Alaska 2016 Travel Journal

Below is a journal I kept of my trip to and around Alaska. It was my hopes to summarize each day of my trip. For the most part I feel I was successful. Eight days are missing and it is my hopes to be able to go back and write something about each of those days. Will see...

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Today, I started my trip to and around Alaska. I drove for 12 hours from Denver to North of Great Falls, MT. Not much traffic and hardly any road construction made way for a nice drive. Saw a lot of antelope while driving through Wyoming. As a child I remember seeing herds of antelope. Today was most I have seen since then. I made great time. I am happy to be safely at the motel. I'm checked in and ready to eat then rest. Tomorrow, I'll cross over into Canada and will only drive 10 hours. I hope to get NW of Edmonton, Alberta Canada.

Monday, June 13, 2016

I made the drive from Shelby, Montana to NW of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada to Fox Creek today. Everything went as planned and I was able to make great time. I'm resting and relaxing in hotel room right now. All is well and I am feeling good. Tomorrow morning I should make it to Mile 0 of the Alaska Highway and get a fair distance. Based on previous years, I should lose cell phone coverage tomorrow afternoon and not have it again till I arrive in Alaska mid day on Thursday.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The day started with the cover coming off the orange juice dispenser. I had juice down the front of me. It wasn't to bad and I am glad I hadn't checked out yet. I was able to go back to room and change. My thoughts were, "I hope this isn't an omen for what the day holds in store." I left Fox Creek, Alberta, Canada and the plan was to drive to Fort Nelson, British Columbia, Canada. I had only driven twenty minutes and I was in thick fog. I was concerned because along this stretch of highway, is known for deer and moose. I was able to drive out of the fog about 30 minutes later. I'm glad I did because on the right side of the road on a river bank, was a moose. It was beautiful and as I drove by, it lifted its head and looked my way. What a magnificent looking animal. From northwest of Fort Saint John to Fort Nelson was rain, lots of it. Well, I had thought so till I passed some folks from Florida. I thought it was funny that as I passed them, it really started to rain, hard enough I had to slow way down. I was glad the rain stopped and the sun came out. I drove past the area that had been closed last month due to a forest fire. It was kind of unsettling seeing a big old sign saying, "Wildfire area! Enter area at own risk." Past the burn area, I spotted a black bear, far enough ahead, to be able to slow down and stop, to get some video and pictures. It was about 75 feet off the road, busy eating the grass and flowers. The rest of the drive was rainy but nice. I am safe and sound in Fort Nelson, B.C. All is well and I am feeling good. I'm excited about tomorrow because I'll be driving to Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada. Most of the drive is in the wilderness. I should see Big Horn Sheep, Caribou and hopefully some more bears along the way. I'm going to go eat now. I hope to add another update tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

What a day. It has been a long day with rain, road construction, RVs and even a bison jam. The drive started with it raining and it rained pretty much the entire day. I didn't see one black bear. I saw a half dozen.lol First one was near the top of Steamboat Hill on the other side of a barrier. I saw it too late to be able to stop safe, to get pictures. But with what I was able to see of the bear, it was huge and entirely black. Even the nose was black. Its size could rival a brown bear. I saw other black bears and bison. I know risky, but to get some good video, I got out of the truck leaving the truck between me and the bear. The bear was more interested in eating and I did nothing to disturb it. The drive has me feeling really spent and very tired. So tired I almost went without dinner, but I was strong. I filled the truck up with gas and then went to dinner. There were times I had the road to myself and other times there were a lot of RVs. I had to smile and chuckle because traffic was stopped up ahead due to bison on the road. Four bison crossed the road very, very slowly and another started walking in the south bound lane.I took a picture of the bison with the barrier. The barrier was all along the side up the hill. I figure it was at least a mile and would be slow going if the bison went all the way. I looked over to the driver behind the bison and he looked over at me and we both laughed. Did I mention there were lots and lots of rain? Well, there was. I enjoyed it but sometimes the down pours was a tad unsettling. I'm safely in Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada. I love being in the Yukon. I guess it is from reading a book called, Golden Torment. Guess what? Tomorrow I cross the border and I will be back in Alaska! I'm a tired excited. I'm having so many memories of when my mom was with me, I miss her so much. I know she is with me in spirit but, oh how I wish she was with me in the physical sense. Tomorrow I drive from Whitehorse, Yukon to Fairbanks, Alaska. I'll have a day off, getting prepared to drive up the Dalton Highway to Deadhorse and to look out at the Arctic Ocean. I am hoping there will be ice like what was seen in 2010. Other than being tired, I am well and feeling good.

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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Warning: Today's entry is wordy.lol

I'm happy to report I completed the 5 day trek from Denver, CO to Fairbanks, AK. I am glad to be here. It was a good day. Not really, it was a great day. I woke up to clear skies and bright sunshine. It lasted the entire day. Though I think I preferred the rain the previous three days. I could not believe how dirty my windshield became from bugs. I just remembered as I was leaving Whitehorse, they were talking on the radio about how all the rain had affected Dawson Creek. A bridge had become damaged and parts of the town were cut off. I hope repairs are completed easier and faster than they were saying. I am glad I passed through Dawson Creek when I did. From Whitehorse to just about Haines Junction I had my heart stopped a few times by ground squirrels. There were many times, I'd see one and as I approached and I kept thinking move little guy move. And it didn't I'd look in the mirror and see it standing not hurt. Another time two were just so busy playing to move. I thought for sure this time I hit one or both. I was happy as I was cursing them, they both were okay. I looked in the side view mirror to see one was standing in the road and the other off to the side looking back. lol Yet again the Yukon didn't disappoint me. Just north of Burwash Landing, Yukon, and I do mean just north. I was thrilled to come across a grizzly sow and two spring cubs. They were walking along the road. They then crossed the road right in front of me. As I watched I wondered if my truck and the two other vehicles were distracting the sow or if as demonstrated by other sows with first time cubs, just not sure/interested in the safety of her cubs. One cub was unsure what to do. Stay with its sibling that was still sitting and playing eating some dry grass or follow mom. Eventually, it chased after mom, the other cub finally caught up but still the sow was more intent in going to where she wanted. The cubs were small and skinny and they struggled to keep up. As much as I wanted to sit and watch, I thought it best to let them be. As I slowly drove by the sow I could see clear as day all the flies around the face and eyes. It was so awesome to see a grizzly bear so, so close. It was less than 5 minutes when I came across another grizzly. The path this one was taking was right towards the sow and cubs. The behavior and playfulness made me think this was a sub adult. I wish I dared go back and find out if the two bears crossed paths and if they did, what happened. But being well versed on a sow and cubs, I didn't stick around. One of my favorite areas to drive just south of Beaver Creek, Yukon, was a long stretch of road construction. Bummer! As I was getting closer to U.S.A customs I was hit with memories of mom. I drove a long ways in a somber mood. I miss her so much. North of Delta Junction, Alaska, I spotted a moose. I was in the process of passing a car when I spotted it, to be able to stop and get video and pictures. It wasn't very long and I spotted another moose, knee deep in water trying to scratch its back. Again, I spotted it too late to be able to stop and get pictures. I thought about turning around and going back to get pictures but having just passed three RVs, I didn't want to do it again.lol I spotted a third moose as I was behind a semi truck. I was surprised to see how much the driver of the truck slowed down. The moose was startled and ran in to the cover of the trees. I spotted a fourth moose but unfortunately not much to look at. Drove right past Eielson Air Force base just as a pair of jet fighters took off. Wow! From there made it into Fairbanks and hotel. More construction with streets closed had my planned route blocked. I made my own detour by driving through two parking lots to reach the hotel. Got checked in, truck unloaded and being a typical guy, found a car wash to get my truck cleaned up and looking good again.lol On my way back to hotel stopped at liquor store to buy my favorite beer, Alaskan White.lol I walked over to restaurant and had dinner. I'm now going to relax tonight and let the last five days play back. Did I say I am so, so, so happy to be back in ALASAKA? YEEEEE HAAAWWWWW!!!!!!!! *smile*

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Friday, June 17, 2016

I do have much to comment on today. As soon as I woke up, my thoughts turned to getting the truck serviced. I wanted to make sure the truck was ready for the 414 miles up and then back down the Dalton Highway. This road makes me nervous because of its reputation for rocks hitting and breaking windshields and the road flatten tires. I had the truck thoroughly serviced and felt it was mechicanically ready to go. On the way back to the hotel I stopped and bought some easy to prepare food for tomorrow night's stay in Wiseman, AK since there are no restaurants. I decided on some dehydrated food. All I needed was to boil water and then heat and eat the food in its package. No fuss and no mess. I spent the rest of the day resting and relaxing from driving the previous five days. Tomorrow, I start my drive up the Dalton Highway. I'm nervous about the drive because there is nothing between Fairbanks and Deadhorse, just a 414 mile road through the wilderness with not much traffic for help, if something goes wrong. Though, I remember hearing on a tour that any road maintenance done on a section of road, asphalt will be laid. I guess I'll find out if I am remembering correctly. Part of me hopes it is all dirt and another part of me hopes there are paved sections. Well that is all for now.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

I started my drive up the Dalton Highway this morning. I had to back track due to waiting to fill up the truck closer to the Dalton Highway. I remembered the gas station was there but it was closed. I decided to drive back to Fairbanks to get gas. Boy how I hate having to back track especially when there turned out to be another gas station further up I didn't remember.lol Oh well, like I have been doing the whole trip, better to be safe than sorry. I had forgotten how far it was to the start of the Dalton Highway and even more how rough the road was and it is paved.lol I made it to the start and the beginning of the dirt road. All I could think about was I hope my choice in tires was the correct choice. I didn't want to get a flat right off. It didn't take me long to get comfortable driving on dirt and it was actually smoother than the paved road. Guess what? I had more rain today. It is a good thing; I like and enjoy driving in the rain. But, being on dirt, with rain coming down can make for muddy roads and a dirty truck. There wasn't much traffic. And what traffic there was pulled off to the side so I could pass. Speaking of passing, rigs have right of way. When I came across a southbound truck I pulled off to the side as far as I could. With all the dirt and gravel didn't want a chipped or cracked windshield. I made it to the Yukon River and crossed over the bridge that has wood planks to drive on. As I made my way up the road, more of it ended up being paved than I remembered. I also came across road construction. I ended up sitting at one place for nearly 30 minutes. Next was Finger Mountain. There is a rock formation that looks like a finger pointing to the sky. I then crossed the Arctic Circle. I was now going to be above the Arctic Circle for the next 2 days and thought how kewl. I was feeling pretty good about how well the drive was going and contemplated skipping Wiseman and going straight to Deadhorse, but decided to stop as planned, if for no other reason than the quiet and solitude there would be at where I planned to stop. Through different parts of the drive I reflected on Ice Road Truckers and the different sections they had named. Roller Coaster, Beaver slide and such. I reached Coldfoot, the one place between Fairbanks and Deadhorse to get gas. I filled up the tank and then went across the road to stop at the interagency visitor center. This is basically the visitor center for Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve. I took a few pictures of the exhibits and bought some souvenirs. It was only a few more miles to Wiseman, my stopping point. I was happy that I was able to find the lodge as easy as I did. I have only been here once six years ago. I was looking out the window, the rain was beginning to stop and the clouds were lifting. I'm able to see a mountain top for the first time today. The low clouds and rain today didn't present much opportunity to get pictures. I am hoping I'll have a chance southbound. I didn't see any wildlife today. I'm safe in Wiseman, AK. I'm well and feeling good. No internet connection in Wiseman so I will post when I can. Pictures are of the Yukon River Bridge. The other is a picture is one I took while waiting at road construction stop, for the GPS location than anything.

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Sunday June 19, 2016.

I'm writing safely in Deadhorse, AK. I completed the drive up the Dalton Highway from Wiseman around 1:00PM AKDT. It is 500 miles from Fairbanks and overall the drive was not too bad. It was another day driving in a steady rain. The rain made for a very wet and muddy road. I enjoyed the drive up Chandalar Shelf. Just like driving up Atigun Pass in 2010 with low laying clouds, it was the same today. And like in 2010 as I reached the summit the clouds were not as low, making for a nice drive down the North side of the pass. I was surprised to see all the remaining snow on both sides of the road at the summit. It was stepper than I remembered and I stayed in low gear, I still used the brakes more than I like. As I drove away from the Brooks Range, I could feel the front tires pushing the mud up in front of the tries. I put the truck in four wheel drive and it helped a little but not much. The ground was so wet and muddy it felt like the truck was sinking into the mud deeper and deeper. I wondered if it was being made worse by permafrost melting. With an early start, there wasn't much traffic if I became stuck. I passed several rigs going southbound. The last 36 miles was the worst due to road construction. There is a section that was rock like one would find in a river bed. I could feel the truck sinking down as I drove. I was really, really nervous about getting a flat. I'm still nervous due to having to drive back through it in the morning. I made my way into Deadhorse and filled up the tank for my southbound trip. I found my way to the hotel I would be staying at and was able to checking in I had time to take a well needed nap.lol I made it to the pickup point for a shuttle that would take me to the Arctic Ocean. It was a nice trip and they still go to the same place as they went 6 years ago. I was happy to see there was still ice on the water. I'm well and feeling good but I am tried. Going to end for now and rest up. Tomorrow, the plan is to drive the entire 500 miles back to Fairbanks.

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Monday June 20, 2016.

I am feeling great tonight. I finished my drive up and down the Dalton Highway. YES!!!!! I left just after 4:00AM AKDT. I wanted to get through the 36 miles of road construction before there was much south bound traffic. I only had to wait once the entire 500 miles back to Fairbanks. It figures I would see caribou going through the construction zone and was unable to stop to get pictures. One of my hopes was to see several caribou at one time, while I was this far north and I did. More than I could even come close to counting. They weren't doing anything exciting. Some were laying down and some where grazing while others were slowly walking along. The rain that has been falling since Saturday has made the road soggy and very muddy. I drove most of the North Slope in four wheel drive. I felt I made great time to Coldfoot. From Coldfoot to Fairbanks there were several rigs going northbound. On the Dalton, trucks have right of a way. There were several times I pulled over. Even if the trucks didn't have right away, it is a good idea to slow down and pull over to the side to avoid having a rock hit the windshield. The closer I came to Fairbanks the more excited I became. I really had to keep my concentration. I was happy to see the welcome to the Dalton Highway Sign and no one was there. I was able to park the truck next to the sign to get pictures. When I passed the sign going northbound, there was a tour group there taking turns having their pictures taken in front of the sign. I thought I would get my pictures on my way back. I was hoping there would be someone there to take pictures of me, but no. So I had to take the pictures myself. I was so glad to get into Fairbanks and not blow any tires. I was prepared but it is never any fun to change a flat tire and especially in the rain and mud. First thing in Fairbanks was to get all the mud washed off the truck. The truck did great going up and coming back down. Then off to get something to eat and then get checked in at the hotel. I am well and feeling good enough, I have postponed my rest day till Wednesday. I am going to drive from Fairbanks to Homer tomorrow, so I am there in anticipation of my upcoming bear viewing on the coast of Katmai National Park and Preserve. I called the company I am going bear viewing with Thursday and Friday, to ask if they had started going to Brooks Falls, I am happy to hear they are not. They are still going to a bay on the coast. When I scheduled with this company, it was my hopes to get video and pictures of bears on the coast. It looks like it is going to happen. We will see. One thing I have learned when it comes to brown bears, nothing is for certain.

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Tuesday June 21, 2016

I started the day in Fairbanks, AK, to dark grey clouds and more rain. I wanted to get an early start and avoid as much traffic as I could and hopefully cut down on the anticipated road construction stops. I was successful and made it to the McKinley Park Services area in good time. It felt strange driving through and not stopping, but, I am looking forward to returning on Saturday, June 25, 2016. I picked up more traffic going south bound from there. I was surprised at how many tour buses I saw going northbound to Denali from all the major cruise lines. I only had one more stop due to construction and I was lucky as I made it to the tail end and was able to proceed. Still made good time and was still driving in rain, but the clouds was breaking up and I could actually see blue sky for the first time since Friday, June 17. By the time I reached Denali State Park area, I had sunshine. I looked in my side view mirror and I couldn't believe what I was seeing behind me, Mount Denali. I came across another construction stop and took advantage to get a picture. I am hoping I have good weather driving back to Denali NPP so I can get more pictures. It wasn't long after the construction stop and I was back into the busy and crowded area of Wasilla and Anchorage. I made better time than I figured I would get through both Wasilla and Anchorage. And I made great time to Copper Landing but after that it was slow going the rest of the way to Homer. But made it into Homer and checked in for my bear viewing trips on Thursday and Friday. I'm safe feeling good but have a scratchy throat. Spending the evening loading up on Vitamin C and plan on going to bed soon.

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Wednesday June 22, 2016

I woke up not feeling so good today. I had a hint throughout the day yesterday with the way my throat was feeling, I was getting sick. So I made sure to get as much sleep as I could. I slept off and on for about 13 hours. I went out to get some pictures of the Homer Spit and mountains while there is sunshine. I also went to a visitor center and looked around. I have always enjoyed spending some time and looking around there. I stopped at the store to get some things to help me get over the cold I have come down with and then back to hotel room to eat, drink juice and get more rest and get gear ready for bear viewing tomorrow. I am prepared for bugs, rain, sunshine and cold. I have the batteries charging for cameras so I am ready for bears!!!

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Thursday June 23, 2016

Today flew from Homer, AK to Katmai NPP coast for bear viewing. I was part of a smaller group than I expected which was great. We circled the landing area checking for number of bears. It didn't look very promising as we only saw two and as it turned out, they were going away from where we were going to be viewing bears. We were going to land on a river. I thought this should be interesting. I never landed in a float plane on a river before. It was cloudy but no rain. Once we were off the plane and the plane securely fastened to land we were off. I was surprise there was no wind. It wasn't long and I would have enjoyed rain and wind more due to the number of bugs. I thought back to the grizzly sow with cubs, I saw in the Yukon, and how all the bugs seemed to be around her eyes. I had all kinds of bugs around my eyes. As I scoured the area, I saw lots of signs of bears; even saw wolf tracks, but no sightings of bears. After a few more minutes of walking, we saw a single bear. And it seemed to be moving away from us. The guide took us into the brush to give us a chance to get closer. We came out where we thought the bear would be but no bear. The bear had moved way off into the distance. We stopped and settled in to see if any bears would come around. Unfortunately it didn't happen. We could see two bears way off into the distance, moving away from us. While we were sitting, some with binoculars saw a bear chasing a wolf. It was too far away for me to be able to get any pictures. The guide decided to move to and around the point where we saw the two bears. When we made it to the point and looked there were no bears in sight. After waiting a few minutes we started walking back towards the plane. As we came around the bend and about 100 to 150 yards away was a bear grazing on the sage grass. It was moving towards us so we sat down. We watched it for awhile and I was able to get some video. After awhile we went back to the plane and left. As we took off, I looked and I didn't see any bears in the area we were at. It was one of those days of disappointment. It had to happen eventually, I would have a day of not seeing many bears. On the flight back I reviewed the video I took and captured pictures. I am not sure how I missed it at the time but the bear we had been watching was radio collared. I understand why the collars are used but I do not like it, it isn't natural and looks restricting. So the high hopes of being able to be around brown bears and being able to get pictures ended not as I had hoped. I did enjoy being back on the coast of Katmai NPP and being able to hike.

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Friday June 24, 2016

Day 2 of bear viewing at Katmai NPP coast was over before it started. Yesterdays clouds with warm temperatures made for foggy conditions over at Katmai, today. Making the pilot decide it wasn't worth trying to fly in. From the previous day, I could understand the pilot making the decision he did. I have spent the day getting things packed and organized, getting ready for my departure from Homer and arrival in Denali NPP, tomorrow. It has been cloudy and rainy in Homer today. I'm looking forward to traveling to Denali in the morning.

Saturday June 25, 2016

I started my day in a rainy Homer, AK and started for Denali. Denali!!! I can't believe I am going to be back at my most favorite place on earth. I started early to try and avoid as much traffic as possible. I have to admit, I was prepared for a long, long day, it being Saturday and I'd be driving through the busiest city in Alaska. Driving on the Kenai Peninsula went better than expected. Hardly any traffic and the stops I made due to construction on my to Homer was nonexistent today which allowed me to make great time, so much so I stopped in Soldotna and have breakfast. I left Soldotna at the right time because there were a couple of vehicles in front of me setting a great pace and I let them tow me along. I made great time and was in Anchorage before I knew it. As I approached Anchorage the clouds and rain turned to blue skies and sunshine. Just needed to get through Anchorage and Wasilla and hope there was not much traffic leaving Wasilla. Boy oh boy did I luck out. The very few vehicles that were in front of me would turn off when I was getting close. By the time I was through Willow, I had nothing in front of me for as far as I could see. I can't even begin to express the joy I was feeling driving to my most favorite place on earth with a wide open road. Just when I thought things couldn't get any better or the day any more spectacular. I looked to the left and there it was, I could finally understand the statements I had heard so many times about how Denali (Mount McKinley) dominated the landscape. And here I was seeing it for myself and feeling so very blessed and very fortunate to be able to see what I had wanted to see on previous trips. Previous trips, my thoughts turned to how my mom had been with me and wished she was with me now. But, before I could become sad, I was filled with an understanding of why traffic was nonexistent. So many times I had expressed my wish to be able to drive these roads and have it to myself. It was then I was filled with thoughts of mom clearing the way for me. I hadn't even arrived at Denali and I was filled with such a peace, I only feel being at Denali National Park and Preserve. Again, this is why I love this place so much. I arrived at the McKinley Park service area and I had two things I wanted to get done right away, fill the truck up and stop and get a sandwich. My thoughts were to repeat what my mom and I had done during our trip in 2013. We were to early to be able to check in, so we bought sandwiches and drove out on the Denali Park Road to have a picnic. As we sat there eating a caribou trotted right past where we were sitting. Unfortunately this time I was unable to get to the same area as a grizzly had bitten and scratched someone and the area was closed. I had heard something about it departing Homer during the news. There was a road closed barricade blocking the rest of the way to Savage River. Though on my way out I was able to see part of Denali(Mount McKinley). I kept a look out for wildlife but none was to be seen. Well, except for a Ptarmigan. It was walking across the road and as I approached, it flew up and into willow bushes. I spent the rest of the day getting checked in and then cleaned up and to have some dinner. Tonight I am writing from the restaurant. I had a good meal and now I am drinking my favorite beer, Alaskan Summer Ale. There aren't many pictures with this update due to being lost in thought, to think about pictures. I am well and feeling better than great, I'm at my happy place. I am all set to take a shuttle into the park to the Eielson Visitor Center, tomorrow. Already I am having thoughts of the movie Wildlike that was filmed in parts of Denali. I hope to be able to take pictures of Dall Sheep, Moose, Caribou, and of course grizzly bears. I am in a makeup mode of seeing bears from my first visit to Katmai. But then again I am ahead of the game seeing the sow and cubs in the Yukon. My bus trip tomorrow starts at 2:00 in the afternoon and ends around 10pm AKDT. So, tomorrow night's entry might come late. Till then I hope all are well. I am well and feeling good.

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Sunday June 26, 2016

I spent the morning having a nice breakfast and getting different tours booked while at Denali NPP. I'm wanting to do the Mount Denali(McKinley) Summit flight and I decided instead of doing an ATV tour, I'd do a helicopter glacier landing. I've had enough being bounced around and being in the mud, so it didn't sound as attractive as it did a couple of months ago. I have never flown in a helicopter. And, it had been suggested, so I booked it. Afterwards, I took a little nap and then readied myself for the shuttle bus ride into Denali NPP. I arrived at the Wilderness Access Center just in time to buy some snacks and get in line to board the bus. We boarded and we were on our way after a safety briefing. I can't describe how good it felt to be on the bus and heading for the Eielson Visitor Center, yet something was missing. As we proceeded deeper into the park, wildlife viewing was nonexistent. We saw some Arctic Ground Squirrels and an occasional Snowshoe Hare; we were able to get close to see three Golden Eagles flying. It looked like two adults were playing/teaching an adolescent the art of flying. Where I was hoping to see moose none was to be seen. Where I was hoping to see Dall Sheep, none was to be seen. This really surprised me as it had been the first time I hadn't seen Dall Sheep while in the park. There were dark storm clouds towards where Mount Denali(McKinley) could be seen and blocked the view of the mountain. We reached a recent kill sight where a grizzly bear was eating on caribou remains. It wasn't known for sure if the bear had killed it or if a wolf had killed it. I was unable to spot it as we were going into the park but was able to see it as we were on our way out. There was a bald eagle standing on the ground nearby, spotting a bald eagle is rare. It was the first time I had seen a bald eagle in Denali. From the highest part of the park road to Eielson was rain. I went into the visitor center and there were different fur that could be touched such as fox, wolf, wolverine and grizzly. Of the four, the fox was softer than the others. I was surprised as the wolverines I have seen on TV looked soft. We made our way back towards the park entrance. We came across a bus stopped and they were looking at a bear off in the distance. I was able to zoom in enough to discover the bear was a sow and she had two spring cubs. Back at the Savage River area, we saw a bear crossing the river and towards where we were sitting watching it. It moved into some trees and we lost sight of it. We arrived back at the Wilderness Access Center at our scheduled time. On the way back to the lodge I was staying at, I noticed cars on the left side of the road and they were stopped. I eased up slowly and saw there were two moose calves. There were a few people out of their vehicles and they were moving close. As I drove by I was able to see one calf near the road on its knees eating grass. I wish I would have stopped to get pictures but I wanted to get to the restaurant before it closed. All in all it had been a good day being in Denali. I am looking forward to doing it again, at the time of this writing, in just about one hour from now. I am well and feeling good. I'm short on time so forgive any grammar or spelling but I want to get this up with a couple of pictures.

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Sunday June 26, 2016


I spent the morning having a nice breakfast and getting different tours booked while at Denali NPP. I'm wanting to do the Mount Denali(McKinley) Summit flight and I decided instead of doing an ATV tour, I'd do a helicopter glacier landing. I've had enough being bounced around and being in the mud, so it didn't sound as attractive as it did a couple of months ago. I have never flown in a helicopter. And, it had been suggested, so I booked it. Afterwards, I took a little nap and then readied myself for the shuttle bus ride into Denali NPP. I arrived at the Wilderness Access Center just in time to buy some snacks and get in line to board the bus. We boarded and we were on our way after a safety briefing. I can't describe how good it felt to be on the bus and heading for the Eielson Visitor Center, yet something was missing. As we proceeded deeper into the park, wildlife viewing was nonexistent. We saw some Arctic Ground Squirrels and an occasional Snowshoe Hare; we were able to get close to see three Golden Eagles flying. It looked like two adults were playing/teaching an adolescent the art of flying. Where I was hoping to see moose none was to be seen. Where I was hoping to see Dall Sheep, none was to be seen. This really surprised me as it had been the first time I hadn't seen Dall Sheep while in the park. There were dark storm clouds towards where Mount Denali(McKinley) could be seen and blocked the view of the mountain. We reached a recent kill sight where a grizzly bear was eating on caribou remains. It wasn't known for sure if the bear had killed it or if a wolf had killed it. I was unable to spot it as we were going into the park but was able to see it as we were on our way out. There was a bald eagle standing on the ground nearby, spotting a bald eagle is rare. It was the first time I had seen a bald eagle in Denali. From the highest part of the park road to Eielson was rain. I went into the visitor center and there were different fur that could be touched such as fox, wolf, wolverine and grizzly. Of the four, the fox was softer than the others. I was surprised as the wolverines I have seen on TV looked soft. We made our way back towards the park entrance. We came across a bus stopped and they were looking at a bear off in the distance. I was able to zoom in enough to discover the bear was a sow and she had two spring cubs. Back at the Savage River area, we saw a bear crossing the river and towards where we were sitting watching it. It moved into some trees and we lost sight of it. We arrived back at the Wilderness Access Center at our scheduled time. On the way back to the lodge I was staying at, I noticed cars on the left side of the road and they were stopped. I eased up slowly and saw there were two moose calves. There were a few people out of their vehicles and they were moving close. As I drove by I was able to see one calf near the road on its knees eating grass. I wish I would have stopped to get pictures but I wanted to get to the restaurant before it closed. All in all it had been a good day being in Denali. I am looking forward to doing it again, at the time of this writing, in just about one hour from now. I am well and feeling good. I'm short on time so forgive any grammar or spelling but I want to get this up with a couple of pictures.

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Monday June 27, 2016


This morning was much like yesterday morning. I awoke. I had a nice and peaceful breakfast before getting things taken care of, such as; getting my ticket purchased for this afternoons shuttle bus into Denali. At the time I purchased my ticket, I was informed I was the only one. I thought, nice, but knew there was still time for others to purchase tickets, so I expected there to be others. I then proceeded to shop around for souvenirs, finding exactly what I was looking for, shopping was done quickly. I then came back to the lodge and picked up the box lunch I ordered the day before for the shuttle into the park. It is important that I mention once one leaves the Wilderness Access Center(WAC) there is no place to buy any food and the bus ride is 8 hours. There is a place to be able to get water at Eielson, which I did today. As I noted in yesterdays entry, I was running short on time and had to rush to get to the WAC for check in. When I walked through the lobby to the boarding area I was surprised to see a line at the ticket window wanting to buy tickets. Thoughts and hopes of being the only one on the bus were all but gone. And then when I walked out to the boarding area my hopes diminished further. I perked up a bit when I overheard the people were waiting for a different tour. I was asked what bus I was waiting for and when I told her, "I'm here for the two o'clock Eielson," she replied, "I would the only one." I thought to myself with an internal grin as big as all Alaska, "No way." The bus arrived and I was the only one, but a party of four that had missed their bus was going to be allowed to ride on this bus to the Toklat River rest stop. So not to bad at all on a bus that had a capacity of 48 or 52 there were only 5 of us. As we drove into the park and reached the area where seeing Dall Sheep would be possible, I was hoping today would be better than yesterday, I began to scan the high mountains and sure enough, up a head I spotted them, I was happy to see them and was able to get some video. We continued on, and the driver mentioned the kill sight, I had seen the day before, and would try to locate it for us 5 riders. I informed the driver I would be able to assist. The driver was happy to hear it as he was unable to spot it, on a prior trip into the park. I was relived I was able to spot the kill sight with little effort. It was a pleasant surprise to see the bear very active. And as was the day before the bald eagle was still in the same place, as well. From there it was time to proceed up to the polychrome overlook. At the overlook, we stopped for an opportunity to take pictures. The lighting was better than the day before, so I took advantage. We were back on the bus and heading further into the park, to our next rest stop Toklat River. There is a tent there where one can buy souvenirs and look at exhibits. There are also antlers as well. Often I have seen people pick them up and place them above their head to have pictures taken. This is also a good spot to see Dall Sheep on the mountains but none were visible today. It was time to get on the bus and proceed to our next stop. I was smiling ear to ear when we left. I was the only one on the bus. Something that is nearly unheard of, only one rider on a shuttle bus. I was going to enjoy it while it lasted. We came upon four caribou two male and two female just taking it easy and enjoying the day. We came across a couple of people that were waiting in the rain for an out bound bus; the driver allowed them the ride with us. We crossed the highest point of the Denali Park Road and came around a bend in the road and we all couldn't believe what we were seeing, scattered through the entire valley was dozens and dozens of caribou. The most any of us had seen at one time in Denali. It was just like one would see in the nature shows, some grazing and some laying down. There were also calves, some nursing and some walking around. We sat there and watched, amazed at the energy one calf had, just running and running all over the place even chasing other caribou. We must have sat there and watched for a good 15 minutes watching the little one. From there it was on to Eielson Visitor Center. We came around a curve and saw a bus sitting there and not moving, we inched our way around the curve and was pleasantly surprised to see a bear sitting on the road blocking a bus. The bear finally got up and started up the hill side. I wanted the bus driver to hurry up so I could get some good close ups. Unfortunately since there had been an out bound bus waiting, we weren't able to stop for long. I was able to get some video but not as much as I had hoped. We made our way into the parking lot and the bus came to a stop. It was but a couple of minutes when the bus scheduler walked on and asked where bus driver to hurry up so I could get some good close ups. Unfortunately since there had been an out bound bus waiting, we weren't able to stop for long. I was able to get some video but not as much as I had hoped. We made our way into the parking lot and the bus came to a stop. It was but a couple of minutes when the bus scheduler walked on and asked where all the passengers are. He was under the impression, the bus was full. He had been advising those wanting to get back out to the park entrance to use the earlier buses. I was still smiling at my luck. There was going to only be the three of us plus the scheduler on the way back. It was great, awesome, fabulous and spectacular. The scheduler would be getting off at the next rest stop and the couple would be getting off at a camp site not far from there. On the way out the bear was still on the caribou, first pushing dirt onto it and then pushing it away. I thought, a little caribou with your dirt. For the remaining 34 miles I would be the only passenger. There is a rest stop that is normal crowded and a river below the viewing plat form that I never heard before because of the buses and people talking. Wow! The rest of the trip was uneventful and I used it for a time for peace and meditation. I thought no one will believe this so I took some pictures the best I could of me being the only one on the bus. AGAIN!!!! Another Fabulous day in my most favorite place on earth!!

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Tuesday June 28, 2016


This morning was like the previous two mornings. I woke up, cleaned up and had a peaceful breakfast. It was hard to do much of anything after breakfast, being excited about the day's events. I would be riding in my first helicopter and landing on a glacier. Later in the day I would be flying up to and around the summit of Denali, formerly known as Mount McKinley. The time had come to walk to the main lodge for pickup. It wasn't long after that I was standing in front of the helicopter in special shoes for walking on glaciers. I was nervous about the flight but excited about the scenery I would be seeing. It was a different feeling lifting off the ground straight up rather than rolling down a runway. It was awesome. We started flying south and it was explained where we would be flying and landing. Not in Denali at all. It had something to do about FAA regulations and National Parks. The scenery was still something else. The pilot found a place for us to land and after a few minutes, waiting for the rotors to stop, we disembarked and we were standing on a glacier. It took a few minutes of walking to gain faith in the shoes we were wearing, that we wouldn't slip or slide and fall. It was cool. The views really gave me a sense of what it must be like at Everest Base Camp. Right off, we were able to hear the sounds of cracking ice in the distance and it is something to hear. I hoped for some caving not only see but to hear, but nothing happened. After a few pictures taken, one I posted to Facebook, it was time to load up and head back. What an exciting and glorious experience. It wasn't long after being back at the hotel, I wanted more. When I would go back to the main lodge from my room I would ask about a true landing in Denali. I had a few hours before I had to be back to the lodge so I walked down the Grizzly Grill to have lunch/dinner. I had a very nice king crab and shrimp salad that was very good. I also had a couple of beers while I typed up the previous day's blog. It was a nice slow paced afternoon. Though my thought were on the two o'clock shuttle going into the park and wishing I could be there. Having had two beers, I had to think about flying soon. I had a third beer as I finished writing and get it uploaded to my web site. It was time to make my way to the main lodge and inquire about a true glacier landing in Denali. I wanted a morning trip so I would still have the afternoon/evening to ride into the park. I was able to get a trip booked and I'll being flying Thursday morning. I'm excited and can't wait. I was picked up and taken to the Healy airport for departure. Since I was a single I was able to ride in the co-pilots seat. We were given an explanation of how the oxygen worked and we were on our way. We took off and basically flew straight for the mountain. At first all we could see was the summit of the north peak of Denali. There were a lot of clouds that made seeing the south peak difficult to make out at first but as we flew closer, we were able to see most of the mountain. There was a high wind cloud formed over the summit so we really didn't see the summit of the south peak. We flew completely around the mountain first one way and then another. And to be honest, I don't think the plane ever really gained enough altitude to be as high as the summit. And just like that, seemed so much shorter of a flight than I remembered from doing this before. On our way back we flew along the park road. It was great to get the different prospective. We were back on the ground and I was dropped off at the lodge. Over all the day was okay, not great. But it's okay I am still excited with memories of the day before. It is getting close to time for me to make my way to the Wilderness Access Center for today's eight hour bus ride. It is sunny and warm. My fingers are crossed to be able to see Denali and wildlife. I'm not ready for my time to be over in two more days. I'll write again soon. Thank you for following along and reading about my travels. It helps to inspire me to keep writing. I am well and doing good.

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Wednesday June 29, 2016


I woke up this morning not really hungry so I skipped breakfast. I spent the morning off loading video and pictures not doing it last night. I also wrote yesterdays entry. I made my way over to the Denali visitor center to buy another Denali shirt. I wanted to check on some wildlife collector pins. The other day when I had purchased them I had a black bear but not a grizzly. I wanted a grizzly. I was surprised to see they didn't have a grizzly as part of the collection. Strange since grizzly bear sightings are more common than black bear. I made my way over to the Wilderness Access Center so I could buy shuttle tickets for tomorrow afternoon and the next day, my last day to be able to take a shuttle into the park, due to Saturday driving to Anchorage to get ready to fly to King Salmon. It was time to depart on the bus and we departed with 21 passengers, a far cry from Tuesday when I was the only one. We made our way into the park and it was pleasant till we picked up some passengers at a campsite. I'm not going say anything except they were big and rude and pushed their way around with little regard for anyone else. They didn't ride with us very long as they got off the bus at the top of a hill. We continued further into the park and we saw a caribou off in the distance, too far to get any good pictures. We would see more caribou as went proceeded to Eielson Visitor Center. We had to make a stop for something and I took advantage to take a picture of a ground squirrel. As we were getting close to the Eielson, we spotted a grizzly not far from the road and we were able to watch for a few minutes. We made good time and had almost forty minutes at Eielson which turned out to be a good thing. The clouds moved away enough to get a good view of north peak and south peak. South peak still had a high wind cloud over it. I was surprised, but shouldn't have the way some people are not taking time to notice the flowers. At not noticing the mountain was visible. It took a bus driver looking at what I had my camera pointed and yelled, the mountain is out, for folks to notice.lol On our way back from Eielson, we spotted another grizzly not far from the road and we were able to get some good pictures. We then came across a caribou in a full out run and we paralleled it for about fifty yards it was getting closer to the road so the driver stopped and sure enough it crossed in front of us. It was pretty awesome to watch. Not far from there we had a caribou walking on the road towards us. The driver stopped and the caribou passed on the right side of the bus, the side I was sitting on, and I was able to get some close-ups. Our next sighting was close to our last rest stop, the driver spotted dall sheep not far up the mountain. I do like being able to see the animal that was the reason Denali became a park. Coming back from Savage River, walking up the road was a porcupine. The little one first walked to the right and then back to the left. It was cool to see it walking on his short, little legs. The porcupine moved off to the left side of the road as we passed, it was cool to see its face, didn't look stressed at all. We arrived back at the Wilderness Access Center and another beautiful day had been had in my most favorite place on earth. YES!!!! I do love this place and park so much. Tomorrow I am going to check and find out when the earliest bus departs. I am hoping early enough, I can do back to back rides into the park. Tomorrow will be a busy day with an airplane ride and glacier landing near the mountain and then an eight hour bus ride into the park.

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Thursday June 30, 2016


Where to begin to write about today. So much was seen. So much was felt. I almost want to just post pictures of today as it is said, "A picture is worth a thousand words." The day started early to be ready for a 7:30AM pickup at lodge for a airplane glacier landing. I was surprised I was picked up as the weather the night before was rain and low clouds. I had expected to check in and hear the trip was canceled due to weather. I did entertain thoughts of, sure we would fly but would we be able to land on a glacier. Boy oh boy does it feel good to have been wrong. The flight was awesome. We flew right over the Alaska Range and it was just as I had seen on many Alaska DVDs and shows about Alaska. I couldn't believe how fortunate I was to be actually be experiencing what I had seen. The route was up, what is called the trench. The plane zigged and zagged giving both sides and opportunity to see the mountain. We then proceeded through rock faces to the Ruth Glacier for landing. I have to say this is the most beautiful thing, I have ever seen. The landing was rough. We hit hard and bounced a couple of times. On the glacier, I over heard the pilot talking to another pilot about how it had surprised him. The pilot was asked how close to Mount Denali were we, I was floored when he said we were only 7 miles away. At the time clouds blocked our view of the high one but as I was looking around and absorbing as much as I could, the mountain started to become visible. First the lower north peak and then the high south peak at 20,310 feet. This was so much better than on Tuesday and the Denali Summit Flight. I spotted, what looked like a hut on a ridge and I was in awe when I was told, it is the same hut the one can rent and stay at over night. When I had heard about it, I thought how cool would that be to be able to stay there. I wasn't staying over night but experienced the next best thing. Please excuse me as I give a heart exploding, YEEEE HAAAAAAWWWW!!!!! Wow oh wow!!! While the others had pictures taken with the plane in the background, I had my picture taken towards the direction of Mount Denali. I posted it on Facebook. My time on Ruth glacier had come to an end. It was time to depart. I was the second to board having been sitting next to the pilot up front of the beaver plane. I was now in overload as I wasn't having any thoughts, I was just lost in sight. When the plane landed back in Healy and we were waiting to be taken back to the lodge, I was asked if i was okay. I said yes, I was just in experience overload. I just could believe I was this blessed to experience this. I arrived back at the lodge and proceeded to have lunch as in less than 2 hours I would be taking a shuttle into Denali NPP. After having lunch I went back to the room to try to write about the glacier landing but was to tried. I set the alarm on my phone to take a nap. I didn't need to as I was awake 15 minutes later. I readied for my bus ride into the park. I made my way to the Wilderness Access Center. I was happy to see as the bus pulled up it was the same driver I had on Monday. The trip into the park was spectacular and by the time the trip was over we had just about seen every animal that could be seen. We saw bears, caribou, moose, arctic ground squirrels, dall sheep snowshoe hares, a fox with a ground squirrel in it's mouth and a black wolf. It had been one of those days we hope and wish for come true.

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Friday July 1, 2016


I woke up to heavy rain. I walked from room to restaurant to have breakfast and do yesterday's blog. I decided to wait to write, when I arrived back in the room. I spent the time while eating breakfast, capturing photos from yesterday's video. When I returned back to the room after a hardy breakfast, I ended up laying down for a short nap. It was after 1:00PM when I woke up from my nap, so I finished getting ready for my last bus ride into Denali NPP. It was nice to see the heavy rain had stopped and it was clearing up. I drove over to the Wilderness Access Center parked and started walking, I made it half way when it dawned on me, I forgot my ticket back in the truck as I had two days ago and had to walk back to the truck. I made it into the center and bought what I was going to need for the ride and made my way out to the deck to find several people waiting. When we departed there were 36 of us on the bus. There were a few from India. We boarded the bus and made our way into the park. I was surprised to see the road blocks to Savage River, were gone. I thought cool; I would drive out to Savage River tomorrow, before driving down to Anchorage. The bus driver was cool and didn't have much to say. It was a nice change as the bus drivers the previous days talked all the time. As we made our way into the park what clouds there were, was now gone and there was clear blue skies. But we were not able to see Mount Denali. The first wildlife that was seen was Dall Sheep not very far up a mountain side. They were young and energetic. Caribou was the next wildlife that was seen one or two here and there and as we proceeded down a hill, I spotted dozens and dozens of caribou not far off the road, and made mention of it to the others. The bus driver did great to drive slowly up to them without startling them. We were able to get some great close up pictures of all the caribou. It was only a few minutes after we watched the caribou; we arrived at Eielson Visitor Center. We had a full 35 minutes to do whatever. I filled up my water bottle and made a final walk through the visitor center. After a few minutes I made my way back to the bus and kept looking out towards Mount Denali. The dark clouds that had the mountain blocked were getting lighter. The bus departed having waited and waited for those that came back to the bus late. Two or three ended up being left behind and they would have to wait one hour for the very last bus. Others in their party were upset, they were left behind. It was explained and they were reassured, there would be another bus. We arrived back at the caribou herd and they were now on both sides of the road. It was so, so awesome. We had a caribou come onto the road in front of the bus and then others moved across the road behind us. Although we were on a bus, it was such a neat feeling to be surrounded and be among the caribou. The bus, after a good fifteen minutes, was able to proceed. It wasn't long and we spotted a sow with two cubs not too far away. We were able to see the sow eating and her two spring cubs busy playing and wrestling. It was spectacular to watch. We then spotted a lone bear below four caribou. Based on what I watched it seemed like the bear was trying to make it look like it was uninterested in the caribou, taking a couple steps toward them and on step away. As we were watching that, another caribou appeared on the road in front of the bus. Animals have right away and can't be pushed or scared away. We were there for another few minutes waiting. It wasn't long after the bus was moving a bull moose was spotted with some nice antlers. He was beautiful. I found it interesting to see a moose this far up on the tundra. When I reviewed the video I was able to capture, one could be left with the impression it was in weak condition. But it could just have been walking carefully due to the numerous rocks. After the moose, I spotted, and was able to get a few seconds of video of a golden eagle gliding in the wind. We stopped to take pictures of Mount Denali as both north and south peaks were fully visible. As we proceeded we were able to spot more Dall Sheep. On our way back to the park entrance, we passed the Savage River parking lot. I thought it strange it was deserted. It wasn't long and I discovered why. Rangers, with binoculars, were looking up a mountain. My thoughts turned to looking for the grizzly bear that caused problems earlier in the week, had caused more. In all we past four rangers scanning the mountain side. I hoped the bear didn't attack anyone as I didn't want a bear to be put down. We arrived back where the bus ride started some 25 minutes behind schedule. I didn't mind one bit. With the way the entire week at Denali National Park and Preserve had gone, my final day was a spectacular grand finally. On my way back to the lodge I spotted the two orphan moose calves. I'm not sure I explained in an earlier entry, but a moose had been found dead. It was determined it was shot and was a cow with calves. As is policy in national parks, they are going to let the natural progression of nature play out. I know not probable, but, it is my hopes another Moose that has calves in the area, might take in these two orphans. Those watching the bear cams at Brooks Falls on explore.org, can understand why I am entertaining the thought. My thoughts are starting to turn to driving to Anchorage tomorrow, to begin my journey to my next destination, Katmai National Park and Preserve and Brooks Falls. I'm getting excited at the thoughts of being at the most famous place of Katmai.

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Saturday July 2, 2016


Hi. For those reading and keeping track of my adventure, thank you. Knowing there are those of you that are following along is inspiring me.


Today started by thinking about departing my most favorite place on earth, Denali National Park. I checked out of the lodge. I gave the truck a good once over and I was on my way. Well kind of, I wasn't going to leave my heaven on earth without driving into the park as far as I could go. I wanted one last look at any wildlife and hopefully based on the clear skies, a final look at the high one. Dark clouds in the direction of the mountain blocked any good views. I still enjoyed the drive smiling ear to ear and in awe at how special this past week had been, my time at Denali had exceeded all expectations a billion times over. As was the case the night before coining out of the park, the road blocks were still in place. There was a park ranger there. I was the only one so I had a chance to talk to the ranger. I learned there were rangers looking for the female bear. I asked if there had been more trouble and I wasn't surprised to learn there was. There were folks hiking on the Savage River Alpine Trail and a bear bit and clawed someone. They were alive but hurting. I asked if this time the bear had crossed the line and would be destroyed. The ranger didn't know. At least the bear hadn't been so far. I am sorry the bear caused harm to someone. The wildlife rangers were coming back and would make a decision one way or the other later. It is my hopes to talk to a ranger at Katmai and see if they can somehow talk to rangers at Denali and see what the outcome is. I made my way out to the Parks Highway and was happy to see, one more time, the moose calves still grazing. Laughing at myself right now, as I passed and looking at them for my final time, "Be strong and good luck." I made good time driving down to Anchorage as I hoped I would. I need to get to Best Buy to buy a portable external drive. I am taking so many pictures and video, the disk in my laptop is getting full. I want to make sure I have plenty of room to be able to off load from camera. I also wanted to get some other things I was running low on. I was then going to the hotel near the airport. I saved a map onto my phone last night and I couldn't believe it when I received the error, "no app found to open this file type," when I tried to open it to get directions. I was going to have to wing it. I came across a sign, airport that way, which was to the right and I was in the left. I turned around and turned onto a highway that took me to international airport rd and I turned on it. I then spotted the road that my hotel is on. I stumbled and fumbled my way in a part of Anchorage I hadn't driven, to my hotel. How cool!!! As I was checking into the hotel I learned I would be able to park my truck in the parking lot while gone. This was excellent; it was going to save so much time and trouble in the morning. My thoughts are with the two o'clock Eielson back at Denali, but I'm also thinking about how if all goes well, 12 hours from now I'll be in bear orientation at brooks camp. Whoa!!!!!!!!! lol It's like I am not going to believe it, till I have feet firmly planted on the ground. Well, that is about it for today's entry. Sorry there are no pictures today. It is my hopes to make up for it in a big way in tomorrow's entry. I am good and feeling well. I hope all those reading, are the same. One more thought, I'm caught up and current with my journal. YES!!!!<ROFL> UPDATE: More information on the bear attack on the Savage River Alpine trail can be obtained by going to https://www.nps.gov/dena/learn/news/bear_incident_7-2-2016.htm.



Sunday July 3, 2016


Grudgingly woke up at 3:30AM AKDT and made myself ready to get over to airport for 5:00AM check in. During check in, found out my pack that I was going to use for the day use at Brooks was too big and had to be checked, which was, yep, a $25 charge, so much for buying breakfast. I made my way out to the gate and was I not only shocked but surprised there was absolutely no security scanning. I could have carried my handy dandy Swiss army pocket knife with me. I only mention it because twice today, I could have used my knife. Anyway, getting to the airport, transferring from Penn Air to Katmai Air was easy and as smooth as silk. All I had to do was moo and move along. Again, I worried and sweated over nothing. Well such is the life for a worry wort perfectionist.LOL On the plane to Brooks Camp I flew, again, in the very front seat. We flew to Brooks Camp and as we were on final approach I was able to spot Brooks Falls. How cool! I wanted to be excited but I was psyching myself up for some major combat photography.LOL As I sit here at Brooks Lodge at a table drinking a beer, there is an Asian couple and she keeps show him the pictures she took and is making me smile. The lodge is full of people waiting for flights back to where ever, like me. It is very cool after not only a good day or great day, but, a spectacular day of bear viewing and photography. Anyway, I proceeded to bear orientation and watched the video and listened to the ranger. I stored my survival rations in the food cache shed and then went into the store to buy a Katmai Shirt. As I purchased my shirt I started a conversation with whom else but CamOp Scout, Very coooool!!!! I then all by myself started to walk down the trail to the bridge. I checked with the ranger, that that bridge was open. It was, I made my way to the bridge and crossed it as quick as my little ol legs would go.LOL I was looking to the right and then to the left. I wanted to see a bear. After crossing the bridge, I made my way up the stairs of the lower river platform. I gazed out over ox bow and the marshes, the big island and all. I'm glad there were no bears around, as the white of my teeth from the biggest smile ever, would have blinded them. There were no bears to be seen so I made my way to the falls platform. For my first time down the trail, I was able to latch on with a party of four. As we walked down the trail one of the men and I had a good conversation about hockey.LOL The moment had arrived and we were on the falls viewing platform. I was able to meet Ranger Dave. I exchanged a quick hello and let him know who I was and then let him get back to his duties as it was very busy. What bear was the first one I laid my eyes on, none other than 480, Otis. How cool is that???? I thought of all the viewers watching on explore.org and wished you were here. Not really, the platform is crowed enough as it was. I didn't hesitate to make my way to a good spot. So right off the bat I was able to view bears 480, 747 and 814 Lurch. I was able to get video and pictures. While watching 480 he was able to catch a fish but it appeared his teeth has deteriorated even more and he had trouble eating it. He eventually let it go. Later, I watched 480 catch a fish in the Jacuzzi and he was able to eat that one with little effort. I watched not one but two bears moving towards 480 and that he would lose his catch but the other bear waited. I believe the remaining Wayne Brother was one of the bears moving towards 480. But was glad to see he ate the whole thing. You go Otis. All in all it was a good day. I was able to meet Mike Fitz and one of the rangers that participated in the in the chat after the bear remains were retrieved. I didn't realize it till later. I enjoyed being able to talk to him. Mike was busy and didn't have much time to talk, but I made myself known to him. I enjoyed being here more than I thought I would. I was able to get over 114 video clips and 75 pictures. It is hard to believe I have another 3 days. Well it is getting close to catch plane back to King Salmon. Thinking of you guys who are following along. It is so different, better being here seeing the bears and all live than watching cams. And too, these bears are BIG!


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Monday July 4, 2016


Well, again, I am not sure I have words to describe what a fabulous, spectacular and great day this has been. I woke this morning with my phone across the room being charged, at 6:00AM AKDT. I had 45 minutes to get ready to fly out to Brooks Camp. When I arrived I made my way into the Lodge to have a hearty breakfast and it was too good. The potatoes are what stand out from this morning. After breakfast, I proceeded to the falls viewing platform. It was still early and I knew from yesterday I would have more than one hour of uninterrupted time. I know I should dare, but I am starting to think 480 has expanded his, humor me, office to include the entire falls. I ended up leaving the falls platform sooner than I had to, due to hurting feet and tired legs.lol I sat at, what the rangers call the tree house. I rested my feet and legs for a spell, and listened to the ranger's interactions with those coming and going. It was neat. I also chatted with a guide from the Kulik Lodge. He was joking he pulled bear duty today as he normally is a fishing guide. After a few minutes of being able to sit, I put my name on the list for the falls platform. I walked out to the riffles platform and was happy to see there was a bear real close for close up pictures. I saw something move over my right shoulder and there were three cubs in it. The sow was right below laying down resting. It is my opinion as well as rangers it is 128 and her three cubs. And on the other side, towards the falls, were a sow and two yearlings. It was my turn for the falls and when I hesitated, the ranger said I can pass. With the cubs being out of cam view, I wanted to continue to take video and pictures. When they left, I packed up and headed for the lodge to take a break as it was starting to get crowded. Knowing I wasn't flying out until 7:00PM AKDT, I would be able to go out when the day tours were gone. Walking back and on the trail, almost to the road, I spotted something fury and ended up being a sow and two cubs coming up the trail. I saw her and she saw me and whoa!!!! I had time enough to make out her chin, eyes and saw the ears wiggle. Super WHOA!!!!!!! I slowly backed up as I was letting those not far behind me know there is a bear walking up the trail and coming our direction. She kept coming and I remember bear orientation to move off the trail and let the bear(s) pass by. I captured video of the bears as they passed. There really are no words to describe the experience. I am grinning ear to ear and I am sure those in the lodge are thinking I am Looney tunes. I eventually made my way back to the lodge. The bridge was closed so I was able to chat with Ranger Dave and the bear tech from last October. I was able to use the time to confirm my suspicion from yesterday. How Cool!!!!! The bridge opened after a few minutes and I was able to cross. I made my way to the lodge. While in the Brooks lodge, I was finishing up yesterday's entry. I was getting really sleepy reading and writing. I saw an empty chair next to the fire and moved. It wasn't long after that, I was fast asleep. I was able to grab a short nap and afterwards, I felt a little better. I left the place I was sitting and found a place to re-ready myself for bear viewing. Once ready I made myself down the trail and to the bridge. I think the rangers my think I am crazy because I ask if the trial is open. When I approach the bridge I stop and ask the ranger if the bridge is open before proceeding. I made my way back on the trail a little bit more cautious. I made my way to the platform and was told I could proceed. I did and was surprised that every nook and cranny was occupied; I made my way to a spot behind some short people, and was able to get some pretty good pictures and video. I kept looking down towards the riffles, I felt 128 and cubs might be back. I packed up and made my way to the riffles platform. I cannot express how glad I am, I did. Up the same tree were the same three spring cubs from earlier, and not far in the river was the bear 128. Something happened, and those two yearlings I came across on the trail came running under the platform and into the dense forest. The bear was on alert and once it was safe, allowed her three cubs come down the tree and let the three cubs nurse. How cool. I was able to get video of the bear nursing her cubs through the entire duration. Afterwards, she and cubs not far behind made her way up in front of the riffles platform and walked up towards the falls. Now that I sit here writing I should have gone back to the falls instead of coming back to the lodge. But, it has been a magnificent day of getting video and pictures and a day I'll never ever forget, having come close to a bear and cubs and everything turned out fine. I'm going to end today's entry by saying wow oh wow. This is such an experience and being able to interact with the brooks staff and rangers, as well as the bears, is an experience I'll carry with me forever and ever.

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Tuesday July 5, 2016


As I sit down to write about today my mind is only filled with wow oh wow!!! It was another day that I am at a loss for words to be able to describe. The day started at 5:30AM AKDT. Boy oh boy, I wasn't sure about the day ahead as I was feeling more tired than when I went to bed. But I did what I had to, to be ready when the shuttle picked me up. I wanted and did take time to get kindle working so I could display the Brooks Bear Book displayed to help with identifying the bears. Unfortunately, I was unable to remember my password and from the app didn't give me a chance to get the password. Oh well I tried. I figured I'd just post pictures and let all those on explore.org chat figure it out.lol I arrived at Brooks Camp at 7:30AM. And, as I did yesterday, I went into the lodge and have a hearty breakfast. There was uncertainty to the day as I was scheduled to fly back to King Salmon at 5:00PM. I asked the evening before, if anything could be done to schedule me later, it would be appreciated. I didn't ask about it this morning, I was just going to figure on coming back at 5:00PM and just enjoy the day. After my breakfast, I proceeded to the falls viewing platform. I am so glad I did. As most of the day, bears would be few and far between. When I arrived, as previous days, 480 was the first bear I saw. Bear 128 with three cubs was the next bears I saw. She was fishing and catching fish, I saw her catch four. I watched 128 walk back to her cubs with fish in mouth. When her three cubs approached and not sure what to do she picked the fish up and maneuvered to a spot where her cubs couldn't get to it. During this time, I had been over hearing conversations among the rangers about the aggressive behavior she has been demonstrating the day before with other bears. I even heard a conversation about how she had shown such aggression to some of the large dominate bears. I thought about how 128 had been raised and been around the other bears; she might know who is a bluff and who to be cautious of. I had witnessed her being aggressive to bears that were just wanting fish and not paying any attention to her or her cubs. I didn't see but sure could hear when she confronted a bear at the falls. The best thing I observed today was bear 83 coming up stream from riffles. The bear 83 did what is called splash and grab. I watched and counted a total of 16 fish caught and ate in a short amount of time. The first on he caught was ate very quickly and as more fish caught and ate, 83 ate slower and slower, eventually pausing with the last few bites. Afterward it was comical to watch it climb the hill, as if laboring. After that the bear activity ceased. Enjoyment was had by not only me but others on the viewing platform, of the salmon jumping up[ the falls. I overheard so many comments about the number of bears yesterday and no salmon and today salmon jumping and no bears. When there was an increasing number of people on the falls platform and no bears and being chilled, I decided to walk to the lodge to warm up and grab a nap. I was feeling very sleepy. I was able to nap and when it was after 12:00PM, I made my way over to the Katmai Air office to find out what time my departure was so I could plan accordingly. I was happy that not only did I not have to depart at 5pm or 7pm which I had hoped for, but my departure was 8pm. This was great. I walked back to the lodge and had a wonderful pot roast over egg noodles lunch. I was warm and well fed and ready to spend the rest of the day at the platforms. Before I walked out, I went to the visitor center as they show the falls cam stream, to see if there were any bears. There was so I readied myself and walked to the platforms. I can't not express the nervous excite of walking the trail alone due to running into 402 and yearlings the day before. I made sure I kept looking far down the trail and I remained very alert. There was as expected a waiting list to get to the falls. I recognized the guy standing in front of the ranger taking names to be added to the list. He was the guide I had about two weeks ago that took me and others to swish bay on the coast. And next to him was the owner of the guide service, Bald Mountain Air Service. Gary mentioned, if I am able to make it back in August a picture would be taken to put in their office, as a frequent flyer. I have been out with them about a dozen times. I made my way out to the Riffles platform and guess what I saw? and what they were doing? Yep, there were rangers and they were getting ready for a live broadcast. There was Ranger Dave and Ranger Mike. While they were getting ready I also met and chatted with Ranger Jean. How cool was that? Right before they went live I was able to have an interesting and enjoyable conversation with Ranger Dave that I thoroughly enjoyed. My name was called to be able to go to the falls platform. I wanted to go but wanted to watch the live chat. I figured I could watch the chat later so I went to the falls platform. I am so glad I did because who else did I see but, Ranger Leslie. Again, how cool is that? There were no bears so just chatted with other folks which was fun. Then I saw Ranger Leslie not talking to anyone, I introduced myself. I express thanks for her contributions and participation in prior live chats. I was also able to chat with her about her observations in the Moraine/Funnel creek confluence area in northern Katmai. It was so great as I had wanted to learn about her observations there. There was still not much bear activity. I chatted with others who were there and it was fun. Camop Scout made her way out and bears started to appear. I enjoyed being able to ask her about what bears we were seeing, I think I passed the test. 128 and cubs made a brief appearance, long enough to grab a salmon and then was gone. Just want to make note, thus far I have not seen bears 435 or 409. I sure would like to see both. Well it was getting close for my departure back to King Salmon so I walked back to the lodge, at one of the gates was Mike, Jean and a Ranger who I learned is a police ranger. I am making comment because without fail, we would run into each other going the opposite direction and would exchange hellos. Oh yeah, this morning while walking out to the falls I ran into and briefly chatted with Macho. I met her husband and chatted with him in the afternoon. If not sure, it was again a fabulous day at Brooks. I am so very fortunate and luckier than one person deserves. I am so thankful for the experience I am having. Till tomorrow, I am well and I am doing great. I hope those of you that are reading about my Alaska Trip are well and happy.

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Wednesday July 6, 2016


Woke up this morning at 5:30AM and was ready for 6:30am pickup. At 6:33AM I was notified my pickup was change to 7:50AM pickup for a 8:30AM fly out to Brooks Camp. I was allowed back into to my room to wait. I set my alarm and tried to get some more sleep. I was successful because the alarm woke me up. I got ready again and was picked up on schedule. My departure was delayed due to weather preventing a pilot to make it to King Salmon. I was able to fly out at 8:45AM. Once I arrived at Brooks Camp, I walked to the Visitor center to check the cams to see if there were any bears. I saw a bear on the lip and after filling up water bottle, I started out to the falls platform. I didn't get far as a bear with a cub, was sleeping just a couple yards off the trail leading to the corner. They were doing ranger led escorts to the bridge in groups of ten. It was my turn to go and we almost made it to the corner when a bear was coming up from the closed trail and we had to turn around and walk back by the sow and cub to camp. After 10 minute wait, we were able to proceed making it this time, to the bridge. I crossed the bridge and down the trail as quickly as I could, hoping the entire time, the bear would still be on the lip. There was a waiting list when I made it out to the tree house. I only had to wait a few minutes and was allowed to proceed to the falls viewing platform. I was very happy to see a bear was still on the lip. I looked for a place with short people that I could stand behind and get video and pictures. I couldn't believe my luck. The couple standing in front of me, their time was up and had to leave. I had a position lower platform on the far left corner. I had a birds eye view to the lip and it was 402 there with her two cubs. I couldn't believe this. I was able to take pictures and get some great video. Sometime time later, 402 moved to below the falls with cubs following. I had the best vantage point possible to get some awesome pictures and video. It was great and I was exploding inside with how fortunate I was to have the best spot on the platform. I kept expecting to be tapped on the shoulder and told my time was up and it never came. The ranger on duty only remembered my first name and not my last name and because of it, I had almost two hours. 402 and cubs were right below me and I was feeling like I was going to start coughing so I let some ladies take my spot as I left. When I returned back to the tree house, I immediately put my name on the waiting list. I found a place to sit on a bench at the tree house. I talked with a guy that had been out at the platform and we had exchanged hellos. We started talking about our days at the falls. He was then called to go back out and it gave me a chance to rest and reflect on my experience of having 403 and cubs a few feet away. After what might have been over one hour, it was my turn to go back out to the falls. I immediately, spotted a place on the lower right corner of the platform. When I looked, 402 and cubs were laying down taking a nap to my left. I was able to take a couple of pictures and some video. I turned my attention to the other bears at the falls and took some video and pictures. I paused long enough to look around me to see there were only a few people. I thought great. I watched 856 chase another bear, first down the river, up the river and into the tall grass and forest, right past me. I spotted the bear running on the other side of the river with 856 following. I turned and asked a ranger if the bear being chased was a sow and it was. That explained everything with 856's history from watch previous years. All the commotion caused 402 and cubs to run right below me, left to right, past me and into the tall grass and disappeared. I was watching the bears when I looked to my right and saw 128 and cubs walking up from the riffles and approaching the platform. My mind was exploding. I couldn't believe my luck to be in a prime spot on the falls platform to watch and take pictures and video. A bear came closer than 128 liked and started making huffing sounds I could hear so clearly. Many times on explore.org bear cams, I saw the mouth movements of huffing and could only imagine hearing the sound. I watched and shot video as she ran her cubs up a tree. As I watched, shooting video, 128 started to climb the same tree. It was spectacular to be able to watch and witness being so close. My time on the platform came to an end. It was getting close for my departure flight back to King Salmon and connecting flight to Anchorage. I was hearing the rangers talking about bear jams over the radio so I departed for the lodge. I ran into Ranger Dave and chatted for a few minutes and answered his question about having a good time, which I told him I had a fabulous time. As I was walking down the platform, I came across the same ranger I had passed on the path each of the previous days. We always exchanged hellos and she commented on how I was always smiling. She was fun to talk to and I enjoyed sharing experiences with her. I made my way to the lower river and immediately saw a sow and cup standing near the bridge on the other side of the river. I knew the bridge would be closed and walked up the lower river platform. As I walked up the platform I saw Mike Fitz and said hi and then goodbye. I walked to the other part of the platform and was also say hi and thanks, to Ranger Michael Saxton. It was so kewl to see and meet him after watching him on the chat, last fall. As time continued to pass, I started to become concern about make my flight and continuing my trip. Eventually the bridge opened and I was able to make my way to the lodge. I saw Mocha and her husband as they were getting ready to go out to the falls. They learned a bear was only a couple yards from the road to the Valley of 10,000 smoke, it was 410 and she had laid down. They sat next to me at the bar and I was able to show here some of the pics and video I shot. A representative from Katmai Air, told me he was ready for me and I said my goodbyes to everyone and made my way to the airplane as quickly as I could. There was an unidentified bear with two cubs in and around camp. I didn't want to leave but I had other reservations, I didn't want to waste. I started this journal entry in King Salmon, while waiting for my flight to Anchorage. I am finish this entry 2 days later. It was late when I made it Seward, AK. And I spent time posting on Disque, of my day at Brooks Falls. I was well and feeling good but tired. It was a long and full day. Journal entries for July, 7 and 8 will be coming soon. Again, thanks for all the great comments. They have been great to read and has helped me to keep my journal going.

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Thursday July 7, 2016


I woke up this morning praying and hoping I haven't allowed myself to become run down. I hadn't been eating very much and I was not getting enough sleep. I got ready to take day one of two excursions into Kenai Fjords National Park. It was raining so I drove to the shuttle parking lot to take a shuttle to the boat harbor. I checked myself in and proceeded to the dock to board the boat that would take me to North Western Glacier. While waiting to board a sea otter surfaced not from where I was standing on the dock. Word spread like wildfire and people began running to where they would be able to see it and take pictures. By the time they got there it had submerged. It came up on the other side of the dock between two boats, looking at us as we were looking at it. I had a feeling rush over me; this was going to be a fun and great day. It was then time to board the 95 foot vessel. It didn't take long to notice the boat was going to be filled to capacity. I wasn't worried as I am now use to combat photography.lol We left the dock and it wasn't long and I was up out of my seat. As we departed the small boat harbor, the skies lightened and looking in the direction I knew we would be going, I saw blue skies. I began to wonder if this would be the day I would be out on this excursion and actual have sunshine rather than having clouds, rain and cold. To be actually seeing the tops of the mountain tops that surround Resurrection Bay was a nice change and I was sure to take as many pictures and video as I could. I started to get a little bit emotional, thinking about my mom and how she would have enjoyed the sunshine and I know her eyes would have open as wide as possible. The first marine wildlife we saw was sea otters. I like being able to see them. I find it interesting how they roll and roll to keep the fur wet. It is what protects them for the cold water. We then saw a bad eagle flying close to shore and I was able to capture some video. We then came across two pods of Orcas(killer whales) and a couple of them actually came quiet close to the boat. It was breath taking to see such a site of life just going about the day of living. When we passed Bear Glacier, I recalled what happened there this past spring I read an article about how a couple missed their check in time. A search party looked for them and found them. I snow storm, creating white out conditions made it difficult for them to know what direction to go so they hunkered down and waited it out. They were prepared and doing fine when found. Part of the adventure was coming out in me when we approached the last bit of land and out in front of us was the Gulf of Alaska and the North Pacific Ocean. If we where to go due south the next bit of land we would come across would be the Hawaiian Islands and past that, Antarctica. We came across a group of Dalls Porpose that was feeding. I had a brief glimpse of one. We then came across some Stellar Sea Lions laying out on some rocks. They are so kewl to be able to see. It is ashame there population is declining. It is unknown why exactly and research is being done to determine why. We then saw what I was hoping to see the most. We came across a hump back whale feeding. It was awesome to spend a few minutes watching it. I spent a few moments watching a puffin floating on the water, looking like it wanted to fly but unable to due to eating too much. It can be comical to watching them trying to fly, but only skimming across the water. We then came across more Stellar Sea Lions and Sea otters. When were now cruising down the Northwestern Fjord and to Northwestern Glacier. It was cool to be back there. We ate lunch as we proceeded to the Northwestern Glacier. As we approached the glacier it started to become cool and then cold. The wind was coming right down the glacier to the water. It is like a super air conditioning on ultra high speed fan. It became cold fast. As we made it through the floating ice, I kept looking for my next favorite marine wildlife, harbor seals. We were now a half mile to a mile away from the face of Northwestern Glacier. I was shocked at how much the glacier had receded since the last time I saw it. It will not be much longer and it will not be a tidal glacier and be considered a hanging glacier. There was some caving that I missed because at the time I had my camera focused on harbor seals. I watched as a wave knocked one off a piece of ice. We spent 30 minutes at the glacier. The wind blowing down the glacier, made it cold. It was time to move away from the glacier. We pulled in close to a water fall and the crew took pictures of those that wanted it. My Nikon wasn't working right; it wouldn't take pictures so I had to skip it. I wasn't worried about it as I had a second camera I would use the next day. As we left Northwestern Fjord, having had little sleep was catching up to me. I bought a beer and found a place to sit down, to rest my hurting feet and tired legs. One beer led to another and I was very relaxed for the rest of the boat trip. When we made dock I made my way to the shuttle and back to the truck to drive back to the motel. At the motel, I set up my camera to off load and I laid down to take a nap. My nap turned into a good night's sleep.

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Friday July 8, 2016


This morning I woke up having slept for almost 12 hours. I am feeling better and not as tired and ran down today, as I was yesterday. I looked out the window of my motel room to clear blue skies, as I hoped. I have done this tour a few times and from what I was seeing, this was going to be the first time without clouds and rain. While waiting in line to board the boat, I talked with a nice couple. We agreed to be seat mates. Though, that wouldn't last long as I'd do as I did the day before, be out on deck looking at everything and taking pictures and video. It was now time to board and I led the couple to, what I thought were the best seats. We sat there waiting to depart and continued talking about our travels. We made way and left the small boat harbor. I looked in every direction and there was not a cloud to be seen anywhere. This was going to be better and more spectacular than yesterday. Thoughts of how mom had been with me on this tour many times before in the cloud and rain, made me wish so much she was here to experience this on such a beautiful day. As I am writing right now, I realized she was with me, through me and my being. The first wildlife we saw was a bald eagle sitting in a tree. I filled my time taking pictures of scenery between wildlife sightings. I thought it was neat word was spreading through the crew, I was a returning tourist. They all said hi and expressed how neat it was to have someone back so soon and had such enthusiasm. I just couldn't believe my luck to be able to see how different everything looks with sunshine and blue skies. We saw a hump back whale. It was a new experience to see the blow of breathing out, but to be able to see the dark shape just below the surface. As we had the day before, we saw sea otters floating on the water surface as relaxed and content as could be. And stellar sea lions laying out on rocks enjoying the sun, competing for a good spot to relax and take a nap. I had seen stellar sea loins in the water before but today they seemed so much closer and sharper. I was able to watch and kinda capture a bald eagle dive and go after a fish, a sea lion was going for. It was something to be able to witness two creatures, one would not normally think of being in close proximity, so close. Between seeing, capturing the scenery was a priority, knowing a day like this is few and far between. I wanted to get as much as I could. Which, sitting here writing, I don't think was enough. More sea lions were spotted and while watching, it appeared one sea lion was playing king of the rock, chasing others off. We approached and entered north western fjord as lunch was served. Again, as I did yesterday, I took my lunch and sat out on deck eating. It wasn't easy to do as I had to stop eating to take pictures. So much to capture, I wanted everything I could get. Next to be spotted were harbor seals. I have always enjoyed being able to watch them always on alert, keeping an eye out for any threats. We were lucky to be able to watching some significant magnificent caving. I was able to partially get one on video and enjoyed hearing the roar and excitement as it happened from others that were around me. I was fascinated, seeing a water fall where there was not one the day before. The water spilling into the fjord was dirty and grey, filled with sediment and it was interesting to see the contrast of the silt water and the blue water. I don't think it would have been as noticeable if the sun wasn't shinning. On our way out we passed close to another glacier that also had some interesting features and was beautiful. Not much wildlife was spotted as we made our way from Northwestern Fjord back to Resurrection Bay. I sat on deck looking at all the scenery. It was really something special to see. As looking back from where we had come to see a lot of bird activity, indicating there was a bait ball just below the surface. I kept watch and saw a whale come to the surface and take as much fish as it could, while rolling. I was on the lower deck alone and not sure if anyone else had seen it. I do have a picture from video. We made our way back into Resurrection Bay and Seward. It had been another breath taking day, as everyday in Alaska had been. There was going to be only one way I would be starting home the next day, if I was unable to find accommodations in Denali.

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Saturday July 9, 2016


Today was the day planned back in March that I would start driving the 3,000 miles back home. As in prior trips to this vast and wonderful land known as Alaska, I would not be ready to leave. And just like in prior years I would try to find accommodations back at Denali and extend the trip a few more days. As I ended yesterday's blog entry, I was going to try and find accommodations back at Denali. The first was the Denali Grande and I was shocked to see they did have a room available for the desired dates I wanted. I had checked with them first because I had seen a sign on the Parks highway, rooms available. Knowing the price for a night at the Denali Grande Lodge, I also checked the Denali Bluffs Hotel. They had rooms available as well. As fast as I could, I booked nights at the Denali Bluffs Lodge. How excellent, I didn't want my time in Alaska to be over and it wasn't going to be. I packed and loaded the truck with all but what I needed for the next morning. When the next morning was here and when I wanted to check out, the motel office was closed. I didn't feel it was the honest thing to do to just leave, so I called the motel number and talked with someone that would be in the office in just a couple of minutes. I was able to talk to the office staff and I was all paid up. The office attendant thought it was great I wanted to make sure the bill was paid up. I drove to and through Anchorage and then Wasilla and made my way up the Parks Highway. It was a Saturday and I knew there would be a lot of traffic and there was. There are no pictures from today. I was too focused on wanting to get to Denali National Park and Preserve as fast as I could. I didn't even stop to get anything to eat. I had water and that was good enough. I knew once back at Denali and checked in at the lodge and after I bought my shuttle bus tickets I would I go to the Denali Princess Lodge and the Grizzly Bar and Grill for a king crab and shrimp salad. I then made my way back to the Denali Bluffs, grabbed my laptop and went to the bar and started to get caught up with my travel blog. I wrote and had a couple of beers feeling good and feeling at home. I only had a mind set to complete one blog entry. I wanted to review pictures and video of the past week. What an incredible week. Again, I am taking time to be grateful because I have had such a great time in Alaska, more than anyone person deserves. I am well and feeling good but I am tired. I hope all reading my blog are well and safe. Peace.


Sunday July 10, 2016


It was a rough night filled with having to get up a few times. My rest was broken and I am not feeling as good as I wanted. I can't believe I woke up back at Denali National Park and Preserve and that later today I would be taking a shuttle into the park. I got ready and walked over to the little restaurant they have here at the Denali Bluffs Hotel to have breakfast. I tried the breakfast buffet and I wasn't all that impressed with what was available for the price. I had some scrambled eggs, bacon and a biscuit. I was disappointed the hash browns had cheese all over it. After breakfast, I came back to the room and tried to write and get caught up with my travel blog. I was just too tired so I stopped and took a nap. I was able to get 40 minutes of good sound sleep and felt better and more awake. I gathered everything I would need for my 8 hour bus ride into the park. Looking grey and like it could rain. I packed my trusty fleece over shirt, a jacket and rain gear. I made sure my cameras were set and packed them. I filled a water bottle and I was set. I walked to the truck and drove to the Wilderness Access Center for my first of 4 shuttle rides. This was going to be great all I had to do was sit back and relax and let someone else do the driving. I became distracted at seeing the board status sold out. I thought, wow a full bus. Oh well, I wasn't going to let it distract me from being back at my most favorite place on earth. The distraction was there however. I didn't buy nearly enough food to last that day and I would pay for it later. I made my way out to the bus boarding area and was surprised to see very little people out there. I was wondering what the heck. I was the second one in line and only 20 minute till boarding time. I thought great a late arriving crowd. Five minutes later the sky opened up and it began to rain hard but it wouldn't be the heaviest rain of the day as I would later find out. The bus pulled up and I smiled at seeing who the driver was, It was the driver I had two weeks ago. As he took my ticket he looked at me and said, "Hey, I know you, back for more huh?" We all boarded the bus and I was surprised there were only 27 on a bus that could carry as many as 50. I found out later that they only book 25 to make sure there is room to take on anyone that was still in the park because we were the last bus of the day, good information to know. We left the Access Center and made our way into the park. I learned the Savage River area was still closed due to the bear activity. I was happy to know the bear causing the trouble hadn't been caught yet. I said to myself, "you go little guy." However, I was sad to learn the two moose calves that were orphaned because their mother was shot, had been captured and sent to a sanctuary near Anchorage. It was due to the distraction and hazard they were becoming at the park entrance. It made sense. I do hope they manage to have a good life. There is a ranger check point and the Savage River Bridge. I was surprised to see they had moved it all the way back to the Saver River Camp ground. Wow! We made our way down the park road and past Savage River. There was a big bear trap there waiting to be sprung. No other activity at all. The first wildlife we saw was dall sheep on a hill side. No one said anything so we proceeded. The bus made its way up to Poly Chrome overlook and at the overlook we were allowed a few minutes to look around. We all re-boarded and we proceeded. We spotted a caribou and a man that kept getting closer and closer to the caribou. The driver had the radio microphone in hand and was about to call it in when the man backed off and disappeared. I was glad to know the driver didn't play around when he witnessed unsafe behavior. We then made our way down the hill and to Toklat rest stop. Again we had a few moments. It wasn't far and we came across some kind of animal but I was unsure what it was. I was able to zoom in with my camera and was able to determine it wasn't a caribou or a bear and way too small and color was all wrong for it to be a moose. It lifted its head and it had an unmistakable snout. It was a wolf. I saw what looked like a collar. The driver informed me the park frequently collar the alphas of wolf packs. How cool not only to be seeing a wolf but an alpha wolf rest across the river bed. This was now my second time seeing a wolf in this area. In 2010, there had been a wolf den and one was clearly able to see the wolf pups. I wondered if this alpha wolf was a pup I had seen 6 years ago. I know the chances were slim to none but I still wondered all the same. We next saw another caribou with a very impressive set of antlers. I think they had to be the biggest set I had ever seen. Next seen is my favorite of all, a grizzly. For as many bears I have seen in the wild, it is still exciting to see and watch it go about its business. I was also able to capture video. I truly hope I never grow board seeing and watching grizzly and brown bears. We then saw a sow with two spring cubs. People doubted me at first because they were not able to see them. Again, it was interesting to witness how far the sow walked away from the cubs before turning and calling the cubs to come. People still doubted there were cubs. That was until the cubs started running towards the sow. I overheard someone from the back say, I knew what I was talking about. It's cool. I know people don't know me or know the experience I have gained watching bears in Alaska. We then were able to watch as the cubs would stop and play. One cub actually pushed another down. They would play run and then stop and play and again run and play. It was so kewl to watch. We then came across Ptarmigan crossing the road it was fun to watch the one take a step look at us, take another step look at us it was a couple of minutes before it was safe to proceed. I spoke out, wow! It was ashamed it moved to fast to get pictures and other on the bus laughed. As I had before on previous trips into the park we saw the heard of caribou and the bus stopped to give us a chance to watch and take pictures. I took a moment to look around and look at the faces of the others. It was cool to see them wide eyed. After a few minutes we proceeded to our destination, Eielson Visitor Center. On the way back we saw the heard and I spotted a grizzly in the middle of them. It was interesting to watch the caribou watching the bear and as I had done my last day at Brooks Camp, being led in tight group to the bridge, Groups of caribou tightly bunched moved from right to left in front of the bear. I watched the bear, and it would look, at one point the bear sat down and started to scratch looking uninterested. I enjoyed watching this play out and wished I could have stayed longer to see what happened. We continued our way towards the park entrance. As were driving up toward poly chrome overlook, we watched a bus sitting there not moving and we wondered what they were watching. When we came around the corner, we found out why. There was a grizzly on the left side of the road and I barely captured it, as it walked in front of the bus and down, to the right. The bus moved on and we approached. As we approached, all we could see was thick willow brush. We did see finally see the bear but it was moving in and out of the brush. Darn it.lol We kept watching and we were able to see it digging, I knew it was trying to get to a root the interior grizzlies enjoy eating. Every now and again, you could see big clumps of dirt being flung to the side. It was time for us to move on. We were approaching an area dall sheep could be spotted and sure enough I spotted them on the hill side to the right side of the road. Again, How Cool!!!! We continued to the park entrance and didn't see anything else. I hadn't packed enough food and I was hungry. I was going to play beat the clock. Get to the truck, drive the mile or less to lodge, find parking and get to the restaurant before it closed. I was lucky that there was a cart at the parking lot used to transfer passengers and he drove me right to the door. How excellent. I was able to order and ate. I then went to my room and went to sleep, thinking, wow, what another wonderful day. I am well and doing good. I am feeling very relaxed.

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Monday July 11, 2016


I was woke up by room service at 8:20AM. I asked, or maybe told, to come back later. I then thought to ask is there no, do not disturb signs. I house keeper said there should be one on the door. I said there isn't and can look. I was given one and that was that. I cleaned up and went to have breakfast. After breakfast I did what I could to catch up on my travel blog. I was happy to be able to get three done and posted. I then readied myself for the two o'clock shuttle into the park. I made my way to Wilderness Access Center and got in line. I was hoping to get front row right side. I was disappointed when the bus pulled up and there was someone already sitting there. It turned out to be an employee and not very friendly at that. We boarded the bus and we were off. We first spotted a Dall Sheep on a hill side. We then spotted a grizzly not far off the road. It was busy digging for roots. We came across a grizzly laying down and resting. We came across another bear not far from the park road and it was very active. It was great to be able to watch it go about feeding and not paying much attention to the bus. We then came across another bear that was resting next to or on top of a recent kill. The second kill sight I have been able to see this year. How lucky of me. We then saw a caribou slowly walking a grazing. We then saw more grizzly bears. We finally made it to the Eielson Visitor Center and had a break. On our way back to the park entrance we came across a Snowshoe Hare and it was sitting in front of the bus licking the dirt. It was licking to get the salt and minerals. I was happy it didn't run off so I was able to get some video. We then came across a family of Ptarmigans. It was neat to watch them move and scatter about. I was able to get some video and I will try to add a photo. On Poly Chrome overlook I tried to get pictures of the river below. I found it interesting it was half and half, half silty water and half greenish water. Think of a river and marking the middle and having two different colors. As we were coming down from the Poly Chrome overlook, we spotted another grizzly bear, walking through the vegetation on the river bed. As we proceed towards the park entrance we spotted more Dall Sheep high on a mountain slope. It is my hopes to be able to photograph Dall Sheep up close sometime. The bus ride was just about over and the one animal we hadn't seen today was moose. But just beyond a construction site. We saw a moose cow and a calf walking along the side of the road towards the construction site. I found it interesting because moose generally do not like loud noise. We arrived back at the Wilderness Access Center and I was on my way back to the lodge. It had, again, been a magnificent day of scenery and wildlife viewing. I am well and doing good. I am rested from my adventures in Katmai National Park and Preserve and Brooks Falls. Looking back I can't remember if I had ever walked such a distance as fast as I could. My feet hurt bad and my legs were tired. I've enjoyed being able to sit and enjoy and let someone else do the driving. Take care. Peace.

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Tuesday July 12, 2016


Today started the way the previous couple of days had. I went to have breakfast and while walking to the restaurant, I saw there were no clouds at all. After breakfast I retrieved my camera from the room and to drive out the Park Road to see if there were clear skies towards Mount Denali. I was happy to see there was and I found different spots along the road to take pictures. It was great to be able to get pictures with blue skies. I drove back to the lodge and relaxed for a bit. Afterwards it was time to go to the Wilderness Access Center for yet another bus ride into the park. I arrived early to be towards the front of the line for hope to get a front row seat. It was time to board the bus and was happy to be first and get the seat I wanted. The reason it gives me a chance to see what is in front and the side and often animals will be on the road, so I'll be able to get pictures. I couldn't believe the bus driver was the employee from the previous day. I thought great, a driver with a sour disposition. Too bad that wasn't the case. Everybody was loaded and the driver gave the safety speech and I felt as if I was back in elementary school with all the rules. We were off to what would be the beginning of a long, disappointing day. The first which I thought was surprising was a black wolf and based on the markings and build, was the same one that had been seen closer to the park entrance. Speaking of entrance, I was happy when the bus passed the Savage River turn around and the bear trap was still there with the door up. I get a feeling there are a few in and around the park that would like to see the bear get away. The wolf had covered about 15 miles if the path taken was a straight line. It was walking right next to the road and made for some excellent video and photos. I'm very happy with one I was able to get. Whoa!!!! The bus then went up to Polychrome Overlook. The lighting made me get off the bus and get some pictures. With the rain that had fallen previous days, the sky was clear, making for so sharp looking scenery. It was spectacular. On the way down from Polychrome, we came across a caribou walking on the road. Caribou and other animals will often walk on the road to get away from the biting flies. While the bus I was on kept a safe distance, a tour bus passed us and ran up right onto the caribou. I know the people on the tour buses pay 3 times what I pay. But still, park rules are park rules. It was explained to me when I mentioned it; the drivers are after tips and why they do it. Bus drivers are not allowed to do anything to displace or push an animal from the location. We proceeded down the road and came across another caribou off to the side of the road with very impressive antlers. I want to mention that once passed the Teklinika camp ground, the road narrows. We were proceeding up the road and a bus was coming down the road. We yielded, and while yielded, I was able to get some video of arctic ground squirrels. We came across more caribou on the road and I was happy that the driver was patient and let the caribou do its thing eventually walking into the brush. I don't remember why, but while the bus was stopped I was able to get more video of a Snowshoe Hare. There was a bus stopped so we stopped, it took a few minutes but I saw a Golden Eagle on the ground with wings extended covering what it was eating. The eagle finished eating and flew off and I had my camera on it the entire time. My second Golden Eagle I was able to get video of in flight. Right on!!! We then came across a favorite animal of mine, an interior grizzly. This grizzly was even better because this bear was a sow with two spring cubs. They were a fair distance away, but I was able to see they were resting. We then came across a new bear kill sight. A bear had taken down a caribou and was resting on it. Unfortunately, we were not able to stay long due to being behind schedule. We made it to our turn around, Eielson Visitor Center we hung out and we left. On the way back to the park entrance, it started to rain. No big deal, but on the left side of the road was a caribou. I thought now there is a rain deer. We starting to get back into forest of white and black spruce trees and time was running out to be able to spot and see Dall Sheep. But finally I spotted one, it was a lone ram laying, taking it easy. Normally once back into the forest the chances of seeing wildlife decreases. On this day, it would be different. I couldn't believe what I was seeing in the right side of the road. It was a grizzly. For nearly 9 minutes we followed the bear as it walked down the road going the same direction we were. We might have had even more time but again a tour bus passed us and ran right on top of the bear. I was furious so much I took pictures of the bus license plate and bus number. I guess the 300 yard distance doesn't apply to tour bus drivers. The last animal we would see would be a moose cow and calf. All in all it had been a good wildlife viewing day.

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Wednesday July 13, 2016


This morning was very much the same as yesterday morning. I woke up, cleaned up, had breakfast and drove down the Park Road, I am good too. When I was here at Denali National Park the last week of June, there were volunteers who came on the bus to welcome us. There was one that had her son as she talked to us while she was signing. Her and her son taught us the gestures for the most common animals we would see. The second time I saw her and her son I could only remember the sign for Dall sheep. Her son had the biggest smile on his face that I knew and his mother thought it was awesome I remembered. Well, this morning I saw them along side of the park road. I stopped right on the road and said hi and I was ready to be tested and being able to sign the different animals. It took her a moment to recognize me, but she thought it was great that not only did I remember them, but each sign for wolf, sheep, moose, caribou and grizzly. She said I had made her day. All three of us had to have had smiles bigger than the universe. It was great to be able to run into them again. I took more pictures of Denali being visible as I knew when I took the shuttle into the park later, there would be clouds. I am not even able to describe how it was such a wonderful morning. It was made even better when off to the left a fair distance from the road there was a moose bull. Ever so slowly walking along looking one way and then another. It is an area I had seen Bull Moose in previous years. I drove back to the lodge and rested a bit before my next bus ride into the park. I want to pause and let it be known, each day I go into the park, I am just as excited on this trip as I was when I took my very first bus ride into the park in July of 2009. It was finally time to board the bus. The driver was a driver I had before and I knew this would be a great afternoon. We were on our way and it wasn't long until we came upon wildlife. On the left side of the road, there was a moose cow and a calf. The best part was when the calf left its mothers side and walked across the road in front of us. The moose cow looked up from eating willow leafs, to see and then went right back to eating. It was so awesome to be able to witness such a happening. The calf was growing up. Just past the Teklanika camp and as we came out of the forest of spruce trees, we spotted Dall Sheep. Two were standing and eating and two were lying down. After a few minutes, the bus continued. After the Toklat rest stop a caribou was spotted just off the road. It was lying down and taking it easy. Not long after that we came across a grizzly bear in a river bed busy eating soap berries. It was fun to watch and capture on video. The bear was so busy eating them up. We then came across two caribou running along and as we watched it was apparent they were trying to get away from the biting flies. They ended up running in a big circle. We saw more bears and more caribou. There for a bit we enjoyed the driver trying to keep his streak alive at not hitting any Arctic Ground Squirrels. There were a few of us watching out each side of the bus to make sure each escaped certain dome. By the end most of us were laughing at the game of doge squirrel. It was a good day riding the bus, viewing wildlife and as we drove to the park entrance we were able to see the mountain. The clouds that had it hidden were gone. I enjoyed watching and hearing others excitement at being able to view Denali. I almost forgot, part of the enjoyment riding out was I had a seat mate due to the bus being full. I excused myself when animals were spotted and getting up to see and photograph. He said it was all good. We began to talk and I found out he worked at one of the lodges. It was kind of funny, he wanted to get back as much as I did. I wanted to get back before things closed so I could have a beer and reflect on the day. He wanted to get back because after a full day of hiking, was hungry and wanted to get something to eat before closing. It was fun to talk to and joke around with him. I am doing good and feeling good. I have to make it an early night as it is after 11:00PM and I want to be up early for a 6:00am departure into the park. Peace. I hope all are well.

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Thursday July 14, 2016


I woke up earlier than I have had to in a few days, to get ready for today's bus ride departing at 6:00AM. I had never done a 6:00am departure and I wanted to find out what it is like. As I'll describe, I'm glad I did. I was tired and not as alert or awake as I would have liked but I was still excited. The weather was great, clear blue skies as we departed the Wilderness Access Center. I just hoped and prayed it would last till we reached the Stoney Hill Overlook 62 miles away. I wanted to be able to take post card perfect pictures. A clear day with the right lighting was all that was left to make this 2016 Alaska trip perfect. I wasn't surprised the bus left full with the good weather. We were on our way and we didn't have to go far to have our first wildlife sighting. It was a moose cow, busy eating willow leafs. As we proceeded down the park road, I kept watching to the mountain and slowly appeared as we proceeded down the road. I kind of pointed to the left and was tickled as people gasped in amazement. Everyone wanted the bus driver to pull over so they could take pictures. The driver paused and explained there would be a place up ahead to stop and let people get pictures. I have to compliment the driver and the patience he demonstrated. The first wildlife spotted was a grizzly walking up the side of a hill. I was happy with the video I was able to get. I spent a lot of time taking pictures of the scenery, the sky was perfect and the lighting was great. At Polychrome Overlook, I took more pictures of the scenery I had always wanted with a blue sky as the background. This day I would finally be able to do so. I paused to video an arctic ground squirrel busy running about. At the third rest stop at Toklat River, I took pictures of scenery I had always imagined if there were blue skies as a background. We would see a few more grizzly bears as the day was pretty much dominated with bears. We came up to the kill sight and were able to see the bear was busy feeding on the remains of the caribou. We weren't able to stay long as the driver noticed some hikers on the road ahead and a bear was walking right towards them. By the time we were down the hill the hikers had move off to a safe distance the bear had turned and was walking away from them. The bus driver drove slowly to get close to the bear without scaring it away. We approached the bear, not far from the road. The bear's attention had turned to digging up a ground squirrel. It was fun to watch it dig, pause to see if the squirrel had tried to escape. After looking around it would go back to digging again, at times lowering its head into the hole. After watching for a good 5 minutes we proceeded to our destination, the Eielson Visitor Center. While taking pictures of the mountain I felt something at my feet and when I looked down an arctic ground squirrel had ran over my foot. I was able to get video as it was looking about for scrapes/crumbs of food. It was time to leave and I was happy 13 people had decided to stay and the bus had more room to move about. This is important because wildlife can be seen on either side of the road and is nice to be able to jump side to side to be able to take pictures and video. We saw more bears and actually saw a caribou walking down the road. We came to the end of where we would have our best chance to see Dall Sheep and I was looking real hard to spot some. Finally I was able to yell out stop. By the time the driver got the bus stopped, trees were blocking our view. I was happy when the driver was willing to backup so we could have a view. There was sheep up high on the mountain but we were able to make out a total of six. It felt good to hear the thank you for spotting them and what a good eye I had to spot them with trees intermittently blocking the view. It was a good day. We saw the mountain, moose, bear, caribou, sheep and ground squirrels. I was happy to get back to the Wilderness Access Center. I walked to my truck and drove back to the lodge. I quickly got things settled and fell down on to the bed. I was able to get a good hour and a half nap. I woke up, cleaned up and walked out to where I could pick up the shuttle to another lodge where I wanted to have dinner and write my travel blogs and get caught up. It had been another fabulous day. I am so very thankful for not only today but all days I am able to experience. This was another day I thought about wishing mom was here to experience this with me and again found comfort in knowing she was through me and my being. I hope all are well and safe. Peace.

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Friday July 15, 2016


I spent the morning going through email and relaxing having been caught up with the travel blog. My bus ride into the park would be one hour earlier at 1:00PM. I wandered what it would be like. Would the bus driver talk a lot or would he be on the quiet side. The weather was still nice and wonder if that would mean a full bus. It wouldn't be much longer and I would find out. I enjoyed my morning of being able to relax. It was time and I made my way over to the Wilderness Access Center. I bought some fruit and walked out to the boarding platform. I was surprised to find only a couple of people sitting around. I made my way to the start of the line. The bus arrived and we boarded. We left the Access Center with 34 people. Not too bad. It would be an interesting day, as each day is going into the park, seeing wildlife so quick into the park. We arrived at the first rest spot and off the viewing platform and across the river was a bear. I had never seen a bear off the viewing platform before. It was great. As is said, wildlife can be seen anywhere, and we saw it. It wasn't far from there, towards Sable Pass, I spotted Dall Sheep up on a mountain top and one spotted a moose. I thought this is going to be great. It wasn't far from there we spotted more Dall Sheep and a caribou on the same mountain slope. Again I hadn't seen these two animals so close to one another. Again, in close proximity to the other wildlife another moose was spotted. It was walking through willows and looking to be alert as it should be as there were sightings of a sow and three cubs as well as a sow with a yearling. So right off, at the beginning of the day we spotted four of the big 5 animals, Dall Sheep, Moose, a Grizzly and Caribou all within three or four miles. Even the bus driver was in awe of seeing wildlife and teased, okay we can call it a day. We still had about 6 hours to go. We would see more grizzly bears and caribou. The driver spotted what turned out to be a golden eagle. What luck as it was standing on the ground but a few moments before taking flight and I was able to capture it all. We would see more animals on the way to Eielson. We were never able to see the mountain today, only lower parts of the north peak. We saw more wildlife on the drive back to the park entrance. There was a caribou along the side of the road and it was magnificent to see the antlers this animal was carrying. They were huge and had to be the largest to be spotted this year. With the caribou's head lowered they looked heavy. At times it looked like he was practicing sparing. It was very interesting to watch. We kept looking and hoping to see a wolf but never did. All in all, it was a fun and good day. I am doing well and feeling good. I am going to make it an early night as tomorrow, I would be moving to a different lodge. I would have a few hours to kill after checking out of the lodge and before it was time to take a bus into the park. I hope all reading are well and in good spirits. Peace!

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Saturday July 16, 2016


I spent the morning checking out of one lodge and sitting at another lodge until I was able to check in. I still wasn't ready to leave Denali. I unloaded the truck and then went to the Wilderness Access Center for another bus ride into the park. The trip was filled with wildlife sightings. At the Teklanika stop there were two bears a far distance across the Teklanika River. Again it was a fair distance but it looked like they were courting. I had seen brown bears in the wild courting but never interior grizzlies, it was great to be able to observe and come to the conclusion, it is the same for both species. On the way out we stopped again and I was able to spot the two bears on this side of the river and up river. They were still moving about eating soap berries and occasionally smelling each other. The rest of the day was uneventful there were periods of heavy rain. Though, on our way out, there was a mention to a mud slide from where we had just come from and there were a couple of busses trapped. It didn't take long to make the area passable and the buses were able to make it back out to the park entrance. I am making today's entry short. I am well and feeling great. Peace.

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Sunday July 17, 2016


The day had both excitement and some sadness. The excitement was due to being able to extend my trip another three days. The sadness is from realizing it is getting close to a day I don't want to come. I am thinking back over the past year and all that has happened. I had a nice lunch at the lodge before going over and catching yet another shuttle bus into the park. I had the same driver and I have had on previous days. We were on our way with the bus pretty full. The first wildlife sighting was near the Savage River. Two moose were somewhat close busy feeding. It was interesting to see the cow and young bull. The bus had to come to a complete stop while a grouse crossed the road. It was fun to watch it cross taking it's time and looking all about. The rest of the day would be pretty much the same. There would be caribou, moose, ground squirrels, bears and dall sheep. It was a good day even with it being cloudy. The mountain or any portion of it could be spotted today. It was a good day and it seemed all enjoyed it. This day had been pretty much the same as previous days. It was beautiful and it is something to see how the light of the day plays with the landscape. It is something I just don't get tired of seeing. There have been plenty of days I would see something and later looking in the same direction see something different, I hadn't noticed before. The light on the landscape shows and hides different parts of the land, not only from day to day but from hour to hour. It is amazing. I am well and feeling good. Peace.

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Monday July 18, 2016


I'm almost finding it hard to start a new day summary of the day. I wonder if it is becoming repetitive and boring. But I'm going to continue. Yesterday morning I spent trying to get caught up on sleep and then getting ready to prepare for another shuttle bus into Denali NPP and to see the abundance of not only wildlife but life. There is so much life. And not only life but so much more. I know I have written before about the different times of day and the way the light dances on the landscape, it deserves to be mentioned again. There are those that think it is funny, but if they only would open their eyes and look, they would see what it is that I find so appealing and am filled with so much peace. As I am writing this day entry, I am pausing to look and admire the scenery. I am looking at green covered mountain sides with clouds draping over the mountain tops. I had to pause and walk outside to take pictures of the view I am seeing as I sit here typing. I'll add the pictures. Just like prior days, we boarded the bus and set out to see what the park would show. Everything reveled is such a blessing. As we proceeded into the park, my first observation would be how much the trees and willow bushes were being moved by the wind. It was the wildest I had ever recalled. Not only was it windy but it was raining. The combination would make it uncomfortable for those not prepared. The first wildlife we would see would be my next favorite to grizzly bears, Dall Sheep. Some sheep were walking and grazing and some were laying about relaxing and enjoying the day with not a care in the world. We would next come across a show with two spring cubs. What sticks out the most about this sow and cubs was how she was just busy feeding on the soap berries while her cubs were busy playing. I enjoyed watching as the cubs played and I observed how one cub would throw both of its arms around the other cub as if more to hug it than wrestle. What joy it is to be able to pause and watch something so innocent and natural. We then came across caribou. With seeing caribou on previous days, it would be no big deal, but each individual animal has such individuality. We then came across a couple of dozen caribou and it was fun to watch and that scampered from here to there and back. Life! When we arrived at Eielson Visitor Center, it was draped in clouds and it was very windy. It was cold. It gave me a true sense of what it must be like in winter and in the dark of winter. It was cool to get a taste of what it must be like. We left Eielson and it brought a smile to my face as everyone asked for the heat to be turned on. Heat on in the middle of July, come on. But hey, this is Alaska. ALASKA!!! The bus started for the park entrance and it wasn't long before I spotted a bear. The bus stopped and not only was there one bear but two bears. Based on their size from a distance, it appeared to be a male and female. It was fun to watch as they ate and watched each other and either one not moving far from the other. And as fabulous as the day had been the best was unfolding as we pulled into the Toklat stop. The bus driver as well as everyone else on the bus saw two buses stopped on the bridge were buses don't usually stop. After a few moments we discovered why the buses were stopped on the bridge. There was a sow and 2 cubs walking in the river bank. The driver drove to the rest stop, where we could turn around and drove right back out to give us a chance to see the sow and cubs. It was great to be right above them and watch as they were busy eating soap berries. We then backed up so we could turn into the rest area. It was a quick stop for bathroom breaks and then we were on our way to the park entrance. The day wasn't done but it was again another fabulous and spectacular day. At out final stop for the day, Teklanika River, a bear was spotted. I had fun pointing the bear out to the others that gathered around. I was able to say hi to another bus driver. And even that the day wasn't over as we spotted a moose cow and a calf. Wildlife around every corner is why I love this place, Denali, so much. We arrived back to the Wilderness Access Center. I went back to the lodge and was sitting eating a late dinner when someone noticed my videos. We began to talk and after a few minutes the person I had been talking to asked if I had been the one going into the park several days in a row. I was set back when a tour bus driver made mention of it. I wasn't sure how to take it, to be ashamed or embarrassed. I then thought how cool, I was being recognized for my love for Denali. How cool is that. I am very well and doing great. Peace.

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Tuesday July 19, 2016


Today I took the 8:00AM bus into the park due to the fact I had a 10:00AM check out and a 3:00PM check in and wanted to fill the time rather than sit around. I'm still not ready to leave my favorite place on earth. Wow! oh Wow! This is the most awesome place on earth. I felt this place was very special the very first moment I drove the Denali park road back in early July, 2009. I didn't see any wildlife but knowing the wildlife was there and free to roam, struck something deep inside of me. The landscape is something that captures me and plays with my imagination. Something that as I sit here writing July 2016, is as strong as it was then. With the frequency of riding the shuttles buses into the park, I learned last night, I have been mention on at least one tour bus. At the time I talked to the person who said, so you are the one our driver mentioned, I wasn't sure how to feel, ashamed or embarrassed. Today, I don't care one way or the other. I am doing what I want and I am FREE to do so. The wildlife viewing started with the spotting of a grizzly sow and 2 spring cubs. Yet again, it was so cool to see and watch. The driver spotted a willow ptarmigan and was able to pull up slow enough to be able to get some video. Saw another bear moving through the brush, digging and eating roots. Came across a sow with cubs not far from the road but by the time we spotted them, they moved out of sight. So we moved on. We arrived at the Eielson Visitor Center and I heard a bus, going back to the park entrance, was in final boarding. I checked with the dispatcher and was able to jump buses and head back sooner than having to wait the 30 minutes. I wanted to get back to the area the cub and sow was spotted. Unfortunately when the bus reached the area the sow and cubs had moved on. A bear was spotted not far from the road and as I watched it, I was taken by how white the front claws were. The front claws really stuck out. It was awesome to see and watch the bear busy eating berries moving towards where we were sitting. I was happy when the driver let the bus just sit and allowed us to take pictures and watch the bear for a good 15 minutes. It was awesome. As the bus proceeded toward the park entrance only a single caribou was spotted and it was moving away. The bus arrived back to the entrance. It had been another great day of seeing wildlife. I went to the lodge I would be staying at for the next 6 nights. I am well and feeling good. I keep thinking I should start for home but why. There is no one waiting for me.

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Thursday July, 28, 2016


I wanted to do a brief update and let those of you following along know I'm alive. I'm still in Alaska and still at Denali Nation Park and Preserve. I have been taking bus rides into the park every day. I have been hoping to get caught up with journal entries but bad internet connections, time and being tired just hasn't permitted me a chance. My plan is to head for home tomorrow Friday July 29, 2016.

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Saturday Evening July 30, 2016


I have spent yesterday and today driving from Denali NPP and I am spending the night in Fort Nelson, BC, Canada. I have been hit with a strong desire to get home. I so want to be at home. Today driving from Whitehorse, Yukon, I passed on getting pictures of 3 black bears, 3 deer and buffalo. I wish I could get home faster, but being safe, I will be getting home the evening of August 2nd.

Special moment, 2 pair of swans.

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Sunday Evening July 31, 2016


I was able to get some good rest and sleep last night and woke feeling good. I started driving from Fort Nelson, B.C. Canada not sure how far I would be able to drive. I felt good and was able to make my way to Claresholm, Alberta, Canada. I drove 909 miles in 14 hours. The first place I found a motel, I stopped for the night. I was getting tired and it was just about dark. I hope to get a good night sleep tonight so I can drive all the way home tomorrow, August 1, 2016.

Monday August 1, 2016


I didn't sleep that well last night. I woke up later than I wanted to. My plan for the day was to drive far enough that I could make it home in Denver before afternoon rush hour traffic. Well, that didn't happen. When I reached Sheridan, Wyoming, I saw a mile sign to Casper, Wyoming and I knew it wasn't far from Casper to Cheyenne, Wyoming. And I knew from there it wasn't that much farther to being home. I figured it up in my head and figured only 4 hours to home if traffic was good. Needless to say, being only 4 hours from home rejuvenated me. Well, traffic was great and I was able to make good time. So here I sit at home and at my desk writing this update. It is good to be home. I'm not sure why, I was only away from home for 50 days. It was such a great trip to Alaska. It was everything I had hoped for and so much more. All the made scheduled plans went so well without any kind of a problem. The truck ran great and performed so well getting me to Alaska, up the Dalton Highway and back down in the mud, and all over Alaska and then performed beyond expectations getting me home. The only problem was when a rock hit the window trim, knocking it loose. To prevent the trim from falling off, I had to tape it into place. I would have to stop now and then driving down from Alaska as the tape would give out. I had only one other rock hit the windshield but no stars or cracks. I was extremely happy with tire wear. And I didn't need to add oil as the oil was fine. I would check it every day. No other problems with the truck. I am taking a moment to count my blessings at how very, very fortunate I am. I am blessed more than one man should ever be allowed to be. All I can say is thank you. Thank you for watching over me and making my travels safe and fun. It has been an adventure I'll never forget. Memories I'll keep close. I want it to be known there are already thoughts of Alaska 2017. For those that have followed along, a heartfelt thank you. Knowing there was those interested and were following along inspired me and I always had thoughts during the day of looking forward to doing an entry that night. I am disappointed I fell behind and was unable to catch up. I do hope to fill in the gap soon.