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Thursday, June 27, 2019

Bears, bears, everywhere bears!

Tuesday we drove from Seward to Homer and had a delay of about a half hour due to the wild fire west of Cooper Landing along the Sterling Highway.  As we drove up to where the delays started the young lady was just dragging the barricade across the road!  After watching a few locals turn around we were the first vehicle in line to be escorted by the pilot car through the road construction and the smoke.  The smoke was not too bad and the road construction was typical of what we have experienced in Alaska.

We were able to snag a waterfront site right on the Cook Inlet at Mariner Park on the Homer Spit.  It is very windy on the beach, we watched several kite surfers having fun.  There is a deepwater port further down the spit where the cruise ships dock.  We watched one heading out Tuesday night and another one coming in Wednesday morning.
Our coach about in the middle of the others.

It was finally time for our Alaska Bear Flightseeing Trip on Wednesday!  We met our guide, Mark, with Bearfoot Tours at the Homer Airport after lunch.  We knew we would be a small group, he only takes a max of 4 people with him as pilot.  What we didn’t know was the other two passengers with us were a newlywed couple and he is a pilot for a cargo airline flying a 737 and she is an Airline Stewardess for Alaska Air.  So we were well taken care of.

We left the airport with low clouds but quickly climbed up above them.  It was a nice smooth flight along Kachemak Bay and Cook Inlet.  We flew across the Cook Inlet and along the beach in search of Brown Bears (Grizzly Bears).  Before long we began to spot several along the beach and our trusty pilot made a smooth beach landing.  Out we all climbed from the plane, grabbed our jackets, cameras and binoculars and off we went down the beach.  Before long we spotted a couple of large male bears in the water digging for clams.  Our guide was armed and ready in case any bear began approaching us.  He has done this for many years and knows the behavior to watch for.

Then on we walked into the grass away from the water.  Just over the berm were several Mama bears and their cubs!  There was a Mama and her triplets to our left.  A Mama and her twins directly in front of us on the edge of a pond.  A Mama and her baby just to our right.  There were Mamas and their yearlings across the pond from us.  There were other female bears here there and everywhere within sight.  At one point we counted over 30 bears within our sight at one time.  AMAZING!  We were able to observe these bears in their natural habitat.  It was so interesting to watch them as Mama grazed and the babies played.  We found out that bears are not social, they each have their own space.  If one bear begins to walk closer to another bear, she will usually just move away.  We watched the baby bears playing but they would not play with the other bears except for their own siblings.

At one point we saw the Mama bear with the twins move away and on up the rocks into a wooded area.  Our guide told us she was moving to a cool place to nurse her cubs.  While we were watching her and the cubs move up we spotted another lone female coming up from the grassy area where they had been.  There was another group of tourists sitting where we had been standing and this bear walked almost all the way up to them, within 10 feet.  We were amazed at how close she came to them and then just kept moving along to the beach into the water.

We walked further up the beach and to another wooded area overlooking a meadow.  We spotted and watched about another dozen or so bears there.  We did not see any cubs in this meadow.

On our flight back we flew over a volcano.  It was a beautiful sight to see.  There were slides of lava and so much snow on top of the volcano.  We could see two areas where the volcano was steaming.

It was a fabulous 4 1/2 hour trip!  We can now check off another item on our wish list.  YES, we saw the Grizzly Bears in their natural habitat.  Such an awesome sight to see.  We were so close to them.  We did not bother them and they were just fine with us being there.  Thank you, Mark, for a fabulous Bear trip!

Just one more item to check off, the Northern Lights!  But we’ll have to wait until September for that.

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