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Chibi Bears @ Denali


Sow and cub
Originally uploaded by gus lopez


Fall is definitely the time to go to Alaska, for no other reason than the bears are all chubby for hibernation and thus at maximum cute-itude. We swear, the cubs are like little fuzzy spheres! Look at that teeeeensy paw! Awwwwww!


We actually heard kind of a sad story from an elderly lady on the shuttle that tooled around between "cabins" at our hotel outside the park. They were on some kind of Princess Cruise Lines-style tour, so they'd loaded off one tour bus and onto another tour bus through the park. They had pretty nice looking tour buses too, a lot better than the rickety school bus we rode through the park. Anyways, she explained that they had a video camera on their tour bus, plus a closed-circuit TV. So, when they located critters, they'd train the video camera on it, and you could all sit back on the comfy coach seats and watch animals on the teevee box. Like, you would at home. And then at the end, everybody on the coach got the same picture book. So, you didn't have to like, crane your neck. Or, get out a camera. Or, anything.

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tikistitch
Sep. 16th, 2009 06:46 pm (UTC)
For some of those folks, who had balance and mobility problems, it was, frankly, probably the only way of getting up to the park. Which just convinces me more, if travel is what you really really wanna do, by all means, find a way and get out and do a bunch while you're still young enough to walk and get around ok.
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twotone
Sep. 16th, 2009 06:40 pm (UTC)
Oh god. We had a similar experience on our Antarctica trip. Our final stop was in the Falkland Islands, where we were bussed to a park where we could only walk on regulated paths because there was a field of unexploded mines between us and the beach where the penguins were cavorting. Way, way off in the distance, we could see penguins on the beach... plus there was one penguin near us, hiding under a bush.

The folks from the Princess Cruise Lines-style tour were thrilled. For some, getting to see the penguins in person was incredibly exciting. Meanwhile, the people on *our* cruise had just spent two weeks tromping over snow, within arm's reach of maybe 6 different penguin species.

EDIT TO CLARIFY: This is not to say "neener neener we had a more awesome experience", it's more... damn, that's sad. I'm sure the Princess Cruise Line offered much more in the way of luxury and comfort, but... wildlife!

Edited at 2009-09-16 06:42 pm (UTC)
tikistitch
Sep. 16th, 2009 06:52 pm (UTC)
The Danger UXB tour! Kewl.

Yeah, as I said, tours are probably the only option for many people. But this trip REALLY convinced me, unless we're doing an awesome trip like you guys did (or the polar trip my officemate did) to avoid cruises and tour groups if at all possible.

It was really weird coming into Fairbanks, don't think I've discussed this yet. More than half of the train was entire CARS for the Princess and/or other tour groups. But when we pulled into the station, the last stop, like 8 people got out. We nosed down to look while we were waiting for our shuttle - there's literally a SEPARATE Fairbanks train station for the tour groups, and it was absolute chaos, with multiple tour buses stacked up outside. It's like they're off in their own little world. Guess they've actually built and entire TRAIN STATION in Anchorage, at the airport, just for Princess cruises. Your feet barely need to even touch Alaskan soil to tour Alaska!!
(Deleted comment)
tikistitch
Sep. 16th, 2009 07:57 pm (UTC)
Gus = travel ninja, basically. Usually we're totally into cheapskate travel. (We started doing these insane trips together in grad school, so you can probably guess our budget.) This one, we did have to wait to save up money, since so many places up there that Gus wanted to see you literally can only fly into. One benefit of being old & cranky now is we do have a bit to spare for silliness like watching bears nom salmon. Though, Gus and a buddy saw a huge chunk of Alaska, including Denali and a trip up to the Arctic Circle, on almost *no* money years and years ago.

Think the specific book Gus used most for this particular trip was Rough Guide to Alaska - RG is an amazing series. Putting the dates together then all depended on Katmai - that particular park has a long wait list. Then a lot of internet searching on accomodations and aviation companies and the like.

Then we also kinda lucked out with weather. September is a good time, because fewer mosquitoes but still plenty of daylight. The only horrible day was the pouring rain on the Prince William Sound tour, and then it didn't matter much + not a great tour anyway, so no big loss. But we got a clear view of McKinley, some mindblowing days for flightseeing, and even a break for the Northern Lights show.
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