Maybe it’s a result of growing up in the 70’s and 80’s, when going on an airplane was still a big deal for most people, but we’re always thrilled to see familiar territory in a new way, and even the most mundane of terrain becomes fascinating at 30,000 feet. And when the landscape is particularly spectacular, as is the case with Alaska, the flight becomes a gift laid out before our eyes.
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.
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:
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.
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:
“In the past it was a big mistake to stop the dancing – a lot of things died in this process. Restarting dances is only one thing… By learning the dances, you young people will have weight, so that nobody can brush you off the top of this earth. You will be the exciting ones.” ~Marie Arnaq Meade
In a recent post, I gave an overview of Cama-i, which we attended earlier this year. In today’s post, I’ll talk about the star of this Yup’ik festival—the dances.