You just have to wonder sometimes what all the wildlife think of these rolling cages making screeching stops along the roadway for no particular reason and then watching as the creatures on board try to climb out the windows with black shiny things stuck to their faces.  Occasionally one of them will escape…

However, rabbit pellets are somewhat smaller than those of his large antlered fellow forest dweller.

One of the creatures we saw in the Park which really appeared to have lost its way was this lonesome seagull.  (Anyone old enough to remember Red Skelton and his skit about the 2 seagulls, Gertrude and Heathcliff?)…

And then things really get peculiar…

You will find that privacy and personal space are alien concepts on these tours, especially if someone yells, “BEAR!!”  You may as well introduce yourself to the folks across the aisle when you first board because at some point they will be in your lap with a camera or you will be in theirs.  Here is what a typical sighting looks like from an animal’s perspective...

  Denali National Park                                                       May 27, 2013

After a fun filled week of re-acquainting ourselves with the area in and around Palmer/Wasilla, we decided it was time to get our travelling circus on the road once again and set up our tents and cages in an area where the indigenous peoples may have forgotten us over the 3 years since our last visit.  Our destination: Denali National Park.

We set out northward beneath a clear blue sky along the Parks Highway (Named for George Alexander Parks, an early Alaskan engineer and guide, who was the first appointed governor of the Alaska Territory from 1925 to 1933)…

Now these buses are really lush compared to the old school buses we rode on previous visits through the Park.  In addition to nice cushy seats and foot rests, they even have onboard TVs every couple of rows so the bus driver could broadcast live images of the animals we were seeing using a hand held movie camera.  This proved a Godsend for many of us who would never have seen some of the animals otherwise due to their distance from the bus, the terrain and the natural ability of most critters to blend in with the surroundings.  Of course that didn’t stop us from trying…

We did some checking in my resident Ornithologist’s Field Guide and discovered that these are called Mew Gulls and, although they normally live in coastal areas, they come to Denali to nest and breed. Some guys will do just about anything to get laid!

Of course you will encounter some wildlife in the area for which there just isn’t an explanation…

Although the highway was named for a person, the name is completely appropriate as it leads to Denali National and State Parks.  As usual the scenery along this road was absolutely magnificent and Christmas card perfect…

Perhaps we could hook these two up to a dogsled and make a decent showing in the Iditarod?

We are off to Fairbanks in search of things we haven’t seen on previous visits as well as some of the old standbys.  See y’all there!  Hugs!  Chuck & Zook

It would appear that this scheme has only encouraged them to chew a wee bit higher.

Another of those mundane facts that many lowlanders are unaware of is that rabbit and moose have something in common…

“Hey, lady, you do know that those things don’t go there, doncha????”

My Bride really enjoys the outdoors and loves just about any opportunity to get up close and personal with the critters that call it home.  In spite of several hilarious, in my ever so humble opinion, misadventures throughout the years she remains undaunted in her pursuit of these gentle souls for that “perfect” picture.  I finally had to buy her a camera that would enable her to get those shots she wants without the nose-to-nose or nose-to-beak encounters she seems to thrive on (more about those in the next edition)…

If you’re looking for the wildlife in the above picture, don’t bother!  My Bride snuck this one in because she had to walk out to the middle of a bridge, dodging tour buses and amorous gulls, in order to shoot it and was damned determined that it not end up in our “discard” pile.

We encountered this sign along one section of the road which had become a chew toy of sorts for the local bear population.  In order to protect their sign, and enthusiastic folks like my Bride, who might otherwise dash off the road and into the wilderness in pursuit of anything photographable and ending up with a close encounter of the worst kind, they have driven a bunch of nails into it to deter those vandals among the local bruin population…

We had called the Riley Creek Campground in Denali prior to departing the Palmer Elks Lodge and were told that their wastewater dump station was operational and the fresh water pipes were thawed out and functioning.  HAH!!!  Neither the dump nor the fresh water was available when we arrived and it was fortunate that we had filled our fresh water tanks at the Elks prior to departing and the wastewater tanks were only about half full.  Since we were only staying 3 nights we went immediately into Spartan mode utilizing all of the skill and cunning acquired during olde fartdom.  We can actually last about 2 weeks without the need to refill the fresh water or dump the wastewater when we put our minds to it.  This usually involves my Bride directing me to a nearby tree when nature calls and using a spit-moistened Q-Tip for bathing.

The next morning we awoke bright and early, packed a lunch and loaded up our small ice chest with bottled water for a day of busing through the Park in search of big game (The tour company actually claims to provide a lunch on board the bus but we have found that a couple of slices of reindeer sausage and a dinner roll do not make a real meal.)…