Alaska Day 6: Puffins are too cute + Back to Anchorage.

Day 6 begins in Seward for the morning, and ends at Anchorage, our last stop, for the evening.

My brother and I visited the Alaska Sealife Center, which is an the aquarium and aviary. Much like the Wildlife Conservation Center we visited on Day 3,

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“The Alaska SeaLife Center is the only facility in Alaska that combines a public aquarium with marine research, education, and wildlife response. 

While primarily dedicated to marine research and education, the Center is the only permanent marine mammal rescue and rehabilitation facility in the state.”


-From the Alaska SeaLife Center Website (http://www.alaskasealife.org)

I really appreciate centers like this, because they provide normal people to see animals and wildlife up close, study them scientifically to further our research knowledge about animals. However, the reason why I these centers the most is because many of the animals we see inside the SeaLife center are rescued injured or orphaned wildlife that receive rehabilitation at the center.

Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward, AK

The following photos were taken by me at the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward, AK.

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Sleeping little bird! Aww 🙂
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Horned Puffin
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Tufted Puffin
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I really like horned puffins.
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They’re too cute!
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I mean look at them!!!!!!

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Napping seal.
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Seal swimming upside down.
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Large Sea Lion.
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Flounder flapping around.

 

After some gift-shopping and lunch with the family, it was time to say goodbye to the pretty little town of Seward.

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And on to our last stop (where we began): Anchorage.

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Google maps: Seward to Anchorage.

Anchorage is a very pretty city to photography because even though there are a lot of buildings that make for good “cityscapes,” There is often a view of a mountain in the distance.

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Sleeping little bird! Aww 🙂

My brother’s freshman college roommate happens to live in Alaska, and was in Anchorage, so we had dinner with him and my brother was able to catch up with an old friend. It was also a plus because he knew the city well.

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My brother and his old college roommate.

By this time, I was pretty burnt out from all the traveling. However, I did for sure enjoy seeing the puffins, and Anchorage is a very pretty city. Decently quiet as well! Just one more day left!

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Day 0: 30 Hour Trip
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Day 1: Denali National Park
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Day 2: Rain in Talkeetna
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Day 3: Talkeetna to Seward, and Views Along the Way
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Day 4: Cruise Through the Gulf of Alaska
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Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward, AK

Alaska Day 4: Cruise through the Gulf of Alaska

Our first day in Seward, we embarked on a day cruise ship named the “Orca Voyager” with the wonderful Kenai Fjords Tours and sailed in to the Gulf of Alaska to see glaciers and wildlife. We saw orcas, sea lions, otters, puffins and other birds, and the humpback whale).

 

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Just to give an idea where Seward is in Alaska.

 

 

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Our cruise took this yellow trail. We left at 10 AM, and got back past 6 PM. Picture from http://nomad.hu/~bszabi/niagara_dosszie/alaska/

 

The Seward harbor and our cruise ship, the Orca Voyager.

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Just to give an idea where Seward is in Alaska.
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Our ship, the Orca Voyager

 

Otter – before docking the ship in the morning, we found an otter chewing away on a fish right next to the harbor boardwalk. Pretty adorable 🙂

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Orcas (Killer Whales) – I wasn’t able to get many good photos of the orcas, but they’re one of my favorite animals! This photo came out alright.

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Humpback Whale – another aspect of our trip (like the weather during our Denali tour and the weather during the cruise), we found a humpback whale (probably a young one according to the ship captain) that jumped almost 30-40 times, and waved to us, sort of showing off. But it was a beautiful sight. My dream is to see more dolphins ❤ in my home state, in Atlantic City.

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Humpback whale posing with a glacier. Probably my favorite photo of the day, perhaps the week!

 

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Stitched a couple of continuous shutter photos together!

 

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The was real close to the ship for this picture. I wish i didn’t cut off a little of the nose though, haha!

 

 

 

Alakik Glacier – this glacier could be gone in a couple years!

 

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Alakik Glacier

 

Birds – there were lots of seagulls, puffins, and other birds, but most of them were very small to see. Puffins especially. Without binoculars or anything, it was hard to see the cute faces of the puffins. But there were so many. The captain liked to point out large puffins to us; she said that there are puffins who have eaten so much that they can’t fly, and when they try they end up failing. That’s sort of adorable :). At the Wildlife Center in Seward that my brother and I visited on Day 6, so look out for some adorable puffin pictures on my post for that day!

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Soooo many birds.

Sea Lions – these water had a couple sea lions that are called “Stellar Sea Lions.” They are branded with a letter/number combination, for studies. I found a link online to a spreadsheet that tracks where they’ve been seen.

 

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Sea Lion posing with seagulls.

 

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Sea Lions napping. The darker sea lion climbing up is a “Stellar Sea Lion.” He is branded with letters to track him for studies inside these waters.

 

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First thought this could be mother and child. However, my dad said he read that female sea lions are much smaller than male sea lions. So this could be a romantic photo ❤

We stopped by Fox Island, where they had a cafeteria that served us salmon, prime rib, and if you wanted, king crab for an extra fee, as part of the overall tour package. Then we returned home, finally, after an 8 hour trip.

Extra Tidbit: The Van Gilder Hotel (Alaska’s Oldest Hotel) – for two of our three nights at Seward, we staid at the historical place called The Van Gilder Hotel. It’s very historic and has been placed by the U.S. Department of the Interior as a part of the National Register of Historical Places. Essentially the hotel has kept his architecture very much the same and using their old fashion beds and antique furniture. There are obviously renovations , such as added TVs and bathrooms. There were still bathrooms and even a shower room in the hall of the floor I stayed on.

After we left, my brother said that there is a myth about a ghost inside the Hotel, called “The Ghost of Fanny Guthry-Baehm” (there’s even a book about it). I’m glad he told me after we left, or I may have been freaked out. The synopsis of the book linked above says “Fannie Guthrie-Baehm was murdered in room 201 in 1947, and her ghost has been witnessed by many over the years.” Oh my. Chills. Would I recommend the hotel? I’m not sure. I liked the historical vibe, but it wasn’t as comfortable as a normal hotel. Also, now that I’ve read up on the myth, it’s spooky. But the owner was nice and helpful!

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The TV was put really high up (top left corner, mostly cut off in photo). Antique lamp and phone on the right side of the photo.

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Day 5 coming up soon :). Thanks for reading!

Read about my previous days clicking on the labeled photos below:

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Day 0: 30 Hour Trip
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Day 1: Denali National Park
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Day 2: Rain in Talkeetna
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Day 3: Talkeetna to Seward, and Views

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

R8 Post-Joaquin Hiking @ Point Mountain – 10/10/15

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10/10/15 – Second hiking trip to Point Mountain, Washington in a month.

This time i went with my home church’s (Rutgers Community Christian Church) collegiate small group: R8. It’s named R8 after Romans 8, a chapter in the Bible. Our goal is love God, serve the church, and to impact the community with the good news of Jesus’ love.

Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? … No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.” – Romans 8:35, 37, New Living Translation.

WARNING: Photography Jargon START

After dropping my 50mm f/1.8 prime lens off the cliff last month, I decided to invest in a refurbished lens (low budged). I went with a 30mm f/2.8 macro prime lens.

This 30mm macro lens has slower aperture than the 50mm prime, but it’s much better at close-up pictures because the macro lens has a minimum focus length of around 6 inches, compared to the 50mm prime lens, which focus length of 24 inches. This means that the “new” macro lens that I bought can focus on an object when I hold a much smaller distance than my other lenses. Do you know how when taking a picture even with your phone, once you get too close to an object it won’t focus? Exactly that. In other words, this “new” lens made look pretty funny when I was holding my camera super close to random small objects during the hike.

Being so close to an object makes it really hard to focus on a small object. Any tiny movement of the object, my camera, or my camera’s focus ring could make the image blurry. It takes a lot of patience and it takes many tries. However, when taking close-up pictures of nature, it’s so peaceful that the extended time doesn’t bother me. It does leave me far behind the rest of the hiking group though, haha!

Photography Jargon END

The following pictures were taken along the hike. I used mostly my “new” 30mm f/2.8 macro lens with my Sony a57, but I also used my 75-300mm zoom lens as well.

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I took a lot of pictures that beautiful Saturday. Here’s a gallery of all the photos I took:

Spontaneous Hiking Trip (9/24/15)

Thursday, September 24, 2015 – Hiking at Point Mountain Reservation, Washington, NJ.

Last Thursday, I was able to go hiking at Point Mountain with my friends Jen and Dorothy. Jen and Dorothy were undergraduate seniors at Rutgers when I was a freshmen two years ago, and they’re both like older sisters to me. Jen would always invite people to go hiking, and she’s one of the reasons why hiking has become one of my favorite things to do on a nice day. I happen to have Thursday mornings and afternoons free every week this fall semester, while Jen and Dorothy both work jobs that have very sporadic schedules. Jen is a nurse at a hospital, while Dorothy tutors students in secondary education. Both happened to have Thursday off as well, and the weather was GREAT, so it all worked out perfectly!

QUICK HIKING SPOT REVIEW: It can be difficult to find nice overlooks when it comes to hiking in Central New Jersey. There are lots of nice forest areas to hike, but there just aren’t a lot of peaks to choose from. Only about a forty-five minute drive away from Rutgers New Brunswick, Point Mountain was a great surprise. This hiking spot is a part of the Musconetcong Reservation in Hunterdon County. The peak was beautiful and really high up, and the hiking trail involved lots of rock scrambling. Also, if you go on the right trail path(s), you’ll hike alongside the peaceful Musconetcong River (there’s just something peaceful about running water!). I would love to go back again soon. Jen and I both share a favorite hiking spot in NJ at Mount Tammany and Dunnfield Creek @ The Delaware Water Gap (http://www.njhiking.com/best_hikes_red_dot_mt_tammany/), which is over an hour drive away from Rutgers. However, I think that Point Mountain, much closer to my Central NJ home, in comparison to Mt. Tammany was also really great location! Difficulty: 7/10 (lots of climbing and rocky paths), Overall Rating: 8/10.

Check out Point Mountain for yourself here! http://www.njhiking.com/nj-hikes-point-mountain/

(WARNING: Photography Jargon) I have gone hiking quite a lot the last two years, and most of the pictures I’ve taken have been focusing on the wide landscapes, such as a view on the top of a mountain, or a flowing river. However, early in the hike, I saw little stinkbugs crawling around. Most of the macro (close up) photography I take outside are usually pictures of flowers. I was able to find a couple insects and take macro shots of them during this hike!

Random fact about this hike: I had taken my Sony 50mm 1.8 prime lens out to take most of these macro pictures. It was my first time using it (I have used a 35mm or the past year). On the top of the mountain, I actually dropped my 50mm prime lens off the cliff (it went CLUNK CLUNK CLUNK as it bounced down each rock) at the end of the hike… so these pictures you see here are pretty much the ONLY pictures that were ever taken by that 50mm primes lens sitting and rotting somewhere in the forest at Washington NJ.

(WARNING: MORE Photography Jargon) Using my Sony A57 DSLR camera, I carried three lenses with me: my Sony 50mm f/1.8 prime lens (for portraits and macro shots), my Sony 75-300mm f/3.5-6.5 telephoto zoom lens (for far away shots), and my Samyang (Rokinon) 14mm f/2.8 ultra-wide angle lens (for landscapes).

FIrst, the macro shots:

The first two pictures are of a caterpillar species that I saw twice during the hike. These caterpillars look super white and fuzzy… searching it up, it’s called a Hickory Tussock Moth (Lophocampa caryae). According to the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, it has poison glands on the longer lashes that causes a burning and itchy rash. Glad I didn’t touch it, haha!

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50mm   f/2.8   1/80 sec   ISO 400

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50 mm   f/2.8   1/80 sec   ISO 200

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Stinkbug (Halyomorpha halys).  50mm   f/5.6   1/160 sec   ISO 800

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Here’s a picture of a daddy long leg (called the “Eastern Harvestman”Leiobunum vittatu). We saw a bunch of these on bench along the trail.

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Bees! Not sure what type this is. Some sunlight bokeh in the background. 50mm   f/4.5   1/1600 sec   ISO 400

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I believe this is a honeybee.  50mm   f/4.5   1/1600 sec   ISO 400

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I wasn’t able to find out what animal this is… please contact me or comment if you have any clue! This worm or caterpillar would burrow itself into the leaves/dirt to protect itself. When I removed the dirt to look at it longer, it would curl into a “fetal” defensive position.   50mm   f/4   1/100 sec   ISO 800

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50mm   f/4.5   1/125 sec   ISO 400

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50mm   f/3.5   1/200 sec   ISO 400

A couple of landscape/telephoto pictures:

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150mm   f/8   1/250 sec   ISO 200

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14mm   1/125 sec   ISO 100  (NOTE: the aperture is adjusted manually on the lens, so I don’t know what f-stop it ended up being!)

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Mini long exposure of running water.   50mm   f/13   0.4 sec  ISO 200

The 0.4 second exposure allowed the shot to have a silky water movement.

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14mm   1/80 sec   ISO 400

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Pre-sunset. 300mm   f/11   1/1000 sec   ISO 100

Lastly, a couple portrait/people shots:

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Direct sunlight allowed for some interesting bokeh here. Thanks to Jen for standing still for me, haha!   50mm   f/2.5   1/125 sec   ISO 800

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50mm   f/3.2   1/160 sec   ISO 800

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Dorothy overlooking the peak of Point Mountain.   50mm   f/11   1/250 sec  ISO 800

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Jen hopping on rocks in the middle of the river.   50mm   f/2.8   1/320 sec   ISO 800

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50mm   f/3.2   1/1000 sec   ISO 1600

LASTLY, a selfie with the three of us… (no selfie sticks were used here. Actually, no selfie sticks will EVER be used for this blog… unless it’s a blog post filled with pictures of tourists and people using selfie sticks!).

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14mm   1/125 sec   ISO 100

Thanks again for reading 🙂 If you like these pictures, please share this blog with your friends!

Follow me on instagram (@mattlau95)! Also, follow Jen (@jenwenlee) but I think she may have her account on private, haha!