Stretching these wings…

What a journey it has been…

I am thrilled to be posting this news! It has been quite a journey to get me back to the studio. As we are all aware, some of the greatest artists in history as well as today, have to put down their brushes and tools to make other important contributions. I am no different. I was fortunate enough to work in a job that I adored with people that I miss every day to help support my family during our transition to the desert. However, even while working a great job, the studio never stopped calling me. I would steal any time I could in my creative space, even if just to meditate and dream. During that time I wanted to reach out to you but mostly felt ashamed that I had nothing creative to share.

During the past few years I have expressed myself creatively in photography. Social Media can be an amazing lifeline in order to keep tethered to a world of expressionism. I utilized my free time visiting with family, hiking in the desert, discovering wildlife, and inhaling the beauty of the Sonoran Desert that I live in. I’m grateful to own a camera that also happens to make cell phone calls. 🙂

Gratefully, I have been given the opportunity to return to my studio. I have a wonderful casita on the other side of our courtyard that has been converted to my studio and gallery. I have been going back through my photographs over the past few years and compiling a body of work that I am excited to complete and share.

If you received this email, it’s because I consider you a friend who has shown interest in my artwork or studio practice. I hope you will choose to continue receiving it each month. Your support during this left brain period has been greatly appreciated! Looking forward to sharing the interesting wildlife that is often seen in my yard as well as the stunning beauty of the Sonoran Desert with you. I have discovered that Scottsdale and Phoenix are amazing places for art and hope to share that with you as well.

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Strelitzia is the name for this exciting new series of work. I came across a large swath of bird of paradise blooms set against a cornflower blue sky a few months ago. My previous palette has been focused on a red/green compliment; however here in the desert the skies feature so many different shades of blue that it’s quite difficult to ignore. The blue against the fire orange petals popping through the bud like popcorn captured my heart and attention. This series will feature 16+ pieces in all, each 12″ x 12″. This first one will be included in the Sonoran Arts League’s Small Works show starting December 1st. As I paint them, I find that each one has it’s own personality that comes through. They currently look like a wall of family portraits and it makes me smile. Upon completion of the series, they will each be framed in dark wood and affordable enough to collect multiples of them to fit your space perfectly!

Sonoran skills…

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…it is gold and rust and sandy with a little pink and both warm and cool greens. The light vacillates between super bright sunlight to hazy upper clouds soft light to orange kissing sunset light. You can see grey in the oddest locations and in shadows browns of the Midwest become blacks in the desert. As an artist, it’s a brand new palette and I’m loving the challenge.

The flowers, while not as varied as other places, are exclamation points to all the greenery. The bright papery bougainvillea can be seen from very far away while the Peruvian apple cacti require an early morning viewing before they close up just after sunrise.

The thing that surprises me the very most here in the desert? How green it is all year long. It may not be green that we walk upon or lay on or roll around on….but instead the green reaches up to the sun. In that it teaches us to sway when things get windy, be planted where you are, bloom all year long, and always reach for the sky!

I am excited to focus on a new body of work while I also return to my beloved dahlias that I am not finished with. Oh, and I’m so happy to still be doing commission work and donated paintings for great causes!

Cheers!

Live ‘out loud’…

These three little words have consumed my mind of late. What does it mean to live ‘out loud’? For me, I believe it involves living one’s true self and shining as you do it.

Now previously and still, I am a firm believer that each of us has a particular path that our life’s journey happens on. Many other people’s paths will interchange with ours for a little while or a long while. Someone’s path may run parallel with ours while others run perpendicular. Some paths we come across may bring us gifts and others we may leave something behind from our path in order to help someone else out. Sometimes we abandon our path all together because life asks something more from us. Regardless of where we stand today, the path of who we are is still there waiting for us to simply recall where it is. The funny thing is when you relocate it, you most often didn’t even know you were off it.

When I moved to Arizona I was excited about my envisioned path to artistic stardom! I was going to come here to the great Southwest, try to summon my beloved Georgia O’Keeffe, and sit in my studio to create a fascinating body of work that would go to galleries and get gobbled up by new collectors. I had done everything I needed to do to prepare for this big artistic moment! I had come out to the desert for years gathering resources of cactus blooms and funky agave portraits. My brightly colored artwork was going to make a big splash here and finally I was going to artistically belong.

“the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry” – Robert Burns

The only thing that occurred in my big vision is that I moved to Arizona. I have a job doing financial work for a company I love but never even knew existed. Every artist grieves when they have to get a ‘real job’ because it always seems a step further away from our dreams. I try and get into my studio once a week to keep these creative juices from drying up. For some time, I must admit I was existing in the shadows of embarrassment that I was no longer who I wanted to be, but instead was being who I needed to be. I was emotionally drained of who I thought I wanted to be because to try and be an artist who doesn’t make artwork is about the most heartbreaking thing for me to go through.

One of my survival tools to endure this great change is that I try to practice appreciating the details of my experiences. This practice allows me to be still and absorb all that is around me. In the stillness of being, that’s when the good stuff happens. Have you ever walked into a coffee shop that, upon entering, feeds your soul and makes you feel like you have spent a lifetime there already; or met someone that unknowingly reconnects the bonds of who you are with their gentle words or a soul seeing glance, or opened yourself to the colors of a radiant sunset allowing your brain and soul to reconnect in the silence? It’s important to pay attention to these lightning rod moments, for they lead us back to our true paths.

Through this newfound stillness, I have recently been fortunate enough to recognize unique moments when something or someone becomes the key to opening my awareness or becomes the bridge that helps me get back to my true path. I have recently experienced this bridge which has reconnected me with an amazing version of myself that was put away a lifetime ago. Through this connection, I have been able to refamiliarize myself with my young soul that was bold, fearless, light in spirit, and full of curiosity. Thanks to this bridge, I have a sense of belonging that I have not had in the past 21 months here and even longer in life along with the sense that I am back on my true path. I am still tenderly and slowly walking on my path, not having felt it for a long while, and discovering more about myself every day.

For me personally, my path is where the small things lie. My path is not a quick one, instead it is one of discovery and learning. My path is listening to the small details that surround us in nature, acknowledging the vibrations from the things we often don’t see, and sharing my passionate appreciation of it all. On my path; colors are richer, breezes feel sharper, birds fly faster, and I want to dance slower. I have also noticed on my path I walk a little taller, smile a little easier, and hug a little harder. It’s as if all these great parts of me were strewn along the path when I walked off it, but I am grateful to reconnect with them.

I believe in this reflection, for me, living life “out loud” is celebrating every nuance that surrounds me in a moment and realizing how I was meant to be right here, right now.

My 2015 wish for you…

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Happy 2015!

I have a wish for you….

I wish you to see the beauty in all things – large things and small things.
I wish you to embrace the idea of silly and strive to be it often!
I wish you to start a conversation with an artist (it may seem scary but we love it!).
I wish you to buy an original piece of artwork that you love (and the story with it).
I wish you to see the world with the wonderment of a child’s eye.
I wish you more laughter and love than you can handle!
I wish you whimsy!

These are all things I try myself to strive for each and every year; some years it’s easier than others. Thank you for being on this journey with me this past year and I’m looking forward to better embracing my artistic whimsy this coming year!

Photos from sea…

My last Alaska post makes me melancholy. It was so great to share and relive this trip through this blog!

I found, after all the destination images and text, there was a large cache of images that were just taken “at sea” while our ship cut through the multicolored waters – in and out of mist and fog and sunshine.  We traveled often during the crazy long daylight hours and the sunsets every evening were forever imprinted in our hearts.  Below are some of the amazing images we captured, although it should be noted that photos can never really capture the magic of the visions we were treated to.

First are photos of the incredible mountainous islands. There is much deforestation taking place, however all trees that are removed are replaced with new seedings giving the two very different shades of green. The trees that are being cut down look as though they are over 100′ tall with only about 20′ of branches on the top. The forests are so thick that nothing grows under the canopy. Logs are piled up and then shipped on the water by tugboats.

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There were many inlets along the way and I wish I had a small boat to check them all out! Although it was clear and sunny, I could not get over the atmosphere magic that created some of the most amazing images.

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I captured some of the most interesting images that were just located in the water…the color of the sky reflecting in it and the movement from our ship making such amazing patterns.

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And then there are the sunsets…..and we actually saw the majestic purple mountains sung about in America the Beautiful!

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Each evening, during what seemed like a magic hour, the sunlight would be strong enough to push through the clouds. These rays of light reminded me of what I imagine the reactions were when Nikola Tesla first lit up the Chicago sky during the World’s Columbia Exposition in 1893. You’ll see what I mean…

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We were also treated to the occasional visit from water friends! We saw whales and dolphins!

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But I think my favorite night, sitting watching the captivating sunsets, was our last evening at sea. The outdoor movie theater on the ship (which we never made it to because nighttime was quite chilly and breezy) was showing a Pavarotti concert. We could not see the screen from our balcony, but we could hear that amazing voice! Pavarotti playing in the background, the ocean breezes on our face, the sun just hovering over the horizon with boats heading home for the night, and lastly a full moon coming up in the other direction made for the most sublime evening. Yep…Alaska was my Eden.

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Thank you for coming along on my spiritual journey. It was the trip of a lifetime and I was so grateful to spend the time with my parents and husband. I appreciate their willingness to stop and wait as I snapped photos. They were so patient with me. I learned so much about photography and I have a much better understanding for their passion to capture what their eyes see. I also understand their ambitious yearning to share their intimate secret moments with the world. There is an intimacy between the camera and the photographer and I hope that you all share in that solitude moment when you have viewed these images. If you ever get the chance to go to Alaska…I hope that you will do so. It is truly magical and I hope to get back there again!

 

Juneau

When we arrived in Juneau, we were continuing on our misty cloudy days. It was damp and cool but really not uncomfortable at all. Juneau…you can only get into and out of Juneau by boat or plane. Who knew?? When we first pulled in I could not believe how many boats there were. After learning about the only way in and out, it makes perfect sense!

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We were originally planning to take a helicopter to Mendenhall Glacier on this day, but the fog was way too low for the ‘copters to fly so we wound up taking a bus to the glacier but we would no longer be able to stand on it. Sigh. First, we trammed out way up to Mt. Roberts!

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We measured our wing spans, saw eagles, watched a totem be carved, and learned about the signs that are carved in the trees around the area. The particular native sign on the tree below asks viewers to stop and find the reason why this place is so special.

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After Mt. Roberts we boarded a bus to head to Mendenhall! This was a must-see stop! Juneau is the governmental capital of Alaska although there is rumors amongst the locals that they may transfer this back to Anchorage. There is fear by the people of Juneau because it may then ruin the city of Juneau if most of their population leaves town.

Mendenhall Glacier is currently retreating and it was about 60 degrees when we were there. It was such a beautiful place!

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Onto our last port….Ketchikan!

 

 

Glacier Bay National Park….my own personal mecca!

This post may require grabbing a cup of coffee.  There will be a lot of images and each one is worthy of a significant amount of your time. This place is beyond words and each word I type shows me how insignificant language is for this hallowed place. If I had seen this place as a child, I would be working there as a Ranger protecting it with a ferocious passion. Here we go…

Towards the end of this year I will turn 50. Therefore it’s of no surprise that I have been longing for a spiritual adventure. With family in the southwest, I had always imagined it would come somewhere on a mountain hike there or perhaps New Mexico via my artwork. Never in my life had I imagined it would take place in Alaska! Alaska….really….Alaska!  I cannot recall the last time I was so “in” the moment before Glacier Bay National Park. This time I was filled with electricity. I had a narrative playing on the television in our cabin and I was hopping in and out of the balcony door like a small child jumping on the stairway gate on Christmas morning. I could not sit still! At breakfast I was anxious and eager to get back to the balcony and when looking outside it looked the mists of Avalon and the water was eerily still as it swished along our bow.

Here is the imagery that made me run back to my balcony! Something really great was coming into our view….

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As we entered the park, we were treated by otters!

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As we moved into the park we were treated to the vision of a sea of ice….and waterfalls….and interesting inlets.  Even what looked like a very small sailboat. Imagine what an adventure THAT would be!

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Something interesting I learned during this adventure was the way the Rangers take care of the park. In order for our ship to enter into Glacier Bay National Park, we had to allow park security personnel to board our ship to assure them we were ready. In order to be “ready” the ship had to stow away all disposable products. All paper napkins, straws, coffee stirrers, tissues…anything that could possibly be blown into the water area had to be put out of sight. The personnel also stayed aboard our ship until we were leaving the park and then they would transfer back on to their own boats in the water. Our ship was also guided by security boats creating invisible ropes in which we had to stay. As the ship turned into the bay, my eyes and my heart synced together in the most magical of moments. Enjoy the images….

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Just when I thought it could not get any better….it did!  We were idling alongside this huge glacier and everything was so very quiet. There were no voices…no motor sounds…no birds or bugs…just peace. Then out of the blue we heard a loud thunderous CRACK and I was scanning the glacier with my camera lens…it was calving!!!

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As the ship continued on its journey through the park…and I was speechless and not wanting time to move forward for one moment…I just wanted to stay in this moment)…we came around to this amazing glacial cave.

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Then I realized how difficult it was to show the scale of this cave…good thing there was a boat nearby!

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As we left Glacier Bay National Park, we were treated to more ice in the water. I was so taken aback by these images and felt compelled to capture their shapes along with the various shades the water kept turning in the Park. The water in Alaska is so interesting. The water was constantly changing from deep blues to Caribbean aqua to minty greens to almost brown.

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But all there was to see was not necessarily water.  As excited as I was to see glaciers, I was also very aware of their fragility and the sadness I feel when I think they are something that may eventually leave. I believe nothing depicts the violence of the creation and extinction of this area as some of the rocks that were jutting out of the water. These images show the scarring that occurred in the development of this place.

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On our way out of the park, we were again greeted by the wildlife that are so lucky to call this home!

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I really did not want to leave this place! Although I know we have wonderful things planned for our stops in Skagway, Juneau, and Ketchikan…I could have stayed here for a lifetime.

Glacier! Another glacier! No wait…it may be the same glacier.

Who hasn’t seen the photo of a glacier or a National Geographic show featuring glaciers or wondered about glaciers?  They are cold and blue, but for some reason I didn’t really realize how big, cold, and blue they were!  Silly, I know. While at sea we drifted (because you don’t really speedboat your way past these magnificent landmarks) by Hubbard Glacier! It’s currently an advancing glacier that is over 600′ tall!

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Along with amazing colors, the most fascinating part for me was to see all the various layers within the glacial ice itself.

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I have never felt so one with nature before. It was so easy to breathe and it was comforting to see these. It wasn’t exciting and I wasn’t anxious or jumping up and down. I was humbled, in awe, afraid to speak, respectful and knowing immediately that I would miss these sights as soon as I had passed them. The water around us was littered with ice chunks as well. You would have thought it was cold outside…it was chilly…but tolerable with a light jacket and sweater. The colors are simply breathtaking and the sizes of these are remarkable.

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I cannot wait until we get into Glacier Bay National Park!

Gold!

Skagway, Alaska is the gateway to the Klondike!  There are less than 1000 people who live in Skagway and it’s an extremely popular port for cruise ships.  When we awoke in the morning and I looked out the window this is what I saw….

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The narrow port is all rocks on one side and I loved that they have all been decorated with various cruise ship lines and organizations and individuals. Although I have no idea how they got up so high to do this!  Collectively it was cool!

In town is this amazing building created for the Arctic Brotherhood. The AB was created in 1899 as a membership organization for those who were looking for gold in the Klondike along the Chilkoot pass. It was created following the arrival of the “City of Seattle” ocean steamer.  The facade of the building is made completely out of pieces of driftwood.  So cool!

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Our adventure in Skagway was to take a bus up to Frasier, British Columbia and then take the White Pass and Yukon Rail back down to Skagway. This railway was built against all odds due to the narrow ledges upon which it is built as well as the equipment challenges when it was built in 1901. It climbs almost 3000 feet in 20 miles and is flanked with cliffs on one side almost continuously.

On our way to Frasier, BC we passed along this amazing waterfall, Bridal Veil and other wonderful images!

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Upon arrival into Frasier we transferred onto the train!  During our tour, our guide inquired if it was Tuesday. We answered that it was indeed Tuesday and she became slightly panicked because groceries were only delivered to the ONE town grocery store on Tuesdays only and if you don’t get there right away you risk not having any groceries for the week.  Can you imagine???  Our train ride through the valley along the cliffs was incredibly beautiful.  During the gold rush days, each adventurer had to carry 2000 pounds of gear over the mountain in order to reach the gold. Imagine….

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Along the route, the tour guide snagged me and took me out between the rail cars.  She told me that there was something special coming up.  It is an old storage area from the late 1800’s where the rail construction crews used to store the explosives. It’s hard to see after July 1st because the plants get too tall. So thrilled that I caught this old relic!

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Such an amazing day of adventure!  We didn’t get a chance to get any gold though. Sigh….  Next stop..Juneau!

 

 

 

 

Denali National Park….breathtaking.

I used to think Eden would be more like the Caribbean or a tropical island somewhere. I thought it surely lush with tropical plants having gigantic leaves and palm fronds and lipid pools of aqua colored water. The only problem with that thought is you never see the larger overall image of that place because of the thick vegetation. Now, take a place like Denali National Park…wow..now that is what I believe Eden looked like.  In fact, these days I watch Alaskan reality shows with an inclusive sense of humor and the other night an Alaskan gentleman closed out the show by stating that Alaska is where God goes to vacation.  Of course the show was being filed in the winter and I’m not sure if or why anyone would vacation there in the winter….but I definitely think Eden could be located in Alaska.

We took another “coach” to the Princess Denali Lodge. I need to premise this post by saying that our group of 27 with our fearless leader, Bruce, have just enjoyed 3 extremely sublime days at the McKinley lodge in the sunshine while staring lovingly into that rock, Denali. We danced, laughed, sang, made s’mores, listened to music, hiked, snapped countless photos, and ate great food. We were feeling very happy and satisfied!

During our coach ride and our approach to the Denali Lodge, life for us changed. It was now cloudy, misty, and cold! Bruce did a great job narrating the terrain we were passing by and we stopped to take some amazing photographs of lakes, mountains, our first glacier (photo #4) and even an abandoned igloo alongside the highway.

When we arrived at the lodge, the weather was dreary! As we walked through the lodge the other tourists who were swapping out lodges with us looked so unhappy. Upon questioning a staff member as to why; we were informed it was because their previous 3 days at the lodge had been filled with cold and clouds and the dreaded rain. Oh no….was this to be our fate as well? It was as if someone turned the lights out at our party. We all stumbled around for our bearings and grabbed a bite to eat. We dug our warmer sweaters and pants out of our suitcases and wandered around the lodge. Some of us even wished we could go back to McKinley!

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Shortly after lunch and hiking, the sunshine started to emerge! By dinnertime our McKinley weather had arrived at Denali! That evening we enjoyed a theater production of the Music of Denali in which my mother was asked to be a participating character named Fanny. We all had a great time laughing and singing along! Throughout the remainder of the trip, my mother would continue to be comically referred to as Fanny by others in our group.

The next morning we met bright and early for our tour of Denali National Park and once again the bets were on whether or not I would be moved to tears.  This time we were on an old school bus, but it wasn’t any ordinary school bus. This one was equipped with an expert tour guide to show us the land. Denali National Park doesn’t allow vehicles to drive through it with two exceptions. Guided tour buses and shuttle buses who will take hikers in and out of various areas of the park.  Denali National Park consists of SIX MILLION acres of land..thankfully there are shuttles.  We were instructed on the spotting of wild animals and told to call them out so we can collectively stop and view them all! Our tour bus driver even came equipped with a fabulous hat-cam to show us animals on bus monitors that looked like specks to us. The skies were blue and the sun was blaring…great viewing conditions for animals but for me that would not be the highlight of my day! We did get to see moose, caribou, dall sheep, golden bears, and more caribou!

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There was even a spotting of the elusive hubby showing off his antlers! Along with the amazing animals, there are these very cool mudflats that I imagine have much more water in them during a rainy period. I just find the winding ribbons of water to be fascinating!

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For me the landscape was amazing. There is a diversity of land there. Our bus tour went up considerably in elevation the farther into Denali National Park we went. The trees and vegetation at the park entrance is lush and tall and the moose can easily hide in it. However, as we approached the 60 mile mark into the park, the vegetation was now less than a foot tall and most of the flowers were at ground level. This is because at the higher altitudes there, the growing season becomes extremely shortened and therefore plants become more efficient in their reproductive cycles.  Our bus came to a stop at mile 67 and it was our last stop before heading back out. We all stepped out into the tundra to the most breathtaking views!

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But the most amazing view of all was my mountain!  Day two and we got the most spectacular view of Denali ever!  There was nary a cloud around it!!  According to our tour guide, our group was now part of the 10% club because we have had clear days on both sides of the mountain! Such a gorgeous day!  Here is my mountain….DENALI!

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On our way back, and forgive the photo that was taken through the front window of the bus, we were greeted by caribou in the roadway. Thankfully they veered off so we could continue on our way. In Denali National Park…animals always have the right of way…I think they know it too!

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After our exhausting day in the National Park it was time for Happy Hour at the lodge. We would be having to repack for our train ride to Whittier bright and early in the morning.  While looking over the Nenana river winding around our lodge, we noticed that one of the 3 rafts riding the rapids had tipped over. It was a very intense few minutes as all we could do was watch them try to recover. There were seagulls-a-plenty and they were rather bawdy too!

One of the servers shared a story with us from a few years ago. Across the Nenana river is a hiking trail and there was a hiker walking along the river. The people on the outside patio of the restaurant noticed a bear also on the trail a few hundred yards behind the hiker. They yelled to the hiker but because of the rushing water sound and the distance they were unable to get the attention of the hiker. Thinking they are surely going to witness something horrific, they were happily surprised when the bear lost interest and turned around. Whew!

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The view from the resort was amazing…but it’s time to head to the ship!

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