miles driven
miles walked

Currently: 50 degrees, fair, Wasilla, AK. Jimmy Kimmel Live on in the background.

What’d We Do?

Tonight’s post is going to be quick so I can catch up on some sleep. By the way, the title of today’s post is a reference to Alaska State Troopers, and was always followed by an ordinary traffic stop that ultimately ended in either a DUI or a meth arrest. Moving on…

This morning we explored the last stretches of the Kenai Peninsula that we had yet to reach in our nearly week long stay. We started out from our cabin in Moose Pass and headed north along the Seward Highway to visit a variety of overlooks. The sun direction wasn’t great along the early parts of our drive so we quickly moved on from most of them, but caught views of the the nearby mountains and various creeks and lakes.

As the sun started to peek out we headed down the Portage spur road to explore the Byron Glacier and Portage Lake. We signed in at the trail register and set out along a quick mile-long hike to get closer to the glacier. Byron Glacier hangs from atop a mountain and the view from the end of the trail features a monochromatic grey rock pile in the foreground with the glacier painting a contrasting white across the mountain. Although it was impressive, after our closeup view of the Harding ice field a few days ago, it was hard to compare.

The glaciers around Portage carved out a deep lake with teal colored water that icebergs that chunk off of the glaciers float in. We walked down to the lake to get a better look and spent some time photographing the ice.

Next we headed back out of the spur road towards the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. I’ve been looking to visit this place for a few years after reading about their efforts to reintroduce animals back into the wild, and help breed species that were on the edge of extinction. We took an informative bus ride and learned about how the center recently released dozens of wood bison into the Alaskan wild. Wood bison are slightly different in appearance than the bison that we’re most to seeing in the lower 48 with larger and pointier humps behind their heads. The center worked with the Alaska Dept. of Fish & Game to purchase about a dozen wood bison from a national park in Canada and bred them to increase the size of the herd by 10x.

At the center we saw grizzlies playing and tussling with each other, black bears pacing back and forth, baby mule deer feeding, moose lazing around, elk racking their antlers wood bison roaming and a lynx slobbering all over it’s enclosure. We left the bus tour early to spend more time near the bears and walked the path back while looking at each of the animals along the way. The majesty of the large animals set against the striking Alaskan backdrop was stunning.

From the wildlife center we continued to drive north to view the remaining sites along Turnagain Arm where tides roll in and out with huge differences in water levels between low and high tides. We saw low tide on the second day of our trip from the train, but today we saw a much higher tide that lapped waves along the shore, but left islands of sand in the middle of the inlet.

This evening we drove through Anchorage to switch our car rental from a “one-way” rental we picked up in Anchorage to a local rental we could return to the airport at the end of our trip. Unfortunately this this side trip to the airport was the most economical way to rent a car for our itinerary. The good news is that we were able to keep the same car and not spend the time loading our luggage into a new car. We also stopped by Fedex to pick up some lenses we had rented and shipped to Anchorage that we can use to photograph wildlife over the next week.

Then we were onto dinner. In yesterday’s post I talked about how all I wanted was some real meat, potatoes and veggies for dinner, but the options weren’t available in the area. Well tonight we made a point to find a “real” dinner in Anchorage and stopped by the Glacier Brewhouse which had a great menu. When we arrived we realized 7pm on a Friday night wasn’t a great time to roll into a restaurant as they had an hour-and-45 minute wait. However, we stalked a party that was about to leave their table at the bar and were eating in no time. We both had a hankering for something substantial and ended up with a flat iron steak glazed in root beer and birch syrup. Delicious.

Over dinner we saw someone who looked remarkably like Marty Raney from TV’s “Ultimate Survival Alaska” who was searching the bar for a table. I can’t say for sure it was him, and he’s not really the level of celebrity that it was even worth asking, but what I can say is that I got a table and a reality-TV star (or look-a-like) didn’t. Boo-yah.

Tonight we’re staying at a hotel in Wasilla that is literally right next door to Sarah Palin’s house. Apparently it’s right over the fence, and I think we passed her driveway (her fence has a big American flag draped across it) on the way into the hotel.

What We Ate

Delicious root beer and birch syrup glazed steaks, reindeer hot dog.

What We Learned

Our town at home is only a mile-wide but features 75% of the population of Wasilla which is the sixth most-populated city in Alaska and is 12x larger in landsize. (Ambler, AK has a population of 264 for anyone wondering…)

Wildlife We Saw

A herd of microscopically small dall sheep high above the road along Turnagain Arm.

Leave a Reply