Southeast Alaska Panhandle – September 2017 – “Uncruise” Part 1

(please note there are 20+ photos on the next few postings, they might take a bit of time to load)

One place we had always wanted to see was Alaska, but much of it is very difficult to get to. We decided the best way to see it was on a cruise.

I had been on a large ship cruise once for 3 days and kissed the ground when I got off, the tacky shows and lines for everything got old fast. For this trip we chose to go on a small ship cruise from a company aptly named ‘Uncruise’. And no this is not an advertisement for them, but an honest assessment on how great this turned out to be.

We set sail on a rainy Saturday evening from Juneau. The next day we arrived at a fjord called Endicott Arm. The walls soar 1000′ above the water for dramatic effect.

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At the end of the fjord is Dawes Glacier, a tidewater glacier.

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The main ship was close enough to get some dramatics up on the glacier with a zoom lens.

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The difference between the large ships that most people cruise on and the small ships like Uncruise is you get off the boat and do things other than shop at trinket stores in ports. For this portion groups of 8-10 people took ‘skiffs’ the last 6 miles up the fjord to within 1/4 mile of the 200′ high face of the glacier.

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As we neared the glacier a guide plucked what she thought was going to be a small piece of ice out of the water. It turned out to be much larger. This piece of ice was brought back on board the ship for a contest when it would finish melting. It took 3 days.

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We spent about an hour at the base of the glacier in the skiffs. Every once in a while you would hear loud cracking sounds and nothing happened. For us though, we were fortunate enough to see a major ‘calving’ event, when a large chunk of the glacier fell off into the sea.

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As noted this face is 200′ high, so the splash it made is likely + 75′. Amazingly it does not create a tidal wave, just some small ones like someone went by with a small boat and created a wake.

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We returned through the icebergs on our way back to the ship.

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The Wilderness Adventurer is about 190′ long with 30 passenger cabins. Our trip had 55 passengers and a crew of 20 (or so – I didn’t do an exact count !). As shown below the ship has a number of 2 person kayaks, some paddle boards and the skiffs (which are missing on this photo since they are out at the glacier.

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After everyone had returned to the ship we continued on our way we came upon a number of whales who were diving for food. They came upon a couple of sea lions, one of which took refuge on the back of the ship, which got the crew all excited as they said they had only heard of this only ever happening once before.

Since we were stationary at the time he sat there for a while. Once the crew was confident these particular whales had moved on they shoo-ed him/her off the back.

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Even things as simple as the wake on the very calm waters made for great photo ops.

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Later we came across more whales feeding.

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Finally (for this portion of the trip) we passed a small island filled with more sea lions.

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The day ended with a great sunset.

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More to come…..

 

 

Columbus – July 2017 – Ohio State Fair

The Ohio State Fairgrounds has been at the same location since 1886, when the land was north of town. Now it is in the  middle of the city, between Ohio State University and some inner city neighborhoods, along the flight path for the airport.

It is in this setting that each year thousands of Ohio youth (and adults) bring their prized animals for show.  Nothing like a morning in Columbus with about 1000 rooster cackling, airplanes blasting over, and the smell of 1000 fried food stands. Still it seems to have become an annual event for photography.

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In addition to the animals there is the always fascinating ‘butter sculpture’. Imagine the cholesterol.

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Also featured are crafts.

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Prize winning cake.

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Throughout the midway are rides, and other attractions including the ‘Wild Monkeys’ show.

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Cincinnati – April 2017 – The Zoo in Bloom

The Cincinnati Zoo is the 2nd oldest zoo in America, starting just 14 months after the Philadelphia Zoo in 1875. It is situated on only 66 acres in a residential area just north of downtown. Officially known as a Zoo and Arboretum, April is billed as ‘the Zoo in Bloom’. Unfortunately most of the tulips and other spring flowers had already bloomed, then hit with a frost so there was little color on them.

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Still this zoo has great landscaping with large areas of bamboo, thousands of trees and other nicely placed shrubs and plants.

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Having gone to to photo the mix of flowers and animals, it ended up being focused on the animals. As with most zoos, many of the animals have a sad look when you are able to focus closely on them.

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While this could be their normal look in the wild, it seems to accent their life in the zoo. I realize zoos do a great job in animal conservation but it is always sad to see them in their enclosed spaces. Still in my opinion the Cincinnati Zoo is much better than the Columbus Zoo with the landscaping and relative lack of advertising, especially given their tight quarters in the city,

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While the flowers failed to provide a color show, the animals didn’t disappoint with their displays.

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