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Old 08-22-2012, 01:28 PM   #131
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I thought the light house and "volcano" photos were wonderful and then the "twilight" shot...wow!

Huh, one does run out of descriptive wording...

Deb
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Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where Nature may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul alike._ John Muir
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Old 08-23-2012, 05:48 PM   #132
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Hello from Wrangell Island, Alaska. I'm trying to stay warm here in the public library while Courty's off watching bears eat salmon. She took the AnAn bear tour this morning. Me, I've seen bears.
We're camped for free in a USFS campground about 14 miles out of town on the only highway on the island. It--the campground--has a Tlingit name I can neither say nor spell. It's perched partway up one of the forested hills above Point Nemo, overlooking the Inside Passage. We're the only ones in the place. As I lay looking out the bubble window last night, a shooting star went past, completing the feeling of being in a magic place.
This entire coast of Alaska is part of the Tongass National Forest, which is a temperate rain forest (!) that stretches over 400 miles along the panhandle of Alaska. As you would expect, rain and fog predominate here, thus no need to ask what the weather is like today.
A couple of observations about Alaska that I don't think I've noted before; forgive me if I'm repeating myself:
1. Alaskans love espresso. That alone is enough to endear them to me. Any place big enough to have a parking space will often have an espresso kiosk. Not only that, they'll be happy to make me a decaf soy mocha without even a hint of a grimace. More sophisticated coffee peddlers have been known to act a bit snooty when I've asked for that. Not here. Yay, Alaskans!
2. Ditto for bakeries. In fact, Wrangell is the first town I can recall that doesn't have a bakery. Back in my home state, bakeries have become an endangered retail species but not here. Several places we've stopped have even combined my two favorite words in the English language in their shop titles: Espresso Bakery. Definitely not on my self-imposed super-strict diet (which I'm going to have to get back on one of these days), but golly, I'm on vacation!
3. Alaskans are not wimps when it comes to being outside in what only they could call summer weather. Case in point: this morning it's probably less than 50 degrees F. out. I'm wearing a lined fall jacket, earmuffs and gloves. And shivering. And sniffling. A fellow steps out from a place across the street in a tee shirt and proceeds to work outside awhile. On the Macho/Wimp continuum I know where I stand.

We're mentally ready to go home now and are thinking of routes back that will cut a day or two off the trip. We may cut out one of the ferry stops--Ketchikan--and go directly to Prince Rupert, BC, from here tomorrow. The only problem is that we'd arrive in P.R. at around 1 A.M., have to go through Customs, then have to find a place to spend the rest of the night at a time when most sensible people are asleep. We haven't decided. The schedule we actually have tickets for puts us in Ketchikan for about a day and a half, then has us arriving at the ferry terminal at 3:00 A.M. to catch the P.R. ferry. That's not a great alternative either, but at least it gets us there in daylight.

Now to some pics.

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Our room aboard the ferry Taku. See also the last photo which somehow slipped to the bottom

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Passing through the Wrangell Narrows. The channel in places is only slightly wider than the ferry. Picturesque, though.

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Last night's campsite in the unpronounceable USFS campground. Tonight's too.

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The view out our window. A ferry went by last evening, so that must be our route out down there.
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Old 08-23-2012, 05:56 PM   #133
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A few more photos of our campsite. Although the originals of all our photos are quite sharp the uploading process sacrifices some of the clarity. Not complaining, just explaining. Our photo total is now well over 2000 pictures, not counting videos, so we've got a problem coming up when we get home, trying to sort and figure out what to do with them all. And to think I spent 5 weeks in Egypt once and came home with only a roll and a half of pictures! Obviously Courty's the photog in the fambly.
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Old 08-23-2012, 09:15 PM   #134
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After you get home, get the photos in order and are ready to give your dissertation on your trip to Alaska :-). Can I have a front row seat if I bring the popcorn? ( and the espresso of course!)
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Old 08-23-2012, 09:17 PM   #135
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PS: I will be the first to buy the book, too!
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Old 08-23-2012, 11:09 PM   #136
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Once again I post another 'like' post. An amazing trip and I have loved 'watching' every minute of it.

Thanks so much for sharing your journey.
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Old 08-23-2012, 11:58 PM   #137
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeep4Two
Once again I post another 'like' post. An amazing trip and I have loved 'watching' every minute of it.

Thanks so much for sharing your journey.
X2:-)
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Old 08-24-2012, 12:03 AM   #138
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X3 :-)
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Old 08-24-2012, 06:38 AM   #139
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Ditto! Reading your posts has been quite enjoyable! THANK YOU for sharing!!!
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Old 08-24-2012, 11:49 PM   #140
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Bears! Courtenay's note.
The misty morning started with a jet boat ride of about an hour and a half for 11 of us. The clouds hung so low you could almost reach up and touch them. This place feels almost mystical as you move in and out of clouds drifting in the tree tops and hugging the hillsides. They are constantly rearranging themselves, opening and closing vistas. As we emerged from a fog bank, we found ourselves at the mouth of a small river delta. The tide was low and the captain ran our boat up on the sand. Huge old pines dripping with moss and covered in lichen towered over us. An acrid smell permeated the area--the smell of rotting fish. Salmon die after they spawn, creating a feast for dozens of eagles and hundreds of gulls and a myriad of unseen organisms. But we were focused on bears, not birds. The AnAn Bear Observatory is run by the forest service. A half-mile boardwalk leads to a deck overlooking a waterfall. Salmon are thick. So are bears. Only 60 people a day are allowed up the path. You must get a permit and pay the forest service a $20 fee (guides and boat ride cost much more). You're not allowed to bring any food or anything that might smell like food (cherry lip balm, for example). After instructions from a forest service ranger and a short wait for the--sorry had to stop for a breaching whale, typing this on the ferry. You've got to love this! Anyway, after a short wait for some of the bears to clear the path--this is their home, their path and they call the shots--we made our way up the slippery boardwalk, clapping and singing as we went. The observation deck and photo blind look out over waterfalls where the sows and cubs generally gather. The males hang out at another falls farther up. Bears go right under the deck and pass back and forth in front of the only outhouse. How can I describe how completely fascinating it was to watch these bears hanging out, fishing and, as you can see, napping in a nearby tree. She went up that tree in seconds, so don't even think of climbing a tree to avoid a bear! The salmon were thick and the bears had been feeding for weeks so they were pretty portly. Some went after fish aggressively. One we dubbed the lazy bear went in for stealing or eating already dead salmon. These were black bears, some with cubs. A smaller bear fished from a hole in the rocks, deftly catching fish after fish, dragging them quickly into her hiding place to avoid the much larger lazy bear. Another big sow perched just below us behind a rock for easy fishing as salmon were swept back down the river into this little backwater. Down the river a ways a mother grizzly and her three cubs fished and played. Grizzlies fish by putting their whole bodies in the water, even looking underwater. Black bears usually reach a paw in or grab a fish in their jaws, the guides told us. Black bears will clear out if a grizzly comes close, but mama and the cubs kept their distance. After 3 1/2 hours give or take, we were pretty cold and we made our way back down the trail. We had another wait while a couple of bears kept our captain away from the boat, so we watched dozens of eagles perched in the trees and listened to their loud chatter. They'll leave as soon as the salmon spawn ends. It was an extraordinary day.
Note: I went on this whole trip pretty scared of bears, especially grizzlies. At first I was worried every time I stepped out of the camper. I still have a healthy respect for all bears, but after numerous instructions from park personnel and a greater comfort level with bear spray, I'm more confident. We keep a scrupulously clean camp and err on the side of caution, always asking for information, but we hike and camp with more comfort than we did at first. We know not to run, ever. Prey runs. We don't carry food, only water, on hikes. We're always bear aware and still nervous, but not terrified.

Can't upload photos at Ketchikan McD's. Will give you plenty of bears later!
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