Saturday, September 6, 2008

"tarm...ptar...tarmagon... Chicken!"

From Seward I made my way toward my connection with the ferry in Haines, AK. For me to get there, I had to pass back through Anchorage and cut across the bottom part of the state. On the first day I spent a bit of time exploring the area around Exit Glacier (a walk-up glacier) and along the Tarnagan Arm (waterway near Anchorage).

I was definitely not prepared for this encounter. Barely got my camera out and even then, I never even got a chance to get my helmet off before the two bears walked on by. Whenever an encounter like this occurs, I would think that would be the last time I saw bears and I hope these photos turn out okay. This would NOT be the last bear of Alaska!

The fireweed is so ubiquitous to Alaska and the Yukon (and, I am sure, the rest of the Arctic) that I just became a little myopic when viewing it. "Just another pretty weed, nothing much to look at." I don't know what drew me to this little patch of it, but I noticed that all of the plants had almost bloomed to the top, which had been unusual up until now. Come to find out, Fireweed is considered to be "Summer's Clock" and it is said that once it blooms to the top that summer has just 6 weeks left. There were just a few more petals to open on this one, so if the myth is correct, there are just four weeks left of summer in Alaska.

What amazing colors in this overcast day (not many blue skies in AK this year).

Not one frog to enjoy these pads... seems a bit of a shame that frogs weren't out enjoying these perches.

"Focus damnit!!!" Nothing like trying to focus on depthless flat water. I had a particularly hard time shooting these unpredictable Beluga Whales. I spent an hour along the Tarnigan Arm watching the Beluga feed on salmon in the low tides. What a treat!

And then there was Chicken. This tiny little mining community cum gas station/tourist hangout, was well worth the 156 mile detour. The colors have been turning for days, but it has only been in the past day that I have taken notice. I did notice the burst of colors on the north side of the Brooks Range, but everything on the Kenai Peninsula was so lush that it was hard to see. I can't explain how this photo can't even capture what the original sized picture is like, and that picture doesn't hold a candle to reality. 

'Nuf said...
This it the original Chicken, AK. There are a few other buildings, RV park and airport. As you can see, there really is not a whole lot there... just the essentials. A store, bar and cafe. 

The story I was told about how Chicken got its name is not confirmed, but I like it anyway. Apparently, the miners were all drinking and wanted to name the town Ptarmigan to honor the state bird, but nobody could recall how to spell "ptarmigan", so they settled on Chicken.

From here I went through to Haines, but that will come next...

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