Saturday, August 17, 2013

Day 6, Seward Highway remix

Anchorage weather: High 65, low 53, Mostly cloudy, with scattered showers
Steps walked: Shaun - 6,902 steps, 11 floors climbed; Shannon - 5,550 steps, 11 floors climbed
Critter count: lots if you count the wildlife refuge we visited...if not, then some duckies, 2 eagles, 2 swans, and a bunch of magpies

Our return trip to Anchorage was much less picturesque than the journey down the Kenai Peninsula. It was raining, with lots of low clouds and chilly air. We spent the morning at the B&B packing our boxes of goodies to ship home and our suitcases. We bid adieu to the Grouchy Old Woman and started our trek back to Anchorage by stopping at the post office. 61 pounds lighter (combined weight of the two boxes, and it only cost a bit over $80 to send them both!), we began our journey in earnest. 

(the perfect illustration of "you can choose your friends, but you can't choose your family")

Because of the weather, Miss Paparazza didn't pull off the road every mile to take pictures, so we actually made good time. We arrived at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center at the tip of Turnagain Arm by 4:30 and had plenty of time to spend with the animals. We had wanted to stop there on our way down the peninsula but ran out of time, so it was really a priority on our way back up.

The wildlife refuge is located on land that used to be the town of Portage. When the 1964 earthquake hit, the ground level dropped 10 to 12 feet, and the area was flooded with sea water coming in during the high tides on the Cook Inlet. The remnants of the trees that were killed by the salt water and abandoned buildings remain and are actually quite eerie, with the fog and clouds and encircling mountains adding to the haunting atmosphere. 

Surrounded by all this are animals of all shapes and sizes. The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center takes in Alaskan animals that have been injured or abandoned, nurses them back to health, and either returns them to the wild or makes arrangements for their longterm care. They have moose, caribou, and elk, musk oxen (including a baby!) and wood bison, a red fox and two lynx, an owl and an eagle, black bears and brown bears, and a porcupine (and a partridge in a pear tree). Please note that Shaun did not try to off the porcupine to get $50 from the woman in Talkeetna. Just so you know. 

Shaun communed with the bull moose, who was eating about 6 feet from the fence, and we were able to watch them feeding the three brown bears (salmon and nectarines today - not a bad meal). A lot of the animals were sleeping or hanging out in their houses to get out of the rain, but there were still plenty to see. The AWCC is working hard to revitalize the wood bison population, once thought to be extinct, and there were four different groups of these bison around the park. Despite the rain, they were frolicking and playing with one another. All in all, the refuge was a great stop, and we finally got to see some bears in Alaska.

The rest of the trip back to Anchorage was uneventful, and we arrived back at the Wildflower Inn in time to eat leftovers for dinner, do laundry, and return the rental car. We will have to be up very early tomorrow morning to be on the 8:15am train bound for Denali National Park.

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