Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Grizzly Bears on the Last Day in Alaska

     On our last day, we visited Katmai National Park, where the grizzly bears go to fish for salmon. When the float plane taxied up to the beach, we spotted a mamma bear with her cub on the beach. The pilot told us we'd have to "hustle" away when we got out, because we were going up on the beach about 100 yards from them.

We took a float plane to the park.

Which is the only way to reach it.

Glacial rivers.

     When we arrived, we had to go to the visitors center for an orientation on bear safety. The lodges in the National Parks are all sort of log cabin style.

The Ranger was giving her speech when...

      A bear walked right through the middle of camp past our window! This is a photo I took of the bear from inside the visitor center.

The mamma bear and cub walking along the river.

     The bears were everywhere, springing out of rushes and trees. The rangers would close the bridge when the bears came by and people would have to wait on the secured platforms until the bear went away.
Salmon spotting.

     While we were watching the bears, something about them seemed familiar to me. I realized I had a little bear waiting for me at home.


My little house bear.
     You can see the resemblance, can't you? They even look the same when they are shaking off.

Grizzly shaking off.
Gypsy shaking off.

      The higher falls were where the bigger bears hung out. Better salmon catching there.

Look how close this guy is to the crowds of people on the opposite side of the bridge.
     There were also people out fishing for salmon in the streams, which I thought was nuts in this bear country.
He'd just finished chasing a bunch of fisherman out of the water and now he was going to have a sit down.
The bears rub against the trees to get their winter coat off.
This guy was surprised on the trail and the ranger threw a rock at him to get him to turn around and go back to the beach.

Our float plane home.

Louise and I about to leave.

Louise getting on the plane.

Taking off from the lake.
     Once we land we get right back on a plane for Chicago. It has been a wonderful experience. But I know I have my very own little bear at home, so the wildlife continues! Thanks to everyone who enjoyed the photos along with me, it was fun to be able to share. Happy Trails!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Kenai National Park

 We took a cruise in Kenai National Park and saw lots more wildlife. Here you can see the seals sunning on the rocks. But first there were more lovely views on the scenic drive to Stewart, where the ship sailed from.

     Here I am sitting on the bow of the boat, where we spent most of our time searching for wildlife. Of course, I was satisfied that the trip was worth it when we spotted a.....

 Sea Otter! My favorite creature of the arctic seas. Otters are the wizened old men of the ocean and as far as I'm concerned, super cute. We saw tons of them the first time we went out, but I got no photos because the boat sped right by them. There were many female Otters with their pups resting on their bellies as they floated with their feet in the air. One mamma Otter had a pup so big on her belly, it was almost half her size. As we watched, she kicked it off her tummy and swam away, the pup in hot pursuit. But she never got too far ahead. She was teaching it to swim!

I love how his flipper feet stick up in the air. He kicks them when he wants to move.

     We also saw a hump backed whale!

Other marine life included humans. What a place to sail!

Lovely turquoise water.

      These were the seals sunning on the rocks on the little island in the middle of the sea.

     This was our last marine tour, and we saw tons of wildlife. Tomorrow is our last day and we go by float plane to Kenai National Park to see Grizzly bears. We were told that the salmon are running, which means there should be plenty of bears to be seen.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Flight back from Denali


     Our flight back from Denali started off with a rainbow. Just as amazing as the flight into the park. Tomorrow we are going back to the sea, for a whole new set of stunning images, including - my favorite - a Sea Otter!

A plane was on a peak, having dropped off a bunch of climbers.

The glacier snow in the mountains was blue.

Some eccentric Alaskan built a house on top of house on top of house.

There was a rainbow when we landed, too!


Saturday, July 9, 2011

Denali National Park

 We took a 2 hour plane ride to Denali National Park. The flight itself was a fabulous adventure with our pilot taking us around the peak of Mt. Mckinley over the mountain range to the park. Mt. McKinley is called Denali by the Native Indians.

Louise had the jump seat on the way there.

We had to climb above the cloud cover to see the mountain peaks. They look like they were in a sea of clouds, or like that dessert, floating island. 

Here is the peak of Denali. You can only see the peak 50 percent of the time from the park because of the clouds, but with out flight, were were guaranteed a view.

Here we are on the National Park bus, an old school bus, looking for wildlife.
     We looked for wildlife from the bus. We were on it from 9 until 5 stopping for little breaks along the way. We saw lots of wildlife. Here was my first spot. We'd been instructed on how to stop the bus if you saw wildlife. I shouted out "Stop! Caribou at 3 o clock!" That was fun, because I made one of the first spots of the day. Caribou is the same as a reindeer.

We saw two grizzly bears, but I only got a photo of one.

This grizzly bear still has on it's long winter coat.

We saw a moose, running along the mountainside. 

We saw a young male caribou by the side of the road.

Little boy Caribou.

We also saw a ground squirrel, much cuter than a Chicago squirrel.

Louise got a shot of me with a ground squirrel. Isn't it cute?