Turnagain Arm.

We live pretty close to Turnagain Arm. The arm is a 40 mile long waterway that has some amazing views. Any time we are headed south, we hug the water and drive carefully as we look for beluga whales to the right and mountain goats to the left. Turnagain Arm has steep mountains on either side that are usually covered in snow.


Across the street from our house is Potter Marsh. In the winter it freezes completely and people go out ice skating on the marsh. When the water is moving, we see muskrats, lots of birds, and even salmon swimming. It is an incredible place to have so close to our house. Recently, the weather was in the single digits and the marsh froze. The place was packed with ice skating families. Then it snowed. That made it more difficult for ice skating, but we still were able to take the dogs out to run around.

Screen Shot 2015-11-28 at 5.59.23 PMI am blown away by how gorgeous this place is. Every damn day. Just beautiful. It also feels relatively empty. We go running on one of the more popular hiking trails and hardly ever see anyone during the week. Sometimes we go a little further down the road (maybe 5 miles) to hike in a new spot.

Here, we started from McHugh Creek trail. The views across Turnagain Arm were worth the stop in the snow. Obi flushed a Ruffed Grouse on this hike. That was the first one that we had seen here. There is always something new here. It is incredible.Screen Shot 2015-11-28 at 6.00.00 PM.png

Eventually the snow melted, which we didn’t expect so late in the year, and we got to run in shorts again. It was Black Friday and everyone seemed to live the REI #OptOutside idea. I am all for it. We drove to the trailhead so we could spend more time running through the forest. It was the busiest we had ever seen it. There were about a dozen people out there.

Once again, we had to stop and take a picture. Sure, our run times slow down with snow, ice, mud, and picture taking, but it is definitely worth it!Screen Shot 2015-11-28 at 6.00.24 PM

Mountains and Moose.

It is hard to explain how big things are up here. Everything really is bigger. Sorry Texas. I mean Mt. Everest seems big, but starting at 17,000 feet is like not counting half the mountain.denali_diagram

When out hiking, we look at a peak and think it is a mile away. Maybe it will take us 30 minutes to reach the base. 4 hours later, we are only a little closer. Turns out it was 8 miles away and much bigger than we thought.

Here is a picture of a moose and some people.Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 3.54.58 PM.png

Well this is a little better. But the moose is so damn camouflaged, even though it is 8 feet tall and 1000 pounds, he is still hard to see.IMG_8970.jpg

Alaska sunsets.

Every day the sun is taking longer and longer to break into the sky. This causes amazing sunrises (for those of us on funemployment) that keep starting later in the day. With the recent snow that might not leave until spring, getting outside is absolutely beautiful. With snow and leaves crunching under your feet, seeing your breath in front of your face, these stunning sunrises and sunsets are incredible.Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 3.55.46 PM Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 3.55.56 PM Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 3.56.13 PM Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 4.01.54 PM Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 3.54.41 PM

Just another day.

If you want to see wildlife in Alaska, you can head into the bush and camp for a week stalking the animals or just sitting quietly. Or you can look for someone else pulled over on the highway. That is what we did. 
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We were just driving down the highway enjoying the view when we saw a bunch of people with big camera lenses looking up. Like good cheechakos, we pulled over to see what was going on. It was a bit too late in the day for my little camera to get a good picture of him, but it was cool to see.

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Lately, this big bull moose has been hanging out in our yard. He ate our rhubarb and wakes us up at night. Well, he wakes the dogs up and they wake us up. It is hard to explain how big they really are. they blend in very well and sometimes we walk right past them without noticing the first time.Screen Shot 2015-10-29 at 5.09.19 PM

That is the latest news from the cabin in Anchorage. Fall is incredible here. As my fishing season winds down, we are starting to hope for snow so we can put our skis to good use. Until then, I will be looking around for large animals.Screen Shot 2015-10-29 at 5.09.35 PM

Amanda’s Birthday.

The nicest part of road trips is being able to stop whenever you see something pretty. The problem in Alaska is that everything is gorgeous. It is hard to drive anywhere because you are stopping all of the time. It already takes a long time to get anywhere here. We headed to Homer for an overnight birthday trip.Screen Shot 2015-10-10 at 10.36.30 AMWe stopped if we felt like it. If we saw a cliff and wanted to know what was on the other side, we went to check it out.Screen Shot 2015-10-10 at 10.39.49 AMEventually, we made it all the way to Homer. We found our cabin and admired the view. Homer is beautiful with water everywhere and big mountains and glaciers visible from town.Homer spit is a big draw and we headed there immediately. Going into the Salty Dawg is mandatory.Screen Shot 2015-10-10 at 10.40.14 AMWe found a great restaurant at the recommendation of our cabin owners. What a beautiful place. The decorations are one of a kind and the food was outstanding. We ate enough to keep us full for our adventures the next day.Screen Shot 2015-10-10 at 10.40.51 AM Screen Shot 2015-10-10 at 10.41.33 AMThe next day, we looked off the balcony and figured we should get to the glacier that we could see while eating breakfast.Screen Shot 2015-10-10 at 10.42.13 AMThe biggest problem is that it is on the other side of Kachemak Bay. Luckily, there are a few boat owners around that were willing to drop us off near Halibut Cove so we could hike to the glacier.

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We jumped out like a relaxed D-day and watched the boat leave.

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That is when you start hoping they will come back when they promised. Or that you will make it to the extraction point. Or that you should have brought some bear deterrent. Although we did have cell phone service the whole time. There are many well maintained trails on the opposite side of the bay. The hike was beautiful.

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We were making good time and decided to detour to Humpy Creek. Screen Shot 2015-10-10 at 11.06.51 AM

While there were no Humpies (pink salmon), there was a beautiful view and a rare way to cross the creek. Well, it is  rare for us before moving to Alaska. This is the second hike we have been on with a hand tram used to cross a river.Screen Shot 2015-10-10 at 11.07.09 AM

Eventually, we hiked to the glacier. It turns out we hiked to the lake that is made by the glacier. We couldn’t actually get to the glacier from where we were if we wanted to get picked up today.

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Amanda did get to touch the glacier. In her own way.

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We made it to the extraction point and survived. Somehow. The boat returned. We weren’t eaten by wildlife. We even had a delicious dinner in the car on the way back home.Screen Shot 2015-10-10 at 11.19.59 AM

Happy Birthday Amanda!

Denali National Park.

We headed into Denali National Park with Amanda’s parents while they were visiting. On our way, we stopped in the town village of Talkeetna. It is a fantastic place to stop. They have every adventure necessary. Want to go fishing, someone there can arrange that. Too easy? Take a helicopter tour of Denali, they do that here as well. We just stopped at a cool little coffee shop.Screen Shot 2015-10-08 at 11.00.39 AMWe were at the tail end of the season, so some things were closed, and the traffic was pretty minimal. The weather was not too bad, but with lots of clouds, actually seeing the mountain did not seem like a realistic thing that was going to occur. While that is always a goal of people that are visiting the area, we have been lucky to see it on clear days while fishing nearby. There is still so much to see and do that the actual mountain might be better off imagined. Screen Shot 2015-10-08 at 11.00.27 AMWe boarded our bus early the next day and settled in for what would be an 11 hour bus tour. If you travel into the park in your own car, you can only drive in the first 15 miles. The buses were great. We didn’t have to drive, we could eat, and the bus driver was knowledgeable and entertaining. This is a great way to see the park and the inhabitants.Screen Shot 2015-10-08 at 11.13.46 AMThe weather that we had experienced in Talkeetna was worse/better/bigger/different the next day. Everything is larger and more extreme in Alaska. The weather is no exception. Where there was rain the day before it was heavily snowing on us in the park. It was very beautiful to see a lot of the area covered in snow. The biggest concern was that the roads would be impossible to use in some spots. We were going on the last day of the season.

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We got to Savage River and were told that it might be the end of the line for us. We were 15 miles into an 85 mile trip. We waited here, saw a few bears, made a snowman, and were told to get back on the bus, we were continuing forward.Screen Shot 2015-10-08 at 11.01.30 AMThe wildlife is used to the buses. They know that the buses are not a threat. We were able to see animals acting very naturally.

Screen Shot 2015-10-08 at 11.28.56 AM Screen Shot 2015-10-08 at 11.28.24 AMIt was the people that were funny to watch. As soon as someone spotted an animal, the bus would stop and try to get us into a good viewing position. Everyone ran to the side where the animal would be. The sound of fake shutters clicking was entertaining and the animals didn’t seem to mind. Mostly everyone was respectful and kept their arms and hands inside. Screen Shot 2015-10-08 at 11.27.22 AMEvery stop was amazing. The roads were cleared and we were told that we would make it all the way to the Wonder Lake Campground. Every time we got out of the bus, we were blown away. Mostly with the views, but sometimes by the wind.Screen Shot 2015-10-08 at 11.27.02 AMScreen Shot 2015-10-08 at 11.38.45 AMScreen Shot 2015-10-08 at 11.39.07 AMThat was our visit to Denali National Park. It was outstanding and everyone visiting Alaska should try to get out there to experience it. Thanks for reading.

Fly fishing the Kenai Peninsula.

Screen Shot 2015-10-03 at 7.02.47 PMI finally got to fish in the Kenai Peninsula. It has been on my bucket list for a while. Plenty of guys would come into Orvis in Bellevue talking about their trip to Alaska and how awesome it was to fish here. Now it is in my backyard. The salmon are everywhere. Dying, spawning, or somewhere in between. The trout were big, but not plentiful. They were hard enough to catch to make you work for them, but they were hanging out right where you would expect them. We didn’t see any bears and I’m not sure if I am disappointed or relieved. Alaska is amazing more and more each day. Fall has come quickly and I feel like there is a bit of a rush to get more fishing in before the weather gets worse.