Thursday, May 30, 2013

Test - mobile multie photos

This is a test to confirm that I can mobile post multiple photos. Taken in Fairbanks, Alaska. If I wasn't going to face 100+ temperatures, and luggage that was already filled to the max, I would bring one of these coats home with me.

Mobile Video Test

Denali Park, Alaska.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Alaska and Reindeer Sausage

I've had it in everything from a breakfast burrito to chili to bus snack to an omalet ... And now lasagna. I'm hooked!

Fairbanks, Alaska - Native Culture

Traveling by paddle boat along the river. We stopped at an example of a local village. Learned how to make salmon jerky (note to K on smoking the salmon to make jerky).

The photo is of a chief's daughter who is working during the summer between high school and college. She is modeling a maaahhhvelous fur coat. I would love one but I need to remember that I'm returning to the 100 degree days of Phoenix summer.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Denali, Alaska - Found My Geocache

After trekking down a snow covered trail, GPS in hand, I found my geocache!  All I could think was "if I slip and fall down this hillside, I don't even have survival snacks in my backpack". High five to my Geocaching buds, especially my sister because she is always encouraging. (What fun! Go! Downhill in the snow in the woods with bears!)

Here is info on the cache: To Get To This Cache: Hike the MSLC Trail. You can access this trail, either from the Horse Lake Trail head to the Taiga Trail or from the Murie Science and Learning Center. As you near the site look low near the ground on the southeast (uphill) side of the trail for a small cut bank and a section of exposed rock (approximately 1 foot high and 3 feet long). Here this "basement rock" is exposed for you to see – rock that is 500 million years old! Remember, these rocks tell a story for all to see so please do not take any souvenirs.


"There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign."
Robert Lewis Stevenson

Denali, Alaska - Waiting for the Train to Fairbanks

Denali was beautiful today. Blue skies. Green trees. White snow. Enjoyed the Visitor Center and the Science Center. Saw birds that look like seagulls. If they jumped the train on the coast, they are surprised now!!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Denali, Alaska - Geocaching

I love to Geocache and want to find some caches while at Denali. The problem is that I will be on a structured tour bus, not hiking independently. I downloaded all of the virtual caches while I sat in the Denali Princess lobby waiting for the tour bus. I should have done this last night because I only have wifi access while the pickup is running late.

Denali, Alaska - 5:45 am Tour

Cheers with my morning latte to a great day of touring Denali. Clear blue skies. Cold but no blustery wind. Out for a full day. Wish me good luck with the Denali Mountain views and wild animals. Trying for a moose siting. Reminds me of the days we spent in Ignace, Ontario with the hockey families.

Denali, Alaska - Denali Princess Lodge

I know that I have photographs on other cameras but I want to get this post started with the photos available now. I will likely update this as I find other pics and will send notification that this post has been updated.

The main lobby.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Denali, Alaska - Depot Arrival

347.7 DENALI PARK • Entrance to Denali National Park and Preserve. Riley Creek Bridge is the railroad’s second highest.

The train continued on from Cantwell to Denali as I sat, camera in hand, admiring the landscape and anxious to arrive at our destination.

Cantwell, Alaska - Flag Stop

319.5 CANTWELL • A small settlement and starting point of the Valdez Creek gold mining district.

This is another railway flag stop and since no one was out waving a flag, we did not stop.  Makes sense to me!  Population is about 222.  It is located in the Denali Borough.  Alaska does not use a county system.  There is a 'before Cantwell' and an 'after Cantwell' photo to show you that this town is in the middle of the forest.

Alaska - Summit of the Continental Divide

Mile Marker 312.5 SUMMIT • The summit of the Continental Divide is at 2,363 feet and is the lowest rail pass in the Rocky Mountain chain. Summit Lake eventually drains both into the Pacific and the Bering Sea.

Hurricane Gulch, Alaska - Awesome Scenes

Mile 284.2 HURRICANE GULCH • One of the line’s best photo vantage points, the bridge spans 918 feet, some 296 feet above the creek.

We can see the engine round the bend and start over the bridge.

Hurricane, Alaska - Hitchhikers on the Train

The Seattle Times reported that there is a little train in Alaska that stops for hitchhikers.

Alaska - Talkeetna to Hurricane

After we left Talkeetna, the land instantly turned remote and barren.  There were many streams and rivers.  A fisherman is in the river, unable to wait for the Spring snow to melt.

Talkeetna, Alaska - Town at the foot of Denali

The waitress at the Crow's Nest in Anchorage is from Talkeetna.  She recommended getting off the train and touring.  I'm not that brave!!!  So, I took photos to get a full view of all that Talkeetna had to offer.

Talkeetna is known as the base for expeditions to Denali (also known as Mt. McKinley). Tourists travel to Talkeetna each summer to fish salmon, raft and go flightseeing. Products from local artists, musicians and craftspeople are available in area stores. [Wikipedia]

This is the railside restroom at the Train Depot.

Scenic Viewpoint, Alaska - Denali

The train slowed down to a crawl so that we could see the mountains.  Click, click, click...cameras were taking a lot of photos.  Here are some of the ones that I was able to take.  Keep in mind that these are taken through the window.

Talkeetna, Alaska - Live - First Site of Mt. McKinley

Live from the Alaska Train Anchorage to Denali! Here is my first siting of the famous mountains. Alaska has had snowy and cloudy weather for the past few days. Lucky day, the sky is clear and blue. A small percentage of people are able to see the mountain top without clouds. You can see the clouds slowly starting to firm.

Wasilla, Alaska - Local Wildlife and Nancy Lake

We continued along the rail northward, winding past half frozen lakes and different "tundra" levels.

Wasilla, Alaska - Views from the Train

We road in to the town of Wasilla.  Tina Tour Guide mentioned that the town holds an official "Wasilla Clean-Up Days" so that the entire town can turn out and clean up after the winter.  Does the name Wasilla sound familiar to you?  Sarah Palin was the Mayor.  I took several photos to see if I could see Russia from here.  This photo looks across Wasilla Lake

Anchorage, Alaska - Train to Denali

After a good night's rest at the Hilton, we had the bellman call a cab to take us down the hill to the railroad station.  It is close, but I had too much luggage to haul so we took advantage of the cab.  Those taking the Princess tour took the luggage to a separate stand to get tickets for the train and check in the luggage.  The train departed about 8:00 AM ish (we learned that "ish" is the Alaska railroad time schedule) so we had 45 minutes to spend in the terminal.  It is a fairly nice size terminal with restrooms, a coffee bar and the ever present Alaska gift shop.  As boarding time approached, the other passengers were called to line up.  They were going to cross the tracks and board the train. The Princess passengers were to board a motor coach and travel 1/8 mile to board the special Princess car.  We checked in, found our seats on the upper level, and started the journey.  The seats in the upper level of the Princess car were arranged with two bench seats and a table in between.  This made it very easy to have our new blue Princess water bottles filled and our special Alaska mug filled with Moose Kiss (hot chocolate and liquors). 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Anchorage, Alaska - Crow's Nest Dinner

At 10:15 PM!! Look at the view! Look at the time. How do they handle this day after day?

Anchorage, Alaska - Orso Restaurant

We stopped for lunch at a restaurant next to Orso and it was packed with a forty minute wait. The hostess suggested that we go next door to Orso, so since we didn't want to wait we went next door.  The place had a few people sitting at tables but was otherwise fairly empty.  Hmmmm, this didn't look good.  We sat down to look at menus and within a few minutes time, the place was buzzing and filling quickly.

Anchorage, Alaska - Street Scenes

Anchorage has a homey and small town feeling.  The houses are in town, next to the restaurants and other buildings.

Alaska - Seward Highway and Turnagain Arm

As we continue north from Girdwood, we are in Chugach National Forest.  The trees on the side of the road were killed when the earthquake washed salt water in to the area.

Girdwood, Alaska - Wildlife Conservation Center

The tour bus that took us from the ship docked in Whittier to Anchorage stopped at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center.  Even though the last spring snow had made the roads difficult, the animals were out and we were able to see a variety.

The entrance to the center and a look at the grounds.

Whittier, Alaska - Winter Wonderland and Portage Tunnel

It was early morning (5AM) when the ship docked at Whittier, Alaska.  I was very excited to take a look at the land.  Light was already peeking in through the bottom of the curtain.  The days had been getting longer and longer as we sailed north through the Aleutian Islands.  I jumped up to open the curtains.  What a surprise!  All that I could say was OMG! OMG! OMG!  The snow was blowing sideways and there was a total whiteout.  So beautiful. I opened the sliding door and stepped outside.  Yes, it was a little chilly.

This is the view as I looked right.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Pacific Crossing - Eight Days at Sea does one handle crossing the International Date line?  You celebrate having two Monday, May 13ths!  We had a huge debate on Sunday May 12 about the number of nights left for the crossing.  You count...
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday morning arrival in Whittier.

Do you think six nights?  Sunday May 12 and arriving Saturday May 18.  Six nights. Or is it really seven nights?

Or would you agree with me?
Sunday Monday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday.

Seven nights???  Yes,  I WAS CORRECT!!  But I did not get the accolades that I expected (from my traveling companions) for my brainiac answer.  Pout!!

Oh, and do we get tattoos for crossing the International Date Line? One if by air and two if by sea.  Hahahaha .  Get it?

Friday, May 10, 2013

Yokohama, Japan - City says Farewell to the Ship (2)

More photographs of the send-off.

Yokohama, Japan - City says Farewell to the Ship (1)

I was in my cabin sorting through my Marco Polo treasures that I found in Tokyo when I heard a drum beat from outside the window.  I opened the sliding glass doors to the patio and delighted at the discovery of an entire core of drummers, bidding the passengers and visitors to Japan “Bon Voyage”!  We were all out to watch the performance as we waited for the last passengers to return from the bus tours and make the final boarding.  The docks were crowded with people.  (I later learned that Princess conducted tours of the ship for travel agents and people interested in this type of travel.)  Take your time and enjoy the view.  

Yokohama, Japan - City says Farewell to the Ship (3)

As we left the dock, we could see that the terminal was a beautiful structure.  The blue glow appears to be from a sushi bar.

Tokyo, Japan - Bus to Ship in Yokohama

Tour Guide Sue started our return trip to the ship with a snack in an origami folded box.  I received several origami cranes in Tokyo as a “gift with purchase” Thank-you-for-buying-your-souvenirs-here and need to look up instructions on how to do this myself.  My new trip friend Laura put hers on the tray so that we could show the variation. 

Tokyo, Japan - Locals

Here are some photos that I was able to take of local children and adults, doing normal and every day things.  There are also a few shops and the ever present chestnut roasters.

Tokyo, Japan – Sensoji Temple and Nakamise Alley

It was now time to take my wallet full of yen and see what treasures I could find on the shopping street, Nakamise Alley. 

I saw this interesting pagoda-like sculpture but was more interested in the girl on the cell phone.  

Tokyo, Japan – Sensoji Temple Memorial Garden

A garden was set off to the side.  Interesting sculpture and memorial.  I was able to capture a Japanese boy in action and a few women with kimonos.  There is a small temple in this area with its own Holy Smoke cauldron.

Tokyo, Japan – Sensoji Temple Shopping Street Entrance

A large gate stood guard between the Temple and the shopping streets. It was beautiful and had three HUGE lanterns hanging inside the gate.  Rope knotted and weaved hangings were on the outside and it was painted in the same smooth red paint as the main Temple. 

Tokyo, Japan – Sensoji Temple Fortune Telling

I have to admit, this practice intrigues me. I had read about it in my research, but didn’t get the impact until I saw it live.  It has the Pennsylvania lottery and numbers outdone because there doesn’t appear to be a financial payback required from the system that collects money.  From watching, a person pays 100 Yen (about $1 USD), and pulls a stick from a box.  Then the number written on the stick is matched to the numbers on the little drawers.  A piece of paper is removed from the drawer and on it is written the fortune.  If the person likes the fortune, the paper is kept. If it is not a good fortune, the paper is tied to a rack.  I always saw crowds around these kiosks, and some kept picking fortune after fortune.  Sometimes it takes a few tries to get it right, I guess.   Note the two women in the straw hats.  I saw them several times during the day…at the fortune telling kiosks. 

The booths are on both sides of the plaza, our left and right.  Look at the crowds.

 This box holds the numbered sticks.

 A close-up detail of the boxes with the fortunes.

UPDATE from additional research: These papers are "Omikuji".  The word stands for "fortune telling strips".  The Japanese characters (kanji) have the word "lottery" in them.  It literally means "sacred lot".   The first section has a general fortune ranging from very good to not so good.  Here are some examples:

After the general statement there is a comment on finding a new job, love, future health, business outcomes and more in greater detail.  Here are some examples:

The part highlighted in yellow is the general fortune.  Source:

Tokyo, Japan – Sensoji Temple Holy Smoke

I was drawn to this large pot with smoke slowly rising. I watched the people (through my lens so that you could watch too) and they would lean in to the smoke and “splash” it back on themselves.  I waited for the crowd to disburse, and peeked in to the cauldron to see the smoking incense.  I took a few quick smoke splashes for good measure, and left happy and washed in “Holy Smoke”.

Tokyo, Japan - Sensoji Temple Interior (Part 2)

The door handles were polished and golden, the ceiling was painted with scenes.  Beautiful lanterns hung inside.  The “altar” was encased in glass.  I watched the crowd to get the jist of the customs then tossed a coin in to a grated box and said “Love and Peace” wishes for all family and friends.  Again, we are covered.