Alaska – Trip of a Lifetime

In August of 2013, my husband and I took our adventures to Willow, Alaska. Arriving in Anchorage, we started the drive north. We knew a lot about Mt. McKinley, but never imagined the numerous other mountain ranges. All around us were spectacular views. We arrived at our cottage late in the evening, but of course it was still light out! Here is Roger the next morning enjoying the view of the Willow River:

Roger enjoying the view of the Willow River

Roger enjoying the view of the Willow River


The Willow River

The Willow River


Our cabin on the Willow River

Our cabin on the Willow River


The next day, we drove up to Talkeetna. We were hoping the get a view of Mt. McKinley which you can see from here on a clear day, but it was not to be. There are a lot of nice shops and we bought a few gifts to bring home.
Roger and I along the Talkeetna River

Roger and I along the Talkeetna River


The next day we hired a guide to catch some rainbow trout on the Willow River. I was just hoping to catch one – since my success as a fly fisherman had not been very good up until now. Were we surprised when we both caught at least a dozen that day.

Roger's first Alaskan rainbow trout

Roger’s first Alaskan rainbow trout

Another rainbow trout

Another rainbow trout

My first Alaska rainbow trout!

My first Alaska rainbow trout!

The float boat that took us down the Willow River

The float boat that took us down the Willow River

The next day we took a ride up the Mat-Su Valley to the Matunuska Glacier. A beautiful ride with mountains surrounding us:

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The Matanuska Glacier

The Matanuska Glacier

The Matanuska Glacier

The Matanuska Glacier

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Another float trip! We thought the first one was amazing. This one was even better. Roger and I had a double header and mine almost took all my line!

Roger catching another one!

Roger catching another one!

Another beauty!

Another beauty!

I am just loving this!

I am just loving this!

Another one on the fly!

Another one on the fly!

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Beautiful drive to the Independence Mine site. There is a museum that explains the history of the area

Beautiful drive to the Independence Mine site. There is a museum that explains the history of the area


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Independence Mine

Independence Mine

One of the old bunkhouses

One of the old bunkhouses

View from the Independence Mine

View from the Independence Mine


Our next day we took a trip to the Cook Inlet and Mr. Alyeska. It was a short trip to the top and fabulous views of the Cook Inlet; however none of the restaurants were open in the morning. So I went down to the hotel and had some coffee there.
Cook Inlet

Cook Inlet

Flowers on the mountain

Flowers on the mountain

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View from the top

View from the top

View from the tram

View from the tram

Tram

Tram

Museum at the top

Museum at the top

View of Glacier from tram

View of Glacier from tram

View from the tram

View from the tram

On our last evening in Alaska, we celebrated by going to Settler’s Bay Lodge for dinner. They have a gorgeous view of the mountains – you can eat outside on a nice day – and the food was excellent.

Captured this photo of Denali from Willow

Captured this photo of Denali from Willow

View from Settler's Bay Lodge in Wasilla

View from Settler’s Bay Lodge in Wasilla

A vacation we will never forget!!

Blue Cypress Lake

Blue Cypress Lake in Florida is where hundreds of osprey nest in the spring. I took these photos while kayaking.
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Osprey 7

The Vierra Wetlands in Vierra, Florida is a great place to see birds and alligators. You can walk or drive around the ponds.
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Stormy Morning

In August, 2011, my husband and I met our daughter, her husband and son just north of West Yellowstone. We had fun exploring Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. We didn’t realize how large the parks were. We spend 10 days hiking and fishing and exploring and still did not see it all. We did see many animals including bison, elk, wolves, a coyote, a moose and even a bear. We were hiking on a well-traveled trail in the Grand Tetons and just ahead of us, going up a hill, was a large brown bear. Luckily it decided to go off into the woods so we could continue on the trail. We also took some side trips to Virginia City, Nevada City and Cody, Wyoming.

Bison

Elk

Wolf

View from our Cabin

Blue Spring

Yellowstone Falls

Grand Tetons

A great hiking area just south of Bainbridge in Chatahoochee, Florida is the Angus Gholson Nature Park, named for Chatahoochee’s world renowned botanist. Angus Gholson has spent his life exploring the rugged ravines of the Apalachicola River in search of unusual plants.

Angus Gholson Nature Park is a short hike; however, it leads you through various terrains. The trail begins at Chattahoochee Spring, where residents used to swim in a pool that was created from the overflow from the spring. This pool is no longer in use. The park has some deep ravines leading down to the Apalachicola River. Starting in February, you will find trout lilies and trillium. While walking the trail in April, I saw many red Indian Pink flowers lining the trail.

The park has a number of young torreya trees. Torreya trees were subject to a blight, so there are not very many mature trees in Florida. Other trees that form a beautiful canopy on the trail are yellow popular, sycamore, hickory and Southern magnolia. Farther along, the trail flattens out with spruce pines overhead.

There are a number of wooden bridges and benches along the trail where you can stop and enjoy all the nature around you.

From US 90 in downtown Chattahoochee, take Morgan Avenue south. It goes down a steep hill and makes a long curve. Park Street is to your right along the curve, with a sign for the nature park. At the parking area are restrooms and picnic tables that are under a covered pavilion. There are no fees to use the park. The trails are considered moderately difficult.

   

Leon Sinks Geological Area is an area where rain and groundwater have dissolved the limestone to form sinkholes, swales and underground caverns.   The sinkholes are openings to the Floridan aquifer. I did a hike here with the Florida Trail Association in the fall of 2011 and again in the spring of 2012. There are some beautiful sinkholes here as you can see by the photo I have included. In the spring there are also some beautiful native azaleas in the swamp area. There are three trails: the Sinkhole Trail which is 3.1 miles; the Gumswamp Trail which is 2.3 miles; and the Crossover Trail which is .5 miles and connects the other two trails. All trails are unpaved. In March you will see dogwoods in blossom and in April and May the magnolias are in bloom. Other trees growing in this area are red and white oak, tupelo, hickory, ash, maple and beech. Leon Sinks Geological Area is just south of Tallahassee. There is a $3 entrance fee; however, they also accept Golden Age, Golden Access and Golden Eagle passes.