Monthly Archives: December 2015

Bear Crossing

Steve spotted the bear a good way down a wide-open Canadian highway.  He let off the gas to give her ample time to get clear.  Then a cub scrambled up behind her.  Steve applied some brake.  Well all know that camp trailers take extra time to give up momentum, but the cub was okay as long as he held to his course across the roadway.  As many bears as we’d seen in our Alaska exploration, it was still a treat to watch the pair–until a second cub took up the rear.  Steve used his best words, pushed the brakes to the limit, and we held our […]

Denali Vandals?

Why would someone lace a Denali Park sign with big nails, points out? Denali’s bears, it seems, have a number of destructive uses for signs–including backscratching.  Park maintenance workers edge the signs with nails in hopes of increasing the signs’ lifespan.

Denali Done Right

Denali’s ban on private vehicles not only eases congestion, it increases sightings through sharing inside the bus and between guides.  Our busload was stoked and quickly chalked up sightings of caribou, moose, and Dall sheep.  Then, far down in the valley, a charging grizzly caught someone’s eye.  As the bus pulled over, someone else noticed that the bear was chasing a moose and calf. The pair had a fair lead, and as they passed through a wooded area, the calf split off, turning east up the valley slope.  Mom kept herself visible and kept the bear on her trail.  When she reached the river our valley ran into, she drank and then rolled in […]

Wanna Meet a Bear?

In 56 years a Coloradan, I never saw a bear in the wild.  That changed in a hurry when we set out for Alaska by way of British Columbia.  In two months I went from zero to 18.  A longer stay in Hyder promised more interesting encounters.  According to a local, there was a bear trail through the middle of town, and bears sometimes stopped cars to lick smashed bugs off the license plates.  We walked a boardwalk along a stream where we would have seen bears fishing–almost close enough to touch–if the salmon had been running, but our timing was off there too.  I don’t know why Steve […]

Alaska’s Diva Mountains

Much as we Coloradans love our Rockies, Alaska’s mountains have ways of kicking infinite majesty up a notch.  Cloud boas, shimmering falls, and glacial bling are de rigueur for Alaskan summits.  Add lush wilderness settings, and there’s just no contest. Sadly cruise ships often miss the best mountain views.  We found stunners in Haines, Valdez, and Hyder, but cruise ships seldom pass their way.  Cruisers who take the Denali extension will get great views, but Mount McKinley itself is likely to be shrouded in clouds.  If diva mountains are a priority for you, book a cruise that includes the Kenai Fjords.  OMGs guaranteed.

Kayaking Alaska

I have two treasured memories of Alaskan kayaks.  One is of watching a distant speck backed by a snowy peak, grow into a kayak paddled by two young women singing a sweet, simple, soul-stirring verse. The other is of a guided paddle in Prince William Sound.  My daughter Katie and I zigzagged along correcting our overcorrections, wondering how the guides managed to whiz by without a wobble.  We wished we could get a better look at the occasional brown bumps across the bay, almost certainly otters.  But the beauty of the scene overpowered any feelings of frustration.  Before we finished I’d decided that I would talk to Santa about a kayak. Katie and I took my kayak out a […]

Cruise Makers

Our River Navigator cruise director and concierge do everything but sing us to sleep at night.  They give us maps on our way out the door to take tours, suggest things to see at every stop, and never stop working or smiling.  I really suspect that Veronika’s positive energy is some sort of superpower, so many details, so flawlessly executed, and all the while exuding FUN. Still, I’d have been in a bad way without Laszlo.  He showed up beside my dining chair a couple days into the cruise and said, “I’ve been shopping for you.”  He had gluten-free pasta, bread, cereal, and flour, so I could […]