Kristi arrived at 2:00 AM last Friday, so we slept in a bit that morning. Then we took her to the mission office and introduced her to the senior missionaries we work with, drove around downtown a little, showing her some of the shops with all the furs, ivory and native Alaskan stuff. For dinner we had reindeer dogs and halibut tacos at a little street-corner stand. On the way home we went to Potter Marsh and saw, in addition to several different birds, a beaver and a bunch of huge salmon on their way to spawn. The boardwalk crosses a stream flowing into the marsh from Cook Inlet. We stood on the boardwalk and looked down into about 4 feet of water and saw several salmon just sitting there, taking life easy. If you look closely in the following picture you can see four (maybe five) fish, two of them bright red. The smallest one is probably as long as your arm. (For some reason the picture would only post sideways and I couldn't figure out how to fix it, but you can still see the fish if you look. Remember that clicking on any of these pictures will enlarge them.)
After the marsh, we stopped off at the temple on the way back to our apartment. I included a photo in an earlier post and promised a better one when available. In addition to the snapshot of Kristi and Sister Taylor, here is one that someone in the mission took two or three years ago. It is the best one I've seen.
On Saturday we went downtown to the Farmers' Market. We had a good time looking at all the vendors' wares and visiting with people from all over. We met one gentleman, a biker-looking fellow, who was selling t-shirts, etc., that were blasting Texas! The main theme of the whole stand was illustrated by the owner's shirt which said (in a little rougher language) 'Alaska - making Texans mad since 1959.' Kristi bought a shirt that said, "Claustrophobia, What an Alaskan feels in Texas." I wanted to get the hoodie he had that said,"Cut Alaska in half and make Texas the third largest state." When you unzipped, it cut Alaska in half. He was a real hoot!
In the afternoon we went to the Alaska Zoo. It is unlike most zoos I have been to in that it concentrates on animals indigenous to Alaska, with the exception of a couple of camels. We saw harbor seals, otters, hawks and owls, eagles, musk oxen, yaks, bears (black, brown and polar), foxes and porcupines, among others. Here are a few shots of some of the animals.
|This is for Katie and Clara. If you copy off the photo and enlarge it you should be able to read about the Artic Fox.|
|And here's the little beastie in his summer coat. They are the only Canid that change the color of their coat with the seasons.|
|An Alaskan zoo wouldn't be complete with wolves.|
|A Snowy Owl|
|Feel like you're being watched?|
On Sunday we all went to church at the Bush Branch and then to the Campbell Park Ward. We live in, and have been assigned to, the Campbell Park Ward, Anchorage North Stake, since we got here. We're currently wrapping up a Temple Preparation Class for a sister that is being married in the temple in July. But, now we have been assigned to the Bush Branch, Anchorage Stake, and are really excited about it. We meet with the Branch Presidency and a handful of others in the President's office and then the members of the branch, from outlying areas all around the state, call in on a conference call for the meetings. It is pretty amazing. Sister Taylor is once again the Branch Organist. This time it means she starts and stops the CD at the appropriate times.
On Sunday evening, as usual, the missionaries who live downstairs came up for a snack and to leave a spiritual message. This time, they showed up with their entire district! Good thing that Sister Taylor made enough brownies to go around. It was awesome to have them all in our home. For the spiritual thought, Elder Garver, from downstairs, called on everyone to relate one special memory they had of their father. (as it was Father's Day) It was neat to hear all these young elders pay tribute to their fathers.
Monday morning we got up bright and early and headed off to Whittier, which is about an hour south of here on Prince William Sound. We saw some beautiful country along the Turnagain Arm and then drove through a one lane tunnel that is several miles long. The vehicle traffic alternates direction each half hour and then the train interrupts and goes through every so often. Quite an experience.
On the other side of the tunnel is Whittier, a deep-water port that was originally built for the military during WWII, as was the tunnel necessary to reach it from Anchorage. Now it is a tourist destination and is a stop for cruise ships. We took a smaller ship named the Klondike Express on a 5 hour cruise through Prince William Sound. We saw some 26 different glaciers, humpback whales, Orcas, Dall porpoises, and harbor seals, along with eagles and various other birds. The weather was beautiful and the experience was incredible. There are no words, at least for people like myself, to adequately describe the grandeur and beauty that is Alaska. Unless you have a 52" screen on your computer the photos will not do it justice, either, but here goes our best effort.
|This is the tunnel. Cars were required to keep 35' of distance between. |
Kind of spooky and driving over the train tracks required plenty of concentration.
|From Whittier looking up Prince William Sound. That's the ferry from Valdez coming in to dock.|
|The girls were hungry, so before we got on the boat they shared a half-pound of steamed shrimp from a local restaurant. They served us a hot lunch on the boat.|
|We couldn't begin to show you all the photos of the mountains, sound, forests, glaciers, etc., that we took.|
This is one of the glaciers that we saw. Don't remember the name.
|Cascade Glacier - because it cascades down the mountain side.|
|Cascade glacier is just out of the photo to the left. Within the last 100 years or so |
all three of these glaciers joined together and came out almost to the bottom edge of the photo..
|A close-up showing how the glaciers "flow."|
|An eagle sitting on one of the many little islands we passed.|
|One of the many otters we saw swimming by. We also saw several groups of them, called "rafts."|
|They sailed in close to several of the glaciers, hoping we would get to see some calving. |
We didn't see any big ones, but there was one that sent out a boom. Everyone on the boat cheered.
|We only saw a couple of humpback whales. This was the best shot I got, sorry. |
We did get one tail-flip but I missed the shot. Arghh!!
|More wildlife on the cruise. Not sure what kind these are.|
|We were lucky enough to have a pod of six Orcas swim by. |
Believe it or not, there are four of them in this picture. Look closely.
|Our assigned seat on the upper deck. This is where we had lunch and occasionally got in out of the wind.|
|Near some of the glaciers there were small icebergs floating around. |
This one is about the size of a large truck and has some harbor seals basking in the sun,
taking a rest from hunting for their dinner.
Some of what we saw was best seen by video. I have included a few. Hope it gives you a better picture of our experience.
A group of Dall porpoises, frolicking around the bow of the boat.
Too dang quick to get a still shot!
The pod of Orcas. Sorry for the focus.
Surprise Glacier. Unfortunately, no surprises.
Well, gotta go, so that's it for Episode One of Kristi's visit. I'll post Episode Two in a few days.
Stay tuned, more to follow!!