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A Trip to Alaska

Bahman Doustdar

Canada, 2016

In summer of 2016 I had a 7-day trip to Alaska, a state that Americans call “the last frontier” and I had heard a lot about extreme beauty of its nature. I decided to put my camera into good use in this trip and register some of the natural beauties of Alaska in , I made sure that I had enough memory cards, an extra battery, and a battery charger in my camera backpack.

One does not have to wait to get to Alaska to start taking interesting pictures. It can start right from the very beginning of the trip before and during boarding the cruise-liner. He outside view of the huge cruise ship as well as its deck, its chimney and many other parts and corners of it provide any one with keen eyes for photography with many opportunities for great shots.

After leaving Vancouver for Alaska, the cruise liner passes through the long Strait of Georgia, on right side of which lies the mainland Canada, and on the shores of Vancouver Island can be seen. Strait of Georgia is dotted with many scenic small rock or forest-covered islands. If lucky, in day time you may also see sea otters resting on rocks or some whales passing by. Keep your camera at hands for such occasions.

Next morning we were at the Southern tip of Alaska and the cruise liner docked at the small port city of Ketchikan. Ketchikan is a neat and beautiful small city. In few hours one can walk to the four corner of it. It is surrounded on three sides by mountains that are covered with dense forests and mist.

In Alaska the first thing that grabs your attention is the vastness of the land and purity of its nature. Its majestic snow-covered mountains, its dense forests, beautiful bays and sounds, its awe-inspiring glaciers and waterfalls are all feasts for the eyes of the visitors of the land.

One will also notice that the dominant colors in Alaskan nature are green, blue and grey; a paradise for those interested in black and white photography! Dominance of such colors is perhaps the reason why in Alaskan cities great many buildings are painted with warm colors such as yellow, red, etc. For instance, you can see many such colorful buildings in Ketchikan. There are many wooden or stone or metal statues depicting the aboriginal people of the land, miners, animals, etc. around in the city. Besides natural scenery, these are also very good subjects for photography.

In every city in Alaska you can see many stores that sell precious or semi-precious stones such jade and tanzanite or jewelry and artifacts made of them. They also sell artifacts made of gold, whale bones, and imported ivory. Some of these artifacts are very elaborated and beautiful, especially those made by indigenous artists. To take picture of them, of course you should ask for the store managers’ permission first. Beware that cheap and fake replicas of the Alaskan natives’ art imported from china are available in almost every gift shop too.

Our next destination was Juneau, the capital city of Alaska. The day after, we arrived at Juneau. Here also we had few hours to visit the city and beyond. Tours and excursions for tourists are readily available in every city in Alaska. Depending on your budget you can go on excursions by bus or train or kayak or helicopter or plain. Visiting glaciers is among the most popular tours. Not being a wealthy tourist, I and my companions chose to go on bus to see the Nugget falls and the glacier beside it, which cost us about $ 65 per person. I am glad to say that it worth every penny. Nugget falls is breath-taking and a great subject for photography. And so is the glacier close to it. The nature around them with misty forests and shallow ponds are also amazing.

After Juneau, the cruise ship sailed towards another small port called Skagway. To reach Skagway, the ship passed through Glacier Bay and Chilkoot Inlet. No doubt, this was the best and most beautiful part of our trip, and surely one of the most beautiful parts of the world. On both sides of the bay rings of snow-capped high mountains soared into the sky, and every now and then a great glacier appeared and displayed its power and beauty to onlookers. By now, all enthusiast passengers were on the upper deck putting their cameras to work taking pictures or film.

Here and elsewhere in Alaska I was stunned to see how fast fog or mist rises and covers forests, mountains and everything else; so much so that at times only tip of a high mountain remains visible. It gives a mysterious quality to the scenery and provides photographers with an opportunity to take some really interesting pictures.

Finally we reached the very small town of Skagway. However, I found Skagway more impressive than Ketchikan and Juneau, mostly because of the effort undertaken to preserve the city’s historical heritage.

Skagway owes its existence to the famous Klondike gold rush in late 19th century. It was the place where those in search of gold stayed and prepared themselves for the last part of their journey to Klondike fields. Today, still a number of buildings and objects belonging to that era are preserved in their original forms and on display visitors of Skagway. Among them are the century-old city hall, an equally old saloon and bar with original bottles of beer and other drinks, the house and belongings of one of the officials of the time, and even two side by side small whore-houses of those days. On the corner of one of the streets a 19th century train is also on display.

After visiting Skagway, we went back on board of the cruise. In the morning we woke up at Anchorage which is a much bigger city but had no chance to spend time there. According to our schedule we had to go directly to the airport and fly to Vancouver.

It was a memorable trip and a great experience!