A note about this post, which describes several bear encounters we had during our 2017 trip to Brooks Camp, Alaska: I published a shorter version about a year ago. Since then, I’ve contemplated doing some freelance writing, so I took an online writing course. I removed the post from our blog and used it as my submission, and, with some helpful feedback from the instructor, I fleshed out the article, creating something that might encapsulate the Brooks Camp experience for the average newspaper or magazine reader. In the end, the instructor felt it was ready for submission and gave me the contact info for several publications that I could submit it to…but I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t give away ownership of a piece that I love so much, a piece that describes my favorite Katmai experience. So here it is, rewritten and with A SECOND bathroom-related bear encounter for your enjoyment!
We watched through the windows as four bears, a mother and cubs,strolled up the path.These were Alaskan coastal brown bears, one of the largest land carnivores in the world, and Dale and I had just ducked into the bathrooms to avoid them.
So this happened:While visiting one of the last Blockbusters in America, I had the opportunity to hold Russell Crowe’s “groin protector” (i.e., jockstrap), and it’s all thanks to comedian John Oliver (and Mr. Crowe himself).
Like most visitors, Dale and I took a floatplane to Brooks Camp, which is in Katmai National Park and can only be reached by air or water.
Dale had been on a floatplane before, but this was my first time on such a unique form of transport, and it was very, very cool. When the experience starts out with a photo-op like this, it’s gotta be great, right?
Seldovia isn’t on an island, but it might as well be—it’s practically surrounded by water, it can only be reached by plane or boat, and its single main street is lined with small businesses owned by locals, with nary a fast food joint to be found. The minute we stepped off the boat, I felt myself relaxing into the place. We were in the hands of the locals, and the stresses of daily life were behind us. There was no place to be and nothing urgent to attend to. The only thing missing was my flip flops (it was too chilly); otherwise, the trip was perfect.
We stopped by Eklutna on a cool, rainy day at the end of April. In most parts of the U.S., spring had long since arrived, but here, 30 minutes north of Anchorage, the trees were still bare, and patches of snow lay on the ground.
I’m a sucker for museums large and small, and in Bethel, we found a good one–the Yupiit Piciryarait Cultural Center, which celebrates the history and traditions of the Yup’ik, an Alaskan Native people who have occupied the Bethel region for centuries.