12:01 a.m. - it's time for fireworks!!!! But wait, it is still light outside! Oh well, let's just have them anyway...so they did. We watched the fireworks from the ferry terminal/cruise ship terminal and had a great view of a small town celebration. It was really cloudy so it was dark enough to see the fireworks and they were actually pretty nice. Then, off to bed.

Fourth of July here is a big deal. There was an entire day of non-stop activities - the streets were closed off for all kinds of events including the Mt. Marathon run - a 3.2 run up the incredibly steep sides of Mt. Marathon which starts its ascent right in the middle of town. The record is 46 minutes for the men - I couldn't walk up this in 46 minutes. It is sort of a extreme run.

Remember, we are in Alaska, not Doylestown. Not hard to remember when you look at the various other activities. Let's see...there was the nail driving contents (Urg, urg...) and the last event of the day was the slippery salmon toss!!!!

Bob and I decided to go hiking. The tides here rise almost forty feet and create mud flats which are like quicksand at low tide. We went to Caines Head SRA and walked to Lowell Point about two miles out and two back. It was an incredible walk up the sides of mountains and down to the sea again, over boardwalks and through forests that looked like something out of the Wizard of Oz or Harry Potter. I kept seeing the sign in the Wizard of Oz when the lion, scarecrow and tin man were trying to rescue Dorothy... "I'd turn back if I were you!!" It was lush with very huge trees covered in this dark moss. There was little understory because the trees were so tall and so full. In those areas where sun was able to penetrate and in the stream areas near the shore, were beautiful wild irises, forget-me-nots, wild white yarrow and some other unidentifiable flowers.

When we got to the shoreline, the tide was out. Some folks were clamming as well. There were many neat looking old tree stumps with flowers growing all around. The hike took several hours but it was alot of fun and really surprising.

We had signed up to take the Kenai Fjords National Park cruise around Resurrection Bay and to some bird colonies. The trip was on a 110 ft. boat with a National Park Ranger narrating what we were seeing and wildlife spotting. It was one of the best things we have done thus far. The weather wasn't really nice but we left at 6:00 and got back at 10:00. There was dinner included - salmon buffet what else? Because the weather was cloudy though and because it was later in the day, it was easier to photograph stuff without glare.

We saw so many neat things including sea lions, a humpback whale, sea otters, bald eagles, puffins, cormorants, murres and glaucous gulls. Because the Resurrection Bay is actually a fjord, it has the steep sides and deep waters characteristic of fjords. The captain was able to go right up to the side of the cliffs and actually touch them with the ship. Pretty neat manuevering. But the wildlife .... wow!!! The bird colonies were so raucous and the birds were clustered on crowded cliffs. HOw they manage to stay on the nests let alone raise young is beyond me. Turns out, though, that the eggs are actually oval which keeps them from rolling off the ledges.

All of you who know me well, know how cold I am all the time. Well, it was only about 50 degrees and windy although the captain assured us that the seas were as calm as he could remember. I had dressed warmly and because the photography and wildlife was so incredible, I spent more time outside on the deck than Bob did. He couldn't believe it but I was so excited about seeing all these birds and animals that I had only seen on Jacques Cousteau programs or Nature on PBS that I didn't feel the cold til the very end.

Great, great day all around.

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