The Home Turf

The Home Turf

After spending a month in the field photographing practically every day, what I really wanted to do when I got home was spend lots of time with Michelle, relax and enjoy my home, spend time with the cats, and unpack.  Of course, I had to spend some time in the office, too.  But every day, with sunny, clear skies and non-stop gorgeous weather, the outdoors called to me and beckoned me back into the field.

So where does a photographer go to revisit his home when he lives in Anchorage?  Well, if you live on the south side of town like I do, the place to go is the Turnagain Arm.  So, I arose at four this morning – sunrise was at 5:08 – and headed south on the Seward Highway.  Once you get past Potter Creek, you are at the opening of the Turnagain Arm, a long, fjord-like feature providing some separation between Anchorage and the Kenai Peninsula.  As I have often told people, I could take an entire year to photograph the Turnagain Arm and nothing else, and could come away with a lot of great images.  It is simply the gift that keeps on giving.

One of the first things I noticed was that the half moon was rising, so I knew that would be a nice element to include in my photos.  The other thing I soon noticed was that the air was perfectly calm, presenting some of the clearest reflections I have ever seen in the ten years I have lived here and have been photographing the Turnagain Arm.  As is typical for mid-May, there was still plenty of snow along the higher elevations, yet lots of green in the leafing trees.

All along the way, I saw cars, trucks and RVs parked here and there, evidence of people stopping to camp and sleep wherever they wanted.  I saw a few tents pitched at a gravel pullout about a mile past Girdwood.  One of the things I always miss when I go to the Lower 48 is the openness of Alaska.  Down in the Lower 48, there are fences everywhere.  Even in areas with no livestock, people still erect fences of all kinds to delineate their property lines.  Fences are rare in Alaska once you are outside of the city.  People go to hike, fish, camp pretty much wherever they want, except for certain areas in the Mat-Su Valley, where you could get into trouble with someone protecting their mining claim, or their meth lab or marijuana grow operation.

I went all the way down to Portage Valley, one of my favorite features of the Turnagain Arm area, within Chugach National Forest, the second largest national forest in the United States (second only to the Tongass in southeast Alaska).  There was still plenty of ice on Portage Lake, but patches of open water providing nice reflections along the way.

On my way back into Anchorage, I stop at a pullout in the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge at Potter Marsh.  The birds are nesting, so there is lots of activity, including Arctic terns, glaucous gulls, lesser yellow legs, Canada geese, and a variety of ducks.  I captured several good images of what I have determined is a Canvasback (someone let me know if I am wrong), which is an uncommon sighting for this part of the state according to Robert H. Armstrong’s “Guide to the Birds of Alaska.”

I made it back home shortly before nine, as Michelle was working on setting up a trellis to grow some vines on the south side of the house.  I offered to make coffee and breakfast – waffles with fresh strawberry sauce – and she was more than willing to let me do that.

Leave a Reply