Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Last Frontier... kinda...

After sailing into Virginia and spending time with family and friends on the US East Coast - it was time to head west.  The 90 degree temps on the Chesapeake were a little much for us and we were excited to catch up with Baxter's sister and her family.

So, off we went to Alaska.  We drove to Atlanta, flew to Seattle, then another flight to Juneau, spent the night in Juneau and took a ferry to Haines the next morning.  The ferry ride gave us amazing views of the Inside Passage with light houses, dolphins, seals, sea lions and glaciers along the way.  Wow - we were loving every minute.

We spent the next week in Alaska hanging out with Baxter's parents, his sister, her husband and their three boys.  Baxter's oldest nephew was graduating from high school and the youngest was graduating from middle school.  The ceremonies were the same in many respects - advancing from one stage in life to another, preparing for a bright future and becoming more independent.  Baxter's nephews are amazingly talented and performed at both graduations - a trio at the high school graduation and his youngest nephew performed a guitar solo of "No Woman, No Cry" at his middle school ceremony.  Both performances were exceptional and we were so glad we could be there to see them.

Since we were in the middle of this amazing natural environment, we also wanted to take maximize the adventure aspect.  We chartered a Dehavilland Beaver from Mountain Flying Service and Paul took us from Haines out towards Glacier Bay with views of the Fairweather Range.  One of the coolest moments was to land atop Boundary Glacier.  Just as the skis of the plane set down, the sun came out and the sky was the coolest shades of blue I have ever seen with puffy clouds and mountain peaks all around.  It was amazingly majestic and surreal.  We walked around on the glacier where very few people have walked - ever - and then it was time to hop back in the plane and take off again.  The skis rolled over the top of the glacier until we reached rotation speed and the plane lifted gently back into the air where the wings were level with the peaks and at some point, it felt like I could reach my arm out of the plane and touch the mountains.  We toured around a few more glaciers including areas where Teton Gravity Research films ski movies and then on to Bertha Glacier.  Words cannot describe the beautiful scenery so if you're ever in Alaska, it is worth every penny to take a flight and experience nature from a different perspective.

We also decided we wanted to take a tour of the American Bald Eagle Foundation and the local distillery, bringing home our own bottle of absinthe, because - well, why not?  

It was soon time to head out and reverse the route we took - taking a ferry to Juneau, spending the night there, a flight to Seattle, another flight to Atlanta, pick Kala up from summer "camp", and then a drive back to Virginia.  We had been playing while we were in Alaska but back aboard Terrapin we were reminded of the projects that were on our "to-do" list and we knew they were not going to finish themselves - we better get back to work.

Having fun on the ferry heading north through the Inside Passage - who cared that it was raining and cold.
A beautiful waterfall in the forest right in Anne Marie's backyard.
The view from Anne Marie's back porch.
As we drove down the street, we saw this Bald Eagle so we stopped to take pictures.  A common sight on the streets in Haines.
Sweet Stikine!  
Misty girl - who doesn't care where she sleeps and ends up flopping out of bed most of the time.
DeHavilland Beaver
SE Alaska maps in the hangar at Mountain Flying Service.
This is going to be an adventure to remember.
Looking for bears, moose and mountain goats.
Beautiful sunny skies with amazing colors and puffy clouds.
We came in for landing just to the left of the pic...Can't believe the landing can be so smooth on skis.
Baxter's Dad securing the plane
Bertha Glacier - we flew all the way to the icefall at the top of the glacier.
At the American Bald Eagle Foundation, we were fortunate enough to have the raptor trainer give us live demonstrations - even letting us take a pic with a Great Eurasian Eagle Owl.
All dressed up for graduation.
Baxter helping his mom and sister with dinner.
Sitting around the table laughing and sharing family stories.
The BEST bread in Haines - notice the latitude & longitude on the bottom.
Touring the distillery
By tour, we mean tasting...Vodka, gin, bourbon, rye and absinthe.
And a bottle of absinthe to go
View of Haines from the water.
Greg took us out to set a crab pot - as a sailor that makes me twinge just a bit but I soon get over it.  That is halibut head and salmon roe used as bait.
Misty as First Mate

The three boys at high school graduation
A cruise ship leaving Skagway

An Island Packet looking very small on the Inside Passage
The ferry dock in Haines.
Dickinson Glacier
Eldred Light
Goodbye Haines!  Hope to see you soon!  This ferry was so fast - averaging 32 knots/hour (in comparison, Terrapin averages about 6 knots/hour)
One day this might be Terrapin sailing north...maybe.

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