A botanical garden with surprises

Residents of Marlow Manor Assisted Living in Anchorage were joined by an unexpected guest during a day visit to Anchorage's Botanical Gardens in late July.

At the entrance, a sign warned guests to beware bears, which prompted lively joking, says Marlow Manor activities director Maria James. "We asked the admissions lady if there were any in the woods. She said yes, but not that day, because they were all fishing." But while the group was walking the trail, taking in the gorgeous surroundings and snapping photos, James suddenly saw a large black bear meandering in close proximity. It was tailing the group briefly, she said, and many didn't even know it was there.

"Surprisingly, I stayed calm and my voice tone gradually increased as I alerted folks on the trails around us," James said. "I wish I could have taken a picture at closer range. Possibly on our next outing," she joked.

National Assisted Living Week is Sept. 11-17.