Southeast Alaska Panhandle – September 2017 – “Uncruise” Part 2

With the small ship the entire crew, and other passengers, quickly become familiar with each other on a first name basis. One of the great features was the permission to go onto the bridge anytime you like during the day, unless they were in an especially tricky navigation spot.

This day I went up and it was just the Captain and me, jamming out to ‘Wish You Were Here’ by Pink Floyd, while we cruised along at about 5 knots looking for whales.

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Later we anchored in a bay and set the kayaks out.

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This bay offered more wildlife, which if I recall the information from the guides correctly are Cormorants.

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A mama otter with her baby on her chest floating in the bay.

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One of the paddle boarders and a kayak backed by 8000′ mountains.

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Later on the same kayak outing we passed this otter, who was not happy we were in his space as he bared his teeth and hissed at us.

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You can tell the females as their noses are dinged up from rough sex where the male apparently bites their noses in passion.

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Why paddle board with your feet on the board when you can do a handstand.

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Nothing better than to be in a still bay in Alaska checking out the sea life near the rocks.

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A Harbor Seal.

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The waters were so calm everything had great reflections.

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The next morning there was thick fog that gradually lifted through the morning.

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An eagle soaring above the fog.

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A skiff returns across the calm waters.

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The afternoon was spent ‘bushwhacking’ through the forest. No bears or other wildlife was found but there was evidence of foresting that once occurred there.

The ground was so thick with the moss that it was spongy.

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more to come….

 

 

Port Angeles, Washington – September 2017 – Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park makes up most of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State. Our visit took us up a long hike to the top of Hurricane Ridge, which offered excellent views of the mountains, as well as back across the Straight of Juan De Fuca to Victoria.

The 17 mile drive up the mountain featured a few tunnels.

 

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The views at the top were great, as was the weather.

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Port Angeles and beyond.

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The trail was long, but worth it.

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Mountain Flowers

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Mt Baker in the distance.

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Kelowna, BC – September 2017 – Myra Valley Trestles

High above Kelowna, British Columbia is the Myra Valley Trestles, a former rail line that has become a ‘rails to trails’. What makes this one special is it runs across 18 trestles and two tunnels in the 11 kilometer route.

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The trestles have had decking added for easier riding.

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The trestles are marked with both a sequential number and the distance from Midway BC, reminding riders of their previous use.

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The air was hazy from the numerous forest fires throughout BC.

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There were a couple very long, curved trestles made out of steel.

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The tunnels were short enough you didn’t need lights to see.

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The Myra Valley Trail is easily the best bike trail I have ever seen.

 

 

 

Icefields Parkway, Alberta – September 2017

The trip continued north from Banff toward the Icefields Parkway, a 180 mile drive to Jasper that takes you past numerous glaciers on the mountains. But first we made a stop for an invigorating hike up Johnton Canyon. This hike included numerous catwalks suspended above the canyon floor, as well as traditional paths. The effort lead to two great waterfalls.

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Just before the start of the Icefields Parkway is Lake Louise, a popular tourist stop – so popular there are numerous attendants directing traffic through the entire town to get to the parking lots. We stayed about 30 minutes before leaving the crowds and heading on…

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Because a short drive later you were on the Icefields Parkway and has better views with far far fewer people.

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At the Columbia Icefields they offer an option to take a tour onto the Athabasca Glacier that included a visit to the ‘Skywalk’, a cantilevered walkway with translucent floors to see straight down 1000′.

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The special Ice Coaches were constantly ferrying people onto the glacier. They made a point about how fast the glacier is receding, you would think all the traffic can’t be helping it.

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But still, we got to go on a glacier.

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Our day ended at Athabasca Falls, near the town of Jasper. I have had many spectacular drives, but the Icefields Parkway is easily one of the 10 best ever.

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Southeast British Columbia & Southwest Alberta – September 2017

The trip continued north into Far Southeastern British Columbia, where we found the town of Sparwood, which was a mining town. It is now home of the ‘World’s Largest Truck’!

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We continued on into Alberta and visited the site of Frank, Alberta. In 1903 the mountain gave way, burying much of the small town in rocks and mud. Today an interpretive center reminds all how mighty nature can be.

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The road to Calgary took us back into the Prairies, but ran along side the Front Range of Alberta.

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Farms were numerous until we reached Calgary.

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Eastern Kentucky – Late Fall 2016 Road Trip – Day 10

We ate breakfast at the hotel opting for oatmeal and fresh fruit rather than the ham and cheesy scrambled eggs. The fatty food probably accounts for the area of Hazard and Perry Counties having one of the worst life expectancy rates in America. Kentucky ranks in 45 out of 50 states and the town of Hazard is even worse than the Kentucky average.

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The morning air was a cold temperature of 26o F. as we left Hazard. The hillside and trees were covered with kudzu as well as a school bus on our drive to Breathitt County.

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As we made our way north we ran into smoky air from wildfires in the area. The smoke was thick enough that we can smell it in the car with the windows closed as we moved along state route 15N through the hills.

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Layers of exposed rock sheered on both sides of the highway rise at least 100 feet. Rock is why we are here; to see Natural Bridge State Park. The park was founded as a private tourist attraction in 1895. It is still cold at 23 degrees as we began our hike on the original trail to see the natural bridge, but with the steep ascent up uneven steps we didn’t notice, and we followed the path up hill to reach the bridge.

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The trail ends under the bridge but a narrow passage called Fat Man’s Squeeze and some stairs lead to the top of the natural bridge. The view from on top of the natural bridge was marvelous. It looked as if their was a laser beam of light shooting outward into the air from the cliff in front of us over the valley of autumn colored trees. I believe it was a layer of thin fog hovering in air; in any case, it looked really awesome.

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We climbed down onto the same trail, and back through the Fat Man’s Squeeze again.

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Leaving the Natural Bridge Park, we headed north on Kentucky Highway 77, reaching Nada Tunnel,  a 900-foot long tunnel that was formerly a railway tunnel.

Since the tunnel is a single lane you must honked first before entering to alert anyone on the opposite end. The tunnel was originally 12 feet in height but when the first train load of logs became stuck and had to be blasted free, the tunnel’s height was increased to 13 feet.

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After passing through Morehead we made our way to the town of Olive Hill to see Carter’s Caves. Unfortunately we arrived at a time that the next tour was hours away. Deciding not to wait, we went for a brief walk on the trail that allowed us to explore the cave park area on our own. The half-mile loop trail from the visitor center led us into a great open cave.

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The cave had a small round opening at its roof, jagged walls of stone with niches and a small stream that flowed among the layers rocky floor surface. We finished our walk and promised to visit again but for now we headed home to end our latest advenutre.