By this time, I had Russ equally excited about Kroschels
and happy to wake up early to get on the road and get to Haines as quickly as possible.
Steve Kroschel told me he had an organized tour for 11:45 and 1:45 and it would cost $50. If we didn't make it, the cost for just the two of us would be too expensive. We had about 300 miles to go from Beaver Creek to his special place, some of it under construction....where I got my flat. We made it to destruction bay pretty quickly and once past the dirt sections, stopped for breakfast at the gas station/hotel/restaurant.
The unfriendly girl at the register had a funny accent that I thought might be from my home of Quebec...turns out I was right and in her defense, I'd be pretty cranky too if I had a gas station job in the middle of nowhere with a population of under a hundred.
We made good time to Haines Junction and went through the high elevation pass in some heavy fog with only a few cars going the other direction. Passed the border back into Alaska and found the turn off for Kroschel easy enough. There was a small group of people waiting out front and we parked the bikes and grabbed the cameras and made the first tour.
Our first experience, meet Isis the wolf.
What a pretty face!
As you can tell from the blury image, she was very active and didn't sit still long. Russ told me later that when I left the group to go get my second camera because the battery was drained from my Sony NEX that Isis got very agitated and Steve commented that she knew I was leaving and was not happy about that. I got back in time to get a few photos and participate in the group howl that eventually got a $2 howl out of her.
Next, a gorgeous hawk.
He explained how their actual eyeball isn't a ball at all, it's more of a wiener like a hot dog that burrows to the back of their head. That's why they have to turn their heads so much to see as their vision is limited to what is directly in front. Someone look that one up....
My father is always saying this to me. In fact all of the buildings had important life messages written on them.
Next was the foxes. I did see one fox just outside of Whitehorse on my way to Haines Junction but here we had a couple. Poorly posed again. Friggin digital cameras and their stupid delay. Still kicking myself for draining my battery on the Sony NEX overnight.
And let me tell you that the smells emanating from these different animals so far was so thick you could taste it. Sure added something to the overall experience. Zoo's are sterile and the animals lethargic. Not at Kroschel's. This was to be a common theme with Steve, lots of kissing.
Next the bobcat. Look at those hind legs. Seems they only hunt snowshoe rabbits so their legs are proportionally as strong to jump in hot pursuit.
Sooooo sneaky looking.
Meet Kitty. A ton of gorgeous grizzly behind a rickety fence.
Now this little thing was about as cute as my grindle teddy but not nearly as cuddly....unless you touch her belly, which was in fact quite soft.
When he gave her this leaf, instead of eating it, she propped it up in front of her face as if to hide behind it then frozen perfectly still until he nudged her gently to let he know it was ok to move again.
Contrary to popular belief, porcupines can't project their quills.
This was a mink.
AND here friends is where the "Moose" part of my title comes in. I kissed a moose!
The one on the right is the lucky recipient of my lips.
Look at those long legs, they come up to my shoulders!
BTW moose love banana's just like the minions in despicable me.
I think this was a stoat, and there was no kissing, in fact this little bugger moved so fast that I could hardly photograph him.
The second to last beauty was this silver fox. Companion to polar bears.
Now get ready....a real live wolverine!
Looked like he was being attacked doesn't it. Nope....Steve kissed this monster right on the mouth over and over and wrestled playfully with it. He even massages the gums with his fingers! That's right, he puts his fingers in that fanged mouth. It was so clear to everyone that not only was he a very special person but he'd spent his life cultivating these very important relationships.
That's right folks, killer on a leash.
I've got some video of Steve playing with this one....but not sure how to get this up on ADV. PM me your personal email if you want the clip. It's quite a sight!
This is the main area of Kroschel's.
The overall place was probably much bigger and the way I understood it, we only saw about 20% of the total animals housed there. If you go to Alaska, this is the one MUST SEE. I can't stress it enough, everything else on my trip just pales in comparison. It was a magical 2 hours that I will never forget.