After waiting for a few minutes, Rocky came by to let us enter.
He was missing a number of key teeth.
And then. after the bus arrived with folks from an Alaskan cruise, Mario and his pal, greeted us enthusiastically.
This hawk? Was such a beautiful bird.
And Mario? Is passionate about wildlife in general, and birds of prey, specifically.
He shared so much interesting information that I was positive I'd remember, but of course, I totally forgot.
Karm was taking notes on her phone, which is lovely, but doesn't help me now when I'm writing a blog post.
Once he'd finished sharing his life story (youngest falconer in the history of the world, documentary filmer, expert on all things wild....) he took us up the hill to meet Isis.
Did you know that the result of eliminating the wolf population is an increase in disease?
Wolves hunt, kill and eat only sick/ill deer... a natural culling, so to speak, that keeps disease at bay.
Because the US has made some poor decisions about wolves, LYME DISEASE is rising and out of control.
Wolves are like those cancer-smelling dogs.
The leave the healthy animals and only prey on the weak and sickly.
It's the balance of nature.
Many states are re-thinking their policies on wolves. and inviting/allowing them back into the wild.
And then we moved on to another area.
Mario pulled a dead quail out of his pocket (!) like it was a stick of gum.
... and offered it to his feathered friend.
Who was making sure it was OK to devour....
He always starts by ripping off the head, (his favorite part) and swallowing it whole.
And then he checked out the remaining parts to determine how he was going to pull it apart.
He pulled off the feathers, which flew about everywhere...
And systematically ripped up the meal bit by bit.
(I have about 100 pics of the process. Kinda gross.)
This is him, with his last mouthful of wing.
It got stuck in his cheek, so he was trying to push it down with his tongue:
Just a few feathers left.
From there we moved on to see:
A black/white red fox.
He was playful.
Mario pulled ANOTHER dead quail out of his pocket (ewwwww) and fed it to him...
Then let the lil guy lick the blood of his hands.
After that, we all got to pet him.
From there, off to see the other red red fox.
She wasn't as friendly.
So we didn't hang around very long.
Haha, and then - the What is it? pen...
It's called a Marten.
And it loves Mario.
As soon as Mario stepped into his area, he ran up the inside of his pant leg, up the inside of his shirt and popped out the collar.
After that? It was Lenox the Lynx.
And from there, over to see the baby Lynx:
And then my very favorite:
And we walked on up the hill to visit with a mink:
Who was the friendliest, gentlest creature you could imagine.
Apparently in the olden days they were domesticated. Folks could totally saddle and ride them.
Yes. I fed her a carrot.
And petted her snout.
And Karm totally enjoyed feeding the reindeer/caribou.
This is Banff, the wolverine...
And Kitty the bear ...
If you want more details about this unbelievable facility, the work that they do, and the animals they save, check out their website, here.
After that, we climbed into this sexy beast of a car and headed south. Or west. I can't remember.
Along the way, we stopped to appreciate the scenery...
.... and have the picnic lunch that Karm had packed.
This area? Will be home to 3,000 -4,000 eagles in a few weeks. They'll all fly in for the salmon feast that happens every fall during spawning season.
On this day?
Not a single bird to be seen.
We hit the highway again, on our way to Haines, Alaska.
A cute seaside town where all the bakeries were closed.
We were mostly in this town for it's baked goods.
So we stopped in at the IGA and bought snacks.
I bought some fudge at fudge place. But they were all out of chocolate. So.
We stopped along the river to take in the scenery.
And when I turned around to go back to the car, I saw that we weren't the only ones stopping alongside the road to take pics.
When we got to the lake at the end of the road (no, seriously, that highway ended here) we had another picnic.
This is time it was our IGA snacks and raspberry fudge.
SUCH a good day. So thankful for these two.
Best hosts/tourguides ever.
Arj drove us home, then made butter chicken for dinner.
We ate supper while watching Bill Murray in St. Vincent.
An absolutely perfect day.
Three things I'm thankful for:
1. Animals. And how each species has a specific purpose.
2. Animals. And how each one is so unique.
3. Friends who marry men who like to cook delicious meals.