Month: October 2019

Our New Boat

We haven’t said a lot about the new boat yet, because we haven’t had time or cooperative weather so far this summer. We plan to skip vacationing next summer so we can enjoy lots more time on the boat. That didn’t come out quite right. Every day is a vacation for us. What I meant to say is we are planning to skip travel away from home in the summer months.

We did take Mij over to the dock last week so she could see the boat. It still needs work, obviously.

Photo from the local paper taken last Monday. It slipped my mind that it was coming, as we could have watched it pass by the house on the barge used to transport it.

This is the USS Sequoia – formerly the Presidential Yacht, but allowed to sit in disrepair and rot. It arrived in Belfast Maine last week. The local ship building company, French & Webb, will be restoring the yacht to its former glory. The restoration is expected to take four years, and the plan is to cover it in a see-through enclosure so the public can watch as it is brought back to life.

Here is an article from the Portland paper that talks a bit about the USS Sequoia and the plans for the rebuild.

No – that isn’t Lou’s new boat. He likes projects, but that one is a bit much. Here are a few photos as we give Mij a quick tour of our boat …

Notice that Lou can actually walk through the doors to the salon. He has ample headroom inside, one of the deciding factors for us choosing this Sabre Express 38.
I like how Lou color coordinated his outfit with the boat.

Can’t wait for next summer to arrive so we can really break the boat in. We won’t be doing any long cruises, but there are all kinds of places nearby to explore. We also plan to do some overnight stays onboard. We shouldn’t be bored – there are at three TVs on board 😁

Yet Another Blog Update!

A status report. The story of our 2015 Alaska Bear Adventure to Lake Clark National Park and Silver Salmon Creek is now complete and all posts have been added to the blog. If you are just signing in and reading this post, you may want to scroll back several posts. Or, you can go to the More Travel Stories link to start at the beginning.

As I was getting ready to post these last 2015 updates, it hit me – this was only week one of our 2015 Adventure – the second week is yet to come. A Tour of Denali in Fall. So technically, this is only Part One:

Our Alaska Adventure – Version 2015

In real life news, not much going on. Lou is busily preparing for winter and is taking care of some maintenance on the house – windows and rain gutters so far. He has also fixed a broken rocking chair and I will share photos of that impressive project next week.

Golf is essentially finished for the year. It is too cold and we are also getting enough rain to make the course soggy. Time for me to get back to the gym on a regular basis. I also have to finish sorting through the stuff we brought back from Florida, then tackle my winter project of organizing all the clothes, memories, and odds and ends.

Here is our early morning view to start today:

It’s a Wrap – Departure Day

29 August 2015, Saturday

Woke up to a gorgeous sunrise, although we didn’t go out. It was beautiful from the window in our room. We had an early flight this morning – our plane was picking us up at 8am.

Finally remembered to take a photo of our room – this is the Bear’s Den room in the main lodge. It has a private bath with large shower, and nice views of both the meadow and the back of the lodge. It is our favorite, and we had this room on both of our trips.

After breakfast, it was time to say goodbyes, and then load up for the ride to the beach.

We landed safely in Anchorage, where we were taken back to the Lake Front Hotel. Lou and I were staying on for another week. We had a second photo tour scheduled to see Denali in the fall!

Thoughts on our Bear Viewing Adventure – the trip exceeded expectations, which is always a good thing. We really had no idea how many bears we would see. We didn’t know what the lodge would be like; all we knew is the Van Os group usually picks decent places to stay. As it turned out, the Alaska Homestead Lodge was one of the highlights of the trip – comfortable, clean, great food, awesome staff, and Shelia and James are wonderful hosts.

Seeing the bears up close, and spending time watching them in their natural habitat was wonderful. Amazing, spectacular, awesome — what other superlatives can we use? We definitely hope to go back again.

Comparing our two trips to Silver Salmon Creek – 2015 vs 2019 – It’s no secret that I am finishing up this report 4 years after the event, and also after having completed the 2019 Adventure and Report. So how do the trips compare?

First, the obvious difference is the first trip was with a photo tour group, the second was booked on our own. Going as part of the tour group for our first adventure was good, as all arrangements were taken care of, and we didn’t have to worry about airport transfers etc. We also had the same travel group at the lodge for the entire 5 days. Fortunately, we got on well with all of our group, so this worked out fine.

Making the arrangements for the second trip was easy, because we knew what to expect. Some of the folks at the lodge were there the same five days we were, but people did rotate in and out. This was nice, as we got a chance to meet people from Germany and Australia. We generally had a smaller group for our photography sessions, and I thought this was a plus. I am sure we will book future trips on our own, as there is no need to pay extra for a tour company to make the arrangements. It is worth noting that the Van Os Photo Safaris are generally not teaching workshops – the leader is there to oversee the agenda and arrangements, but this isn’t really needed at Silver Salmon Creek, because the lodges provide their own guides. There are other photography tours to Silver Salmon Creek where more photography instruction is provided, if desired.

And, a few words on the bears we saw. We saw fewer bears on our first trip in 2015, and much of our time was spent with Crimp Ear and the two cubs. Looper provided some excitement as well. We also had more photo sessions where we didn’t see any bears at all – but this wasn’t a big issue, because we figured that’s just the way it works. We did get two evenings of wonderful bear viewing and photography out at the beach, where the lighting was perfect, and the bears cooperative. And I doubt much can compare to the thrill of having my first bear charge right at me, thinking this might be my first and last day at Silver Salmon Creek. Lou still laughs when he thinks about this experience.

The second trip in 2019 was filled with more variety. We were fortunate to see two sows with spring cubs – one with three, and one with two. We saw 3-5 year old juveniles playing and sparring. The weather was perfect all week, too warm some days perhaps. We were only skunked on one outing, and managed to see bears at all of our other sessions. This isn’t something I would count on, but it made for a great trip. The 2019 trip will be tough to beat! Except for Lou whacking his head on the bench, of course. We can do without that; right now we are contemplating a return visit in 2021, probably earlier in the season.

Thanks to those of you who have followed our journey, especially if you’ve been hanging around for four years to see the conclusion of the 2015 report!

Closing Our Adventure

It was after 8:00pm, and almost time to go back to the Lodge. We saw one of the cubs clowning around on his back, while Mama looked on.

I recall this little guy lying there moaning and groaning like he had a terrible tummy ache … if the salmon flakes on his forehead are any indication, he probably ate way too much today.

Sibling play is enough to make one forget about an upset tummy.

We thought the bears were headed back to the creek crossing, so we hustled back there and set up. Fitting, since this is where we started our adventure. Only … they never came this way. Chris, our guide, spotted them back at the beach, so off we went.

They were scavenging. And of course, if one cub has a fish, no matter how disgusting it is, the other one wants it …

After 8:30pm, and we were losing the light, as the bears left the water and meandered up to the trees. They were in no hurry, and neither were we. What a spectacular last day!

Leaving only footprints …

Click HERE to say goodbye to Silver Salmon Creek and The Alaska Homestead Lodge

Looper Takes Charge

Crimp Ear was enjoying fishing, and the cubs were lounging on the beach. And then … Looper shows up. Running straight at Crimp Ear. Bear Fight ???!!!

Crimp Ear decides not to do battle today, and retreats back towards the cubs. Looper continues charging forward, maybe ready to do some fishing.

That’s a lot of bear. She is a big one, for sure.

She wanders towards a photography group across the way from where we are standing. She was fairly close. They were told just to stand very still. She circled around, sat down, and then decided to take a nap.

We turned our attention back to Crimp Ear and the cubs … see more in the next post.

Click HERE to read about the final hour of our Bear Adventure.

Lunch, a Mid-Day Break, and More Bears

After seeing the flagrant violation of rules and disregard for the bears, we returned to the Lodge for lunch and a rest. As you can see, the guys are wiped out! Lou and I took breaks most afternoons, but some of the guys went to every session.

Lunch looked good – noodles, broccoli stir fry, and grilled chicken. And of course, cookies.

And since we are eating, I will just go straight into dinner. As I mentioned, Lou and I didn’t go out for the afternoon session. We rested, and also visited with the Ranger who came by the Lodge to interview some of us and pick up some photos of the fishing incident.

Dinner started with a salad and the ever-present wonderfully fresh-baked rolls.

I remember this dinner like it was just a short four years ago … which is to say, I have no idea what the main course was, since I apparently didn’t get a photo. I’m going to guess grilled salmon, since it was our last night at the lodge. I was obviously distracted by this amazing Boston Creme Cake …

Now that we have caught up on food, let’s turn back to the bears. We spotted Crimp Ear and cubs from the lounge window – looks like they were heading back to the beach. Off we went.

Crimp Ear was successful with the fishing right away. I also notice how once the fish stops wiggling, the bears almost always set it down so they can shake out the water from their fur.

No one is going hungry tonight! This is just the start of the show. We will break here, and come back for more in the next post.

Click HERE for, yes, more …more bears!