Alaskan Blog Archives

South End Of North-Bound Moose

OK, so I lied. I am going to subject you to my crappy digital snapshots of Alaskan wildlife. In this case, the rear end of a wet moose. Today for me was a very long day on the Alaska Direct bus from Whitehorse to Fairbanks. In the morning just north of Whitehorse it was very rainy, and this moose was browsing along the edge of the Alaska Highway:

moose beside road

Moose being stupid beasts, this one decided to get out into the middle of the road and then try to outrun the bus:

ass of a moose in the road

That blur in the picture is our windshield wiper.

The rest of the drive was uneventful. Got to Fairbanks and and got a warm welcome from my sister and her family, who are the creative geniuses behind Badger Towing — aka the folks with the coolest fleet of black tow-trucks in the state.

Why Did The Bear Cross The Road?

Long and busy day today. I left Juneau on the fast ferry Fairweather to Skagway, where I hooked up with Alaska Direct Bus Line (call 867-668-4833 in Whitehorse and ask for Henry, it’s literally the only way to go from Skagway to Fairbanks by land) for the trip over the mountain to Whitehorse. Tomorrow it’s on to Fairbanks — a long but very scenic bus ride.

Henry’s bus today was actually a big van, since I was the only reserved passenger. That meant I got the front passenger seat for better views. Just past Canadian Customs, a very sleek-looking bear ambled across the road in front of us. And I do mean right in front of us:

bear crossing road

He didn’t look at all hungry, the way spring bears tend to. Whatever he’s been eating this spring, he found plenty of it:

bear crosses road

A long day, but fun. Now I’m kicking back in a Whitehorse motel drinking 7% peach-flavored apple cider from a two-liter bottle. Why don’t they sell this stuff in the states?

Real Alaskan Vehicle, With Eagles

Here’s a real Alaskan vehicle for you. I called it the War Pig. I bought it off my (sort-of) brother-in-law for seven hundred bucks, after he bought it for some lesser sum at a salvage auction. First thing I did was put five hundred dollars worth of snow tires on it, because I wanted it for rough winter driving. I loved that thing — it would go anywhere (four wheel drive baby!) and it didn’t matter what you hit. Dents? Hell, that’s a pickup truck fender on the front!

Real Alaskan Suburban

Here you see me stopped along the Chilkat river near Haines. It was in November of 2001, and the bald eagles had gathered as they do that time of year. Alaskan or not, it was more bald eagles than I’d ever seen, so I had to stop and stare. And take bad snapshots, like any other tourist:

Chilkat River eagles

Here’s another picture of the War Pig, parked up near the top of Haines Pass where the snow was already deep:

Haines Pass at dusk in November

Pretty mountains. That’s the trouble with living in Alaska. You’re just barrelling along in your cartoonishly bad Suburban, trying to get somewhere to clean out a storage unit, and the scenery just jumps out and ambushes you. There’s nothing you can do but stand there for four or five minutes and soak it up. Then you shake your head, realize you’re freezing your ass off, and get on with your life.

There’s A Moose!

This photo is to explain why you won’t see too much of my photography on Alaskan Blog, and why you’ll be sorry when you do. I took this with a cheap sub-megapixel Sony Mavica in May of 2001, on the Taylor Highway, somewhere in the vicinity of King Creek between Polly Summit and The Flats:

moose in road

You know those huge moose in the calendar photos, the ones in the middle of small lakes, luminous in the summer sunshine with aquatic plants dripping from their Boone & Crocket antlers? I theorize that those are specially bred for wildlife photographers, and kept in a secret preserve for journalistic use only. This picture is how real Alaskans usually see moose: unexpectedly, at dusk, in the fading light, through a dirty windshield, along the side of a desolate stretch of road. The soundtrack is usually “Oh shit, don’t hit him!” accompanied by squealing brakes and tires skidding on gravel.

On the rare and fortunate occasion when such an encounter is actually happening during hunting season, the soundtrack differs. Then it’s “Shit! I can’t see any antlers! Can you see any antlers?”

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