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Author Topic: Alaska with the Stocks 2013  (Read 28314 times)

Dean & Linda Stock

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Re: Alaska with the Stocks 2013
« Reply #120 on: July 17, 2013, 04:02:38 AM »
More pictures....

Dean and Linda Stock
and Sherlock (the cat)
Cypress, CA
2006 Airstream Motor Home
2006 Jeep Liberty (Towed)

ArdraF

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Re: Alaska with the Stocks 2013
« Reply #121 on: July 17, 2013, 10:55:15 PM »
Linda, be sure to tell Dean he's getting pretty good at getting those bird photos.  Love the one where he's spreading his wings and showing off!

ArdraF
ArdraF
:D :D

Dean & Linda Stock

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Re: Alaska with the Stocks 2013
« Reply #122 on: July 21, 2013, 04:56:06 AM »
Linda, be sure to tell Dean he's getting pretty good at getting those bird photos.  Love the one where he's spreading his wings and showing off!

ArdraF

Thanks!  Wait until you see his bald eagle.  He is SO proud of it (and rightfully so).  Hope all is well with you and Jerry.
Dean and Linda Stock
and Sherlock (the cat)
Cypress, CA
2006 Airstream Motor Home
2006 Jeep Liberty (Towed)

Dean & Linda Stock

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  • Posts: 1195
Re: Alaska with the Stocks 2013
« Reply #123 on: July 21, 2013, 05:02:23 AM »
JULY 17       Day 61                              Portage Valley, AK

We've been without TV, Internet, and good cellphone reception, so pardon the silence and then the glut of posts.

The drive from Anchorage to Portage Valley followed the ocean and was quite pretty.  We stopped at Beluga Point because the tide was coming in, and it was only an hour before high tide, but we didn't see belugas.  I hear that residents that drive that route daily only see them a couple of times a year, if that.

I remembered Williwaw State Park and its beauty from our 2009 trip, and it was my only "Must Stay Here RV Park" on this whole trip.   But, I found a nice park with 50 amps and full hook-ups on the same road.  While Williwaw had dense forest and privacy,  the Portage Valley RV Camp had gravel and amps.  I knew that Dean would prefer Portage Valley, and I gave him all the facts.  When he saw the sign for Portage Valley, all he could see was a little dirt road that he was afraid wasn't the right place.  So, we came down to Williwaw, and I am so happy.  Our RV is parked in our own little cul-de-sac with trees (Picture 1) in a valley surrounded by beautiful mountains with glaciers leading right into our park. (Picture 2)  There are more glaciers surrounding us. And, we even have wonderful waterfalls! (Picture 3)

The Boggs-Begich Visitors Center is a NPS site just 5 minutes away.  It has interesting exhibits, a film about the area, park rangers who have all the answers, as well as lots of brochures.

Staying at Williwaw Campground--my favorite place to stay in Alaska or Canada--dry-camping-- Regular rate is $18, but because we have a Golden Age Pass, we are only paying $9.  After $73/night in Homer, this will help our budget, too.
« Last Edit: July 21, 2013, 05:28:22 AM by Dean & Linda Stock »
Dean and Linda Stock
and Sherlock (the cat)
Cypress, CA
2006 Airstream Motor Home
2006 Jeep Liberty (Towed)

Dean & Linda Stock

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  • Posts: 1195
Re: Alaska with the Stocks 2013
« Reply #124 on: July 21, 2013, 05:12:11 AM »
JULY 18                       Day 62                    Portage Valley, AK

We woke up to sun AGAIN!  I can't believe how many beautiful days we've had.  It's a rare day that the Whittier glacier cruise doesn't have lots of cloud, and often times, rain. 

We made the 10:30 tunnel crossing.  In order to get to the port, the third busiest port in Alaska, you have to go through a shared-use tunnel.  Cars going toward Whittier can enter in a 15-minute window at every time with a 30 minutes on the end, e.g. 10:30.  Then trains have it for 15 minutes until the hour.  Then cars returning from Whittier use it on the hour.  It works very well.  You drive on the train tracks.  The only possible problem is exiting.  Signs indicating to remember to keep to the left probably mean that some fools have continued on the tracks instead of going onto the paved road.  Cost was $12.

We parked in the first cruise parking lot (cost $12), but there is a parking lot further down that is $5.  A bald eagle was circling overhead, showing everyone the salmon he had caught.  He returned about 5 minutes later with an encore performance.  Was it the same salmon?  Did he deliver the first one to a nest?  Is it even the same bald eagle?  I think so.

The Ticket Office and gangplank are right at the parking lot--very convenient.  We opted for top-deck enclosed seating, and it was a wise choice.  The whole catamaran has walkways outside.

Captain Laura's first stop was the Salmon Hatchery.  NPS Ranger James told us that the profits from the hatchery are used for increasing the numbers of fish in Alaska.  There were lots of boats with nets strewn across the mouth of the river, and we wondered how any got up the stream to spawn.  (Picture 1)  There are weirs that count the fish coming upstream, and if there aren't enough making it, they shut down the fishing.  Each boat has a permit, which this year cost $160,000.  Some years they cost more; others they cost less.  They can be bought, sold, and inherited.  They fish by stretching out these big nets using a small boat, then they pull up the nets.  There is one larger refrigerated boat that they off-load their catch onto, where it is weighed, and they are given a receipt.

In 1899 Edward Harriman, a powerful man who controlled many railroads, (grandfather of future Alaska Governor Averill) was exhausted.  He was told by his doctor that he needed to go on a long vacation.  So he decided to go to Alaska to hunt Kodiak bears.  He decided to take along with him a scientific community to document and explore the coastline of Alaska.  He contacted Clinton Merriam, a high administrator at the USDA, and one of the founders of the National Geographic Society, and told him  that he would cover all the expenses of experts to join him.  Merriam gathered together 25 of the world's most prominent scientists--  John Muir and William Dahl, James Audubon to draw pictures, Arctic experts, botanists, ornithologists, zoologists, geologists, and a medical team to go on a 2-month expedition to Alaska.  (Of course, Merriam put his name at the head of the list of people to go.) They discovered 600 new species and charted their geographic distribution and had covered over 900 miles of Alaska coastline.  They discovered an unmapped fjord (which he named Harriman Fiord) and named lots of glaciers.  In Seward, our destination glacier was Northwestern, named after his favorite college.

Harriman had a 250-foot-long steamship refitted for the trip.  It had lecture rooms, an organ, a grand piano, a library with over 500 books about Alaska, a stable for animals including a cow (for milk), 5 cases of champagne, taxidermy studios, and luxury staterooms for the experts.

There were many long-lasting benefits of this expedition as well.  At first, John Muir thought Harriman was distasteful and thought his hunting was barbaric.  By the end of the trip, the two had become friends.  Years later Harriman helped Muir with governmental lobbying  on National Park legislation, and Muir gave the eulogy at Harriman's funeral. 

Glaciers were the focus of the cruise, and the first ones we saw were the Seven Sisters, named after 7 women's colleges on the East Coast.  The three which remain today are Holyoke, Baltimore, and Barnard.  (Picture 2)  Pretty sad, isn't it?  We saw many thousand gulls on this trip (that is NOT an exaggeration) , and there were islands full of nests.  Some shared their islands with seals (Picture 3), who was welcomed by his friends who were basking on this wonderful day. (Picture 4)

Ranger James said it's unusual to see a floatplane out on Prince William Sound.  He was stopped between two commercial fishing boats.  A doctor?  A rich fisherman?  The Boss?  (Picture 5)

Our first glacier was prettier than any we saw out of Seward. (Picture 6)  As we approached our second glacier,  there was a tidal glacier (Picture 7) and a pretty cirque glacier (circular)  (Picture 8)  Surprise Glacier, was named by Harriman because they didn't see it until they came around a curve in the bay.  It had the prettiest glacier blue. (Picture 9)    We knew that beneath all glaciers there is a running river, but the amount of water in these beautiful ribbon waterfalls as they flowed down the mountain near it was impressive.  (Picture 10)

We didn't see many seals on this trip.  But, when we did see them, there were a lot of them!  (Picture 11)

Ranger James said this was the biggest iceberg he's seen in his several years of doing marine tours and fishing commercially.  (Picture 12)  He said it probably calved yesterday.  Oh, how I wish I'd been here to see and hear it.  He said that they calve 24/7, so it could have happened in the wee hours of the morning when no one would see it.  It is over 30 feet tall, and that's only the 15% that's above water.  There's another 250 feet plus under the water!  To be defined as an iceberg, it must be have 15 feet above the waterline, either horizontally or vertically.

We came across some more seals, but they are shy.  At first they observe (Picture 13), then they give you the look that says, "GO AWAY!  You're bothering my siesta."  (Picture 14)  Then they dive in the water and disappear.  (Picture 15)  They come up again several feet behind the boat and watch.

As we returned to port, the captain had to navigate a minefield of otters.  Most were shy because of the size of the boat and dove under the water when we slowly approached, but these two looked us over (Picture 16).  This started as a raft of 8, but by the time we could get a camera on them, only 3 were willing to stay, and the middle one was ready to dive under the water. (Picture 17)  Ranger James told us that the Harriman never saw one otter in their 2 month voyage because there were less than 1000 then.  Russian fur traders, who called them "soft gold", had almost hunted them to extinction.  One otter pelt would bring 5 times a man's average yearly income.  Now only Native Peoples can hunt them, and they are not allowed to sell them.  They enforce the penalty of 3-5 years in jail for hunting otters.   There are now over 50,000 otters in Alaskan waters.

Kittiwakes, a special type of gull, nest on high cliffs, where the only predator they fear is the bald eagle.  You can identify them by their short bodies and black wingtips.  There were hundreds, if not thousands, on the rock cliffs.  (Picture 18 & 19)  They return to the same nest every year.  They winter in Costa Rica.

About 10 minutes later, we came upon a bald eagle pair, who I think were looking for salmon. (Picture 20)  Then one of them took off for their nest. (Picture 21)

We may need to worry about the health of some species, but kittiwakes and gulls are doing well, as you can see from all the nests. (Picture 22)   There were hundreds of birds on these cliffs.

I would highly recommend the Major Marine cruises, both in Seward for marine life and in Whittier for glaciers.  You can use a buy one/ get one free from either of the coupon books.  Their Copper River silver salmon was good, and their prime rib was great (and I'm not a beef eater usually).  The crew was stellar.  The boat has wide aisles and would feel comfortable even if there were a full passenger load.  However, we got lucky today because full is 150, and we only had 60 passengers.  Calling ahead (which we did) for a slack day is well advised, because tomorrow they are full.

Staying at Williwaw State Park Campground
Dean and Linda Stock
and Sherlock (the cat)
Cypress, CA
2006 Airstream Motor Home
2006 Jeep Liberty (Towed)

Dean & Linda Stock

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Re: Alaska with the Stocks 2013
« Reply #125 on: July 21, 2013, 05:14:23 AM »
More pictures
Dean and Linda Stock
and Sherlock (the cat)
Cypress, CA
2006 Airstream Motor Home
2006 Jeep Liberty (Towed)

Dean & Linda Stock

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Re: Alaska with the Stocks 2013
« Reply #126 on: July 21, 2013, 05:17:38 AM »
More pictures
Dean and Linda Stock
and Sherlock (the cat)
Cypress, CA
2006 Airstream Motor Home
2006 Jeep Liberty (Towed)

Dean & Linda Stock

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Re: Alaska with the Stocks 2013
« Reply #127 on: July 21, 2013, 05:23:08 AM »
July 19         Day 63         Portage Valley, AK

We both really enjoy the beauty of Williwaw, so we decided to extend our stay one day.  The weather has been beautiful, and the scenery is gorgeous.  We didn't have much time to enjoy it the first night, we went on the marine cruise and didn't get home until 6:30 the second day, and I wanted to sit outside and read.  However, with all this warm weather, little no see 'ums have hatched, and I provide a nice meal.  One bit me under my wedding ring.  How did he get in there? 

We changed plans and went to the Animal Wildlife Conservation Center, a drive-by or walk-through almost-zoo, only about 10 minutes away.  I forgot my coupon books at the RV.  We paid $18 for two senior admissions vs. $12.50 with the buy one/get one free where you have to buy adult admissions.  We figured we'd pay the extra $5.50 because it costs a lot to feed big animals during the winter.

They had me with the first exhibit--a bull moose with a nice rack basking in the warm sunlight. (Picture 1)

The number one goal of the AWCC is to bring the wood bison back from the brink of extinction.  They are making wonderful strides in increasing the numbers and health of this Alaska native.  This wood bison calf certainly looked healthy. (Picture 2)  We stayed and watched them from our car as they tried to do their part in growing the numbers (it must be mating season), rolling back and forth in dirt patches raising quite a cloud (scratching mosquito bites?), and charging at each other.  They have furry thighs, and many were shedding their coats. (Picture 3)

The next pen had teenager elk, and one stuck out his tongue at the camera (Picture 4).  How many of us with teenagers have seen them do the same thing?  The large bull elk in the next pen was sure proud of his rack, and looked like he was saying, "I'm all that!" (Picture 5)  What is it with elk and their tongues? (Picture 6)  Even adults do it.  Doesn't their tongue fit in their mouth?

They also had a sleeping lynx, Sitka deer, musk oxen, an owl, an eagle, a porcupine, caribou, and black and brown bears.  There were several busloads of tourists visiting the bears.  If I'd planned on going here, I'd have gone at 8:00 when they open or late (I think they're open until 8:00 PM) and have avoided the crowds.  People were driving their Class A motorhomes through with toads, but we were both glad that we were just in our Jeep.  If you went early or late when the tour buses weren't there, you'd do fine in an RV.

The AWCC does wonderful scientific work.  They carefully medically monitor the herds and take good care of them.  They receive funding from the state of Alaska, UAA, and private donations, as well as ticket sales.

Staying at Williwaw State Park Campground
Dean and Linda Stock
and Sherlock (the cat)
Cypress, CA
2006 Airstream Motor Home
2006 Jeep Liberty (Towed)

ArdraF

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Re: Alaska with the Stocks 2013
« Reply #128 on: July 21, 2013, 10:31:53 PM »
Nice photos!  And, yes, the eagles were great.  Your campsite looks beautiful.

ArdraF
ArdraF
:D :D

Dean & Linda Stock

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Re: Alaska with the Stocks 2013
« Reply #129 on: July 22, 2013, 03:17:03 AM »
July 20, 2013      Day 64      Anchorage

We left our pretty campground as late as possible because we knew we had a short drive of less than 100 miles to Palmer.  I hadn't slept well, which is very unusual, so I got Dean headed down the right road and promptly fell asleep.

An hour later, when I woke up, we were parked outside the movie theatre in Anchorage!  Dean had declared a "Play Day."  We ate burgers at Red Robin, then saw a movie.  We were able to get in for one night at the Golden Nugget RV Park.  Caravans abound everywhere we go and are filling parks to capacity.   Then we went back over to the movies to see "Red 2." 

Definitely a different day from the one I planned, but isn't retirement wonderful?

Staying at Golden Nugget $43.20, 50 amps, FHU, I think Dean forgot to ask for the Good Sam discount.



July 21, 2013      Day 65      Palmer

What a day!  We knew the drive to Valdez was 300 miles, and I had read that part of the road is potholed and washboard, so we got up and at 'em.  Dean scurried over to COSTCO when it opened at 10:00, filled up the gas tank on the Jeep, got money at the ATM, and picked up produce.  Then we attached, and I thought we were ready to go.  Nope!

One tire on the RV has had a very slow leak, and it is getting worse.  The TPM alarm went off, so we researched truck tire repair and found everyone closed because it was Sunday.  Dean figured it can go a little longer.  He wanted to get underway.

We gassed up at the Chevron on DeBarr again.  Last time, the man washed our front window 4 times, our side windows, and even our camera in the back.  For FREE!  Of course, we gave him a tip, but he made sure we knew it wasn't necessary.  This time, it was a zoo--lots of cars.  With the 80 weather, every car we saw this weekend had something attached to it--kayaks, a travel trailer, a trailer with "toys", or bikes.  Everyone is out playing in the sun.

I told Dean that all day we were on freeways Highway 1--North and then Highway 3 East, and they would be called the Glenn Highway and then the Richardson Highway..  We both had our GPSs set up, so we thought we were good.  I noticed that my GPS was "recalculating", but we were on Highway 1, which I knew was right, so I ignored it.  Note to self--When GPS recalculates, take notice!  I was reading my book and didn't pay attention.  I should have noticed that the ocean was on the passenger side when it should have been on the driver's side.  I looked up and the exit said "Portage".  That's where we left just yesterday!  We had gone south instead of north.  It seems that Dean's GPS thought it would be nice if we took the "Marine Highway" (the ferry)!  Of course, we didn't have reservations, hadn't calculated cost or schedule, so we made a U-turn and a phone call to Bayview RV Park in Valdez, who were kind enough not to laugh and extended the start day of our reservation by one day..  We would have had a ridiculous drive to make it to Valdez, so we opted for the best stop at Palmer.

We just missed getting to the Palmer Visitors Center before it closed, but we did see the garden there and explored Palmer a bit.  Then we went over to Wasilla and found a possible tire repair place.

Interesting fact:  A man was filling up his Mosquito Eater with propane.  It really does reduce the mosquito population around your home.  COSTCO sells them for several hundred dollars.

Another Interesting Fact from the News:  Bristol Bay Native Corporation (that's one of the 13 tribal groups)  owns Alaska's second biggest business (they didn't tell me what it was). 

Staying at Town & Country RV Park--FHU available with 30 amps for $30, or water and 50 amps (only a few sites) for $25, no one in office, but they're available by phone.  There's almost no one here, and it's a good park, but they don't answer their phone and their sign has a big bush that has grown halfway up the sign.  Someone needs to teach them marketing.  I believe the park is only 2 years old.  It has good WIFI, and the price is the best we've paid in Alaska when we've had water and electric.
Dean and Linda Stock
and Sherlock (the cat)
Cypress, CA
2006 Airstream Motor Home
2006 Jeep Liberty (Towed)

Derby6

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Re: Alaska with the Stocks 2013
« Reply #130 on: July 22, 2013, 12:14:29 PM »
Just made the Drive to Valdez.
Roads are littered with frost heaves.  I got air one time.  >:(
You'll hit construction in Glenallen.
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Dean & Linda Stock

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Re: Alaska with the Stocks 2013
« Reply #131 on: July 22, 2013, 12:28:41 PM »
Just made the Drive to Valdez.
Roads are littered with frost heaves.  I got air one time.  >:(
You'll hit construction in Glenallen.

It's good to know--even bad news.  When you're expecting it, it isn't as bad.  And, it means that we made good decisions--yesterday and day before--in choosing not to push on.  I'd hate to drive it at night.  Thanks.
Dean and Linda Stock
and Sherlock (the cat)
Cypress, CA
2006 Airstream Motor Home
2006 Jeep Liberty (Towed)

Henry Wishard

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Re: Alaska with the Stocks 2013
« Reply #132 on: July 22, 2013, 01:16:17 PM »
   Keep us informed on the road condition. We will be a couple of weeks behind you and Dean.
Henry & Margaret Wishard
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Dean & Linda Stock

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Re: Alaska with the Stocks 2013
« Reply #133 on: July 24, 2013, 11:35:43 AM »
   Keep us informed on the road condition. We will be a couple of weeks behind you and Dean.
I haven't posted because I keep forgetting to have Dean hook up the camera.  The road between Palmer and Glennallen is the second worst we've had on this trip.  Button down EVERYTHING!  Our cat's food dish flipped over when Dean had to hit the brakes hard because two bicyclists who were riding in line (correctly) were passed by a motorhome with toad, who chose not to slow down, and instead crossed well over the center line on a somewhat narrow road.  Dean thought we might have ahead-on crash.  It was mostly just bumpy washboard with lots of frostheaves.  Once you get to the Richardson, it was paved, some gentler frostheaves, but MUCH better.  I don't think it's going to change much.  The construction is to make a new bridge, which is a long-term project, and so it will still be there.  There wasn't any sign that they might be repairing the Glenn between Palmer and Glennallen--no equipment, surveyors, etc.  Just take it slow.  Dean likes to travel at 61 mph, and he slowed some, but not enough in my opinion.
Dean and Linda Stock
and Sherlock (the cat)
Cypress, CA
2006 Airstream Motor Home
2006 Jeep Liberty (Towed)

Dean & Linda Stock

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Re: Alaska with the Stocks 2013
« Reply #134 on: July 26, 2013, 03:44:18 AM »
July 22         Day 66         Valdez, AK

It was another beautiful 80 day.  The fireweed is getting close to being bloomed out, so we need to keep moving and not take too many free days to relax.  (Picture 1)

The road from Palmer to Glennallen was washboard with potholes and frostheaves, many of which were not marked.  When we got to the Richardson Highway at Glennallen, the road was smoothly paved.  There were some frostheaves, but they were much more gentle.

We stopped at the Matanuska Glacier. a large glacier with some pretty glacial blue, even on this bright day.  (Picture 2)  I think it's smaller than it was 4 years ago, but I'm going to have to look back through a  lot of pictures to do a comparison.  We had seen ice worms on our Whittier glacier tour, pickled in a jar.  But, at this glacier they had a sign with information.  They are about 0.5 inches long and segmented, like earthworms.  I'm amazed that they don't freeze.  And the sign says they avoid sunlight and heat, coming out only at dusk.  They collect food from glacial run off.  Sometimes they tangle themselves into a 10-20 worm ball, which scientists think may be mating behavior.

I also made arrangements to take two Stan Stephens Cruises.  His was our favorite in 2009.

Staying at Bayside RV Park--$152.00/4 days, 50 amps, FHU, overlooking an estuary next to the bay
Dean and Linda Stock
and Sherlock (the cat)
Cypress, CA
2006 Airstream Motor Home
2006 Jeep Liberty (Towed)

Dean & Linda Stock

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Re: Alaska with the Stocks 2013
« Reply #135 on: July 26, 2013, 03:50:13 AM »
July 23         Day 67         Valdez, AK

We re-acquainted  ourselves with Valdez and went over to check out the cruise situation.

 We visited the wonderful, free Maxine & Jessie Whitney Museum.  Maxine's story is truly one of making lemonade from lemons.  I got her biographical booklet just because she was so fascinating.  After she became wealthy, she traveled to remote Alaskan villages, collecting ancient artifacts and wonderful art.  She had so many things I'd never heard of, such as a fur, Russian prayer mat.  I could have taken as many pictures in this museum as Dean does on a marine cruise.   It's a small museum, but it is full of quality exhibits.  One of my favorite sections was the mammoth carvings. like Picture 1. There are huge taxidermied animals and the tiny ptarmigan. (Pictures 2, 3 & 4)  This moose was so huge Dean couldn't stand back far enough to get the whole body.   I learned so much here. The wolves (Picture 5) were so different in color from those I've seen before.  The red fox wasn't red.

We drove out to Allison Point to look for bald eagles and bears.  I saw two bald eagles as we were driving.  It's not far, so we may go again. 

Staying at Bayside RV Park--$152.00/4 days, 50 amps, FHU, overlooking an estuary next to the bay
« Last Edit: July 26, 2013, 03:53:11 AM by Dean & Linda Stock »
Dean and Linda Stock
and Sherlock (the cat)
Cypress, CA
2006 Airstream Motor Home
2006 Jeep Liberty (Towed)

Dean & Linda Stock

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  • Posts: 1195
Re: Alaska with the Stocks 2013
« Reply #136 on: July 26, 2013, 04:02:36 AM »
July 24         Day 68         Valdez, AK

I am so glad we came over to the cruise offices yesterday to check out the ramp.  They told us it would be a negative tide, and the ramp would be very steep.  Between my arthritis and my fear of heights, this sounded ominous.   We made arrangements for me to sit in a chair, which they would winch down to the dock.  Just look at the angle of this ramp!!! (Picture 1)  It was over 45!  All of our cruises have been great at accommodating my mobility issues, and there is no reason for anyone not to go on a cruise.

As we went by Columbia Glacier's inlet, we passed many icebergs (Picture 2).  Columbia calves away 10-15 TONS of ice each day and is considered in "catastrophic retreat."  We saw icebergs 18 miles away from it.  It is the last tidewater glacier to retreat.  It started in 1983 and has retreated 12 miles since then.

As we got further from the glacier, the water cleared from the glacial silt, and we could see the salmon swimming, as well as jumping in the air.  It's so transparent you can see the otter's body beneath the water, as well as his cute face.  (Picture 3)   Otters have 250,000 hairs per square inch of fur.  The whole human head has a total of 6,000.  Their body temp is 104.  There were many large rafts of 15 or more otters, however we only saw one mom with a pup.  All the captains have told us that the otter numbers are great, but I wonder how if there are so few pups.  Pups stay with their moms for 6 months to a year.  We were in 400 feet of water, and otters maximum dive is 150 feet, so they were truly relaxing.  They go nearer the shore to feed.

 Harbor seals rest on icebergs as they have a lot of blubber.(Picture 4)   The captain told us that this also provides shelter from transient orcas who feast on seals.  Resident orcas are not predators.  A male sea lion weighs 2400 pounds, and the female weighs 600 pounds.

We reached our destination, Mears Glacier. (Picture 5)  It is 15 miles long and one of the few advancing glaciers (it's being fed from more new snow on the back than what it calves off).   Its face is now 5 miles across and it is 130 feet high.

As we began our return trip, Dall's porpoises splashed in the far distance.  I was standing by the captain, and I couldn't believe that he spotted anything so far away, let alone knew what they must be.  These cute little porpoises, who look just like very miniaturized orcas, wanted to play in our wake, and we played with them for about 10 minutes.  They ride the boat's wake and dive under the boat, and getting a picture is very difficult.  There are some things you just have to consider "eye candy" and enjoy without a camera lens to your eye, and this was one of those events.  They are so fast they can exceed the maximum speed of the boat.  Dean shot a lot of pictures of water where they had surfed a second before. 

We saw our first humpback as we started our return trip.  He surfaced 3 times, spending 8 minutes feeding after each time he came up to breathe. (Picture 6) 

About 10 minutes later we saw a cow with her baby.  She was small, and the captain thought this was probably her first calf.  When they surfaced, they were so close that Dean had too big a lens on the camera.  (Picture 7)

We saw a group of about 100 tiny brightly-colored tufted puffins.  They were so tiny and right by the shore, so we couldn't get close enough.  It's too bad because Dean got a great shot of one landing on the water, but if I enlarge it enough to see it, it's so blurry you can't tell what it is if you don't already know.

We visited a haul-out where 40-50 sea lions were basking in the sun. (Picture 8)  Some of them came out and played around the boat--jumping, spinning, and diving.

Then another passenger spotted this eagle in the nest.  (Picture 9)

The grand finale of the trip was a humpback who was "chinning."  He would jump out of the water and slap his chin against the water as hard as he could, creating a huge splash. .  He entertained us for at least 20 minutes, and we left him before he was done playing.  There was only 30 seconds to 1 minute between splashes.  No one knows why they do this, so marine biologists think they're just having fun.  The first pictures (10 & 11) is as close to showing a mild chinslap as I could come because the others were so forceful, the pictures only show lots of spray.  Picture 12 shows him starting his jump from the water.  Sometimes he'd roll on their side and do a side flop.  A couple of times, he did a backflop (Picture 13), which created a humongous splash. (Picture 14)  We knew they came here to feed because they don't eat at all when they migrate to Mexico.  I was surprised to see him expend this much energy, and his slaps didn't get any less powerful as time went on.  What athleticism and stamina!

As we disembarked, two Arctic terns welcomed us ashore.  I had looked forward to seeing them at Potters Marsh because we'd enjoyed them in 2009.  When they weren't there, I figured we'd missed their season, and now here they were.  (Picture  )

When we drove into in the RV site, I spotted a black bear walking along the shore, then in the grass in front of the coach.  Unfortunately, by the time Dean could get his long lens attached, the bear was gone.

Staying at Bayside RV Park--$152.00/4 days, 50 amps, FHU, overlooking an estuary next to the bay

« Last Edit: July 26, 2013, 04:13:02 AM by Dean & Linda Stock »
Dean and Linda Stock
and Sherlock (the cat)
Cypress, CA
2006 Airstream Motor Home
2006 Jeep Liberty (Towed)

Dean & Linda Stock

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Re: Alaska with the Stocks 2013
« Reply #137 on: July 26, 2013, 04:14:26 AM »
More pictures
« Last Edit: July 26, 2013, 04:17:47 AM by Dean & Linda Stock »
Dean and Linda Stock
and Sherlock (the cat)
Cypress, CA
2006 Airstream Motor Home
2006 Jeep Liberty (Towed)

Henry Wishard

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Re: Alaska with the Stocks 2013
« Reply #138 on: July 26, 2013, 05:35:18 PM »
These are some great shots, hope we are as fortunate enough to see the same on our Glaciers cruise next Thursday in Valdez. Thanks for the report on the highway condition. Henry
Henry & Margaret Wishard
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ArdraF

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Re: Alaska with the Stocks 2013
« Reply #139 on: July 26, 2013, 11:00:31 PM »
Wonderful photos!  Sounds like you had a great Columbia Glacier cruise.

ArdraF
ArdraF
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Dean & Linda Stock

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Re: Alaska with the Stocks 2013
« Reply #140 on: July 28, 2013, 05:57:38 AM »
These are some great shots, hope we are as fortunate enough to see the same on our Glaciers cruise next Thursday in Valdez. Thanks for the report on the highway condition. Henry
If you haven't already booked it, I highly recommend the 9-hour cruise over the 6.5 hour.  We saw 10 times as many animals on the 9-hour because you go further out, and the animals were much more active.  I would rate the 9-hour a 100 and the 6.5 hour a 30.   Also, the Lulu Belle boat got really close to the Columbia Glacier on the 6.5 hour trip, whereas Stan Stephens boat was larger, which would give a more comfortable ride, but was the furthest away I've ever been from a glacier.  We used the coupon on the 6.5 hour tour and total was $120.  The 9-hour was $155 each, total $310, but was many times more worth it. On the 6.5 hour trip 90% of it was spent just boring boating, not seeing anything.  On the 9-hour, we saw something every 5 minutes or so, constant action.  On both of the Stephens cruises, the crew and captain were spectacular.
Dean and Linda Stock
and Sherlock (the cat)
Cypress, CA
2006 Airstream Motor Home
2006 Jeep Liberty (Towed)

Dean & Linda Stock

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Re: Alaska with the Stocks 2013
« Reply #141 on: July 28, 2013, 06:00:44 AM »
Wonderful photos!  Sounds like you had a great Columbia Glacier cruise.

ArdraF

Thanks.  We went by the mouth of the Columbia Glacier, but we actually went to the Mears Glacier.  We took the Columbia 6.5 hour cruise 2 days later, and while every cruise was good, it was by far the least interesting.
Dean and Linda Stock
and Sherlock (the cat)
Cypress, CA
2006 Airstream Motor Home
2006 Jeep Liberty (Towed)

Dean & Linda Stock

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Re: Alaska with the Stocks 2013
« Reply #142 on: July 28, 2013, 06:11:15 AM »
July 25         Day 69      Valdez, AK

It rained all night, and I wasn't feeling well so I called Stan Stevens to see if we could postpone our next marine cruise by one day.  They were very accommodating.  Despite predictions of 60% rain, it cleared by 9:00.  We had an overcast, but dry, day.

I looked out our front window and saw yesterday's black bear, and it wasn't even half as far away.  He was just eating grass and roots.  (Picture 1)

I posted back logs for a while, and then I noticed a glaucous gull chasing a bald eagle.  I couldn't believe who was chasing whom.  The bald eagle landed in the grass near where the bear had been, and the gull flew off.  I grabbed my binoculars, hoping to see the bald eagle in flight. And there began a story of perseverance, best told by pictures.

The bald eagle turned his attention to becoming a nest builder.  Picture 2
He has found a stick that would fit nicely in his nest.                  Picture 3
Will he make it?                                                    Picture 4
He crashes.                            Picture 5
He decides to try using his beak instead of the talons.          Picture 6
Nope, let's try the talons again.                    Picture 7
Concentrate!                            Picture 8
Liftoff!                            Picture 9
I know I can!                             Picture 10
I did it!                               Picture 11
I have overcome.                         Picture 12
Flying high.                            Picture 13
Home at last!                            Picture 14
"Honey, I'm home, and I brought you a present!"             Picture 15

We bought burgers to go from Old Town Burgers--the best burger I've had in a very long time, and outstanding fries (which I don't usually like).  We had halibut fish & chips there a couple of days ago, and it was also great.

Staying at Bayside RV Park--$152.00/4 days, 50 amps, FHU
« Last Edit: July 28, 2013, 06:15:31 AM by Dean & Linda Stock »
Dean and Linda Stock
and Sherlock (the cat)
Cypress, CA
2006 Airstream Motor Home
2006 Jeep Liberty (Towed)

Dean & Linda Stock

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Re: Alaska with the Stocks 2013
« Reply #143 on: July 28, 2013, 06:19:13 AM »
The rest of the story....
Dean and Linda Stock
and Sherlock (the cat)
Cypress, CA
2006 Airstream Motor Home
2006 Jeep Liberty (Towed)

Dean & Linda Stock

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Re: Alaska with the Stocks 2013
« Reply #144 on: July 28, 2013, 12:05:46 PM »

July 27      Day 71      Valdez, AK

We had another beautiful day--somewhat overcast, but that should make the glacial blue on the glaciers even more beautiful. 

Getting to see spectacular sights is the biggest benefit of traveling.  The downside to that is that we're not as easily impressed, and things that used to "WOW!" us, no longer do because we've seen so much better.  We/ve been on 10 Alaskan marine cruises.  When Dean asked me what I wanted for Christmas, I said, "Nothing.  Please save the money and use it to buy another marine cruise in Alaska."  On our two trips to Alaska, we've been on 10 marine cruises.  The 9-hour Stan Stephens cruise that we went on 2 days ago was probably our #1 favorite.  Today's cruise was disappointing, and decidedly in last place.  However, it did have a few special moments.   The Chinese family who we spoke with were thrilled because they saw things they'd never seen before. 

The boat for the Stan Stephens Columbia Glacier 6.5 hour trip was smaller than the 9-hour Mears Glacier boat, which was important only because of the decreased rail space outside, and the boat was full.  There was a large Korean tour group and probably a lot of people like us who didn't go yesterday because of the rain.  The large number of people, my short height, and my lack of speed and mobility, meant that I didn't see much, unless it was on my side of the boat.  There were very few sightings, and most of the day was pretty boring.. Nevertheless, Dean got good pictures of what was out there because he has had enough experiences to anticipate and get to a good spot.  He watches where the captain is looking as soon as he hears the boat start to slow down, and he goes to a place where he will be able to get his pictures.  He's still almost 6' tall, so he also has a height advantage.

Our first sighting was about 30 minutes out, when the captain announced there were a few otters, but they quickly dove under the water. (Picture 1)

Then the captain spotted a mated pair of bald eagles (Picture 2).  One flew off, but returned to his mate (Picture 3).  In Picture 3, is his wife giving him a piece of her mind for leaving her when that ship came close?  She's really worked up in Picture 4.  Then, together, they both told us to go away (Picture 5)  In Picture 6, peace has returned.  Dean got to see this play out.  I got glimpses between the 2 rows of people in front of me, but didn't see the story until I edited his pictures.  A few minutes later, we saw 2 nesting eagles in a tree, but we were quite far away, and a minute later, we saw a single bald eagle.

There were a lot of fishing boats doing "clean up" fishing since it's the end of the pink salmon fishing.   All the boats were seiners and had put out a big net in a circle of net, which they then draw closed the bottom, and bring it up. I saw a fishing boat bringing in the "money bag." I've never seen them haul up their catch before, and they did have a net full of salmon..  Dean was unable to get any pictures, despite our captain stopping for a few minutes to allow us to view it.

The captain got word  from a boat that earlier there had been orcas, so we went to the spot and waited about ten minutes, but there was no sign of life.  However, I got lucky and spotted a humpback whale and her calf and remembered to yell, "One o'clock whale."  That's the first time I've ever been the first to see a whale. (Picture 7)

Another half-hour later, we saw a group of juvenile or unsuccessful bachelor sea lions crowded together on a haul-out.  The captain said that in 1980, for some unexplained reason, the population of sea otters decreased by 80%.  Scientists branded many of them, noting with the brand where they were so they could follow their migratory route.  They have been rebounding as of late.

We saw about six horned puffins, and for us this was a first time to see them in the wild.  They only stayed around for about 30 seconds and they were pretty far away, but Dean got this great shot. (Picture 9)  I saw them with my binoculars, but didn't realized they were horned, not tufted, until I saw his pictures.

Then we were served lunch, which included the following: lemonade or water, a half-filled cup of clam chowder, a bagel, cream cheese, and oreo cookies on a tray, which you had to juggle on your lap.  On the other boat, we had a great lunch of chicken alfredo, but more importantly, a table on which to eat. On both trips the crew served the meal and collected the trash afterwards.  I can't say enough good things about the crews both times; they were so friendly, considerate, efficient, knowledgeable, and hard-working.

Twenty miles from the Columbia Glacier, there were icebergs.  Picture 10 was the most gorgeous glacial blue and had an interesting shape.  They usually only last 24 hours because the water melts them. 

It took us a very long time of going slow through the icefield to get about 1 mile from Columbia.  Meanwhile, we watched as the LuluBelle, a competing company, took their boat along the shoreline right up to the glacier's 10 mile wide face.  We had to stop so far away that we couldn't hear any of the groans and pops that glaciers make, and we didn't see any calving, though it probably was occurring.  It is giving off 15 tons of ice per day, so I assume that was happening while we were there and even with binoculars, we couldn't see it.  The glacier is in "catastrophic retreat," and in the 1990's was giving off 30 TONS of ice per day.   It is the first glacier in catastrophic retreat to be studied by scientists because the other glaciers did it 300-500 years ago.  It will continue to retreat until it is no longer in the water.

I've reported every sighting we made on the trip.  I chose not to report at least three times as  many sightings from our 9-hour trip, in addition to those I did write about.  I love the Stan Stephens company, but even with a coupon, I wouldn't go on this cruise again.
Dean and Linda Stock
and Sherlock (the cat)
Cypress, CA
2006 Airstream Motor Home
2006 Jeep Liberty (Towed)

Dean & Linda Stock

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Re: Alaska with the Stocks 2013
« Reply #145 on: July 28, 2013, 12:08:16 PM »
More pictures...

Dean and Linda Stock
and Sherlock (the cat)
Cypress, CA
2006 Airstream Motor Home
2006 Jeep Liberty (Towed)

Marsha/CA

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Re: Alaska with the Stocks 2013
« Reply #146 on: July 28, 2013, 12:31:28 PM »
Linda....great fun reading your posts.  We did the Lulu Belle when we were there and loved it.  It was a 9+ hour cruise and he was able to get the nose of the boat into cave openings.  What we loved about that cruise is that the pilot/owner built the boat and uses it in the winter season down in the Seattle area to live in.  It is beautifully built with lots of hand crafted wood.  He gave lots of history and lots of wildlife information.

We also did the Stan Stephen Mear's Glacier tour and it was great also, but we loved the intimacy of the Lulu Belle.

Marsha~


2017 Heartland Mallard IDM231 Travel Trailer....Small but mighty.

Dean & Linda Stock

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Re: Alaska with the Stocks 2013
« Reply #147 on: July 29, 2013, 10:51:58 PM »
Linda....great fun reading your posts.  We did the Lulu Belle when we were there and loved it.  It was a 9+ hour cruise and he was able to get the nose of the boat into cave openings.  What we loved about that cruise is that the pilot/owner built the boat and uses it in the winter season down in the Seattle area to live in.  It is beautifully built with lots of hand crafted wood.  He gave lots of history and lots of wildlife information.

We also did the Stan Stephen Mear's Glacier tour and it was great also, but we loved the intimacy of the Lulu Belle.

Marsha~

Thanks.  You did it just the way I would have done it if I had a "do-over".  We didn't have sufficient knowledge when we went to make a good decision.  I wish I'd asked you, but I thought I knew because we'd been there before.  I think last time we must have just done the 9-hour tour.
Dean and Linda Stock
and Sherlock (the cat)
Cypress, CA
2006 Airstream Motor Home
2006 Jeep Liberty (Towed)

Dean & Linda Stock

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Re: Alaska with the Stocks 2013
« Reply #148 on: July 30, 2013, 12:22:59 AM »
July 28         Day 72      Haines Junction, YT

What a miserable day!  We drove from Valdez to Haines Junction.   I heard on RV'er say that it was worse than Top of the World Highway.  Now, I wouldn't go that far, because when we drove that on a dry day, the dust contained a chemical that they had applied to settle the dust.  That fine dust came into the coach and burned my throat, nostrils, and lungs.  But, I can say that it's bad enough to discourage me from coming to Alaska again.  Not that I won't, after I put my pictures in my photo album and re-live the wonderful experiences that we've had here.

The road in Alaska was fair, with many damaged frost heaved sections.  The border crossing was a breeze.  The guard asked about 10 questions in 2 minutes and we were on our way. 

Then we came to the sign, "WELCOME TO THE YUKON."  Thwap!  Oomph!  Oomph!   Dean hadn't slowed yet, and by the time he did, I'd had the air knocked out of me twice.  And it didn't get better until we were about an hour outside of Haines Junction when the road was, I think, recently re-paved but already had damage.

There were many gravel parts, and would you believe some people were doing over 50 mph?  And the #1 culprit was RVers, I'm sad to say.  #2 culprit was truckers.  We got another crack in our windshield when a truck towing a trailer came pelted us with gravel so forcefully that it sounded like we were under fire in a gun battle.  There were miles and miles of gravel.  They are doing a lot of construction, so at least they're trying to make it better.

The day was gorgeous--over 80.  So, of course, Dean wanted to keep his window open.  I understood why, but I had stayed up until 4:00 in the morning before we left cleaning and doing computer work. I figured that I could sleep on the road today.  Boy, was I wrong!

The road dust is so fine that it comes in, even with all windows and vents closed up.  I didn't think about putting away Kleenex.  When I used a tissue to get the dust from my nose, the tissue was full of dust! When I picked up the liquid soap to wash my hands, it was gritty.  If I were to do this drive again, God forbid, I'd stow and cover EVERYTHING.  I'd put everything I could--like my books--in the refrigerator with its air-tight seal.  I just keep discovering more places that the grit has invaded.  My medications that were inside a sealed pill case have grit on them.  The whole coach, even the walls, has a layer of that gritty dust.

We saw a Winnebago pulled as far over to the side of the road as he could and had orange triangles set up behind his rig.  We pulled over, hoping we could help him.  He told us that he had broken a fan belt and was traveling with another couple who had gone ahead and phoned for help.   They had arranged for a flatbed to come from Watson Lake (over 500 miles!) to pick up his rig.  The cost must have been enormous.  He was a retired rep from Winnebago and had plenty of supplies to wait, so we moved on to the next frost heave.

About 6:00, when we were still several hours out, we got wonderful rain.  It settled the dust, which made things so much better.  The road was still terrible, but life was more tolerable.  And, then, I saw the most beautiful rainbow.  (Picture 1)  And, just a little further over, a "wanna be" rainbow, a fuzzy mixture of colors.  I studied one 3-month summer at the U of Hawaii, so I saw hundreds of rainbows (it rained every day for at least a brief period).  I've never seen the end of a rainbow before or a "wanna be" rainbow, so I was excited.  A bright burst of color lifts the spirits.

Cleaning is a "pink" job, and Dean had lots of other things to do when we came in.  But, without being asked, he joined me in grabbing Clorox wipes and going over as much as he could. This is a first. Without being asked!  Wow! It just gives you a sense of the magnitude of the problem when everything you touch is gritty.  We ate dinner at midnight--the latest ever.

Afterwards, I rewarded myself with a wonderful, warm, soothing shower.  Nothing has ever felt better.

Dean is doing repairs as I am writing this.  The drapery motor was affected, but that was a quick fix.

 He tried to be pro-active at rest stops.  We jerked from left to right so strongly that our spice rack flew open and the screws had to be re-tightened.  Dean says we need to glue them in.  The refrigerator came out from its holder by over 2 inches.  Dean taped it to cabinetry with his super-strong tape, which worked well.  Tonight, he has worked over 2 hours trying to get the dust out of the GPS with that spray air you use on computers.  The GPS is working now, but the rear camera, which is part of the same system, isn't.  Dean has declared that it's time to go to bed.  He just realized that perhaps the reason that the rear camera is showing all black is that it is dark outside.  It was a long, tough day, and I'm sure we'll sleep well.

Staying at Kluane RV Kampground--around $28, water and 30 amps, cable TV which didn't work on either of two post plug-ins, WiFi if we go up to the office after 8:00 in the morning and use it up there

Dean and Linda Stock
and Sherlock (the cat)
Cypress, CA
2006 Airstream Motor Home
2006 Jeep Liberty (Towed)

ArdraF

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Re: Alaska with the Stocks 2013
« Reply #149 on: July 30, 2013, 12:41:56 AM »
Thank goodness for rainbows and other beautiful places!  Hope it's all better from here on.

ArdraF
ArdraF
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