If you’re just tuning in to our Alaska adventures, here are the links to Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, and Part VI. Where did we leave off last? Our first full day in Alaska was over and we woke up at dawn on our second day to find moose in Eagle River. We didn’t find moose and we luckily didn’t run into a bear, after three hours on CLOSED trails. Why were they closed? Bears. Why were we on those trails? Insanity. What do we want? Moose. When do we want them? Anytime for me!
We followed our hike with Country Eggs Benedict (without reindeer sausage.. again) at Bear Mountain Grill. Delicious! We spread our maps and guidebooks over the table. I honestly don’t remember what we had been thinking about doing that day? We had another night in Eagle River and had played around with certain drives, but Cassidy had the good idea to head in the direction of Homer. We wouldn’t get to Homer, not until the next day anyway, but part of that drive is so, so scenic that we knew that doing certain parts of it early would give us more time the next day. Time to pull over and eat Alaskan food and look for weird animal tracks and breathe in the air and take photos and fly away on clouds. You know, typical Alaskan stuff.
The problem was that I had left one of my cameras and – oh yeah – my PURSE back at the Eagle River place. I grabbed those things and we doubled back on our journey to this dream of mine. I was so excited in the car. I couldn’t feel exhaustion!
After our 5:00am wakeup, three hour death-defying hike, and breakfast, I admit that I dozed off on our way out of Eagle River and Anchorage. I kept waking up and seeing water and mountains. It was like a dream. I’m still not convinced it wasn’t.
The above picture is Beluga Point. We pulled up there, and, we saw whales. I’m sorry. WE SAW WHALES. WE SAW FREAKING WHALES AT BELUGA POINT. Yes, I’m yelling. What are the chances? I woke up out of a dream into another dream. We saw 4-5 beluga freaking whales at Beluga Freaking Point. I don’t have photos. I was too busy waking up from one dream into another. I was too busy staring. FREAKING WHALES. From one dream to another. From my heart to yours. Freaking beluga whales.
So then, after that magic, Cassidy started calling people about booking a dog sledding adventure on a glacier for later that day, after the conservation center. It is super-expensive and requires going into a small plane and I have a small plane phobia for valid reasons I shouldn’t talk about right now, so I was nervous. He was about to book the dog sledding (with super-famous Iditarod dogs/trainers), but I told him to hold off on it for another hour or two. I wasn’t ready, for some reason.
So then, after FREAKING WHALES, we pulled into The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. There was a bit of a line, and even though it’s not a zoo, it still felt slightly like one. Because parking lots and humans and fences. That said, they do amazing things for wildlife there, like reintroducing herds of bison back into the wild, and you know – saving lives – so it was all ok. There’s a wildlife park in Maine that is smaller, but is a place that is a sure thing for seeing moose. I have taken friends up to Maine, and swung by that wildlife park on the way back if we didn’t see moose in the wild. It’s not ideal, because it lacks the mystery and surprise of finding wildlife on your own – in the WILD – but if you just want to see moose, and stare at them, and see them, and stare at them, and do all of that some more, it’s perfect. Perfect!! Sometimes, I just want easy access.
And so, Cassidy patiently waited while I talked to this young bull moose for about 17 hours. He took pictures of me in my happy place. I know there will be moose later on in this series that are much bigger (imagine that, though!) and were in the wild, but still. I got to see this guy so closely. I could hear him breathe. He looked at me so many times. I sat next to other moose-crazy people and we stared. I think I bought him dinner, or at least I should have, for all the ogling I did. Sorry, moose!
Finally, the moose and I got ready to part ways. I got an idea in my head that I had to go tell Cassidy. He wasn’t next to me anymore though, because he didn’t have the stamina to watch one young moose for 17 hours, but I have so much stamina.
So the thing I ran from the moose to tell Cassidy? It was that I had made up my mind that I was IN for the dog sledding after the conservation center. I was feeling so heartened by my up-close moose experience that I was ready for a Cassidy dream.
You’re probably wondering if there were any Jawas on top of the Banthas? Or maybe you’re wondering if I ogle humans the way I ogle animals and food. I’m happy to say I don’t! Not obviously, anyway. I’m much classier than it seems.
So Cassidy needed to find a cell phone signal to call the dog sledding place to confirm a 2:00pm appointment (remember, this is only day two and we’d been up since 5:00am), and I wandered off to watch bears. Did you ever notice how Zen they are?
Do you want to see 1,000 photos of bears? If so, I’m your girl. I could narrow these down, or you could just use this as a breathing exercise. A meditation. An anti-anxiety picture show. All you have to do is breathe in and out and look:
And that’s a wrap on that! Not to be upstaged by moose,
banthas musk ox, or Yogi Bears, the bison were so awesome! This big guy in particular was staring at me for 20 minutes. People would walk by and look at him and say, “Hey big guy!” Or “Hey, he’s really looking at you, isn’t he?” Indeed, he was, for some of it! I kept thinking he looked older, refined, and British.
Next up, well, we have a 2:00pm scheduled dog sledding adventure on top of a glacier. As one does! How will we get there with my small plane phobia? What on earth (literally) will we see on our way up? The truth is a dream inside a dream.