Category Archives: geology

Yellowstone South Loop and Grand Teton

Location: Island Park, ID -> Yellowstone/Tetons -> Jackson, Wyoming

Good news: we slept in later than we had the previous mornings. Bad news: we still beat our alarms.  But waking up early allowed us to get a head start on the day, and just like our first full day in Yellowstone we needed as much time as we could get. Overall the park felt a little busier than Sunday.

As soon as we made it into Yellowstone we made a beeline for the geyser basins and started with the Firehole Lake Drive. We coincidentally arrived about a minute before the eruption of the Great Fountain Geyser. It was perhaps one of the more interesting eruptions we had seen (in Yellowstone, New Zealand, or Iceland), owing to how the water sprayed and spread out around the crater and flowed down natural terraces that previous eruptions had created over time.

Fountain Geyser
Fountain Geyser Steps

Next we went on a two mile hike along the Fairy Falls trail. Luckily we got there just before the crowds arrived. This hidden-in-plain-sight side trail goes up a hill that overlooks the Midway Geyser basin.  In the cool morning, the trail gave us a great view of the Grand Prismatic Hot Spring reflecting off the steam. The trail itself ended atop a hill which gave an overhead view of the iconic landmark.

Grand Prismatic Hot Spring steam reflections

Grand Prismatic Hot Spring

We made a quick rest stop at Old Faithful, and was coincidentally there to see it erupt again. But no pics this time. We then drove across the park and had lunch at Lake Village, before driving north again to see Sulphur Canyon. They weren’t kidding around when they named that location. The sulfur was so overpowering that it stung our eyes. But it didn’t seem to bother the bison relaxing in between bubbling sulfur pools.

Sulphur Spring
The stench of sulfur clearly didn’t bother this relaxed bison.

Our last scenic stop at the park was at the Mud Volcano, where we saw the Dragon’s Mouth.

Mud Volcano
Dragon’s Mouth

We also passed the Great Continental Divide while driving in this part of the park.  A Continental Divide is a drainage divide on a continent. The Great Continental Divide is  series of mountain ridges stretching from Alaska to Mexico, marking the separation of drainage basins that empty into the Pacific or Atlantic Oceans.

At this point, we had spent most of the day in Yellowstone and had one more park to visit. So we drove south and exited the park. We had a short and uneventful drive on the John Rockfeller Memorial Parkway before entering Grand Teton National Park.

The Tetons are renowned for the iconic views of its distinctive mountains and excellent mountain hiking trails.  The park was much more crowded than Yellowstone, and Ryan suspects that a lot of the other visitors were there in part because of the eclipse yesterday. But we aren’t exactly known for our mountain climbing skills so this wasn’t a good fit for us. Sadly, it was the middle-late afternoon and hazy so we couldn’t get many good photos of the mountains.

But we did managed to get a few photos of the mountains and take a short hike near Jenny Lake and the Laurence Rockefeller Preserve.

We also saw the shrinking Teton glacier from the distance.

Teton Glacier

We left Grand Teton in the early evening and made our way into Jackson. It was supposed to be a short drive, but we got caught in the afternoon rush hour. After checking into the hotel (yay internet, air conditioning, comfortable bed!) we walked around the artsy and expensive downtown Jackson and had dinner.

Tomorrow we visit Fossil Butte National Monument, Fort Bridger State Park (for the Oregon Trail nostalgia), and finish in Vernal, Utah with Dinosaur National Monument.

Total national park passport stamps: 8

Total times Ryan checked the weather: 0

Total steps: 13,418

Total miles driven: 226

Osprey we saw in Yellowstone today

Yellowstone National Park North Loop

Location: Yellowstone National Park

We’re still on east coast time so we woke up before sunrise this morning. Rather than trying to squeeze in a few more minutes of sleep, we elected to get the day started earlier than planned. We spent the day exploring the nothern end of Yellowstone National Park, and we needed every bit of the extra time.

Many people were thinking that the park was going to be extra busy today due to all of the eclipse tourists, with predictions of 3x-4x above normal. With a couple exceptions we didn’t have to wait long to find parking at the various sites, nor did we ever feel crowded when hiking around.

Our day began with a stop at Gibbon Falls, Beryl Spring, and Monument Geyser Basin. But our first real experience hiking and seeing the geothermal sites was at the Artists Paintpots. There we saw steam vents and bubbling mud pits.

Beryl Spring
Overlook of the Artist Paintpots
Bubbling mud pit

But we spent most the morning at the Norris Geyser Basin. We couldn’t spend all day here so we had to choose between a hike of the Porcelain Basin to see its many hot springs, lakes and pools. Or take a longer ~2 mi hike of the back basin to see its many geysers. We decided on the back basin. Some of the geyser we saw included Steamboat, Puff ‘n stuff, Minute, and Echunis.

Steamboat Geyser
Cistern Geyser
Green Dragon Spring
Echinus Geyser
Overflow from Steamboat
Minute Geyser

Our next stop took us to Roaring Mountain

Roaring Mountain

and the Mammoth Hot Springs.

From there we proceeded east into the park making our way past Tower Junction and into the Lamar Valley. Prior to entering the valley Ryan lamented about the lack of bison (and other wildlife) we have seen today. But that quickly changed as soon as we started driving through along the road through the valley. We saw dozens of bison, many of which we grazing very close to the road.

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A buck, not happy that humans are so close.

and even an osprey.

Two Osprey

For Rachel, the highlight of the day came when we got to see the Yellowstone Canyon and Waterfall. Parking and signage here was tight near the entrance so we took the first spot we could find and walked along the northern rim trail to various vantage points along the canyon. We’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Yellowstone Canyon – A basalt layer can be seen at the top as well as various ash layers (blueish-gray color).

Yellowstone Falls

We still had daylight to spare, so we went back west across the park and a bit south to visit more geysers at the lower and midway geysers basins. The most spectacular of which included the Excelsior Geyser Crater and Grand Prismatic Hot Spring.

Sputtering Geyser
Crater of Excelsior Geyser
A preview of a better picture of Grand Prismatic Hot Spring. Come back on Tuesday for a better view.

Finally, with little daylight to spare we exited the park, saw a few more mule deer by the river, and had dinner in West Yellowstone.

Young mule deer

Tomorrow we are going to watch the total eclipse in Rigby, Idaho. Yay totality!

Total steps: 24,132

Total geological formations visited: a lot!

Total times Ryan checked the weather for tomorrow: 4+ occasions of checking various weather predictions (we had no connectivity in the park).

Total national park passport stamps: 7

Total miles driven: 211

Bonus: Our first wildlife encounter of the day

Golden Spike and Geysers

Location: Salt Lake City, UT – Island Park, ID

Last night began our Eclipse and National Park trip. On Monday we plan on seeing a total eclipse in Idaho and through the week we will be visiting various national parks (Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Arches, etc).

Last night we flew into Salt Lake City, UT. This morning we picked up our rental car and drove north towards Idaho.

We made a short detour on our drive north to visit Golden Spike National Historic Site. This is site where the intercontinental railroad was completed connecting the east and west coast. Ryan as a child loved trains and always wanted to visit this site. He even brought along his train engineer hat. Rachel had no objection to the detour and it made Ryan happy. Yay trains!

The site where the intercontinental railroad was completed connecting the east and west coast.

Ryan in a train.

Then we got back on the road towards Idaho. After 3+ hours, we arrived at our home for the next 2 nights in Island Park, ID. While driving, we noticed other eclipse heading north towards the path of totality. One RV even has a sign ‘Totality or Bust.’

We didn’t spend much time at the hotel and quickly headed towards Yellowstone National Park for our first of many visits.

First wildlife spotting: Mule Deer

Our plan was to visit Old Faithful today to avoid the big crowds expected tomorrow. We arrived just in time and didn’t have to wait long for Old Faithful to do its thing.

Old Faithful
Old Faithful

Coincidentally, Rachel had a camp friend also in the area whom we met at Old Faithful and had drinks and dinner to catch up.  We also watched another eruption of Old Faithful from the Inn.
After a nice dinner, we made our way back to the hotel.

Old Faithful from the Old Faithful Inn
Old Faithful from the Old Faithful Inn

Tomorrow is an early as we plan to do the northern loop of Yellowstone. Rachel is very excited for all of the geology! Yay hot springs, geysers, and rocks!!

Total steps: 8,441

Total Miles Driven: 487 miles

Total States: 4 (Utah, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming)

Total National Park Stamps: 4

Total times Ryan obsessed over the weather forecast for Monday: 10-15 (significantly less than usual since he has been driving all day)

Spelunking Playa Del Carmen

Location: Cozumel, Mexico

Today was our second and last day in Cozumel. We booked an excursion that would take us to a nearby limestone cave on the mainland. We had to wake up pretty early this morning to take the tour, like earlier-than-the-oceanview-cafe-is-open early. Not because our excursion was particularly long, but because the Chichen Itza tour needed to leave really early, and they wanted all of the mainland tours to take and return on the same ferry.

So we left the sip at 7:00 and took the ferry across the channel to Playa del Carmen. Last year the voyage was pretty rough and lots of people got sea sick. We were extra prepared this time and wore seabands, took bonine beforehand and sat in the back of the boat. It wasn’t needed because the waters were pretty calm.

Next we met the pier guide and boarded a van to take us to “Rio Secreto” (or Secret River) site. From there we got into our swimwear (we had an option for wet suits), showered, put on life vests, hard-hats with lights, and equipped a walking stick. Then we took a short hike through the jungle to get to the cave. They claimed that we were entering the Mayan underworld, so a Mayan priest said a prayer and shook incense before us prior to going down the chasm.

This one cave is one of the largest in world, coming in about 27 miles long. There is another cave nearby which is nearly as large, if the two were discovered to be connected, then it would be the largest in the world.

We spent about 2 hours in the cave network. The only lights were from our hard-hats lights, guides flashlight, and the flash of the photographer’s camera. It could get very dark in there. We traveled about half a mile during that time and went between 20-60 feet deep. We had to navigate and climb over and between stalactites and stalagmites. And for prolonged periods we had to wade through waist-deep water. The water was comfortably cool/warm, about 75F. The path through our section of the cave, nicknamed “Happy” was generally clear. Our trek through the lava tube in Iceland was more challenging. At times our guide stopped to briefly talk about the formation of the chamber and some of the geology of the cave. Rachel occasionally added to the conversation with her geology background. During this time the group photographer would sneakily preposition himself to get pictures of us going through the cave.

You might be wondering at this point ‘Where are Rachel’s photographs?’ Well there aren’t any. We weren’t allowed to bring our cameras on this tour. We did have an option to buy photos of our tour at the end, but they weren’t the most flattering. Plus, when Ryan heard the price he asked “US Dollars or Pesos?!”. …So this post will be a little devoid of original photos. But you can see a few examples on the company’s website.

Toward the end of our journey through the cave we had to forgo hiking and actually swim through the underground river to progress through network. We were very adept at the swim, especially compared with the rest of the group.

Eventually our journey through the underground river came to an end and we made our way back to the surface. We dropped off our gear at the station then went to food-hut for lunch. An authentic Mexican buffet lunch was provided. We heeded the warming about the very hot and spicy sauces and had a mild lunch. Others in the group ignored those warnings to their own dismay.

Following lunch we were driven back to Playa del Carmen. We had about two hours here of free time before we could catch the water taxi back to Cozumel. We couldn’t leave any earlier, and we had to wait for the Chichen Itza tour to return so that all of the mainland tours could arrive at the ship at the same time.

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We spent some of this time at the beach. And even took a short break for ice cream before taking the water taxi back to the ship.

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Tonight’s entertainment was David Guidice, who performed a Billy Joel tribute on piano. Always fun.

Tonight was also lobster night. We each had two lobster tails.

Tomorrow is a day at sea and our last full day of the cruise. We don’t plan to be very active, just more of the usual. If we don’t post tomorrow, we’ll post the following day.

Free purell squirts: 3

Total steps: 10,090

Total distanced caved: ~ half a mile underground, but a quarter mile through the jungle

 

Fluke’ing up Juneau

Location: Juneau, Alaska

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Today we made port in Juneau, the capitol of Alaska. Since we are uninterested in Alaskan politics we did the usual tourist things: whale watching and visiting Mendenhall Glacier. We booked an excursion which allowed us to do both.

The first thing we did on the excursion was to go up the coast a little bit, board a boat and go searching for whales. During this season, humpbacks were the most plentiful. We spent about 2 hours on a jet boat looking at about 7-8 different humpbacks. We saw lots of stellar sea lions as well, but the tour was mostly focused on the humpbacks.

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We weren’t allowed to approach within 100 yards of a whale. But they are allowed to approach us. And one large whale came right at our boat! He swam under and joined another whale feeding near a salmon hatchery.

We're gonna need a bigger boat!
We’re gonna need a bigger boat!

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There were 2-3 whales in the area trying to corral the fish up against the rocks to make feeding easier. At the end of our tour, they even began bubble netting, but we couldn’t get any good pictures.

The second part of the excursion took us to Mendenhall Glacier. This is one of the more famous and accessible glaciers in the inner passage. But it is retreating quickly. It may not be around in 30-40 years. Not too long ago, the glacier extended past Nugget Falls (see below), today it’s more than a mile behind. We’ve seen a rapidly retreating glacier before in Iceland.

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We only had an hour here. To make the most of our time, we took different trails to get pictures. Rachel went down the Photo Point Trail because: Rachel.

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Ryan went out on the longer Nugget Falls Trails to get closer pictures of the glacier.

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A view of Mendenhall Glacier from a third of the way up Nugget Falls.

On our way back to the ship we passed by a creek with many bald and golden eagles. Yet again, we weren’t able to get any good pictures.

In the evening we saw a comedy juggling act of Wilde and James. We saw them last December on the Freedom of the Seas. It was the same enjoyable shtick as before. See our previous review here.

Tomorrow we make port in Skagway, Alaska. We won’t spend much time here though, because we will be going on a full day excursion up the White Pass and into the Yukon Territory.

Today’s Weather: High 64, Low 46, Mostly Cloudy

Sunrise: 4:05am Sunset: 9:47pm

Total Steps: 11,203 (Rachel)

 

Hubbard Glacier

Location: Hubbard Glacier, Alaska

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Today was the first of two “at sea” days of the cruise, and effectively the first “day off” we have had since our trip began. The highlight today was a scenic cruise of the Hubbard Glacier. This glacier is one of the largest in Alaska, and one of the few glaciers in the world that is actually growing, due in part to the local geography and that fact that many smaller glaciers and icefields feed into it.

We arrived into Disenchantment Bay in the middle of the day, and then spent about an hour navigating the fjord, avoiding the small pieces of ice in the waters. Eventually we arrived within a mile of the front of the Glacier. The Radiance spent about 2-3 hours here slowly spinning to allow everyone a chance to look at the glacier.

Approaching the Hubbard Glacier
Approaching the Hubbard Glacier

The weather was perfect today to observe the glacier: sunny, lower 60s and no wind. The ships “naturalist” lamented that this was the best weather he’d seen in 10 years of coming here.

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We got to see and hear lots of calving during our time at the glacier. Which was really cool, because we hadn’t seen that during our time at the Endeavour Glacier.

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Today was also the first formal night of the cruise. We got dressed up and took this photo.

You can't tell, but Ryan is not wearing shoes in this photo
You can’t tell, but Ryan is not wearing shoes in this photo

After dinner we attended a comedy show.

Tomorrow we make port in Juneau, Alaska, where we’ll watch whales and visit the Mendenhall Glacier.

Today’s Weather: High 71, Low 41, Sunny

Total Steps: 7,053

Sunrise: 4:14am, Sunset 10:18pm (and we got to see it too)

 

The Orca Super Pod at Kenai Fjord

Location: Seward, Alaska

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Today we drove from Anchorage down to Seward. It was a relatively quick and scenic drive compared with our drives of the previous two days, aided by the sunny skies. We saw a lot of bald eagles during our drive, but we didn’t stop to get any picture because we had a tight schedule to keep to go on a cruise tour of the Kenai Fjords.

We should mention that the weather was perfect today. Upper sixties, mostly sunny, very calm seas, and little wind. What a contrast from yesterday!

We boarded the Callisto Voyager around 11 and made our way out of the Resurrection Bay. As we waited for the ship to leave, we got to watch a sea otter playing around by the docks. He even escorted the ship through part of the harbor.

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Our first stop on the cruise was to look at a puffins on Hive and Rugged Islands. This was our first time seeing puffins in the wild. We were in Iceland during the wrong season to see them last year.

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Next we ventured out into the Gulf of Alaska to attempt some whale watching. It’s usually hit or miss with whale watching in this part of Alaska during this time of year. But apparently we timed it perfectly. Not only did we spot a pod of orcas coming in, we spotted several pods of orcas arriving from a far. This was the first day of orca mating season, and both local and transient pods were joining together in the Kenai Fjords to engage in reproductive activities. Some of which we actually witnessed. By the end of the day, the dozens upon dozens of orcas began swimming together as a super pod. This kind of congregation is seen only 2-3 days a year!

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We took a break from watching the orcas, and made way towards Chat Island where a colony of sea lions spend the day sunning themselves.

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The ship then proceeded to the Holgate Glacier. We spent over 20 minutes here observing the glacier. The crew even took a few small icebergs out the arm (water) so that we could feel the glacial ice and pose with pictures of it.

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Holding glacial ice

We didn’t actually get that close to the glacier, so our sense of scale was off. We would see the glacier calve, then hear the loud crack 2.5 seconds later. It wasn’t until we left the glacier and saw another similar sized ship approach later that we could get a great sense for how huge it truly is!

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Notice the ship near the base of the glacier.

Along with the glacier, there were numerous other scenic vistas and wild animals.

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Mountain goats
Mountain goats

Including our first good bald eagle picture

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On our way back to Seward we encountered a lone humpback whale tail slapping the water in the distance. We’re not sure if he was trying to attract the attention of other whales, or the tour boats. It certainly got our attention!

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When we got close, he stopped slapping his tail, and started doing pectoral slaps.

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By this point another two tour boats arrived. He kept up with the pectoral slaps for a while and then switched over to breeching! Amazing!

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After leaving the humpback whale, we encountered another large pod of orcas. This time, there was also a group of sea lions nearby. They were not happy to see the orcas (since orcas sometimes eat them), and were very vocal about it.

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Angry sea lions 'barking' at the orcas.

Angry sea lions ‘barking’ at the orcas.

We were told that on most days, the tour would be lucky to see any whales. Today we had the problem of seeing so many, so close, on opposite sides of the ship, that we had trouble keeping up with the photo taking opportunities.

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It was a fantastic tour!

On the drive back to Anchorage, we stopped to see the portage glacier.

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Tomorrow we visit the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center on our way back down to Seward. We’ll also visit the Alaska Sealife Center in town. Lastly, we kickoff the second half of our Alaska trip by boarding the Radiance of the Seas for a one week cruise.

Today’s Weather: High 69, Low 47, Mostly Sunny

Sunrise: 4:46am, Sunset: 11:09pm

Total sea mammals observed: Humpback whale, orca, sea otter, sea lion

Total puffins species observed: 2, horned and tufted

Total watercraft: 1

Total bald eagles observed: dozens

Total orcas: too numerous to count

Total steps: 5,117

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Top of the World

Location: Barrow, Alaska

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It should not surprise our regular readers that we (read: Ryan) like to go to geographical extremes on our trips. Today was the day or our trip that reached a new distance goal. Our destination today was well above the Arctic Circle: Barrow, Alaska, the northernmost part of the United States.

Currently Barrow is experiencing 24 hr daylight. This served to really mess with our internal clocks and calendars. But it’s also a great deterrent for vampires.

Just like previous days, we woke up pretty early to catch a flight. We got to the airport, then took a plane north toward Prudhoe Bay. We hoped to be able to get some good pictures during the flight, but because of the clouds (and the fact that we were on the starboard side of the plane) we were unable to see Denali. We arrived at Prudhoe Bay, Alaska without incident. We had a short stop where some passengers deplaned and a few more got on board. We didn’t even have to change seats. After another 35 min flight we arrived at Barrow.

We arranged a tour with the Top of the World hotel. They picked us up at the airport, and then took us to the hotel to see local Inupiat dancers. After the show, we went for a tour of town.

We got to see many of the highlights of the town, the whale bone arches and any other whale bone artifacts, ice cellar (where whale meat is stored), the smurf turf high school football field (as seen on ESPN), and the northernmost bridge in the world.

Whale bone arch
Whale bone arch
Blue astroturf football field.
Blue astroturf football field.

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We even got to see the Barrow palm trees, made up of driftwood and baleen.

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The tour took us to northernmost point of the US road system. We got out here to touch the Arctic Ocean. With this stop we have now visited all five of the worlds oceans (North and South Atlantic, North and South Pacific, Indian, Southern, and Arctic). From here we could also see Point Barrow, the northernmost point in the US, a few miles off in the distance. Because of the constant threat of polar bears, and presently unfavorable terrain, we weren’t able to actually make it to the point. We made it as far as 71.357353 N, 156.538716 W,  close enough though.

Point Barrow
Point Barrow
Touching the Arctic Ocean
Touching the Arctic Ocean
Touching the Arctic Ocean
Touching the Arctic Ocean

Afterwards we went to see some whaling boats. The locals have a tightly regulated indigenous whaling culture. The whaling techniques are essentially unchanged for thousands of years, including the use of seal skin paddle driven longboats, and hand thrown harpoons.

Whaling boat
Whaling boat

All along the tour we were on the lookout for wildlife. We didn’t see any polar bears, but we did see some seals out on the ice. We were too far to get pictures good enough to post here. Near the end of hte tour we ventured out into the Tundra to look for snowy owls. The original name for the area, Utqiaġvik, actually translates to “place to hunt snow owls”. We found one, and Rachel got some pictures.

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We were also taken to the grocery store, just to show how expensive food is priced. $10+ for a gallon of milk, $18 for orange juice, $8 for a bag of chips. Everything has to be flown in, and foods with expiration dates can be very expensive.

The tour concluded with a stop at the Inupiat Heritage Center, where we learned more about the local culture, whaling, and Inupiat art. The Heritage Center is affiliated with the park service, and we got our National Parks passport book stamped.

Lastly we took a flight back to Anchorage. This time we were on a direct flight. Again we were on the wrong side of the plane (port) to see any mountains.

Tomorrow we visit Talkeetna and drive up to Denali.

Today’s weather: High 41, Low 29, Overcast

Sunrise: NA (3:00am May 10), Sunset: NA (1:52am August 2)

Total flights: 3

Total Oceans seen: 2 (Pacific, Arctic)

Northernmost point: 71.357353 N

Total Steps: 10,629

The Top Of The World
The Top Of The World

Anchorage

Location: Seattle -> Anchorage

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Today we woke up at 3:30 AM to make our way to Alaska. We got to the airport, found a Starbucks in the terminal, got breakfast, then boarded the plane.  We slept the first half of the flight. But we were treated to some great airborne shots of the Chugach Mountains on our way into Anchorage. Lots of cool views of glaciers, outwash plains, and other glacial features.

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We checked into the hotel after landing and picking up our rental car. We spent about an hour settling in before we went out to explore some local Anchorage parks. Our first stop took us to the Glen Alps trail head. We took a short hike to the top of a hill and we treated to a great panoramic view of the area.

Anchorage
Anchorage
The other side of the view.
The other side of the view.

Next we went to the Kincaid sand dunes just south of the airport. Instead of parking adjacent to the sand dunes, we elected to park a little farther away and take a nature hike en route. We didn’t get to see any wildlife. After a 20 min walk we made it to the sand dune. It’s essentially a giant pile of sand and silt that gets blown in from the nearby tidal plain. It may eventually overtake the entire park. But in the meantime, it makes for a recreational area and motorcross track.

The sand dunes seen through the trees.
The sand dunes seen through the trees.
If you look closely, you can see Ryan in the upper right corner of the photo.
If you look closely, you can see Ryan in the upper right corner of the photo.
Here is a closer look.
Here is a closer look.

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The trail.
The trail.

Our last tourism stop of the day took us to Captain Cook Monument at Resolution Park, because: Ryan.

Captain Cook Monument
Captain Cook Monument

We spent the rest of the day back at the hotel, enjoying the hot tub and relaxing after a full couple of days. Tomorrow we make a day trip to Barrow, Alaska where we’ll visit the northernmost point of the US and visit the Arctic Ocean.

Today’s weather: High 55, Low 46, occasional scattered clouds

Sunrise: 4:53am – Sunset: 11:00pm

Total parks: 3

Total flights: 1

Cape Agulhas

Location: Cape Agulhas

We were in our usual vacation mode today, by waking up early to go on a tour. Wayne was our guide again and today he was taking on a tour to see Cape Agulhas. The lesser known Cape Agulhas is the true southernmost point of Africa and the location delineating the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. It is out of the way and not very scenic so it is less known compared to the southwestern most tip of Africa: The Cape of Good Hope. There also isn’t much demand to visit, Wayne told us that he typically only gives that tour about 3 times a year.

We started out of the city and made our way west. We got to see Cape Town’s rush hour traffic with cars moving very slowly in the opposite direction. Along the way we saw some of the townships and reservations where many of the Cape Town workers reside. Wayne carefully explained the various commutes and the history of the communities.

Along the way we stopped for tea/coffee at a padstal, or South African farmers stall, in Napier. We also had our first taste of rusks, which are something akin to biscotti, but its much better at absorbing tea and coffee.

After a short drive we arrived at the Cape Agulhas lighthouse. There was a small lighthouse museum inside which talked about the history and design of the lighthouse, and overviews of other famous SA lighthouses. The Agulhas lighthouse was designed to look like the Lighthouse of Alexandria in Egypt.  After browsing the museum, we made our way up the steep and narrow stairs to the top of the lighthouse. We took a few photos of the cape from the top.

Ryan climbing up the ladder to the top of the lighthouse.
Ryan climbing up the ladder to the top of the lighthouse.

Next we went to the actual Cape Agulhas itself. It should go without saying that this is the southernmost point of our trip. Agulhas is Portuguese for ‘needles’. You might think it came from the sharp rocks that are found all along it’s coast, but its really because the sailors compass needles pointed true north-south without deviation from this cape. Wayne parked at a nearby parking lot and then we walked along a boardwalk to get to the monument demarcating the cape and the locations of the two oceans.

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Making sure we were both on both sides!
Making sure we were both on both sides!

In all of our research for this trip, we never saw photos of the oceans behind the monument, nor the obvious picture of someone standing in two oceans at the same time. Well there’s a good reason for that.

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Ryan carefully climbed about the jagged rocks, identified and got to the point on the coast between the two oceans. Here’s a picture looking out from the coastline. The water gets very deep very fast at this point.

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And here’s the obligatory beach vacation photo showing feet:

Proof that Ryan is in two oceans at the same time.
Proof that Ryan is in two oceans at the same time.

On the way back to Cape Town, we drove through Gansbaii, the great white shark town we will be visiting tomorrow.

Later, we had lunch in Hermanus, which is well known for whale watching. We both had sushi at Lemon Butta. The restaurant over looked the bay so we got to see a Southern Right Whale off in the distance. After lunch we went walked along the bay to continue watching the whale and get some better pictures then we could from the restaurant.

The view from lunch
The view from lunch
A whale sighting!
A whale sighting!

We had an uneventful but scenic drive back to Town.

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Wayne the dropped us off at the Victoria and Alfred Water Front. During the day, people come here for scenic cruises, high end shopping and dining. We walked around for a little bit before having dinner at Primi-Piatti inside the mall. Wayne recommended it, and we’re glad he did because the food was excellent, with generous serving sizes, and a low cost.

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The waterfront.

We came back to the hotel to fall asleep early, because we have to wake up at 3:30 AM tomorrow to go cage diving to see great white sharks (well Ryan is anyway… Rachel is staying on the boat)!

Total steps: 9,882

Total cetaceans observed: 1 (southern right)