Kenai Fjords National Park

When you're planning a trip to Alaska the list of adventures are endless, but after researching for hours and talking to several guides, (one on a satellite phone) I decided on kayaking Bear Glacier in Kenai Fjords National Park!   

The beginning of the day started in rainy Seward, Alaska. At first I was bummed about the weather, but it somehow set the perfect mood for the watery adventure. We met with our guide Pyper who fitted us in our Kokatat drysuits and explained what the day would entail before we headed to the dock.

The boat ride was one of my favorite parts as we cruised through the bay we saw puffins, sea otters and cloudy cliffs with waterfalls. I felt like we were headed to Jurassic Park World, especially as we made our way up the canal towards Bear Glacier. 

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When we pulled up to shore, my Dad (who had taken the helicopter) was floating on a small piece of glacier ice...needless to say, we were all excited in our own way! It was raining pretty hard and I was debating what lens to secure on my Nikon D810 and decided on my Nikon 35mm. I'm not sure me changing lenses while surrounded by water in a kayak AND with heavy rain would have worked...so that's what I was stuck with. Along with a plastic rain cover which is basically a plastic baggy and my gear was wet instantly. 

We took off through the rainy water and you could see the clear opening to Bear Glacier, it was like a secret entrance into the ice world. I had been dreaming of seeing glaciers my whole life and here we were paddling towards them! 

It's honestly hard to try to put this moment into words or images. When we passed through what felt like the "gateway" it all felt too surreal. Everything was so quiet. There was no wind just the steady fall of rain as we floated among the beautiful giants, we even saw a seal playing peekaboo in the distance. 

Each glacier was so unique, I was worried at first my photos would look the same but each one had such different colors and shapes. We learned the brighter the ice the more recently it had flipped or shifted in the water.  

After exploring around for a bit we connected our kayaks and drank hot tea and brownies! This was about when I started to realize I was actually freezing and couldn't feel my toes...or just about anything. So we poured the leftover hot water from the Stanley Thermos over our feet, (thanks Neoprene) but it was a sad few seconds of relief. 

We were the only ones in Bear Glacier that day and as we were making our way out of the park we heard a low rumble that grew louder and louder...it was a glacier moving in the water! I knew it was a lucky occurrence, but our guide said it's happening more frequently due to Climate Change and I thought about the generations that may never experience this beautiful place. 

After we docked the kayaks everybody else took the speed boat back and I waited for the helicopter. I had originally thought it'd be great for some cool photos, but my camera was soaked and I couldn't get anything in focus. Not to mention my whole body at this point was shaking! 

This final picture was the only proof that I actually went on this adventure, but I think it shows how awesome Liquid Adventures was as they photobombed in the background! This adventure was everything I wanted it to be, and if you'll be making it to the Last Frontier anytime soon email me for any suggestions. 

If you're interested in purchasing any fine art prints, please contact me below. 

Happy Adventures!

-Tara 

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Hatchers Pass, Alaska

I welcome you to one of my favorite days in Alaska - Archangel Valley in Hatchers Pass! 

You can read about my first day in Talkeetna, Alaska here, but Archangel Valley was our second day and by far one of my absolute favorites! 

After leaving our camp in Talkeetna I really had no idea what Hatchers Pass was going to hold for us, but after about an hour drive the views started changing and I was dying over the fog rolling in around the mountains.

This was the drive up to the Archangel Valley trail head. We stopped a few times next to some rushing rivers and saw people picking wild blueberries, which made me worried bears have to be around! 

After paying the day parking fee we packed our day bags and headed off on the dirt road/trail. We only saw one jeep that had actually drove up the road, I don't think it was recommended.

As we started walking I was surprised at how winded I was feeling and got dizzy as I tried pretending NOT to take deep breathes as my in shape (soon to be) sister-in-law was trying to talk to me. It's like when you're running with a friend and you're doing all the talking and you wonder why you're the only one out of breath! (Maybe that only happens to me?) 

So I let myself fall back at my own pace and be the "photographer", which is always a good excuse to go a little slower. But really, I'd like to challenge somebody to keep up with this athletic duo!

Oh wait, they're gone again!

Now going at my own pace, I would stop for as long as I'd like and sit with the mountains. I watched the clouds roll by in one spot for thirty minutes or more before I felt like I could move on. So, if you're wondering I'm a great hiking partner for all you newbies :) 

We caught up with each other at the fork in the path and ate a few snacks as we talked about the plan. Our "plan" was to find a climbing area called, "The Jungle Gym" and my brother was having a hard time deciding which valley it was hidden in. We even came across some other climbers and it seemed like nobody had heard of the area, the more popular climbs were trad so my brother went one way and Kailey and I went exploring another. 

The valley we came across was stunning and as we climbed around on the huge boulders until my legs started feeling like jello! I'm assuming Kailey's were fine because she easily made her way across the sloped mountainside toward my brother who had indeed found the hidden "Jungle Gym".

I of course took my time making sure to get bit by a ton of mosquitos and sat for a while taking in the views. I again could not believe I was in Alaska...

It felt like forever once I was ready to get to the rock wall, I swear I wasn't getting any closer and the boulders kept getting bigger. My legs were already jello and I was suppose to climb after this?

I stayed entertained in my head as I remembered me laughing in Moosejaw as I asked what "approach" shoes were for...and I was like, you mean you have to approach the wall in a certain fashion? 

When I finally reached the slab base my older brother was eating an MRE and my other brother was already lead climbing the wall. It's hard to tell how steep the mountain side was, but trust me it was steep! Falling down the rock face was one thing, but tumbling down the mountain was another, and I was experiencing watching a person lead climb for the first time! Let's just say I was having a hard time staying relaxed! 

Once settled in and letting my legs take a break we sat watching everybody climb to our left and enjoyed the views down the valley on our right. You could see the trail down below and I couldn't help but feel accomplished. Everything was perfect; the weather, the views, the company, the adventure. 

I didn't want to leave. 

We all tried our hand at climbing the 5.9 "As Good as it Gets"  and cried laughing when my Dad reached the top. He has only climbed like once in his life! Kailey had a scary fall when a rock broke on her while she was wasn't tied in and we all almost had a heart attack as we felt a sudden awareness of how small we are on the mountain. Kailey being the sweetest and toughest Colorado Girl you'll ever meet, sat up after her very scary and very long tumble and said her famous, "I'm ok!" 

So, we kept climbing and this time a little more carefully. 

We spent well over a few hours at the Jungle Gym before we headed further up the slope to "Randy's Roof", where my little brother again almost gave me a heart attack!

We were bundled up with all the layers we brought at that point as the winds were colder and Eric started boiling water with a chemical powder from his MRE pack...that's right, coffee hot from a box on a mountain side! 

So we sat and drank our luke warm coffee and tried to relax as we watched our youngest brother dominate the climb. 

I sat there feeling so proud of this guy! He's so strategic and makes his moves slowly and thoughtfully. After breaking two toes last Spring I was looking for something that allowed me to feel competitive again and after he introduced me to rock climbing I was hooked, but that didn't keep an older sister from freaking out! 

After watching Ryan finish "Randy's Roof", we packed up our bags and started the slow slide/climb down the mountainside. The afternoon had brought dew that covered everything, so careful not to slip we slowly worked our way down to the valley. 

Once I was in the valley I felt small again and couldn't believe we just spent the afternoon climbing along such a beautiful mountainside. 

By the time we made it all the way down the trail to the RV I realized we'd been gone over eight hours! Another amazing thing about Alaska, sunset still wouldn't be for another 5-6 hours. 

If you read all my blabbing, I hope you're ready to visit Hatchers Pass and if you are - please let me know! If you just looked at the pictures, that's okay too! I've started putting my fine art prints on my website if you're interested in any, feel free to message me here

-Tara

Bangkok Thailand

Welcome to Bangkok, everybody's first stop in Thailand. 

It's been exactly a year since our trip to Bangkok, which feels like too long for how much I loved this place, but here it is! 

Like many tourists, we started our trip out floating down the river markets. Damnoen Saduak Floating Market to be exact. One of the most touristy markets to visit, but if you have the time it's a fun first stop. I suggest buying nothing other than maybe a coconut drink...and maybe an expensive snack...okay and maybe hold a slow loris. Basically, you're going to be excited but know that it's about the experience and everything here is over priced! 

Our first day in Bangkok we hired a driver and paid him for the entire day - way too much, but I'm really not sure how else we would have fit in everything we did. 

After starting our day off with the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market we then headed to Amphawa, another floating market that had less boats out on the water and was more small wooden shops along the water. Both were such different experiences I recommend trying to experience both if you have time. 

Some of my favorite portraits were in Bangkok. The people's warm personalities left me wanting to chat with them for hours asking them about their stories. When I'm taking photos on the streets sometimes I struggle with approaching individuals for a portrait, but after almost every picture we embraced with a hug and a few laughs. I was already in love with Thailand.   

Some of the market food at Amphawa Market, along with my favorite portrait of a young girl sitting with a fan. 

In Amphawa Market I felt like we were walking along people's front porches and judging by the scene laid out above, we were. 

Above was also one of my braver moments when I asked to take this mans portrait and he nodded a yes. 

Below, I made my way through the crowded streets of Amphawa Market with my favorite Lowepro sport backpack. It seemed like all of Thailand was beginning to fill the market streets after 5pm. 

DAY TWO: The Royal Palace + Tuk Tuk Travels 

We made our way via taxi to the Royal Palace where we bought Thai styled pants and cover ups, because you're not allowed to show your legs or shoulders and we started our afternoon in the Palace. 

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We wondered around, sitting for moments staring at the beautiful architecture and watching the crowds of different ethnicities make their way into one of the main temples to witness some sort of ceremony. Every now and then I would find myself distracted by my high body temperature covered with so many layers, but I’d again become immersed in the details that covered each and every tile and forget for a moment I was burning up! (I’m such a baby with being too hot) 

After our afternoon of exploring the palace grounds, we finally made our way back out to the busy streets surrounding the exterior walls. We still had plenty of our day left and we debated what to do next and settled on just walking in a random direction - something we do often. Not soon after a man approached us suggesting we take his friends tuk tuk assuring us he’d give us a deal. Keep in mind this is only our second day and we hadn’t quite figured out the “system” here. In other words, what did this seemingly nice man really want from us?

 

We went to meet the driver and after agreeing on several locations for the afternoon and what was actually a heck of a deal we took off on our first tuk tuk ride! 

The driver and his cute little boy, genuinely seemed to have our best interest in mind throughout the day. I know it might seem sad, but since we travel quite often we’re always a little wary of intentions, (as you should be) but unless we missed it…there never seemed to be an ulterior motive. Honestly, we were thrilled with the day and the places he suggested for us and like I said it was a reasonable price. 

So did that simply affirm our love for Thailand? How could it not?  

Overall, Bangkok is still a city with it’s ups and downs but overall the people were warm, welcoming and willing to help a couple tourists. The sights are full of breath taking architecture and the markets are full culture and color…oh and the food! We were sad to leave Bangkok, but knowing we’d end our trip back there we were eager to head to our next destination - exotic Krabi! 

-Tara