Nature ~ Scenery ~ Landscapes

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A Single Moment

Deep Creek Beach, Alaska

At Deep Creek on the Kenai Peninsula is a Lighthouse situated on an enormous epic style bluff towering over a very popular beach camping ground.  It’s a curious shore where fishermen gather their gear, launch their boats and head into Cook Inlet to catch legendary salmon.  Just above the marsh where sandhill cranes wade along you stop to take in the beauty of the Lighthouse peaking above the pines.  I am told the landmark is not a working lighthouse, but rather functions as a church. 

I am not sure that is exactly true because I drove around several hours (several trips) trying to find it up close and it is surrounded by gates and too many trees to take a photo.  Finally some fishermen at a nearby Lodge told me:  "Oh, I wouldn't try to go there if I were you.  They aren't too keen on people trespassing."  So, sadly, I took my camera and drove back home to Kenai.  

Digitally Painted from my original photo!

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Lost In Translation 

Turnagain Arm ~ Seward Highway National Scenic Byway, Alaska

To take the drive from Kenai to Anchorage can make for a full day of photography and sites to see.  Every changing corner is another wondrous eye-candy moment. There are several trains that offer guide-style tours all along Turnagain Arm as well as other areas of the Kenai Peninsula and the surroundings of Anchorage.

I took this photograph in just before Spring 2010 when the waters were still muddied with grey floating ice patches. The ice didn't stop the assortment of birds and eagles diving into the waters for their snacks and meals.

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Beyond Trails 

Johnson Lake, Alaska

The Johnson State Recreational Area is a popular destination for camping, wildlife viewing, scenic views, fishing and swimming.  It is also the home for black and brown bear, lynx, moose, squirrels, hares and other creatures.  

We found several bedding areas where bear had made a temporary home and sleeping quarters.  Moose were walking along the marsh.  

Once again, my friend Dave snagged me by the arm to rush me away from possible bear encounters.  I stopped quickly to turn and take the photograph here of the trail layered with tree roots that I had admired on the hike to the lake.  

I only "slightly" touched up this photograph (although I am tempted to play with it soon!).  

It came in 3rd place for a photography contest.

My Original Photo!

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Visual Journey

Seward Highway ~ Turnagain Arm ~ Alaska

Turnagain Arm reveals a “tidal bore” with it’s abrupt rise of tidal waters moving at a rapid pace toward inland from the mouth of an estuary.  It’s quite something to watch.  There are only 60 bodies of water worldwide that does this.  I watched the silt shift and flow while mixed in with some ice, even in the summer.  Ships and boats encounter difficulty during it’s low tides where the arm’s silty bottoms are exposed.  That’s why mostly flat-bottomed vessels without a large keel are safer to make their way through.  It’s nothing to see beached boats during low tides; sometimes accidentally or maybe on purpose to wait it out.

I had the thrilling experience to see Turnagain Arm during the frozen winter and in the grace of summer where my eyes patrolled the scene from one end to the other; observing small blocks of ice or icebergs, mixed in with the silt and devouring the bottoms and it’s beautiful flowing blue sea waters with wildlife soaring above in the sunny season.

The arm is forever busy with the change of season and interesting tides.  Marine life remains alive and visible in both seasons, wildlife and birds enjoy their wondrous and bountiful home!  If you look close enough, you will see the railroad tracks which hosts scenic event train adventures year round!

It’s an everlasting “Visual Journey”!

HDR Photo Processing from my original photograph!

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Visual Journey (B)

Seward Highway ~ Turnagain Arm ~ Alaska

My goal is to turn my photographs into art works, too!  There are people and publications who prefer photography, but the trend for paintings will never die for your walls!

Digitally Painted from my original photo.  See the HDR version above!

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At A Glance 

Kenai Mountains on Turnagain Arm ~ Seward Highway, Alaska

Welcome to the Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area

This is a place where communities and people, valleys and mountains, waterfalls and wildlife tell the larger story of a wild place and rugged frontier.  I found the landscape to be rich in natural, cultural, historic and abundant in scenic wonderment.  

What takes a normal driver possibly 3 hours to drive from Kenai to Anchorage (weather permitting), takes me a full day!


Calm Splendor

Mount Redoubt Volcano

Kenai, Alaska

Mount Redoubt (Redoubt Volcano) is built over the last 890,000 years above the Aleutian Mountain Range on Cook Inlet in the Kenai Peninsula Borough.  That's a mouthful to say!

It erupted explosively late in the evening of March 22, 200 with 5 additional extensive eruptions since 1900.  The volcano is known to spew ash from time to time covering miles of land; leaving Kenai  topped off with cinders grey powder.

I took this photograph January 2010 on a wonderful clear day with white snow and ice covering the Inlet.  

It was almost a daily activity on my checklist, since I lived so close, to scope out the Volcano rotating my landing points on the beaches and cliffs in Kenai.  No matter the weather, it was always firmly elevated above the horizon as I swept my eyes across the mighty Cook Inlet.

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No Letter Today

Funny River Road, Alaska

This is a sure sign that at least 27 families live in the country along this popular, yet sub rosa road. (Yes, I counted the mailboxes!)    I hope to return and take a winter pic too!  
Progressing along this road are some of the most winsome Alaska-style homesteads.  I caught glimpses of the hunter’s lifestyle hidden behind enormous Spruce Trees where moose are abundant!  Beyond this curve is the timeless elegance of the mighty Kenai River.  Live along Funny River Road functions as a perfect example of what it’s like to live in Alaska!

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Whispering Lilies 

Seward Highway ~ Mile 14.7, Alaska 

Locals call this "Lily Pad Lake", which is actually attached to Kenai Lake.  In the summer, Lily Pad Lake has a beautiful blanket of yellow lily pads, which is a favorite snack for moose.  In June and July, the purple Lupin flowers line the highway.

This is a common stop-over and photo opp site for travelers heading to and from Seward.

If you sneeze, you'll miss it!  Notice I gave you the mile marker?

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First Snow 

Kenai, Alaksa 

The first broadcast of snow hurled me to my car, snagging up my camera and tripod with about 5 layers of clothing including long-johns, t-shirt, sweater, hoodie and coat - just another habit I gained while living in Alaska.

These two interesting shaped trees are the foreground to an area where the Cook Inlet meets the Kenai River.  (You can't see it for the snow!)

I passed by the trees a few times searching for that perfect photo shot.  And as I often do, I pulled over and thought to myself "wait a minute here",  then proceeded to jump out of my car and walked over to snap the pic.  Well?  It was there and made a great photograph!

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Rocky Falls 


Girdwood, Alaska

While traveling up Crow Creek Road on our way to Crow Creek Mine (where you can pan for gold), we stopped numerous times to take in the bountiful beauty and nature.  Every where we stopped, there were waterfalls trickling down the mountains surrounding Mount Alyeska.

I have two Bucket Lists:  1) Places to go where I have never been.  

2) Places to go where I have been before!

Need I say more?

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Birch Stretch 

Strawberry Road ~ Kenai, Alaska 

For centuries, Alaska Natives have made all of their tools from local resources.  Only a few materials were traded with the Russians.

There are numerous types of trees in Alaska, but there is only one hardwood that is suitable for making dogsleds, snowshoes and other durable items of need.  the Alaska Birch Tree stands alone being the toughest hardwood in the state.

The Birch echos it's beauty and grace upon any glimpse of the region and even within the cities.

Eagles nest high upon them and bears climb them pretty darn fast!

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Lily Pad Pond 

Seward Highway, Alaska

This is a welcoming boardwalk just at the edge of Lily Pad Pond that stretches out enough for you to engage the beauty from every angle.  

The water is crystal clear and you can see the fish and rocks at the bottom of the waters. 

You always see pictures or hear stories of frogs sitting upon lilies.  But with Alaska's extreme temperatures, it makes it uncharacteristic to host  many species of amphibians and reptiles.  In fact, it only has two species of frogs: Columbia Spotted Frog and the Wood Frog.  

My brother-in-law, David, told me they sort of freeze in the winter and reappear in the Spring.

Needless to say, I rarely heard the croaking sound of a frog.

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On The Right Track 

Turnagain Arm ~ Alaska

The Alaska Railroad stretches 470 miles from Seward on the south-central Kenai Peninsula, to the northern "golden heart" city of Fairbanks.  Along the way, the train travels through some of the most scenic and rugged territory in Alaska, including the scene here:  Turnagain Arm, which runs alongside Seward Highway.

The only main road/highway leading to and from the Kenai Peninsula and Anchorage is Seward Highway.  The first time I took this trip was with my brother-in-law, David, and his best friend, Sean.  It was in the dead of winter with ice and snow at it's best.  I can't tell you how many times my right foot hit the truck's floor board imaginary brakes!

Whether traveling this highway in the winter, spring, summer or fall ~ you are in Alaska "Wonderland"!

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Johnson Lake Lillies 

Johnson Lake ~ Alaska

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Follow Your Eyes 

Kenai, Alaska

"Village with a past, city of a future"

This is where I lived!  

Kenai is the landmark for the world-famous Kenai River meeting Cook Inlet. It is surrounded by spectacular scenery and wildlife.  The city has a rich history of native and Russian settlements and culture.

I took this picture at Erik Hansen Scout Park near the Kenai River Bluff while my Mother was visiting from Texas for the 4th of July 2010.

In the distance is the majestic Mount Redoubt Volcano. 

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Forest Moon  

Crow Creek Road

Girdwood, Alaska

Driving up the mountain on Crow Creek Road you are surrounded by the great Mount Aleyska.  The further you drive, the more you realize there is no end to this road!  Alaska goes on forever it seems.  

My friend, Vince, and I took several photography trips and this one remains one of my favorites.  I found the Alaskan's love to explore the state just as much as I do!

We spent from morning til evening discovering it's perpetual beauty.  As you know, the sun sets late (very late and even in the morning hours) and on our drive back down I felt as though I could touch the moon with my fingertips.  

The full moon is "huge" in Alaska!

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Life On The River 

The Kenai River ~ Soldotna, Alaska

The Kenai River is the most famous river on the Kenai Peninsula.  It runs 82 miles westward from Kenai Lake in the Kenai Mountains to the mouth of Cook Inlet of the Pacific Ocean near Soldotna and Kenai.

It is by far the most popular sport fishing destination in Alaska.  This is one of the more popular spots to fish as Soldotna caters to the river's countless demands and opportunities.  Every year there are two runs each of King Salmon, Silver Salmon and Red Salmon, plus one run of Pink Salmon or Humpy every even year.

The world's record for King Salmon, which weighed 97.4 pounds, was caught in the Kenai River in May of 1985.

Every time I drove to Soldotna, I had to stop and take a look or a walk along the river.  I never saw the river empty of fishermen, visitors or locals enjoying the area.

I was always amazed at the size of the salmon!  Being from Texas, and often quoting "Everything is bigger in Texas"  began to sound like a lie after observing the size of the wildlife in Alaska.  So, now I have to admit "Everything is bigger in Alaska"! (Except the squirrels - they are itsy! - That's another story.)

(Yes, I played with this picture!)

# 5107-1279Ha 

Persue The Path 

Nikiski, Alaska

Nikiski is located on the Kenai Peninsula resting on Cook Inlet.  It is about a 9 mile drive from Kenai.  The area was homesteaded in the 1940's and was traditionally in Kenaitze Indian territory.  With the discovery of oil on the Peninsula in 1957, it began to grow.

By 1964, major oil industries established their companies here; which include Chevron, Phillips 66, Tesoro and Unocal.  If you want a job on the pipe line, this is the place to go.

I often drove to Nikiski for my on-going photography adventure.  I found this wooded road leading to the opening of the Cook Inlet and spent a few hours enjoying it's ambiance of colorful trees and mountain range in the distance across the Inlet.

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Dahlia Delight 

 Anchorage, Alaska 

Remember I mentioned on a picture above that "everything is bigger in Alaska"?  That includes the plants and trees as well.  I can't wait to post the picture of a huge colorful mushroom I found on a trail!

Everywhere you look, Alaskans are proud of their natural beauty and flowers are planted for landscaping as well as growing wild just about anywhere.

I can honestly say this Dahlia must have been 9 to 10" wide growing in the Downtown Anchorage area.

Numerous competitions are held each year for growing the largest and most healthy vegetables and flowers.  Pumpkins and cabbage are among the favorites to enter.

They call it "the art of growing"!

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Promise We'll Ski 

Mount Aleyeska, Alaska 

Mount Aleyeska is one of the most gorgeous ski lodges and resorts I have ever stayed at.  The service is top notch and you will meet friendly people from all over the world.

At every given opportunity, huge windows are placed for excellent viewing of the great outdoors and mountain ranges.

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Tranquil Tern 

Tern Lake ~ Seward Highway ~ Alaska


Turnagain Grande 

~ Turnagain Arm, Alaska ~

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Cabbage Amethyst 

~ Anchorage, Alaska ~

{ This Cabbage is about 3 feet wide! }

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Hear The Vessel Bells

~ Homer, Alaska ~

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Small Moments...Big Memories 

~ Valdez, Alaska ~

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 Valdez Melting 

~ Valdez, Alaska ~

While working with ASRC in Valdez, I put on all the safety equipment and harnesses to be lifted up onto some of the highest platforms!  I always had my camera with me and ready for amazing shots!

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Cache Floret

~  Soldotna, Alaska ~

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Autumn Creekside

~ Girdwood, Alaska ~

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Lowell Cache 

~ Norman Lowell's Homestead ~

Anchor Point, Alaska 

This is a view from Norman Lowell's backyard.  

I had the pleasure of spending some time with him in his Art Gallery.

There were rooms after rooms after rooms with his phenomenal paintings!

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Autumn Through Time

~ Nikiski, Alaska ~

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Dusky Rivulent

~ Girdwood, Alaska ~

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Spirit Reflections

~Spirit Lake ~

~ Kenai Peninsula Borough ~ Alaska ~

© All images and photographs on this site are the exclusive property and copyright of  Tanya Elise’ Howard.

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please acquire the written legal consent from Tanya Elise’ Howard.


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