2018 July 19 – Seward to Palmer, AK

We left Seward on the eastern side of the Kenai peninsula and drove back up the Seward Highway, around Turnagain Arm, through Anchorage and east to Palmer, which is our overnight stop on the way to Valdez.

We woke to a totally overcast sky which we were sad about as the weatherman (fickle person that he is) had said sunshine for the next four days.  However, we needn’t malign the poor guy too much as the sun came out before we had driven too many miles and we had a third glorious day in a row.                                                            Kenai Lake

John pulled into a side road so he could take a photo of the mountain he could see on his side of the truck.  I was happy because I wanted a photo of the mountain I could see out of my side. One of our geocache stops had us wading through six-foot high grass.  It may be a short growing season up here, but the plants certainly make the most of it.

Summit Lake was covered in pollen from the poplar trees. The effect was certainly pretty with the reflections. I find that I am still not tired of seeing all of the lovely mountains that Alaska has to offer, but today our main event was critters.

Right at the end of Turnagain Arm is the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center; a private drive-through preserve and animal rescue.  We didn’t drive through of course, we walked the route to see the animals better.    Reindeer or Caribou, whichever you wish to call them.  Reindeer sausages are a popular breakfast choice in Alaska.This young black bear was orphaned and brought to the center about five months ago.  When he has matured a bit more he will be put into the larger enclosure with the other two black bears. This was a good a view of the wolf pack we got.  All four of them were sound asleep in the shade of the tall grass of their enclosure.  John and I were both surprised at how small Muskox are.  From films and photos of them we thought they were larger animals.  They only stood about 4 feet tall. The fox was also having his afternoon nap.  There is a lynx at the center as well, but we didn’t spot it anywhere; which isn’t surprising as they are very anti-social and like to be alone.Look at the dates under each of the photos below to see how quickly moose antlers grow each year.

They finally get them grown, get the velvet off them, and promptly shed then to start over next year.

Elk are not native to Alaska.  President Rooseveldt and some naturalists introduced 8 elk to one of Alaska’s peninsulas.  After 60+ years the herd now numbers 1200.The Sitka Black-Tailed are only found down at the coast near Sitka, Alaska.       This black bear was having a good walk around his territory.There were two Grizzly’s (or brown bears as they seem to prefer to call them up here) in the enclosure.  The big male, JB was having a nap right by the fence.  The female was off on the other side of the lake doing her own thing.                  He could understudy for Baloo in Jungle Book   He raised his head, looked at us, and immediately lowered it to his paws and continued sleeping.

After seeing all the animals we were on the road again.  Turnagain Arm was much prettier on the way back in the sunshine than when we drove over to the Kenai Peninsula under heavy clouds.  All the nice mountains were on John’s side of the truck though, so very few photos ops for me.Once we cleared Anchorage we drove over to Wasilla, which was in the opposite direction to Palmer, but I wanted to visit the Iditarod Headquarters and Museum.  We knew where it was, we knew what it looked like, we drove down the road without finding it, got directions from a lady, drove back looking for it again, but still couldn’t see it.  So, we took the Palmer-Wasilla Highway and cut off all the slow moving traffic through the construction zone on the main freeway.  I think if is impossible to be anywhere in south-east Alaska without having some mountains around you.

Tomorrow we drive down to Valdez, the home of the Alaska Pipeline, and a particularly scenic town.  Or so we have been told.

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