Alaska Northern Lights October 2021

I was recently in Alaska for what was supposed to be a 4 night Northern Lights photography trip. The night skies were mostly terrible for the week I was there. I was lucky with 1 great night to see the Aurora. Other than that I had nothing to commit my time. So I wandered Alaska between Anchorage, up to Fairbanks and beyond, then almost to Seward. I can’t wait to do it again.

I took a bunch of pictures, and have a few great memories I am trying to get the courage to share. Pictures are HERE if you are interested. Thanks for reading.

August 2020 Stir Crazy Cross Country Drive

Apparently I never posted anything here about this Cannonball Run. The pictures have been up since I got back. Last august I went stir crazy, had enough, and drove cross-country with a couple friends. We made it as far west as West Yellowstone, and then spent about a week in Yellowstone. Those two bozos flew home after a week, and I took my time driving back. If it was up to me, I’d have never made it. Sadly, I can’t convince my wife to get the dogs and horses and join me. I stopped in and visited many National Parks and Monuments on the way back home through, Montana, Wyoming, and the Dakotas. Sadly the California wildfires of the time ruined most of the trip for photography. I was able to get a few days in the beginning, but after that, the skies were wrecked.

Below are a few, but if you want to see all the pictures, they are HERE if you are interested.

North of Norway March 2020

We recently returned home from Norway (after a quick stopover in London to see Magic Goes Wrong) just in the nick of time. With the onset of this pandemic knowing as the Toyota Corolla Virus, air travel was shut down and US citizens were not welcome anywhere. We landed in JFK late in the evening after being flown home from Heathrow, basically on a private plane. It was the giant 2 story plane (747 I think), and we were 2 of only about 50 passengers. I think there was more staff on the plane than paid passengers. Team Sellers unparalleled luck strikes again. Our time in Norway was wonderful, truly a magical and beautiful place. At least the very tiny portion we saw in North of Norway was. We were treated to the Northern Lights on 2 different evenings, including our first night there. A comical young Portuguese man named Marcos Sobrel took us on a private hunt about 2 hours north of Tromso. He set up a base camp in the middle of the snow with a big camp fire to make dinner, roast marshmallows, and keep warm. It was on the edge of a lake with no irritating artificial light around. We stayed in this spot for about 6 hours, until the wee hours of the morning. Got a ton of great Northern Lights shots, and had an all-around fun time hanging out in the cold and snow around a roaring camp fire. Of course, we strolled around each of the towns we stayed finding Geocaches. That always adds to the fun and adventure of any travel. 

Our second night there we went dog sledding at Camp Tamok. I believe wifey found her new calling in life. As of now all future travel must include dog sled mushing. She is thinking about getting a few here to train and try for the Iditarod in a couple years. There was only one crash and it was because while I was mushing, she did not heed my instructions on which way to lean. Her story is different than mine, feel free to go read her blog where she says mean things about me. We also happened to be in North of Norway during their annual giant Dog Sled race, the Finnmarkslopet. It was probably like being in Brazil during the World Cup, everyone talks about it constantly. 

Then we got on a boat from Tromso to Kirkenes for 2 nights, the Hurtigruten Nordnorge. It was not at all like being on a cruise, it was like a floating hotel. This boat company is used as transportation by a lot of people to get to port cities that don’t have roads connecting. It was a different experience. While onboard we got to visit The North Cape, or Nordkapp. This is the northern most point on the European continent, pretty cool! The boat dropped us off in Kirkenes a couple days later. We did not know it until we got there, but we were only a few KM’s, as the crow flies, from the Russian border! We were not allowed there, maybe next time. 

Thus, begins our time and stay at the famous Snow Hotel in Kirkenes…WOW! This is easily the most unique place we have visited, let alone stayed overnight. It is a giant compound with all the Nordic activities you could imagine, sled dogs, snowmobiling, skiing, puppy walks, king crab fishing, and king crab eating. They have about 20 little cabins for overnight stays. They also have a Snow Hotel! This is a hotel made completely of snow and ice and some low voltage electrical wires for lighting. No plumbing, no heat. There are about 20 of these rooms as well. This is where we slept on a nice mattress, all bundled up in giant military grade sleeping bags. The temperature was not a problem at all, it stays just a few degrees below zero all the time. I was much colder on my last backpacking trip in New Jersey a few months ago. I actually got hot in the giant bag long before I was ever cold. Each room has a unique theme, most of them Disney related. Of course there are pictures of all these rooms HERE. After the night in the Snow Hotel it was an overnight in a hotel in the nearby town of Kirkenes. We were treated to another great showing of the Northern Lights that evening. The lights were viewable over the water just outside our hotel, so convenient. The last day was all day of traveling, 3 planes, not 1 delay, lost bag, or quarantine because of viruses. Somehow we made it home on time and unharmed.

I might do a little more detail on some of the activities in the future, in case you care.

Some pictures of the entire London and Norway trip are in a gallery OVER HERE.

London for a Magic Show? That sounds like me in March 2020

Thank you virus for waiting long enough to kick in so that we could still travel as planned. We went to London (and Norway) recently, solely to see a new show. Magic Goes Wrong just opened in London and I have completely fell in love with the Goes Wrong Gang. Then they teamed up with Penn & Teller to make a new show? Of course I am flying to London. The show was amazingly funny. Magic and comedy done completely wrong, yet somehow still doing actual magic. I wish they’d have me in their cast. Maybe when the local show comes to Cecil College.

We have been home from London and Norway for about 10 days, now in social distance mode. Neither of us have any symptoms of the virus. We did get home to the USA just in time. The day after we landed is when they stopped allowing flights and shutting down the countries we were just in. Just by the hair on my chinny chin chin.

HERE is a link to a few pictures from London of the stereotypical tourist attractions.

Galapagos Islands Ecuador & Machu Picchu Peru August 2019

We were lucky enough to go to the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador and Machu Picchu in Peru. We spent a week on a boat in the Galapagos, and almost a week bouncing around Peru, culminating in the finale at Machu Picchu. Some pictures are HERE.

It is no secret that this trip is not what I expected. I thought the Galapagos Islands were going to be an adventure trip. I am super happy to have been there, and that we are lucky enough to be able to go places like this. It was really unique to see the Galapagos Islands and the animals that only live there. But the trip was anything but adventurous. It was a lot of very short nature walks and the edges of the islands. Just not what I expected to be doing for a week. The entire trip was worth it for the single day we spent at Machu Picchu. The highlight was the hike up to Huayna Picchu, and from there looking over and down at the entire Machu Picchu village and valley. The Andes Mountains in South America make the Rockies look like sissies. Machu Picchu itself was just completely overrun with people and felt like a cattle wrangle at times. Again, tremendously grateful to have been able to even be there. The experience loses appeal each time I see some slut doing hair and makeup for a selfie at Machu Picchu.

I decided I would much rather spend 12 hours with 1 other person, walking to the top of a mountain, just to be the only people there.

 

 

 

 

Some pictures are HERE.

Rocky Mountain National Park July 2019

This hiking trip got postponed due to weather and back problems. I wasn’t sure it was even going to happen. But now that this trip has come and gone, it went smooth beyond description. Nobody gets 7 days of perfect weather in the Colorado Rockies. Sunny and 70 degrees, cooler at elevation. It didn’t rain while we were doing things, it rained when we didn’t give a shit, and we got hailed on at the peak of Mt Ida, which only added to the experience. Several firsts for me. I was finally able to get OK shots of the Milky Way in the middle of the night. The moon was out, but hidden behind a mountain peak. I also took my first pictures of lightning strikes. There was a storm in the opposite direction of the sunset, over Denver. There were a few guys shooting pics of the lightening strikes. One of them was nice enough to give me a few tips and send me down the path. It was a lot of fun. The only real hiccup was getting home. Apparently there were no flights getting from Denver to Philadelphia for several days. We sat through several delays, got on the plane, drove away and back twice, and then finally decided to rent a car and drive home. While doing that we instead found a flight into BWI. Almost 24 hours at an airport to get home. Truly a very small penance to pay for the week we had. All in all it was a very romantic week with my friendly neighborhood Juggalo watching sunrises, sunsets, star gazing, fighting off nocturnal advances, and shivering in each other’s arms during thunder and lightning storms. There is a gallery of photos HERE.

Final installment of the Alaska 2015 adventure

We left the Denali Backcountry Lodge in the morning at 6am. We saw a bunch of wildlife on the drive out of the park. The highlight was a grizzly bear eating a moose just 50 yards off the side of the road at a bridge crossing. A couple great pictures HERE. It was pretty intense to see. Vehicles are not allowed on this road until 6am so our bus had a head start. Leaving from inside the park and driving out, we were first to disturb any of the early morning animals that got comfortable with the empty driving road. Alaska-2015-07-2844On to the Denali visitors center to wait for our train to leave. We had about 2 hours to kill. It sucked being back in the real world. The visitor center is full of rubes, and here we are back in the mix. We saw more people in a minute than we had in the past 2 weeks. Mainly frumpy tourists (like us), Ornamentals with cameras, and Midwesterners wearing too much makeup hurrying to get their tee shirts. There is a lot to be said for seclusion and isolation. The train left at 12:30pm. A long 8 hour ride to Anchorage and the end of our trip. Those pictures of the bus ride with the grizzlies are HERE.

Alaska winding down-Denali National Park

Very few pictures HERE. Bush Pilot Paul Claus dropped us off at the McCarthy airstrip where we were met by our charter pilot for the flight into Denali. Wouldn’t you know it, our new best friend in the whole world pilot Bill McKinney again. He had requested our return flight. I guess we hit it off pretty well. He liked having someone to talk about The Dead with. This was a much more eventful flight in the way of bumps and wind. It was just over 2 hours and some of it was very bumpy. Wifey had just come off a week of no anxiety flying, so this was an unfortunate turn of events for her. Of course we made it safely, Bill is an expert. Bill the pilot told me about some music he and some friends were going to be playing later that night just up the hill from where we would be staying, the Denali Backcountry Lodge. Once on the ground and he met up with his friends I proceeded to get an invite. I never felt more accepted in my life. I felt like I was slowly being integrated into the Alaskan Back County Society. In hind site I wish I had went. We got shuttled to the lodge by pilot Bill’s friend Matt. Once there it was almost 8pm, dinner time. It was yummy and then off to bed after a long day.

I guess we hit the Alaskan weather lottery while in Wrangell St. Elias National Park. We had a week in Wrangell of almost perfect weather, and now the forecast for the next few days is pretty shitty. Rain and wind. We slept in with a plan of going to breakfast and then I would go on an unguided hike alone. I set out but only walked for about an hour. Took a nicely leisurely stroll up a stream. Hiking here is not like what I am used to. There are not really any super defined trails, mostly bushwhacking. But I ventured out for a little while with my borrowed can of bear spray. After wandering for a little while I decided to loop back and take a leisurely morning and see what happens next.

What came next was a bus trip to Wonder Lake. It is a beautiful walking area with a view of Denali peak. Unfortunately the weather today only allowed us to see the bottom of the mountain. Seeing the full mountain is apparently a rarity. It only shows something like 40 days per year? Once the bus dropped us off at Wonder Lake we were going to ride mountain bikes back. It was a great ride back, about and hour. A great way to see a very small part of this park. Over dinner tonight we sat with 2 older couples from St. Louis. They were talking about bucket lists. One couple had now officially been in all 50 states. The other older lady wanted to complete the 50 states and smoke a joint for her bucket list. We quickly chimed in trying to help her by giving her suggestions of things to do in Delaware and encouraging her to visit Colorado to smoke a joint. Hopefully it all works out for her. We did not do too much here in Denali but I am really glad we were able to make it. Ben, Paul Clause’s son in law, told us that we would have a nice laugh at the cute little park that is Denali. After being in Wrangell I don’t think anything will ever be the same for me. Tomorrow is our trek back to anchorage for a flight home and back to real life. I’ve spent the last 2 weeks completely unplugged from everything and the outside world. I have never been happier. I could see living like this again. Tomorrow is a 6-hour bus ride out of Denali Park followed by a 7-hour train ride into Anchorage to catch a 1am flight back home. It is either that or stay in Alaska forever. I am still undecided. Very few pictures HEREAlaska-2015-07-2805-HDR