On the way to the Steese Highway, this place caught our eye and we just had to stop in....While I really enjoy the wildlands and Kim enjoys them too...she also just loves to browse interesting and quaint shops...and I find interesting stuff in a lot of them too.. This was one of those places!! Interesting old cars...perhaps old river vehicles looking at the roof racks...!! Old buses...this one reminded me of the buses in Pittsburgh, PA in the mid-1960s...My Mom and Aunts used to drag me away from my country playground into the city to go shopping...YUKKKK! Those darn old diesel buses had the low exhaust pipe that seemed to blow the fumes straight into my 8 year old face...! I'm probably scarred for life by those experiences and why I dislike cities to this day... Interesting, hardy folks... This fine lady drove her own bulldozer, used a chainsaw and was working to build more log yurts... Then we continued on.... Next stop....an old gold mining dredge ! As we continued toward Circle, the smoke from wildfires started getting pretty bad....so we decided to stop and camp along this beautiful river...and see if the wind changed directions the next morning... Well...the next morning...the smoke was still pretty bad...as you can see Kim rubbing her eyes when we stop at the Long Creek General Store... The nice folks there tell us that the fire is out by Circle and that the smoke gets worse the further you go.... Therefore, we decided to do an about face and head to Chena Hot Springs....Kim's birthday was coming up and I wanted to be sure and spend it in a Special Place!! When we got to Chena, there wasn't any rooms available for that night, but there was for the next night...We went and camped by this pretty little pond with lush grass just a couple of miles from Chena until we could get a room at the Inn... See the moose in the pond...? Well...shortly after we (or at least I) fell asleep, I'm awakened by an elbow in the back and Kim whispering frantically ..."listened to that! I think it's a bear coming across the pond...! Go out and see what it is!!" Well my mind immediately flashed back to when Kim and I had backpacked to the top of a mountain in northern PA to go spring turkey hunting...It was one of those nights where a cold front just passed through and there was the lingering wind rustling the leaves and branches. We took proper bear precautions, no food in the tent, etc. Even so, I felt that same elbow in my back a few times and was awakened by the same frantic whispering...:wake up...I think I hear a bear!!" I tell her..."It's just the wind...go back to sleep..." Well, come daylight we go just a short ways and do the turkey call..."Yelp, yelp, yelp, yelp......" Immediately...there is rustling in the leaves and I tell Kim to "get down...it might be a gobbler coming in!" Well, instead of a gobbler, this big old bear stands up...looking and sniffling for his next meal..!!! He quickly figures out that we aren't it and turns tail and takes off... Of course I felt that same elbow in my back and Kim telling me..."See!! I told you it was a bear last night...and you didn't believe me!" Therefore, when she tells beside this Alaskan pond, .."it might be a bear" I'm obligated to get the bear spray and go out to see what it is. No time for pants...or shirt... ...just go...!!! As soon as I exit the tent, they're on me!!! ...not the bear...but those legendary Alaskan mosquitoes!!! I quickly discern that the "bear" is really just the cow moose and dive back into the tent before I lose any more blood! Ohhh.....Chena is going to feel sooooo good!