Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn. ~ John Muir

My Journey and Adventures in Alaska ~

Hello everyone!

Sorry for the delay in posting this, but it has been a long, and crazy week getting settled back in Wisconsin, but I started this last week while on vacation and just never had time to finish it. David and I got busy meeting up with friends, and spending quality time together before I left for Wisconsin late Saturday evening.

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Presently here in Alaska the weather is – simply GorGeous!  I am sitting outside of David’s place enjoying blue skies, soft puffy clouds, and temperatures in the upper 50s and lower 60s. Tomorrow it’s predicted it will get around the 70 degree mark with same blue skies and perfect conditions to spend the day shooting!  We will be meeting up with friends for dinner, and bonfire, not to mention sunset pictures perhaps along the Sustina River again, otherwise we will find another hotspot!  Either way, my last “full” day here is going to be a wonderful time, and this chapter of my journey “Northward” is just the beginning of many new paths to cross in my lifetime.

The last couple of weeks have been extremely busy, relaxing, amazing, incredible and life-changing here in Alaska. Words cannot describe the feelings I have, which I’ve never felt before and will not let go. My life has been looking for this for a long, long time and I’m finally happy with what I have found and continue to explore! Good things happen to those who wait, and when the time is right it will happen to you in unexpected ways that will simply make you smile. David and I have been blessed with a strong connection on many levels of values and morals in our lives, and we continue to discover more each day. I am going to summarize the events and explorations we have done in the last couple weeks, along with some new photographs. :)   Enjoy!

On our way back to Wasilla on Sunday from Homer, we stopped along the Old Sterling Highway and found a very serene resting spot at Kenai Lake. Grabbed our camera gear and shot a few images while relaxing for a bit before continuing our drive back home.   The water was turquoise blue in light hues, and made excellent color combination with the brilliant blue skies with puffs of bright white clouds we had that day.

Kenai Lake, along the Old Sterling Highway - very peaceful spot located within the Kenai Mountain Peninsula.

The week following our long-weekend in Homer was simply relaxing at home, making some delicious dinners together and enjoying the long days of sunlight. I took a day or two to head into Anchorage w/David to shoot for the day while he was working. I was in the mood for black and white photography, so I aimed my camera at various mountain ranges along the Turnagain Arm and Cook Inlet. Here is my favorite shot, as I hope to get this printed as well.

Turnagain Arm facing towards the Chugach Mountain Range

Last weekend we took a road trip to the Eastern interior of Alaska, along the Glenn Highway. The main highway system that leads many tourists/adventurers/RV’s into the state from the Yukon Territory of Canada. This part of Alaska is stunningly beautiful and very different terrain and mountainous areas as well as the famous Matanuska Glacier and river.

We had interesting weather on our drive “East” .. first it was sunny and just a few clouds in Wasilla, and about half way to Matanuska it started to rain. We thought we’d be in for some icky weather once we got closer to Matanuska, but boy were we wrong, it turned out to be beautiful! Sunny and puffy clouds in the sky.  We made a stop along the Glenn Highway to snap some shots of Gypsum Mountain – here is a few to share.

Gypsum Mountain - Glenn Highway, Alaska. Beautiful patterns of colors with the bright blue sky made excellent photography conditions.

A close up shot of Gypsum Mountain, showing the various colors and patterns embedded within the ridges.

As we continued our drive eastward within the Chugach National Forest – the land and environment is so vastly different from the coastal regions. It is just as scenic as anywhere else here in Alaska – there is NEVER a dull view. Its massive mountain ranges hover all over wherever you go – even some parts on the Glenn Highway it does flatten out to resemble a unique looking forest of trees, and openness of beauty.  We finally reached our destination of the famous Matanuska Glacier/River area – and what a sight to see! Let me say, it is one big a$$ glacier! Wow. Yet, Child’s Glacier is one of the biggest in the world, and Matanuska Glacier made me feel smaller than a dang shrimp. :)  David and I eventually hiked our way down the glacier, onto the main body of ice – and what a feeling that is!  I never had so much fun on this  historic piece of ancient land – and David and I thoroughly enjoyed it!!! I managed to climb down a crevasse 4-5 feet deep to be “surrounded” by glacier ice, and within a melting stream of glacial water, jumped across a stream numerous times, to even getting my hands wet and dirty from playing with the ice bits and glacier stilt. :)  Life is a blast when you let go of the ropes and let it guide you on adventures you will never regret.  Here are a few shots I took on the glacier…

Glacier melt stream on Matanuska Glacier - blue hues are stunning to experience with your eyes.

Wide angle shot of the Matanuska Glacier - beautiful!

We hiked on the glacier for a good 3-4 hours that afternoon, and we sure enjoyed it, and will be DO that again in the future. :) We made our way back home to Wasilla that evening, and the drive home was perfect. Sun was shining, and comfortable temperatures to enjoy. Then on Sunday we decided to take a road trip up to Talkeetna to see the famous Mount Denali/McKinley. We fell in love with Talkeetna, it is a very quirky and cute town with many small shops and a few eateries. We had a delicious lunch, walked through the small shops browsing around for gifts to take back home. Saw MANY neat home-made gifts, as well t-shirts, hoodies and hats.  Before we arrived in Talkeetna, we stopped along at a viewing point to see Denali WAY in the distance, but she was as grand as ever. We did some macro shooting of some interesting plant life, I never shot macro photography much until now. I love this technique, very fun and yet challenging. :)  Here is an image I managed to get … pretty neat. :)

This could be early lupine, a beautiful wildflower that is famously seen in Alaska's wildlands.

We stopped at the Talkeetna Lodge and Resort to get a better view of Denali, and again .. WOW!! She is just majestic to look at and I could have easily stared at the Alaska Range for hours. However, the clouds were not cooperating with us, so we decided to head back home and try next time, which would be Monday evening as the weather appeared to be much better for viewing Denali. We had a relaxing evening at home and David made us dinner, and we worked on some images.

Monday evening arrives, and we had awesome weather that day, so we made our way up to Denali once again. We stopped at a viewing point just south of Denali National Park, and my jaw dropped once again. :)  I tried my first panoramic image of Denali, and it came out pretty good for a beginner. I have yet to work on finishing it and will post it as soon as I am done.  We were there for a good hour or so, and we then decided to head back home as it was getting late.

Now, heading back to Wasilla was a gorgeous drive, and a very surprising one. I kept my eye on the sky for any hint of a sunset for us to shoot, I saw this hint of pink in one soft cloud above us .. I said, “David, I think we have the beginning moments of an amazing sunset, we should pull over.”  We had planned to go to Willow for this sole purpose, but we knew we had to pull over NOW to capture its colors and light.  We found a spot within minutes of deciding to shoot this sunset, as we walked down to this grassland/mossy area .. guess what we saw? Denali/McKinley in the distance AND this amazing sunset! Ohmigod! We couldn’t believe it! We picked the perfect spot, at the perfect time. We hurriedly got our gear set up and boom, we were shooting away and witnessing this gorgeous sunset together. It was just awe-inspiring, and I couldn’t have been happier to share it with David by my side. :) He worked on a panoramic of the sunset, while I did some regular shots – and I shot well over 50 images, but managed to save a few that got the right color and exposure. Here are a few to share.  You can see David’s amazing panoramic on his website at SixtyOneNorth LLC . PLEASE take the time to review his website and journal posts, you won’t be disappointed, I promise. :)

Beautiful sunset with Mt. Hunter (left) and Denali (right).

Here is an image of all 3 major mountains in the Alaska Range, from left to right - Mt. Foraker, Mt. Hunter and Mt Denali.

The final week in Alaska was just as fun, relaxing, and enjoyable as can be. I spent a few days at home relaxing and getting some things ready to head back home. A couple of days I went into Anchorage w/David to shoot for the day as well do some last minute shopping.  Friday night we met up with our dear friends, Tim and Marci at Moose’s Tooth for dinner, and what a blast that was! We were there for a good 3-4 hours whoopin it up and having the best pizza ever! Afterwards we went up to their house for a huge bonfire, S’mores and awesome conversations and tons of laughter around the fire. GOOD TIMES! We called it good at 2 a.m. and there was still a hint of lightness in the sky, again LOVE IT! Saturday morning comes, and that evening was the time I fly out back to Wisconsin. Needless to say, David and I had another beautiful day together, we spent it hiking, rock climbing and had ourselves a picnic at our favorite spot, Bird Point. :)  I honestly did not take one picture that day – I was simply enjoying our time together, and being a model for David while he did some shooting of his own. :)  Being a model photographer is a TON of fun! I think about this day, and every day I have experienced in Alaska when I have the chance. It brings me tears of happiness, and what can I say, Alaska and David both have stolen my heart, as well gave my heart a home full of adventure, love, fun, laughter, and many smiles.  This journey is not over – it’s just begun for myself, and for the both of us.  If you ever have the chance of a journey in life, don’t hesitate – DO IT!  This journey has helped me find my calling in life – and I’m truly happy and in love and full of this great immeasurable feeling I call: Life Is Good. :)

I thank you for taking the time to read this journal post, and there are many more to come in the future. For now, it is the Memorial Day holiday weekend I will take the time to simply enjoy my time with family, the pooches, and be outdoors in the gorgeous sunshine and warmth.

To me a lush carpet of pine needles or spongy grass is more welcome than the most luxurious Persian rug. ~ Helen Keller

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2 responses

  1. Ren

    You’re making me miss home more than ever now! What an awesome, life-changing experience. Your photography is amazing and totally inspirational! Rock on girl.

    ~~“There’s something about north,” he said, “something that sets it apart from all other directions. A person who is heading north is not making any mistake, in my opinion.”
    “That’s the way I look at it,” said Stuart. “I rather expect that from now on I shall be traveling north until the end of my days.”~~

    May 29, 2010 at 10:31 AM

  2. taylorsoutback

    Terrific post, Jena – and your images define the colors of Alaska – that special turquoise blue water, the white snow on the mountains and all the varieties of colored rocks…good job and looking forward to the next chapter!

    June 2, 2010 at 4:28 PM

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