Migrations

Still getting the hang of the new body and the new autofocus system. I love it but it does take awhile to get the hang of it. In mass takeoffs like this its 45 points come in handy. Geese on Downs Lake.

This trumpeter decided to stop in for the weekend. There were a few pairs but not too many. Again – we were just temporary grazing for them on their way south.

Finally I think that this is a female Wood Duck. Cute in an odd sort of way.


Fall in Lake Elmo

It has been a great fall in Lake Elmo. Unseasonably mild actually. It was in the 80s the first week of October. Things have settled in and are getting back to normal. I’ve been having fun, learning a new camera body, figuring out its quirks, features and the new bells and whistles. Here are a few shots of the changing flora as the season came upon us.


Giants Ridge (again!)

On the 26th of August our intrepid crew ventured yet again to Biwabik MN for a three day golf fest. This is our eighth or ninth trip to the Giants Ridge Golf course, home of The Legends and The Quarry. The Quarry is my favorite course in Minnesota. I have said it before and I’ll say it again that it looks like God dropped a golf course in between an abandoned quarry and a north woods forest. It is beautiful.

This time I brought my new 14mm lens and had fun at dawn on Lake Wynne trying to be artistic.

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The light was fantastic and the Lake was like glass. I certainly had fun trying but I’ll need to get used to the lens.

 

The Navigator – Regent Seven Seas

My final Alaska post (I think).

The Regent Seven Seas Navigator was a great ship. It was our first time on the Regent Seven Seas line (albeit it is only our second cruise and our first in 20 years). It was smaller than most lines with only 490 passengers (vs 2000+). While 490 is far from intimate, it certainly shortened the disembarkation process. I had one exterior picture of the Navigator in the Tracy Arm post, but I thought I’d add a couple of more shots.

I particularly liked the open elevator areas. It also gave me a good excuse to play with my 14mm wide angle.


In the end I would certainly cruise on Regent Seven Seas again. The restaurants were great. The house wine quite good. The service excellent. They were a very well-run organization.


Hubbard Glacier – panorama


This is an extra image from our first day at sea. This is a panorama I made from our balcony. I am glad I brought a tripod(s). To give you a perspective it is actually three shots at 35mm.

Remember to enlarge your browser to full screen and click on the image to get the full effect.


Vancouver

We set out from Ketchikan for Vancouver at about 6pm on Monday evening and arrived at 6am Wednesday. It was 36 hours at sea.

Here is our last Sunset in Alaska as we headed in to the Inside Passage. Tuesday started as normal with a nice breakfast. The rude awakening came when we came back and found our bags on the bed so that we could pack. They had to be outside our stateroom by 11:00pm so that they could unload them in port the next AM. In the end we had a relaxing day at sea.

At dawn we cruised into Vancouver. It was quite a nice sight. Much bigger than when I last was here (~’92).

We checked into the hotel across from the BC Center. It is not the only “dome” that lost its head. In this case It was high winds. They are busy replacing it.

I don’t think I’d like this guy’s job.

We also visited Gastown in Old Vancouver. It is largely restored and filled with shops, coffee shops and bars. It also has the famed Steam Clock. It was built in 1977 as a tourist attraction for the renovated Gastown district of Vancouver. Although the clock is now owned by the City of Vancouver, funding for the project was provided by contributions from local merchants, property owners, and private donors. Incorporating a steam engine and electric motors, the clock displays the time on four faces and announces the quarter hours with a whistle chime that plays the Westminster Quarters.


Ketchikan

Today we visited Ketchikan. It is the oldest city in Alaska. It is the farthest south and the fourth largest at 14,000. I tried in vain to get on a bear watching expedition to Neets Bay or Prince of Wales Island but they were full (despite being expensive). We were already scheduled to go on a free excursion that was booked as a “Rainforest Island Adventure.” I associated “free” with “lame” and almost blew it off. I am glad we didn’t.

The rainforest part was interesting (not exciting, but interesting). Ketchikan is the rainiest city in Alaska with over 100 inches per year. One of our guides was from Seattle and said that the rain here makes Seattle look like Phoenix by comparison. When a tree falls in the forest it becomes a nursing log. These young saplings are growing right on top of the decaying nursing log. We saw some already 8 inches in diameter growing this way.

We were on a pretty island formed by the intersection of the Pacific and North American plates. The tectonic activity was obvious when you look at the rock formations.

The surprise of the day was how many Eagles we saw from our Zodiac and how obliging they were to this photographer. I am just glad I survived our excursions without dumping a camera in the water. Enjoy.

This might be my best Bald Eagle picture to date. He certainly looks deserving as a symbol for our country.


Skagway

We decided to take a day off from excursions and just explore Skagway. Quite touristy but quaint.

Most (if not all) of the buildings have been converted into T-shirt shops, bars or Jewelry stores (Tanzanite is a big seller, apparently).

The locals like to assert their independence and in this case, the proprietors sided the exterior of the building completely with driftwood. This is now the Skagway Visitor’s Center.


Juneau and Whales

After visiting Mendenhall Glacier, we boarded our third Allen Marine chartered cruise. It was billed as an evening of whale watching.

We were told that one in ten trips, an Orca (Killer Whale) is spotted. We saw four. It was cool just to spot them (even if they never did the Sea World jump out of the water maneuver).

We spotted a pod of Humpbacks and started tracking them at a distance.

Seemingly out of nowhere, a Humpback from a pod that we’d been watching surfaced right next to the boat. I mean right next to the boat.

These images have not been cropped. I could not get the whole fluke into the screen.

What a day. We were beat. It was now about 10pm (sun just setting) and we headed back to the ship and sat on the balcony watching the lights across the channel as we got underway; next stop Skagway.


Mendenhall Glacier

Our catamaran took us back to our ship which had now traveled up to the Port of Juneau. We had a little time to relax, clean up and get ready to visit the Mendenhall Glacier. This is arguably the most noted glacier in alaska. Being in the capital city helps.

It is visited enough that it is showcased as an example of climate change in Alaska. In 1990 the Glacier (which has been retreating for 250 years) retreated about 20 feet. Last year, it retreated more than 250 feet.

In this case we were able to walk to these vantage points.

It is always gratifying to see how nature reacts to changes in the environment. Here is a local wildflower clawing out a new foothold.