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I believe hands are one of the most intriguing and useful body parts. They serve as the catalyst for immense emotions ranging from pleasure to pain, from soft caresses to violent beatings, and for some people the subtle and tactile movement of hands transforms ordinary images or pieces of wood into artistic masterpieces. During my trip to Alaska last year, I encountered a group of Native totem carvers. I knew almost nothing about totem poles before I visited the small town of Ketchikan, but it was there that I met with a local carver who explained the important role these poles play in Native traditions. I've already shown you the handsome carver. Perhaps you remember him?Read more... )
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Over the past few years, I've become an emotional traveler. In the old days, it was simply about checking off as many countries and States as possible in my quest for global exploration. However, running from place to place, frantically snapping photos without the ability to even mentally process or absorb the landscape or person in the image, is no longer appealing, nor does it serve any value in human understanding or connection.

During the Alaska journey last summer, I had the opportunity to make a brief stop in Skagway, a small town with less than 1,000 residents. People here live totally off the grid, surrounded by forests and huge mountains, with no doctors or lawyers for hundreds of miles.  In the summer months, the population swells. Over a million tourists enter the village during the busy Alaska cruise season from May - September. I spent almost no time with the hordes of tourists, and instead ventured into the Yukon Territory of Canada, where this photo was taken. Never in my life have I seen such stunning landscapes, with a deep historical root, combining all elements of the human spirit - endurance, joy, defeat, sorrow...

Read more... )

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I always equated the word "cruise" with boredom. Yet when the idea to take my parents on a surprise trip to Alaska arose, this seemed to be the perfect option. The main reason is that many Alaskan towns are accessible only via small plane or boat and, more importantly, most glaciers can't be seen from a car or highway. So, I did some research and settled on the cruise ship "Solstice," which is operated by the luxury cruise line Celebrity. Everything I imagined about a big cruise ship was true - endless amounts of delicious food, a lot of alcohol, a mostly older clientele and excellent service. The ship on which we traveled holds over 2,000 passengers, but much to my delight it never felt crowded. No long lines, no people shoving each other in walk ways. Just general peace, calm and amazing scenery and towns for seven days. Let's take a look!Read more... )
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Alaska is amazing for many things, but one of the most important contributions it makes to America is its extreme dedication to preservation of the vast wilderness areas that encompass it. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the Tongass National Forest, located near the quaint town of Ketchikan. This was our first stop when we took the cruise back in August, and I decided to take my parents on a tiny float plane to explore the wondrous landscapes from above. The whole time, I imagined being on the ground, right in the middle of all these trees, getting lost in all the tiny paths, falling asleep to the sound of waterfalls, but it was not to be on this trip. After this journey, which was rushed to some extent due to a tight schedule, I made a promise to return to Alaska, to travel deeper into the wild and at my own pace...many adventures await! But today, let's take a quick look at the Misty Fjords National Monument and some of the most pristine wilderness in America....Read more... )
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pugent

There's more than one Washington in America! Most foreigners think only of Washington, DC, the nation's capital and my home, but on the other side of the country sits the beautiful State of Washington. This was the start and end point for my cruise to Alaska, as the ship departed from Puget Sound in Seattle and returned there seven days later after stopping in various Alaskan villages, and a few hours in beautiful Victoria, British Columbia on the last night.

Seattle is known for many things - its large Public Market, the first Starbuck's, the Space Needle and stunning nature outside of the city areas. However, I remember it most fondly as the birthplace of grunge music, Seattle being the native land of bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains. These bands produced the soundtrack of my early adult life during my 20's. I listened to them all with passion, though I'm not sure if younger kids today are even aware of these legendary rock bands. In my mind, rock 'n' roll is dead. Replaced with over-synthesized music and untalented pretty faces with auto-tuned voices. But, music is not the focus of this post. Just a few pictures of Seattle and Victoria, British Columbia before telling you about the cruiseship on which I traveled. The cover shot is a view of the Seattle skyline, as our ship was embarking for the weeklong journey through majestic Alaska.Read more... )
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I'm in the middle of nowhere, with very limited Internet and mobile acess. I finally got a connection inland, and am writing to say hello. :) Alaska is amazing. All around there are postcard snapshots. Cruise life isn't so bad, particularly for this scenic location, where you are swallowed by mountains and crystal clear water at every turn. The last town we visited has only 800 residents, and I saw none of them. Very remote wilderness and landscapes here, untarnished by pesky humans. Awe inspring. I'll try to tell you about it soon, but I'm not sure when I'll have time to process photos and write texts. Hope everyone is well! 

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