Our First eBook from Year 1

Regis and I have been working on a book documenting our first year on the road and including pro-tips and tricks for future adventurers. We finally finished an eBook and got it published today on Lulu.com. It is available for purchase at this site. http://www.lulu.com/shop/linda-and-regis-burek/the-gifts-of-the-day-traveling-and-camping-with-dogs/ebook/product-24169915.html

book cover photo

We are working on getting it available through other channels like Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble, etc.

This is an eBook only at this time.

Gifts of the Day – St. Augustine

Everyday, I search for the gifts of the day. You never know what beautiful things life will reveal until you look for it.

Regis and I went kayaking today. We were able to kayak on the intracoastal waterway (ICW) in front of our house which is across the marsh from the ICW. I think it might be a quarter of a mile from our house across the marsh to the ICW.

It was a hot and still day. There was sometimes just a bit of a breeze which was welcome by both of us.

We saw a pelican successfully fishing and one standing on are marker.

We stopped to check out an oyster bar and a few Oystercatchers flew by. We don’t get to see them often. It’s hard to see them unless you are on the water. What a treat! And, I got them in focus!!

As we were leaving the kayak launch site, we saw some trash on the ground that made it clear that people shoot fireworks from this location. As we drove down the road we found ourselves cut off by Sheriff’s tape in two locations (which wasn’t there on the way in). We think it was put there to discourage folks from shooting off fireworks at the launch site but it made it interesting to get back home!

Alaska Trip Wrap Up

When my flight from Anchorage arrived in Seattle at 9:25 am, I headed to my son’s house.  I visited with him and we went to lunch.  When I got back, I couldn’t stay awake and nodded off for most of the afternoon.  I woke up in time to have an amazing dinner with my son and his partner at an incredible restaurant we could walk to.  I can see the advantages of living in the city because they have excellent local restaurants, a farmer’s market, a city park, and shopping places all within a few blocks of their house.  No need for a car! 

I took lots of video of the bears on the Alaskan trip and put together the following video of my favorite clips.  

Brown Bear video including cubs, mating, eating, and bathing.

The trip to Alaska was incredible and I highly recommend this particular trip to those who want to have a magical experience of the place.  Visit Lisa Langell’s website to sign up for next year’s Magic of Alaska tour and the Bear Extravaganza.  No photography skills or fancy gear required to have one of the most amazing experiences of your life.  

Alaska Day 10 – Fogged In

We were supposed to take off on bush planes on an early morning flight but we were fogged in and had to wait for the weather to clear both at our location and the airport on the Kenai Peninsula where the planes were located.  

Since we had to wait, we took one last bear viewing trip and were delighted to be surrounded by the two sows with cubs.  We had to choose whether to take pictures of the adorable twins or adorable triplets.  On the way back to the lodge, we passed another sow and two young cubs on the beach. It’s impossible to get enough baby bear viewing in.  They are delightful to watch, especially when they play.  

By early afternoon, it was obvious that I was not going to make it back in time for my flight out of Anchorage, so I used the satellite phone to reschedule from a 12:50 am flight to the 5:00 am flight.  

Since we had to wait so long, I had an opportunity to walk around the grounds and take pictures of the flowers and lodge. With the overcast sky, the flowers came out nice.

By early evening we were able to fly back to the Kenai Peninsula.  From the airport, we had to drive 45 minutes back to our lodge to pick up the luggage we left behind.  We were only allowed 40 pounds of gear on the bush planes.  Then, it was a 3.5 hour drive back to Anchorage.  There was a forest fire and road construction that caused a delay, so we took a back road to detour around the worst of it.  

It was midnight as we neared Anchorage and I was surprised to see how many people were on the road and stopping at the overlooks to take in the view.  There was sufficient light at midnight to do that.  It was crazy!

The airport was busy when I checked in at 1:00 a.m.  Most airports shut down at night and there is nothing open.  There was a Starbucks and a McDonalds open so I was able to get something to eat for dinner.  

By the time I got on my 5:00 am flight I was exhausted!

Alaska Day 9 – Brown Bears and More Brown Bears

On today’s bear viewing trips, we saw up to 24 Brown Bears at one time.  They were either eating sedges or digging for clams.  We saw a sow with two young cubs (the same ones we saw yesterday) and a sow with three young cubs.  One little cub imitated mom and attempted to dig for clams. I couldn’t tell whether the cub was successful or just practicing. There were a few sows that had an older cub or two.

The first year of a bear’s life is the toughest to survive.  Boars (male bears) will sometimes kill the cubs in order to mate with the female.  The females were very wary and quick to remove themselves if a boar was on the prowl. 

After another hearty dinner, we drove on the beach in the other direction.  We had seen so many bears demonstrating a variety of behaviors, we were interested in seeking other wildlife.  I expressed the desire to see a wolf.  I didn’t expect to see one, but they are in the area.  Our guide located a set of wolf tracks on the beach.  It was thrilling to see them and the evidence that wolves were nearby.   

I got this evening panorama of Chinitna Bay.

A dog named Benson lives at Bear Mountain Lodge. His job is to keep the bears away from the lodge. He has taken on the additional duty of greeting all the bush planes when they arrive. When he hears the plane, he heads to the beach to greet the new arrivals. Here he is enjoying a little sun.

Alaska Day 8 – Across Cook Inlet

View from our Bush plane as we flew to Chinitna Bay from the Kenai Peninsula.

We took off on bush plans to Chinitna Bay.  This is probably the most remote place I have been.  You can only get there by boat or plane.  We stayed at the Bear Mountain Lodge and visited Lake Clark National Park. 

The flight over allowed for viewing the spectacular Alaskan scenery.  You can’t get tired of looking at this.  

Mt. Redoubt is an active stratovolcano. It appears to be venting a little steam.

After landing on the beach in the plane, we dropped off our stuff at the lodge and headed down the beach in buses that were converted to handle driving on the sand.  Our guide instructed us to always stay together in a group for our safety around the bears. 

The marsh and beach where we had most of our bear sightings. The planes land along the beach outside the bottom of the picture.

It didn’t take long to spot our first bear,  a sow with two adorable cubs.  The cubs were likely around 4 months old.  They couldn’t possibly be cuter.  After viewing many more bears, we returned to the lodge for a hearty meal and went back out for more bear viewing. 

Brown Bear (Ursus arctos) running across a stream.

We had the delightful opportunity to view a bear washing himself in a stream.  I did not realize that bears did such a good job of rubbing themselves down – belly, under arms, behind the ears.   

Brown Bear (Ursus arctos) bathing.

We met the resident park ranger.  She’s a young lady who spends the season out here by herself and sleeps in a cabin with fencing to keep out the bears.  On this particular day she was accompanied by a biologist who was conducting research. I haven’t been collecting stamps from the National Parks, but I started with this park.  Christina was insistent that I take advantage of getting the stamp and it seemed like a good idea to me!

Brown Bear (Ursus arctos)

I have a lot of video of the bears and will put together the best clips and place in a future blog post.

Alaska Day 7 – Rest

Day 7 of this trip, some participants left for the airport. Others stayed behind to embark on the 3 day bear trip that starts tomorrow. I’m going on the bear trip, so I hung around the lodge today and did laundry.

My disk that holds all my pictures broke today. Who knows why? I had to purchase another drive. I have most of my pictures on my laptop as a second backup, but it filled up the other day. I don’t have my pictures from yesterday anymore. I’m sad, but I’m putting what I have on my new drive and will adjust accordingly for the rest of the trip.

Our tour guide, Lisa Langell, loaned me a Canon 5D Mark IV to take some pictures today. I’m amazed at the difference in quality between that camera and my Canon 80D. The pictures posted here are from the Canon 5D Mark IV. Some of these photos are cropped significantly but still look good and sharp.

Stellar’s Jay