Sunday, April 23, 2017

Anchorage again, and Whittier too!

 Husband had another work conference in Anchorage last week so I tagged along for fun. The weather was pretty perfect, sunny and in the high 40s / low 50s all week (around 10*C for my Canadian readers). Since we had explored Anchorage on our last trip there, we didn't do much in town. One of husband's co-workers told him about Jack and Notch, two bald eagles that are housed on the Air force base. One night we wandered over for a visit. These eagles have been on JBER for over 20 years! Neither bird can survive in the wild: Jack has one eye (one eyed Jack), and Notch has a notched wing (I think his name is pretty self-explanatory). I have never been this close to a bald eagle before. They are beautiful animals.

Once his conference was over for the week, we headed down the Seward Highway, driving along the Turnagain Arm to Whittier. Thankfully it was a clear day. This drive never disappoints. The views are always amazing.

To get to Whittier, you have to go through a one-lane tunnel. The tunnel is the longest combined train and highway tunnel in North America. They have a system where the cars coming out of Whittier come on the hour and cars going into Whittier go on the half hour. Of course, that schedule gets delayed if a train happens to come through.

Because it isn't tourist season yet, pretty much everything in Whittier was closed. We took a short walk out by the water, snapped a few pictures, and made our way back through the tunnel.

Can you see the blue from the glacier?

After leaving Whittier, we drove back down along the Turnagain Arm, headed back to Anchorage. We stopped to watch some seagulls at Potter's Marsh Bird Sanctuary. The swans were back as well, but they were too busy sticking their heads under the water looking for food to pose for a picture. 

Our drive back home was full of excitement when we saw 3 bald eagles hanging out together in some trees on the side of the highway. I have only seen a bald eagle in the wild once so this was a cool experience for me. We were blessed with a clear day, which meant clear views of the mountains for most of the drive. We stopped to get our pictures with Denali in the background. Interesting side note here: I recently learned that there is something called the 30% Club. The 30% refers to the percentage of people who come to Alaska and actually see Denali. I didn't realize that so few people see the mountain during their travels here. We have driven through Denali Park 6 times, and have seen Denali all but one of those times. This is definitely one of the perks of living here. If we don't get to see something during a trip, we can always go back to see it another time. While we were stopped for pictures of Denali, a bald eagle flew overhead. Husband turned to me and said "It doesn't get much more Alaskan than that." Much to our surprise though, our drive got "more Alaskan" when Husband spotted a moose, snacking on some grass on the side of the road. 

 Can you see the second eagle?

As you can see, it is always an adventure for us when we head down to Anchorage. We never know what we are going to encounter. Maybe next time we will see a bear!