Today is my last day working at the SeaLife Center, so forgive me if this gets overly sappy.

Yesterday was actually my last day working with the eiders. I checked in on Uno one last time in the morning…he’s as big as an adult Steller’s now. I wish I could stay and watch him grow, slowly but surely, into another one of those big, goofy ducks I’ve become so attached to over the past few months. I count myself fortunate to have been a part of the conservation effort for these beautiful birds, if only for a little while.

I’ve slowly been saying my silent goodbyes to the residents of the SeaLife Center: Lulu and Felix, Woody, the eiders, the birds, little Cordelia. I now understand how keepers get so attached to their animals, and how miserable it is to leave them behind.

The wildlife is one of the things I will miss most about this place. Eagles calling through the morning fog; a mother moose boldly striding down the street, its calf in tow; herds of caribou, traversing the mountainside; sea otters, floating on their backs down the bay, usually crunching on some tasty shellfish. This land is truly unique, and I almost feel like there is no place in the continental U.S. that could match it.

See that? A moose, a caribou, a fox, and a bear. All seen in Denali National Park. On the same day. We’ve allowed Nature to call most of the shots here, and the results are breathtaking.

It is not just the life that is wild that I will miss; I would not have enjoyed myself nearly as much if not for the great people I’ve met here. As much as I liked my job working with the eiders, I enjoyed working with the people of the SeaLife Center just as much. They’ve truly enhanced my Alaskan experience, telling me where the best places to bird are, what to bring to Denali, how best to prepare the fresh rockfish I picked up from the market…the things that I have really enjoyed about my time here.

I won’t easily forget the friends I’ve made here. I count myself lucky that I have been able to share this experience, this great Alaskan adventure, with them, and will miss them in the months to come.

Life must go on though, so I must leave this place, this fair green country behind. No more waking to see the sun risen high over the mountains, no more looking out into the bay to see otters, sea lions, and gulls enjoying the bounty of the ocean. No more walking through the spruce forests, or sitting by the great waterfalls, or laying about on the beach. No more Hobo Jim performances, no more fresh salmon and halibut, no more Alaska…

…for now.