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While visiting Creamer’s Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge we attended a short talk and demonstration on hawks and falconry given by two of the local residents. They had their beautiful birds on hand. I believe the bird shown above is a red-tailed hawk, although I’m not 100% sure about that.
The birds were hooded and carried on thick leather gloves, as expected. The owner of the hawk gave us a display of how the hawk flies and tries to catch prey while in flight.
(Releasing the hawk, Fairbanks)
Once unhooded and untethered, the hawk took to the air and began soaring, elegant and graceful. A leather decoy was whipped about and the hawk repeatedly caught it.
The display ended when a bald eagle …
The story of Alaska’s state flag is an interesting one, well worth sharing. Additionally, the Alaskan flag is elegant in its simplicity.
A contest was held in 1927 to select a design to be used for the Alaska Territory’s flag (up to that point, only the US flag was flying since the territory was purchased from Russia). The winning entry was from Benny Benson, a native Alutiq orphan. Benny designed the flag when he was just 13 years old and in the 7th grade, and he won a $100 prize. Benny was living in an orphanage in Seward, his mother having died of pneumonia when he was 3 years old. Alaska was not to become the 49th state for another 32 …
An excellent restaurant to consider when visiting Seward is Ray’s. Situated on the city’s beautiful harbor, it offers terrific views of the boats as they move about and the mountains of the Kenai peninsula. Ray’s has been a winner of the Alaska Best Restaurant Award.
The seafood was so good at Ray’s that we ate both dinners we were in town here.
(Click on thumbnails to enlarge, right arrow to advance slideshow)
The village of Hope lies at the northern end of the Kenai Peninsula, on the south shore of the Turnagain Arm of Cook Inlet. You can reach this community by driving the 17-mile (27 km) Hope Highway, a branch off the Seward Highway, so it’s a place you need to make an effort to visit. But the drive is nice and you’ll find a pleasant town at the end of the trip.
The first gold rush in Alaska happened right here in Hope — a few years before the Klondike and Nome goldrushes. News of the gold find in Hope reached Seattle and in 1895 some 3,000 stampeders arrived to make their fortune, many of them rowing part of the way …
Seward rests on the eastern edge of Alaska’s beautiful Kenai peninsula, on Resurrection Bay. The town is named for former U.S. Secretary of State, William H. Seward, who coordinated the purchase of Alaska from Russia in 1867.
Seward is not a large town, with a population of less than 3000. What it lacks in number it makes up in character. People living here are a hearty bunch who take great pride in their community. They mostly work in the commercial fishing or tourism industries.
Seward is the starting point of Alaska’s popular Iditarod dog race, mile 0 being on the town’s south shore. For a small community, I found a lot of interesting street art and signs during my wanderings in the …
We planned our latest visit to Alaska to coincide with the salmon spawning season because this is when large numbers of Alaskan brown bears migrate to the rivers and streams to begin a feast, fattening themselves for the upcoming winter hibernation.
It had been a nearly rain-free and warm summer in Alaska and many of the streams were dry. Fortunately Devil’s Falls, which drains glacier melt from the mountains of Katmai National Park, was in full flow. The base of the falls is only a few meters above sea level but, nonetheless, salmon spawn here and bears gather to catch them. Our boats could go only so far up the river during rising tide because of all the rocks in the …
It’s the dream of every photographer to capture the classic image of a bald eagle plucking a struggling fish out of the water. While we didn’t get to see that moment this time, we did see the immediate sequelae of this action while in Katmai National Park.
We came across this drenched eagle, its talons deeply embedded into the flesh of a chum salmon. The eagle had clearly been in a struggle getting this hefty fish to shore, and the fish was still flopping about a little as the bird began to feast on his fresh sushi.
This sequence of images shows the fish protectively eating his meal. While our boat was probably 10 meters from him, that was too close and …
One of the most interesting places we visited in Alaska was in the small village of Eklutna. The village is little more than a tiny dot on the map, but it has an interesting spot that nicely highlights the influence of the Russian Orthodox Church on the native population of the region.
The Russian Orthodox church is arguably one of the few good things the Russians did for the native people of Alaska — the Russian legacy is generally that of exploitation of the Alaskan Natives for the furs they provided (especially popular were sea otter pelts, the animals driven to the brink extinction by Russian demand). The Church’s influence dates to the 18th century when the first missionaries came to …