Category Archives: North America

North America: Places to go & Background information

Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center near Anchorage (Review)

Unfortunately many tourist activities weren’t on offer in Anchorage on the Columbus Day holiday in October. Thankfully the friendly staff at Salmon Berry Travel Tours took pity on me looking sad because it was my last day in Alaska and decided to run their Wildlife Tour activity with just me onboard.

If you’ve traveled in Alaska for a while but not seen any big wildlife than this is your best option to get up close to Elk, Moose, Bears etc.

The Salmon Berry Travel Tour runs in Summer & Winter, costs $US99 per adult and takes about 4 hours return trip from Anchorage to The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, which is about an hours drive each way on the Seward Highway.


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The picturesque Seward Highway road trip was an added bonus because the weather that day was clear and sunny with blue skies. My guide said it was the nicest day in a month.

Autumn colours Seward Highway near Anchorage, Alaska

While technically not part of the Wildlife Conservation Center, the giant Ravens and Black-billed Magpies (Pica Hudsonia) which were flying around had great plumage.

Ravens in flight - Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center near Anchorage

Black-billed Magpie (Pica Hudsonia) iridescent dark blue-green wings - Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center near Anchorage

Alaskan Moose are surprisingly large when you see them close up, they can weigh up to 800-odd kg according to National Geographic.

Moose - Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center near Anchorage

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Alaska: Marine Highway, Juneau, Fairbanks Photo Journal

After Seattle, Washington state my 2012 USA west coast holiday continued as I caught the Alaska Marine Highway ferry from Bellingham, Washington to Juneau, Alaska. This photo set contains all the highlights of my time on the Alaska Marine Highway and in Alaska.

Selected Alaska travel highlights are explained as a travel diary / journal below.

At 6pm Friday I checked in and got onboard the MV Columbia at Bellingham, Washington enroute to Juneau,Alaska via the Alaska Marine Highway. My cabin was right next to the deck exit so handy for seeing what the weather was like to take photos outside.

Alaska Marine Highway ferry, MV Columbia

Alaska Marine Highway ferry schedule, MV Columbia

As I stepped onboard I changed all my devices to 5pm Alaska time. After stashing my luggage in my cabin I waited for the MV Columbia to leave port. As late September is getting close to Winter in Alaska there were only about 125 passengers on board, about a quarter of the usual capacity.

Passenger waiting to leave Bellingham port - Alaska Marine Highway ferry, MV Columbia

I knew that the next day would be clear weather and have good viewing opportunities of the landscape we were passing from standing at the stern of the MV Columbia. So I woke up at 5am (voluntarily! which is very rare for me) and was rewarded with this beautiful sunrise.

Sunrise over Alaska Inside Passage - Alaska Marine Highway ferry, MV Columbia

Panorama Sunrise over Alaska Inside Passage - Alaska Marine Highway ferry, MV Columbia

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Seattle, Washington – Citypass Holiday Photo Journal

After San Francisco, California my 2012 USA west coast holiday continued as I caught the Amtrak Coast Starlight train to Seattle, Washington State. This photo set contains all the highlights of my time spent walking around Seattle.

Selected Seattle, Washington State highlights are explained as a travel diary / journal below.

When I told people I was visiting Seattle they warned that it would rain all the time so I should pack plenty of wet weather clothing. As it turned out the end of September is the perfect time to visit Seattle because the temperatures are comfortable and it didn’t rain even one drop the whole week I was there.

When visiting a country it’s a great idea to participate in national pastimes. Baseball is one of the main ones in the USA so I went along with a friend who lives in Seattle to watch the local Mariners team play a home game against the Texas Rangers. Safeco Field is a great place to watch a baseball match as you can get a good view of the game without having to spend a lot of money.

Texas Rangers batter hitting baseball from Seattle Mariners pitcher, Safeco Field September 23 2012

I had a great time and this is a sample of the atmosphere including Seattle Mariners batter Eric Thames hitting a home run.

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Amtrak Coast Starlight Train Emeryville CA to Seattle WA Review

After San Francisco, California my 2012 USA west coast holiday continued on the Amtrak Coast Starlight train to Seattle, Washington State. photo set contains my highlights of the journey.

It should be emphasised that catching Amtrak is about the journey and who you meet along the way. Delays can and do occur due to weather, other train traffic along the route and injuries/fatalities if someone collides with the train. Do not make firm plans on the same day you’re due to arrive at your destination to meet friends for dinner, catch a connecting flight etc.

In return you’ll get to sit and watch the landscape roll pass as the Amtrak Coast Starlight train passes through California, Oregon and Washington State. Book by phone so you can ask for a sleeper roomette in the middle of the carriage on the top level and on whichever side left/right the customer service agent thinks will be more scenic.

slow exposure Freight Train Carrying Oregon Wood passing Amtrak Coast Starlight train - Emeryville to Seattle

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San Francisco, California Holiday Photo Journal

My 2012 USA west coast holiday began in San Francisco, California. This photo set contains all the highlights of my time spent there walking around the city.

Selected San Francisco photo highlights are explained as a travel diary / journal below.

General Motors illegal systematic destruction of the US public transport system during the early and mid 20th century was part of a larger strategy to push the United States into automobile dependency.

San Francisco F Market & Wharves historic streetcar line

William Randolph Hearst, founder of the Hearst Newspapers media empire (the Rupert Murdoch of his day) began his career at the San Francisco Examiner building (Third and Market streets) on March 4 1887.

I use Hearst as an example of how huge media empires tend to weaken, lose influence and fragment after the founder passes away. One of my friends commented when they saw the photo that Hearst was “one of the most toxic of the moguls America ever gave us and likely an inspiration for the yellow journalism in which Murdoch’s publications engage”.

Hearst Building, San Francisco, California

This 40 ft high Raygun Retro Rocketship art is located at Pier 14, Ferry Wharf with the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge in the background. It imagines a world where we could travel to distant lands in the solar system by rocket.

40 ft Raygun Retro Rocketship art - Pier 14, Ferry Wharf, San Francisco

The pier to the right of the rocket ship is a good place to see the skyline eg: the Transamerica Pyramid (tallest skyscraper in San Francisco) surrounded by fog at sunset.

Transamerica Pyramid surrounded by fog at sunset - tallest skyscraper in San Francisco

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