Turnagain Arm Drive is a 50 mile stretch on Seward Highway from Anchorage to Portage Glacier. It is named as one of the world’s greatest scenic drives. On the one side, the rugged 3,000 foot Chugach Mountains stand straight up above. One the other side, the 4 mile wide body of water or mud flats known as Turnagain Arm expends to the opposite shores where massive mountains abruptly stop the flat expanse.
Girdwood, where I am staying, is about 40 miles from Anchorage off the Seward Highway. So, no matter which direction I go, I will have to drive on this famous stretch of Highway. And of course, I have seen it many times, in different time of the day and different weather conditions.
One early morning, it was so dark went I left Girdwood. Minutes later, when I was driving along the Turnagain Arm, the sky lit up, a bit. Although the dark clouds were still hovered above, the mountains on the other side of the shore were clearly visible. I loved the scenery. It reminded me of those dark colored oil paintings brought back from Russia by my mom many years ago.
Another evening, I was driving along Turnagain Arm on my way home. It was just before sundown so I stopped, hoping to take a few pictures of sunset. There were several cars parked in the small parking lot. People seemed to wait for something. Automatically, I assumed that they were like me, waiting for the sunset. The water was low and calm. The surface of the water was very smooth, almost like a mirror.
After taking several pictures, however, all of a sudden, the water rushed in rapidly. Instantaneously I realized that the tide came in and that was why there were people there. They were waiting to watch the ride to come in, not for sunset! Without hesitation, I clicked my camera. I could see the ripples of water when it rushed in. Then, only a couple of minutes later, it finished! The area used to have rocks was completely submerged in the water.
I have heard how quickly tide can come. “The water can run 4 times faster than a person”, I read somewhere. Yet, seeing it happened in person made a much stronger impression. It was fast! If anyone was down there, he or she would never have a chance to run to the safety of the shore in time.
Well, this is nature – beautiful, peaceful, powerful, and dangerous, all in one! We just need to know when and where to enjoy the beauty and how to avoid danger.
(Sunset just before the ride came in)
(Ripples of water when tide came in)
PS. my photo website: http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/qing-yang.html