Nature

Alaska: The Last Frontier by Michael Durr

This has been a very special year. The places I have been and the things I have seen has made this one of the best years of my life. A trip to the state of Alaska was the cherry on top.

Max

My best friend, Jim, and I flew into Fairbanks on September 8, 2015. We were beyond fortunate to have Hajnalka, our close friend, who not only helped us plan our route, but also accompanied us on the first half of our trip. Hajnalka was key in turning this crazy idea into a reality. Her hospitality and sense of adventure not only made our trip exciting, but also pushed us out of our comfort zones. We were also lucky have to have John, Manoach and Max (the dog) with us on our two day float down the Tanana River. Luckily, we all managed to survive the trip. 

In addition to floating the Tanana, I can also say that I have seen the Aurora Borealis, taken a selfie with Santa in the North Pole, camped on a gravel bar, climbed a random river-side rock face, ate moose and, of course, rented a movie from one of the eleven remaining Blockbusters in the country.

Prepped for Denali

Cliff

Another crucial piece to this puzzle was Hajnalka let us use her brand new truck to travel from Fairbanks all the way south to Seward and back. We called the truck Clifford, The Big Red Dog. The photo above should explain where we got the name.

This road trip was unlike any I have been on. We were immersed in nature for the entire trip. The only place that even resembled home was Anchorage - a place that we were told was a half hour from Alaska in every direction. We mainly camped and only paid to sleep two of the nine nights we were there.

We drove for hours surrounded by fall colors, varying weather conditions and beautiful snow capped mountains. Once we reached our southern most point, the town of Seward, we took a five hour boat trip with Major Marine Tours. The tour, despite the cold and misty conditions, proved to give us quite a marine-life showcase. We saw seals, humpback whales, otters, and the amazing orca whales. We even witnessed an extremely rare double breach. The cold, wind and mist made for an ominous and erie environment, especially when we arrived at the Holgate Glacier, a huge glacier that is slowly receding into the mountains above Resurrection Bay.

We documented ever nook and cranny of our adventure and the photos truly do not recreate the feeling of being in the moment. The climax of our trip was the Kenai Fjords National Park. Against our better judgement we decided to get up at 6am so we could hike to the Exit Glacier. The hike was 8 miles round trip. We gained 1000 feet of elevation for the first four miles of the hike. At mile two, we were engulfed in a dense fog and we were faced with a decision to either press on or head back down. Needless to say, we pressed on and over the course of the next two miles we saw views that few have ever seen. The clouds opened up and revealed the massive Exit Glacier in all it's glory. We felt like we were at the end of the Earth. It was truly one of the most breathtaking sites I have ever seen.

Overall, this trip was an experience of a lifetime. It was a journey not only shared with a friend, but a brother.

Onward and Upward



Favorite Meals


The route starting from Fairbanks, heading through North Pole, stopping in Denali National Park, heading to Glennallen, over to Anchorage, around to Hope, south to Seward, back up to Talkeetna and ending back in Fairbanks.

 

The Beginning

The End

A very special thanks to all our new friends we met along the way.

If you would like to see more photos or are interested in purchasing prints please visit the link below or feel free to contact me directly.

2015_09_AlaskaTheLastFrontier

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Puerto Rico by Michael Durr

We had an amazing time in Puerto Rico. The weather was amazing and we had some really fun experiences along the journey.

For more photos Click Here.

Austria and Germany in Panoramic View by Michael Durr

My iPhone5 is an amazing tool (Yes. I am excited for the iPhone6, but I still have a few more months before I am up for contract renewal.) Anyway, the iPhone5 served me quite well on our trip to Austria and Germany. On many occasions, I found myself perched on rock, dangling off a cliff or standing on an elevated platform taking panoramic photos of the amazing landscapes. In addition to the panoramas I was also slightly obsessed with capturing hyperlapse video with the new Hyperlapse App from Instagram. I was amazed at the ease of functionality and how smooth video came out. I recommend trying it on a bike. Enjoy the views.

2014 Munich by Michael Durr

Munich Arrival in Munich was again seamless. It was different being in a more commercialized city. We took an easy cab ride to our place, which was in a great centralized location. However, it was surrounded by construction which proved to be a bit of an annoyance at 7am every morning. I would still take the great location over the noise.

It was raining pretty steadily when we left Garmisch, but it cleared up as came into Munich. After we dropped off our things, we went for a walk around town. We saw the Glockenspiel and some beautiful old buildings and sculptures. After a bit of walking, we found ourselves at the Hofbrauhaus. It was just as I imagined it would be, huge, loud, and the beer was flowing.

We sat at a table with a few people and the table adjacent to ours was filled with some classic looking, older gents in full German attire. About one liter into the evening, two young girls sat down with us. They were both locals and were celebrating one’s departure for New York to study electrical engineering. They were very knowledgeable of the area and fun to talk with. I inquired about the men sitting next to us and she confirmed that they were indeed the real deal. They come dressed up every week in classic German attire. It was basically a man-date. I noticed the steins they were drinking out of and the girl told me that those are earned after drinking a certain amount of beers. Obviously, I had to buy one for myself after hearing that. We stayed longer than we thought we would and ended up back at our place to crash

The next morning was beautiful. Breakfast was laid out for us on the second floor and provided some good nourishment for Mike's Bike Tour. The bike tour was a blast! Our guide was from Australia and he was hysterical. We met several people on the tour and even a couple from the Chicago area. Small world. We met another family from North Carolina, a couple from Australia, and another from Richmond, Virginia. Everyone was super nice and the tour was very informative and fun. Lunch was interesting with liter beers and ribs. Not the best meal of choice when talking with a bunch of people, but the BBQ sauce more than made up for it. We continued our trek through the city, received some great advice on the places to see and the places to avoid.

After the tour, we ended up grabbing beers with the two couples and our tour guide. It was a lot of fun to just chat and hear about everyone's journey. Afterward, we ended up planning to go see the Oktoberfest grounds with Jared and Leigh from Richmond. It was an interesting experience trying to interpret Munich’s train system and heading across town with them. We even grabbed dinner at Keller Biergarden which was a spectacular place near the Oktoberfest grounds. We walked through the inside and scoped out the underground seating area. It was basically a giant brick cellar where they used to keep the beer cool. It was super crowded, so we decided outside was the place to be.

The next morning and the last full day in Germany was a wet one. It rained the entire day. We still ventured out to Olympic Park via train and it was cool to see, but we both were cold and wet after just a few minutes. We went into BMW World and scoped out some of the cars and exhibits. We even saw a motorcycle demonstration where the dude climbed the stairs and skidded around.

From there we decided to go back home and get dry and then we went back out to the Volksbad. It's an old pool with a sauna and it sounded like an amazing idea, but when we got out there we found it was closed for renovation. It didn't stop us from eating lunch in the cafe there though. After lunch, it was a journey back home again. Lindsay took a nap and I tended to some business online. By this time, it was already 5pm so we headed out to the local market and grabbed a drink. We also climbed the stairs of St. Peter's Church for an amazing view of the city. By this time, it had stopped raining.

There was a big street festival going on in the square and all the stores were open until midnight. They are usually obligated to close by 8pm so it was a big deal. We had dinner at Augustiner on the Plaza and then caught the best band ever performing in the square. JJ, Mina, and Yohan. Amazing – ask to see the videos. Lindsay could not stop laughing. We capped off the night with a street beer and headed to bed for our last night in Europe.

The last day began with another great breakfast of meat, eggs, cheese and the most delicious coffee cake. We packed up and walked around town. There was a costume store we stumbled into and contemplated getting our Halloween costumes, but decided online would be better for us. We also came upon St. Michael's church another amazing and elaborate work of art. We grabbed our last German pastries (Lindsay’s was stuffed with Nutella, of course) and headed towards the train to the airport – sad to leave, but ready to be home in our city.

Use this link for more photos from Munich

It was a whirlwind tour. Let the planning begin for the next trip.