Thursday, June 21, 2018

ALASKA TRIP-MAY 2018 - MAY 19TH AND 20TH, 2018 - ANCHORAGE ON SATURDAY AND DENALI ON SUNDAY



When I can remember to do this, I add a paragraph at the beginning of my vacation posts.  It is for those who don't know that we have been back home since the end of May. I am sharing my daily journals and photographs of our time in Alaska.  Many places we visited I will share more photos in the future.  If you have missed any of the ones I have published and would like to take a look, you can go to the bottom of this post and click on "Alaska Trip-May 2018".

A two-day post today.  I didn't write much on the 19th as it was mostly a travel day.  We had lunch in Anchorage and walked around a market where the bus dropped us off.  

We browsed briefly then it was back on the bus until we reached our hotel for the night, the Talkeetna Lodge.  If you go here and scroll down the page a little, you will see a video on the right.  It is well worth watching just for the scenery.
I was hoping to see a real one of these.  
The fireplace reached all the way to the ceiling, a very impressive construction made of river stone.  Below you can see a close up of the open flames.  
Sunday, May 20th, 2018
Denali National Park and Preserve

We drove an hour-and-a-half from the Alkeetna Lodge to Denali.  The place we stopped at had a cafeteria and a gift store, and it was near the entrance of the park, but I don't remember the exact name.  It may have been the Denali Park Village Resort.  You can see a link here.  Our nephew took most of the photos here today.
 These are my fellow travelers. They are a very special group of ladies I feel privileged to have shared this holiday with, my family. They made traveling all those miles one of the most enjoyable experiences I have ever had.
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This little guy was very cute but we didn't invite him to come along.  Besides, he was too busy scrounging for scraps of food people were eating on the bench opposite ours.  He was happy they weren't doing a very good job of picking up their crumbs.
Due to a mix-up we got two tickets for a four-hour tour and six tickets for the eight-hour tour.  Gregg and my brother-in-law volunteered to go on the shorter, and the rest of us went on the longer, all-day tour.  It suited them fine as they were thinking that four hours was long enough, and truth be told I was wondering about that myself.  As it turned out that eight hour version was the best decision we ever made.  We saw so much wildlife and the bus ride went fast.

We walked down the road to wait for the bus.  There is a link here for you to look at.  

When the drive began the first thing our driver pointed out was the Willow Ptarmigan.  We saw them all throughout the day. You can look at this link to get more information.  It is the state bird of Alaska and they are an arctic grouse.  It changes color from a snowy white in the winter, to a light brown in the summer, which is an effective camouflage from predators.

A first sighting of a grizzly.
The driver said we were very lucky that day.  We ending up seeing several grizzly bears.  It was very cool to see two young bears rooting at the side of the road.  As the bus approached on the other side and stopped, they did not seem that bothered and continued eating.  I thought at first these were a mother and cub, but am not so sure now.  It did seem that the one was a little larger than the other.    
There were also Dall Sheep.  I had never seen them before except for in books and on nature shows, so I was delighted at the sight of them.
and nephew got closer shots than this.




 Caribou in the distance. 

I cropped as far as I could go.  
Do you notice the scar over this one's eye?  He is a scrappy one and when I tell you what happened next, you may agree with me.
A heart-stopping and extraordinary incident happened when a cyclist was chased by this grizzly.  Our nephew spotted the bear's first sighting of our cyclist coming down a steep hill.  The bear was moving in from the left-hand side of the road, still a ways off just ambling along.  And then when he saw the cyclist he picked up his pace, almost to a gallop.

We had already stopped to look at the bears and the driver could immediately see that the cyclist was in a very precarious position.  He opened the door.  I saw the cyclist throw his bike down and  quickly jump onto the bus. The driver closed the doors as fast as he could.  Several of the passengers talked to him, this young man who had just jumped on board.  He was relieved we were there because, as he was making his way down the road, he saw the bear coming. They were basically on a collision course and the cyclist could see what was coming.

Once the cyclist disappeared from the bear's view, he seemed to give up the chase.  

The bear crossed the road at a fast trot, then walked up the hill and eventually disappeared out of sight.  
While all this was going on another bus had stopped on the other side of the road.  Its driver had also witnessed the encounter and was ready to help if needed.  We were just that bit closer.  You can see from the looks on those two ladies faces looking out their windows, that they saw everything that had happened.

Last year I remember looking at a  photo of a similar circumstance, and at the time I said oh that can't be real.  I don't think that way anymore. In the photo below the cyclist retrieved his bike and we wished him well as he disappeared around the corner.

Bears are coming out of hibernation and very hungry.  A fact that Gregg picked up from his driver, was that they have to consume 300,000 berries every day during the month of August, the prime berry month in Denali.  They need this to survive the winter.  

A few more miles down the road we saw the three bears on the hillside.  I have more bear photos that I will share at a later date.  


So, today we saw a lot of grizzlies and experienced a bit of excitement we could have all done without (the cyclist), and so glad it turned out okay.  This incident reminded all of us that we are visiting their territory.  They were here a lot longer before we were and they deserve our respect.  They might look cute and cuddly and I may be preaching to the choir here but they are wild animals, and I love that they are wild.  I want them to be around for a very long time, in their own natural habitat so that our children can see them one day, and our children's children. 

Not only do you see all this breathtaking scenery, but there was the most amazing wildlife all throughout our 8-hour tour.  So, if you have occasion to go to Denali, don't be put off by the length of it.  You just never know what you will see. It was an exciting day for animals, especially for bears.


Gregg passed on one more bit of information. Their driver had already told him they have a name for cyclists, "Meals-on-Wheels".  Insert 'startled face' here. We passed more cyclists on our tour, and several hikers, and a lot more bears in various places along the tour.  It was a busy day for bears.  
To finish up.

We met very nice people on the bus.  A couple from Louisville, Kentucky, a couple from Olympia, Washington and another couple from Miami, Florida.  The people behind us were celebrating their 32nd wedding anniversary. 



When we got back to our hotel and were sitting at a table near the fireplace, a couple asked if they could share as the other tables were taken.  We had another delightful conversation, and I thanked them for giving me permission to put their photo on my blog. I have already sent it to them.  

The husband told us that he was in Alaska in 1964 when they had the 9.2 earthquake.  He told some extremely interesting, first-hand accounts of what it was like. The epicenter was located in the general vicinity of Seward.  If you are interested and would like to learn more, you can find an interesting article here.  

Off to bed now.  Tomorrow we take a train ride from Denali to Anchorage.

34 comments:

  1. Wow, wow and wow.
    That was one very lucky cyclist. And a brave (perhaps foolhardy) one as well.
    Thank you so much for sharing some of the magic.

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    1. You are very welcome EC. He was a very lucky cyclist, and I agree with your other comments. I was very happy to be on the bus watching those beautiful bears through the windows.

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  2. What great shots of the bears, Denise, and that story about the cyclists very close encouner with a gizzly was a bit unnerving. So glad there were 2 buses ready to help out and that your driver did just that. I would not have wanted to resume cycling along that route.

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    1. Thanks Dorothy, our nephew did very well taking those. Nope, I won't be cycling through Denali any time soon!

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  3. I remember the 1964 quake as I was in Inuvik NWT and the earthquake was south of us.

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    1. That's interesting Red. Must have been one heck of a shake.

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  4. OK ... I have to ask ... was it really prudent to cycle in such countryside? Thankfully, the bus was there to save him.

    God bless.

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    1. No, not really Victor, I worried about him for quite a while after that. I think his Guardian Angel must have been flying right next to him.

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  5. What an awesome post. I love the birds and critters. The Grizzly/biker story was scary. I love seeing the bears though, I would keep my distance. your photos are awesome. Happy Friday, enjoy your weekend!

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    1. Thanks Eileen, so glad you enjoyed them. Happy weekend to you too.

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  6. the wild life is amazing, worth the trip if you saw nothing else. that fire place s the biggest tallest I have ever seen. wow, could cook a whole moose in it

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    1. It truly was a trip of a lifetime and this was an amazing highlight of it. Thanks Sandra :)

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  7. Your shots of the bears are incredible!

    I recently read a book on the Alaska quake. What an experience!

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    1. What a nightmare that quake must have been. Thank you William, my nephew took these photos.

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  8. Wow what a fright for the cyclist, how lucky the bus was close at hand!! Love your photos, I have never seen a wild grizzly and I doubt if I ever will, so I really enjoyed this virtual bus trip with you. Have a good weekend Diane

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    1. Yes, it was a fright for us too when we saw what was going on. Thank you Diane, I'm so glad you enjoyed my nephew's photos. It's lovely to have virtual tours of places and I appreciate that you enjoyed mine. I certainly love to go to see your part of the world, and your African bird photos are stunning.

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  9. Wow Denise, what a lovely post.
    The scenery is spectacular and all the wildlife and pictures amazing.

    All the best Jan

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    1. Thank you Jan, it makes me happy that you enjoyed it all.

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  10. breathtaking, around every turn!! i thought the same thing about the tour, 4 hours would be enough, but it sounds like you made a good choice!! you captured some awesome pictures of the wildlife!!

    it is just wonderful that you record your trips in this way, i really enjoyed reading all the details. the mountains, the animals, all making this, the trip of a lifetime!!

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    1. Thanks Debbie, so glad you have enjoyed my posts on Alaska. Have a great weekend :)

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  11. OH WOW.....on the bear and the bike rider. That is so scary. He was one lucky guy that the bus was there when it was. You got some really great pics of all the wildlife but esp some great close ups of the bears! The building around here has picked up so much that the critters that normally lived off away from people are moving in closer. Never would we have seen bobcats, cougar, bear or fox out about us but all that has changed. Great vacation, thanks for taking me along.

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    1. Thank you Pam and you are very welcome. We are still talking about them Pam. Still can't quite believe it all happened but there you go. Interesting about all your animals. It is the same everywhere I guess, more buildings go up and more habitat is taken away.

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  12. Hi Denise,

    What an amazing trip you must have had, loved seeing your wonderful photographs.
    The scenery and wildlife is gorgeous. The cyclist would have been happy to have the safety of the bus and how frightening that must have been.
    Thanks for sharing.
    happy weekend
    hugs
    Carolyn

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    1. Hi Carolyn, so glad you enjoyed them and you are very welcome. Have a great week and hugs back, Denise :)

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  13. Hi Denise,
    I have somehow got out of sequence but never mind.
    Super post, the Ptarmigan images are wonderful, they are such a lovely bird.
    Some great Bear images, love Gregg's comment about cyclists, meals on wheels!!!
    That apart it seems the cyclist had a lucky escape with your bus being handy.
    All the best John

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    1. Hi John, and there are so many of these posts of mine, it is really easy to get out of sequence. I thank you for taking the time to comment. Always very much appreciated :) All the best to you too.

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  14. Oh my gosh -- what an adventure to witness. We saw all of those 'critters' during our time, except for the baby goat. ANd I guess that was since we were later in the season (we were there from mid-June through August).... that is also maybe why the bears weren't as hungry, since they'd been awake longer! I don't think I'd want to go bicycling up there!!

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    1. Hi Sallie, very interesting points about depending on the time of the year. For so many things. No, not even when I could do it would I want to bicycle through Denali, especially not after what I saw that day. Since I saw that I have investigated and it has happened before. On YouTube I saw a cyclist in Russia recently with one of those helmet cams. His companion was flying down a wooded trail and a big bear came running in from the side but he got away, even though the bear tried to cut him off further down the hill. Never knew they would ever do that, the bears. I guess I know now.

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  15. I love the bear story. Our black bears have settled in, thankfully. I only see them on the trailcam.

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    1. It was a bit freaky too and I look back and I think I can hardly believe it happened. Glad your black bears have settle din too.

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  16. P.S. I'm fighting a cold, caught from my respite client's daughter, methinks!

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