Tag Archives: photo

The White Stuff

Denali National Park Webcam

Friday morning at the Eielson Visitor Center, Denali National Park. Elevation: 3300′.

In another weather note: As of Friday evening, Fairbanks has seen 175% of normal rainfall for the entire month of August. That puts us at the 8th wettest August since 1930, although both 2018 and 2019 had more rainfall at this point than this August.

Humpbacks of Glacier Bay

A pair of humpback whales in Glacier Bay; Photo credit: National Marine Fisheries Service

From 2014-2016, the Gulf of Alaska was hit by The Blob. A large mass of water that sat at a consistent record-high ocean temperature. A number of marine species saw a large population decline.

Humpbacks in Glacier Bay have been studied extensively since 1973. Individual whales are documented and identified by their dorsal fins and flukes. Each are unique. 2013 saw a return of 160 humpbacks to Glacier Bay, which was a record number since recording began. In 2014, the year the blob first showed itself, only 40 returned to The Bay. Some humpbacks have been returning to Glacier Bay for over 40 years.

The humpback population started to recover in Glacier Bay 2020. There were eleven calves in The Bay this year, where there were none for some of the blob years.

A curious side note: It has been reported that the humpbacks have thoroughly enjoyed having the waters of Glacier Bay almost to themselves. Or, at least without cruise ships. It has been documented that the whales have been much more vocal with each other with the absence of the large cruise ships.

No offense to anyone out there, but I am with the whales on this one. The lack of tourists has been peaceful.

22 August 1907

The south bank of the Chena River, Fairbanks, Alaska 1907


Frosty plants

It was 32F degrees at the cabin at 6am Wednesday morning. A bit early to be scraping the windshield before work, even for us. I did no plant protection, and they took a hit, but hopefully not a direct one.

The plants were covered Wednesday night.

Kotz Polar Bear

Let the sleeping polar bear lie

Kotzebue, which is on Alaska’s northwest coast, had a rare visitor over the past weekend. Word quickly traveled through town that a polar bear had wandered into the area.

The gawkers woke the bruin

It is not unheard of for Kotz to see a polar bear. In fact the world’s largest documented polar bear was found in Kotzebue in the 1960’s. That bear weighed more than 2200 pounds and stood at 11 feet. Still, it does not happen often that Kotz gets to see the great white bruin.

Time to swim away from the bear watchers

The bear this weekend, more than likely, was left stranded by no sea ice to escape to. It hung around fish camp, just outside of Kotzebue, for a while. It didn’t take long for onlookers to come out to see the bruin. People were curious, but cautious, by all accounts. Eventually, the bear took off for a swim in Kotzebue Sound, and escaped the gawkers.

Photos credit: Lt. Scott Kellerman; USCG

Tom Sadowski

I received word over the the weekend, that photographer Tom Sadowski had passed away in his home in Maine this summer.

Anyone who has perused a gift store in Alaska has seen his postcards. Those postcards, were not in the Hallmark tradition, per se, but more of a quirky, sometimes zany, and always humorous visual, of life and travel in the 49th State.

Sadowski was a long time columnist for the Anchorage Free Press, writing some 500 weekly columns. He had gone into semi-retirement only last year.

Rest in peace Mr Sadowski.

Fireweed Burning

The slippery slope has begun

Ironman goes Alaskan

Docked at Auke Lake

For the first time, the Ironman Triathlon will be taking place in Alaska in August of 2022. The capital city of Juneau will host the event.

The 2.4 mile swim will take place in Auke Lake, followed by a 112 mile bike ride, and finishing up with the 26.2 mile marathon.

Juneau does not have a road that is 112 miles long, but a course around Auke Bay has been planned by Ironman officials. The marathon will take place in the Mendenhall Valley.

The race often attracts 1500 athletes, along with their families and friends. Juneau is pretty excited about the event, and it’s a beautiful location to hold a triathlon.

Registration opens on August 16, 2021.

Great Sitkin & other rumblings

The growing lava dome on Great Sitkin; Photo credit: AVO/Dave Ward (8/4/21)

I had to share this shot from the Alaska Volcano Observatory and photographer Dave Ward. Great Sitkin has been at Level Orange and the lava dome has been growing since mid-July. According to AVO, the dome is now 100 meters across. What are the odds of having such a clear day out on Great Sitkin Island? Wonderful shot by Mr Ward.

Great Sitkin has been active most of the summer, although that lava dome build up has occurred in the last couple of weeks.

The glow of Great Sitkin at night. Photo credit: AVO/Peggy Kruse

Both Pavlof and Semisopochnoi Volcanos are also at Level Orange. Pavlof is known to erupt with little to no warning, and it is showing elevated seismic activity, and at least one ash eruption. Explosions and elevated seismic activity on Semisopochnoi Island also continues. At least one ash eruption dissipated quickly, and sulfur dioxide emissions have been detected by satellite.

Cleveland Volcano rounds things out at a Level Yellow. Some seismic activity, but no reported ash eruptions.

One Way Border

Hyder, Alaska border crossing

The U.S. – Canadian Border will be open to vaccinated residents of the United States starting today. This is what you will need to ease the strain:

  1. For anyone over the age of 12, proof of vaccination, at least 2 weeks prior to your crossing, will be needed. The Canadian Government will accept the Pfizer-BioNtech, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD vaccines. It should be noted that large cruise ships are still banned from Canadian waters, but that moratorium is scheduled to be lifted November 1. Just in time for the Holiday Cruise Season?
  2. All travelers must show proof of a negative Covid-19 test within two days of crossing.
  3. As usual, a passport is required.
  4. Travelers should fill out forms on the website ArriveCAN, and upload their vaccination information, within 72 hours of arrival at the border. Downloading the app is also suggested, since this will not be the only time many travelers will be using the site.
  5. Travelers must be asymptomatic upon arrival at the border. They will also need a quarantine plan if they develop symptoms after arriving in Canada.
  6. Random travelers will be asked to submit to an additional Covid-19 test while in Canada. Checking in with ArriveCAN will be required.
  7. Prepare for long waits. This will all take time to verify at the border, especially at first.
  8. Signing onto the site ArriveCAN if you are thinking of crossing into Canada is a must to get a feel fro what Canadian border officials are looking for. From what I have read, the site is well laid out and user friendly.

Interestingly, the U.S. Border is not open to Canadian travelers, which has small Alaskan communities frustrated. Towns like Hyder in the photo were hoping to see the border open in both directions, but that will not be the case for now.