lifebeyondexaggeration

What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stranger

Well… That Happened (Or A Night at Casa Bonita) September 13, 2016

 

I’ve had the amazing opportunity, along with camping this summer, to go and visit my mother in her new western home. It was a great trip.

We saw huge and beautiful mountains.

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Found some great animals

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Drank tea, saw flowers, and… went to Casa Bonita.

Yep, that’s right, the Casa Bonita of South Park fame and home of “eatertainment.” It was an experience. (more…)

 

A Mewing in the Night March 12, 2016

I want a kitten. I know I’ve said it a million times before, but damn I want a kitten. I want a kitten who will run up and greet me when I come home, snuggle with me when content edits become too much, and do funny things that will provide blog material for years to come.

Every time I get to the part where I want my cat to run up and greet me, I always get confused stares and, “I think you mean you want a dog. Dogs run up to greet you.”

But I had three cats when I was growing up. Three amazing cats we bottle-fed as kittens. They were indoor/outdoor cats, and when they heard the distinctive rattle of my mother’s car, they would come running to the driveway, weave in and of our legs as we tried to get to the door, and stare at us until we either sat down to cuddle them or fed them.

They would come when we called them, and always wanted attention. They were the best cats ever. And I know finding a cat as loving and amazing as those three were would be neigh on impossible. But that doesn’t stop me from wanting to try.

I’ve been known to ugly cry over cute kittens. Open-mouth ugly cry over Facebook videos of kittens.

But I think I hit a new low a few nights ago. (more…)

 

No Selfie Sticks Allowed September 5, 2015

This summer, I’ve been privileged enough to live and work right outside of Denali National Park. It’s beautiful and amazing, and because of the company I work for, I get six free bus rides into the park.  So at least every other week, I ride the bus into the park with the tourists to see the animals and hopefully catch a glimpse of the mountain. I usually jump off and backcountry hike with my husband, but we’re always on the bus for the rules section.

A lot of the rules make sense, such as be quiet at wildlife sightings. And don’t eat at the rest stops. I mean, people still don’t follow the rules, but it’s easy to see where they come from. But this year there’s been a new rule. Don’t shove your selfie stick out the window at wildlife sightings.

What?

I mean, I get the rule. But did someone really shove a selfie stick out the window at a wild animal? Did the animal bite the selfie stick? I need to know what happened! And I can’t find a damn person who knows the origin of the rule!

And it’s not just Denali that’s killing the selfie stick. Disney has recently banned selfie sticks due to safety concerns in the park. Did someone try to selfie on Splash Mountain? Did some idiot almost become the thousandth ghost at the Haunted Mansion?

I need to know the reason for the rule! It’s driving me crazy!

 

Stuck Between a Bear and Some Sharp Teeth August 20, 2015

So… Megan and I (yeah, she’s letting me write this one. She’s afraid it’ll get blown even more out of proportion by her than it was by the fact that it actually freakin’ happened!) took a hike in the park yesterday. We went early, which is why we’re posting today as opposed to the regularly scheduled Wednesday post. Anyway, we decided that we wanted to hike Cathedral Mountain again. Do you remember that one? That’s where I half-ran after the retreating caribou last year, trying to capture the perfect shot, which eluded me despite my attempts. Have we not told you that story? We’ll save that for another time.

Well, this time, the creek that you have to cross before you get to the actual social trail around the mountain was too high to cross without submerging our hiking boots in freezing cold water (keep in mind that most rivers and streams in Denali are glacially fed, so I mean freezing). We tried for about an hour to find a way to cross, but it was to no avail. So, dejected, we decided to head up to Park Road and decide what to do from there. We had heard that hiking along the actual Park Road was supposed to be lovely, so we chose to hike back towards the park entrance along the narrow dirt road.

We were actually having a lovely time for a while. Seeing the park from that perspective was fascinating. We heard the rumbling of a bus far behind us and turned to see it, stopped with its flashers on, in the spot we had been not five minutes ago.

“What are they looking at?” Megan asked.

We both searched for a few seconds before she spotted this:

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You may have to click on the image and zoom in to see what we were seeing.

I took that photo and zoomed in to see a four-legged canine-looking creature. We were certain that a wolf had just wandered onto the road, and it was walking toward us. We decided it was time to keep heading east toward the park entrance.

We walked along for another ten minutes or so, looking behind frequently to see where the wolf had gone, and then we saw more buses stopped, this time ahead of us.

“What now?” I asked, feeling more than a little apprehensive.

And then we saw it. Less than 200 yards away from us, a grizzly was foraging for berries on the mountain that we had just tried to circumnavigate.

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We didn’t know what to do. There was a wolf behind and a bear in front. We walked back the way we had come, hoping that the bear hadn’t spotted us and hoping that the wolf wasn’t too close. We anxiously awaited a green bus to pull up. We didn’t care which direction it was going, we just needed to get out of the open.

A driver going into the park pulled up, and I flagged him down, telling him that I knew it wasn’t the practice of the park buses to pick up people going into the park but that there was a wolf behind us and a bear in front and we needed on now!

We got on, and not ten seconds later, this came gallivanting around the corner:

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So, it wasn’t a wolf. It was a coyote. Of course we should have known that, because, as one of the incredibly astute passengers next to Megan said, “Wolves never travel alone.” *insert facepalm here* I didn’t care what the hell it was, to be frank. I’m just glad we got on the bus in time to avoid contact with it.

We took the bus up just a little bit and then hitched a ride back to the park entrance on an outbound bus. Upon our exit of the park, we discovered that had we somehow made it past the first bear, there would have been a second grizzly awaiting us just a half-a-mile down the road, so I guess our predicament could have been much worse.

Here’s to the next hike being a bit less eventful. Cheers!

 

Fjords for Me August 15, 2015

My husband is the best! My amazing surprise birthday trip was actually amazing! He took me to Seward, Alaska to see the Kenai Fjords! I didn’t even know what a fjord actually was. I had to Google it! Then we went on an all day cruise to see glaciers up close and saw wonderful wildlife to boot!

But since I seem incapable of staying away from exclamation points and I don’t want to write a 20,000 word blog post to tell you have fantastic the day was, I’ll just leave these pictures here.

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It was just breathtaking and perfect.

Best Birthday Ever!

 

A Monumental Moose July 29, 2015

Filed under: Animal Antics — meganorussell @ 10:00 am
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Remember that time my husband got a bunch of strangers chased by a moose? Oh you don’t? That’s fine, I do. ‘Cause it was yesterday.

There was a big storm predicted for the area, so rather than go on one of our epic adventures we decided to stay closer to home. It’ll be fine, we thought. Much safer, we thought.

We did a little hike where we found a cute little pika and were turned back by a closure for bear activity. And then we went down to the good old lake trail. The one where the elderly tourist go because it’s safe. On our way down, the people going up kept telling us excitedly about how there was a moose at the bottom. We kept responding with how we would be very careful, trying to emphasize to the tourists that moose can be cool, but they can also kill you. A mama moose is the most dangerous animal in Denali Park after all.

We were almost to the bottom when we saw the little moose cross the trail. We backed off to a respectable distance and waited for the mama to follow so we could continue on our way. We kept hiking around the loop. We saw two beavers pulling trees through the lake and then, low and behold, we saw that same mama moose in the water, just chompin’ away at the weird grass at the bottom of the lake.

We had to keep circling the lake to get out, and the plan was to pass quickly and quietly behind the mama and the baby.

But when we got to the other side of the lake, there was a lady videoing the mama and the baby. So then my husband had to get a better picture. This picture: (more…)

 

Waiting for the Wolf July 18, 2015

Guys! I saw a wolf! After three seasons in Denali constantly looking for a wolf, I found one! And by I found one I really mean the car in front of my shuttle bus found one and the people were nice enough to point for us.

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And there he was just lying in th  e empty creek bed. And he didn’t even seem to mind an entire bus of people taking pictures of him. He just sat, moving his head occasionally, enjoying the sunshine. Until one butter butt in a truck behind us decided to get out to take pictures of the wolf! Sir, you don’t stand fifteen feet from a predator! Our bus driver had to tell the guy to leave, and then the wolf was like, “Tourists,” and walked slowly away.

Then we got to see our first marmot! I never even knew they existed in Denali until like an hour before we found this cute little dude. I mean look at that face? Isn’t that adorable?

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Add to that a really great hike, two bull moose a new friendship with a caribou and a bear jaunting through the riverbed, and I call that a solid win!

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It was worth the three seasons’ wait to see my Denali wolf. There’s probably some huge lesson in here about good things coming to those who wait. Or when the time is right, it will happen. But those are lesson I doubt I will ever learn. So, yay for my wolf friend! And now, I want to see a wolverine!

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Can you find Denali in the background?