Atmospheric Aleutians

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August 31st 2006
Published: September 1st 2006
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approaching Kodiakapproaching Kodiakapproaching Kodiak

First morning and the sun was out. This is Kodiak Island>
I landed in Anchorage on Sunday, August 20th to the 14th consecutive day of rain in south-central Alaska. Bag handlers, taxi drivers and radio hosts all sounded deflated and resigned to an early, dark winter. But it wasn't to be, for a day, at any rate. Monday morning the sun was out in full force, though by Tuesday morning, when my friend Jamie -who flew up from New York- and I got on the Homer Stage bus in midtown Anchorage, the skies turned snow-pregnant gray and the drizzle came down

As we got on the highway and turnd the bend onto the long, scenic stretch that hugs the Turnagain Arm, the rain was whipping the broadside of our van unabated. It continued almost for almost the entire 7-hour ride down to Homer, and we began to feel that perhaps it was really a mistake to arrange for a weeklong trip at the end of August, a notoriously wet month in Alaska. But, as if Zues himself decided enough was enough (as we snaked our way down the Kenai Peninsula and watched the sun struggle to break thru the clouds, I remarked to Jamie that Agamemnon and Zues were battling it
Jamie pontificatingJamie pontificatingJamie pontificating

Jamie Fry, capturing the essence of it all
out, but he corrected that Agamemnon was a merely an earthly ruler, not a god, so it couldn't be so) and when we stepped out of the van down on the Homer spit the clouds had parted and I was actually reaching for my sunblock, which I did not bring (WHY would one need sunblock in Alaska in late August?)

Hence began a 4-day odyssey from the tip of "The Kenai" Homer, out to Kodia, across the Shelikof Strait to the Alaska Peninsula making stops at small fishing villages until we termiated at Dutch Harbor/Unalaska islands, approx halfway out on the Aleutian chain.

Here are some photos from the journey:

Additional photos below
Photos: 26, Displayed: 23


deserted Kodiak beachdeserted Kodiak beach
deserted Kodiak beach

A truly deserted beach on Kodiak Islad, accessible only by small boat or by rapelling down the cliff.
First morningFirst morning
First morning

Storm? Where's the storm?
Mars sunsetMars sunset
Mars sunset

Sunset after Kodiak, en route to Chignik...
downtown Chignikdowntown Chignik
downtown Chignik

The center of town in Chignik, the first stop on the Alaska Peninsula
Chignik harborChignik harbor
Chignik harbor

Dock worker roused from bliss
cheerful port handcheerful port hand
cheerful port hand

dock man happy to see some action
Chignik manChignik man
Chignik man

My guess is that this guys is from Samoa. Lots of people from the South Pacific working in Alaska.
Cold water diversCold water divers
Cold water divers

These kids had just surfaced from some shallow cold (very) water diving at a beach in Kodiak
so coldso cold
so cold

boyfriend helping girlfriend get out of her suit
Castle RockCastle Rock
Castle Rock

Between Chignik and Sand Point, I think...
Castle Rock up closeCastle Rock up close
Castle Rock up close

And the captain said that if we were lucky, we might be able to espy the bottom 10% of this beauty thru the fog... The weather was on our side the entire trip.
Cold BayCold Bay
Cold Bay

I won a lottery (on board) to get a free van tour of Izembek Wildlife refuge. This area is supposed to have the highest concentration of brown bears in mainlaland Alaska. Not one in sight.
message in a Tustamenamessage in a Tustamena
message in a Tustamena

My friend came all the way across the continent for this trip for traces of his past. He didn't go home unfulfilled...
Cold BayCold Bay
Cold Bay

I won a lottery (on board) to get a free van tour of Izembek Wildlife refuge. This area is supposed to have the highest concentration of brown bears in mainlaland Alaska. Not one in sight.
Ghost of Christmas FutureGhost of Christmas Future
Ghost of Christmas Future

Me and the tai-tai in the future? Perhaps, but a kid running around, being restrained from diving over the rail might not be a bad idea
Atmospheric burstsAtmospheric bursts
Atmospheric bursts

The only time I saw skies like this in Taiwan was right before a typhoon. It's every day in the Aleutians, it seems.
Dutch Harbor/UnalaskaDutch Harbor/Unalaska
Dutch Harbor/Unalaska

The reason there is a slash between these two names is that Dutch Harbor and Unalaska are two islands connected by a wooden bridge called "The Bridge to the Other Side." Eagles are practically as common as flies out here -something to be swatted away.
stressed outstressed out
stressed out

This passenger wasn't stressed over rough sea conditions -quite the opposite. She was distraught because there WEREN'T 40-story waves! Honestly, I had a conversation with her, and she was praying to god that we would be pummeled by huge waves that might beach or sink us... No joke. "I want to feel the power of the North Pacific," she said, staring dreamily at the sky...
Russian Orthodox ChurchRussian Orthodox Church
Russian Orthodox Church

This Russian church is the oldest in the USA, built in the 1700's.
Eagle perched on Russian churchEagle perched on Russian church
Eagle perched on Russian church

Bald eagles literally swarm around Dutch Harbor and Unalaska islands.
Pill boxesPill boxes
Pill boxes

Fortifications such as these are to found everywhere in Dutch Harbor and Unalaska, even at small street intersections.

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