July 22: Taking a day off from fishing

001Jerry decided to take the day off from Combat Fishing.   There are hundreds of people all trying to fish in the same stretch of river.  Tempers are beginning to get a little short.002

We thought it would be fun to visit the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.  The entrance is at the corner of Funny River Road (just down the road from us) and Ski Hill Road.  There actually is a river by the name of Funny River and also a small community by that name.  I believe it is about 15 miles from here.004003

A short distance down the road we passed a bog which was covered by what I thought were plants with white flowers.  It turns out that these are “cotton grass” and what I thought were flowers are really seed heads.  The plant is not really a grass, but a sedge.  Some sedges that you might be familiar with include papyrus, which the Egyptians used as writing material, and the common nut sedge, a weed that plagues our lawn and flower beds at home.  The plants are in the Eriophorum family and grow in acid bogs.  No wonder I hadn’t seen them before.  Not many bogs in our part of the world!006Here we are at the headquarters of the Kenai NWR.009

This is the Visitors Center.  Next door there is a massive construction project going on where a huge new center is being built.  It will be ready in the fall of 2014.010

I know this is not a good picture, but I wanted you to see how serious they are here in Alaska about keeping the Northern Pike out of their waters.  As I understand it, the northern pike is very predacious and eats a lot of the fry (babies) of the native fish.  011

This is a lynx.  It is similar in appearance to the bobcat we have in the southwest, but is many times larger.  This particular cat was the size of a German Shepherd.013

This shows just how much land Alaska devotes to its wildlife and refuge system.017

This just shows you the size of a wolf’s paw compared to the size of my hand.019

Again, not a good picture, but I hope you can get a general idea of the size of a brown (grizzly) bear’s paw in relation to the size of my hand.021

If I know Jerry, he’s probably thinking how good these moose antlers would look on the living room wall.022

This is one of my favorite pictures because it illustrates so clearly how small Man is in the wilderness.  Well, I will save the rest of the wildlife refuge pictures for tomorrow.040

After we left the refuge, some masochistic urge compelled us to go to the grocery store.  It has been a madhouse all of July.  I’ve used this analogy in the past, but going to Fred Meyer lately is like going to the mall an hour before closing on Christmas Eve.  I had to wait in a line just to get down some of the aisles!  Some of the shelves were completely bare.  For example, there was no regular salt.  I had to buy Mediterranean sea salt.  I spent $1.50 on ONE cucumber and another $1.50 on ONE bell pepper.  Avocados were $2.50 each, so I just walked by and admired them.  After all this, we needed some fast food so we got a pizza and pigged out.

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