Friday, May 23, 2014


Whale Alert! Watch for footage of awesome Alaskan wildlife!

The following video contains clips of our time spend in Seward, AK where we went whale watching and hiking as well as spent time in the Alaska Sealife Center and Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center.


This video contains clips of our time spend in Homer, AK which includes the numerous restaurants and museums we attended as well as our sea kayaking adventure!

Working at Hope ... in 35 seconds!

The following is a compilation of our time spent volunteering for Hope Community Resources including painting, home care, equipment organization, and assisting with the Hope Walk and Roll.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Day 22: May 21st

Our final day in Alaska.  

We solemnly left Seward in the late afternoon.  The bus ride to Anchorage would take approximately three hours.  However, we stopped at the Trail Lake for a final group photograph.  The reflection was amazing! We also stopped at the nearby Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center to drive through the animal exhibits.  The Conservation Center is home to black bear, grizzly bear, elk, caribou, fox, lynx, deer, and the only known heard of wood bison in the state. We finally got to see bears! While not in the wild, this was the next best thing.  They were playing and relaxing in the water.
While we were driving, our views of the lakes, forests, and mountains were slightly obscured by a ghostly haze.  The fuzziness on the horizon was caused by a forest fire burning a ways away from our destination.  

We arrived in Anchorage and stopped one last time a Hope Community Resources.  Two students, Malindi and Kelsey, will be working at Hope over the summer.  They were departing us at this time.  We said our goodbyes and Malindi and Kelsey were on their way to their new summer jobs.  We also headed over to East 20th, our home away from home in Anchorage to pick up some clothes and equipment people had forgotten.  We said one last goodbye to the Irish students and also ran into Malindi and Kelsey who will be staying at East 20th during the summer.  Saying another goodbye, we headed down to the coast to wait relax before going to the airport.  We played on a playground by the coast, called friends and family, and relaxed by the water.  

Our flight boards at 8:45 PM Pacific Time and will be arriving at the Minneapolis and St. Paul airport around 6 AM Central Standard Time.  See you soon!!

(C) 2014. All photos below are the property of Benjamin Bogard. All rights reserved.


The Sea

The sea tells a story.
It tells of the life it brings,
And the lives it claims,
Its deep dark waters are home to some,
A final resting place for others.

The sea tells a story.
It tells of the cycle of life
Running through its waters,
Fish, spawning, dying sinking to the ocean floor,
Returning to the circle that engulfs all life.

The sea tells a story.
It tells of prosperity,
Yet how that prosperity can be unforgiving.
Nearly everyone will experience its vastness,
But some will remain there forever.

-Ryan Bundy, 1996

Day 21: May 20th

This morning was a late morning for us to recuperate and sleep in.  We also got to enjoy a continental breakfast in our hotel.  At around 10:30, we walked a block over the Alaska Sealife Center.  Part museum, part animal exhibit, part research facility, the Alaska Sealife Center is a unique institution that merges animal research and rehabilitation with public access to the animals.  We walked through the museum portion, reading about Alaskan wildlife and conservation.  We also were able to see a gallery of gorgeous paintings by V Rae.  However, it was the sealife displays that grabbed everyone’s attention.  Students sat for extended periods of time watching puffins swim and seals play in the water as well as getting hands on with some crabs, sea cucumbers, and starfish in the hands-on section.  After an hour or so to ourselves, we joined back together as a group for a behind the scenes tour of the center.  We learned about the animal rehabilitation process and the other scientific research that is unique to the center.  The steller seal lion colonies we saw during our Kenai Fjords tour are also being monitored by the center via remote cameras.  They study the sea lions to understand mating patterns and group dynamics.  

Lunch was on us for the afternoon.  Students enjoyed everything from Chinese food to smoke house barbeque.  With recommendations from Susan, a few individuals enjoyed the best gelato outside of Italy at Sweet Darlings.  In the afternoon, we bussed over to exit glacier for a short hike just over a mile.  Along the path, signs marked the distance of the glacier for specific years.  While we couldn’t walk on the icefield, seeing the glacier up close gave us a good perspective on size.  The glaciers we saw during the Kenai Fjords tour were three to four times as massive as Exit Glacier.  

In the evening, everyone hunkered down to finish their papers and journals before the bus ride back to Anchorage.  

(C) 2014. All photos below are the property of Benjamin Bogard. All rights reserved.

Day 20: May 19th

Off to Seward!

Today was an incredibly early day! To get to Seward for the Kenai Fjords tour by 11 AM, we needed to be leaving Homer by 6:45 AM.  After getting in the bus, the majority of us instantly fell asleep. Some caught up on their journals or worked on the class paper, but willpower faded into sleep.  We got to Seward early and ready for the tour! We toured with the Kenai Fjords Tours out in Resurrection Bay.  Boating out into sea, we saw a little wildlife including two eagles and many other birds.  However, we hit the jackpot with our first whale sighting! A pod of orcas with a baby were swimming in a cove near Seward.  After watching them for a while, the curious orcas swam right up to the bow of our boat! With that topping off the beginning of the trip, we headed over to a glacier.  On our way, we saw a group steller sea lions.  For the view individuals who stayed at the bow of the ship, they were almost blown away by the intense winds created by the boat.  Once at the glacier, our captain talked about the loss of glacial ice over the years as well as the anatomy of the glacier.  Unfortunately, we only got to see a few small ice chunks calve off the glacier.  Heading back out to open ocean, we hit really rough water.  The boat was bouncing almost as bad as the small water taxi after our sea kayaking adventure.  From a distance, we saw a north pacific humpback whale and some dall porpoise.  Usually the porpoise love to play with the boat and chaise it; however, these ones were not interested.  The captain then took us to an island complex where tons of birds where roosting.  While traveling around the island, we saw a bald eagle snatch a bird clean out of the water! We traveled to a couple different islands in an attempt to see roosting puffins.  We saw many other roosting birds, but only saw a few flying puffin.  Heading back through choppy water, the crew of the ship made us chocolate chip cookies which tasted excellent after a long day out in the cold wind.  The total runtime of the tour was approximately six hours.  By the end, everyone was exhausted.  For dinner, we ordered in pizza and everyone enjoyed a meal together.  The rest of the evening was spent hanging out together and writing both journals and our final paper. 

(C) 2014. All photos below are the property of Benjamin Bogard. All rights reserved.


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Day 19: May 18th

Sea kayaking today!

In the morning, after a quick breakfast, the group traveled down to the spit to meet up with our sea kayaking guides.  We took a sea taxi, a small boat, across the water to a small bay where our kayaks were located.  With an even number of students, we were situated into two person kayaks.  Each person received a splash skirt which covers the opening of the kayak (since sea Kayaking is considered a dry sport) and a life preserver for safety.  To begin, we learned how to enter and exit the kayak from the dock, and also how to safety exit in the event of a capsize. Luckily, no one tipped over their kayak.  We first traveled along the shore of the bay, looking at starfish and the occasional sea otter enjoying a meal.  We then circled back and cut across the bay to get back to the dock for lunch.  Unfortunately, because of windy conditions and rough waters, we weren’t able to complete the rest of the tour.  The ride back was grueling as our little sea taxi bobbed up and down on the swells of water.  Our guides navigated the boat to the best of their ability and tried to make our ride as comfortable as possible.  They were also generous to refund part of our expenses since the trip was cut short.  

The rest of the day was used to relax.  After a good workout from kayaking, many students took a nap while other wrote in their journals or worked on their class papers.  Since it was our last day in Homer, we all celebrated by going out to eat.  We chose Captain Pattie’s Fish House for dinner after a local recommendation.  The food was phenomenal!  As sea food restaurant, Captain Pattie’s offered fresh, flakey cuts of halibut and salmon, as well as scallops, prawns, and crab.  With so many options, a couple people split a sea food sampler while others knew exactly what they wanted and enjoyed sea food pastas, clam chowder, crab legs, and oysters. A select few also enjoyed homemade desserts which could be classified as sweet morsels from heaven.  

With an early morning tomorrow, after dinner, everyone went back to the Ocean House Inn to digest and pack. 

(C) 2014. All photos below are the property of Benjamin Bogard. All rights reserved.


Stay tuned!

More blog posts and recap videos coming soon!

Day 18: May 17th

Second day in Homer

Today was an adventure in Alaskan Culture.  In the morning, we stopped at a local bakery for breakfast and then headed over to the Pratt Museum.  The Pratt Museum highlights the cultures of Kachemak Bay, the region surrounding Homer. It includes a small marine life viewing area as well as a historic log cabin.  For lunch, we stopped and another local place which is a favorite of Susan.  The cafĂ© was called Veronica’s Coffee House and they sold a variety of coffees and teas, as well as artisan soups, sandwiches, and wraps. The food and drinks were absolutely delicious!

After lunch, we headed to Kenai to visit the Holy Assumption of the Virgin Mary Russian Orthodox Church.  Susan is friends with Reverend Thomas Andrew who works at the church.  He met us at the building to explain the history of the Russian Orthodox Church and its history in Alaska specifically. 
Later that afternoon, we traveled back to Homer and walked along the spit.  The spit is area on the coast which small shops and restaurants as well as docs for fishing boats.  Fans of The Deadliest Catch found the Time Bandit, the boat from the show, in the harbor and got as close as they could for a picture.  Others wandered through gift shops and walked along the cost, enjoying the ocean air and mountain scenery.
In the evening, it was time for grilling! Tyler and our driver Gary cooked chicken, brats, and hot dogs to perfection while some walked along the beach or enjoyed the hot tub.  In the middle of dinner, a bald eagle soared past.  To our excitement, it joined four other eagles on the beach who were fighting over a dead seal.  For the remainder of the evening, everyone hung out together, appreciating the beautiful mountains, occasionally eagle, and excellent friendships that we made on the trip. 

(C) 2014. All photos below are the property of Benjamin Bogard. All rights reserved.