Saturday, July 23, 2011

# 26:  Next week I fly to Salt Lake City for the Fellowship’s International Conference.  I met readers in Florida, Texas and Washington State who suggested I go, so how could I decline?  I am looking forward to meeting readers from around the world.  I guess that means I need to finish Alaska before I get too far behind, so I must hurry through the rest of the journey.  I have not been to any study group meetings recently; hopefully I will make up for that in the posting after the conference.

“You cannot reveal God to those who do not seek for him; you cannot lead unwilling souls into the joys of salvation. Man must become hungry for truth as a result of the experiences of living, or he must desire to know God as the result of contact with the lives of those who are acquainted with the divine Father…. If we know God, our real business on earth is so to live as to permit the Father to reveal himself in our lives, and thus will all God-seeking persons see the Father and ask for our help in finding out more about the God who in this manner finds expression in our lives.”  Jesus speaking to Ganid.  The Urantia Book (1466.2) (132:7.2)

Now back to the Alaska tour, which we left last time in the Kenai Peninsula.  The next major event was a cruise from Seward (pronounced Souward), the full length of Resurrection Bay, into Aialik Bay and up to the Aialik Glacier, shown above.  Along the way were beautiful sights of the snow-capped mountains, small islands and wildlife.  I photographed a Sea Otter taking a nap while floating on his back, a Humpbacked whale, a pair of Orcas (killer whales), a Puffin, a rock wall covered with Artic Terns, and Sea Lions where the large male was bellowing out orders.  While the ship stood just off the glacier there were many loud noises but we saw no icebergs falling off.  On the way back to port the ship had a special on Margaritas made with glacier ice.

The next day was a free day at Denali, which worked out well because everyone could choose what they wanted to do.  I had signed up for a guided hike in the morning and wondered about the weather, this was the only rain we had the entire trip but the rain was light enough not to interfere with the hike.  The walk was enjoyable through the wet woods and the highlight of the hike was a close encounter of the Moose kind.  We stopped at the end of a lake and spotted a female Moose at the far end of the lake.  I took my time getting out my telephoto lens and got a good picture of her.  Shortly after that we were walking along the lake, on a trail that was uphill and perhaps fifty feet or so from the shore when we saw the Moose taking a swim.  She then got out of the water and began charging up the hill toward us.  I took one photo that shows her large body behind a nearby bush, too close for the long lens.  She got to within about thirty feet of us before the tour guides waved their arms, shouted and shooed her away.

That afternoon the weather cleared up and I was able to take a helicopter ride up to a glacier.  This flight over the Alaska wilderness was truly memorable.  We were seated in the helicopter according to weight and I was given the back window seat.  Along the way we saw Dall’s Sheep and Caribou but both were a bit too far away to photograph well.  The scenery was stunning; the above photo only gives a small taste of the sights.  As we landed on the glacier the music in our headphones was Satchmo singing “It’s a Wonderful World,” probably planned that way but a nice touch anyway.  We were able to get out, walk around and take pictures from the top of the glacier.  

From Denali we went south to Talkeetna where we stayed two nights.  While there we went on a jet boat ride.  The boat was large enough for all 47 in the tour group; after a leisurely ride upriver the boat pilot stopped and asked us all to buckle our seatbelts.  We then went over Class IV rapids and stopped just short of Class VI rapids that had exposed rocks.  This area is called Devil’s Canyon, naturally.  He held the boat in place for fifteen minutes so we could all take plenty of pictures.  The last evening in Talkeetna the clouds lifted and the mountain came into full view.

Alaska, the great land indeed!

"On the seven mansion worlds [where we go after physical death] ascending mortals are afforded ample opportunities for compensating any and all experiential deprivations suffered on their worlds of origin, whether due to inheritance, environment, or unfortunate premature termination of the career in the flesh." The Urantia Book (516.1) (45:6.3)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

#25: In a word, Alaska was fantastic, spectacular and wondrous!  I took about 1500 pictures on the trip, but I may spare you some of them.  After returning I was asked if there were any parts of the trip that I did not enjoy; I had to answer no because every moment was better than expected.  After thoroughly enjoying the Great State of Alaska I visited an energetic study group in the Seattle - Bellevue area.  I will break the Alaska trip into more than one blog so I can also include study group meetings.

But before starting on the trip I have an update on a previous blog (#23) where I described the Falls Park on the Reedy River in Greeneville South Carolina.  On the flight from Philadelphia to Anchorage, which was seven hours forty minutes long, I was flipping through the airline magazine when I saw an article listing the best city parks in the country.  Most were in big cities like Atlanta or New York City, but the park in Greeneville was listed as one of the fifteen best.  Told you.

“My son, everything must await the coming of its time. You are born into the world, but no amount of anxiety and no manifestation of impatience will help you to grow up. You must, in all such matters, wait upon time. Time alone will ripen the green fruit upon the tree. Season follows season and sundown follows sunrise only with the passing of time....  My tomorrow is wholly in the hands of my Father in heaven.” (Jesus talking to Ganid) The Urantia Book (1436.4) (130:5.3)

The first stop was Potter Marsh, south of Anchorage; the above photograph gives some idea of what it looked like.  After I took the above photo I was told there was a Sandhill Crane in the marsh.  I put the telephoto lens on but could not see the bird.  I took a couple of pictures anyway and when I examined them later I could indeed see the Crane.  There were also ducks and plenty of Tree Swallows were flying about catching snacks.  The Swallows were too swift for me to photograph on the wing, but a pair kindly perched on a nearby tree and posed for me.  The following picture is titled “My nest is your nest.”

In time I hope to set up a web page with more pictures, until then you will have to wait until we meet.

On the way back to the bus we saw a female Moose and her calf, but I have a better Moose story and picture later.  Our next stop was at Portage Glacier, shown below in the distance.  There was a nature center showing a film about the area; the time difference (four hours) was starting to catch up with me, but I did not sleep through the entire film.
The next day I called my brother at the campground in New York State, the first thing he asked about the earthquake.  I had read in the morning paper that there was a 5.2 magnitude earthquake centered near where we had been the day before, however we did not feel it on the rocking bus.  He probably heard about it before we did.

The highlight of that day was a float trip on the Kenai River starting at Cooper Landing.  Before starting out on the rubber rafts we were fitted with rubber boots and full water gear, but no hats thank you.  Each raft held twelve people; at the beginning the river water came from a glacier and was cloudy but later spring-fed streams entered the river.  We saw a bald eagle perched in a tree; downstream there were many fishermen along the bank angling for salmon, in places they were only two or three feet apart.  Not far beyond them was a bear, but he was not fishing, just hanging out and trying to figure out what those funny things in the river were.
The next day we went to Exit Glacier; before beginning our climb to the glacier we saw two bear cubs up the same tree and I got a photo.  I guess it is time to visit the study group and close, more on Alaska next time.

I had met some of the Bellevue – Seattle study group at the Boulder conference last year; in fact Tom took the photo of me giving my presentation (blog #13).  Linda was kind enough to invite me on an excursion with her daughter and two grandsons to the Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island.  After finishing Alaska I might tell more about that visit, it was a beautiful area.  Christine was a gracious host and we had interesting conversations before the study group meeting.  During the meeting we read Paper 160 “Rodan of Alexandria.”  This study group has a meaningful practice; at the close of each meeting they read one of the prayers from other planets found on page 1622-3.

"The world needs more firsthand religion. Even Christianity - the best of the religions of the twentieth century - is not only a religion about Jesus, but it is so largely one which men experience secondhand." The Urantia Book (2083.4) (195:9.8)