Two days at Seward left us speechless. We viewed several species of marine and land animals and never imagined that wildlife viewing could be so incredible. Reflecting back on our day over a breakfast of biscuits and gravy with reindeer sausage, we realized that the safari had just begun. Afterward, we loaded up the camper and headed to the world's most amazing salmon fishing grounds, the Kenai River.
The river was loaded with spawning red salmon--as well as fishermen and huge RVs. To avoid the crowds, we decided to head to Homer instead. We hoped we would make the silver-salmon run on our return trip to Denali, after the crowds had left for the Lower 48.
We settled into the Homer Spit Campground, where the "Eagle Lady" has spent the last 30 years taking care of the local bald eagle population, encouraging the birds to roost on her antiquated maze of dilapidated trailers. The views from the campground were stupendous, encompassing huge glaciers and the mountain ranges of Kachemak Bay State Park. The sunsets seen from the spit rivaled any over our lanai in Kona.
The following morning, we booked a flight on Bald Mountain Air. The float-plane adventure took us 150 miles from Homer, across the Cook Inlet to Katmai National Park. Maneuvering the De Havilland Beaver into Geographic Harbor, our guide and pilot Gary Porter pointed out 18 grizzly bears in the creek below. The plane glided to a perfect landing and motored to the buoy next to the skiff. We climbed aboard the aluminum boat and beached it when we reached shore. From the beach, we hiked a quarter-mile to the edge of the creek, sat on the bank, and watched grizzly bears devour salmon from 30 feet away, determining that these intimidating carnivores weren't at all fazed by our invasion of their privacy--but the circumstances may have been different without the presence of all those salmon.
Leaving Homer, we headed north to Talkeetna. This tiny village, one of the best examples of traditional culture in Alaska, is the stopping-off point for many world-class mountaineers attempting to summit Denali (Mt. McKinley), North America's highest peak at 20,320 feet.