How I Honeymooned Your Father, Part VII: So Real

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.

My dream, for quite awhile, had been to visit the The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center.


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.


Cassidy took the above photo. Want to see what’s on the other side of that story? Yes.


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!



Are you looking at ME, sir? I know you are because there’s no one else next to me.

They’ve all moved on, but I’ll never move on. Seriously, how’s my hair?

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.

He’s like, “PLEASE DON’T GO.”

..but I had to go.

And boy, was this place the stuff of dreams.

Ok, two more moose photos. I can’t help myself.

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.

Before that, though, there were FREAKING MUSK OX. Or as I like to call them, Banthas.

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.


I mean, seriously awesome here. The musk ox were another life dream!

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.

If you had to name this guy, what would YOU name him? Wilford?

And then, of course, elk! They weren’t as ill-tempered as the ones at the Reindeer Farm only the day before.

Then an orphaned baby moose. Sad, but this center is taking care of him/her.

And this awesome lynx – so hard to photograph! It wouldn’t stop moving at all.

And then this tundra wolf that I thought looked just like someone’s beautiful dog.

That’s it for the conservation center! So close. So real. Too close? Too real? Sometimes. Sometimes not.

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.

See ya SOON!


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  1. I was screaming inside (because my kids are asleep and didn’t want to wake them, but still!) when I saw the first of many pics of that moose. Seriously what can I say, but awesome and felt how happy you must have been. Hugs and looking forward to some dog sledding now, too πŸ˜‰

  2. Yay, yay, yay! I’m SO behind because of Paris and sickness, so I’m really glad you shared all the links. I can’t wait to go back and read the first parts! So excited!

  3. That bear looks so sweet and cuddly! (I’m sure it’s not that cuddly in real life.) And the moooooooose! It almost looks unreal, like some mystical creature someone dreamed up. I love experiencing your Alaska adventure vicariously through you.

    1. hah, this one might be cuddly in real life, just because he’s been rescued by humans. I didn’t try, though!!
      The moose is totally mystical and mythical! I still think I dreamed it, but if you can see these photos, I guess it’s so real!

  4. I was very nervous when I read you’d forgotten you camera. Oh, I missed the freaking whales. BUT you made up for it at the wildlife conservatory. So glad you and MR. Moose had your moment, and that he gave you courage. Although, for some reason, I fear dog sledding did not happen. Love how you’ve serialized this. Love it!

    1. We all missed the whales, although they’re imprinted on our brains! They’re so fast and we right there at the base of the highway and there was no one reaching for cameras. I wish, though!
      SPOILER. Dog sledding DID happen! Cassidy made a video and put it on Facebook so it’s already been spoiled!

  5. Tamara, tell me you didn’t stash a moose in your suitcase and bring it home? You are so cute with your love of these creatures!!! I imagine if you live there, you quickly become numb to seeing all the wildlife… kind of like the way I am about deer, chipmunks, raccoons, groundhogs, box turtles, and snakes, all of which happily live in my back yard. But whales and moose and musk oxen just seem “cooler” to me!

    1. I almost did!

      You raise an interesting point, though. Some people in Alaska find moose to be more pesky and dangerous, but I definitely met more than one person who has spent their whole lives there and still think that each moose encounter is miraculous. Cool, right?

      And you reminded me of my father-in-law. He feels about raccoons the way I do about moose, and they’re much easier to find around here!

  6. Oh, the moose! The many, many, many pictures of moose! Your 17 hours of moose love. This is clearly your dream trip. Beautiful, gorgeous, fabulous. You were in your element. Oh, and that musk ox! Sigh.

    1. Such a dream. Thank you!!!!!! There aren’t enough exclamation points to this one – to have you read this and totally get this and get me. Thank you.

  7. Oh my god! You always take me on the most magical journeys! The Bantha, I cracked up. I knew exactly what you were talking about! I know you love your moose, but I am in aww of that bear and that Tundra wolf!

    1. Big hearts to YOU, Echo.
      I love that you get the reference.
      The tundra wolf was truly amazing but he looked at me at first and I said, “He just looks like a random dog??” But then I saw the pure amazing beauty. I get it.

  8. I can’t wait to read about your dog sledding adventure. It sounds like something really amazing to experience. Scary but still amazing. πŸ™‚

    1. Yes, that will be my next Alaska post! I can’t wait. I don’t know how on earth I’ll fit it all into one post. It was amazing!! (not that scary, I swear)

    1. Wilford! Right?? You’re the first to catch that and acknowledge the Jeff Buckley so thank you for that!!
      Dog sledding pics are off the hook. I can’t wait!

  9. Ooo..your photos are SO majestic. I absolutely love them. Breathtaking. I showed my daughter and she was also amazed. Now she wants to meet a moose. And hug a bear, which I told her wasn’t the best idea..

    1. Thanks for sharing with Natalie!! Tell her to keep tuning in. Although if she reads my next post, she may ask you for a sled dog?? In Texas.
      Laughing about hugging a bear.. even though this one was AMAZING. Like a giant teddy bear.

  10. I was reading this through my phone then I told myself I have to see the big photos on my desktop screen. I love the wildlife overload, especially that those creatures can’t be found here in my country. You’re so lucky to meet them!

    1. haha, I do that all the time!! Especially when people ask me for photo critiques. I can’t do it on a phone because then I can’t see the resolution and whatnot. So thank you for knowing that!!

  11. I don’t know what is better about this post, your words or the pictures! Jawas, concerns about hair, British musk oxen. You are hilarious! Oh, and Anneliese and I just spent 20 minutes looking at the pictures together. We are trying to decide what sounds a musk ox actually makes. I guess we are now off to Google and see what we can find πŸ™‚

    1. I’m so glad you appreciate my weirdness, and that you notice it!!
      I’d really like to know what a musk ox sounds like, so I’m off to Google too!

  12. Wow! I love that you captured such candid photographs of wildlife.Your love of moose comes through with every picture. And all of the other animals are an exciting bonus! Have you thought about submitting some of these photographs to National Geographic or another photography journal? They are exquisite.

    1. You see it! The love!!
      I used to want to shoot for National Geographic until I had kids and loved kid photography too. The animal love is still there, though. I have animals in the wild photos coming up!!!

  13. LOVE LOVE LOVE! Wilford is PERFECT. Your hair is assuredly GORGEOUS. And I can never get tired of all your photos!!


    I’m really sorry to say this, but I’m kinda mad at you. I mean- WHALES!!

    I guess I’ll settle on all the other incredible animals you photographed. Sigh…

    1. Wilford!!! He rocked.

      I know about the photos!!! I saw the whales from the car so I ran out of the car to see them again. Then they ducked under the water while I grabbed my camera. We didn’t see them after that. It was cosmic timing for seeing them, but not for photographing them. I remember it so well, though.

  14. I feel like the moose was like “hey girl, welcome, We’ve been waiting for you.” πŸ™‚ seriously though, they are so awesome!!

  15. I think this is my favorite one yet in terms of photos. Moose galore!! I’m so happy that you got to see them up close. We have them here in CO and while I’ve seen them up close at the zoo here, I’ve heard that you can see them up close in the mountains but I’m not that adventurous. πŸ™‚ BTW I so wanted to see those ‘Freaking Beluga Whales” LOL

    1. And they’re not always that friendly so you’re smart not to get close!
      I really wanted to photograph the “Freaking Beluga Whales” but they wouldn’t come out of the water again. I’m just lucky we saw them!

    1. Yes, but only for a second and they never surfaced again. They went elsewhere. So totally cosmic timing for seeing them, but not for photographing them. Sob.

  16. OH WOW!! These pictures are phenomenal, Tamara!!! STUNNING!!
    I’m so glad you had that alone time with the moose.
    The bear pictures make me want to run up and hug him, but then reality hits, and I’m all nah… not a good idea. πŸ˜€
    Hmmmm… what to name your friend? What about Alastair?

  17. HMMM… not sure why my comment didn’t go through…
    Let’s try again. πŸ™‚
    1) These pictures are EVERYTHING!!
    2) I love that you had alone time with the baby moose.
    3) The bear pictures!! I want to hug that guy. Well, not really because he’d probably have a field day with me. πŸ˜€
    4) What shall we name your friend? How about Alastair?

  18. Wow. Just wow. I would never have the patience to sit and stare at those animals they way you did, but I’m so glad you did. I feel like I know each of them personally now! And your hair looks great. πŸ˜‰

  19. I just wanna rub their noses – get in close for a snuggle and a cuddle. Do you think it feels like velvet? Do moose like nose kisses? I wish I knew. *sigh*
    Bear is Zen. Be like Bear world.
    And that bison is definitely a Phillip. the third. πŸ™‚

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