Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Bears at Brooks Falls

Fishing at Brooks Falls

     For the past few weeks I've been eating breakfast and lunch with the bears at Brooks Falls in Katmai National Park in Alaska.  The Park Service set up two web cams aimed at the falls and the river.  Though of us who can't make it to Alaska can see the live action, too.  Explore.org features the bears, as well as a lot of other animals, on its site.
      Last night I had an extra treat when I came in to listen to Ranger Mike talk about the different bears.  It was an amazing night at the Falls.   The salmon were huge and plentiful.   The bears would position themselves and wait for a salmon to swim right by.  At one time I counted 13 bears.  The hour flew by!

    This female bear, #409, is a great fisher.  She caught a number of fish last night.   Another female, not shown in the picture, was standing nearby waiting for a chance to take the fish away or to at least get the leftovers.

      The bears are all numbered, and some have been named by the people who watch and regularly chat on-line.   I tried to take good notes as Ranger Mike talked.  There's a free e-book available that has all their pictures and great info.

Adult male #747 fishing in the “Jacuzzi”.

     Holly and her two cubs were there, too.   The small one on the left is a female.  The middle cub is a male that she adopted.  I haven't learned the story about how that happened yet.  He's a year older than the female and doesn't like to share his food.    You can see his darker coloring in this picture.

    These two keep their mom busy all the time.   But she seems like a really good and patient mother.   They fish in an area called the Ripples, away from the bigger males.


       A big male with his catch.

An eagle watches from a high tree.

     Two large males engaged in "jaw popping" as they sorted out who was going to be the dominate male.   It didn't last long before one of them backed away.  I was glad to see that. The fishing was good and a fight could seriously hurt both of them.   One of the bears lost an ear in June during a fight.

       This photo was taken about 9 p.m. Alaska time.  The bears were still fishing and eating when I went to bed.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Canyon de Chelly

Canyon de Chelly - Images from an Ancient People

     Canyon de Chelly (pronounced shay) is a beautiful, unique land located within the Navajo nation in Chinle, Arizona.  It's a National Monument as well as Navajo land.   People have been living in the canyon for nearly 5000 years,beginning with the ancient Anasazi, then the Hopi, and now the Navajo.
      Wikipedia has a good article about it.
       The site cover over 83,800 acres and contains three large canyons, de Chelly, del Muerto, and Monument.  You can drive around the rim and stop at overlooks.  Or you can take a closer look by either a hike or a jeep tour with  a Navajo guide.   From the comfort of a 4x4 jeep, we toured Canyon del Muerto.

The Anasazi built their homes in caves high up on the canyon walls.

   The National Park Service site has much better pictures that show the vast scale of the high canyon walls.   The writing isn't graffiti but from the Anasazi.

No one knows why the Anasazi left or where they went.

How they reached these high places is a mystery to me!

      The canyon was beautiful and amazing.   Our Navajo guide, J.D., was very knowledgeable and friendly.    We stayed at the Holiday Inn in Chinle, which was great.   Clean, good food, and friendly people. They have info about the tours.  Many of the guides will pick you up there, which is what J.D., from Antelope House Tours, did for us.
      We didn't get to do the rim tours because a large storm was brewing.  So that will have to wait for another trip.   Most people visit in the spring and the fall, although J.D. said they do tours all year, weather permitting.  The Navajos don't live in the canyon during the winter because of the cold temperatures, which is a good sign that it would be too cold for my tastes.   J.D. said the summer temps can be very high.  But we were lucky and had a beautiful morning for our tour.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Standing on the Corner

Standing on the Corner

      Last week we visited Winslow, Arizona, made famous by the Eagles in “Take It Easy”.     

The most photographed corner in the U.S.   
Hamming it up with the girl in the flat bed Ford.
       My favorite site in Winslow was the historic and beautiful La Posada.  Designed by Mary Colter for the Fred Harvey Company, it served as a hotel and restaurant along one of the stops of the Santa Fe Railway.  It opened in 1930.     


      When it closed in 1957, it began to decline.   The beautiful furnishings were sold and the building was turned into offices for the railroad.  It continued to deteriorate until it was rescued in 1997 by Allan Affeldt and Tina Mion.    Along with a third partner, they have restored it and filled it with beauty and art.   They hope to continue its preservation through the Winslow Arts Trust.  

       We had lunch at their restaurant, The Turquoise Room.    I had their signature soup, a southwest mix of black beans, corn and chile cream. Delicious!    

       As you enter La Posada there’s an herb garden, wild flowers, and water features.    
A beautiful way to start our trip.