Moose sightings

Moose are of course not exclusive to Alaska, but they are a well known part of the landscape and somehow a visit doesn’t seem complete without a few moose sightings. Although I missed photographing the mama moose and her calves in Anchorage, I had a few more chances in the following days.

Entering Denali Park the afternoon before our bus trip we encountered two calves grazing at the intersection. 

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We hope the mom was around somewhere. The calves seemed pretty calm so she may have been in the bushes.

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Denali National Park

No first trip to Alaska is complete without a visit to Denali. Seeing the mountain (if it lets you and doesn’t shroud itself in clouds) and visiting the park are both unforgettable experiences. On my first trip well over a decade ago the day was misty and rainy so I don’t remember all the topography but I definitely remember the bears. We saw two and they were huge.

For the most part private cars aren’t allowed beyond the first fifteen miles, so the most common way to travel inside the park is on the buses. You can take a bus about 70 miles in, which takes eight hours round trip. And did I mention these are school buses? Made by Blue Bird and everything. You will feel 12 again.

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But it’s well worth the time and discomfort. We saw amazing scenery, including Mt. Denali itself, taiga and tundra landscapes, glacial rivers, and boreal forests. And of course animals. We started small, with a Ptarmigan. This is a mama giving us the evil eye. She had just hustled her chicks into the brush.

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Moderately tiny house

The tiny house boom has made it to Alaska. Not that they weren’t there before; there are a lot of small one-room fishing and hunting cabins, and RVS are ubiquitous. But now people build houses with the tiny house designation in mind.

All of us on this trip have watched some of the tiny house shows, so when we got to our Talkeetn lodging, which was called “Little Cabin in the Woods,” we all exclaimed upon seeing it, “tiny house!”

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We even went to the trouble of measuring it. At 750 square feet or so it wasn’t really a tiny house, but with 6 people it felt quite tiny at times. But it was very nicely designed, with a full bath and kitchen as well as a sleeping loft.

TheHusband and I sometimes talk about having a cabin and Alaska is a great place to get a sense of the range.

Talkeetna Day 2

Day 2 involved a float trip on the Talkeetna River, paddling about 6 miles before we ended up where it joins the larger Susitna (at the point where I took the picture in the previous post). We saw lots of nature!

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This is a beaver dam. There are lots of beavers and lots of trees, so the former have their pick of the latter. You’ll see trees on the banks where beavers have chewed halfway through the trunks and then abandoned them. They prefer the cottonwoods.

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A merganser duck, sitting on a log in the river until we came too close. Then it gave us a dirty look and paddled away.

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A bald eagle visible in the distance. They nest here, presumably for the fishing opportunities the confluence provides (the Chulitna joins the Susitna as well, just above where we were floating).

No bears. They don’t show up in force until the salmon run really gets going next month.

Decluttering update: The joy version

Somewhat against my will, I have been swept up in the enthusiasm for Marie Kondo’s bestselling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I picked up both the ebook and audio versions and listened to/read a bit, but then I got sidetracked. When Marilyn reviewed it at her blog a couple of months ago, though, I was sucked back in. I listened to the whole thing on audio (the narrator is quite good), and while parts of the approach seemed a bit much, the overall idea was intriguing and made sense to me.

I wrote a quick post about my experience over at Booklikes, and I’ll probably write a proper review of the book at some point. Here I’m going to talk about my experience following one part of the plan: tidying up my clothes. A couple of years ago I did a big purge of clothes and shoes with the help of a friend. I did another, smaller one in my main closet this past winter and I found it very useful.

Kondo’s method is drastic and potentially overwhelming: you take everything in a category (clothes, books, papers, etc.), pile all of the items on the floor, and then pick each piece up individually and ask yourself, does this give me joy? If it does, you keep it to one side. If it doesn’t, into the bin it goes.

The joy requirement sounds odd at first, at least it did to me. But it turns out to make a lot of sense. We all buy things on impulse, or because someone told us we look good in that particular color, or because we needed a particular item for an event. And then there are the things that we used to love and don’t anymore, or that is well past its prime but we can’t give up.

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