Because the weather has been nice, we've been able to get out a little more in the evenings and on P-day, walking some of the trails that we started last year and exploring some new places.
Over the 4th of July weekend (two P-days, Woohoo!) we drove up to the Eagle River Nature Center and hiked around a little bit. The Nature Center consists mainly of a group of trails that are maintained by a volunteer group, the trails stretching from 3/4 of a mile to 26 miles. We walked the shortest one, of course. The 26 mile trail takes you over the top of the Chugach Mountains to Girdwood, on the Turnagain Arm. It was a very nice day and we enjoyed our little hike.
|As we were leaving for Eagle River, I saw this beauty land on the apartment building next door and couldn't resist a snapshot.|
|A fellow hiker took this photo for us.|
Yesterday, after the usual P-day activities of cleaning the apartment, etc., we decided to drive up the Turnagain Arm to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. We've driven by it a number of times over the last year and a half and decided it was time to check it out. They have a number of different animals indigenous to Alaska that they are caring for after injury or abandonment and are raising some for re-introduction to the wild, such as the Wood Bison. The Wood Bison differs from the Plains Bison in several ways. The most visible is that it is larger (average bull - 1800 lbs. instead of 1600 lbs.) and it has a square hump instead of a smooth round hump. They also have different beards, head hair, etc.
In addition to the herd of bison, another big herd at the Center was Musk Ox. As you can see by the pictures, there are a couple of things all these critters have in common this time of year, babies and their coats are shedding.
Here are a few photos of some of the other animals we saw ---
|Bull Elk, relaxing in the heat with some of his harem.|
|Baby Moose. Tiny thing, about the size of a small cow.|
|Big Daddy Moose with new antlers, still covered in velvet.|
|Wolf - laying in the grass.|
|Brown Bear (Grizzly)|
We also saw Sitka black-tail deer, lynx, caribou, black bear, a Great Horned Owl and a Bald Eagle.
After touring the Center, we made a wild, spur of the moment decision and drove to Whittier for dinner. To get to Whittier, which is 11 miles from the Center, you have to drive through a 2.5 mile, single file tunnel that is shared with the train. Only one direction is open at a time, eastbound on the hour, westbound on the 1/2 hour, and that schedule is interrupted whenever a train has to come through, which happens frequently during the tourist season. Whittier and it's only access, the tunnel, were constructed by the military during WWII. Now it is a fishing port, tourism center and stopping place for cruise ships. So we paid the $13 toll to drive through the tunnel and ate dinner, Fish & Chips and Shrimp at a Chinese restaurant called the China Sea. We ate there with Kristi when she was here last July and the food was every bit as good this time as last!
When we got ready to leave for church this morning, we opened our door and found this outside. One of the neighbors in the building next door grows lots of flowers and has left some for the sister missionaries downstairs. This is the first time we've gotten any. All he asked is that we return the pot when the flowers are done. How cool is that?!!
Our next scheduled excursion is a weekend trip to Homer, down on the Kenai Peninsula on the last weekend in July. If you don't hear from us before that, I'll put up a new post then.