Monday, June 28, 2010

Gettin' Glacial

We took a hike/kayak trip on Saturday that was absolutely mindblowing. The photos have to be split up between the hiking portion and kayaking portion for your mental safety. Thus, here is the hiking part of our day:

(Note: The photos look like crap on here. The only way to see them correctly is double click on the ones you are interested in. It's very annoying but we don't know how to fix it.)

The hiking portion of our day was a hike to Greuwingk Glacier. We started off early in the morning and took a water taxi across the bay to the trailhead. On the ride over we saw this adorable family of otters. The pup is trying to sleep on its mother's belly.

...and this majestic eagle

This sign greeted us at the head of Glacier Spit trail
If a bear ****s in the woods...

they will probably do it on your hiking trail.
We saw a lot of bear and moose poop.
It didn't seem prudent to photograph,
but there was a lot of it.

We saw lots of beautiful flowers, kind of a running theme here.

I included this photo because I thought the eerie terrain was worth noting. You are walking through the middle of dense forest and then all of a sudden it's a sparsely vegetated area. This is because the glacier has melted so recently that things haven't had the time to grow. All of those rocks were left by the glacier, also.

There it is! Every several minutes the glacier would shift and sound like thunder. We didn't see it calve (when a piece falls off) but it was audibly melting.

A small lake of glacial water

I was able to fish out a relatively small piece of ice.

There were a lot of rocks with glacial striations
, marking the different levels of natural happenings in the area. Volcanic ash accounts for a lot of the striations in this glacier.

Glacier flowers:

(If this blog seems schizophrenic it's because we both wrote it.)

Yukon Island Kayaking

When we reached the end of our hike we were greeted by the beautiful scene below. It was still early and the misty day created a surreal atmosphere for our adventure.

We took a boat to Yukon Island, an area known to harbor lots of beautiful scenery and wildlife. On the way there a magical thing happened! Griffin spotted a floating wine bottle near Gull Island. The kind lady driving the water taxi made a U-turn so that we could grab it on the off chance that there was a message inside and there was! Look how happy he is.

Inside was a dollar bill and a phone number. We called the number and recieved the confused brother of he who owned the bottle. Moments later, I spotted another bottle several hundred feet away! This bottle contained a child's handwriting, reading "Free role at Bread House" and a phone number. We have no idea where this Bread House is but we are planning on finding out.

This is where we launched our canoes from Yukon Island.

Griffin was particularly interested in the outhouse. There's a noticeable lack of flushing toilets in many areas of the Kenai Peninsula, especially on the opposite side of the bay. I promise you that getting creative with the aesthetics of the outhouse doesn't change the fact that it's an outhouse.

Finally, we took off on a double kayak into the open ocean! (Side note: Using a double kayak was really for the best considering that the last time we went kayaking Griffin ended up completely immersed in water. [Super side note: This is still really funny to me.])

The photo below is of an old sleepy man otter. They cover their face with their hands to keep warm and it is the most adorable thing you can imagine. Look how close I am to the otter. We ended up within arms reach of this otter from the kayak!

I could've taken a million photos of the rock formations. The rock layers are a phenomenon that happens around here known as "salacious chert". Each layer is a specific microorganism that evolved through specific environmental conditions and died out when they changed. Think about that and look at how many layers there are in this small small section of the rock.

This is Elephant Rock.

This is us kayaking through Elephant Rock!

Here's an eagle friend on top.

This is the point in the trip where I nearly pissed our double kayak right onto Griffin's back. We kayaked into a small cove and were surrounded by jellyfish. I wish I could remember the type of jellyfish they were. It has the word "fire" in it. I can't even describe how amazing they were. Every shade of orange, red, and yellow was in one of these streaming undulating creatures. Of course, the water prevented a good photo of them.

A little cave we went into.

Finally, a photo of Griffin and the beautiful scenery. If anyone can get him to shave that beard, I'll bring you an otter home in my bag.

We're getting geared up for a pretty exciting 4th of July. Apparently, the local festivities include things like "canoe jousting" and "greased totem pole climbing". Unfortunately, fireworks are less effective when it never gets dark so that will be missing from our holiday. We miss everyone terribly at home and wish we could spend the holiday together! Someone light a sparkler with us in mind.

Sailboat Racing!

A pal invited us to help crew his sailboat for a sailboat race on Saturday. Griffin and I have zero knowledge of sailboat racing but he was a wonderful teacher and we finished 9th out of 11. Most of the day was just enjoying the scenery and the gentle rocking of the boat. Race seems like an inappropriate word for how laid back the whole ordeal was. As if the day wasn't lovely enough, when we arrived back at the harbor we were greeted by a keg of the local brewery's beer!

Our boat: Nereus, god of the Nyriads (water nymphs, if my Greek mythology is correct).

It was a cloudy day so you can't really see the mountains in the background.

Not our boat but certainly photoworthy.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

As Requested by Drew *

Down the street from us is a small clinic.

It looks like a house but really, it's a clinic
(look closely in the blurry spot)

We pass it every day. The other day Nicki spotted some patients eager to get an appointment.

I got home from work that night around 11pm and guess who was still in the neighborhood.

(This is how dark it is at 11pm)

Then this morning I cam back from taking Nicki to the museum to find McGee standing at attention, making the sad Chewbacca noise he makes when he sees other animals outside.

That red Blazer is on loan to us for the summer. This photo was taken from our front deck.

Considering conditions in St. Louis I feel I should note that it is currently sunny & 53 degrees in Homer and feels like 53 because there is no humidity.

* Drew's last name is Mossman and I thought I made a GREAT pun calling him Andrew MOOSEman when he asked for more moose photos, but then I saw

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Gull Island, Peterson Bay, and China Poot Bay.

Let me begin this entry by saying "OTTERS!" We went on another trip across the bay yesterday and had our first close encounters with the adorable kind. I've seen several otters splashing around in the bay from afar but yesterday we saw two within jumping distance. They were spinning around and eating off of their bellies and being doggone adorable.

Our destination across the waters was The Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies at Peterson Bay. This is apparently THE place to go for hiking, tide pooling, native archaeological sites, and awesome nature in general.

On the way there we circled Gull Island, a small island known for holding a crazy amount of rare birds.

Unfortunately, the birds were not quite as crazy as usual because this guy below (a teenage eagle) was hanging out.

We still saw these red-faced things that are apparently a once in a lifetime sight.

A puffin.
This group of rocks is called Otter Rocks because it looks so much like an otter on its back floating in the water.
We went on a hike through the mountains in what is apparently a temperate rainforest, which I didn't even know existed. It was an awesome nature overload. I've never been so consistently mesmerized by plants.

Here's some of the crazy fungus. (We were thinking of you the whole time, Ms. Schippers.)

A Venus Fly Trap-style plant.
Design left on tree by the Birch Bark Beetle.

Some trees this beetle destroyed, leaving us a beautiful mountain view.

The photo below is of a "ghost forest". After the Good Friday Earthquake, this circle of earth sank 10 feet and absorbed a ton of salt water from tsunami waves that killed all of the trees while pickling and preserving them from decay.

And, of course, Griffin wanted to document our snacks. This is elk jerky.

And caribou pepperoni.

Then, we went tidepooling at China Poot Bay. This might have been the most amazing thing I've ever done. Starfish, sea cucumbers, anemones, crabs . . . we saw so many amazing things.

Secret Garden-style entry to China Poot.

A chiton.

Sea star eating a chiton. It spit the shell out a moment later.
I took three photos of this, one further away and two of the actual tide pool, to show how the tide pools are just hidden in pools of water under rocks. This one was the most amazing. I strongly suggest double clicking on these photos.


Sea stars hold on to rocks with insane force.

This eagle and moose thing has to be addressed. I am certain that we will stop posting photos of moose and eagles after this week because we see them so often. We have seen ten moose since we got here eleven days ago. I can't even tell you how many bald eagles we've seen. There are bald eagles on top of light posts everywhere. As uncharacteristic as it is of me to say, I've never felt so patriotic as when I look up at those majestic creatures.