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Archive for September, 2009

10 to the 15th power


How much is that, 10^15?  A lot.  A new survey of the universe has been released and a map of that survey is shown above (Dr. Chris Fluke of Swinburne University of Technology).  The map contains 100,000 dots and each dot represents a galaxy.  A galaxy is thought to contain an average of  roughly 100 billion stars each.  So what you are looking at is a representation of a number of stars that is too large to comprehend, 10 to the 15th power.  The volume of what you see is 13 billion billion billion cubic light years.  Uh, that’s a lot.  For a better look:  http://astronomy.swin.edu.au/~cfluke/6dF/0001.tga.jpg

This the result of two years of work so far, the goal is 250,000 galaxies mapped.  For the information on how this is being done check out this article: http://asia.spaceref.com/news/viewpr.html?pid=1981

Alaska Swans


As we headed up the Parks Highway to our first location we saw these swans in a lake off the roadside.  The fall colors are in full bloom and the swans were cooperative so we took advantage and had a seat on the tundra, ate some blueberries and photographed the swans.  They cruised around for a little while then started feeding.  If you have seen water fowl feed it’s a bottoms up routine.  At that point we said goodbye and headed on our way.  The swans usually stick around until the ice freezes up the water so much they loose their take off runway so they will still be here for a while.

Port of Valdez


The Port of Valdez.  We pulled in to check out the ferry pick up as we have some designs on that coming up and strolled along the dock.  There were a couple of gents wetting a line and they seemed to be doing okay in the drizzle.  The gulls and waterfowl revel in this stuff of course.  Valdez has a population of about 4000 and I am pretty sure we met them all in about 2 hours.  It is a little town.  Note to RV’ers that there are probably more RVs in Valdez than residents during the summer.  We made some notes since we will be back but all in all it was a quick hit to town for some resupplies.  We were headed to Thompson Pass.  We will be back here though because we love the shore and this has some great potential.  Obviously Prince William Sound is dripping with scenery and wildlife.  We have an easier access to it via Whittier from where we live so this is the first time for us down here so far.  But we will be back, no doubt about it.

Keystone Canyon


Continuing down the Richardson Highway took us through the Keystone Canyon.  Beautiful water falls and massive ornate cliff faces enthralled us.  We scouted some photographs for future reference and made a few quick ones.  The rain had been heavy for the previous couple of days so the water was high and a little muddy.  The water falls were stunning, Bridal Veil being the famous one on this stop.  I really liked the canyon walls against the water myself.  It was also interesting to note that a path, two horses abreast, was cut into these canyon walls as part of the trail from Valdez to Fairbanks.  Supplies from the port in Valdez were hauled by horse sleds up the trail that is now the Richardson highway to support the miners up there.

Fall Tour Extended


We traversed the Denali Highway and then headed south to Valdez.  We had to make a double back due to some tire trouble but that’s life, not a big deal.  Heads up though when you come here, it IS remote anywhere outside of Anchorage.  Cell outages.. for entire sections of trips, maintenance support is going to be a long tow if that is necessary.  Be prepared by servicing your vehicle.  One thing though, you will get help from passerby’s.   Everybody knows they wouldn’t want to be stranded out there either.

Valdez was amazing and a total change of scenery.  Again we were hitting peak colors on the way down.  The rain and fog added to the drama and made for some excellent photography.  The scenery was so good that it took us 5.5 hours to go 105 miles.  We obviously don’t “make good time” on the road….

The Light?


Ummmmm, did I mention the Light?  Yeah, the light was good…

Did I mention the colors?


By the way, did I mention that the fall colors are out?  Couldn’t remember…



Hello everyone, just got back from a whirlwind fall colors tour up here in the Great Land.  Yes, we start early up here, for all you southerners, but we get it good too.  We definitely hit the peak on our trip as we headed back across the Denali Highway, down the Richardson, south to Valdez, and back across the Glenn Highway to home.  Wow.  It was incredible.  Tons and tons of images to sort through, tons of film to develop (MF and LF) and I finally “saw” what I need to do on Sheep Mountain.  That has been working on me for some time.  I still have a lot of work to do before closing out this season but it should be fun…