We went down to the “spit” area last night for a wander and dinner. It was pretty crowded and with the weekend approaching, we thought it was only going to get busier. (It has!)
A little fact that Mary stumbled upon the other day, is that Alaska supplies 50% of all of America’s fish. The prevailing smell in Seward, when the smoke wasn’t drowning it, was indeed of fish. I preferred the town of Grasse in France, where the air smelt of perfume; and even their public toilets were the sweetest scented I have ever encountered. But as you can see from above, Homer, was doing a pretty passable impression of Seward.
The alarm went off at 05-30; why do we do this to ourselves? In truth, we both woke up slightly before; a light breakfast that had kindly been laid out for us and away to the airport. No wonder they ask you to get there early because there are forms to fill in and waders to be be put on; mine had ‘gaffer tape’ up one side which was a bit worrying.
We took to the air and the pilot, a lovely guy called Ty, continuously apologised for the smoke that was absolutely blotting out any stunning views there may have been. “I really am so sorry; this is usually just breathtaking.” With true British stoicism, I said, “Don’t worry, you’ll just have to show us the photographs.” But that smoke and early morning sun did have a magic of its own.
We landed as advertised on the beach but foolishly expecting to see them (the bears) just plucking salmon out of the sea (where did I get this notion in my head?) we started off on a route march, after a safety talk from Zach, the other pilot. They then made sure the planes (there were two of them) we’re devoid of food and securely locked. We were apparently about two weeks early to see my mental image come true, of this wonderful natural annual occurrence, of bears just grabbing salmon. The first sign we saw of bears was their huge and I mean huge tracks.
And then suddenly, there one was in the distance. We huddled together as instructed and slowly moved closer. This was to happen quite a few more times, with our closest encounter when a young one leaving its mother to rest, came over to get a better look at ‘us’!
Zach announced, “Hang on folks, while Ty and I go have a word with this little fella.” He strolled towards the curious youngster and calmly started talking, “Look fella, are we going to have the same conversation we had yesterday and the day before? You know the rules and if you don’t, boy you are gonna have to learn them. We just don’t do this do we?” The ‘little fella’ (who looked pretty big to me,) was only twenty yards away but turned away like a sulking child, being refused a second bar of chocolate and actually looking hurt; crazy isn’t it? He then just wandered off.
Mum (we assumed this) just watched as the youngster explored. I say youngster, Zach reckoned he was probably about five years old or so and still finding his feet.
All in all, we saw at least eight bears over a period of three hours and we walked just over four miles. Mental note: to return during the second week of July, hop off a plane, watch bears eating salmon and hop back on again 😉😆. Seriously what a truly, truly mind boggling day.
So, we saw it all; bears, Moose footprints, (😡) wolf prints and inside volcanoes. Tomorrow will be a pottering day before a long drive back to Anchorage on Monday to catch a plane to Vancouver; another early start beckons.
Thanks for reading; we are both so lucky to be doing this and once again god bless you Simon Smith, imagine Mary trying to take her bear pictures on a phone. I have, and it’s not a pretty daydream. Only one of the above bear pics, is mine! I was having difficulty putting one foot normally in front of the other at the airfield.; the young girl who had helped us with the forms and waders, asked me how I was feeling. “A bit like John Wayne,” I replied, because I was affecting his walk for sure. “I’m sorry, I don’t understand that reference?” she replied. Further conversation revealed she had never heard of John Wayne. She was 22 years of age and suddenly I felt at least a 120, however, I couldn’t help feeling that somehow she had missed out and not me. 🙂
Hope the UK cools down for you all soon BUT not too cool, eh? M & M 🇺🇸🐻🐻🐻