Thursday, September 29, 2016

Spring at last

I snapped a Panoramic of Anchorage sitting in the foreground of the Chugach range in mid March.  I was sure spring had sprung on that day.

But, it turns out I was wrong, and this is how much snow can fall in a couple of hours in my part of the world.

Me and the cat felt the same way about this.

Bur a few weeks later, winter finally gave up, and so I headed to the Eagle River Nature Center for a long overdue outdoor walk.

The first walks of the season are always a bit mucky, and a bit silent as hikers and animals are just waking up and finding their way around again after a few months tucked away.

I was feeling pretty good about my walk.  I figured it was too early in the season for bears, and the knee was holding up better after last summer's surgery.

The skies were blue, and while the mountains were still snowy, they looked hopeful that they would soon be green and full of life again.

We look at these streams and tend to think about in a few more months, when the salmon return.  But it's easy to overlook that the salmon are actually there right now.  The eggs spend the winter maturing under the ice.  This is the time of year the eggs hatch and the little alevin's begin their journey downstream, where they will eventually grow into big salmon and spend a couple of years in the big ocean.

The southern faces slopes lose their snow much faster than the northern facing slopes.

I was being cautious on my solitary spring walk.  I stopped to note the pawprint in the mud.  4 toes, small print consistent with dog.  Carry on.

And a few short paces later, a new print.  5 toes, a claw on each, fair size, possible bear.  And that was the end of the road for this short hike.  Guess I didn't beat the bears to the trails this year after all.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Alaska Albert

I met Albert in Bermuda.  He's an adventure loving party animal that can turn up anywhere, anytime.  Such it was that Albert arrived in Anchorage one March day.  Albert like to travel far, fast, and hostel style, meeting new people along the way.  And so when I found him after work at the Wiliwaw, he had already explored a good chunk of the city and met other traveller's and heard of all sorts of adventures he could do.  One thing I had to offer was a guided car tour -- so that he could get to a few places too far for buses, but not far enough to warrant a flight.  Of course, the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center meets that requirement, so that was the day plan.

We started at the Alaska Wildberry chocolatier though of course.  Here's Albert with some of the locals.

The drive took us past the scenic Turnagain Arm.

And off to see some real

Winter was short lived in south central Alaska this past year.  The snow was already mostly melted by mid March, and these muskoxen were probably already a little too warm in their fuzzy winter coats.  I swear that's the one that always gives me the evil eye, ever since it charged me that day.  It hates my camera.

The bears didn't even bother to hibernate this past winter.  They were up and roaming about when we came to visit.

Good morning sweet bear!

Spring must be a wonderful time for a bear.  Well rested, lots of smells in the air.  Spring is like a bear Saturday morning I think.

Sometimes it takes a couple of days to solidly wake up!

Much to my surprise, the nature center had a new porcupine.  Meet Kit.  Kit was found in a trap :(  She lost a leg, but found a forever home where she will be safe.

After a quick trip around the nature center, we went back to the bears and watched them lumber about.  Ready for a new year, the bears and I both!

On the way home we stopped at an Alaska "beach."  We sort of had mud flats rather than soft sand beaches like Bermuda.

Not only humans appreciate the beauty of Alaska.  Saw this bulldog scamper to the top of a mountain and claim the view.

Albert posing with the mountains.

Back in Anchorage we went chasing a sunset.  We started at Lake Hood where a bit of golden light was starting to shine on the many float planes on the frozen ice.

Sunsets can be slow coming in the land of the midnight sun.  So we kind of got dusk on the city instead.

It was a short visit, but a good one.  Albert hopped on a plane to Fairbanks to chase the aurora.  But I was sure he'd turn up again soon.  Turns out I was right.  A few days later I was walking through the Seatte airport and there he was, with enough time for one more beer before we headed separate ways.  Til the next time my friend.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Just Another Day at the Races

It's been an awful long time since I posted a blog.  Fear not, it's not snow and winter  here in Alaska yet, but I have still to sort through all of the winter of 2016 pictures (let alone spring, summer, and fall), and so I find myself looking at a prelude of what is just likely around the corner in my world.

One of my favorite February activities in Alaska is the Iditarod.  This year I had to miss the ceremonial start of the Iditarod as I was out of town.  But I did get to see the World Dogsled Championships which came to Anchorage just a week before the Iditarod.  I love the dogsled races.  The dogs just seem to be the kookiest canines in the animal kingdom.  They are a blur of fur and paws, and to me it seems like they kind of like this crazy sport.

 Anchorage has been lacking in snow the last few years, so they have had to truck in enough to make a race track in the streets.  Here are two teams racing down fourth avenue.

These two goofballs look like they are having a blast leading the team on this adventure.

They kick up some pretty good speed.

Take a look at the musher's expression.  I think you have to be as crazy as the dogs to be a musher.

There's always one dog in every team who never seems to touch the ground.

I didn't realize the musher was in a superhero costume until just now when I was reviewing the pictures.  I am way to fascinated by the dogs to even notice the mushers usually.

 Now to be fair the mushers put in some momentum too.  This girl is "kicking it" with her dogs.

Each dog seems to have their own unique "racing form".

Someone in the front has a drool problem.

The funniest moment of the whole race though was this little short legged bulldog who has dreams of running the big race.  He got on the track and refused to leave.

Dream big little fella, dream big!

Yup.  Just another day at the races in Anchorage.