19 Aug 2015--Got here 3 days ago, so this is a 2 day blog wrapped in one. Saving one more in the hope that we will get a grizzly to share. haha Just to whet your appetites, I am putting this picture up first...more to come on that, and bears, further down. Haha
Before animal hunting, we spent some time going around the little town of Stewart, British Columbia and then over the border to Hyder, AK, an even smaller town than Stewart.
This is the Stewart Elementary School...notice that it has a beautiful background, but you have to hope that whoever hung the basketball goal under the carport is not one of the teachers. haha
Stewart has all of about 400 people, while Hyder, as best anyone knows, has somewhere between 65 and 100! Stewart has the grocery stores, health care and doctors, gas station, police force, high school, jobs and even border patrol...Hyder has NONE of ANY of those things!!!
Stewart has the museum, too, and includes a little on Hyder...all of these movies were made in this area.
I just included these so you could see the size difference between a juvenile eagle and hawk, and then a grizzly compared to a black bear.
Somewhere along about 1969 this part of the world had a horrible earthquake, that actually made the roads better in Hyder. Until then, when there was high tide the streets flooded, and with low tide came massive mud holes. Check out pics 2 and 3 and ask yourself why on earth you would ever choose to live here?
They had the standard "oldie" furniture, but I liked this baby basket...look at the mattress, a term I use loosely. And this old phone...we haven't seen one like that before.
I laughed out loud at these pics and this doll. The 1st is a picture of school kids from 1911, and the 2nd is a close-up of those kids. The little girl on the right with the big bow is clearly over-matched by that bow, and the older girl on the left has no business whatsoever wearing either the bow or that dress! The baby doll on display is hoping to get in on the bow action, and check out her boots! Too cool for school!!! haha (And could possibly scare the children, too!)
This horseshoe doesn't look the least bit comfortable, and this courtroom is still used by the town today for civil cases. Notice the rifles on the table in the 2nd pic...I guess those are there if I am caught lying when I testify. Haha
A quick ride around Stewart shows that they have the latest videos...hmm?...videos? No DVDs here yet!! haha And then we have a few buildings from the walking tour. The big building is the 1st hotel built here during their "false" gold rush, while shown in the 2nd pic is the actual house built by one of the three original settlers of Stewart along with the old firehouse.
Ok, we are just warming up here, but across from the video store they have an estuary with a long boardwalk. We didn't go far into it, but we did see this bird that we think is some type of Kestrel...anyone know what it is for sure?
Further along in Stewart is this small business that actually has a 'toaster museum' inside, and the owner keeps his two old cars outside as an attraction, I guess. Then we have log steps to the boathouse...they are tied together with rope. Not feeling too secure there, huh?
Mining and logging are the 2 big job producers here in Stewart followed by tourism, so it only makes sense that they would have a "Yacht Club"! This caused me to have Cathy slam on the brakes...Look at the 'yachts', and the delusional 'tug boat'...is that too funny, or what? It looks like something you put in the bathtub with your kid...delusions of grandeur, eh?!
Now into Hyder, where they even brag about being a ghost town. haha I guess they are making fun of the Canadians by putting that sign up like they are East Berlin and communists or something in the 3rd pic...but all I know is that if I had to live in this area, I would want to be on the "commie" side cause they have jobs, health care and actual doctors, and some modern housing. haha
We honestly think there are some 1st class weirdos in Hyder...off the grid types, if you know what I mean. We talked to one old-timer, a Vietnam vet, who said they have no mining or logging in Hyder, they have one school teacher for 1st to 8th grades and that the high school kids have to do correspondence courses, and that mostly people do odd jobs to have some income.
Cathy is standing at the marker where the countries are divided...remember, I said there are no US Border Patrol here...to get here you have to come in through Canada, so there are only Canadian Border Guards checking who is coming back towards them.
Ok, so now Cathy and I are headed to the area of Hyder famously known for it's salmon and grizzly bear population. Riding along the area between the border and the bear watch bridge is a waterway that is beautiful. Lots of eagles fishing and raising their young. In the 4th and 5th pics here I zero in on a bald eagle, with a close-up shown in pic 6.
Now we at the bear watch bridge, where there are loads of people herded onto this bridge overlooking the stream that is teeming with spawning, dying and dead salmon.
Here you can see the salmon coming up stream pretty good.
And here you can see a few of them trying to make a "bed' to lay their eggs, and others that have "fulfilled their mission" you could say. haha With all the dead fish, this area will initially take your breath away it smells so bad!
So we didn't see any grizzlies yet, but over the 1st couple days we saw so many eagles we stopped counting. The best thing is that we have seen adults, juveniles, and even babies. This 1st one initially looks like a full-blown adult, but upon blowing up the pic you can still see specks of brown on her head, so I am guessing between 3 and 4 yrs old (see, I have become an expert--haha). A juvenile in pic 2 followed by an adult and her baby, very well camouflaged on the same tree but below her in pic 3.
Here is another juvenile atop the tree, while we have the whole family in the 2nd picture. The 1st mother/baby shot above we got on the way out to the bears, and then several hours later caught what I am assuming is the father in the same spot as mom and baby.
And then we have 2 and even 3 adult eagles in the trees. And then more close-ups of this beautiful adult.
And 2 different juveniles hanging out or fishing!
Riding around on our 2nd day here we came upon a black bear going through the bushes on the side of the road.
These 2 pics look almost identical, but in the 2nd he has his mouth open as he looks at us looking at him. After he left I measured the distance between us as best I could, and I would put it at about 35 feet. It is amazing how close you will actually get to these beasts...you think you wouldn't, but you become so mesmerized by them it is only after the fact that you think maybe you should have been more cautious. haha
You can't tell at first what he is actually doing in those bushes, but a close-up of the bushes reveals that in the 2nd pic he is eating lots of lots of blueberries.
I loved how he kept looking out to see what all of us were doing on the side of the road.
Invariably, someone from the local area who is used to seeing bears comes riding along and impatiently disrupts the magic. So we got really good shots and even video here, but this bear was through entertaining us.
Later in the day we headed back out to the area where everyone goes to see the grizzlies, but instead of going to the large gathering spot we went to a trail area on the other side of the road. We had to walk through some thick woods for less than a quarter mile to get to the spot we were told about, and we went in with a couple from Michigan that we had met before, but I was a little nervous seeing as that we knew for sure there were lots of bears in the area. haha
Cathy is talking to the woman from Michigan, and then there is a young couple that was out there from New Zealand. We didn't see any grizzlies again, but the young kids were quite interesting. They are only 25 and 26 yrs old, but they basically work for only as long as they have to in order to get enough money to travel. They have spent time in Asia, America, South America, Canada...and I mean lots of time...9 months in Asia, including China, and 3 months so far on this trip...my hat is off to them! Wish I had known enough to do that at their age.
We saw a couple more black bears that day...at the town dump...but we didn't like seeing them there.
Two more days to go before the Alaska leg of our trip is over, but we are holding out hope of seeing some grizzlies here before we leave...we're pretty sure this is our last, best hope...so fingers crossed everyone!!!