Driving into summer and counting bears

We are home on Lummi.  Alaska seems far away.  I felt a twinge of regret as we left the little house alone, water drained from all the pipes, refrigerator off, windows shut and everything put away or stowed in the truck.

This trip we used the camper.  I confess that it was not entirely wonderful.  I think it is really a one person camper.  The bed was comfortable enough, but it isn’t possible for me to get up in the night without making Jerry get out of bed — my side is against the wall.  While I cook Jerry has to sit in one spot by the table or I can’t move around.  The tiny sink has only cold water.

Nevertheless we enjoyed ourselves.  The first 4 days on the road we were going slowly and sightseeing.  (When I say going slowly I mean only about 300 miles a day).  The first night we stayed in a pleasant campground beside the Chena River in Fairbanks.  The water was turned off, so there were no showers, and at first the electricity didn’t work.

We made a flash visit to Denali.  I could only get Jerry to stay long enough to use the bathroom in the visitors center and watch a 20 minute movie about the park.  It had aerial shots of the tops of rugged mountains.  I whispered to Jerry, “Did you ever fly over stuff like that?”  He replied, “Oh, sure.  I used to make drops to those crazy climbers.”

Mountains in Alaska interior

Mountains in Alaska interior

More mountains

More mountains

The next night we drove down to Talkeetna where we had water and showers and internet.  We were getting set up when I noticed that we were beside a train station; next a helicopter rose up from almost directly behind the train station, and when we were taking our evening walk with the poodles we heard an airplane taking off nearby.  I said, “Oh, that’s really loud, what could it be?”  Jerry said, without hesitation, “It’s a Cessna 185 with wheel-skis.  That’s the noise they make.”

At the airport in Talkeetna

At the airport in Talkeetna

Of course we had to walk to the airport to look at the planes.

Talkeetna Airport

Talkeetna Airport

In that campground there was a lady (of a certain age) traveling alone in a large camper with three Pomeranians and a Chihuahua.  The Poms were mostly bald.  She told me that they had a hereditary disease that made them lose their hair.  That gave them a sort of rat-like look.  She had a little fence thing that she set up next to her camper for them, and when she put them in it they all immediately pooped .  Then she scooped the poop, put the pooches back in the camper and set out on her large tricycle for morning exercise.  When she came back she said she hadn’t seen a single moose.

After that the camping places were minimal.  Just electricity, no water.  We had water in the camper though.  Just about every camp ground was still shut for the winter, or only just getting started.

A glacier near Palmer

A glacier near Palmer

Me with the poodles at Lake Kluane

Me with the poodles at Lake Kluane

Swan taking a nap

Swan taking a nap

Sheep mountain near Lake Kluane

Sheep mountain near Lake Kluane

Coyote hunting in British Columbia

Coyote hunting in British Columbia

The last night we spent in the camper was the worst.  We stopped at a place with a full page ad in the Milepost, claiming all sorts of good things — showers, internet, and open year round — but when I enquired the man in charge said, “The campground is closed.  There’s one electric hookup left next to the restaurant.  No water.”  I asked about toilet and showers.  “I told you, lady, the campground is closed.”  I got the same response when I asked about internet, even though there was a signal he wouldn’t give me the password.  It seems a poor way to run a business.

Once again, the high point of the trip was the Cassiar Highway.  We counted 12 bears, and I got a lot of pictures.  Here are some bears.  They range from cute to “I’m glad I’m sitting in this nice enclosed truck.”

Along the Cassiar

Along the Cassiar

Her cub

Her cub

Dandylions for lunch

Dandelions for lunch

Large black bear

Large black bear

I called my house and cat watcher the last night of the trip to say that Jerry couldn’t find our house key, so leave the door open for us the next day.  Next morning when we were within phone range I found a message on my phone from her that said, “I hate to tell you this, but I just locked us all out of the house.  The key is on the dining room table.  There may be a window open, but I’m not agile enough to climb in.”

Jerry is an agile old man, though, so he was inside in a matter of minutes.

So much has happened since we left.  We drove into summer.  There is a wall of green around our house.  Some of our friends are getting divorced.  Some of them are getting back together again and moving.  A friend’s grandchild has leukemia; another friend has completely recovered from multiple myeloma.

Back in the blog world one friend’s father has died, one has painted a terrific portrait, one has redecorated her house, and another has had his prostate removed.  How things can change in just 6 weeks.

I am glad to be home in this green and pleasant land.  I hope nothing much happens to Jerry and me for a while.

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23 Responses to Driving into summer and counting bears

  1. Marja-Leena says:

    Such magestic mountains, animals and all. Some of the human kind weren’t so great! Glad to hear you made it home safe though tired. Enjoy the summer!

  2. Kay Dennison says:

    Glorious, breathtaking photos!!!!!!

    Glad to have you back!!!!!

  3. Tabor says:

    This was a most enjoyable read and very nice pictures. You had an adventure that few can have. Maybe someday I will visit that austere land.

  4. That’s great scenery up there! But that campground appears to have “truth in advertising” issues …

  5. Dick says:

    How various is the world! What dramatic events and what wonderful pictures. I hope that life away from the wild frontier isn’t going to be too tranquil for you both!

  6. Tessa says:

    Lovely to have you back, Anne. And such magnificent photographs. You have a true artist’s eye.

    Your photo of the bear eating dandelions started me thinking. Why do bears attack humans when they run out of berries and plants to eat? It seems like quite a leap, from berries to people.

  7. Islandcat2u says:

    So very nice to have you and Jerry back! I was looking forward to your next blog, once you got settled in here. You are a great story teller and picture taker! Thanks for sharing your story and insights. C

  8. Fantastic photos! I’ve missed reading you so I’m selfishly glad you’re back! : )

  9. pauline says:

    Thanks so much for taking us along on your travels! The photos are wonderful – such amazing mountains! I had bears in my dreams last night!

  10. Jan says:

    Bears are wonderful in fairy tales and at a distance. But we had a campsite wiped out by bears once. It made them less enchanting.

  11. Darlene says:

    Looking at the fantastic photos of the mountains cooled me off. We are going to have a hot day here today, so it the chill was welcome. I loved the bear photos. You do take some great pictures, Anne.

    I am sure there are always mixed emotions when leaving one place for another, yet I am sure you are glad to be back in civilization again.

    Traveling in a small camper can be a challenge. We did it once with our teenage boy and a small girl. Never again.

  12. Hattie says:

    The bears look so intelligent and handsome. I just loved the photos and your narrative. They made me long to see these places.

  13. Marion says:

    What does that phrase “a lady of a certain age” mean? What is the age?

  14. wisewebwoman says:

    I am so intrigued by the tricycle and the dogs and the fence and the poop. Did you get to chat to her at all?
    My dream is a tiny camper, my dog and taking 2 months around Newfoundland and Labrador.
    Lovely pics, Anne, we promise to behave ourselves while you roost in Lummi.

  15. zhoen says:

    Wonderful trip, the kind I’d love, but for the driving.

  16. Jocelyn says:

    Your descriptions here, coupled with the photos, have revived one of my unfulfilled dreams: to go everywhere you just did. Thank you for letting me be a vicarious traveler…and for reminding me, too, how wonderful it is to get home at the end.

  17. Lavenderbay says:

    “I’m glad I’m sitting in this nice enclosed truck” definitely applies to Bear Number 4. He raises my neck hairs!

  18. andrea says:

    Wonderful road trip anecdotes and photos. Don’t we live in an amazing part of the world for that? Is your camper a truck-mounted one? I spent our last road trip looking longingly at different kinds of RV configurations.

  19. Natalie says:

    Anne, it’s wonderful to see you being so adventurous and open to new experiences and uncomplaining (or only a little!) about discomforts. Your pictures are lovely but only looking at them makes me shiver – cold climates and northern places don’t agree with me and I would be miserable there. But the bears are great and so are your stories. Welcome back.

  20. dale says:

    I don’t know how I missed the fact that you’re back! I’m glad.

  21. Mage B says:

    Ah, welcome home. I hope you can go back one more time after you get the show set up. Hugs…….

  22. Friko says:

    Dear Anne, even just the trip home is enough of an adventure to make my hair stand on end. I love the story you tell, it is fresh and real and quite amazing, considering your age (I am not being patronising here). Fantastic to be so close to the real wilderness, my little bit of backwoods here is very tame compared to the countryside you describe. Counting bears, it’s quite unbelievable!

  23. m.e says:

    you’re back! such lovely photos. when my ex and i and his brothers and sister & their spouses were young, we all used to get blitzed at the local bars on saturday night and then go out to the dump at the scout camp and throw rocks at the bears. thanks be there were never any bears behind us!!

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