Anchorage, Arctic Ski Bowl, Matanuska Valley, AK Feb. 16, 2013

February 17th, 2013 | Posted by Steve in Alaska | Birds | Churches & Cathedrals | Parks

The weather was sunny Saturday morning so Sam, James, Dave & I climbed into Sam’s car to do some sight seeing.  We had a recommendation to drive up Ski Bowl Road to the Arctic Valley Ski Area to take in the view.  As the weather was sunny that was the first thing we decided to do.

The drive was not too far from our hotel so we were near the ski area in relatively short order.

7 9090 Anchorage closer

My first shot is downtown Anchorage from way up the road.  The view is roughly west.  Part of the Knik arm of the Cook Inlet is seen in the extreme distance.

2-9049 Snow covered road

This next one is further up the road.  The camera is mounted on a tripod.  I have an “L” bracket permanently mounted on the camera so I can mount it vertically or horizontally without moving the ball head of the tripod too much.  This is vastly superior to mounting the camera horizontally on the ball head then moving the ball head to put the camera in a vertical position.

3 Ski road pano

While the camera was on the tripod I tried doing a multiple shot panorama.  I did not have a nodal bracket with me.   Without a nodal bracket the camera body spins on the center axis of the sensor or film plane above the ball head.  A nodal bracket allows the camera to spin on the center axis of the lens if it is placed properly.

The difference in your photos is seen where straight lines meet in the foreground.  Fortunately, that wasn’t a problem this time.  In other word, I got away with it at first.  This panoramic has 3 frames in it.  I was going for 6, but messed up on number 4.  Where the 4th frame overlapped at the left the mountains didn’t meet.

4 Ski Road Pano

This is the rest of the panorama that did meet together, these being the 5th & 6th frames of the shot.  All in all I’m still pleased and I got some practice in slightly adverse conditions.

5 9072 The Ski hill

This is the ski hill from just before the parking lot.  The chair lift is shown.  The top of rope tow off to the left barely shows.  The hill has about a 1500’ foot vertical and moguls are starting to become evident.

6 9079 Anchorage from ski area

8 Anchorage panorama

Heading back down to the Glenn Highway we stopped for a few views of Anchorage and the surrounding areas.  The last one is a 5 shot panoramic with the camera on the tripod, this time mounted horizontally.  I shot 6 but the leftmost didn’t match up.  This view is not quite a 180 degrees.  The north east is at right, the south west is at left.

9 9113 Glenn Hwy N

We got onto the Glenn Highway and started heading out of Anchorage.  This is a snap shot from the front passenger seat showing the Chugach Mountains.  Even when the roads are covered with snow no one uses chains up here.  There are a few more accidents, including one car we saw abandoned and flipped upside down.  I have a feeling the locals look at this as just part of the experience of living up here.

10 9127 moon

Also out, but barely noticed, was the Moon a day before First Quarter.  I got a few compositions, but this was the best.

11 9131 St Nicholas Orthodox Church Elkutna

12 9138 St Nicholas another view

13 9141 St Nicholas cross

14 9144 St Nicholas view

Driving through Elkutna, we got off to look at the Saint Nicholas Orthodox Church.  I have a so-so shot from July, 1993 which is not on this computer so I can’t show it.  For these I had a polarizer on the lens.  The last 3 of the 4 came out drastically underexposed, but my Photoshop skills made them good enough to show here.

Part of the cemetery shows at the right of the first frame.  The graves have brightly painted little structures over them, but this day they were mostly covered in snow.

15 9150 Chugach range looking E

Heading further north we crossed the swamps below Palmer.  I shot this through the window.  It is a single frame cropped top & bottom to look like a panoramic.  It is pointing about due east.

After a while we approached a marked pull over.  Sam, who was driving, asked if I wanted to get out to shoot some photos.  I said “sure”, got out, looked at a snow bank 15 feet tall on 3 sides of me.  I said to myself “I’ve been here before.”  I climbed up the snow bank to the top and sure enough I had been there before.  Here are photos for comparison.

16 9157 Matanuska River 2-16-13

17 AK Matanuska River 7-93

The first is Feb 16, 2013.  The second is the 2nd week of July, 1993.  The Matanuska River is in the foreground at right and left.  The extreme distance at the far right is probably the Knik River.  Anchorage would be behind me.

18 9164 Matanuska River looking up river

This is a view looking up the Matanuska River from the same spot.  I have a photo of this from 1993, but again not on this computer.

19 9170 Bald Eagles

Much farther up the Glenn Highway these two Bald Eagles were disdainfully ignoring any motorists driving.

20 9174 Kings Mtn

Further along the highway, and deep into the Matanuska Valley is this view.  I believe that is Kings Mountain on the right almost into the trees.

21 9180 Mountain

I can’t find a name for this mountain.  It is hiding behind the trees on the left in the last photo.  I’ve looked on the various USGS topographical maps of the area, but nothing seems listed.  It made a very good black & white just the same.

22 9183 King Mountain Lodge

One of Sam’s goals was the King’s Mountain Lodge.  In the past it has been known for its pie and other refreshments.  The Lodge (as of this writing) still has a website up, but they were closed and for sale.  We stayed in the car and drove on.

23 9201 Moose

A few miles farther on we saw this moose very close to the road.  Moose are not uncommon in this part of Alaska.  One road sign said 151 of them had been killed by motorists since July 1, 2012, but there was no sign telling us how many motorists had the favor returned.

When all was said & done we saw 7 moose that day.  This one was the closest to the road.  We circled back to get some shots.  This portrait is shot from the passenger seat across the driver.  I cropped it to get all of the auto parts out of the snap.

As we left the moose it was about 4:00 in the afternoon.  We were 100 miles from Anchorage, and the sun was to go down before 6.  Rather than go a few more miles to see if Matanuska Glacier Park was open we kept going & got safely back to our hotel as dusk set in.

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