Monday, March 30, 2015

More Bears!

I never finished the posts about my day at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center and a lot of people enjoyed the bears, so I guess it's safe to share a few more pictures or Alaska's most intriguing residents, the Grizzly Bear.  Noteably the last post about bears was heavy on pictures and scant on words...which may have been why it was a extra enjoyable for many.  You shall not be so lucky today.  Now...about Grizzly Bears as I understand them thus far.
A.  Grizzly Bears are amazing.  If you see one this close without a lot of zoom and a are too close and the chances of it ending badly are ridiculously high.  For the record, this was taken on the other side of a fence and seriously cropped.  And even at that distance, it was awesome.

B.  The North American Grizzly bear is now compromised of just a few species.  Ursus arctos spp horribilis (which is just really not nice and not helping gain empathy for conservation) is the Grizzly Bear,  and then there are latin names for the peninsular grizzly and the Kodiak brown bear.  They look similar to us rookies, but any northerner will tell you they are very different.  And that's it.  The California Grizzly and the Mexican Grizzly are extinct.  California is currently trying to reintroduce the closely related mainland grizzly (as in efforts are ongoing as of 2014), but as for the native's gone.  Maybe that's why I have always had such a soft spot for these giant bears.  Their safe spaces in Canada are seriously limited as well.  I have high hopes that Alaska will remain a stronghold for them.  It matters.  To me it matters a lot.
So, I finally saw some bear tracks, from the safety of my side of the fence. 

Made by the padded feet of this giant little guy padding about.  At the conservation center, there is one Grizzly (Hugo), who was rescued after she collapsed near Hugo mountain.  She had hundreds of porcupine quills in her feet and could not walk...she was malnourished and dehydrated, and this is one of those time humanity stepped up to the plate -- some snowmobilers called the Conservation Center and got her rescued.  There are also two brown bears, Joe Boxer and Patron, who arrived at the center after their mother was shot.  She followed a moose into town and killed it for food for her cubs, and was shot in someone's backyard.  I do believe this bear below is one of the Kodiak Brown Joe Boxer or Patron.

There are also 2 black bears at the Conservation Center...but they were still sleeping the day I took these pictures.  Alaska had a mild winter, and staff at the Conservation Center said the Grizzlies did not hibernate at all, which is unusual.
C.  Grizzlies have long been feared for the devastation an encounter causes.  They can weigh up to 2, 250 pounds and have 6 inch claws.  Their jaws can crush your skull.  Grizzlies do not set out to harm anyone...but if you inadvertently surprise them, or get between them and their food, or them and their offspring, their defensive aggression kicks in.  From what I have read, they do not simply stop when the threat is neutralized.  If you are deemed a threat, they will hit you with their full arsenal of strength, repeatedly. They say to never make eye contact or fight back with a grizzly.  It gave me an evolutionary epiphany...what on earth did the grizzly bears face 50,000 years ago when they came to North America and fine tuned these reactions to perception of danger.  I don't think I want to know.
But back to the amazing stuff about bears.  D.  Bears are highly intelligent.  They have shown creative thinking and problem solving skills (just the other day saw a video of a bear who climbed a tree and tried to shimmy the length of a wire holding a food cache to get the goodies...he fell...but it was a solid effort).  They have a life span of >20 years if all goes well...maybe that is what gives them such a presence.  Who is to say bears don't know their history.  They do observe a hierarchy.

One foot in front of the other lol.  Just like us.

 the back paw out

I got a kick out of this picture.  Bears have incredible smell.  Their vision is not quite so good.  But the nose or snout of a bear is quite long, and in this picture, you can almost see a twisted grin on the bears snout.

king of the hill
Who says a bear doesn't want a nice house to go home to at the end of the day?  Bears more typically live in dens...but in this case there happened to be a cottage available.  When in Rome...  This little bear (by little I mean 500-800 pounds) decided to cozy up and have a little nap.

Little closer shot of the house bear....

That's about it for bear pictures for now.  I was elated with my day at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center.  I hope to get back several times this year!


Saturday, March 28, 2015

6 Years Today...Miss you Jaycena

March 28, 2009.  I sat on the couch with my coffee, wondering if spring was finally here to stay.  My dad called, and a few minutes later, Jaycena picked up the spare phone to talk, which always made my day.  When she was little, she would fly into my arms when I came to visit and be my little shadow for however long I could stay.  When her little brother was born, I had two shadows, and we liked the same things -- laughing, playing games, talking, and hanging out at Grandma and Grandpa's, teasing uncles, and her mom and dad.  Now that she was a teenager, I kept expecting the day would come when she would blow me off, or be too cool for a hug.  It never happened.  She was just too genuine for that nonsense.  Jaycena told me she was getting ready for the next volleyball game, and that Laramie had come down with her for the weekend.  In a small town, volleyball is a big activity, and she had been looking forward to this fun tournament for weeks.  After a quick chat, I wished her luck and said a quick "love you."  "Love you too beeg," she said.  Those words now have to last a lifetime.

Excerpt from the Southwest Booster, May 7, 2010.

A young offender from the Southwest was sentenced to six months in open custody and was prohibited for driving for three years during sentencing at the Swift Current Court House on Friday morning. The youth had earlier pled guilty in the death of three Southwest teens during a March 28 collision outside the community of Kincaid.
The youth, who can not be identified because he was a young offender at the time of the incident, was handed his sentence during a lengthy judgement by Judge Les Matsalla during Friday’s court sentencing.
The fatal crash caused the deaths of 16 year old Jaycena Mann and Laramie Ross, both of Gravelbourg, and 14 year old Brooke Harbor of Kincaid.
Judge Matsalla had delayed sentencing from earlier in the week in order to reach his decision. In a 25-page ruling, Judge Matsalla commented “By operating his truck as he did, he committed a very serious offence the effect of which has caused incalculable grief to the family and friends of the victims,” the ruling stated. The ruling also notes “he made a conscious decision to ignore the solid line and he undertook to perform a very unusual and very risky manoeuvre by attempting to pass not one but three cars at high speed.”
Judge Matsalla’s ruling imposed a harsher penalty from the joint submission presented to the court that the youth service a deferred custody and supervision order.
“After reviewing the Act and the cases that have considered the principles upon which the Act is based, a six month defered custody and supervision order would not be a fit sentence in the circumstances of this case. Any meaningful sanction must hold (the youth) accountable,” the ruling noted.

The judge tried to give a harsher sentence to the boy since he hit Jaycena, Laramie, and Brook while they were 3/4  through a turn in the intersection.  At the time of impact, he was on the wrong side of a solid yellow line, passing 3 cars in succession, illegally passing through an intersection, and speeding.  The "black box" from his truck shows he was still accelerating at the point of impact.  There were no skid marks as he did not apply brakes (there were tire marks that initiate from her car as it is pushed sideways off the road.  Despite it being a triple fatality, the police did not perform a drug or alcohol screen on the offender.  Drunk driving is about the only time a young offender may get a serious penalty.  In the end, the sanction the judge was able to hand down was not very meaningful.  6 months of closed custody, so 2 months for each life, which means function as usual in the community all day but get tucked into a juvenile facility for bedtime, plus a 3 year driving ban.  Nothing can atone for the loss 6 parents suffered that day.  The 3 families destroyed.  The pain hundreds of people endured attending those 3 funerals that week.  The emotional scars still carried by their network of friends...several who were at the accident scene.  Nothing can redress the loss of these three amazing girls.  I usually try not to think of the boy who was 17.5 when he caused their deaths, but this summer while home I saw him behind the wheel of a semi truck, and I just thought this isn't right.  He should not be earning a wage driving.  We are failing as a society in how we approach justice.  The Young Offenders Act in Canada should be reserved for shoplifting and mischief, it should never be a cloak of protection for actions causing harm...never protect one from punishment for causing death.  Maybe it you want to do something important today, you could call your Minister of Parliament and tell him that.

That said, I usually try to focus on the positives., which is all the beauty, love, and laughter they brought into our lives, into the world.  Laramie, Jaycena, and Brooke were what I would call intense...there was nothing dull about these girls.  Each of them was uniquely hilarious...uniquely vibrant...uniquely exceptional...yet I think that's what they had in common.

Jaycena and Brooke were FUN...they had fun together, they made fun, the enjoyed fun, they embodied fun.  Witty comments, sarcasm, imagination, and random acts of hilarity.  They were very personable and each had a lot of friends, many mutual...and everyone knew them to be fun.

Jaycena and Brooke livening up the very quiet town of Hazenmore one spring day
Jaycena and Laramie were quite the combo when together as well.  Their creative energies got going when together...they could be giggling and be normal teenagers like this....

And then sometimes they were like this....I am not sure what the inspiration was that day to be punk princesses, but they rocked it.

"Jay and Larry" go glam
Brooke and Jaycena

Here is Brooke, Jaycena, and Laramie goofing around on the webcam that last night...being the spirited, happy, and lively as usual.

And a short while later...this is one of the last photos taken.  They stopped at the local playground and were goofing around (is Laramie being a dinosaur?  A bear?).  Lar and Jaycena had borrowed some of each others clothes.  Who knows what random silly comments lead to this's one of those things I have the rest of my life to guess about.

These pictures tell a little story about them, but there is no way to really tell their story.  They were together that night, but they each had countless friends, countless equally silly photographs and memories with literally hundreds of other kids.  Jaycena's story, Brooke's story, Laramie's story...with characters like Strike, Chaz, Andrea, Cody, a cast of hundreds...  The stories are each held in snapshots of hundreds of other people's facebook albums, in snippets of hundreds of other people's memories....they are carried in hundreds of other hearts.  I hold just one chapter in this fascinating trilogy of stories. 

We all remember today...and every day...we all remember differently.  I remember a little girl I carried in my arms and hauled around on piggyback....

...and I remember kittens and birds and tadpoles to Britney Spears, from Barney to Balto, Cypress Hills to Dominican Republic, baby to young lady...and everything in between.  I miss your smile and the sound of your voice, your stories, and your enthusiasm and imagination and the giggle that resulted from it.  I miss your creativity, your talent, you beauty, your love and acceptance of us all for whoever we were.

I miss who you might be.
I miss your hug when I go home.  I miss whatever was supposed to have been these past 6 years...I miss things without even knowing for sure what I would be missing.  I just know without you, everything is incomplete.  I came across this the other day and thought it said it best.


Friday, March 27, 2015

Moose and More!

There was way to much going on the the Alaska Wildlife Conservations Center to cover in a blog...or here comes blog 3 from that same afternoon.  Let's start with Timmy.
Timmy is foxy...quite literally.  Handsome indeed, and a fox.  He was moving briskly about his enclosure until I walked by.  He didn't seem so interested in the other people going by.  I suspect I smell like cats and that was interesting.  A fox will not normally eat a cat...but I do have a fat cat that is roughly the size and shape of a Thanksgiving turkey, so he may have been picking up on that.  I thought he was a beautiful little red fox though, with his little black feet.  He has a little den, and 2 great horned owls as next door neighbours.  I didn't see a sign with his full story, so maybe he will be released this year.  My friend Sharon said when she went to the Conservation Center last year, he was new, and on that day was having a great time running around with the hose from his swimming pool in his mouth...spraying everyone and getting stuff wet...he definitely had more fun with the hose than the pool.

This pretty girl below is either Venetie or her sister, I can't tell the difference just yet.  Back in 2004, there was a forest fire.  A fireman found 3 lynx kittens with burns on their paws, their faces, and their ears, and alone in the burned area.  The mother was not around and it is was not known if she carried as many babies to safety as she could and had to abandon the rest, or if she did not survive the fire herself.  The fireman tucked them in his backpack and carried them out...but only the two girls survived.  They were flown to the Conservation Center and given a permanent home -- the kittens normally stay with their mother for a year, so they did not have a chance to learn survival skills since they were so young at the time of the fire.  They have a very tall perch and open enclosure...I didn't realize the 2nd one was up top looking down at me until I had been standing there quite some time.  I have to say, after seeing these little lynx, who at 11 yrs old are smaller than I expected, I am pretty sure Lexi cat might have just been a midget lynx.

Every once in a while, you just have a bad day.  Happened to me just last week.  I think I caught Melvin the Moose on a bad day, and it wasn't really very nice of me to take this picture when one of his antlers had just fallen off.  I was pretty worried about the missing fact I wondered if that was why he was there.  But it turns out that moose shed their antlers every winter.  Basically when it's cold, and they need to conserve energy, the big heavy antlers fall off and make life a little easier.  They only need the antlers for showiness and battling for the sexiest girl moose in the spring. This was a mild winter in Alaska, and many moose have not yet shed their antlers and it's already March when they should be growing new ones!  Melvin is also a lot bigger than me..I mean a lot.  It doesn't look very intimidating in the picture, but the moose is way bigger than those bears.  And Melvin's moose friend snorted at me when I went to take a picture, and I will admit I jumped and backed away from the fence.  Who knew a snuffle could be so threatening.  Anyway, I learned to give moose a very wide berth should I encounter them outside of the fence.  But I am sure he is a lovely moose all the same.

There were a lot more friendly faces...a few ambivalent, nervous, or exasperated by the demands of looking so cute for so many photos...but many curious and content ones too.  Speaking of curious...isn't the muskox a curious looking thing?  I admit I am a little fascinated with the muskox after this visit.  There were also Bison and Buffalo, Deer and Caribou.

Here is the Moose that started you can see, it's not a mean looking moose...I think that's why the loud snuffle caught me so of guard.  These are just some of the wonderful animal people you will get to meet at the Alaska Conservation Center...don't miss it if you are anywhere in the state!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center

I would like to thank those of you who checked in to make sure I had not been eaten after my last post with the grizzly bear pictures.   And no, I do no have a zoom lens, nor can I run that fast, but my Sony has 24 mega pixels so I could get some nice pictures without being in paws reach.  So yes, I did take those pictures and for those of you that are trying to figure out how I could have taken them and not been eaten, the answer is simple.  The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center.  Located about 45 minutes south of Anchorage sits 200 acres of Alaska land that belongs to the Conservation Center.  They take in injured and orphaned wildlife year round, and give them a safe home until they are rehabilitated and released, or forever.  They have spacious fenced in enclosures, with room to walk around under the open skies.  It's bittersweet for the bears.  If a bear is orphaned, it can come to the center and be cared for.  But a bear that has been fed by humans will return to populated areas for food...and get if a bear is taken in, this becomes it's forever home.  An adult grizzly in the wild can roam ranges of up to 800 miles...obviously they can't accomplish this at the center...but, it's better than the other options available for orphaned bears in my mind. 

So what else is at the center?  Well, there are elk.  A fair number of elk...20 or so I would guess.  These two are quite young.  Yes, there is a baby nursery for orphaned little ones of all shapes and sizes.  If an elk calf is born too late in the year, the mother will abandon it knowing it can't survive the winter.  Many of these elk are those late bloomers.

Just a snapshot of the area the elk have to roam around in.  If you notice the two very dead trees behind those cute and fuzzy faces and bums, there is another story to tell as well.  This land is the site of a former community called Portage.  Alaskans still call it Portage, but it was destroyed in the earthquake of '64 and is no more.  The earth dropped several feet here, so the trees which were once part of the forest now had their roots in salt water.  They died off, but have remained an eerie reminder of the events of 50 years ago.

More elk.  They are just so cute!

Also found at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center is a whole herd of wood bison.  These bison are pretty special for a lot of reasons, but the first reason is because...they're Canadian!  Wood bison were extinct in Alaska, but this herd is an attempt to reintroduce them to Alaska.  Alaska has been caring for and allowing this Canadian herd to breed an multiply at the center since 2005.  A herd of 100 will be released 300 miles west of Anchorage this spring.  These bison, some weighing 2, 250 lbs, will be trucked to Anchorage's Ted Steven International Airport, and flown by Hercules military aircraft to their new home.  A system of pens similar to this has been set up, where they will be kept while they acclimatize to the area...and then they are free to roam for good.

Also on site is a special little porcupine named Snickers.  Snickers gets a lot of visitors, and is quite used to being fed by humans by hand every day.  Snickers eats veggies, and apparently has a thing for peanuts.  All of the animals at the center are available for "adoption."  Admission to the center was only $12.50.  But you can donate to a specific program and in principle donate an adoption fee for an animal to help pay for their care if just want to do more.   Which you just might after you meet all these gorgeous little (and big) critters.

I should also mention that Snickers often visits schools, part of his life in the limelight since he became and internet sensation and has over 4 million views on his YouTube video.  Snickers puts my little blog to shame.  Here is his you didn't think a porcupine would jump and twirl and just want to be held. a muskox and it is waaaaay fuzzier than I imagined.  Little secret about muskox, if you brush them, the fur that they shed makes incredibly warm wool that is as light as silk.  In fact, it's the warmest fabric in the world.  It's called quivit and you can purchase such garments at some of the local stores.  I know what you are thinking....will I be chasing a musk ox with a brush and don't muskox have horns?  No.  And yes they do but this one is a female.  And I think her name is Mukluk.  I can tell she's female because...

This is her cute and fuzzy baby.  If it weren't for the hooves...I think I could pass it off as a puppy.

Here is your more typical looking muskox...shaggy, with horns...and are those cloven hooves?  I think so.  Because muskoxen are part of the goat family.
Here we have Adonis, a bald eagle with who was a gunshot victim...he lost a wing.  Adonis will live out his life at the Conservation Center, and while it's sad that he can no longer fly, it's also interesting that 2 other free bald eagles check in on him.  Maybe they are old friends. 

A wild bald eagle that chooses to hang around the Conservation Center
There are so many stories at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center that I am going to end here tonight and carry on again tomorrow.


Monday, March 23, 2015


So...I have always been a little fascinated with bears.  It started with the childhood fear of bears after watching a horror movie which basically was about a fake paw on a stick.  That propelled me to read everything about bears I could get my hands on before weekend mountain biking trips to Jasper.  Through that, I became fascinated with how gorgeous and playful they could be...but being well versed in how dangerous an encounter can be, I maintained that healthy fear.

One thing I wanted to do in Alaska was see the bears.  And...I have seen bears!  I promise to tell you all about it in the next blog...but it's almost my bedtime and so I will just share some bear photos...tales and tails to follow later!
Smiley Spring Bear

Rolly Polly Spring Bear

"Mind Your Own Business" Bear

Tender Bear Moment

Bear reflecting on Bear Reflection

And another attempt at Bear Snow Angels!

Tired "I Crack Myself Up Bear"

Dominant Bear

Sunday, March 22, 2015

My Not So Perfect Life

Things in life tend to be cyclical.  And lately things have really started flowing well.  Somewhere deep down, I had to know the blissful streak was going to have to be broken.  Today was that day.

I suppose it started somewhere in the night...between tired muscles and bones from moving and running errands and being on a bad knee all day and freshly relocated Panther cats, there was not much sleep to be had.  I was either waking up to think I should get up and take an Ibuprofen, but don't think I bought any since moving so can't, or wondering what on earth are those cats doing?  They were racing around the house, and not at all silent like one would think cats would be.  Thump thump thump went the little paws up and down the stairs.  Every once in a while amid a quasi dreamlike state, my subconscious heard my conscious yell "Panthers No!" in response to a characteristic pick pick pick sound coming either from the edge of the mattress or somewhere too far away to be anything but carpet.  "Buy more scratching posts" my conscious said to my irritated and groggy subconscious.  I also heard a few rat-ta-ta-tats followed by a low boom.  "Machine gun fire?"  "No"  "There it goes again."  "No way," the sleepy part of the brain argued with the alert part of the brain.  I vaguely recalled the realtor saying the military sometimes does exercises in the area.  Another soft boom and some rat-ta-ta-tats convinced me all was well and off I dozed again.  For a few minutes...until the high pitched mewing started echoing through the house.  "mew-mew-mew-meeeeeeeeew" from Aiden "mew"  from Harry.  Translation -- "Hey where are you it's dark and big and I think I got lost."  "Here."  Followed by my audible "Panthers No!"  "Mew mew meeeew mew meow mew" "mew mew mew mew"  Translation -- "yeesh, what's her problem?"  "who knows, hey let's play run up and down the stairs as fast as we can."

I got my requisite sleep, which meant the day just started later than I wanted it to.  The sun was shining so I opened the curtains and windows, and went to the spare bathroom to bring the fresh lilies to the kitchen table. Why were the flowers in the spare bathroom?  So the Aiden Panther cat wouldn't eat them overnight.  Plants require supervision and must be locked up when not guarded.  I smiled at the fragrance and my pretty flowers, and set them carefully on a cloth so that I wouldn't get a water ring on my brand new kitchen table, and then went to start the coffee pot.  While my back was turned, Aiden hopped up on the counter and started eating the lily.  "No Aiden," I said, but he pretended not to hear my and took a solid bite of a leaf.  I rushed back around the corner, and normally he would hop off and not let me catch him, but today he stayed, mouth firmly attached to the lily.  I picked him up, he released the lily, and I turned to place him on the floor.  It was at that moment that he reached out with his little picky paw and latched onto the cloth, on top of which the flowers were sitting, and voila, cat wins, the flowers are down.  There is now also a vase of water on my new table, dripping off and soaking onto the new chairs, and puddling down onto the floor.  Sigh.  So I pulled out a new towel and removed the price tags and started mopping it up, which is when I heard the funny sound from my brand new coffee machine.  While I was mopping up the flower mess, the coffee machine was spilling coffee and grounds all over the countertop.  Turns out I bought the wrong filter. 

Once I finished cleaning up those two messes, I sat down with day's to do list, and much of it involved online activity, such as registering for health benefits.  That too was a fail as the program wouldn't let me check the boxes I either the system was down, or my computer stylus which was in the range of the flower vase spillage was ruined.  Sigh.

I had a couple of things I wanted to do at work, so I tried to get those things together and head into Anchorage.  When I got to the parking lot and rifled through my purse, my access card was right where I put it...the pocket of my winter jacket which I was not wearing on this sunny day.  OK, let's just stay late tomorrow and get the errands done today.  I managed to get 2 new kitty scratching toys and more food bowls since I don't know where I unpacked the others, and treated myself to a giant Venti Starbucks Latte before going into the garden center at Lowe's.  I wanted to get some flower pots, but on the way also saw some patio chairs on sale, so now had 2 chairs, 2 flower pots, and a coffee but was making out ok.  A very helpful clerk came to the checkout line and put them all on a trolley to make my last 20 feet from the store to the car easier.  Of course, a wheel was stuck when I tried to push it, but pulling worked, but it required 2 hands.  So I put the coffee in the flower pot and started to cross the one lane in the parking lot between me and the car.  At the first bump, the coffee fell over and poured into the flower pot and the chairs toppled over in front of a car, and of course got all scratched up.  At that point, I decided to quit the day and go home.

My friends Sharon and Dave were going to stop by to see the new place, and then we were going to go for Mexican food.  I decided to pick up a few refreshments just in case, and while at the grocery store saw the most gorgeous little bamboo plants that would look good on my new coffee table.  Surely Aiden wouldn't eat bamboo...would he?  I decided to ask the florist and she said she didn't know if they were poisonous or not, so I set it back and vowed to google it at home and return for it if it was safe.  A quick good search confirmed that yes...Bamboo is poisonous to cats.  I decided I better check on the Lily top, and sure enough, can be deadly to cats.  It's official.  I am not allowed to have nice things.

However, at the end of the day, I was having the tastiest fajitas ever while sharing stories old and new with Sharon and Dave.  I had my first houseguests, who were a little disappointed the Panthers would not come out to visit, and one of my cute little balls of destruction is currently standing on two feet with 2 paws pressed against the screen enjoying the twilight air and mountain view.  There are a lot of things about my life that are fabulous, a lot that I wish I could change, people I wish I could bring back.  But when it comes to the important stuff, we have so little control.  So when the little stuff goes all wrong like today, it just makes me thankful for the things that matter that are, friends, and the two little cats that make life just a bit more entertaining.  The fact that I got myself somewhere to stay with a good view, a nice couch, and that I haven't managed to poison that little cat of mine yet.  Then suddenly even today turns into a win.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Mystic Alaska

 Years ago there was a Russell Crowe movie about hockey and small town life in a little town in Alaska.  As I stood staring out on this scene, it popped into my head for some reason.  "Mystic," I thought, "the movie was about a small town, Mystic Alaska."  Nope.  Turns out I was wrong and the movie was actually "Mystery, Alaska," and was based on a fictional town.  I was however correct with my choice of adjective when I said mystic.  Mystic -- to be spiritually significant; ethereal.  That's about the best word I can think of to describe the view I was casually photographing on the roadside.

I am hoping to see brilliant blue skies this summer, but as you can see, the winter skies are as white as the background of this blog.  I liked this picture because it doesn't seem to fit quite right, the sky simply fading away, the mountain with its avalanche shoots looking like a melting ice cream cone, the perfect calm of the water, and finally the trees in the foreground refusing to blend in with the rest of the scene whatsoever.  Like Alaska...this scene just doesn't all fit into a smooth little photo.

The shades of blue in the mountains surprised me at first.  I was used to the slate grey of the Rockies, which do indeed have their blue hues, but the blue stands out a little bit more to me here.  Not a hint of blue in the sky, just in the mountains.  A brilliant blue at that.

Sigh.  This is my new backyard.  I love my Bermuda backyard, my Saskatchewan backyard, and my Eden North backyard...and I love my new backyard.  I am a lucky girl to add this to some other pretty stellar places I have called home.

I just liked the ripples on the water in this next photo. looks so cold, right?  The grey, the warm colors...

But then camera pans left and voila -- the warmth returns in shades of brown and purple and blue;  Truth's not really warm compared to Bermuda or cold compared to western Canada...these colors are Alaska mild.  I can't wait to see Alaska in bloom!

In the bottom right corner of this photo you can see a whale tail. 

OK, I am teasing, it just looks like a whale tail.  That is actually just a stranded piece of ice about the size of a mini-Cooper that happens to be in the shape of a whale tale.

I ventured out on the silt (I know I said I wasn't going to do this, but I was very cautious I promise) to check out the ice...and thought the feathery patterns in the mud were kind of pretty.

And again, pan right...standing on that mud...sure looks like spring all of a sudden.  But all of these pictures were taken on the same less than 30 miles along the side of the highway.  Imagine what is in "the back country."  Will do my best to find out for you, without getting eaten by a bear which is a bit of a paranoia I have always had -- I blame my older brothers for being in charge of the remote and letting their little sister see "Night of the Grizzly," which basically is about a bear that eats everyone, whether they are hikers, rangers in fire lookouts, pilots of airborne helicopters, and numerous other situations which I have fortunately forgotten.  Several decades later, I still can't watch the movie, although I did find parts of it on YouTube to show an Australian how terrifying this could be and realized most of the movie was filmed without an actual bear, it was just a B movie with a paw on the stick.  Nonetheless, I have been scarred for life.  Expect a lot of highway photos until I get over this.