Personal Journeys

PERSONAL JOURNEYS

May 16, 2004|By Special to the Sun

A Memorable Place

Alaska's mesmerizing grizzlies

By Kate Warner

SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Alaska was a dream vacation for my significant other, Glenn Hopkins, and me.

For about two weeks last summer, we experienced one of the most beautiful and vast wildernesses on earth. Our 49th state was everything we hoped it would be.

We took the Alaska Marine Highway ferry to Skagway, where many gold rushers had set out to seek their fortunes. Then we drove the Golden Circle, a 360-kilometer road to Haines that provides many scenic views and plenty of photo opportunities.

When we arrived in Haines, we saw a sign declaring the area "The Valley of Eagles," and we saw the majestic birds everywhere: on logs in the river, on the tops of trees and soaring above our heads.

We took a drive, and I caught the movement of some large brown animal out of the corner of my eye. I thought it was a moose. We stopped and realized that the animal was a grizzly bear and that she was with her cubs. They were walking slowly through a small stream. What a thrill to experience nature in such a way. The mother bear stopped when she became aware of us and soon disappeared with her family into the brush.

We looked around some more and finally settled into our room at the Halsingland Hotel in historic Fort Seward. This old fort was used during World War II. It was a wonderful place to stay.

After lunch, we went fishing on the Chilkoot River with a guide. We saw eagles galore and seals swimming in circles -- "netting" some unsuspecting salmon. The best part of the day, however, was yet to come.

Across from where we were fishing on the riverbank was another grizzly and her three cubs. They were moving slowly, eating tall grass along the way until they were directly in front of us. I watched the bears eat and play. The little ones were wrestling like children. I almost forgot to take pictures, I was so mesmerized.

If you get a chance to go to Alaska, go. But don't spend all your time on a cruise ship. Experience the land, the people and the wildlife. Hire a guide and enjoy all that this vast wilderness has to offer.

Our trip was so wonderful that now we are planning to return to this land of breathtaking beauty.

Kate Warner lives in Westminster.

My Best Shot

Kevin Walker, Baltimore

Albuquerque rising

On our vacation to New Mexico, our favorite activity was the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta. At 4 a.m. we started out to the fields, wondering if getting up that early was worth it. The flight of the balloons was at the mercy of the weather, so there was no guarantee they would even launch. Then the sun peeked over the mountains at 8 a.m., and a smiling balloon rose into the morning sky. We knew it was worth the early wake-up.

Readers Recommend

Lake Maggiore, Italy

Elizabeth B. Scott, Towson

In May, I visited one of the Borromean Islands of Lake Maggiore. The Italian lake district is beautiful, with many villas and spectacular gardens that can be seen from the water. I was intrigued by this scene: A standard poodle sitting on a bench seemed as interested in the coming and going of boats as was his master.

Cayman Islands

Bruce Miller, Millersville

My wife, Joanne, and I went to the Cayman Islands last summer. While there, we took a boat trip to Rum Point. What a beautiful and relaxing place it turned out to be. We're already looking forward to going back again.

Let Us Hear From You

We want to know about your travels, your experiences, your pictures. Here's how to participate in this page:

* My Best Shot -- Send us a terrific travel photo with a description of when and where you took it. (Cash value: $50.)

* A Memorable Place -- In 500 words or less, tell us about a travel experience that changed you; about the nostalgia a certain place evokes; about a favorite beach, the mountains, a city cafe. Include a photo. (Cash value: $150.)

* Readers Recommend -- Briefly tell us about places you've recently visited that you'd recommend to other readers. (50 words or less; photos are welcome.)

Because of the volume of responses, photos and manuscripts cannot be individually acknowledged or returned. Submissions from all categories may be used for Readers Recommend, and upon submission become the property of The Sun.

Send by fax to 410-783-2519, or write to: Travel Department, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21278, or e-mail to Travel@baltsun.com. Be sure to include your name and phone number.

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