Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Alaska Review! Day 13--Bird Creek/Girdwood (Part 2)

That other post was getting long, so let's finish up here.

This is Charlie.  He was stationed down by the river to help and impart all sorts of knowledge about panning for gold.  

 You can see all the supplies that are down by the river, if you don't remember to bring them all with you.

Eventually, we figured we weren't going to strike it rich and we headed back to the main street.

On the way back, we checked out the inside of some of the buildings.

 The items here were from an older time than what we saw at Independence Mine.

 That bear on the bed surprised us a little.

 And one last shot of the wedding cake.

We spent about 2 hours at Crow Creek.  Although we didn't find any gold, it was a lot of fun to give it a try.  And the setting was fabulous.

Next stop was Aleyeska.  The day didn't allow for the tram ride, but Chretien is a ski instructor part time in the winter and he wanted to see the resort and mountain.

You can see the bike in the right corner of the photo.  Mountain biking occurs here during the summer.

Then it was time for dinner.  We opted to head back toward the motel, and wound up at:
 The Turnagain Arm Pit BBQ.   We sat outside.  Who can complain about this view, even if the Seward Highway is right.there.
 I got some sort of special tacos.  I don't remember what others got.  Our total bill here was $87.

Then it was back to the motel to pack.  The kids played outside (there is tons of grass, since it's also an RV park) while we managed to cram everything back into our suitcases. 

Everyone is ready to leave Alaska soon!

But not before we had one more day to spend.

Alaska Review! Day 13--Bird Creek/Girdwood

We awoke and put our breakfast together as best we could.  While we had a fridge, we didn't really have full dishes, bowls, etc., to eat cereal.  We used the ceramic coffee cups that were in the room.  This was probably the hardest breakfast, as the room really was just a motel room with no continental breakfast and no full kitchen.  But we managed.

Then we were off.  I had outlined a bunch of things to do in this area here.  This was our last full day in Alaska, although we'd have a bunch of time on Saturday.

Our first stop was the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center.  We had passed this last night and had a preview of the wood bison as we drove by, so we were excited to see them and see who else we could see.  What we didn't realize is that we should have checked the online schedule to better plan our visit (e.g. when the feedings would occur). We arrived, paid at the gate, parked and just started walking without visiting the gift shop/office.  We still enjoyed this a lot, but I figured I'd mention it here.  We paid $35, as we had a free entry with Tour Saver, and the gift shop also gives at 10% discount for AAA, which was nice.

Here we go!

Note that you can either park and walk, or drive around.  We mostly walked, until the very end when we backtracked to watch the bears on our way out.

 We hadn't seen a wolf yet, so this was nice.

 A bit camera shy, but this was a baby bear.  He is kept separated from the adults for now.

 Reindeer.  We've see a lot of you.

 These are trees which were petrified due to the earthquake back in 1964.

 This is Snickers, the porcupine.

Tons of muskoxen.  If we had known we'd see them and the reindeer again here, we probably would have skipped the Large Animal Research Facility in Fairbanks.  It winds up being a bit of a duplication.

Wood bison.  The only herd in the entire US is found here.

But the stars for us (and many others) were the bears.  Both grizzlies and black bears are here.

Sorry for the overload.  You know how it is with bears.  We'd seen them a few times in the wild at Denali and in Seward, but this was great, too.  No need to crop or squint.

 I've seen these painted animals in other cities.  This was fun to see.

As you can see, we are on a bridge of sorts which allows you to walk and watch the bears.  It also spreads everyone out, so everyone can get bear photos unimpeded.

 We did catch the reindeer feeding, purely by luck.

 Pretty lynx.  He's housed right near the gift shop.

 We went into the gift shop.  The boys found slippers that they had seen in Fairbanks but didn't have in their size.  Guess what...they had them in their size here.  Maybe it was meant to be...finding animal foot slippers at the AWCC.

We ate lunch in the car before we left...but then, before we really left, we drove over to see a few more glimpses.
 Got better views of the black bear, and even watched him get fed (although no decent photos of the feeding.)

 This irked me.  This bison is obviously upset and angry, and the folks there were taunting him.  I wouldn't want to mess with this guy, even with a fence.

One last view before we headed out.

We enjoyed AWCC.  We spent about 3 hours there, including the 15 or 20 minutes we ate lunch.

I knew we wouldn't be able to do everything on the list.  But I didn't want the kids to miss out on something I had said we'd do...so...onward to Crow Creek Mine.

This site is lovely in its own right.  So much so that we witnessed wedding set up while we were there.  (That makes two weddings we stumbled upon during our trip.)

The entrance fee for adults to just walk around is $10.  Chretien and I didn't pan for gold.   The entrance fee for kids is nothing, and to pan for gold is $10.  We paid $50 for the entrance fee and gold panning experience for the kids.

You enter and get some instruction. 

You also get a practice stash of gold which has three flakes in it.  There is a huge hot tub of water to practice in.

 There it is!
And you're looking at 1/3 of all the gold we brought home.  (The other two kids also have vials.)  That's it.  But we didn't know that yet (but of course, we suspected that to be the case.)

Practice over!  Time to walk down to the river and try it for real.

Some photos of the main street.

 We'll leave the wedding party alone, but it's always fun to see a bride.

 You should bring the pans and buckets with you, but if you forget, there were some by the river.

Some shots to set the scene.

 These prospectors were already working hard.

So the kids got started:

 Imp really got into it.

 I like her reflection.

 They tried many different locations.

 Don't get excited.  Chretien and Earnest didn't find anything in the above photo.

Meanwhile, Imp looks like he is working really hard.

  The moment of truth:
 Big hot tub near the river, too.

Nah, it was nothing.