Alaska's Winter Horizon

Alaska's Winter Horizon

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Summer Trip with the Girls

Got all packed up and headed out of Anchorage about 11:30. We made our way along the Glenn Highway. It was so pretty in all of its summer colors. The Matanuska River level was very high. It looked like a washing machine with all of its turbulent waters.
  The weather was nice with the temps near 60 and only a light wind blowing. We stopped at the Matanuska Glacier for a delightful lunch.

You can see the glacier over the girls' shoulders in this picture.

 We continued on, traveling through light rain showers, and stopping occassionally for rest breaks and photos.


 Trumpeter swans were in some of these lakes along the highway.
 We made it into Tok about 7:30. Our little log cabin was waiting for us so we decided to call it a night.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Campbell Creek Science Center

The girls and I got out and did a little grocery shopping today. Our passports finally arrived in the mail today! So we tried to get a few snacks to take with us when we head to Canada this Saturday. Stay tuned for those adventures! Kate helped me prepare a tasty dinner of halibut tacos. After dinner we headed down to BLM's Campbell Creek Science Center for a program about salmon.

 The program was presented by Jay and Shane from the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game.

We all learned a lot about the 5 types of salmon.

 We went outdoors and walked down to Campbell Creek for the last portion of the presentation.

 However, the mosquitoes proved to be too much for us (even with bug spray on!).

We topped off the fun night by stopping for ice cream on the way home.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Girls Arrive in Alaska

The girls and I arrived back in Alaska around 2:15 a.m. Monday morning. We were glad to get here but were exhausted. Made a quick trip through McDonald's and then went straight home to rest. We slept a little later Monday morning due to our jet lag. We did get up around 11 and I was thrilled with the 40 degree temperature difference from Tennessee. I'm not sure if we even hit 60 degrees on Monday. It did sprinkle rain a bit so we stayed inside and rested. Kind of a lazy day. Today we did get out and about. We had a few errands to run and enjoyed lunch at Paris Cafe. Olivia and I cooked a delightful dinner of halibut and chips. This was halibut we had in the freezer not this one. Greg just caught this 40 lb. halibut over the weekend. After eating, Greg walked with us to get a few souvenirs in the downtown shops. There was a slight breeze and we all had jackets on. Seems the girls haven't quite gotten used to the cooler temps yet. They did enjoy looking at all the lovely flowers in the city.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Katmai Bear Trip, part 2

Remember to click on the pictures to make them larger. 

We continued snapping away at the huge, beautiful, blonde female bear on the beach at Hallo Bay.

When oddly enough, in a national park of almost 4 million acres, we suddenly found ourselves in the midst of a 4 person BBC film crew. They were filming a documentary for the BBC and Discovery Channel. The special will be called, "The Great Bear Stakeout" and it is set to air later this year. Who knows- we may make the final cut and be on film. The host, Chris Morgan, is someone you might not know by name but will recognize from several documentaries he has made in the past for PBS, Nature, and others. He had a great show, The Bears of the Last Frontier, in which he traveled across Alaska on a motorcycle and filmed all 3 types of bears.

 He seemed like a really nice fellow and was genuinely delighted that we knew of his work and were fans. As the clouds began to roll in, we decided to trek across the meadow in search of a big male bear we had spotted as we landed. For those of you that have seen the movie, Grizzly Man, or are familiar with Timothy Treadwell, this meadow is also known as The Grizzly Sanctuary. As we crossed many creeks and rivers in the Grizzly Sanctuary, we were so astounded by the rawness and beauty in which we found ourselves that it didn't really matter if we caught up to the other bear or not. Thankfully, we did get very close to a male brown bear. Our guide estimated this huge bear to be about 9 feet tall and weigh about 900 lb. It really made you feel small to be in such a wide open space near such a gigantic and wonderful creature.

We found that he was not interested in us in the slightest as he was following a massive female. She probably weighed 100 lbs more than the female on the beach. This bear had a massive head.

 At one point, the male bear flopped down in the river to cool off.

This is when we were at our closest to this mammoth beast. As we tried to cross the river side by side with this bear, the current nearly swept us off our feet! Yet this strong current did not faze this big guy in the least.

 We all made it across and he continued on to a meadow where his prize was grazing. We watched in awe at these 2 creatures until our time ran out.

 The tide would soon be returning to the beach and we had to hike back to the plane for our ride back to Homer.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Katmai Bear Trip

Remember to click the pictures to make them larger.

Last Friday morning Greg and I, along with our friends Emily and Julie, set out for Homer for our bear viewing adventure. We got checked in for the bear excursion and then headed to Jenny Lane where we had rented a beach house for the weekend. We ate dinner and walked along Bishop Beach before retiring for the night. The next morning, we had to be at the airport at 6:45 for our flight. We headed out on a Cessna 206 around 7 for a 90 minute flight to Katmai National Park.
The winds made for a bumpy ride as we descended down near Hallo Bay. We landed right on the beach there and not a minute too soon as I was feeling super nauseous! We first spotted a female clamming on the beach during low tide.
She probably weighed about 400 lbs. and was easily the biggest bear we'd ever seen.
She moved around a bit on the sand searching for clams
We got closer to her and watched as she dug into the sand in search of a snack.

She used her great claws to dig in the soft sand.
  She ate clam after clam.
Some brown bears break the clams open and then eat the soft morsel inside.

 This bear, however, chose to put the whole clam in her mouth and then spit out the shell bits.