkway, which apparently, according to the Milepost, is one of Northern America’s scenic driving routes.

On my way down here to Prince George I had the pleasure of driving through Chetwynd, which used to be named Little Prairie. The reason I stopped there quickly this evening is due to all the chain saw sculptures, which are lining the main route through and a large number of them are positioned by the Visitor’s Center. Due to the huge amount of these sculptures Chetwynd is now known as the Chain Saw Carving Capital of the World.  Here are some examples of what can be found in this small town.

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So Prince George is my stopover for tonight. After more than 12 hours of driving it took me three goes to find a hotel that had a room, but oh what a room it is! I am at the Ramada, which is currently being renovated, and I have one of their new rooms, all in sleek black and lush carpets etc. There was a reason that hotels number one and two were full! Having just had a very late dinner, thanks to room service, I am now ready to rest for the night. However, quick write up of Prince George. It started life as Fort George, which was established in the 1800s through the North West Trading Co. It was changed to Prince George in 1915. It is almost geographically in the middle of its Province, British Columbia.

And with that I shall say goodnight and I will post again once I am home!

 

Categories: Alaska | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

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