Saturday, June 29, 2019


So, went to Alaska for a couple of weeks in May. Actually, started in Seattle, but pictorially, we will go there last. So, what's Alaska like? Mostly a lot of snow on a lot of mountains. But, it doesn't get old fast. You can see why people take a look and want to move there, cold as it is. Some people even move there and then live "off the grid" in a shack or a tent.

Here are some mountains.

And, of course, where there are mountains, there are very often rivers.

And where there are rivers, sometimes waterfalls -

Sometimes people go to Alaska and don't see any animals, or big ones, anyway. We were lucky. We saw dozens of big ones, including caribou and reindeer (just the domesticated version of Caribou).

And, bald eagles -


Grizzlies -

And black bear -

And very lawful moose. We saw quite a few moose (or is it meese?).

Probably the best photo op we saw was as we were leaving a hotel on a bus, two moose which had been at the hotel walking about, crossing a rapid-filled river. No one had their camera ready. But, I got one of them earlier walking around the hotel grounds.

The cities and towns are small, but often picturesque, surrounded by mountains -

This was our cruise ship, which was half the trip. It looks small here, as I was taking the picture from a height, but it slept 2100 visitors, plus a large crew.

The highlights, I think for most people, were the visits to glaciers. Our ship sailed into a bay and approached Hubbard Glacier, which is miles long and growing still - there are glaciers that are still growing. At one point I thought if I could walk on water, I could get to it in about 10 minutes. Then the Captain announced that we were still 7 miles away. The front of the glacier, which looked about 10-20 feet high from there, was actually higher than our ship. At 3 miles it looked a couple hundred feet away. We finally got to within a half mile and could hear and see calving of chunks of snow and ice fall into the sea. It took a little to realize that what looked like a little bit of snow falling, probably would have flattened your house. It was, along with the train ride south from Fairbanks, the highlight of the trip for me. 

In Alaska, there are many pilots, despite the small population. Most of them, of course, fly small planes. While we were there, three planes went down in a week (but two in one accident). A rarity, and the same company. We had a flight scheduled but my courageous (snicker) middle-aged friends backed out. I wouldn't go to the DR right now, but I'm too stupid to be scared away by some plane crashes. Nevertheless . . . .  

This little isle is a state symbol for Alaska. I don't know why. It's pretty, but it's not what I would have chosen -

In Seattle, my nephew runs a hot air balloon company. It was a great experience. You don't even feel like you are moving. One of the thrills of it, is to watch the shadow it casts on the land below.

You spend a lot of time in Alaska trying to see Denali, which has its own weather, and is often, like many big mountains, lost in the clouds. We did get to see it, but a faded half covered version, which is much better than most people get. But, in Seattle, it is a lot easier to see Mt. Rainer, which is much smaller than Denali, but also magnificent. I've been to it over 30 years ago, and it is one of the most beautiful places I know.

These are just some other photos, without comment.

I'm going to tell you a secret I don't tell to the friends I went with. New Zealand was even more amazing. Not that Alaska isn't wonderfully beautiful, but the variety in New Zealand was far greater - astonishing. Whatever, they are both great places to go.

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I started this blog in September, 2006. Mostly, it is where I can talk about things that interest me, which I otherwise don't get to do all that much, about some remarkable people who should not be forgotten, philosophy and theories (like Don Foster's on who wrote A Visit From St. Nicholas and my own on whether Santa is mostly derived from a Norse god) and analysis of issues that concern me. Often it is about books. I try to quote accurately and to say when I am paraphrasing (more and more). Sometimes I blow the first name of even very famous people, often entertainers. I'm much better at history, but once in a while I see I have written something I later learned was not true. Sometimes I fix them, sometimes not. My worst mistake was writing that Beethoven went blind, when he actually went deaf. Feel free to point out an error. I either leave in the mistake, or, if I clean it up, the comment pointing it out. From time to time I do clean up grammar in old posts as, over time I have become more conventional in my grammar, and I very often write these when I am falling asleep and just make dumb mistakes. It be nice to have an editor, but . . . .