Weekly Photo Challenge – The GRAND State of Alaska
“This grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never dried all at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor is ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal dawn… each in its turn, as the round earth rolls.”
Cheri has challenged us this week to demonstrate “grand” by including captures with the “wow” factor 🙂 – don’t you just love that?! As I thought about the concept, I kept coming back to one of my favorite adventures. Some years ago, my husband and I journeyed to Alaska – a land of immense, wide-open spaces and vistas that just don’t quit. Here are some of my favorite memories of that trip.
“I love all things, not only the grand but the infinitely small.”
We traversed Alaska by plane, by train, by car and by boat. The distances between locations were huge, but the scenery was so spectacular that the hours of transit were as interesting as the destinations. We spent a week on a small-boat cruise that went deep into the glaciers, such that we saw long views, close-ups of calving, and many creatures of the sea such as seals and puffins. I’m not sure what impressed me more, the seals who seemed able to balance on the smallest chunks of floating ice, the pure, deep blue color of the ice crevasses or the roar of the icebergs as they crashed into the sea.
“The grand and the simple. They are equally wonderful.”
Marjorie P. Hinclkey
Alaska is truly a “Land of the Midnight Sun”, and when the sunset finally arrived sometime after 11 pm, it was spectacular. Here, one of many such moments, this one shared with the fin of a beautiful whale. Many whales came very close to us – at one point a giant humpback whale breached right next to our zodiac boat – I was so startled I almost fell overboard. Needless to say, my long zoom lens was totally the wrong choice even if I hadn’t been too excited to shoot!
“Life is one grand, sweet song – so start the music.”
My husband loves to fly-fish so we spent several days fishing for salmon and trout in the lakes, rivers and streams of the more remote areas of the state. We did “float-fishing” where a pilot flies you in a small plane until he spots a school of fish. He then lands the plane on the water and coasts to the shore, where you throw in your lines. When you’ve caught enough fish, if you’re lucky you cook them over a fire on the beach and enjoy some of the freshest seafood ever! Of course, we weren’t the only ones interested in the fish. There were many grizzlies very nearby who clearly had fine-tuned their salmon catching skills much more carefully than we had. Fortunately for us, they were so intent on the large quantities of available fish that they had little interest in the other fishermen nearby 🙂
“The essence of life is not the great victories and grand failures, but the simple joys.”
Jonathan L. Huie
For me, the scenery we flew over was even more fantastic than the fishing:
“Live it well and this life can be grand.”
I’ll close with a bit of a sad tale. When we arrived at Denali National Park we were treated to a crystal clear, breathtakingly beautiful view of Mt. McKinley, the highest mountain in North America. As an aside, the mountain is formally named Mt. McKinley at the national level, but Denali (its name among the first native Alaskans) at the state level. I took a number of shots but it was very late and we had been traveling all day so I decided to call it a night. We had several more days in the park and seemingly would have plenty of opportunity for photography. Unfortunately, the clouds moved in overnight and we never saw the mountain again. Our flight-seeing trip was cancelled due to weather conditions and our one-hour flight became a 9-hour bus ride to our next connection. I later learned that, not unlike the jagged peaks of Chile’s Torres del Paine (posted here), many people who visit never see the mountain at all. In hindsight, we were fortunate we at least had that one night.
“Life would be a sorry business without ideals. With them it’s grand and great.”
Before closing I’d like to thank Cee of Cee’s Photography for awarding me a Most Influential Blogger award. Those who follow me know I don’t do awards, but I sincerely appreciate the recognition, especially from a blogger as committed and talented as Cee. So pop over and check out her blog, especially some of her creative photo challenges. When you’ve finished, head over here to see what some other bloggers thought was “grand”.