One thing I have to say is that since we moved here, my eyes are always wandering. It is amazing how everyday brings a new view, or even a different light and perspective on the same view. And it would figure that most times I see something that is most worthy of a photo opp.....I don't have the camera! This day I did have the camera, and didn't have to look too far to find the gracious splendor that God put fourth all around me. I decided to take advantage of the fact that I did have the camera, and shot away to share.
Something that is fabulous every day in the winter is what is called the 'alpenglow'. It is as magnificent in the morning as it is in the evening and during the darker phase of winter from about the beginning of December to mid January, it is present throughout the sky all day, since the sun stays so low in the horizon. This is a shot I took around 9:35AM this morning as the sun was coming up. I highly suggest that you 'click' on this picture to bring it up larger if your computer will allow it. It is worth it as the deep red through the trees that traversed into the lighter pinks was just brilliant. Mind you, a picture does little justice to what the naked eye fell witness to. Just cant say enough how wonderful the sky looks this time of year!
The past week has brought much snow for the peninsula. And, it has brought very little sleep for the plow people.....but fat pocketbooks! It is referred to as "pennies from heaven" and although the hours have been long....I love it! The past couple days however have brought out the sun, blue skies, and a chance to see more of the surroundings about us. On our way to run for some heating oil for the garage heater, Maryann and I were beside ourselves as we crossed the tidal flats outside of Kenai. I mean, again the beauty is beyond words and pictures do little to reveal it's true splendor. This is looking back across the flats at the Kenai bluffs. The town of Kenai sits atop the bluffs. Actually, a while back I showed a picture of the view from the bluffs, across the flats out towards the Caribou Hills. This is the opposite view. The winds that come through the flats tend to blow the snow and create magnificent 'drifts' that snake and crawl the snows surface. Another thing to see are the ice flows on the Kenai River. Unfortunately, there is little room to stop and take a picture of this with all the snow stacked up on the side of the road. But the first chance I can I will share that someday soon. Very impressive!
This other picture was taken out the other side of the tidal flats. In the foreground is the old cannery buildings. And beyond that is Mt. Redoubt peeking out from the layer of morning fog along the water. Mt Redoubt is one of 4 volcanoes that run along the Aleutian Range across the bay. The first, Mt Augustine, is furthest south and can be seen from Homer on a clear day. It is currently steaming on and off the past year or so, and is located out on the island of Augustine, near the island of Kodiak, in the Gulf Of Alaska....down there.... The next is Mt Iliamna which is just further left of Mt Redoubt in this picture. In fact the very tip of Iliamna was protruding forth the fog, but not enough to take a photo of. Then of course is Mt Redoubt, and further North towards the 'Anchorage' end of the bay is Mt Spur. The way to remember this chain is 'AIRS'.
This week marks the beginning of an exclusive event that happens on the peninsula every year. The Arctic Peninsula Winter Games will be taking place in Soldotna. Such events as the 'hiked thong ice slide', 'find the unit on the chilled Eskimo' and other winter type games will take place through the week. To celebrate the games, a truckload of huge blocks of ice were distributed throughout Soldotna this week and a team of ice sculptors began sculpting different scenes that will be displayed during the week of the games. This was one such sculptor that we saw coming into Soldotna to get our heating oil. Maryann watched the ice truck come into town the other day, and we both have seen several of the ice sculptors in our runnings about. Using an electric chainsaw, this one artist told me it took him a full day to make this piece. If you can believe this, he says that the saw cuts through the ice like butter..... Pretty sweet detail I might add! We want to take some time to go to the games to see what Alaskans do for entertainment during the winter. I assure you we will be spectators only!
We have seen temps ranging from the minuses to as high as mid twenties, but since around the end of October have not peaked above freezing of 32 degrees. It is my understanding that this winter has been considered mild....so far. It is not unusual for the inlet to ice up and has in fact iced all the way out to the oil and gas platforms that span the middle of the bay. These are a couple shots out across the bay. The first on top is looking down to a snow laden beach about 60 feet below, and those little pieces of ice are actually about the size of a semi diesel....or at least the bigger one. Then the pic below is overlooking the southern most platform, the 'Osprey'. The beauty of this was not the oil platform, but spanning across the middle of the pic is the snowy mountains strewn amongst the fog. Funny story. For the longest time I thought that little finger of land was an island. In fact it is a finger of land that jutts out from the other side of the inlet. For sheer trivial purposes, it creates the narrowest passage in the bay between land masses until the end of the inlet at Knik Arm north of Anchorage or just south of anchorage at the Turnagain Arm (remember the 'tidal bore'?)
Coming back into Nikiski we are looking out at the snow smothered Aleutian Range. The snow gives the illusion that it is just right there, when in actuality the other side is roughly over 85 miles away. Gives you an idea of the "stoic immensity" of these mountains!
This pic to the right is of the Port Of Nikiski. Of the 16 oil and natural gas platforms in the Cook inlet, most pipe the oil and gas extracted to the main refineries here in the port. Nikiski is but a peehole in the snow, on the map, yet the revenue that is floating around the peninsula as a result of the port and refineries is tremendous. And you would think we would pay less at the pumps since Tesoro, BP, Unocal, and Conoco Phillips (no relation to me damn it) are right here.....no! We get gouged just like the rest of the country! Last but not least in this long photo tour of which I hope was enjoyed is one of my favorites. Be it in the summer, fall (haven't seen it in the spring yet) this part of the Aleutian Range is the most spectacular to me. Even more so with the snow. We get a full-on view of this coming up the Spur Hwy into Nikiski, and my heart always skips a beat knowing this means home. On a clear day, if you walk to the end of our driveway you get a clear shot of this view of the mountains across the bay. Just to the right of the picture up around that knoll a ways would be the beach that we love walking the dogs on. In the forefront is the gas & oil platform 'Dillon' which separates natural gas, oil, and water on the rig. The water is discharged and the gas and oil sent through two 8" diameter pipes into the Unocal refinery in the Port Of Nikiski. All this in a days run....whew! Not only an eyefest, but an a lesson on the economic base of Nikiski. All we know is that we love living here. Many people in Kenai and Soldotna refer to folks way out in Nikiski as "Northroaders", "776ers", and other creative names for the ones who prefer to be in the boonies. WE just smile and say damned straight! We love it out here, and the quiet, simplistic lifestyles that folks out here enjoy is just one of the reasons we chose Nikiski. The Italian food joint is another! ;) But no matter here, or there, you don't have to look too far to find the beauty around you. It is a piece of heaven, no doubt. Good night and God bless!