Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Alaska - Part I

I am sitting in a little cottage between Allen, who is reading on the couch, and a roaring fire. We look out upon a green lawn that ends abruptly at a bluff overlooking Cook Inlet, which - at this moment - is a wall of white-grey mist. Yes, September is the rainy season in this part of Alaska! Who knew. If we could see through the fog, the Chigmit Mountains, part of the Aleution Range, would be rising on the distant shore. But, never fear, every night since our arrival, the mountains have materialized right around sunset. Last night they appeared long enough for me to do a small watercolor of them.

For this "Easel on Down the Road" trip, I did not pack my oil painting supplies. I brought many sizes of high quality watercolor paper instead, and spent some real money on a sable brush. Yesterday Allen fished for halibut while I roamed the area, looking for good sites to paint.  The clouds hung low and thick as I left him at the Fishing Charter office at 7 am. But, just north of Homer, the road rises and a pull-over provided a magnificent view of the glacier-covered Kenai Mountains poking through.

On our first full day here, we kayaked around Yukon Island, part of the Alaskan Wildlife Preserve. The harbor in Homer is full with heavily-rigged fishing boats. We cut through Kachemak Bay on a small water taxi with 10 other hopefuls. Once there, Allen folded into the rear of a two-person kayak, I plopped in the bow and we were off! Our guide was a 30-something, soft-spoken man with deep brown eyes, an auburn pony tail and a big hipster beard. He provided a wealth of information, detailing the history and geology of the area and directing our attention to the amazing wildlife: otters, seals, waterfowl, jellyfish, whales spouting in the distance. The rock formations were breathtakingly unique. Our silent slice through time was exhilerating. We hardly noticed the rain!

On this, our 4th day in the state, we are taking it easy, having walked off a big breakfast (this place came stocked with lots of good food) on the beach that is well below us. We embarked halfway between low and high tides, scrambling over wet rocks and dark "sand". Much of the Kenai Peninsula is comprised of coal. (Our kayak guide told us they were lucky it was not a high quality coal, or this place would be ribbons of ruins by now.) The first bald eagle we saw sat high above us on a dead tree. Our presence seemed to make little difference to him. The next, who was just down the shore, changed perches as we passed below him. We saw more as we continued, most of whom were large, immature eagles, fishing in a stream that runs into Cook Inlet.

During the rest of this week I plan to continue finding vistas to watercolor. Upon return I will decide which piece will be the basis for the oil painting of Alaska. Yet to come: my first attempt at ocean fishing and then a day excursion to see the Kenai Fjords and ocean wildlife on the other side of the peninsula. Stay tuned...


  1. I can hardly wait for the showing next summer. I love being able to share even a little of the process and adventure you have experienced. Clouds--I love clouds!

  2. LOVE both of the Alaska watercolor paintings! Beautiful