Virtual Travel – Alaska

Our virtual travels take us north to Alaska. Being so large, and so remote there are few roads. As a result the Alaska road maps feature far more facts about the outdoors than the other states.

My collection of Alaska maps is small, but our memories of the state are huge. The oldest in the collection is from 1973. This map pre-dates the famed Alaska Pipeline by a couple of years, and features a Native American Totem Pole Owl.

One unusual note on most of the Alaska maps is they were published by Rand McNally, and not the state government.

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In 1973 Alaska is still a remote frontier, reached by land only via the Alaska Highway through the Yukon in Canada. This closeup of the map shows Yukon on the right in yellow, and Alaska in white on the left. Note that the Alaska Highway in the Yukon was still gravel (indicated by the alternate white and red line).

The 1500 mile long Alaska Highway was build during World War II to connect the contiguous U.S. to Alaska. It was legendary for years as being a rough, challenging multi-day drive. The drive itself goes from Dawson Creek, British Columbia to Fairbanks.

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The back of most Alaska maps have features of the vast array of wildlife found in the state.

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The follow year’s map features a boat! While this might not make much sense for a road map, it does in Alaska. In addition to the Alaska Highway the other surface route to reach the state is via the Alaska Marine Highway – an 1850 mile route of waterways from Seattle to Alaska. You can rent a cabin on the boat, or as many do – pitch a tent on the deck.

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For 1977 a dogsled huskie make an appearance on the cover, along with the state flag.

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As we jump ahead to 2002 the theme continues with wildlife and natural scenery being the focus.

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The final two maps in the collection have the same theme, campers in the wilderness, along a lonely highway. These maps dare from 2006 and 2007.

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As with most Alaska maps there is also the view from the Marine Highway Ferry.

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The inside of the map shows the development over the past 40 years, but still nothing like the lower 48 states. The entire route of the Alaska Highway has been paved, but is still a real adventure to drive the distance.

Also note the road going due north from Fairbanks – the Dalton Highway. Built in the 1970s as a supply road for the pipeline, the 414 mile road is still an adventure, punctuated by the couple hundred trucks blasting along. There are only two tiny towns the entire route.

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Our one and only visit so far to Alaska was a very memorable one. We flew from Seattle to Juneau to start a 1 week ‘small boat’ cruise (30 cabins and 50 people).

The landing alone was amazing, coming through the clouds to see the water, trees and the Mendenhall Glacier!

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As soon as we got our rental car we headed out to the glacier.

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The waterfall next to it was equally impressive.

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The next day we set off on our 7 day sail, seeing an amazing collection of natural scenery and wildlife.

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Upon our return to Juneau we had a chance to explore the mountains above town waiting for our night flights back to Seattle, Chicago and Columbus.

We look forward to returning to Alaska some day and exploring the interior of the state.

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El Calafate, Argentina – January 2020 – Flying Away in Southern Pategonia

You have seen the Patagonia jackets, but how many people know where it is? Well, it is in the far south of Argentina, and El Calafate is in southern Pategonia – not that far from Antarctica.





With a few hours to spare before our flight, we stopped by the Laguna Nimez Nature Preserve. It is a beautiful area along the shores of Lago Argentino, with grasses, flowers, and birds.















































































Hawaii – November 2018 – Day 10 Zodiac Boat Tour and Historic Kona

Day 10 started out with a Zodiac Boat tour down the coast to another snorkel location. A Zodiac boat is a rigid hull, inflatable boat that can go very fast across the water, as Captain Bill demonstrated.

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Assisted by Chris, the first mate.

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As we made our way down the coast we stopped by some sea caves.

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Despite being formed by lava, they were very colorful.

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We arrived at the bay where the snorkeling occurred. It is the bay where Captain Cook met his demise.

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The snorkeling was great.

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On our return trip we passed more sea cliffs

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Along the way we encountered a group of ‘Spinning’ Dolphins, as this series of photos illustrate.

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After returning to the boat, we made our way back to Kona one more time for a historic tour.

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We toured the Queens summer palace.

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Finally it was time to return to our home for the week.

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Hawaii – November 2018 – Day 9 Off the Kona Coast

Day 9 was somewhat uneventful, with a cruise up and down the Kona coast.

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The trip took us past a number of interesting looking hotels and other buildings

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A local parasail company had a steady business.

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There has been significant growth along the Kona coast over the last 20 years.

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All of the coast is built up with hotels, condos, and multi million dollar houses.

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On our return we came across a group of small whales.

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We were close enough to hear their exhales.

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They tracked south along the coast for a few miles before we lost sight of them.

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As we returned a group of dolphins came along side the boat, but all I had was the zoom lens, so close ups it is.

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Pittsburgh – October 2018 – More Architecture

Having spent the weekend in the city for Doors Open Pittsburgh, we had additional time to check out the sights that weren’t officially part of the tour.

 

The Armstrong Tunnel. Built in 1927, there are longer tunnels in Pittsburgh, but none have a curve in them like the Armstrong.

There is great debate as to why the tunnels have a curve.

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South Side Slopes – An old church, an old bridge and new condo’s.

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The Warner – it was once a theater, then a food court, now a welfare office. But the sign is cool, with one of the newer skyscrapers as a backdrop.

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The famed Kaufmann’s clock – the store has been closed for some time now, but appears to be getting new life soon.

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Some classic cornices.

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A streetlight, the US Steel (aka UPMC) building with interesting lighting after a thunderstorm.

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Even the smaller old buildings on Liberty Avenue have excellent detail up high.

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From Mt Washington the view of the Cathedral of Learning at Pitt looks quite small. In reality it is 500′ high, but partially hidden behind the hill.

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Another vintage downtown building.

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Not to be outdone by Kaufmann’s, Gimbels had a cool clock too.

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Heinz Field just after a University of Pittsburgh game ended.

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Carnegie Science Center on the north side with one of the subway trains in the background.

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A view from Mt Washington through downtown buildings up the Allegheny River.

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It has been almost 40 years since Station Square restored the old rail station and yards and it is still going strong.

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Sun setting on the Mon.

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Replica Christopher Columbus ships have been making their way up the Ohio River all summer, and are now in Pittsburgh – as this panorama shows the Nina and Pinta.

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Four Gateway Center.

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Gateway Center with a purple fountain. (must have been Raven’s fans sneaking the water coloring in).

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The 1764 Ft Pitt Blockhouse, the 1960 Ft Pitt Bridge and Mount Washington in the background.

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A major rowing competition was occurring on this early Sunday morning as the first of the boat tailgaters were arriving for a Steelers game.

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An amazing wildlife photo from the Allegeheny River.

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The Point Fountain from a different perspective with the apartments on Mt Washington in the background.

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The very cool Duquesne Incline.

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Along the Mon Wharf.

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The Gateway Clipper crews getting ready for that Steelers crowd.

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Pittsburgh is the city of bridges.

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Finally a shot of PPG Place with one of the more architecturally interesting parking garages.

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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….