Tag Archives: travel

It was 1975…

and a very different world.

John Denver was in Alaska to film a television special in 1975, and someone thought: “Hey! Let’s have John run around a derelict mine!” In 1975, Kennecott Mines had not yet been listed as a National Historic Landmark, so I’m guessing Denver was not the only individual to run across the rooftops. One more item on the lists of things not allowed today.

The music added to the video was from a 1981 John Denver concert. Song credit, of course, goes to Hall of Famer Chuck Berry.


Seven Sleeps Away

Katmai Fashion courtesy of Katmai National Park

We are one week away from Fat Bear Week in Katmai National Park. The bears continue to put on the calories prior to the competition.

The Fat Bear Junior competition is back from last year, and will take place September 29-30.

Will Otis repeat? Can “Wide-Body” 747 land the title in 2022? Should mankind take a cue from the bears and hibernate? All your chubby, bruin questions will be answered in October.

Stay tuned.


Happy Autumnal Equinox

Dall sheep in Denali National Park


The remnants of Merbok…

…still packed quite the punch.

Graphic credit: NWS-Fairbanks

The western coast of Alaska was pummeled over the weekend by the remnants of Typhoon Merbok. Sustained winds over 50 mph, with gusts over 90; 50 foot waves and a storm surge 15 feet above high tide left many evacuating to higher ground.

Image credit: NOAA

It was the worst storm our Western Coast has experienced in 50 years, and it has been 70 years since a storm this fierce hit in September.

Front Street, Nome, Alaska; Image credit: S.Kinneen

To its credit, The National Weather Service was remarkably accurate in its forecast of the storm. Several days out, the NWS was getting out the word that this was going to be a devastating flooding event. All the ingredients came together perfectly to create some “very angry seas”.

A house swept off its foundation by flood waters, stuck at the Snake River Bridge in Nome, Alaska; Photo credit: Alaska DOT&PF
From the steps of the school in Golovin, Alaska; Photo credit: Josephine Daniels

High winds have taken roofs off of buildings, one building in Nome suffered from a fire, and the storm surge has evicted hundreds. Many took shelter in schools, or to higher ground.

My favorite village of Newtok has been flooded, and many have taken to the school for shelter. The riverbank at Newtok has eroded between 10-15 feet overnight. Newtok is one of several villages in Alaska in dire need of relocation due to erosion and sinking ground.

Water levels in many flooded villages are not expected to drop until Monday, and in some cases Tuesday. The timing of the storm is particularly difficult, with winter on the horizon. The village of Shaktoolik lost its sea berm to the storm, which leaves it vulnerable to additional winter storms. The village of Chevak lost much of its fishing fleet when boats sank or were damaged in the storm.

We really have two seasons in Alaska: Winter, and Preparing for Winter. Preparing for winter in Western Alaska is now going to be a huge challenge.


Nenana in oil

Oil painting of Nenana, Alaska under the northern lights by Carl Saxild, Circa 1937

Belugas Count! 2022

After a two year hiatus, the citizen scientist event, Cook Inlet Belugas Count, is back on for 2022. The event, hosted by NOAA, will take place Saturday, September 17.

“Bleacher” a female beluga whale with her calf in the Susitna River Delta; Photo credit: Cook Inlet Beluga Whale Photo ID Project

Canaries of the Sea: Belugas are quite vocal: They chirp, squeak, click and whistle. Alaska has five populations of the white whale, and the Cook Inlet population is the only one listed as endangered. At last count, the population was thought to be around 279 whales.

Beluga whales, like humpbacks, can be identified as individuals by their natural markings. Many are known by their numbers, and a few, like the bears of Katmai, have nicknames.

Members of the public are invited to join NOAA at stations around Cook Inlet to identify and count beluga whales. The event is free and open to everyone, and families are encouraged to join the beluga celebration. Details can be found on the Beluga Count facebook page.


Fashion Week in Alaska

Cover model: Otis; Cover credit: Katmai National Park

If you think we’re an odd bunch up here in the summer, just wait for the winter months.


Chunk is back

Chunk, also known as Bear 32, has made his appearance at Brooks Falls. As usual, he is one big bear.

Fat Bear Week, the annual bruin celebration from Katmai National Park, starts this year on October 5.


September

Denali National Park to start the month

September has always been my favorite month in Interior Alaska. What a great start to the month.


“Arctic Circle”

“Arctic Circle” print by R.T. Wallen, 1978