Monday, August 30, 2010

A Roadside Yard Sale in Wasilla

Wasilla is a town in Alaska that is probably best known to the American public as being the former mayoral stomping grounds of Sarah Palin.  My family and I briefly drove through it on our way up to Fairbanks.  I can assure you that it's a fairly unremarkable place.  There's a pretty pond, some strip malls and chain restaurants, gas stations... nothing too interesting to see.  However...

We did find an odd flea market/yard sale on the side of the highway.  It mainly consisted of several people selling things out of their vans or pick-up trucks.

My stepmom wanted to stop there to look for a moose pelt (she was unsuccessful).  There were, however, many other pelts to choose from.


My dad befriended this stuffed bear...

While my nephews befriended this man and his adorable husky.

This man and his dog were incredibly kind and sweet and let us hang around and talk to them for a long while.  My dad jokingly asked the man if he could buy his dog off of him.  The man replied that the dog was not for sale - he had originally belonged to his son, who died in combat in Iraq.  

Eventually we wandered around so some of the other sights of this Wasilla roadside flea market thing.





I don't know how indicative all of this was of the typical Wasilla experience.  I do have to say that it was one of the more interesting hours I've ever spent.  And, I can't think of many other places outside of Alaska where you can find people selling bear pelts and swords on the side of the road.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Alaska: A Land of Bears

If there's one thing I found out after going to Alaska, it was...that they have a lot of bears.

Apparently, it's a bad enough problem that someone has invented the bear-proof trash can.

And at any park or campground, you'll see numerous warnings telling you not to leave any food out, so as not to attract the bears.

I must admit, it was a little unnerving sometimes to go down a trail and have to worry about encountering large, potentially dangerous animals.

Luckily, all of my bear encounters in Alaska were of a nice, friendly, cuddly nature.

At zoos and animal reserves...

Or from a very, very safe distance.


However, in case I did have a "bad bear day", I would know exactly what to do. Because of helpful posters like these.


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Reindeer Vs Caribou

You wanna know the difference between a reindeer and a caribou?


It's a trick question, really. Or maybe it's not. I'm sorta confused by trick questions.

(P.S. The picture below was taken shortly before my tiny tiny little nephew was somewhat kicked in the head by that harmless looking reindeer. Don't worry, he's fine.)


According to the woman who worked at the Reindeer Farm in Palmer, Alaska the difference between a reindeer and a caribou is ... a reindeer can fly.


No, really.


A reindeer is simply the domesticated version of a caribou. Since they are domesticated and nice, docile creatures (except for the one that kicked my nephew), they are flown around the world for various reindeer purposes. Usually involving posing as Santa's animal sidekicks come Christmastime. They grow antlers, which are filled with many many blood-vessels and help regulate their body temperature. They shed their antlers every year. Female reindeer, as well as male reindeer, grow antlers. Also they can walk on top of snow. And are unsinkable. See, I learned a lot at the reindeer farm.


Also, that they can get a condition called "antler warts", which are warts...on the antlers. They're disgusting-looking. Apparently you can't really do anything about them except hope that they don't come back after the reindeer sheds his antlers.


This little baby reindeer was orphaned and so the people at the reindeer farm are bottle-feeding her. She was especially friendly.


Also, they let all the kids bottlefeed her. She gulped down the entire bottle in about 2 seconds.

Another awesome thing about the Palmer Reindeer Farm? As well as reindeer, you can also feed elk.


And moose. How very Alaska.


Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Seal A Day...

... keeps the blues away.


Seriously, this harbor seal could save anyone from even the foulest of moods, just be chasing its flipper-tail.



His other seal companion seems less enthused, however, choosing to sleep and ignore Spotty's antics.