Day Eighteen: Farewell, Alaska, Hello, Yukon

Warning: More pictures of swans ahead. Why? Because I love watching them, and if I’m watching them, I’m probably shooting pics of them at the same time. I spent more than an hour today, parked by the side of the road in two different locations, watching swans go about their business: feeding, scratching themselves, communicating with each other, swimming, and so on. If I didn’t have 400+ miles to cover today, I think I would have spent more. I may have found my back-up career: swan watcher. Do you know what the entry level pay is for being a swan watcher?

I felt more energized after a good night’s sleep, and got an early start from Tok – the better to have time to waste bird watching. I crossed the border into Canada before noon. I’ve done three international crossings in the last last few weeks, and they are not bad at all. They asked me a few basic questions, I actually gave them straight answers, instead of being my typical smart aleck self, and I was through in less than five minutes. It helps that there aren’t a lot of people crossing the border at that location. There wasn’t another car in sight when I cruised through.

About half a mile past the border, I pulled over to push the buttons necessary so that I once again had internet on my phone in Canada, and when I looked to my left, yes, there were two more trumpeter swans swimming, with a third, looking kind of lonely, swimming by himself clear across the pond. I have pictures of those three, but I won’t post any because I fear I am approaching your tolerance for me posting swan pictures. ๐Ÿ™‚

I spent the rest of the day driving south-southeast on a road I had driven north-northwest a few weeks ago. Driving the same road in a ย different direction, I saw a lot of things I had missed the first time. Perspective is everything.

Again, I am noticing that rivers that were completely frozen over when I passed them two weeks ago, are thawing now:

A few miles down the road, I found another dilapidated old shack that I love. Why am I so attracted to old buildings that are falling apart? No idea, but I am. Maybe I love the idea that they could have just given up and fallen completely apart, but some element of pride keeps them standing as best they can:

I kept my eyes open for wildlife as I drove, hoping to catch a glimpse of movement. As I passed one frozen lake, I would swear I saw a red fox, scampering across the ice. By the time I got the car stopped and backed up to where I could see it again, there was nothing furry in sight. But, there were swans!

By the way, I’ve been calling these trumpeter swans, and they may very well be such, but based on where I am seeing them, they also may be what are known as tundra swans. The trumpeter is larger than the tundra, but seeing them individually, it’s impossible for me to know.

As the miles rolled on, I started to feel a little sentimental. I knew that the towering mountain ranges that have been my constant companions for the last two weeks would soon be only in my rear view mirror. I made myself feel better by constantly stopping and taking more pictures of them while they were still with me.

I try to constantly keep myself open to what I call “happy accidents.” Times when I am looking for one thing, but stumble upon something even cooler, totally by accident. That happened today.

I had stopped by the side of the road to take a photo of a spruce tree that appeared to have a big hairdo on top. I took half a dozen shots of it, then got back in the car and drove off. Here’s a small confession: my eyes are so bad that I can’t actually see what I am taking a picture of. In the lens or on the screen of my camera, they all look completely fuzzy to me. It’s not until I get to my room at night and upload them onto my laptop that I see what I’ve got, if anything. So, tonight, when I looked at the pictures of the hairdo tree, I was surprised to see I had captured another bird. Not sure what it is – maybe a hawk of some sort? If I had known it was there, I would have focused in on it, but it was invisible to me until I looked at the pictures:

I think he could see me much better than I could see him.

When I turned east at Haines Junction, I looked in my rear view mirror and, sure enough, there were the mountains that had first taken my breath away when I saw them two weeks ago. We had a good run together.

Rather than completely backtrack over my original route, I am going to get off of Highway 1 tomorrow and head due south on Highway 37. Several people have told me the road isn’t all that good, but that the wildlife can be spectacular if you get lucky. I’ll trade rough road for a shot at more wildlife anytime.

Cheers, and safe travels!

Shawn

 

10 comments

  1. What a great day! I love the swan pictures btw. I am in awe of those mountains and will see them one day! Hope the rougher road is fun and we get to see more wildlife as a result of your travels. Safe journey.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Will never tire of pictures of swans. And we love the old buildings, because we know they have stories to tell. Have fun, stay safe.

    Like

  3. I, also, like your photo of the old building. I wish the walls could talk to share the stories of who built it? was it a home? who lived there? what happened that it’s now abandoned? Oh my goodness, those shots of the mountains are absolutely gorgeous! Simply breathtaking! Haha about ‘finding’ the bird in the hairdo tree afterwards. Actually, I think it looks like there might be a nest in the middle of the tree with a tuft of feathers showing. Follow the tree trunk up towards the top of the green part of the tree, but stop before the highest clump of green. It looks like there’s a tuft of light grey feathers. What do you think? I’ve enjoyed your Alaskan adventure but I’m excited for you to get back to Dawn soon. Continued safe travels.

    Liked by 1 person

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