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Author Topic: Great Alaska Adventure - 2013  (Read 28576 times)

SaltyAdventurer

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Great Alaska Adventure - 2013
« on: May 31, 2013, 11:52:01 AM »
Departed Greenwood Village today (Tuesday, May 28) after having 2 emergency visits by a plumber. Last night as we eased into our final tasks, with the thought of leaving quite early this morning, Murphy's Law kicked in big-time. The garbage disposer(s) threw a tantrum--clogged and stopped working. Then everything backed up....dirty water full of garbage began bubbling up through both drains, but even worse, that same awful stuff began pouring by the gallons out of the cabinet beneath the kitchen sink onto the cherrywood floor.  Yikes! 25 sodden towels later the flood had abated.

First visit by the plumber at 8 am seemed to fix the problem(s). But a few minutes after he left, Don was doing dishes and the whole scene repeated itself. Called plumber to request he return immediately. Long story short: Despite using a 50 foot snake 4 times, pipes far away in the basement remained clogged. We'll have to have things fixed properly when we get home.  Until then, I taped 6 warning signs everywhere around the sink & faucet: DO NOT USE!

So we finally launched our Rollin Home northward at 12:25 pm, 3 hours after we had planned to leave. YAHOO, we're embarked on The Great Alaska Adventure!! Feels soooo good to be on our way, finally.

We zipped up I-25 to Casper, Wyoming, and rolled into our campground at exactly 6 pm. Not bad. We just finished having cheese & crackers w a bit of caviar to celebrate...and wine, of course!...followed by a green salad with chunks of grilled chicken/maple sausage. 

We never had rain along the way today, but drove under intermittent black clouds several times. As we drove north of Cheyenne, Wyoming, i could see in the rear view mirror a splendid full rainbow, very broad and colorful. What a good omen for our 110-day trek.

The sun is out and the skies are clear. Breezes are lovely. We're alongside the river near Casper at River's Edge RV Park. Good place! Decent price, gorgeous showers, very clean. I'm going to get busy unpacking "stuff" that I still have in duffel bags, and stowing it away in cabinets. Don is disappointed he can't get the NBA Miami-Indiana playoff game on cable TV here. But we've settled in, taken walks, and it's mellowing-out time. Yawn.

Everything unpacked...and would you believe it?...we still have 1 totally empty cabinet over the driver's seat and 2 large empty bins in rear cabinets. Miracles DO happen! Don swore I was taking enough clothes and accessories for 8 months on the road. Who, me?  This Itasca Reyo has an enormous amount of storage space in it...I'm really impressed!  I love this Rollin Home...best vehicle we can imagine. Even all the "extra" food I brought packs away neatly in cabinets above and below. Amazing. And of course we always carry 4 gallon-size bottles of fresh water with us , just in case!

Night all! More news tomorrow from Dubois, Wyoming, on our way to the Tetons. (Pronounced due-boys, by the way...no Frenchie stuff up here in cowboy country.

Klondike Susie (aka Salty Adventurer)
« Last Edit: May 31, 2013, 11:55:27 AM by SaltyAdventurer »
Klondike Susie aka Salty Adventurer
2013 Itasca Reyo (25', no toad)
Married to oldedit
Resides in Denver CO area & Silverthorne CO

SaltyAdventurer

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Re: Great Alaska Adventure - 2013
« Reply #1 on: May 31, 2013, 12:16:12 PM »
Lovely drive from Casper to Dubois, WY for 2 nights in Dubois. At first I thought, How silly to have planned 2 nights in Dubois this early in the trip! But it was a good thing we had 2 days here...Life Lesson #1 on this trip: NEVER EVER have the heater plugged in when I turn on the teakettle to heat water for tea in the morning! All power throughout the vehicle went off. Ugh! Blew out the GFI for the entire vehicle. 

We thought it was a circuit breaker or a fuse...DH knew where the breakers were and the fuses, and he tested everything. Fuses were OK. Still no power anywhere. Winnebago guy said it oight be the GFI switch.  Oh, yeah! First we had to locate the GFI switch...a call to Winnebago headquarters helped us on that one. No RV repair places anywhere close, though. Ugh Ugh. No local electricians answered their phones. DH left messages. Then DH did his walkabout thing, talked to several RVers here at the CG, and then had a conversation with the maintenance fella here at the fabulous Longhorn Ranch RV Park in Dubois. AHA! Maintenance guy agreed to stop by our rig and see what he could do...he's a trained universal technician from Wisconsin who can troubleshoot like a master! Less than 2 hours later, everything is fixed and working fine! What luck, what a find, what a sweetheart!

A late lunch at The Cowboy Cafe in Dubois, and a quick look through the 2 art galleries in town, and we went back to Longhorn to hang out, take walks, read for the evening. Sun is out, but the winds are ferocious. Very blustery. Snow is predicted tonight in Jackson Hole and possibly here as well.  The winds are literally rocking the Rollin Home...maybe it's a good thing we have my oversized hips and butt as ballast, huh?

Longhorn Ranch Resort and RV Park reviews:  Fabulous place! This is the way ALL RV parks should be!  We have a back-in spot right on the Wind River...flowing fast and deep, in minor flood stage right now but not up over the banks anywhere yet. Gorgeous setting, with high palisades across the river to watch at sunset.  Lots of trees here in the park, shady settings for RVs, big spaces, probably the nicest shower-rooms I've ever seen in an RV park!  All for $35/night for the "premium" spot. Wow.  We'd come back here in a blink! 

Not much to do in Dubois, though, and we decided not to drive to Jackson Hole today...just another chi-chi ski town. Yawn.  And it's pretty cold to do much long hiking anywhere. Gave me time to finish organizing all my Alaska Adventure itinerary materials, and resume reading Michener's "Alaska", which I started about 2 months ago. Had to quit in order to read books for my book club...

We're ready to start unhooking in order to take off...it's 11:15 am....pretty typical for us, I must say. We must be on vacation!  Another post tonight after we're in Colter Bay Village RV Park, in Yellowstone NP.  Hope the weather warms up a bit. 
Klondike Susie aka Salty Adventurer
2013 Itasca Reyo (25', no toad)
Married to oldedit
Resides in Denver CO area & Silverthorne CO

Railroadpastor

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Re: Great Alaska Adventure - 2013
« Reply #2 on: May 31, 2013, 12:24:52 PM »
WE made the trip north last year. Left early May and returned in August. We also had problems. Seems that one of the grandchildren dropped something in the commode and never told us. We found out after we were on the road for a week. Then the dog broke my wife's arm in Yellowstone. I wish you luck on the journey. If you get to Homer, check out a campground about 2 miles away called Deep Creek. Watch the boats being launched and watch all the Eagles. Great place to camp.

Dean & Linda Stock

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Re: Great Alaska Adventure - 2013
« Reply #3 on: May 31, 2013, 07:55:52 PM »
Snow is predicted tonight in Jackson Hole and possibly here as well. 

Longhorn Ranch Resort and RV Park reviews:  Fabulous place! 

resume reading Michener's "Alaska", which I started about 2 months ago.

 Hope the weather warms up a bit.

Dean and i found a nice place to eat on a corner in Jackson Hole, which had a small in size salad bar, but it was filled with small quantities (4 cups?) of FRESH, bite-size of probably 20 different ingredients.  As you go north, you will find less and less good-quality, fresh ingredients, so you may want to have lunch in Jackson Hole.

Thanks for the info on Longhorn Ranch Resort.  I will add that to my files because i can see us going back to WY.

Amen, sister, warmth is a good thing.  However, when we were in Fairbanks in '09, we had 90° and forest fires, so just don't hope too fervently. 

See the note on my log re Calgary.
Dean and Linda Stock
and Sherlock (the cat)
Cypress, CA
2006 Airstream Motor Home
2006 Jeep Liberty (Towed)

SaltyAdventurer

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Re: Great Alaska Adventure - 2013
« Reply #4 on: June 04, 2013, 09:31:14 PM »
June 1, 2013…
It’s 5:50 pm and I’m utterly exhausted, but such a pleasant and exhilarating exhaustion it is. Don and I headed out for a walk at 10 am and ended up taking a trail that went along the shore of Jackson Lake and then inland quite a ways to Heron Pond. We returned to the Rollin Home by 3 pm, with a total of 4 miles under our belts For me, this was a true miracle. My first real hike in more than 6 months of healing my broken upper-femur following a skiing accident Dec. 21, and endless exercises and physical therapy.

Many times I’ve wondered (and worried!!) whether I’d ever be “normal” again, and if I’d ever be able to walk distances and do the hiking I so love. I’ve had so much continuing pain around my knee joint, in the thigh area (quad muscle) and groin/pelvic area that I knew I’d torn all the tendons, ligaments and soft tissue really badly. All the predictions were good: It’ll heal, just give it time. Six months? A year? More? By the time I returned today from our hike, I was tired and achy, and now, at this hour, I’m quite stiff and lame. But I’ll do it again tomorrow, by gosh! Because today proved that I’m coming back to my old self! Yee hah!!!

The trail we took today was gorgeous, the first half with constant views of Jackson Lake’s little coves and bays, with Mt. Moran and the Grand Teton across the lake as a backdrop. The second half of the trail was through forests of old-growth trees, many of them well over 90 feet tall, pointing to the clear blue sky. A very few wildflowers were blooming…tiny yellow 5-petal things in sunny patches, and tiny white 3-petal elfins. Too early yet for any others to show their faces. In a few areas where warm meadows had turned lime green with lush grass, bunches of yellow daisy-like flowers were abloom, faces to the sun.

This is one of the first relatively warm days in the Tetons this year…the high was about 65. And, for once, very little wind. Lots of people were renting kayaks on the lake, and about a dozen powerboats were headed out onto the lake from the Colter Bay Marina.
A lady from Florida working on her boat at the marina dock said it costs $1,800 a season (June through September) for their boat’s dock space. The lake, 20-some miles long, is 400 feet deep at its deepest point, and has good anchorages for overnight stays. Her husband catches trout, which they fix for dinners.

We had intended to take that trail we walked to Swan Lake, and then loop around to return where we started, but several posted warnings about a mother elk (cow) and her calf on the trail encouraged us to inquire of oncoming hikers whether they’d seen the elk or not. Several had, and Mama Elk was been taunted enough yesterday by hikers to be agitated today…feeling very protective of her young, she aggressively attacked one young woman who played dodge-em’ with the elk by hiding behind trees before she retreated to safety and backtracked. So we decided to go as far as Heron Lake, rest up a bit, and return the way we came.

We had a picnic lunch outside at our picnic table when we reached the Rollin Home…a few crackers, Havarti cheese chunks, a sliced tomato, homemade cucumber pickles I brought with us, liver pate, and large-grain mustard with Guiness. A sliced apple for dessert. Just right.

Then a 45-minute nap. Both of us down for the count. Felt good. When I awoke, I immediately plowed into Michener’s “Alaska”…feels good to be reading it as we head for Alaska. And most of the Alaska I’m reading about are in the northwest part of Alaska, which we won’t even see. Alaska is such a huge landmass, and we’re seeing only a tiny part of it.

Don just got back from a walkabout among the RV campers…he talks to absolutely everybody. He just met a guy from Florida, 62, sold his business 5 years ago, owned a dock and seawall-building company in the Tampa-Orlando area. Knew the brother of a longtime friend of ours. More small world experiences!

A beautiful day in every way! Weather is perfect. Surroundings are gorgeous. People are friendly. Campground is only about half full. And my body is cooperating, finally.

Have to go out for another walk, down to the Lake, before the sun sets. G’night all.

Klondike Susie aka Salty Adventurer
2013 Itasca Reyo (25', no toad)
Married to oldedit
Resides in Denver CO area & Silverthorne CO

SaltyAdventurer

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Re: Great Alaska Adventure - 2013
« Reply #5 on: June 04, 2013, 09:33:09 PM »
Sunday June 2, 2013 Post:

We were both dead tired last night, Don from having walked about 6 miles, me from having trundled 4 miles yesterday on our trail hikes. Slept like babies, except for the perspiration-inducing heat at about 1 am inside the Rollin Home.

I was tossing and turning, throwing off all the covers, waking intermittently but not enough to take action. Don, however, resolved the problem, getting up to turn down the dials on the small ceramic heater we use at night when it’s quite old outside. It’s incredibly efficient, and very quiet, so we use it instead of the RV’s noisy furnace, which heats all right, but also wakes us up each time it switches on. In any case, Don had set the ceramic heater’s thermostat much too low before coming to bed last night. Hence, the heater was running almost continuously while outdoor temperatures were still quite mild. Oh lordy, did it get broiling hot indoors.

After things finally cooled down a bit, we slept well, restoring achy bodies for our anticipated walks in Yellowstone today. We headed for Old Faithful fairly early, stopping along the way as we entered the broad section of the ancient volcanic caldera at West Thumb, to walk the half-mile boardwalk past the many bubbling pools, paint pots, and sulfur-blue ponds, down along the glittering Yellowstone Lake. At one spot, we watched as 9 ducks (3 different species) dove deep into the lake for food just offshore…a fertile spot for their efforts because bubbling hot water emerges at that spot from an underwater “pipe.”

The weather today has been perfect – sparkling and cool, with clear blue skies this morning turning cloudy this afternoon. Temperatures in the 50s and low 60s until midafternoon when they rose to near 70, then cooling off as the day ended with cloudiness.

After our long walk at West Thumb’s attractions, we stopped for a brief picnic further along the road to Old Faithful at Scaup Lake, on our way down from one of the high mountain passes. We decided to eat outdoors on the shore of the small, sparkling lake. Don jumped out to get the chairs and a table set up, while I made lunch. But within minutes, Don changed his mind about our plan…he quickly tossed the chairs back into the rear storage bay and folded up the table and pushed it inside. Bugs were everywhere…hatches were taking place, and various kinds of flies were smotheringly thick. Inside was better, with windows open for breezes! We dined on fresh coleslaw with pieces of sliced sugar snap peas in it, a sliced tomato, some pickles, bits of cheese, and a few chunks of grilled sausage. Just right.

On to Old Faithful, where I took a short walk and then went into the gorgeous timber structure, Old Faithful Inn, for a dish of ice cream, and to try to find a Weekend WSJ and The New York Times while Don walked the mile-long boardwalk around all the pools and geysers at that site, and climbed the 200 steps to the overlook as well. We planned to meet at a bench by Old Faithful for the 3:08 geyser show. I learned no newspapers were available…only the Bozeman paper and USA Today. Yuck. Don did the walk and climb in exactly an hour, returning to our meeting spot just before the big blow.

Faithful was off by about 10 minutes, but it was a good blast when it finally took place.

We ended our day just outside the little town of West Yellowstone, at a KOA campground that is lovely….great views of mountains in all directions, and far enough off the highway to be quiet for sleeping. A nice 2-seater swing at every RV site. But lousy wifi and phone service. Verizon does itself and its customer an injustice by having such poor service up here…and of course, Don is quote nuts without knowing what’s going on worldwide. Being out of touch for 3 days without good tv / cable channels and Internet for Don is real torture!

The wifi and Verizon issues are enough to cause us to cut short our planned 3-day stay here to only 1 night. Tomorrow we’ll move on to somewhere…maybe Mammoth Hot Springs, maybe elsewhere. We’re improvising at this point, which is fun.

I am insisting that we north and east through Yellowstone from here to the northeast corner of Yellowstone Park and on to Cooke City, MT. We just have to drive the fabled Beartooth Hwy (Hwy 212) between Cooke City ad Red Lodge, MT, which Charles Kuralt called the most beautiful drive in the world, where the rocks are so ancient that it is the closest we will ever be to the beginnings of time. Don has grudgingly agreed to do this, but I’m going to have a devil of a time finding him any place with good phone reception and/or good wifi connections. We ARE in the boonies!

Hot showers are beckoning tonight. I’m planning to make us an omelet for breakfast tomorrow morning.
Klondike Susie aka Salty Adventurer
2013 Itasca Reyo (25', no toad)
Married to oldedit
Resides in Denver CO area & Silverthorne CO

SaltyAdventurer

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Re: Great Alaska Adventure - 2013
« Reply #6 on: June 04, 2013, 09:34:37 PM »
Monday June 3, 2013 Post:

We have winter conditions here in Cooke City, MT. Lows tonight expected to be in the mid-20s. And we are in a motel…not an RV park in sight for 100 miles with any hookups. And by gosh, we’re not going back to West Yellowstone for love or money!

We were driving merrily along the Beartooth Highway 212 toward Red Lodge, MT, this afternoon as the skies turned gray and ominous. Temp was dropping, but, hey, we were going over mountain passes at about 7800 feet so that was logical, right? The scenery was so splendid it took our breaths away. Tall, jagged, pointy peaks in the west, granite and gneiss cliffs in another. Sandstone palisades in the third, and pinyon pine-covered high mountains frosty with snow in the fourth. Amazing. I can see why Charles Kuralt years ago called this stretch of highway the most beautiful in North America.

We climbed and climbed toward the pass to get to Red Lodge, and as we rounded a curve ahead of us was the big snow removal equipment. And a closed gate blocking the road. Hey, two signs we saw earlier in the day said the road was OPEN all the way to Red Lodge. What’s the deal, guys?

Mr. Snowplow Driver had just closed the gate seconds earlier. Only one car was ahead of us, getting an explanation of why the road was closed. Big snowstorm coming in, and winds were building. Drifts were already building at the pass, too. No-go tonight! Too dangerous. Maybe tomorrow. Oh, rats!

So we lumbered back to Cooke City (or Silver Gate, a tiny place with about 10 buildings, where we’d had a great lunch at the Log Cabin Café). Staying in the RV without electricity in the predicted cold wasn’t an appealing option. We decided to seek out “the best of the worst” places in Cooke City, population about 125, which has three saloons, a gas station, six restaurants including a “bistro” of sorts, and eight motels and lodges….most of them pretty 1940s and 50s-looking, and shabby. One has tiny vacation cabins. Ruled it out. Super 8 had seen better days. Alpine Lodge & Motel said it had ESPN and Wi-Fi. Aha! Best bet. Don can at least watch the NBA playoff game on TNT between the Pacers and the Heat. He’s happy!

Actually, Don has not been a happy camper today. He threw out his back somehow this morning as we were getting ready to leave West Yellowstone KOA. Not good. He can hardly move. I drove all day…fine with me! I had a blast! 

A few more comments about our day: Neither of us had ever been in the northeast quadrant of Yellowstone NP. It is definitely “the roads least traveled.” We passed a lot more geyser and bubbling pool areas on the way to well-developed and mighty busy Canyon Village. Then we turned north to Tower-Roosevelt, where we turned right and headed east, to exit from the northeast corner of Yellowstone. The roads are older, narrower and less improved on these routes. But the scenery is far more beautiful. It reminded us of when we were here in the early 1970s…Don said it even reminded him of when he visited Yellowstone with his family in the 1950s.
We saw several elk along the way, and some cars were stopped to watch some deer on a hillside. But as we moved along the Lamar River into the Lamar Valley, our experience turned magical. A huge herd of bison lead by a big bull was ambling down the middle of the road towards us. A very long line of vehicles was backed up, coming from the opposite direction. We were about fifth in line going in our direction. The bison were clearly heading for the lush fertile meadows we had just passed.

There were probably 50 to 75 cows, with at least 30 or 40 frisky, ginger-colored calves, come of them very young, maybe just days or a week old. They wandered at will between cars and RVs, going in whatever direction their moods moved them to follow, as if we tourists weren’t there at all. We watched as a cow licked her young calf with her huge tongue, and he licked her back. The bedraggled winter fur on the bison, some of it hanging off in long tangled shreds as spring moves in, reminded us of the dirty, matted dreadlocks we see on so many youngish street people in urban areas of the nation.

We had been given a wonderful gift…a great opportunity to watch bison doing what bison ordinarily do. After about a half hour, they had passed and we moved on.

What came next took all the remaining traffic off the road. We entered the luscious, fertile, lime green Lamar Valley, an enormous meadow rich with flowing water and grass. Hundreds of bison – perhaps as many as a thousand -- were scattered across the landscape. Sun shone in patches. Some bison were laying on the ground, being lazy. Others were walking toward some unknown destination. Fuzzy calves were frisking and jumping the way young ’uns do when they’re loaded with energy. This must be the kind of scene Native Americans saw hundreds of years ago when they hunted bison in the summer, when valleys like this were filled with tens of thousands of bison. It was spectacular!

Every pullout was filled with cars and RVs. So we didn’t stop. But we passed a narrow point in the road and entered the next section of the Lamar Valley, defined by the Lamar River and crisscrossed by fast-flowing creeks. There, the bison were even more plentiful! And the pullouts were empty. We moved slowly toward a viewpoint.

Suddenly, Don and I both saw action to our left, uphill on the mountainside. Two huge bison were running full speed down the steep hill just ahead of us, clearly having no intention of stopping at the road for any traffic. We stopped to watch, all by ourselves witnessing this show. We saw it was two full-grown bulls with enormous heads and big horns. They bounded across the road at full speed, and continued on down into the valley floor. About 30 yards from the road, they suddenly stopped and faced each other, heads lowered, snorting, as if they were about to charge each other and fight. Then one bull shook his head violently side to side about eight times as if clearing his senses after such a fun run. They started quietly eating grass alongside each other, calm as can be. They were just playing a game!

Along the entire drive from then until we exited Yellowstone we saw hundreds of bison in every meadow and valley.
So here we are, watching basketball and figuring out where we’ll go tomorrow because of our unexpected detour. I don't think we’ll try to get to Red Lodge after the snows. It seems smarter to go back west a bit toward Mammoth Hot Springs, and out the northern gate of Yellowstone, headed for Glacier NP next. I’ll have to make a few phone calls to cancel reservations and make some new ones because of the change in plans, IF I can ever get some phone reception anywhere in these parts. We’ll see.
Klondike Susie aka Salty Adventurer
2013 Itasca Reyo (25', no toad)
Married to oldedit
Resides in Denver CO area & Silverthorne CO

Dean & Linda Stock

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Re: Great Alaska Adventure - 2013
« Reply #7 on: June 04, 2013, 11:17:46 PM »
What an interesting read!  I wish I could send you some sunshine and good luck.  You're great problem-solvers.
Dean and Linda Stock
and Sherlock (the cat)
Cypress, CA
2006 Airstream Motor Home
2006 Jeep Liberty (Towed)

ArdraF

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Re: Great Alaska Adventure - 2013
« Reply #8 on: June 05, 2013, 12:49:07 AM »
X2!  You're a good writer with very descriptive words.  Thanks for the info on the bugs at Scaup Lake.  We'll be there in a couple of days and will avoid having lunch there!

By the way, Grizzly RV Park in West Yellowstone has Verizon which I'm using right now with an excellent signal.  As with all communications, just going over a hill can kill a signal and we've found that KOAs and similar campgrounds often are just enough off the beaten track that there's no signal.  We stay at one in Pennsylvania where we drive about a half mile to make phone calls.  They're just in a "dead" area.  Does you poor hubby know he'll lose his satellite TV on the way to Alaska?  On our return the first place we got it again was at Soldier Summit on the Alcan, but that was only because of the higher elevation there.  Lost it again and finally got it closer to the U.S.

ArdraF
ArdraF
:D :D

SaltyAdventurer

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Re: Great Alaska Adventure - 2013
« Reply #9 on: June 05, 2013, 03:18:59 PM »
Tuesday June 4, 2013

Backtracking through Yellowstone NP’s northern sector this morning was lovely, but we definitely won the lottery yesterday when we saw all the bison herds in action. This morning, huge bison herds were far off in the hills, mostly lying down in the grass, sleeping off their hangovers, I guess. We saw a few distant elk herds too, but almost nothing up close and personal like yesterday’s adventure.

Waiting for the Beartooth Highway 212 to open all the way to Red Lodge after heavy snowfall in the pass last night would have cost us half a day, and would have put us to the east of where we wanted to go today, so we eschewed that trip for now. We’ll just have to come back later in the summer sometime to take the entire drive along 212, over the pass, when snowstorms are no longer a threat.

Don’s back is a LOT better today…he’s using his walking pole so he doesn’t twist and strain it again. But things are looking up. He and I both drove today, through spectacular country, through gorges and valleys with huge mountain ranges on either side of us, sometimes close, sometimes distant.

We traversed the north end of Yellowstone to Mammoth Hot Springs, where we were finally able to get good phone connections. I made a bunch of calls, changing RV park reservations. Now we’re all set until after we visit Glacier NP and head north into Canada.

From Mammoth, we headed north to Gardiner, MT, and Livingston, following the Yellowstone River for a good part of the day. The weather was cold, with lots of low-scudding heavy clouds, but sun came through for part of the day. Temps stayed in the high 40s and low 50s all day…the whitewater rafters we saw on the Yellowstone River were hardy souls! They must have been freezing their butts off!

The views in Montana are as gorgeous as those in Wyoming…literally and proverbially. We were in deep gorges and on high passes many times today as we headed for Boseman and Butte. The fertile valleys heading west along I-90, interspersed with rolling ranchlands, were a feast for the eyes. Green, lush, limey in color, spotted with bright yellow flowers in many places.

We had a picnic while parked along the Yellowstone River as we changed drivers, snacking on sliced ham, bits of Tillamook cheese, and juicy, cold sliced apples that were very crispy and crunchy. Perfect lunch!

By midafternoon, we arrived in the little town of Anaconda, west of Butte, and pulled into our pot at the Fairmont RV Park. Nice place! Almost nobody here, but this is a big park in big, wide open spaces. Ranchland. Cattle strolling the field alongside our site for the night. Very clean bathrooms and huge showers…we definitely will take good hot showers in the morning while here. But, of course, the usual irritations and frustrations  with the Wi-Fi that every park promises to be wonderful but NEVER is! Signal is weak, and we keep getting kicked off our Internet connection about every 3 minutes. Don’s My-Fi is working a little bit better, but it too is fluky. Dang.

We took a nice long walk tonight around the park, as the sun was going down. Of course, by day’s end, the skies had cleared and the sunset was beautiful. Natch. Isn’t that always the way?!

Tomorrow we go to Polson, MT, at the southern tip of Flathead Lake, for the night. Then to Glacier NP for 3 days, where I hope to be able to do more long walks/hikes to get my leg & hip into better shape for Alaska.
Klondike Susie aka Salty Adventurer
2013 Itasca Reyo (25', no toad)
Married to oldedit
Resides in Denver CO area & Silverthorne CO

SaltyAdventurer

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Re: Great Alaska Adventure - 2013
« Reply #10 on: June 05, 2013, 03:35:08 PM »
Wednesday June 5, 2013

Wow, Internet access!!! What more can I ask for? We stopped for lunch at Famous Dave's in Missoula and they have a great wi-fi connection...not busy, so no one minds if we sit here and doodle the afternoon away on our computers.

We had a couple of little shopping errands so we took Hwy 93 south to go to Target, Walmart and a camping warehouse...found the O-rings for the hose hookups at Walmart. Man those spraying leaks drive us nuts when we hook up.  Got a small folding stool for Don to use while his back is bad, when he needs to "get down reeeeeal low" when hooking/unhooking and putting hoses & electrical cords away....the only thing that is illogical about RV design is that you practically have to get your ears on the ground to do backwater/graywater handles, sewer connections, etc. Dumb, and dumber....every mfr HAS to know that it's us grayhairs who have the big bucks to buy these things and live our dreams by traveling in them. And our bodies don't particularly like bending so low to handle all the "stuff".

Funny, though, we never did find the kind of re-usable camping water bottle with spigot that we wanted....a few years ago we bought a heavyweight plastic gallon-jug that was a large FLAT rectangle....had a huge opening for filling it, spigot worked wonderfully, and it was perfect for boondocking and carrying freshwater for drinking/washing etc. Nobody makes them anymore. Ours sprung a leak the other day and had to be discarded. I was sure we'd find another, and I would have bought 3 of them....3 would actually fit nicely under our kitchen sink in the Reyo.

The scenery this morning was terrific as we caught I-90 and headed northwest to Missoula from Anaconda. Sweeps the cobwebs away. On to Polson tonight. 

We can't say enough GOOD THINGS about FAIRMONT RV PARK in Anaconda...absolutely heaven on earth for RVers. Huge showers with fabulous showerheads. Impeccably clean. And a great value for us at $38 with the Good Sam discount. A terrific park in a great location...perfectly quiet and rural.
Klondike Susie aka Salty Adventurer
2013 Itasca Reyo (25', no toad)
Married to oldedit
Resides in Denver CO area & Silverthorne CO

Oldedit

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Re: Great Alaska Adventure - 2013
« Reply #11 on: June 05, 2013, 04:03:38 PM »
X2!  You're a good writer with very descriptive words.  Thanks for the info on the bugs at Scaup Lake.  We'll be there in a couple of days and will avoid having lunch there!

By the way, Grizzly RV Park in West Yellowstone has Verizon which I'm using right now with an excellent signal.  As with all communications, just going over a hill can kill a signal and we've found that KOAs and similar campgrounds often are just enough off the beaten track that there's no signal.  We stay at one in Pennsylvania where we drive about a half mile to make phone calls.  They're just in a "dead" area.  Does you poor hubby know he'll lose his satellite TV on the way to Alaska?  On our return the first place we got it again was at Soldier Summit on the Alcan, but that was only because of the higher elevation there.  Lost it again and finally got it closer to the U.S.

ArdraF

Hi, Ardra,

Sorry we missed you and Jerry. We're sitting at Famous Dave's in Missoula using their free wi-fi. Works great, and the food's good too. Chili for me, pulled pork for Susan. We're going to Polson after we finish posting and surfing the Internet.
2014 Newmar Ventana 4037 12.17-
2013 Itasca Reyo T 2012-12.12.17
2006 Roadtrek Adventurous Mercedes (Freightliner)
Colorado 2009-2012
Toad: 2016 Jeep Patriot Stick with Blue Ox

SaltyAdventurer

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Re: Great Alaska Adventure - 2013
« Reply #12 on: June 06, 2013, 10:45:53 PM »
Wednesday June 5, cont'd

The KOA in Polson, which is attached to the Polson Motorcoach & RV Resort, is at the southern tip of Flathead Lake, a magnificent body of water 30+ miles long and 10+ miles wide in places, surrounded 360 by fabulous mountains. Polson itself is said by many people to be "nothing" but we thought it was a great little town. Quite the resort!

The KOA is certainly one of the fanciest RV parks we've stayed in anywhere in the US...the bathrooms are accented by granite countertops. And the price is very reasonable...$34 with our KOA discount. We were sorely tempted to cut our Glacier time a bit short and stay another day at Polson, believe me.

When we pulled in, the day was sunny and the tempo at 75 degrees...our first real taste of summer camping. We cooked out on our grill, ate at the picnic table, and sat outdoors reading until nightfall. A lovely evening. Slept with the windows open, for once. How quickly we've gone winter and snowy with freezing temps to warm summer nights! 

Before hitting the sack we decided to stick with our plan after all, and go on to Coram, just west of the Glacier west entrance. It's been many years since we've visited Glacier, and we'd like to see the park and do some hiking. So on we go tomorrow, up the east side of Flathead Lake towards another national park, prepared to oooh and aaah our way north, again.
Klondike Susie aka Salty Adventurer
2013 Itasca Reyo (25', no toad)
Married to oldedit
Resides in Denver CO area & Silverthorne CO

Wigpro

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    • Capt Jim Lucas
Re: Great Alaska Adventure - 2013
« Reply #13 on: June 06, 2013, 10:53:44 PM »
Did you happen to go by the National Bison Range right down there near Polson, a very worthwhile visit. Glacier is one of my favorite spots and I manage to spend time there every year on my way South in the Fall and on my way North in the spring.

You have time in the morning to back track a few miles down to the Bison Range and do a drive through of at least the lower road....tons of up close and personal antelope and Bison....also have seen fox there and coyotes!! Lots of birds also...all from your car they don't want you out walking around.

Worth the back track from Polson it would only be 31 miles to the gate....

Enjoy,

Jim

Full time traveler, fishing guide and photographer!

Travel Blog: http://captjimtravelblog.blogspot.com

Website: www.captainjimlucas.com

Photo Site: http://captjim.smugmug.com/

SaltyAdventurer

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Re: Great Alaska Adventure - 2013
« Reply #14 on: June 06, 2013, 11:07:28 PM »
Thursday June 6, 2013

Night is falling, and we're parked in the North American RV Park in Coram, MT, a few miles outside Glacier NP. I'm learning that we're WAY early to have worried at all about making any reservations...here at N. American, we're one of 6 RVs in the entire place, and it's good sized. We're parked in the back corner of the park, as far as possible from the road, which I asked for when I emailed them a while back. No problem, mon!

Again, the weather has been so nice today....warm, sunny, conducive to cooking out on the grill again. In Polson, we stopped at the locally-owned Super Foods and found wonderfully fresh, wild caught Copper River salmon for dinner. Yum!
Along the way as we drove the scenic route up the east side of Flathead Lake toward Kalispell, we stopped at the little resort town of Bigfork, which is quite the artists' colony. A friend had recommended it to us. Very good art galleries, and a great local artists co-op. A nice find! And a good way to stretch the legs for an hour or two. Looked as if Bigfork had some good restaurants, too, but we had bought fresh sweet cherries in Polson, and we snacked on those and turkey jerky for lunch.

it's been a restful day. Despite the heat, we benefitted from beautiful breezes after pulling in here. Watched the first game of the NBA finals and now we're ready to sleep. The mosquitoes have suddenly appeared from nowhere...we haven't had any bugs so far on this trip, until tonight. Skeeters are thick here! And the evening air is cool but not cold. No heaters needed, just our warm comforter. And we can hear the trains passing by in the distance, so I jsut have to leave a window open for air and the sound of the train.

Tomorrow, we drive into Glacier and hike a few nice easy trails, up near Lake McDonald, then at Trail of the Cedars, and finally north of Apgar Village.

Klondike Susie aka Salty Adventurer
2013 Itasca Reyo (25', no toad)
Married to oldedit
Resides in Denver CO area & Silverthorne CO

SaltyAdventurer

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Re: Great Alaska Adventure - 2013
« Reply #15 on: June 06, 2013, 11:15:44 PM »
Dear Jim/Wigpro...
You are making me feel really bad right now! We wanted to stop at the Natl Bison Range, and had intended to, but it was getting late as we were heading for Polson, and we both know we get tired and cranky after too long a day. So we skipped on by the Bison Range and went on to Polson. And now we're in Coram, going to Glacier. Darn!  It wish it were as easy a backtrack as you say.  Our only consolation is that we have seen lots of antelope on this trip so far, and we've spent much time up close and personal with bunches of bison, thank goodness! 

Next time we'll do it for sure. We love Montana so much, I just know we'll come back here.  Have you ever been to a place called Smash-Your-Face Buffalo Jump (or something like that)? We spotted it on the map today, and thought it would be quite interesting...maybe it explains why bison have such flat faces! Just joking...
Thanks for the suggestion that the Bison Range is a great place to visit, though...now I have another thing to add to my bucket list...which I thought would get shorter,s but instead is growing longer!
Klondike Susie aka Salty Adventurer
2013 Itasca Reyo (25', no toad)
Married to oldedit
Resides in Denver CO area & Silverthorne CO

ArdraF

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Re: Great Alaska Adventure - 2013
« Reply #16 on: June 07, 2013, 12:36:21 AM »
We stopped at the Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump in Alberta and really enjoyed it.  Very nice museum in an interestingly-constructed building that is on several levels on a hillside.  It's actually a UNESCO World Heritage Site so worth a visit.

ArdraF
ArdraF
:D :D

Wigpro

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    • Capt Jim Lucas
Re: Great Alaska Adventure - 2013
« Reply #17 on: June 07, 2013, 10:04:57 AM »
Dear Jim/Wigpro...
You are making me feel really bad right now! We wanted to stop at the Natl Bison Range, and had intended to, but it was getting late as we were heading for Polson, and we both know we get tired and cranky after too long a day. So we skipped on by the Bison Range and went on to Polson. And now we're in Coram, going to Glacier. Darn!  It wish it were as easy a backtrack as you say.  Our only consolation is that we have seen lots of antelope on this trip so far, and we've spent much time up close and personal with bunches of bison, thank goodness! 

Next time we'll do it for sure. We love Montana so much, I just know we'll come back here.  Have you ever been to a place called Smash-Your-Face Buffalo Jump (or something like that)? We spotted it on the map today, and thought it would be quite interesting...maybe it explains why bison have such flat faces! Just joking...
Thanks for the suggestion that the Bison Range is a great place to visit, though...now I have another thing to add to my bucket list...which I thought would get shorter,s but instead is growing longer!


Thanks sorry I got to you a little late on the Bison Range, hit it on your way South...it is a beautiful place and worth the visit. My summer plans have somewhat fallen apart due to weather the job I had in Alaska has ended....ice too late and then warm too soon caused flooding, so I am leaving Denali area and heading to Haines for some work there....I am excited about the change after a month in Haines I just may head back down to Montana and spend the remainder of my summer there....

Have a great trip and I will look up the smashed buffalo thingy...might be a good stop going South.

Will be following along, if you get to Haines look me up.

Jim
Full time traveler, fishing guide and photographer!

Travel Blog: http://captjimtravelblog.blogspot.com

Website: www.captainjimlucas.com

Photo Site: http://captjim.smugmug.com/

Dean & Linda Stock

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Re: Great Alaska Adventure - 2013
« Reply #18 on: June 08, 2013, 01:43:08 AM »
Thanks sorry I got to you a little late on the Bison Range, hit it on your way South...it is a beautiful place and worth the visit.
I would second Jim's view on Bison Range.  We had lots of fun there.  Also, don't miss the Buffalo Bill Museum in Cody, in the top 5 of the museums we've visited in the 6 years we've been traveling half-time.  It is amazing!
Dean and Linda Stock
and Sherlock (the cat)
Cypress, CA
2006 Airstream Motor Home
2006 Jeep Liberty (Towed)

SaltyAdventurer

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Re: Great Alaska Adventure - 2013
« Reply #19 on: June 08, 2013, 02:05:12 PM »
Saturday June 8, 2013

Such a wonderful Saturday morning! We're sitting around relaxing, enjoying spectacular weather, perfect breezes, and watching the prairie dogs doing their work ( and running around like busy little guys!) in the wooded areas alongside our Rollin Home. We're at North American RV Park in Coram, MT, just outside Glacier NP.

We went into Glacier yesterday toward the Fish Creek CG, since we had been directed to a trailhead near there by a natl park employee who gave us a trail map at the Fish Creek Visitor Center. Took the gravel road just before the CG uphill to a parking lot, backed into a nice space alongside some horse trailers, and went for our hike on the Lake McDonald trail, up and down and around til we got to the lakeshore. Gorgeous trail, very easy, flowers in bloom everywhere. Perfect! And not too many bugs, tho we had put our Repel on beforehand. When we got to the lakeshore, the winds had come up and there were small whitecaps on Lake McDonald. Weather was still warm and nice, though. Going back, we took the cutoff toward the campground in order to stay along the lake for a while more, then walked the CG roads back to our vehicle. Because the campgrounds aren't even open yet, it was quiet, deserted, and very nice. Along the way, we met only 2 other hikers, and a couple of ladies on horseback. Two perfect miles of hiking!

Then we drove higher in Glacier past Apgar Villg up toward Polebridge, though we knew we wouldn't go that far in our vehicle. There's still a lot of fire damage from the vast fires of 2003, although the new growth of conifers is lush and thick and velvety nearly everywhere. We were ready for a picnic, and stopped at the junction where the road to Polebridge turns to gravel for our lunch of apples, cheese, homemade pumpkin bread (gluten-free!), and buffalo jerky. As sleepiness began setting in, we drove back to our campground, stopping along the way at the KOA just to take a gander and see if it is nicer than North American...

Our decision: Probably six of one and a half-dozen of the other. KOA is farther back from the main hwy to Glacier (3.4 mil into the woods) and looks a lot newer and fancier. But the sites have no trees at all, and no shaded areas. There is a pool, however, which would be great for families. Makes no difference to us. And the bathrooms/ showers at North American are to die for...no fancy, but impeccably clean and the BIGGEST a shower stalls I've ever seen. Because there's almost nobody here, I had a private bathroom for my shower...very nice! The laundry room here is small but very nice, with brand new commercial washers, vending machine for soaps etc, and a change machine that takes $1s and $5s. I will do laundry later today so we have clean clothes & towels until we get into Alaska. We've been forewarned about the campgrounds and laundry facilities on the way through Canada.

Last night the winds were blasting and we had three tiny spurts of rain. Wish it had rained longer to wash all the dust off the Rollin Home...it's looking a bit frowzy right now. No such luck. Then the skies cleared and it was a beautiful evening...of course, we had done our grilling of lamb chops in the howling winds WITH the spurts of rain, before everything cleared. Oh well. We had a nice dinner anyway. We're working hard to finish off our store of wine before we hit Canada, since we're limited in what we can take in...hard work, but somebody has to do it.

Just a note for the future since I'll surely forget...I added a whole bunch of fresh basil along with sliced sugar-snap-peas to the coleslaw last night to finish off the peas and basil before they went bad. Best coleslaw we ever ate! Have to do this in the future! Our new propane grill, bought after much research on which grills work best for RVers, is just super...it cooks HOT, which means I can time things properly, heats up quickly, cools off quickly, and packs up in its own bag efficiently. It's an Iroda O-Grill 1000....costs a pretty penny, but well worth it and 100% better than the cheapie, flimsy camping propane grill we had before. Threw that darn thing away it was so terrible. Used tons of propane, cooked cold so it took ages to get food cooked nicely, and it was impossible to time anything right. This one's a gem!

We are planning to take 2 shorter hikes this afternoon in Glacier, along the Going-To-The-Sun Road at Avalanche Creek. Trail of the Cedars is nice, and it connects to the Avalanche Lake trail...we'll see how much our bodies will take, but I'd like to do about 4 miles round trip. Sun Road isn't open to our length vehicle...21 feet is max...and it's not open yet, anyway for summer traffic all the way through. Tomorrow, we'll take the southern road around the end of Glacier to Browning, fill up with fuel, then go to the KOA in St. Mary for one night before heading into Canada.

While there, we're planning to take the road to Many Glacier, by far the most scenic of all the roads in the park, and there are a couple of nice trails up near Many Glacier Hotel that we want to take.  Enough for now...we're off on another adventure! See ya!
Klondike Susie aka Salty Adventurer
2013 Itasca Reyo (25', no toad)
Married to oldedit
Resides in Denver CO area & Silverthorne CO

SaltyAdventurer

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Re: Great Alaska Adventure - 2013
« Reply #20 on: June 08, 2013, 10:09:03 PM »
9 pm on Saturday, June 8, 2013

Just as we predicted, about every 10 days to 2 weeks, we need a day off, without going anywhere. No driving for a whole day. Today was the day, in spite of ideas we had for places it would be nice to hike. We read books, picnicked, did the laundry, and just puttered around for the day. Fixed a nice dinner of grilled chicken breasts that had been marinated in buttermilk and ranch dressing mix (very juicy and tender!) and now I think I'm headed for an early-to-bed night. My eyes are itching so badly from allergies...is it cottonwoods or something else with lots of pollen?...that I'm practically scratching them out of my head. Sleep is the only answer...even my Rx Patanol drops aren't doing much good.

We walked around the RV park a bit, and I visited the General Store here and bought a couple more bags of buffalo jerky, locally made. Support the local economy, which is anything but robust! I'm making great progress with the book, Alaska, by Michener. Great book. He's such a good writer and storyteller.
Klondike Susie aka Salty Adventurer
2013 Itasca Reyo (25', no toad)
Married to oldedit
Resides in Denver CO area & Silverthorne CO

Dean & Linda Stock

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Re: Great Alaska Adventure - 2013
« Reply #21 on: June 09, 2013, 02:11:02 AM »
I'm making great progress with the book, Alaska, by Michener. Great book. He's such a good writer and storyteller.
I read Alaska in '09 and am halfway through re-reading it.  Very enjoyable as well as informative.
Dean and Linda Stock
and Sherlock (the cat)
Cypress, CA
2006 Airstream Motor Home
2006 Jeep Liberty (Towed)

Henry Wishard

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  • Gone Crazy*** Be Back Soon
Re: Great Alaska Adventure - 2013
« Reply #22 on: June 09, 2013, 12:16:22 PM »
 I love your reading your post, as for meeting up we will be around Alaska all Summer. No hurry on this trip.
Henry & Margaret Wishard
12625 Lake Vista Dr
Willis, Texas 77318
2017 Tiffin Open Road

2012 Jeep Rubicon

SaltyAdventurer

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Re: Great Alaska Adventure - 2013
« Reply #23 on: June 09, 2013, 11:02:07 PM »
Sunday June 9, 2013

We tried to leave our campground earlier than normal today, figuring that the drive from Coram MT around the southern tip of Glacier NP over to Browning MT and then to St. Mary at the east side of Glacier would be prettier early in the day. And we also wanted to do the drive into Glacier NP on the Many Glacier road, since the scenery is said by many to be the most dramatic of any of the roads in the park. Well, we pulled out at 10:30 instead of noon, anyway! That’s early for us!

The sky was sunny, with bunches of small puffy clouds whizzing along…you can tell the winds were blasting. Again. And my eyes are so red and itchy from the cottonwoods in heat everywhere, in great numbers, that Don drove because I could hardly keep my eyes open. After about 45 minutes with the air conditioner on, the air inside the Rollin Home was somewhat filtered, and I was better, but it’s still pretty miserable going. I always say that during this season, allergy medication is worthless and my 3 different types of eyedrops are similarly worthless…kinda like I want to commit suicide. And with blasting winds, life is even worse.

Enough complaining already. Every mile of the drive was spectacular. Around every curve was a new and more dramatic view of Glacier’s towering, jagged giants, some as pointy as spears, others looking like a set of dinosaur teeth, still others huge squared-off cliffs dropping directly to the floor of a valley. One particularly memorable view was of a huge tapering pile of rock with a very long, razor-thin jaggedy ridge stretching the entire length of the very top…makes you wonder how the forces of wind, water and a gazillion years of erosion could forge such a strange shape.

We stopped in Browning MT to fill up on diesel fuel, as we had been advised to by many an RVer who had warned that prices were drastically higher elsewhere, especially a short way north in Canada. Browning is on the Blackfeet Tribe’s reservation…we had read about and heard about the Blackfeet for years and were so anxious to stop at the Museum of the Plains Indians in Browning. One guide told us it was open 7 days a week; another said it was closed Sunday and Monday. Drat, it was closed, as was the Blackfeet Trading Post just down the street. Not much else in Browning, so we moved on to St. Mary, our trip to Many Glacier, and our KOA campground.

The roads on the eastern side of Glacier are narrow and far more primitive than on the western side. Lots of “rough road ahead” signs, and the rough patches were so rough that at times we went 5-10 mph because we were being thrown around so much. We stopped in St. Mary to have lunch at The Park Café on Hwy 89…I had read many RVer journals that old of the fabulous food and homemade pies there. St. Mary is a tiny place, almost nothing here, but it has an amazing number of restaurants, supposedly very good ones.

The Park Café does a land-office business, and has a whole bunch of college students who come in from around the country to work as waitstaff and kitchen staff. We learned within minutes of sitting down that our waitress was from Grand Rapids, MI, my ome town. Small world, again. The place is very small and is a throwback to days of yore…classic little roadside café, seating maybe 30 at the most, if you count the 5 old-fashioned twirly-stools at the counter up front near the kitchen.

Great food, and unbelievable homemade pies. Today the list of fresh homemade pies totaled 13 (would have been 14 except they were out of the fresh strawberry pie). Don had a big bowl of the homemade chili (with beef and beans)…definitely outstanding. I had a “small” order of the fish & chips, which was 3 good-sized pieces of hand-battered fresh salmon with fresh sweet potato fries, and a small side salad. Perfectly done, and perfectly delicious!

We absolutely couldn’t leave without trying some pie…Son had banana cream, which he said was probably the best banana cream pie he’d had since high school days in East Peoria, IL, back in the late 50s. I had rhubarb pie, which blew me away…chunks of fresh rhubarb cooked perfectly so they still had their shape and a tiny bit of crunch…honest to gosh like my Gram used to make when I was a kid in the 50s!  We both said we’ll probably go back there for breakfast tomorrow morning, and have pie & coffee! (Later in the day, we spoke with a number of people at our RV park who said they’re going to do the exact same thing!)

Speaking of the RV park…the KOA in St. Mary is a real gem! Great owners, beautiful views, wonderful bathrooms with Corian countertops, a very well-equipped little store, and a terrific ice cream stand with REAL ice cream that gets dipped out of big containers (not just the frozen bars piled in a freezer bin like most campgrounds). Susan and her husband have owned the place for 18 years, and they really work hard to make this place nice.

Our drive into Glacier NP on the Many Glacier road was terrific. Mind-blowing beautiful. We intended to take several short hikes, but the winds were ferocious…there were sizeable whitecaps on Swiftcurrent Lake and people were really bending against the wind as they walked. As we drove back out of the park, a ranger’s car was stopped, heading towards us, and he put his warning lights on to make us stop as we approached. I slid my driver’s side window open and asked him what was going on…he pointed and said, “Well, I have a big black bear here, right off the side of the road, and I don’t want anyone to hit him.” Yep, there he was, a very big guy with amazingly glossy fur that shone in the dappled sunlight, chomping away at the lush forage of dandelions in bloom along the road. He started ambling towards the road, clearly aiming to walk in the road. By this time, several oncoming cars had stopped and were also watching the show. The ranger got out of his car, grabbed his can of bear spray, and walked halfway across the road toward the bear, clapping his hands and saying, “Get out of here!” Mr. Bear very compliantly turned on his heals and scampered down the hill away from the road. Our first bear sighting on this trip…up close and personal!

Night all! Time for bed. On to Waterton in Alberta, Canada, tomorrow…maybe high tea at the Prince of Wales Hotel. And then to Calgary!
Klondike Susie aka Salty Adventurer
2013 Itasca Reyo (25', no toad)
Married to oldedit
Resides in Denver CO area & Silverthorne CO

Frank Hurst

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Re: Great Alaska Adventure - 2013
« Reply #24 on: June 09, 2013, 11:42:19 PM »
We visited The Museum of the Plains Indians two years ago. Was one of those "Been there/Done that" things. I would not go out of my way to go back again. Just north of St. Mary there was a restaurant called The two Sisters that we really liked.

Frank
Frank & Hilda Hurst
2003 Phaeton
2004 Malibu
Semi Retired Relief Veterinarian

Dean & Linda Stock

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Re: Great Alaska Adventure - 2013
« Reply #25 on: June 10, 2013, 09:00:13 AM »
Well, we pulled out at 10:30 instead of noon, anyway! That’s early for us!

. As we drove back out of the park, a ranger’s car was stopped, heading towards us, and he put his warning lights on to make us stop as we approached. I slid my driver’s side window open and asked him what was going on…he pointed and said, “Well, I have a big black bear here, right off the side of the road, and I don’t want anyone to hit him.” Yep, there he was, a very big guy with amazingly glossy fur that shone in the dappled sunlight, chomping away at the lush forage of dandelions in bloom along the road. He started ambling towards the road, clearly aiming to walk in the road. By this time, several oncoming cars had stopped and were also watching the show. The ranger got out of his car, grabbed his can of bear spray, and walked halfway across the road toward the bear, clapping his hands and saying, “Get out of here!” Mr. Bear very compliantly turned on his heals and scampered down the hill away from the road. Our first bear sighting on this trip…up close and personal!


We also are late risers, but we're out today at 7:15 in hopes of having wonderful bear experience like you had, or a moose experience.  Reading your bear story was like I was there.  You are wonderfully descriptive.  Thanks for the joy!
Dean and Linda Stock
and Sherlock (the cat)
Cypress, CA
2006 Airstream Motor Home
2006 Jeep Liberty (Towed)

SaltyAdventurer

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Re: Great Alaska Adventure - 2013
« Reply #26 on: June 12, 2013, 11:25:57 AM »
Sunday June 9, 2013

We tried to leave our campground earlier than normal today, figuring that the drive from Coram MT around the southern tip of Glacier NP over to Browning MT and then to St. Mary at the east side of Glacier would be prettier early in the day. And we also wanted to do the drive into Glacier NP on the Many Glacier road, since the scenery is said by many to be the most dramatic of any of the roads in the park. Well, we pulled out at 10:30 instead of noon, anyway! That’s early for us!

The sky was sunny, with bunches of small puffy clouds whizzing along…you can tell the winds were blasting. Again. And my eyes are so red and itchy from the cottonwoods in heat everywhere, in great numbers, that Don drove because I could hardly keep my eyes open. After about 45 minutes with the air conditioner on, the air inside the Rollin Home was somewhat filtered, and I was better, but it’s still pretty miserable going. I always say that during this season, allergy medication is worthless and my 3 different types of eyedrops are similarly worthless…kinda like I want to commit suicide. And with blasting winds, life is even worse.

Enough complaining already. Every mile of the drive was spectacular. Around every curve was a new and more dramatic view of Glacier’s towering, jagged giants, some as pointy as spears, others looking like a set of dinosaur teeth, still others huge squared-off cliffs dropping directly to the floor of a valley. One particularly memorable view was of a huge tapering pile of rock with a very long, razor-thin jaggedy ridge stretching the entire length of the very top…makes you wonder how the forces of wind, water and a gazillion years of erosion could forge such a strange shape.

We stopped in Browning MT to fill up on diesel fuel, as we had been advised to by many an RVer who had warned that prices were drastically higher elsewhere, especially a short way north in Canada. Browning is on the Blackfeet Tribe’s reservation…we had read about and heard about the Blackfeet for years and were so anxious to stop at the Museum of the Plains Indians in Browning. One guide told us it was open 7 days a week; another said it was closed Sunday and Monday. Drat, it was closed, as was the Blackfeet Trading Post just down the street. Not much else in Browning, so we moved on to St. Mary, our trip to Many Glacier, and our KOA campground.

The roads on the eastern side of Glacier are narrow and far more primitive than on the western side. Lots of “rough road ahead” signs, and the rough patches were so rough that at times we went 5-10 mph because we were being thrown around so much. We stopped in St. Mary to have lunch at The Park Café on Hwy 89…I had read many RVer journals that old of the fabulous food and homemade pies there. St. Mary is a tiny place, almost nothing here, but it has an amazing number of restaurants, supposedly very good ones.

The Park Café does a land-office business, and has a whole bunch of college students who come in from around the country to work as waitstaff and kitchen staff. We learned within minutes of sitting down that our waitress was from Grand Rapids, MI, my home town. Small world, again. The place is very small and is a throwback to days of yore…classic little roadside café, seating maybe 30 at the most, if you count the 5 old-fashioned twirly-stools at the counter up front near the kitchen.

Great food, and unbelievable homemade pies. Today the list of fresh homemade pies totaled 13 (would have been 14 except they were out of the fresh strawberry pie). Don had a big bowl of the homemade chili (with beef and beans)…definitely outstanding. I had a “small” order of the fish & chips, which was 3 good-sized pieces of hand-battered fresh salmon with fresh sweet potato fries, and a small side salad. Perfectly done, and perfectly delicious!

We absolutely couldn’t leave without trying some pie…Son had banana cream, which he said was probably the best banana cream pie he’d had since high school days in East Peoria, IL, back in the late 50s. I had rhubarb pie, which blew me away…chunks of fresh rhubarb cooked perfectly so they still had their shape and a tiny bit of crunch…honest to gosh like my Gram used to make when I was a kid in the 50s!  We both said we’ll probably go back there for breakfast tomorrow morning, and have pie & coffee! (Later in the day, we spoke with a number of people at our RV park who said they’re going to do the exact same thing!)

Speaking of the RV park…the KOA in St. Mary is a real gem! Great owners, beautiful views, wonderful bathrooms with Corian countertops, a very well-equipped little store, and a terrific ice cream stand with REAL ice cream that gets dipped out of big containers (not just the frozen bars piled in a freezer bin like most campgrounds). Susan and her husband have owned the place for 18 years, and they really work hard to make this place nice.

Our drive into Glacier NP on the Many Glacier road was terrific. Definitely the MOST beautiful road into Glacier NP, and much less-traveled. Better than my memories of Going-To-The-Sun-Road! Mind-blowingly beautiful. We intended to take several short hikes at the end of the road in the heart of Glacier, but the winds were ferocious…there were sizeable whitecaps on Swiftcurrent Lake and people were really bending against the wind as they walked. Not good.

As we drove back out of the park, a ranger’s car was stopped, heading towards us, and he put his warning lights on to make us stop as we approached. I slid my driver’s side window open and asked him what was going on…he pointed and said, “Well, I have a big black bear here, right off the side of the road, and I don’t want anyone to hit him.” Yep, there he was, a very big guy with amazingly glossy fur that shone in the dappled sunlight, chomping away at the lush forage of dandelions in bloom along the road. He started ambling towards the road, clearly aiming to walk in the road. By this time, several oncoming cars had stopped and were also watching the show. The ranger got out of his car, grabbed his can of bear spray, and walked halfway across the road toward the bear, clapping his hands and saying, “Get out of here!” Mr. Bear very compliantly turned on his heals and scampered quickly down the hill away from the road. Our first bear sighting on this trip…up close and personal!

Night all! Time for bed. On to Waterton in Alberta, Canada, tomorrow…maybe high tea at the Prince of Wales Hotel. And then to Calgary!
Klondike Susie aka Salty Adventurer
2013 Itasca Reyo (25', no toad)
Married to oldedit
Resides in Denver CO area & Silverthorne CO

SaltyAdventurer

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Re: Great Alaska Adventure - 2013
« Reply #27 on: June 12, 2013, 11:26:46 AM »
Monday June 10, 2013

What a day! Surrounded by beauty part of the day, as we headed north, then back to urban traffic in Calgary, then an evening get-together with new friends from the Calgary Winnebago-Itasca Travelers (WIT) Group whom I had contacted on the Internet.

We decided to bypass Waterton NP north of the border after leaving St. Mary, only because we stopped at the Park Café in St. Mary for fresh pie & coffee for breakfast, and going to the Prince of Wales Lodge in Waterton for lunch would have been an overload of food too early in the day. Another time, another visit…we’ll make it there, just not this time. Another item for the bucket-list!

Sticking to the main roads, we headed to someplace near Calgary for the night. As we neared the city, we looked for the shopping malls I had spotted when I used my Google maps earlier today before leaving St. Mary…we wanted to find a bank to change some US $$ into Canadian $$, and we wanted a Telus store in order to buy a Telus Wi-fi card to use while in Canada, and an inexpensive Telus cellphone so we can communicate woth the outside world while here, on this segment of the trip, and toward the end when we are on Vancouver Island for a week or more. We found both, right away. Get our transactions done was easy, but a bit time-consuming, so our plan to be at Bow Rivers Edge RV Park outside of Calgary, in nearby Cochrane, was smashed.

Rush hour traffic on the main N/S highway through Calgary was crazy nuts wild! These people drive like idiots! And hey, we lived and drove in NYC, and in Chicago for almost 30 years, and I’ve driven in London and LA and everywhere. So we’re not easily intimidated, and we’re pretty aggressive ourselves. But here drivers are really bizarre. You never saw so many people weaving back and forth from lane to lane in your life, going 70 mph in 50 mph zones, and tailgating every minute of the way…absolutely wild. We were glad we weren’t staying in Calgary longer, believe it or not…the Olympic Park, the Calgary Zoo, some museums are all worth seeing here, but the driving, oh my gosh!

Calgary West Campground located right in the city, had been recommended, but we decided our very-rural and in-the-wilds trip didn’t lend itself to an urban RV park. So we found Bow Rivers Edge, located in Cochrane, a town just southwest of Calgary, in a guidebook and headed there. It is literally in the middle of a huge industrial park, in the most unlikely location in the world….but it is a wonderful place to stay! Easy to get to and get out of, beautifully landscaped, reasonably priced (a Good Sam park!), with terrific amenities!  And the Bow River is big, fast and beautiful. We recommend it highly to anyone who’s going to Calgary in an RV.

There’s another RV Park in Cochrane also, which we passed on the way to Bow Rivers Edge…but Springhill RV Park turned out to be very full of “permanents” (people who live in their RVs and coaches and trailers FT), and is basically in the middle of a big open field. Not pretty, not nice…conveniently located, but right on a main highway and a thumbs down for anyone vacationing. We figured the permanent residents there were probably oilfield workers who have moved in to do the drilling and pump installations in the area…we were amazed as how many oil wells were being drilled and BIG oil pumps being installed in the farm fields all around Calgary. Lots of money being made up here!

We hooked up the Rollin Home at Bow Rivers Edge, made a quick dinner because our stomachs were growling mightily, then called the folks from the WIT group up here that we had emailed with a month or so ago. Sid & Lorraine, the top officers of the Calgary Wild Rose WIT group, drove from their house not too far away, picked us up and drove us to a nearby Tim Horton’s for fabulous coffee and a sweetroll. The four of us clicked, and it felt as if we’d been friends for 25 years! What a lovely evening, chatting with folks we had really wanted to meet. They made us want to come back to Alberta in a few years and stay much longer…Lorraine brought us a whole bag of tourism guidebooks to help us on our journey north to Banff and Lake Louise, and they really did help a lot!

RVers are very special people, especially the ones in the WIT groups! It is so much fun to share funny stories about our trips, and share tips on where to go next, and what to see.

We tumbled into bed, exhausted but energized for the next phase.
Klondike Susie aka Salty Adventurer
2013 Itasca Reyo (25', no toad)
Married to oldedit
Resides in Denver CO area & Silverthorne CO

SaltyAdventurer

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Re: Great Alaska Adventure - 2013
« Reply #28 on: June 12, 2013, 11:27:33 AM »
Tuesday June 11, 2013

Tonight we are in Hinton, just north of Jasper NP, and the KOA. Really nice place. I think we'll stay tomorrow night, too, since it was a long drive to get here today, and we're worn out.

We stopped at Banff, and walked through the Fairmont Banff...I wanted to see the art gallery in the hotel, because they sell the work of some great Canadian artists whose names I know pretty well. Great gallery...Mountainside Gallery, with VERY good art!

Bison jerky served as our lunch snack while we drove north to Lake Louise, where we parked and took the short hike in to the "emerald lake." So gorgeous! Friends of ours who've been to Lake Louise a half-dozen times just rave about its beauty and its relaxing qualities, and I can really see why! They’ve stayed at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise a bunch of times in the winter...such a view, such serenity, such grandeur! Makes me want to do the sme thing sometime in the future. Today the sun was out, casting huge shadows over the mountains and the lake because of puffy clouds scudding overhead. The clouds were perfect puffs over the Victoria Glacier, and the lake really was the most beautiful shades of blue-green I've ever seen. Made me want to sit and paint the scene right on the spot...but alas, we had no time for that nonsense. Some other time. Another “new” item for the bucket list!

During our drive from Lake Louise up to Jasper and then to Hinton, I said about six times I'd love to come back here in 2-3 years and stay 2-3 weeks in Alberta...there's so much to see and do that we're not able to take time for right now! I want badly to go to Drumheller and visit the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology, east of Calgary, but it's a long detour out to Canada’s badlands, and there’s absolutely no place to camp with the RV out there. But the dinosaur and mammoth discoveries out there have been extraordinary, and it’s really an amazing place, I’ve heard and read. I decided after extensive research that we just can't fit that 180 mile RT into this adventure, darn it! I also want to spend a lot more time at Banff and Lake Louise, and also go to Yoho NP for a day, to see the Burgess Shale, the world’s foremost site for deposits of ancient invertebrates.

We didn't stop and hike today at the Columbia Icefields, either, though it had been highly recommended to us by friends. The sky was beginning to close in once again by late day and we thought we'd better get on to Hinton. Things were looking rainy, and the sky was spitting. We also rationalized that we are going to be seeing a gazillion icefields and glaciers in Alaska, so that skipping these in Alberta might not hurt us too much. But reading about the icefields here was interesting…the ancient ice is as deep into the crevice between the mountains as the Eiffel Tower is tall. So it would have been interesting to see and explore there. We saw hordes of people (tiny as ants in the far distance) hiking up to the fields of ice.

Hinton turned out to be a good deal farther away than we had thought it was. We finally pulled in here to register at 7 pm. Then we went and fueled up right away, and had wonderful fish & chips at Joey's right alongside Hwy 16 in Hinton.

Without a doubt, Hwy 1 north from Cochrane (west of Calgary, where we stayed last night) up through Banff, Lake Louise, and Jasper is one of the 2-3 most beautiful drives I've ever taken in my 68 years. A feast for the eyes. The mountains along most of the road are very closeup, and ferociously massive. They jut straight up from the water-filled valleys and meadows, sometimes tree-covered and rounded but mostly huge piles of rock, with dramatic cliffs, pointed peaks, jagged spines, and upthrust ridges, with frequent huge waterfalls streaming like ribbons of satin down their sides.

Late today as we neared Hinton, we saw small groups of mountain goats, bighorn sheep, three caribou and lots of deer close to the road. Very fun...this was the first time we'd ever seen caribou in the wild.

Early to bed tonight. Tomorrow we'll wash the Rollin Home at a nearby truck wash place with big bays…our buggy is really buggy (pardon the pun!) and we’re absolutely covered with fine, sticky dust…I think the stickiness comes in part from all the pollens in the air. We also want to fix and adjust a side mirror that has been jarred loose a bit. We were on a stretch of road today for nearly 2 hours that was pure washboard...slowed us down to 30-35 mph, and even to 20 in a couple of spots. Good practice for Alaska roads, right?!

We’ll pick up a few groceries so we don’t have to buy anything in British Columbia or the Yukon Territory for the next 7-8 days between here and Tok, Alaska. Canadian prices are shockingly high…we stateside types take for granted what great food we get for such reasonable prices. Easy to spend $15-$20 Canadian on 3 items up here.

DH (that is, Don the Darlin Husband!) is busy figuring out mileage tomorrow to go north to Grand Prairie AB and on to Dawson Creek BC, and the start of the Alaska Highway.
Klondike Susie aka Salty Adventurer
2013 Itasca Reyo (25', no toad)
Married to oldedit
Resides in Denver CO area & Silverthorne CO

SaltyAdventurer

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Re: Great Alaska Adventure - 2013
« Reply #29 on: June 12, 2013, 11:35:47 AM »
Oops, sorry about having posted my June 9 story twice...duh! The second version is probably edited a bit and rewritten a bit. I'll try NOT to do that very often...the duplicate postings, that is!
Klondike Susie aka Salty Adventurer
2013 Itasca Reyo (25', no toad)
Married to oldedit
Resides in Denver CO area & Silverthorne CO

 

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