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Fitness and Photography for Fun - A blog on staying fit by hiking and doing photography by David Mendosa

Entries Tagged as 'Alaska'

Baranof Island‏

May 24th, 2011 · No Comments

During our sixth day on the Island Spirit through Alaska’s Inside Passage we slowly cruised from our anchorage in Hamilton Bay near Kake on the west coast of sheltered Kupreanof Island on the Frederick Sound to Baranof Island. We cruised into Chatham Strait into two bays on the east side of Baranof Island.

The strait has a greater profusion of sea otters this year than usual, Jeff, the captain of our ship, says. We saw many of them lying on their backs in the classic otter pose.

A Sea Otter in the Chatham Strait

A Sea Otter in the Chatham Strait

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On Baranof Island we first explored Takatz Bay, where I kayaked for just the second time in my life. The kayak silently got me closer to the wildlife and birdlife than possible on a ship.

A Harbor Seal from the Kayak

A Harbor Seal from the Kayak

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Fun in the Fjord‏

May 20th, 2011 · 1 Comment

On our small ship cruise through Alaska’s Inside Passage on Thursday we stayed in Fords Terror all day until we could leave on the slack tide in the late afternoon. We were blessed with weather that was unusually warm and sunny for Alaska. With took advantage of the opportunity to have fun in the fjord.

For the first time in my life I paddled in a kayak. Captain Jeff Behrens had devised a system to board and depart for kayaks that is so stable that I even risked taking one of my cameras on the kayak. In the event, only my sleeve got wet, and that was only because I reached down a few inches into the ocean to grab a sea urchin.

A Sea Urchin in My Hand

A Sea Urchin in My Hand

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Even the captain went kayaking.

Jeff Kayaks

Jeff Kayaks

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The "Island Spirit" from the Kayak

The "Island Spirit" from the Kayak

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Posted in: Alaska, Photography

Glaciers and Icebergs‏

May 20th, 2011 · No Comments

By the end of the day on Wednesday I knew that I was in trouble. I had taken so many photos on our cruise through the Endicott Arm of Alaska’s Inside Passage that I didn’t know where to start deleting. My trouble was too much of a good thing.

For the first time ever I carried around both of my cameras at the same time. My Canon 7D went as usual with my 100-400mm telephoto zoom lens, and my older Canon 50D with my 18-200mm lens. During the day I also used my Speedlite external flash and my tripod. While I had the most impressive camera equipment of anyone on board, Ross from Australia is a retired professional photographer who was carrying the professional grade Canon 5D Mark II camera and a shorter telephoto lens.

The overcast sky might have dissuaded some photographers from shooting pictures. But for Ross and me it only added to the moody beauty of the scene.

Aside from our ship, the “Island Spirit,” we didn’t see a single sign of civilization much less another person. This is totally unspoiled country. To the east on our starboard (right) side is nothing but the Chuck River Wilderness. To the west on our port (left) side is nothing but the Tracy Arm-Fords Terror Wilderness. And at the end of the Endicott Arm is Dawes Glacier.

Dawes Glacier

Dawes Glacier

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Birds and mammals rest on the icebergs.

Gulls on Ice

Gulls on Ice

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Alaska’s Inside Passage‏

May 20th, 2011 · No Comments

My vacation began at 2 p.m. on Tuesday. That’s when the “Island Spirit” left the dock in Juneau to start the trip through Alaska’s Inside Passage. We are 31 passengers and nine crew on a small cruise ship.

I am traveling with my friend Parkie Parker from Santa Barbara. This is our second cruise; our first cruise together many years ago was from San Pedro, California, to Mexico.

This is truly a vacation because we are so cut off from the cares of the world. Once we left port we haven’t had any Internet, phone, or television connection. While we are moving, going anywhere is completely out of my hands. We have no place to go and nothing that we have to do. And as I am getting to know all the other people on this ship, I am enjoying long relaxed conversations with no time pressure.

Even before we left port I was able to see and photograph wildlife that I had never seen before. These strange-looking ducks swam around our ship.

A Surf Scoter

A Surf Scoter

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Five Male Surf Scoters Follow a Female

Five Male Surf Scoters Follow a Female

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Posted in: Alaska, Photography

Juneau

May 16th, 2011 · No Comments

Juneau surprised me. When I arrived in Alaska’s capitol city at about 9:30 on Sunday night, the sun was shining and the weather was warm.

I was prepared for the rain for which Juneau is well known. In fact, before I flew in from Seattle, I made arrangements to tour Mendenhall Glacier on Monday morning even if it was raining.

When my friend Sharon came here last year, she discovered a great tour guide named Maria Castillo. Sharon had kept Maria’s phone number and gave it to me before I left Boulder.

“I recommend you go to the glacier even if it is raining,” Sharon emailed me when I was at the Sea-Tac Airport. That was all the encouragement I needed to call Maria from the airport. I had the good fortune to have sunny and warm weather on Monday.

Mendenhall Glacier is 12 miles long and just 12 miles from downtown Juneau. The face of the glacier is half a mile wide.

Mendenhall Glacier, Alaska

Mendenhall Glacier, Alaska

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Formed at the face of the Mendenhall Glacier, Nugget Falls drops 377 feet onto Mendenhall Lake.

Nugget Falls

Nugget Falls

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The Church of Nome: Part 3

January 13th, 2011 · No Comments

The Layette Ministry is not only of Community United Methodist Church, but also of United Methodist Women’s groups nationwide. All children born at Norton Sound Regional Hospital in Nome receive a layette containing onesies, outfits, t-shirts, hats, and socks — all neatly bundled together inside a blanket. This ministry demonstrates God’s love to all the children of the Norton Sound region, since women from the surrounding villages often fly in to Nome to give birth.

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Julie is also a radio personality. She broadcasts a weekly sermon on KICY AM from Nome to the people of northwest Alaska — and to many more in Russia. KICY is the only commercial radio station in the United States that the Federal Communications Commission has licensed to broadcast into another country in its language.

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The Church of Nome: Part 2

January 13th, 2011 · No Comments

Alcoholism also greatly concerns Pastors David and Julie Elmore. They say that many of their neighbors live with a sense of hopelessness. They don’t feel able to look forward to success in the modern culture, but lack the tools to exist in a traditional Alaskan community.

Some of the latest sociological research traces alcoholism to group trauma — the trauma of losing their culture, rather than the theory that alcoholism among Native Americans is genetic. Alcoholism is one unhealthy way that they try to cope with that group trauma and the lack of identidy that comes with it.

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David and Julie can’t do everything at once. So far they are mainly working with the kids to provide them with a safe place to go at least one night a week with the Tuesday school, which meets here at the Fellowship Hall. “We try to respect them and their culture as well and communicate that God as the Creator created their culture as well,” David says.

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David has two formal roles: co-pastor of the church and community service coordinator.

The Youth Court program is an activity of the community center. It is a restorative justice diversion program for youth that who commit minor infractions of the law, like alcohol possession, staying out past curfew, or vandalism. In the Youth Court their peers try them, and a part of their sentence is usually community service.

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The Church of Nome: Part 1

January 5th, 2011 · No Comments

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Nome, Alaska, is isolated. You can reach it only by ship or airplane. This view of the port of Nome with a cruise ship at the dock shows that with the sun rising on a full moon the scene can be beautiful.

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This, however, is what most people see when they arrive in Nome on the 539-mile flight from Anchorage. Driving to Nome is not a choice, unless you live on one of the dirt roads leading up to about 80 miles out of town.

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Here is the Pilgrim River and Mount Osborn along the road from Nome to Kougarok.

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Alaska: Totem Poles‏

September 8th, 2009 · 9 Comments

The most famous native art of Alaska — which also has always interested me the most — is the carving of totem poles. Before I left Alaska yesterday I was able to see four wonderful totem poles.

One of the most interesting totem poles is in the sanctuary of my best friend’s church. John is the senior pastor of St. John’s United Methodist Church in Anchorage. On my visit to Alaska I had the opportunity to see him leading worship services for the first time.

Pastor John and His Congregation This Sunday

Pastor John and His Congregation This Sunday

On of the most interesting totem poles is at the right side of this photo. Carved from a 500-year-old cedar log by David Fison, one of John’s predecessors, this 17-foot “Easter Totem Pole” honors the people of the Tsimshian village of Metlakatla where he had served as interim pastor in 1965. [Read more →]

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Alaska: Cruising Prince William Sound‏

September 6th, 2009 · No Comments

The longer I stay in Alaska the better the weather gets. This can’t last for long, but since last Wednesday all over Alaska, at least from Anchorage to Nome, we have had sunny weather.

We returned yesterday for a cruise around Prince William Sound. We had glorious sunshine, infinitely better than the heavy rain and blustery weather that forced the cancellation of our previous attempt several days ago.

We left from from the little town of Whittier, 60 miles southeast of Anchorage.

90 Percent of the Residents of Whittier Live in the Big Building

90 Percent of the Residents of Whittier Live in the Big Building

The Princess Diamond Was in Port

The Princess Diamond Was in Port

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Posted in: Alaska, Photography