On My Way to Alaska

Mount Adams with Mount St. Helen’s in the background.

I left for Alaska recently from Florida. It takes 3 different flights to get there. Fortunately, my son lives in Seattle so I took two flights to get to Seattle the first day and spent the night at his new home. Then, I left for Anchorage the next day.

Whew, I’m exhausted. I’ve had to bring a lot of clothes and camera gear for my 10 days in Alaska. I’m spoiled with traveling mostly in a motor home where packing is not an issue. When I arrived in Seattle after a long flight and sitting for an hour on the Seattle runway before we got to the gate, I was tired. I took the light rail to Jason’s home which was fantastic. But, I had too much stuff to drag along. Jason picked me up at the light rail station to go the 1/2 mile to his new house.

He just purchased the home and was moving that day. It turned out to be an interesting experience. The movers were slow and didn’t finish until after midnight. I don’t know when they left because I crashed around midnight. I woke up at 3.00 a.m. in St. Augustine to fly to Seattle. So midnight was 3.00 a.m. according to my internal clock.

Pushing the slow move aside, it was great to spend time with my son and his partner. I love their new home and will visit them on my return. I can’t wait to see what they accomplish in the 10 days while I am in Alaska.

I got some pictures from the airplane. It’s tough to get decent pictures from the airplane but I tried. On my way to Alaska, I put a sweater over my head and the camera to reduce the glare on the window. As I was moving north from Seattle to Anchorage, there were too many clouds to get good picture.

I arrived in Alaska at least 4 hours before I could check into my Air BnB. I stayed at the airport and tried to occupy myself. I had a long lunch and finally grabbed an Uber to arrive a little before checkin time. I was able to get in.

The place is on the water and there is a nearby trail. I had plans to walk along the trail and take astonishing pictures but I’m pooped. I went into town to pick up some items for breakfast and decided to hit the sack early and get a good nights sleep so I can be as refreshed as possible for the next 10 days.

It is highly unlikely that I will have internet access over the next 10 days, so I will draft posts but not upload them until I get internet access.

Mount Rainier
Dogwoods are in bloom by my sons home in Seattle.
An arial view of Whistler in British Columbia
An aerial view of Anchorage taken from the arrival to the airport.
Aerial view along the coast between Seattle and Anchorage. I’m not sure exactly where but it must have been early in the flight because the cloud coverage got worse as we reached Anchorage.

Stylized Pictures

Grackle on the beach. (Stylized)

I’ve been working with my photographs to make them look like sketches, watercolors, oil paintings, etc. I’m attaching a few here so you can see some of what you can do with your photographs in post processing.

Trio of Bighorn Sheep stylized to look like a sketch.

I primarily use Adobe Light Room for basic photo adjustments. I use Photoshop to clean things up and get rid of distractions. For example, there was a chain fence in the picture above with the Bighorn Sheep that I removed. I used Topaz Studio to stylize the photos.

On a sad note, we found a bunch of Bluebird feathers under our Crepe Myrtle tree. We think a hawk got one of the bluebirds. I think it was the male. The second batch of babies fledged late last week and the male began sitting on top of the next box as if he was getting ready for a third round. He was singing a lot. There are no Bluebirds singing today. I know the hawk has to eat but it breaks my heart because we have become attached to our little Bluebird family.

Cypress knees (stylized)
Lily (Stylized)
Bumblebee gathering pollen (stylized). Made to look like a watercolor on paper.
Bumblebee gathering pollen (stylized). Made to look like a watercolor on paper.
Fiddler crab stylized to look like a sketch
Green Heron stylized to look like a sketch. (Butorides virescens)
Juvenile Barred Owl stylized to look like a sketch. (Strix varia)
Flower in New Mexico (stylized).

Rat Snake

I need to make a correction to an earlier post. I said we had a Rat Snake/Corn Snake in the house. We had a corn snake in the house. Rat Snakes are different snakes. I am working to learn Florida snakes and need to work a little harder!

Today, I saw a Rat Snake (Pantherophis alleghaniensis).

I went to the GTM Reserve today and saw the snake, some cool bugs, a tug boat pushing a crane down the intracoastal waterway and enjoyed the good weather and cool things to see.

There was an anole hanging around and displaying its dewlap. It wasn’t until I started going through the pictures that I realized the lizard was in the process of shedding its skin.

We have two racoons hanging around our neighborhood that we see regularly. They are usually on the move and around in low light conditions, so it is hard to get a picture. I finally got this picture from last evening.

The Journey Begins

Thanks for joining me!

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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Gopher Tortoise

Regis and I recently volunteered at the GTM Reserve to download some video for a research project. We encountered a gopher tortoise going in and out of the water. I thought this was unusual because I understood they might do this to get rid of ticks. But, this tortoise wasn’t staying in the water long enough to get rid of ticks. Regis thought it might be cooling off.

Gopher Tortoise

On the home front, we have bluebirds nesting in a box we placed when we moved here at the end of February.

Female Bluebird leaving nestbox in St. Augustine, Florida
These Horse Shoe Crabs are dead and probably washed up in the last high tide.
Male bluebird in our backyard ready to feed chicks.
Osprey with a fish we saw during our recent GTM volunteer effort
Fiddler crabs we saw at the GTM Reserve during our volunteering.

More Pictures from the Silver River

Common Gallinule parent with a chick on the Silver River.

We had a great time kayaking the Silver River and had more to share than we could in the last post. In this post, I want to share some of the pictures of other wildlife we saw.

A Double-crested Cormorant is feeding young birds in the nest by the Silver River in Florida

My favorite experience on the trip was watching the Juvenile Double-Crested Cormorants play. I didn’t realize that young birds play, so it was amazing to me to watch these birds play together. Sometimes one would just play with a stick. Sometimes 2-3 birds would play with a piece of grass and do a “tug of war” thing.

Two Juveniles Cormorants playing along the Silver River in Florida.
Two Juveniles Cormorants playing along the Silver River in Florida.
Two Juveniles Cormorants playing along the Silver River in Florida.
Three Juveniles Cormorants playing along the Silver River in Florida.
Three Juveniles Cormorants playing along the Silver River in Florida.
Common Gallinule swimming on the Silver River in Florida
Close-up of flying insect on a flower in Silver Springs State Park in Florida
Double-crested Cormorants building a nest in a tree along the Silver River.
Pair of Wood Ducks on the Silver River in Florida.
American alligator hiding in the vegetation on the Silver River in Florida.
Immature Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea) feeding on the Silver River in Florida
Wood Duck mother and her duckling on the Silver River in Florida. Notice the turtle head peaking out of the water on the left.
Anhinga parent trying to feed three fledglings along the Silver River in Florida.

Underwater at the Silver River

Kayak trail on the Silver River in Silver Springs State Park in Florida.

We spent a couple days camping at Silver Springs State Park so we could go kayaking on the Silver River. On the way to the campground, the check engine light came on in the motor home. When we arrived at the campground and disconnected the Jeep, the check engine light came on in the Jeep. Jeezy peezy!

By the second day, the light went out in the Jeep. But, we left a day early because Regis could not resolve the motor home issue. The motor home is currently in the shop.

We got three kayaking trips in. We arrived late in the afternoon on the first day and wanted to kayak after dinner. Thunderstorms rolled through, so we nixed that plan.

We went kayaking the morning and late afternoon of the second day and the morning of the third day before we brought the ailing motorhome back.

After our first morning kayak run, we came back to the motorhome and got lunch. While making lunch, I told Regis it sounded like a bird was in the motor home. We didn’t see a bird in the motorhome, so we went on with our day. Later in the afternoon, Regis noticed a wren exiting from underneath one of the slides. He found this nest and it was less than 24 hours after we had arrived at the campsite!!

Wren nest under the slide in the motor home.

There were lots of baby birds. Baby Anhingas and Double-crested Cormorants were plentiful. We also saw baby Common Gallinule chicks. The baby Anhingas and Gallinule chicks were not very cute. It’s incredible those ugly little things grow up to be lovely birds.

Baby Common Gallinule
Baby Anhingas in the nest with Dad providing food.

Regis got a bunch of underwater video. He holds the camera in the water while kayaking. The first video is Double-crested Cormorants swimming under water. There were three young birds hanging around together and sometimes playing tug of war with pieces of grass. When you see one floating on the water, notice it sticking its head in the water to look around.

Juvenile Double-crested Cormorants playing with a piece of grass.

The second video is an underwater view of an American Alligator swimming. We heard an alligator bellowing and Regis went to track it down. We saw several small alligators on our three trips, but the one swimming in the video was probably the biggest one we saw.

The last video is some of the other life under water in the Silver River. There are lots of fishes and turtles under there. Occasionally, you see a Cormorant swim by.