Seward, Alaska: My near-miss bear encounter

Brown bear, Lake Clark National Park, Alaska (Source: National Park Service)
“Cheri!  Get inside!”

I was at work, walking from one building to the next, when I heard Dave, Facilities Manager, clapping his hands and yelling at me from across the parking lot.  How weird, I thought.

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Seward, Alaska: Looking for baby bears

We’re on the prowl for bears.

It’s an obsession, really.  I talk to coworkers and monitor Facebook pages, looking for the best places to see bears.  We drive unpaved roads and rural neighborhoods at a crawl, perhaps slower than we should, considering that Alaska is a place where people value their privacy.  We scrutinize creeks where the salmon are starting to run and peer into the forest that lines the roads, hoping to glimpse the round, dark shape of a bear.

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Camino del Norte guides, maps, and other resources

 

I experienced a great deal of anxiety while walking the Camino, and much of it was centered around getting lost.  A part of me feared that we would disappear into the wilderness of northern Spain, licking the peanut dust off our empty snack bags to survive.

Never mind that Camino del Norte is not that wild; I was neurotic about having the right resources during our journey.

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It began with a movie: Why we walked Camino del Norte

 

A signpost from Day One, pointing us in the right direction
The Way

In the fall of 2015, Dale and I hiked 425 miles of Camino del Norte, the northern-most branch of Camino de Santiago, a historic pilgrimage with starting points and routes all over Europe.   Continue reading “It began with a movie: Why we walked Camino del Norte”

Kenai Fjords National Park Boat Tour, part two: The animals!!!

In our last post, I talked about a boat tour that we took across Resurrection Bay and into the Gulf of Alaska and Kenai Fjords National Park.

In today’s post, I want to share pictures of the animals that we saw from the deck of the boat.  The region is extremely rich in wildlife: ten marine mammals live in these pristine waters, and dozens of species of birds nest along the coast.  While we didn’t see all of the wildlife the area has to offer, it’s astounding how much we did spot in just an eight-hour boat trip:

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Seward, Alaska: Kenai Fjords National Park Boat Tour (part one)

Glacial ice floating in the Holgate Arm

People from all over the world come to Seward to explore Alaska’s waters on a tour boat.  Last week, we joined the crowd.

Yes, it’s touristy, but such attractions are often popular for a reason (because they’re awesome), and a boat excursion out of Seward is no exception.

It’s got glaciers.

It’s got pristine waters.

It’s got virgin forest and rocky islands and wildlife galore.

So even though we consider ourselves Alaskans now, we’re still wide-eyed newcomers on the inside, and we felt no shame in going for a boat ride with a bunch of tourists.

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Seward, Alaska: Humpbacks feeding in Resurrection Bay

Plus a sea otter wonders what the fuss is about

Darn them and their front-row seats (Just joking! Please take us with you. Please…)

 

While not the largest animal on earth (that distinction goes to the blue whale), humpbacks are no petite creatures; they’re 50-60 feet in length, which is longer than your average school bus.  So when these tractor-trailer-sized mammals stick their enormous heads out of the water, they’re pretty easy to spot.  These pictures were taken a few days ago, when we watched two whales (or maybe more; it’s hard to tell) feeding in Resurrection Bay.

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Random Photos: From fall and spring, the colors of the Chugach

We’d become accustomed to the simple beauty of black and white on our shopping trips to Anchorage, as the scenery along the Seward Highway was comprised of leafless trees, stark mountains, and snow.  The last time we saw color in the Chugach National Forest, it was September, autumn was in full swing, and we were still deciding whether to move here:

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