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Meet the Bears

We have to be careful not to anthropomorphize bears because they are wild creatures after all. The bears, however, have been nicknamed by biologists based on distinguishing features or behaviors. Nicknames make them easier to track and observe their behavior over the years. Each bear has a personality, or shall we say URSAnality of their own. Although we do not know all of the nicknames of all the bears like Larry would, here are the few that we can remember and observations we had.

This is Ted-Like. Ted-Like caught our eye because he was a large, very old bear. Why did he look old? He moved like he had bad arthritis and could really use some iBEARprofen. Ted-Like didn’t fish as actively as the other bears, and when he moved it was very slow and deliberate. He is famous for taking a rest near our bear viewing platform. Obviously he is the very best good old bear. What a stud!

Meet Chops, the Godfather of all the bears. Chops has claim to Boardwalk AND Park Place of McNeil River, or shall we say the best damn fishing hole on this side of the Mississippi. He is more territorial about his spot than Sheldon Cooper, eats like a hungry jammer, and is a gorgeous specimen of bruin majesty.

This is Tina Fey, and yes he is a male bear. Tina Fey was nicknamed by biologists after being sassy. Although we are unsure of the details of said sassy encounter, we witnessed Tina trying to catch a bite to eat while parked on Boardwalk. Chops got mad and Tina was exiled up river, where he stayed patiently exiled in bear jail. Trucker painted Tina Fey and left him him the cook cabin.

I’m pretty sure that this young, chocolate colored, delicious looking bear was nicknamed Magic Mike. The reason is OBVIOUS because this bear was handsome as heck with not a piece of fur out of place or gnarly scar. There were giggles from the biologists that this was NOT actually the bear’s nickname. It may be up for debate, but I think it is quite fitting.

This bear is one of Simba’s cubs. Simba got her name because of a distinguishing nose scar. We called this little one Motley Crue bear because of his rocker mohawk. Motley Crue bear sat on the beach, walked right by our group, and played with a stick like a dog would. We expect many great things to come from this guy and his squishy toe beans. He definitely has a rockstar attitude.

Hot Tub Time Machine Bear (our nickname) looked like he was relaxing at the spa. Every once and awhile he would pounce and make a giant splash. He also shook off quite profoundly and watered a whole family of seagulls. Taylor Swift would be proud. Shake it off, shake it off!

I don’t know this bear’s real name, but I call him Dean Winchester. Saving seagulls, hunting kings! The family business. Ok, so it’s a chum salmon, not a king salmon. I tried. He’s rugged, handsome, and takes down his prey like a boss.

Bearded Lady is one heck of a gal. She’s the epitome of a mama bear, has amazing fishing skills, and is downright classy. She’s the Audrey Hepburn of bears. My Dungeons and Dragons character is a high level Druid named Ursala who turns into a bear for extra damage points against enemies. Ursala never loses. This is that bear.

Simba was busy fishing taking care of her two cubs. One of them was whining because he wanted to nurse, but she caught them a fish instead. She has her hands, err claws, full with her rockstar bruin spawn.

Bear With Me

Greetings, Bear Lovers! Together we have raised $220 for Friends of McNeil River! I sent the donation today in hopes that they can utilize it for good and defeat the evil industry of greed and planetary destruction.

I still have a goal of raising $500 for them, and if you know me I don’t like losing. I also don’t do anything half-way. *Throws glitter*

Today I would like to announce the launch of the…wait for it…ZIP HOODIE! These are AMERICAN APPAREL so you know they will be high quality. The colors I chose to print are inspired by our trip to McNeil River. If I could name them, they would be Lush Fireweed, Karen the Gray (the famous seagull), Spruced Up Green, Pink Sunrise Glow, Adventure GRRL Purple, and McNeil River Teal.

Giving Tuesday starts early this year! Get your hoodie, support your favorite bears, win/win.

Using the Planet With Purpose

In my last post I talked about using our planet in a cleaner more deliberate way. Today I want to talk about how to do that. For the record, these are the things that I do personally. I am asking you, the reader to consider these things, and do what’s right for you. A lot of these things you will have heard before, I’m not re-inventing the wheel here.These things might feel small and insignificant, but if we ALL do some of them, we will change the world, and more importantly SAVE THE BEARS! #glittergrrls #keepalaskawild

Up first – single use plastics
Karen, let’s talk!   STOP USING STRAWS!!!!! Every time you look at a straw I want you to think about a beautiful ancient sea turtle with a straw stuck in it’s nose.  If you must use a straw invest in a re-usable metal one, or buy a package of paper ones, and we will conveniently ignore the fact that the paper straws come in a plastic bag.

Re-usable grocery bags are the greatest thing ever! I have two of these (not sponsored) in my handbag at all times, and I can’t tell you how handy it is to have a bag at the ready no matter what. It’s my #glittergrrls super power!  They are the same size and shape as a plastic grocery bag, they come in ALL the colors, and hold an oddly satisfying amount of food!

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http://www.baggu.com Purple butterflies are 100% Glitter Grrls approved! We also *LOVE* our tote bag.

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Do you use plastic grocery bags for the cat box, or dog poop pick up? Guess what is also plastic? Bread bags, they work great for dog poop. The cat box, brown paper lunch bags work really well.

That entire kitchen drawer that has a multitude of different sized zip top sandwich, snack, and freezer bags, and plastic wrap. All of these single use plastics have alternate options available. It might not be as convenient, but having clean air and water feels fairly convenient too.

Produce bags at the grocery store – why do we even use them?? We wash our produce when we get home, and then cook it. Does it matter if they touch the shopping cart? Let’s be honest, mushrooms are grown in manure, which is poop! Do they really need to be swathed in plastic to protect them? From what? More poop? I haven’t used a produce bag in more than two years, and I’m not dead yet.  If you like things more organized there are re-usable produce bags for sale on-line. Or, if you are like me and Purr’s mom, you can totally knit or crochet your own!

Next up –   Coffee cups and bottled water
Bottled water is so 2008. Let it go. Re-usable water bottle! Or better yet, one mug for all.

I love hot steamy sweet milky chai lattes from coffee carts. What I don’t love, is the  PLASTIC LINED CUPS, and lids. Yes, you heard me, those aren’t 100% paper cups. The easiest solution is to invest in a good go-mug that you can drink coffee / tea, and water from and make it your very best friend.
For those of you who are anxious and feel awkward about interrupting the flow of your barista, I’ve only ever been thanked for bringing my own mug. Even in a busy crowded airport. They totally know.
To encourage myself to carry my go-mug with me everywhere, I have carefully and obsessively curated the canvas that is my go-mug with beautiful stickers. I love my go-mug It’s so pretty!

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Side A – Trucker go mug

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Side A- Purr’s favorite hydration vessel #GlitterGRRLS

Electronics
Just because they make new ones each year, does not mean we have to buy them. We all know deep down the next model isn’t that much better than the last.
I will be the first to admit that I LOOOVEEE my phone, my fancy James Bond watch, my ear pod bud things, my tablet with the blue tooth pencil and every drawing app available. I could go on, but it’s getting embarrassing. But here’s the thing. I don’t upgrade, at least not on their schedule. I use my devises until they fall apart, or crash at least twice day day, and even then I’ll wait another week. And, if I suspect that they have been engineered to fail at a specific time – looking at you Bose earbuds that brand is dead to me.

Consumption
Did you know that Americans constitute 5% of the world’s population but consume 24% of the world’s energy? Source.
We have the power to dramatically reduce that number. Take a shorter shower, shower less – my personal favorite, turn out the lights, put on a sweater and turn down the heat, carpool, take public transit, walk!
Buy things that last. I do a lot of research on this web site buymeonce.com (not sponsored) The options really are endless.

DO IT FOR THE BEARS!
I truly believe that if we all take a moment to think about it, if we plan, and commit to making better choices we can make the changes necessary to save the planet, and save the habitats of the animals we love. This is our home we are talking about, our planet. If we make these changes we can stop arguing about it and enjoy it, and most importantly enjoy these toe beans!

What is a Glitter GRRL?

What is a Glitter GRRL?

Glitter GRRLs (and of course GUYS) share a sparkly zest for adventure, making the most of life’s experiences. With the heart of a mama bear, they love and protect our beautiful planet. Is adventure calling? ALWAYS. You’ll find them soaking up nature’s essence, fueling their souls, and enriching the spirit. When they are silent, they are wishing they were outside breathing fresh mountain air. They are the joy that makes a snow angel, takes a summit selfie after conquering a mountain hike, or spots some wildlife. Attention to detail, the inter-twined relationships of the flora and fauna, and scientific discovery make them nerd-out with glee. Surrounding themselves with others who share the same appreciation and respect, they thrive on sharing nature and romps through the woods with their wilderness-loving soul-mates. They want to save that perfect outdoor experience forever and call upon it in times of struggle. Feeding the soul with adventure makes their lives whole and gives them a feeling of complete serenity. Giggles, bear jokes, and smiles follow them wherever they go. They follow a trail of stardust that not everyone sees, and will wish upon a twinkling star with sassy honesty. Glitter GRRLs dance to the song of the mid-winter aurora like nobody’s watching and together, with strength, can make a difference. They yearn to spread the glory of nature with others, and also love bears very, very much.


Look Deep

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better,”
~
Albert Einstein

Since the beginning of art, nature has been the inspiration. Early cave paintings depict animals, fire, and the early people interacting with their natural world. Flip through any art history book and you will find still life paintings of flowers and fruit. In the religious iconography of history, you will find leaves, fruit, trees, and streams. The world’s most famous paintings are of natural landscapes – Monet’s lily pads. The Fibonacci sequence, and how it relates to nature is a core curriculum in any art class. The most balanced paintings will follow the golden spiral.

orange and white seashell on white surface

 

During my time in art school, a professor told me that anything you create and place on the wall would be the act of making a statement. This was very intimating to me, and I struggled for a long time with the subject matter of my art. Moreover, I struggled with what to say. There was so much to say, and I did not feel qualified to say it.  After graduation, I didn’t paint for a long time. When I decided to paint again, the struggle bus was right where I had parked it. It wasn’t until I was looking through some old photos of a backpacking trip, that the glaringly obvious smacked me right in the face. Nature. Of course, it should have been nature all along. I grew up in the Rocky Mountains of Montana. I grew up swimming in lakes and rivers, hiking in beautiful mountains, and  skiing in the most pristine snow. I have lived in Alaska for the majority of my adult life, because I love nature, I love being outside. I have been painting landscapes, leaves, trees, flowers, rivers, oceans, and streams ever since.  

I know and understand my own love of all things outdoor related, and how it inspires my life choices and art, but I’ve also met those people who would rather die than go camping. We tend to think of those city dwellers as not being nature-loving individuals, but that’s actually not true. There is a reason that the most popular bars in large cities are roof top bars, and that sidewalk cafés exist. The most important person in any high-rise office building has a corner office with a view. Neighborhoods near parks have a higher real estate value than ones without. Ocean front property is a few hundred thousand more dollars than the same house a mile from the ocean.  There is a reason that our national parks are seeing attendance rates soar. Humans long for the outdoors, even if we don’t agree on the level of immersion.

We are nature and nature is us, we are all one. Saving the planet, and saving the habitats of animals should not be a political fight, but it is political because money is involved. We have created a world where we no longer hunt and gather. We dress in business attire and go to office buildings, we get in our cars and drive to jobs, we gather in large cities in mass because that is where the jobs are, where the money is. All the while ignoring our own basic human need to be outside.  We mine our planet for the minerals, precious metals, and oil. We created plastic, and throw it in the ocean once it’s “used”. We have done all of these things to ensure our survival, safety, and comfort- and called it progress while our planet suffers. I am not pointing the finger at all of humanity, and not at myself. I have a car, I go to a job, and I am typing this on a computer, which is made of mined metals and plastic.

My point is, we can do better. We can be intentional in our use of the planet. We can stop using single use plastics – yesterday. And no Karen, you don’t need a straw for your diet cran and vodka. Each of us can spend more time recycling, and less time buying things that need recycled. More importantly, we can all stop supporting the industries that are doing the most damage.

I will continue to paint, nature will be my muse, and the statement that I will make with every painting will be: “Love this, protect all of this, and do it without considering your stock options first.” ~Jill Myer

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Bears. Salmon. McNeil River, Alaska.

Question: What kind of bear is best?

That’s a ridiculous question.

The McNeil bear is the coolest kind of bear.

Fact: Bears eat salmon. Bears. Salmon. McNeil River, Alaska.

Let’s go over a few facts about the proposed Pebble Mine in true Dwight Schrute fashion. The industrial port and road of the Pebble Mine would be only 11 miles away from the bears. Fact: Bears roam. Increased encounters between bears and humans will create a dangerous environment at McNeil River. Why? Thanks to our buddy Larry, humans at McNeil River State Game Sanctuary are predictable and follow a very specific bear viewing etiquette. Humans in the real world do not have trained guides or rules, and the trust of the bears will be jeopardized if humans act differently around them. Losing the ability to view bears safely in their natural environment will be devastating.

Unfortunately, Pebble only thinks they need to study bears within 3 miles of their proposed mine infrastructure. In bear distance, 3 miles is nothing. Bears require large areas to wander, eat, and thrive. Some of the bears who feed at McNeil River are also known to travel to rivers near the proposed mine and feed on sockeye salmon. McNeil River is a one of a kind destination with a very unique opportunity that allows biologists to study and track bears throughout their lives. The largest congregation of brown bears in the world needs a large area to reside, which should not be broken up with industrialization. The Pebble Mine, road corridor, power plant, and port will break up bear habitat and negatively alter bear activity.

Salmon provide nutrient rich fuel for growing bears, and it is an amazing experience to watch the bears fish in the river. Reduced Salmon runs in Bristol Bay would hurt bear populations. Less food means less bears-it’s that simple. Let’s be honest, reduced salmon runs also mean less delicious salmon dinner for humans as well. Furthermore, we’d need a lot more time to discuss the economic impact and importance of the salmon to the fishing industry in Alaska.

Economic impacts of recklessly invading the world’s largest congregation of brown bear habitat would spread far and wide. Sure, the mine would bring jobs. However, bear viewing provides Alaska with plenty of employment opportunities from bear guides to pilots to Fish & Game biologists. Alaska can thank the bear viewing industry for a whopping $36.5 million and 490 jobs. Tourism brings Alaska a lot of traffic, and we left trail of money from Anchorage to Homer to McNeil River on our bear viewing trip.

We must always remember that we are guests in the bear’s home, and we must respect their house rules. Fact: Industrialization near a wildlife sanctuary will endanger bears and humans alike.

We’ve added a new shirt to our fundraiser.

Our goal is to raise $500 to give to Friends of McNeil River. We’re 20% there! Go shopping for a good cause.

Bloopers

Sometimes we’re all a little less than put together. I call this the HOT MESS collection. Let’s start it off the Bearded Lady. Did you know that you can identify a bear’s gender by how it pees? The ladies pee cleanly out the back, and the dude bears pee all over. Is it safe to assume Bearded Lady is well hydrated by her clear urine? *snort giggles*

Tiny bears are adorable. Tiny POOPING bears somehow reach a whole new level of cuteness.

Does a bear shit in the woods? NOT ALWAYS! We have photographic evidence to prove otherwise.

Perfect timing can catch a bear tongue out and about. I feel like they did this on purpose because they knew I was taking pictures.

Humans have bloopers, too. What can we say? Our bear viewing group gave their own safety talk about how to ride in a float plane. Trucker is modeling the plastic bag.

Nebula, my adorable kitten, tried to stow away with us on our adventure. Nice try, Nebs.

Sometimes you just need to roll in the sand. #bearlife

We’re not entirely sure what the big debate was, but we’re going to pretend that these two bears were having a heated discussion about the best way to cook bacon. Team floppy versus team crispy…….#teamcrispy

Adorable Tiny Bears

One morning Trucker was out having her morning tea at the bear overlook at camp. I was walking around camp taking pictures of fireweed in the morning light and dew. I approached the cabin and Trucker was walking towards me with wide eyes making hand signals. She was trying to tell Beth the biologist that the bears were coming into camp. A mother and her two cubs curiously walked right up to the viewing platform. Beth clapped her hands towards them, and calmly said, “Get, get.” The bears turned around and went the other direction. If Beth is out there and sees this, I want her to know she is an amazing bear whisperer and we love her!

Watching the young bears play is as exciting as watching the bears fish in the river.

McNeil River State Game Sanctuary is truly a magical place.

Why Should I Care About Bears?

Hell Hath Fury (another one of our badass roller derby pals) compiled a list of Alaska happenings during the Summer of 2019.
Here in Alaska:
▪️Our state is on fire
▪️Hottest summer on record, ever
▪️Whales are washing up dead
▪️Mortality events of sea birds on our islands
▪️Entire coastal villages are being moved due to erosion from permafrost melt
▪️Glaciers are disappearing
▪️Ticks are being found this far north due to warming trends
▪️Native Alaskans are speaking of lack of seals and walrus for subsistence due to diminished sea ice
▪️Trees are trying to grow on the tundra
▪️Salmon are suffocating in rivers because the water is too hot for proper oxygenation

McNeil River State Game Sanctuary and the surrounding area is home to many types of wildlife besides just bears. Seals, sea birds, foxes, and eagles are commonly spotted around camp. If you follow the food chain, you’ll realize that salmon are crucial for existence of this dynamic ecosystem. Bears wander in and out of the sanctuary to feast and fish in various rivers. Human disruption to the bears could jeopardize the ability of us to view them safely in their natural habitat, an experience that is worth more than any amount of gold. Changing climate is already affecting many parts of Alaska, and we need to do what we can to protect our creatures before it’s too late.

You’re going to miss them when they’re gone.