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The Dennetts

The Dennetts are traveling North to Alaska in July. Their trip begins in Oregon. They will travel the Alaska Highway and plan to arrive in Denali National Park around July 23 to meet friends. They will take a week or so to tour Denali, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, the Kenai Peninsula and possibly Kodiak Island. They plan to return home via the Alaska Marine Highway ferry system and will stop in ports along the way to explore.

Click on the points on the map to see what we did at each location.

Tuesday August 2, 2011 - Wasilla - We really can’t see Russia from here (sorry, Sarah Palin), but maybe if it quits raining we will.

The sightseeing experience is definitely enhanced by sunny weather, but it looks like we’ll have to do without that for the next 4-5 days. Welcome to Alaska “summer”.

Yesterday, Sunday, July 31st, however, the clouds parted and we donned our shades and reveled in a few hours of sunshine while enjoying some wonderfully eclectic music at the 3rd day of the nearly-famous Anderson (pop. 400) Bluegrass Festival (24th edition)!

This is definitely not a stop on the tour bus circuit, and was a delightful little slice of Alaskana. The people watching was amazing: I had no idea there was still so much tie dye left in the world, or hula hoops for that matter! I guess there are many ways to entertain yourself during those long, dark winters. Other ensembles featured leather, feathers, and skirts, and you should have seen what the women were wearing!

Alaskan Amber and White (Gage’s favorite wheat beer) were on sale for $2.00 for a 16 oz. cup, Bud was a buck, and wine $2.00, so we were happy to take advantage of the free camping at the park and not have to share the road with some of the other attendees who should have done so.

Our favorite performer was Ukulele Russ, whose amplified style resembles Phish rather than “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole (I had to google that).

On Monday, August 1st, we drove grumpily by some alleged viewpoints of the elusive Mt. McKinley/Denali, and have decided to forge on to the peninsula where we can hopefully catch some fish in the rain. Perhaps the cloud-enshrouded one will reveal itself in another week or so when we head back. Otto informs me that it is visible only 25% of the time, so the odds are not in our favor. It can’t rain all summer (can it?).

Denali - Thursday, July 28, 2011 - Inspired by a scintillating stash of superlatives from Bill, I will try to impart some of the sense of magic of our four days in Denali.

The weather was not conducive to seeing The Big One, but we have other opportunities to spot it before we leave so will try to be patient.

Denali is my idea of a metaphor for Alaska: Miles and miles of spectacular wilderness punctuated by a very small area with an intense human footprint. The park bustles with the sounds of buses, flightseeing planes and helicopters, and other vehicles which are thankfully restricted to the one and only 82-mile road into the park. Only shuttle buses are allowed to travel this road past the 15-mile mark, so the farther you get into the park, the less congestion and activity.

Just outside the park is “Glitter Gulch” where the hotels, ubiquitous gift shops, and pizza joints are condensed into one small area, so the overwhelming experience is one of vast wilderness.

We talk to European travelers and are reminded that undeveloped wild places like this simply do not exist in Europe. How remarkable that these national parks were established so long ago, and I quite agree with Ken Burns that they are America’s Best Idea!

We enjoy several ranger-led hikes, munching on the many edible berries and are dazzled by the showy display of wild flowers. We also try to imagine what winter (mid September through May) must be like, with temperatures of 40 to 60 below zero.

This area does not get much precipitation (12-14 inches annually), but when it begins to snow it is so cold that every flake is retained and accumulates until the next summer’s thaw. Dog sledding still provides a function in the park in the winter, but for the most part this ancient method of transportation has evolved into one of Alaska’s premiere sports. Racing sleds are made of carbon fiber, and are pulled by sleek 55-pound Alaskan huskies instead of the burlier and furrier 90-pound Siberian huskies or malamutes required for toting supplies.

As for the scenery, I’ll let Bill’s adjectives cascade over you: “your enchanting/enthralling" trip is helping me to remember our own beyond belief travels in "dazzling/dreamy" and "showy/stupendous" Alaska. The "sheer/stunning" sweep of your "extravagant/epicurian" travels lifts any spirit. From the "silent/stately" glaciers to the "vast/verdant" interior wild lands to the "slate gray/granite colored" & fog "shrouded/secluded" coastline. The "cragy/roughewn" & "lofty/large mountains give pause to the "stunned/sated" traveler. But don't pause too long especially if "gorging/grasping" mosquitoes are there to feast.

Saturday July 30, 2011 - Fairbanks - Perfect sunny day for our trip aboard the Discovery III Sternwheeler on the Chena River.

The highlight for me was a stop at the home of the late Susan Butcher who blazed the way for women mushers by winning the Iditarod four times. (I guess you can tell how much I miss our dog Mikey, since I keep writing about the huskies!).

Her husband and daughters are carrying on with the dog training and racing, and we were treated to a demonstration of puppy training, and a full-speed training run around their lake. The dogs get so excited when it is time to go, they all start barking and jumping up in the air - you want to join them! On these sprints, they will travel at about 20 mph, and the only way they can be stopped is by using the brakes on the sled; in this excited state they simply do not respond to voice commands to stop! After their workout, they were unhitched and headed for the river to cool off.

The next stop was an authentic replica of an Athabascan village, with very interesting demonstrations on how these resourceful people have survived in what is considered to be some of the most extreme weather conditions on the planet for thousands of years. They continue to be successful in this subsistence lifestyle, at one with nature and very similar to how their ancestors lived. We heard fascinating presentations from two young women raised in the village of McGrath who are sophomores at the University of Alaska, one studying to be a Firefighter/EMT, and the other an elementary education teacher. These two lovely girls are able to function successfully in the “modern” world, while retaining a deep connection to their heritage, and both plan to remain in Alaska when they graduate.

After enjoying dinner outside on the river at Pike’s Landing, we bid farewell to Mark's sister Gage and husband Phil who have been our traveling pals for the past week, and prepare to soldier on into the wild alone!

Monday, August 8, 2011 - Homer - "What a difference a (sunny) day makes," to quote the old song. Our love affair with Alaska has definitely passed the honeymoon stage, as we kept trying to imagine how beautiful everything would be if it would only stop raining! Call us sissies, but when it's 48 degrees, windy, and raining, about the only thing we want to do is curl up with a book and try not to snipe at each other. Morale has not been high.

So when the clouds parted yesterday, we were all smiles as we finally got to experience
some more of the magnificence of the Kenai Peninsula, and headed for Homer. Again
adequate superlatives fail to roll off the tongue as our first sight of snow covered Mt.
Redoubt across Cook Inlet rendered us speechless.

Homer refers to itself as “A quaint little drinking village with a fishing problem.” So, when in Rome….we bellied up to the bar at the nearly famous Salty Dawg Saloon and arranged for a halibut charter for Tuesday!

We found a fantastic camp site right on the water, with 270-degree views of mountains, glaciers, and the usual suspects. Walking on the beach seems surreal in Alaska, but if you subtract the above-mentioned scenic backdrop, you could almost imagine you were in Oregon or California. In fact we did see some polar bears (the human kind) who briefly immersed themselves in the ocean for some imponderable reasons. Perhaps they were dazzled by the sunshine and momentarily confused thinking they were in balmier climes.

Tomorrow we go halibut fishing out of Ninilchik. I’m trying to figure out how this makes
any sense, since I get dizzy just walking on the beach thinking about being on a boat. Our
trusty craft is all of 28 feet long, so we'll see how stable it is when we reach the halibut
holes, drop anchor, and start fishing.

Hopefully we'll be reeling in the big ones like crazy so I will have something else to think about besides chumming. With our trusty coupon book (thanks again, Kris and Bob) we will do the math when the last fillet is shipped off to
Oregon, but we're hoping to make this fishing trip "pencil." Anyone want to venture a guess as to how much this fish will cost per pound? The closest estimator will win a halibut dinner at
Cucina Dennetti

Friday, August 12, 2011 - Palmer - We begin our (sunny!) day with a tour of historic Palmer, and load up on fresh produce from their Farmer’s Market.

Palmer has an interesting story: It was founded in the 1930’s as one of the U.S. government’s social programs to try to deal with the depression. Two hundred families were relocated to the Matanuska Valley from dust bowl states where so many farms had failed, and farmers were literally starving. They were each given 40 acres to farm, and the government also built them a house and a village (picture is one of the original community buildings).

Getting the hang of a very different growing season was tricky, but many of the families were successful and their children and grandchildren have continued to farm here to this day. Lucky for us, because they sure do know how to grow veggies!

Next we headed East on the Glenn Highway. This is another one of those designated All American Scenic Byways and was simply stunning on this lovely, sunny day. Just when you think the mountains can’t get any bigger or closer, or the glaciers more panoramic, there is another vista right around the corner.

This highway travels through the Chugach Mountains, affording a spectacular view of the Matanuska Glacier, and in the distance we begin to see the massive, snow covered peaks of Wrangell-St. Elias. We find a beautiful RV park (Tolsona Wilderness Campground) where each large space backs right up to Tolsona Creek and is separated from its neighbors by generous foliage.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011 - Russian River - With today’s fishing trip cancelled, we contemplated our options, one of which was to take a trip to Katmai or Kodiak to see bears, but the cost and time required seemed prohibitive.

So we chose to head back toward Denali for another chance to see The Mountain, and include a stop at the Russian River near Cooper Landing in hopes of seeing a bear, since we heard the fish were beginning to run pretty strong in the Russian and Kenai Rivers.

Sure enough, where there is a river full of fish, there will be bear! Immediately upon our arrival at the Russian River, a fisherman called to us to come have a look at the very large grizzly who was busily fishing across the river.

We were excited beyond belief, and decided to go upstream about 50 yards where there was another viewing/fishing area directly across from the bear. When we arrived, there was another guy there with a camera, beckoning us to come take a look. I looked across the river and asked, “Where is he? He was just over there.” Camera dude replied, “Not anymore, he’s RIGHT THERE,” and indeed Mr. Grizz had crossed the river, and was busily munching on a salmon not 10 feet from us! It was certainly not our intention to get so close to a grizzly bear, but Mark did manage to snap a couple of pictures. It was pretty scary but so extremely exciting! We respectfully and rapidly retreated in order to restore space to the bear, and soon he waded across the river again and caught another fish which he then took into the woods.

The whole experience was entirely serendipitous, and we could not have had a better bear viewing experience if we had paid more than a thousand dollars for flights and a guided trip with an outfitter.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Monday began with a glimpse into the history and culture of the Moricetown Band of First Nation peoples as we watched a fisherman, precariously perched alongside the river as it plunged into a canyon, plying a net in hopes of landing a salmon. Then we located a stand of totem poles near the historic town of Hazelton, some over 200 years old, and suspect there will be many more of these to photograph in Alaska.

But the drive from Terrace to Prince Rupert made us believers in the guide book writers who describe this as one of the 10 most beautiful routes in the world! Pick your superlative - jaw dropping, breathtaking, stunning, spectacular, magnificent - and you will come up short describing the scenery. For once, “awesome” is not a hyperbole! Endless mountains, glaciers, waterfalls, lakes, rivers, and wild flowers punctuated by lush rainforest greenery had us oohing and ahhing, repeatedly screeching to a stop to try to photograph this amazing panorama. Of course, our meager attempts to record it do not begin to do it justice, but will serve as a reminder of this extraordinary place.

The weather in Prince Rupert is glorious, and we are told sunny days are rather rare since it receives 96 inches of annual rainfall. We enjoy basking in the sun and dining at a seafood restaurant overlooking the broad mouth of the Skeena River as it meets the Dixon Entrance to the ocean. Tomorrow we will tour the city, and then prepare to queue up at the ferry at 2:30. Next stop, Ketchikan!

Friday, 7/8/11 - A long day in the saddle (just over 400 miles) as we cross the entire length of Washington state and press on toward our ferry departure in Prince Rupert. Finally free of the urban clutches of the Interstate 5 megalopolis which lines Puget Sound. We anticipate with some trepidation our border crossing into Canada. Previous experiences at Blaine have included lengthy waits, so we are pleasantly surprised by our brief and friendly welcome to Canada at Sumas. The scenery in the Skagit Valley is pastoral, and then turns alpine as we join the Trans-Canada Highway at Hope and enter the scenic Fraser River Canyon. We marvel at how this highway was constructed, etched out of these sheer canyon walls, especially through the aptly named Hell’s Gate. Our first night is spent at Boston Bar in the company of some delightful fellow campers - Chris and Jamie from Albuquerque - who are concluding their second road trip to Alaska. We look forward to a reprise of this camaraderie with other road warriors as we compare notes about road conditions, favorite attractions and places not to be missed.

The publication “Milepost” has often been described as “the bible” for Alaska travelers with its extensive information for nearly every mile of nearly every major route, as far as we can tell, for Alaska, the Yukon, B.C., and Alberta. Each evening’s activities will definitely include a perusal of what to look forward to on the next day’s journey. The one question we have for tomorrow is, “How early in the morning is TOO early to have a beer at the historic Log Cabin Pub?”

Mark and Marty

Ketchikan - July 12-14 - The ferry from Prince Rupert to Ketchikan was a delightful and relaxing way to travel, and we arrived at midnight with a full moon and the harbor lights like jewels welcoming us to Alaska! I was born in Anchorage, and feel a sense of coming home as I return to this glorious state.

A sunny day in a climate like Ketchikan’s with 200 inches of annual rainfall is not to be wasted! We began the day (yesterday, July 13th) with a spectacular rainforest hike interspersed with drop dead views of ocean and mountains. Having our camper allows us to drive to the end of the road (literally, since there are no roads leading into Ketchikan - it can only be reached by air or ship) to escape the cruise ship nonsense and the industrial clutter.

As the Lonely Planet guide book describes Alaska, it is a resource-driven state, and everywhere there are signs of logging, mining, and commercial fishing, although tourism is now a big business as well for many of these little port cities that cater to cruise ships. Still there are lots of “wild places” to explore if you get off the beaten path which is not difficult.

Next we hiked in the Totem Bight State Park which showcases some amazing totem poles that have been restored and reworked by native Tlingit and Haida artists. Fascinating - as each one depicts a story of creation myths or heroic exploits. (Note - A bight is a bay created by glaciation which looks as if some large creature has taken a “bite” out of the shore line.)

The highlight of the day, however, was our sea kayaking excursion! Gliding along the shore, we got up close and personal to a couple of bald eagles conveniently perched in nearby trees. I suppose the novelty will wear off, but for now it is a thrill to be in the presence of these majestic birds. We were in a “divorce boat” as son Nick calls it, a double kayak with Mark “steering” in the back and me gently offering suggestions that he correct our course. (“No, no, no - your OTHER left!!!!!!”) Suffice it to say that we were NOT a well oiled machine! After 3 hours of paddling we were drenched in sweat and so exhausted we could barely get out of the boat, but still speaking to each other and exhilarated by the experience! We bought some fresh sockeye at the dock and enjoyed a barbecue at our campsite set in a location that must be the quintessential Alaska - a charming little lake with mountains in the background. This morning we awoke to a black bear rummaging about in the bushes next to the camper! I suppose that novelty will wear off as well, but it’s always exciting to see your “first bear”, “first eagle”, etc.

BTW, anyone reading this blog is welcome to email me with some new superlatives and I promise to use them! Remember, they have to be approved by the editors of North to Alaska, so keep it clean, Scream!

Friday - July 22, 2011 - On the Road - When Alaska designates one of its highways as a Scenic Byway, you had better be prepared for something special! The 146-mile Haines Highway from Haines, AK to Haines Junction, YT (Yukon Territory) does not disappoint. If only our meager photography skills could do it justice. Would that we had Barb R. along for wildlife photographs, and Bill F. for making the mundane so interesting on film.

We finally leave the coast and Southeast Alaska, and begin to penetrate the wall of mountains in the Yukon interior as we follow the Chilkat and Klehini Rivers along the Dalton Trail. This route was originally a secret Native American trading route, but Jack Dalton discovered it and offered gold seekers a kinder and gentler way to get to Whitehorse and the gold fields than trying to hike up the steep Chilkoot Trail out of Skagway.

For us modern travelers the Dalton Trail affords one phenomenal panorama after another of snow covered mountains, glaciers, waterfalls, and wildflowers…..I seem to be repeating myself!

Cresting the Chilkat Pass (3,510 ft), we find a different landscape on the east side of the mountains. Cottonwoods and Noble firs replace Sitka spruce and Western hemlock. There are fewer glaciers and less greenery. At Haines Junction, we join the Alaska Highway and head for Tok. I know, Kris, you warned us about this section of the highway, but for a variety of reasons we decided it just has to go down this way. We stop for the night at Cottonwood RV Park, just short of the anticipated rough 100 miles from Destruction Bay to Beaver Creek at the U.S. border.

We are delighted to find a gorgeous campsite right on the shore of Kluane Lake, and look forward to a nice hike or bike ride since the weather is a perfect 72 degrees and sunny. Much to our dismay, Cottonwood RV park owners warn that they have been having an unusually intense grizzly problem, and that we should stick close to our rig. Earlier in the day some fishermen were charged by a bear, escaped to the highway, and had to hitch a ride back to camp. This definitely puts a damper on our spirit of adventure, but we do take a few laps around the campground, making a lot of noise and trying to appear large and dangerous! Part of us really wants to see a grizzly, but in a more controlled environment.

There has actually been quite an extended drought in this part of Alaska and Canada; no campfires are allowed in the campground. The drought may also be contributing to the bears’ cranky attitude and aggressiveness if their food supply (grasses and berries) is diminished. There are currently no garbage facilities here due to the bear problem; we have to pack it out and find an appropriate place to dispose of it somewhere down the road. The RV park owners prudently want to make sure the bears have no incentive to stop here on their travels.

Monday - July 18 - Sitka - One of the challenges of ferry travel is that the schedule is occasionally not conducive to passenger service. Most ferry terminals are located away from town and arrivals can be anytime of the day or night. We faced both of these challenges with our 24-hour visit to Sitka.

The ferry departed Juneau late Sunday afternoon (fine), but arrived at the Sitka ferry terminal (seven miles from town) Monday morning at 3:15 AM.

Fortunately, we didn’t have to walk to town (with the bears), the ferry company had arranged for a tour of Sitka. We joined a surprisingly large number of passengers on a two hour pre-dawn tour of this fascinating town.

Our first stop was at St. Michael’s Cathedral, the city’s renowned Russian Orthodox Church. Our Tour Guide John did an outstanding job highlighting the history behind the priceless treasurers and the 100+ year influence of Russia on Alaska development. Next, with early morning light leading our way, we drove by the Russian Bishop House, Castle Hill, the old Sheldon Jackson School, the WWII military base, and the Sitka National Historic Park.

As the tour bus headed back for a 5:30 AM ferry departure south, we were dropped off in the village, since we had booked passage north to Juneau on the afternoon high-speed ferry. At 4:45 AM there wasn’t much else to do but enjoy breakfast at Victoria’s (excellent food). The place was packed at that hour with fishermen anxious to get out to sea.

After hanging out in the lobby of a hotel, waiting for things to open up and the rain to dissipate (it never did), we returned to the Russian Bishop’s House for a full indoor tour. Absolutely fascinating and well presented by the Park Ranger.

A bit more wandering through the village was about all we wanted to do in the rain, so we had an early lunch and caught a shuttle to the ferry terminal. The high-speed ferry (MS Fairweather) was a delight. Don’t miss Sitka, it is a living history lesson.

Saturday July 16, 2011 - One more post from Ketchikan, since we have been here four days, and have had such an amazing time!

With a couple of rainy days predicted, we splurged on a nice hotel suite with a waterfront location and a 270 degree view. We also took the opportunity to explore the end of the road to the South, and discovered Hole in the Wall Bar which we can guarantee is not on the cruise ship itinerary!

Ketchikan is a very cute little town, with lots of restored historic buildings (the most famous belonging to a “sporting lady” called Dolly who shared her charms with the gentlemen of the area for many years) and a bustling waterfront. The Southeast Alaska Discovery Center is quite well done, and explains the balancing act that takes place among the not-always-compatible interests that must coexist here: tourism, sport and commercial fishing, logging/lumber milling, mining, Native American culture, hunting and environmentalism.

The whole key to enjoying Ketchikan, however, is to time your visit to coincide with the departure of the last cruise ship of the day! Then you have the shops and attractions to yourself, and the locals are friendly. While purchasing some locally canned sockeye, the chatty owner told us not to miss the bears at Herring Cove (8 miles south) at low tide. First we required fortification, so we stopped at the Potlatch Bar, a watering hole recommended by Lonely Planet. This one is definitely NOT frequented by cruise ships, and true to its name, it had a large table laden with food which the patrons had brought to share potlatch-style! We then headed back south and were rewarded with a real Nat Geo moment! No more firsts, but certainly the most number of black bears (maybe 8 or 9) and eagles (probably 30-ish) in one location that we could imagine! The poor salmon were frantically trying to dart upstream through low water past the bears, and sounded like mini jet skis as they made their frantic dash to spawning grounds. Alas, the bears looked very well fed, and the eagles were happy to bat cleanup.

We’ve learned that weather can change quickly, so that cannot be a factor in determining whether to hike or not. Yesterday we set out to hike Ward Creek and around Ward Lake in rain gear, and were rewarded by blue skies at the end. I’m sure the reverse can be true as well, so we are refining our systems for what to include in our day packs.
Busy few days ahead: Ferry to Juneau today arriving on the 17th, day trip to Sitka on the 18th, full day tour of Glacier Bay on the 19th, dog sled ride and tour of Iditarod training camp on the 20th, and Mendenhall Glacier on the 21st.

Tuesday - July 19th - Glaicer Bay - Mark and I agree that probably the most vivid impression we have of the trip so far is of the VASTNESS of the wilderness! A few towns cling to the coast, but a short distance inland there are countless square miles of mountains, forests, and glaciers. Juneau, like Ketchikan, is landlocked and only accessible by air or water. These are a couple of Alaska’s larger cities (Juneau, the state capital at 30,000 and Ketchikan at 6,500), and have only a few miles of roads extending in either direction along the coast from the downtown core. Unlike Oregon, the outlying areas are sparsely populated, since there are no roads, and no services like electricity or phones.

Nothing could demonstrate this concept of vastness better than Glacier Bay National Park which we visited yesterday. This is the second largest wilderness area in the world, eclipsed only by Antarctica (according to our guide), and it is simply mind boggling.

We began our trip with a flight from Juneau to Glacier Bay in a 9-passenger plane. Weather was questionable, and at the last minute they decided they could get enough clearance for our little plane to land, so they hustled us off to our destiny. The 25-minute flight was fine, but then it came time to land and suddenly the ground was obscured by a dense cloud layer. Undeterred by this minor inconvenience, our bush pilot descended directly down through it in anticipation of having room to get his bearings and land safely below the clouds.

Well, it wasn’t quite that smooth, and when we finally burst through the clouds we were VERY close to the ground, and not lined up with the landing strip! So he initiated a steep bank to make a u-turn, and busted a move that had everyone shrieking, the sound of which mostly fell on deaf ears because the stall warning drowned it out.

Just as well that we didn’t hear the engine stall (this according to the passenger behind me who is a private pilot), and by some seat-of-the-pants piloting we landed with the rubber side down, and were quite relieved to be alive.

Sheer terror behind us (at least until time for the flight back to Juneau!), we embarked on most unforgettable boat trip into Glacier Bay.

This was truly Nat Geo from start to finish, and I don’t reference that term lightly, because our guide says the folks from NG are out on the bay as often as 4 times a week depending on weather.
Now, how to describe this magical experience?

The glaciers were awesome, but for me it was all about the wildlife. We began with many humpback whale sightings right in Bartlett Cove (of course we’re old hands at whale watching by now, so were not blown away), and then we were treated to some fine bird watching on an island populated only by birds and seals.

The ever popular tufted puffin was my favorite, and here’s a trivia question: What do you call a group of them? Answer later, but one hint is that you do not call them a flock.

The next island was ideal habitat for mountain goats because of its sheer cliffs that are not accessible to bears and wolves, and we watched a couple of mama goats with their kids lounging about.

The bay had become as placid as a lake as we got farther along, and to our delight we were able to see a couple of orcas up close. One of them had a distinctive dorsal fin that flopped over at the top, and the guide said he has been named T2 by the biologists who have been studying this population, and he is estimated to be over 50 years old.

Then we had our “first brown bear” sighting - actually four different bears, one of which was a cub. These coastal brown bears are larger than the interior grizzles, because their diet is so rich with the abundant seafood and they don’t have to work so hard to make a meal out of berries.

Another adorable creature that we saw many of was the sea otter. They have the most endearing little faces, resembling an old man, and swim on their backs while they are at the surface, cracking open their shellfish on their bellies with a rock.

Of course there were many bald eagles and seals, but by now we have come to take them for granted.

Oh yes, and we did see glaciers,one of them (Marjerie) over 25 stories high. The blue of the ice is truly a magical color, and the sound of the perpetual cracking and calving of the glaciers is phenomenal.

Safely back in Juneau after an unremarkable (thank goodness!) flight home, we collapse into our camper and look forward to a leisurely morning after so much sensory stimulation and very little sleep over the last few days. It just seems unbelievable that every day brings some new and amazing discovery.

Answer to the trivia question: You may call them a puffinry of puffins (not bad), a circus of puffins (probably due to their garish costumes), and my favorite: an incompatibility of puffins!