"I'm going to speak my mind because I have nothing to lose."--S.I. Hayakawa

Saturday, October 10, 2015

The Fur and Feathers Journals, Ch. 14, In Which We Say Goodbye and Take One Last Stealth Photo of Gorgeous Brian

My bags are packed,
I’m ready to go…

No.   No, I’m not.   I’d like to stay here at Silver Salmon Creek for the rest of the summer and until they close down for the winter in mid-September.   Then, I’d like to come back in the spring when they open and stay that season too.   I’d like to live here.

A Coastal Brown bear fishing the creek with Silver Salmon Creek Lodge in the background.

I try to think how I could make myself useful to earn my room and board, but they have it handled with an excellent staff.  My bags are packed, though, and I am prepared to go, but unwillingly. 

We who are leaving today are gathered on the lawn, waiting for the Cessna 180 and the DeHaviland Beaver  to arrive with new guests who will move into our cabins, sleep in our beds, and visit with our bears and puffins.  We take group photos.

L-R:  Owner Joanne Coray, me, Lynda, Andy, Ken, Gary, Kate, Rick, Michele, and Ron.

With Rick and Ron

I look out over the grassy meadow towards Cook Inlet and think about all the places I’ve traveled to and the things I’ve done in the last ten years.  Holding the skirt of a hot air balloon as the pilot inflates it and then soaring high above the Australian Outback at dawn.   A third-row seat at the Spanish Riding School in Vienna and petting the incredibly sweet lippizaner stallions, mares, and foals at the stud farm in Piber, Austria, and feeding them the peppermint candies they love.

Zip-lining over the gorge at Victoria Falls in Zimbabe.   Climbing to the top floor of the Potola Palace in Tibet.  Riding elephants in India and Zimbabwe.  Riding a camel in the Outback.  Hiking the slot canyons and washes in northern Arizona.  

Riding small river boats through the inlands waterways of Russia, the Yangtze River to Three Gorges Dam in China through a haze of smog, and a week on the sacred Ganges River in India.  Surviving a ferocious storm with 55 foot waves in the Southern Ocean near South Georgia.  Surviving a young bull elephant’s temper tantrum in Botswana.

So many places, so many adventures.  And yet, I think as I look out over that green meadow where I have seen so many Coastal Brown bears, this—this right here—is what I’ve been missing.  The Alaskan wilderness. 

And the bears?   Oh, my word.  I never, never thought I would be so close to these dangerous predators and not be terrified.   How could this be?   How could these wild animals, notorious for attacking and feeding upon humans, approach so close?

"These are fifth and sixth generation bears," explains Rick.  "They are habituated to humans."   I think about how careful the guides are to keep us in a group, make sure we don't block a bear's path, stay silent and still.   

And, in answer to something I'd been wondering about, in a move that would do a Secret Service agent proud, I've seen Rick move in front of us when a placid bear seemed to want to amble through the middle of us.   My encounter with Old Sow excepted.

Then the first plane buzzes the lodge.   The guys start the ATVs and take us and our bags to the beach where the plane has already landed.

One last stealth photo of Gorgeous Brian for the gals.   He was teased unmercifully about his hair  by the guys.  "Watch," said Rick one day.  "He can't go ten seconds without touching his hair."   And Brian hammed it up.

Goodbyes are said; everyone hugs their new friends.

Ron and Cody, with a new guest in the ATV trailer.

The Beaver.

Jacob the pilot.

The two with airline connections to make in Anchorage go with Tim in the Cessna.   The rest of us load up in the slower Beaver.   Soon, we’re aloft, and much, much higher in this beautiful weather than the trip down in a low overcast with rain.

We pass Duck Island and the puffins.  Pilot Jacob crosses the Inlet at 5000 feet and flies along the eastern shore of the inlet.

Duck Island at low, low tide.

Anchorage.   Lake Hood is at upper left, just beyond the runways for Anchorage's international airport.

Then, we land at the Lake Hood strip and when the Beaver stops, I try to figure out how to get out of this seat belt.

These photos aren't real sharp because I'm photographing them through the Beaver's windows and the spinning prop,  and dealing with reflections.

It’s all over now but for more goodbyes and hugs.

I retrieve my truck from the parking area, load my bags, and head for home.

*PS:  I took two cans of Coke Zero with me to Silver Salmon Creek, one of which is shown in the photo bar at the top of this post.  Coke has been labeling its cans with names and various words  like "superfan" or other such things.   I thought the one at the top of this post was appropriate for me.

(One more chapter and photos to come.)

 Important preparations for the bonfire on our last night.

 The hardcore stay up late into the night, waiting for the meteor shower that is expected.

Owner David at left, Rick, Gary, and Andy.

Ken and Ron, Lynda,  and ???

 I was not among the hardcore meteor watchers.   As I walked to my cabin, many of the staff and what appeared to be staff from the nearby Homestead lodge were gathering with guitars and more beverages.


  1. In the next to the last photo showing David, the owner ... David looks a LOT like Jay Hammond in that picture! I got a little choked up as you were showing and describing your
    preparations to leave ... after such an incredible experience, bonding with the people, the bears, the puffins, the wilderness. Sometimes I tend to forget just how close we always are
    to the wilds, the wilderness here in Alaska. You've brought back my perspective, royally!! Thanks for the final shot of Brian ... he's delicious!!! Patti and (in Mongolia) Cap

  2. P.S. Your travels and experiences in the past ten years leave me in complete awe ... my friend Jeanne ... World Traveler ... Hugs. Patti

  3. Odd .. Patti said this post was up and published. But it took me some time for it to show up here in Mongolia. I did refresh after refresh. I went out and came back in. FINALLY here it is. I thought "Oh No. Gullible is commercializing her web site with the Coca-Cola advertisement at the top." Happy to see that this is NOT the case. Love the DE HAVILLAND Beavers. LOVED the photo of the DE HAVILLAND dashboard. What mystic they have. The carcasses of the old trucks IS Alaska. Scenes like this ABOUND in the state. It is worse in the bush communities. In the last photo just before your seat belt photo .. It looked like you were about to land on an aircraft carrier as you were coming into Lake Hood. I read about your loving Silver Salmon Creek. I am feeling the same feelings about Mongolia. However .. ' sanity will return ' and I will move on. Much Joy .. Cap and Patti ..

    1. It does look like a carrier with that wing off to the right. Hadn't noticed that before.

    2. Good thing those old Jeeps get more picturesque as they age.