Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Final days in Alaska


Today we took a water taxi from Seward into the Kenai Fjords! We are at Kayakers Cove for the night. Once we got settled in, we had 20 minutes so we decided to go on a quick hike. However, we couldn’t find the trail so we ended up scaling the mountainside… once we realized we weren’t on the path, we had to turn back! We had the choice of going on a long or short kayak expedition through the fjords; I obviously chose the longer one! I had thought that I was well prepared for the 6 hour journey (6-7 miles) through the freezing rain and wind and waves, but I realized that I had never ACTUALLY kayaked like that before!! Corryn was my partner, and as soon as we set out into the water, we began playing the word association game because there was nothing else to do besides look around and feel exhausted. We ended up playing the game for 7 hours straight!! The highlight of the kayak excursion, which Justin and Ariane went on with us, is that at our turnaround point, we stumbled upon a giant rock with hundreds of seagulls with nests and 2 separate colonies of sea lions lounging on giant rocks a couple hundred meters apart! We first went to the farther of the two colonies, and we ended up getting so close that the sea lions felt threatened and charged us! All at once, the huge animals threw themselves from the rock into the water and started swimming in a large and loud pack! It was terrifying and I was screaming. Once we finished taking pictures of them, we went back to the first rock of sea lions and nearly the same thing happened again! It was insane. On the way back, Corryn and I were at the back, so we talked with Justin for nearly the entire time. The fjords were extremely old, majestic, and Jurassic looking. They were gorgeous! We paddled by waterfalls, caves, and islands with clouds settled low over the trees. Once we finally reached the hostel, I had a burrito (it was nearly 10 at night, but still light) and then went on a hike with Jack, Corryn, Christian, and others. This time, we found the trail and climbed it to a boulder field! The boulder field was very interesting and serene. The forest that we hiked through together was so mystical! The green moss and ground were so vibrant it felt like I was in a fairy tale! After our hike, we met up with everyone else at the campfire that Justin made and had some GIANT s'mores! After a while, some of the guys decided it would be fun if they stripped down and jumped into the freezing water, and they did!! It was so funny! After that fiasco, we hung around the fire until 2 a.m. I finally went to bed around 2:30 because I was waking up the next morning at 5 to go on an early morning kayak!

7/8 and 7/9

This morning’s kayak was fantastic. Only Jane, Corryn, and Maeve woke up with me to go out early with Justin. Unlike yesterday, the water was as clear as glass, so we leisurely paddled and glided against the shoreline. That was very good because my upper body has never been so sore in my entire life!! The sun came out for the first time in 4 days, so we just floated along admiring the snow covered mountain tops and the sun hitting the land. After an hour and a half, we beached on a remote island and just sat together talking and admiring the fjords for an hour and a half. It was so amazing because we talk about everything! Once we had finished on the beach, we started back to the hostel, but we basically floated along and talked more about deep topics. It is so interesting how everyone has such different beliefs yet still has similar underlying feelings. We found a patch of sunlight and floated together and talked and talked and talked. It was heaven. After more hours, we finally went back into the hostel because we had to pack out bag. This 5 hour long kayak was one of the most fun I had ever had! Around 12:20 the water taxi picked us up and took us back into Seward. There, we grabbed our big backpacks and headed towards Anchorage. The car ride was 3 hours, and because it was our last one together, everyone was a little bummed, but we jammed out to music the entire way! We reached Anchorage at 4:45 and we were told that we had until 8:45 to finalize our On Assignment projects for presenting. On Assignment projects for photography are about going through all of your best pictures and finding 10-20 that have a similar theme, and then we have to present our project to everyone at dinner. For my O/A, I had two options: isolation and colors. When I asked Justin which he thought I should do, he told me I should do both! I was very surprised because no one else was doing two, but he said that both of mine were very strong, so I was happy. For my color project, I had to do some confusing Photoshop thing to make the pictures into pairs that Justin said would make them look best. So, I ended up working on my projects for the entire 4 hours! When I finally finished, I ran upstairs and threw on my dress and got out the door! I was happy to wear a dress because this entire trip I have looked like such a homeless man it is disgusting. At dinner, I feasted. I had salad, steak, mashed potatoes, and crème brulée! Justin selected me to go first, and I was extremely nervous about talking in front of everyone, but I did it! Everyone liked my pictures… I was proud! Of the other O/As, Christian’s was great! He made a film from such a unique perspective; it was amazing. Dinner and the presentations ended at 11:30 and we got back to the hostel at midnight! Because it was the last night, no one wanted to go to bed so we all hung out downstairs! At 1, Paul got us sharpies and Maeve and I drew all of our names and inside jokes on the wall! Then I talked with Justin and Olivia till 2:45 and we went upstairs. I was pretty tired because I was running on 3 hours of sleep from the night before, but excitement kept happening! Olivia was walking into the women’s restroom, but as she opened the door, there was a hobo passed out in there with the shower running!! She sprints to Justin’s room freaking out, and Justin started pushing the door onto the man to wake him up. After, he told us to go back to our room. We listened against the door though, and the middle aged and big man was being very aggressive towards Justin. After some somewhat quiet verbal intimidation, Justin forced the man outside, even when he started making advances towards Justin! It was so intense and crazy that I was totally awake! Afterwards (around 3:30) Justin and Paul came into our room and said they called the cops and told us what happened. We finally fell asleep around 4, and I periodically woke up through the night because the sun was already rising high in the sky! In the morning, we sent off Jack because he was leaving with his dad. We went back to the pancake house that we went to on the first morning, and it felt like the trip had come in a full circle! On the way there, we listened to some super depressing music, and tears came into my eyes. After breakfast and taking another group picture, we began to drive to the airport. Justin told us how much he appreciated us and how amazing the trip was and how much he will miss us, and some other things.  We were all sobbing. We turned on our main car songs, and got to the airport. By that time I was crying so much, and I said goodbye to Justin a bunch of times. He told me some VERY nice things and words of encouragement and then we went our separate ways. I was most upset about leaving Justin because he is truly an amazing and inspirational person and he completely changed my outlook on life. Next, we said goodbye to Maeve with more tears, and then Corryn left us at the gate. Finally, I am emotionally exhausted on the airplane but immensely grateful for being able to go on this trip. I had the best time I have ever had in my life, and I am devastated that it has come to an end, but as Justin says, “Cry because it is over, AND smile because it happened.”

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Seward Boat Tour 7/6

hello!! Today we went on a boat for 6 hours today! It took us to a glacier that was in an ice field! Clouds were draped over the mountain side; it looked very majestic! On the boat, we saw a sea otter, several humpback and orca whales, sea lions, and puffins!! One of the humpback whales was a baby and it kept thrashing its tail... it was awesome. I stood outside for a part of it, and it was raining very hard and it was freezing!! I couldn't feel my hands or feel the entire time, my clothes were drenched, and my hair was in a giant knot. Once we reached the glacier, I stood outside and watched it!! Parts of it caved into the water, and it was gorgeous! When the chunks of ice hit the water, a loud and delayed booming noise followed. The glacier was situated next to a rocky cliff with trees and a waterfall was flowing into the ocean. The contrast was incredible!!! After the glacier, we returned to Seward, but the landscape on the way was so pretty! After the boat trip, we got back to the hostel and I went through 4 days of photos... After having Thai food for dinner, I'm ready to go to bed!!

Denali and Seward


hi!! Today was our last day in Denali and we had a blast! Our group divided into 2 groups, and we went to find the bus that was used in the Into the Wild movie (to get the real bus is a 20 mile hike). We explored the bus and took pictures of and on it!! After we explored the bus, we drove out to this amazing and gorgeous field. It was one of the prettiest places ive ever been! We hiked out to a calm and serene lake in the middle of the permafrost field. The field was surrounded by clusters of Christmas trees and was full of Alaskan cotton flowers. We hiked to the lake and explored! The meadow was so peaceful and with the sun beaming down, it reminded me of the Elysian Fields! After our hike, we went to dinner. As we were driving back we saw  the sunlight hit the mountains perfectly creating magical shafts of light! It was stunning, and we just sat in the van to take it in.


Happy 4th!!!! Today we drove to Seward… the drive was about 6 hours. However, it was far from boring and it went by very fast! Justin and I analyzed the Great Gatsby among other things and the whole van jammed out to a wide arrangement of music. When we reached Seward we photographed a race that was going on. These insane people were running straight up a mountain and back down; they were bruised and bleeding; it was super intense! After the race, we wolfed down some Thai food, and then had gelato! After dinner, we drove down to the beach and played and ate cookies in celebration of independence day. It was super amazing!!!


Hello J today was especially crazy because we had a 9 hour hike in climbing up to, on, and down into a glacier! The glacier was gorgeous and it was freezing cold!! We hiked around it with our crampons and checked out the large crevices (mulans). We also got to rappel down into a crevice… it was insane!! After several hours it started to rain, and everything got drenched!! The glacier was very pretty and the hike was a once in a lifetime experience!! After we hiked, we quickly came back to the hostel and changed into our warm clothes for dinner. Because it is 1 a.m. now, I must go to bed!!!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013



Hello!! Today was the first real day in Denali, and it was AMAZING! Our day consisted of waking up at 7, making our breakfasts and lunches, and heading out to the national park. Once we got to the park, we went on an amazing hike! It was about 4.5 hours long, and we were going up hill nearly the entire way. Even though it was hard, it was totally worth it: we got amazing views of the valley and mountains surrounding us. It was gorgeous!! Once we got on top of a ridge that we had to traverse, the wind began gusting us around at 40-50 mph. It was insane! The temperature was pretty chilly, but the wind made it freezing. However it didn’t stop us; we kept climbing! Once we finally reached the top, we rested, but we had to keep going. On the way down, a lot of high grass was surrounding us… high grass is where bears live :o Luckily, we didn’t see any today! After our hike, we went to another trail and explored! We went down to a secluded, placid lake and saw a moose grazing in the water! I think I took 30 pictures of it, but none of them were good. Mosquitoes attacked me again!! I HATE THEM. After our long day of hiking, we retired to our hostel and ate pizza. Today was a very satisfying day! Tomorrow we are going on another even longer and more awesome hike deeper in the park! Can’t wait!!!!!


Hi ;) today we went on our third hike! In order to get to the hike site, we had to ride on a rickety, old, noisy, and uncomfortable bus for 4 hours!! As we were driving, we saw several huge moose, a few caribou, a sheep, some bears, and a fox! Besides one of the moose and the fox, the other animals were quite far away, so I couldn’t get a good picture. Once we reached the site of our hike, we split into two groups: a group to go on an intense hike and a group to go on a stroll. Obviously I chose the harder of the two hikes. At the beginning, we had to go down a steep ledge sliding down loose rocks. Along with the rocks, we were charging through dense brush. Mosquitoes were surrounding us and trying to get in our clothes for a chance at biting our skin. Once we cleared the brush, we walked through a river bed and explored and admired the landscape. At one point, Mt McKinley’s peak poked out of the clouds way above our head! It was so majestic I could not believe my eyes. At the end of the hike, we had to climb up a steep mountain side in order to reach the road. We had to go nearly straight up through mud and more brush. I slipped and fell, but I saved my camera! On the long bus ride back after our 3.5 hour hike, we saw a grizzly bear right outside the window! It began running, and went straight into a picturesque valley. My shoes had gotten soaked on the hike while I was going across a creek, so my freezing feet had to be bare the entire way back. After the hike, we went to dinner and it was one of the funniest meals I have ever had!! I was laughing the ENTIRE time. I had a steak and it was quite satisfactory. On the way back to the hostel, we saw an extremely bright rainbow!!! It was gorgeous because the mountain peak next to it was lit by the sun. A second rainbow was faintly appearing also. It was one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen!! While we were flying down the highway at 70 mph, I stuck half my body out of the window in order to take a picture with someone else’s phone. IT WAS RAD- as Justin likes to say ;) while we were watching the rainbow, we were jamming to some Maroon5 and Muse… needless to say it was perfect. We finally got back to the hostel, had a group meeting, and now at 12:30 at night (and still relatively light outside) I must go to bed!! Overall, today was one of the best days I have ever had J

Sunday, June 30, 2013

ALASKA Days 1 and 2: Anchorage and Denali

I'm baaaaack!!! So today was our main day in Anchorage. Because it is light nearly 24 hours, I woke up constantly because I thought it was 8 am! First, we went to a pancake place and it was very good! Then we took the "scenic" route through Anchorage because we were trying to find the Alaskan Native Heritage center and couldn't find it. Once we reached it, we had Orientation and then followed a tour group that was walking through the grounds. Of course, as soon as the tour began, I fell behind because I was so distracted with taking pictures! There were very awesome totem poles and pretty flowers that I loved to photograph. After "lunch" of a Clif bar and some jerky, I went inside and photographed some high schoolers doing a native dances! Once we finished at the Heritage Center, we drove out to Kincaid Park and trekked through the forest. During our hike, we saw a mom and baby moose! They were just sitting in the middle of the trail and didn't even move once we all began to take pictures of them.
There are mosquitoes everywhere. Everywhere. They are humongous and I'm not exaggerating. They are constantly swarming us... THERE IS NO ESCAPE
Anyways... We got back into town and walked to downtown Anchorage and explored. We went into a bunch of cheesy tourist shops and had dinner. There was a local concert going on, so that was very entertaining to watch! My highlight of the day: I ate reindeer. Sorry Rudolph!!

Day 2: Today was a very fun road trip day! We drove from Anchorage to Denali National Park, and it took quite a long time (7 hours). However, it didn't matter because we were jamming to awesome music the entire time!! We stopped in a little mountain town and I explored a field/landing strip where a bunch of small planes were! I watched a lady demonstrate how to get gold out of the mud without sifting. I ate a reindeer hot dog for lunch and it was delicious!!!!!! I also walked down to the river, and had it been clear, I would have been able to see Mt. McKinley! But it wasn't. So I turned around. Once back in the car, it began to rain, and I succeeded in putting the majority of the van to bed with some really moody and chill music... It was hilarious! What made the long drive so awesome was the fact that every time we saw a gorgeous view or an interesting sight, we would pull over and photograph it! Finally I am in Denali, and tomorrow I think we are going on a long hike! I'm pumped!!!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Last days

Today we left Santa Cruz and returned to Quito. We got back, dropped off our bags, and went to dinner. At dinner, we all had to try cuy, or guinea pig; it was pretty gross! After dinner, we had MORE ice cream, but I wasn't feeling well, so I didn't. After dinner we packed and got ready to wake up at 2:45 for our plane ride. I am so grateful to everyone that helped us out on our trip, specifically Sam and Taylor, because they helped us stay safe and healthy and have fun! We landed back in town, so this is my last blog! I hope y'all enjoyed reading my posts; I have had a lot of fun traveling in Ecuador and the Galapagos!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Santa Cruz, Galapagos

~One of the land iguanas that I saw~

~The Dr. Seuss-esque cactus forest~

Hola! Today (6/23) we got to Santa Cruz after a rough, wavy, and windy 2 ½ hour boat ride! We arrived early, so we jumped straight into our activities. We walked through the town, ate ice cream, and shopped! We had some pizza, and then headed into the highlands. There, we saw several giant and vast sinkholes. Next, we kept driving and visited a farm where there was a bunch of tortoises laying and walking around!  They were so big, old, and funny to watch eat! After I crawled inside a tortoise shell, tried to crawl around in it, and stuck a leaf in my mouth, we headed to a lava tunnel! It was spooky and dark; I loved it! Tonight, we went onto the roof and took some night pictures of the city! Tomorrow, we go to the Charles Darwin Research Center and try to find Lonesome George! So long!

            Hello! Today (6/24) we went to the Darwin Research Center and the beach! First, we went to the center and saw tortoises in different stages of life. First, we saw some that were a year old; they were so cute! We reached the older tortoises, and they looked VERY aged. Next, we walked by some giant land iguanas. They were orange, yellow, white, and brown with spikes and scales. After we took pictures of them, we went out looking for Lonesome George… We found him!! He was lying on the ground not doing much, but can you blame him? He is 100 years old! After we finished at the research center, we had lunch and then headed to the beach. It took us nearly an hour to get there, but when we did, it was worth it! The beach was gorgeous. I explored, swam, tanned, and played! I also looked around in a lava rock, secluded area with a bunch of cacti lined up! I felt like I was in a Dr. Seuss book!We headed back to our inn, and I swam for a few minutes in the pool. After dinner, we had MORE ice cream! Today we have to fly back to Quito. We stay there for a night then fly home! We just found out terrible news: Lonesome George died today. Good night, I have to go and mourn the loss of another species on earth; there are now only 10 more tortoise species on earth.