"I'm going to speak my mind because I have nothing to lose."--S.I. Hayakawa

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Day Drive

I left at 1 PM Christmas day for Soldotna, a drive that should take about an hour and a half through the Kenai Mountains in Cooper Landing and the vast muskeg and taiga forest of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.  That's its newer name.  It used to be the Kenai Moose Range.

We who have been here a long time still call it the Kenai Burn because of a wild fire that ravaged the area in the 1950s.

Cooper Landing is beautiful.  The unusual aqua color of the lake and river enchants everyone who sees it.

The lighting that day was perfect for photography.  I used to think good photos were taken only on sunny days with few clouds.  I've learned better, as this photo of a mountain shrouded in fog and mist shows.

A few miles farther, another bend in the river.

I've never cared for this part of the Kenai Peninsula, these rolling flatlands.  Give me mountains instead.  Nevertheless, I left early because I knew I would be stopping often to take photos.  It wasn't long before I made that first stop to capture the aqua water of Kenai River surrounded by frosted trees.

Once I entered the Kenai Burn, I was on extreme alert, rather than just high alert.  Very soon, I saw what I'd been expecting.

Sorry about the out of focus picture.  I was still moving when I shot this.

The two calves joined mom on the side of the road to nosh on birch and willow.

The calves soon tired of this spot and looked for greener pastures.

And of course, those pastures were back across the highway.

The second calf followed....

This calf is not full grown.  Notice how much taller it is than the vehicle, and how it could be scooped up onto the hood of the car if it were hit.  The hood, of course, would send it right into the windshield and then into the laps of the front seat passengers.

Mom looked on in exasperation.

It was a matter of time before mom and kids would be reunited on one side of the road or the other, so I drove on, flashing my lights to warn on-coming traffic.

The Kenai Mountains in Cooper Landing were in my rear view mirror and I drove across the Burn.

At Moose River, the sun was heading for the horizon and the lighting was phenomenal.

That evening, I drove through the town of Soldotna on my way home, enjoying the lighted decorations fastened to light stanchions.

Deep in the valley with the Kenai River on one side and mountains on both sides, I saw another moose.  This one was standing on the snow bank, waiting for me and the vehicle behind me to pass so it could cross the road.  They aren't always that polite, or road-savvy.  Far too many times I've had them walk out in front of me.

Though I couldn't see the moose until I was right next to it, I knew it was there.  My Moose-dar was fully operational.  It's something you learn after many years of driving these highways.


  1. great photos as usual, glad you had a nice day. Happy New Year!

  2. Beautiful light in your pictures! Have a wonderful 2012 :)