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Brewer's 2006 Alaska trip

by Betty Brewer

DAY 1 May 24, 2006 Clark Fork, Idaho through the Canadian border to Canal Flats, Canada

We left the cabin with Russ in the lead at 7:30 am. This was one full hour ahead of our scheduled departure so I guess we were excited. We needed to top off fuel in Sandpoint and make a quick run to the ATM machine. So we unhook the car at the Conoco station and guess what…the car won’t start. Loose battery cable…Terry fixes and I’m off to the bank. Guess what ATM machine is out of order, bank is not yet open, but I walk up to the drive-up window and get more cash than my debit card could have allowed. We meet up with friends Ned and Lorna, and Russ pose for pictures with our passports. WE get our walkie talkies ready to communicate while on the road and we’re off for Canada! Oh yes, Terry left his full coffee mug on the dash so the first few feet of the journey I spent scrambling to mop up the coffee from his GPS cords, computer cables, the dash, the floor. Boy this is fun!

Beautiful scenery and a beautiful day for driving. With 75,500 miles on our motorhome we arrive at the Canadian Border Crossing at Eastport, Canada which is north of Bonner’s Ferry, Idaho. It’s a short line with only our 2 friends in front of us. They are both stopped, asked the usual customs questions and instructed to pull over for a search. Our turn through the narrow gates. “ Please turn off your engine sir.” Terry answers the usual questions. How much alcohol do you have on board? Answer 6 bottles of wine. Question: any beer? Oh yes 2 cans. What size are the wine bottles? Terry answers, the size you get in a restaurant. Question: is that the 720 ml size? Answer yes I guess so. Question: How many beers do you have. Answer 2. Question: how much cash do you have on board? Answer about a thousand dollars. Question: Do you have more than $2,000 cash on board? Answer NO. We are instructed to pull over and wait for what we assume will be our inspection but the lanes in front of us are filled with our friends and their big rigs so we pull in front of them and manage to block the truck lane. Officer instructs us to pull up on the other side of the yellow Welcome to British Columbia sign and wait. We do. We watch as friends behind us now are searched, slides opened, cupboards opened, drawers opened. They are cleared and we wait for someone to come look at us. No one comes, so Terry hikes back to the customs office and we are told we cleared. No one came even to speak to us. The sad part of this is that while waiting I figure out that with the partly opened bottle of wine in the refrigerator I actually had 7 bottles and did not want to be caught with any untruths. So I poured ½ bottle of wine down the sink while we waited for the inspection which did not occur. Sigh…..(should have drank it)

First stop in Canada is a tourist information center under some trees. Before Terry follows others into the parking lots he radios, “Is there room for me?” Yep is the answer. However when we drive down the hill and through the narrow lot, I hear a terrible sound. Have you ever heard the sound of an aluminum can crushing? I look for the trash can we most likely hit, or the car to be smashed on a rock. Terry thinks he has knocked the antenna off the top by the overhanging tree branch. Terry decides this is not the place he wants to stop so we drive off on our adventure to Alaska, alone. Several miles down the road we pull into a beautiful rest stop and to survey the damage to the rig. He circles the rig, climbs on top and can only find dirt. No damage. Whew, we seemed to have dodged this one. A lovely travel day though scenic drive with snow capped mountains, green grass, raging rivers and a beautiful rest stop. We are “In” for the night. I went for a walk and discovered Columbia Lake just over the ridge from our parking spot. Information kiosk reveals this is the source of the Columbia River which is the 4th largest river on the continent. It empties into the Pacific Ocean at Astoria Oregon. I’m impressed.

As I contemplate dinner, our friends pull up with a crock pot full of pot roast so we dine at the picnic table along the road overlooking the mountains. (No wine with dinner) However we have good TV signal, good internet connection and a good start to the trip. Next stop: Banff.

Miles driven 199
Wildlife sightings: two deer, humming bird, robins, chipmunks at rest stop.
Camping: boondocking at reststop No cost.

DAY 2 May 25, 2006 Rest stop South of Radium Springs to Banff, Canada.

After a morning walk to the hillside overlooking the Columbia Lake we headed out. It was one of those drives which left you with a “WOW” around each corner. The rigs behind us radioed a bear sighting along the road but it does not count for us as we did not see it. We did see many geese and a herd of Mountain sheep along side the road. We easily found the Tunnel Mountain RV Park in Banff. We paid $120.00 Canadian for a pass to visit all Canadian National Parks upon entering the Banff National Park . We then entered the Tunnel Mountain Park and got a view sight with electric only. I can’t believe there is an RV park in the world with a better view. Our first order of business was money exchange and the visitor’s center for tourist information. After a tour of the tourist shops on the main street, Terry and I took a drive around the local lakes. An afternoon nap later we held happy hour with friends and planned tomorrow.

Statistics: Miles driven 114
Wildlife sightings: A dozen or more Long horn sheep sitting peacefully along the road, several ground hogs here at the park, a couple of eagles. (one missed bear sighting)
Camping: 4 Nights electric only - $112.00 Canadian

Day 3 May 26, 2006 Tunnel Mountain RV Park, Banff, Alberta, Canada

What a difference a day makes. I had my head in the clouds all day. I awoke to the pitter patter of rain on the roof and it rained all day. It did get all the way up to 39 degrees and snow is predicted for tomorrow. We had planned a drive to Lake Louise but that was rained out. We dined out for lunch at a Greek restaurant and toured Canada Place which is a big old (built in 1936) stone building which holds the offices of the National Parks superintendent. A small reception area hosts tourists with interactive displays on the formations of Canada. Our guide was a young man proud to be from Manitoba. He allowed me a chance to practice my French. Did you know that these inventions were made by Canadians? Telephone, radio, instant mashed potatoes, lots of things to do with hockey, the self-propelled combine and many others I can’t recall. We also viewed a video with the scenery from each of the 10 Provinces of Canada. This country still has lots of untamed territory. Many places made it to our list of places to visit someday. We hope it clears tomorrow… but if it does not, I will shop at the cute little touristy shops in town.

37 hundredths of an inch of rain. All mountain views in the clouds.

Day 4 May 27, 2006 Banff. City Tours

While Russ, Lorna, Ned and Terry went out to breakfast I slept in and enjoyed some quiet time at home. I managed to see a deer outside our window and watched the clouds lift from the mountain tops. As the weather looked like it would be clearing, we started off as tourist to a National Historic Site of Canada Cave and Basin. I learned a bit of Canadian History and toured fascinating hot springs. Seems that as Canada was becoming a nation, there was a desire by early leaders to add land to the west (British Columbia) but they would only join the Country if the government would build a railway to connect the east and west. Only the rich were able to afford leisure time for travel and the train fare. They required amenities so the Canadian Pacific Railroad built a series of beautiful Hotels. The Banff Springs Hotel pictured in an earlier post was such a hotel. A big attraction was the discovery of the Mineral hot springs. This area was developed as the first National Park in 1885. The maintenance of a springs with it’s high mineral content proved too much and folks began building regular swimming pools so they stopped coming to this site. It is now just a museum type building with a very interesting tour as we had a very knowledgeable guide. The upper part of the springs is still open to the public and includes a spa. After a brief shopping trip in town with no purchases, Lorna and I paid the fee for the Hot Mineral Bath and soaked in sulfur laden mineral water to cure our aches and pains and enjoy something warm. We then treated ourselves to one of the many massages offered by the spa. I feel like a noodle, very relaxed. It occurs to me that I have only one body and I should take care of it with massages more often.

Rainfall 0.51 to date. Some pea size hail today.
Wild life sightings: 1 deer High of 44 degrees.
No Memorial Day Celebrations scheduled. Glad we have news to watch.

Day 5 May 28, 2006 Banff, Alberta Canada

Ok, I know the log say "Alaska" , but here were are still in Banff, waiting for weather to clear. The gal at the "Guard station" into Tunnel Mountain (the RV Park where we continue our stay), tells us this is most unusual for days of rain and the fog-like shroud surrounding us. The items of the day were to return to the Greek Restaurant and order the same soup and Greek salads we all enjoyed a couple of days ago. Why mess with a good thing? The waitress even remembered who got which separate check!

A good rainy day activity is to attend a movie, so we went to see The Da Vinci Code today. This is a very thought provoking movie. I enjoyed it very much but Terry says he would rather have seen Mission Impossible III. The thing I least enjoyed about the movie was the guy behind me whose cell phone rang and he carried on a conversation. Then he and his wife began a conversation between themselves. Boy did I turn around and give them a big sshhhhhhhh.

We plan to wait for the weather to clear before we move on so as to not miss any photo ops. Stay tuned....

Day 6 May 29, 2006 Banff and Lake Louise Area

We awoke to sunny skies with puffy clouds so we hustled out quickly to the three Vermillian Lakes ( Bow Valley’s biggest wetland) just outside Banff. We spotted an Eagle in a big old dead tree but only the 15.3x magnification lense could take advantage of glimpse of him. His photo did not make the top 10. We knew the trip to Lake Louise would be a one hour drive and we left at 10 a.m. We found the Bow Valley Parkway that parallels the freeway and includes many viewpoints with signs telling about the geology and forested areas. Well we stopped about every 100 yards with scenery more beautiful around each turn. A wow! drive.

We arrived at Chateau Lake Louise well after noon where we dined with a killer view of Lake Louise and the glacier waters. Terry and I recalled the times we had been here before when skiing. I took advantage of a very nice gift shop and you will notice a new red jacket in my photos as I bought a new jacket made in Canada. This investment will help to ensure that the temperatures begin to rise.

The drive to Lake Moraine was steep windy and spectacular with rushing waters down streams. When we arrived back Banff it began to rain. When it cleared, I wanted to tour the Hotel and upon my departure from the RV park I encountered a herd(4) of elk, so I backed the car quietly up the hill to retrieve Terry and the camera. He snapped to his hearts content. What a thrill. Then I went off to the Banff Springs Hotel to view their shops. A uniformed man was on the steps playing the bagpipes, seemingly as a welcome to our hotel visit. The artwork done by Canadian artists is impressive but will not fit into my southwest décor so I saved thousands of dollars in this shopping event. (tee hee) Home at 8:41 and it’s just beginning to get dark. Long light days seem to give me energy. It’s been a wonderful day.

Rainfall to date 0.61
Temperature: High= 56 low =38

Day 7 Last Day in Banff May 30, 2006.

Today we were the most touristy you can be. We drove to the edge of town to get a picture of the Welcome to Banff sign. A trip to Radio shack was first shopping venture so Terry could buy headphones to use for his trial of using Skype. (internet phone service) I purchased a bubble bomb from a Bath shop in town. This is supposed to make your bath water fizzy and smell like jasmine. Then we trotted off to take the Gondola Ride to the top of Sulphur Mountain. The rides is 8 minutes long, 7486 feet in elevation and it cost us $23.50 each for the ride. At the summit we were truly on top of the world. It reminded us of our skiing days only my feet were more comfortable! From the top we could overlook the town of Banff, the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, Bow Falls and Lake Minnewanka. It was a new perspective to see it all from on top of it. I wish we had done it earlier in our stay as it would have been a great orientation to the entire area.

Of course we had the pricey lunch on top and viewed the mountain goats that were just outside the restaurant on the steep hillside. We had snow flurries during the meal but it cleared up before we left. From there we shopped in the gift store. I bought a “ stone figurine” called an Inuksuk. It was made by a Canadian artist from pieces of rock formed 600 million years ago. (the brochure told me so) It is in the image of a man and signifies a welcome to your home. This is my first trip souvenir and I am still using Winnie’s Christmas money for those of you who know about that. ($15.00) When exiting the gift shop for the ride down we discovered that some people actually hike all the way down. Not us!

At the bottom, they show you this very cute picture of the two of us in the gondola and we got nicked for $15.00 for this souvenir. Then we bought a ½ pound of amoretto fudge. ($7.50) Did I not warn you that we were REAL tourists today!

After the gondola ride we drove to Bow Falls to watch the white water rushing down into a big lake and then follow the river meandering through the valley. The area is called Bow Falls because ancient Indians used to find trees from which they made their bows in this area. I just love the trivia I learn from the displays along the tourist sights. If I had a memory I would be good in a game show quiz. We head to Jasper and Ice fields tomorrow.

Note… I am only going to list the miles driven in the motorhome in my daily miles. So if you see miles driven = 0 it means the motorhome did not move. We like to find a spot to stay a while and use our car to tour the area.
Miles driven: 0
Temperature: High=59, Low 42
Wildlife sightings: 5 Mountain Goats, two deer, several ground hogs, pretty birds

Day 8 May 31, 2006 Jasper, Alberta Canada

Another Day another adventure is a phrase Terry and I use as a departure statement and today certainly lived up to that. We readied to leave, stowed dish, secured cargo, checked all doors, pulled in slide and started her up…Not. The big old Magna would turn over but she would not fire. Terry tried a few things and when they did not work he got very serious and put on his coveralls. For forty- five minutes Terry, tested, came into rig and got more tools, got more gadgets, crawled under the back, tested settings on Russ’ coach. We set up 2 way radios so I could turn switch when he told me to do it. Finally the rig started when I held in the boost button for 4 seconds as he instructed. Now I think my husband is a genius to get her started but he indicates he did not do anything. This problem is something we will have to watch.

As Ron Maribito advised, we were right to pick a beautiful day for this drive. It was hands down, the most spectacular scenery I have ever seen in my life. We followed a road from Lake Louise to Jasper called “The Ice fields Parkway.” It is a spectacular 230 KM drive along the backbone of the continent. It passes through remote and high altitude terrain. Though there were many pull- outs we chose not to pull off as we will return in the car. This road needs to be done without speed as there are lots of very steep downgrades and killer views. Several times during the trip the signs said “slow for animals” and bingo, there they were. Only one other trip in my life was exciting as today and it was a Kenyan Safari where animals in the wild just appeared. So it was all day today, which is why we are going back. At every turn, the surroundings were of high snow capped mountains with either snow or very rocky and craggy from glacial action. At one point around a curve I just wanted to cry the sights were so magnificent. I don’t usually get this chocked up about scenery but WOW. I know the trip log title says Alaska but it should say Canada for this part of the trip. If we never see another sight I am happy with the trip so far.

Terry guided us to Whistler Campground that he had heard many people report successful stays. If your definition of success includes access to a clear view of the southern sky and internet access, this was not such a camp ground. We wove our way through the tall trees and into our site with no hope of a signal for TV or internet. Terry hates this place and drove around the entire park looking for a better place but all are in the trees. Terry calls this the hell hole. I think it is peaceful and we have elk wandering around and my crock-pot is full of chili so I am happy here.

After setting up camp, I went with Russ and Lorna to the Jasper Tramway and toured the top. It is Canada’s longest and highest aerial tram, which is a 30passenger tram and they have two cars, one up and one down. From the top we could gaze over 6 mountain ranges, glacial-fed lakes and the scenic town of jasper. I saw Mt. Roson at 12,970 feet. It is 15 degrees cooler at the top as we gained 3243 feet. We toured the town of Jasper and missed the visitor center hours by 20 minutes. We will leave in the car tomorrow to take a tour of the Ice fields. Won’t send a report tonight as we have no signal. Too many photos from which to choose!

Day 9 June 1, 2006 Jasper National Park. Second Day

Today we loaded up the car with lunch, binoculars, tour maps, guide books, two cameras, rain gear and snow boots. We are prepared! Russ and Lorna get an early start and we fuel up in town. It is cloudy and we are hoping that if we wait until a bit later the sun may peek through. Today’s route is the reverse of yesterdays and now all of the turnouts are on our side and we are able to hike down to the most beautiful waterfalls. I wish my pictures and words could include the sound of water pounding over boulders and falling dozens of feet. Athabasca Falls and Sunwapta Falls were impressive in their heavy flow and the beauty being carved into the canyons they create. Dozens of tour bus loads of people were also there to enjoy. Somehow I thought that by visiting this early in the year, we might avoid some of the tourist rush but Jasper National Park is a popular place.

We met up with Russ and Lorna at The Columbia Icefield Centre and took a tour on a Brewster Ice Explorer to the Athabasca Glacier. This is the largest accumulation of ice south of the Arctic Circle. This glacier sits between 2 Canadian National Parks and has melt waters that flow into 3 oceans. High atop one on the mountains is a tri-continental divide. It is one of only two such places on the planet, the other being in Siberia. Presumably if you poured a pitcher of water on this mountain the water would flow to the Arctic, Atlantic or Pacific Oceans. We boarded a BIG Ice Explorer with 6 wheels about 5 feet high. It moves a max of 12 miles an hours and cost $750,000 to build. But at $33.00 per person and 850,000 visitors per year, they do ok. We were transported out onto the glacier and given a chance to explore the ice field. Some filled water bottles with glacial water. I dipped my fingers in the very cold waters running around the area that had been plowed for visitors during the 6 months of open season. If you have never explored a glacier this is another MUST DO in my opinion. With breath taking views of the mountains and skies, it was hard to board the BUS to return.

The drive in reverse of yesterday was even more spectacular because we saw more animals up close and personal today. We spotted mountain sheep, mountain goats, a family of Canadian geese walking down the side of the highway and our first black bear eating dandelions along the road. Talk about excited! Tomorrow we head toward Dawson Creek.

Motorhome miles driven 0
Car miles driven 250 whew!
Temperature Hi 75 Low 42
Wildlife sightings: Elk, chipmunks, mountain goats, mountain sheep, geese, a big black bear

Day 10 June 2, 2006 Jasper to Grande Cache or so

We awoke and packed up and were ready to leave Jasper by 10 am. Russ, Ned and Lorna left at 8:30. We drove through pretty countryside within a forest tree farm for miles. Evidence of tree harvesting, replants and next harvest signs were posted outside the many, many logging roads. This is definitely timber country. The roads were 2 lane, and picturesque. At Grand Cache we met up with Ned and Lorna who were doing a quick run with laundry and we logged quickly onto Russ’ Internet connection. As the local campgrounds were full we headed north looking for a suitable overnight spot. We rejected a couple of turnouts that were close to a coal mining operation and some along river with very muddy looking grassy fields.

We pulled into a Forest service Recreational area and when Russ and Ned could not get a satellite signal they headed north for Grand Prairie. I liked this remote spot and we got a TV signal so we were good for the night. No photos today. Headed for Dawson Creek tomorrow.

Motorhome miles driven: 167
Temperatures: High 70 Low 48 Cloudy and light evening sprinkles clearing to a colorful sunset at 10:45 pm
Rainfall to date: 0.62
Animal Sightings: elk, several deer along the road
Forest Area Camping $0.

Day 11, 2006 Dawson Creek, British Columbia, Canada… Gateway to Alaska

Ok you guys this is it. We are really on our way to Alaska. We left our little dry camp deep within the forests of Alberta at 8:30 am and drove toward the west through Grand Prairie on to Dawson Creek, British Columbia. (We are back on Pacific Time). It was very windy all the way! Three deer ran across the road well in front of us and we saw a moose along the road today but couldn’t get to the camera fast enough to catch him. When we arrived at “Mile ‘0’ RV Park and Campground” Russ, Ned and Lorna were there and they had “saved” us a site. Who would know that the sites are filled every night. It could be that the book we bought, Alaskan Camping, by Mike and Terri Church is read by all. The campground is in a city park like setting and is surrounded by quaking aspen trees and swarms of bugs. I have not been bitten but every time we open a door or window they rush in.

Dawson Creek is the place where the Alcan Highway begins. It is now called the Alaskan Highway. At the visitors center (a 1931 Northern Alberta Railway Park) today we learned many things. The tour book listed the one-hour video as a not to miss highlight to the construction of the Alcan Highway. Alas when we arrived and inquired about the video they said it was out of order. I was so very disappointed. Terry asked, “Do you mind if I take at look at your system?” The gals looked like he could do no harm and agreed. Within 2 minutes Terry had their video up and running and we saw the fascinating one-hour story of the construction of the Alcan Highway. Seems war is a good motivator and this highway was built within 8 months in 1942 to serve as supply points for the already established airfields within the Northwest. The US Army Corps of Engineers was used and they partnered with locals from Canada to make this highway happen. I’m glad I did not have to work in mosquito-infested forests with temperatures ranging from 90-degree temps to 70 degrees below 0, within 22 hours of daylight. Those guys were heroes in the early 1940’s who worked around the clock using the available daylight to construct this highway.

Did I tell you that this park has free wi-fi and I did my laundry today? It is so. We visited a few tourist spots like the Mile 0 Marker, the local Dairy Queen and some of the local sights. The grain elevator holds a fantastic Art Museum that I will revisit tomorrow. One of my photos today will depict a memorial for workers killed or injured in the workplace. It is dedicated to workers from all eras, including people involved with the Alaskan Highway. We still have over 1200 miles to travel before we hit the State of Alaska. This is a big area! Will tour Dawson Creek some more tomorrow.

Motorhome Miles driven: 160
Temps: High 72 Low 44 wind gusts to 30
Campground Costs: 2 nights electric only (free wifi) $35.00
Wildlife sightings: 3 deer running across road, magpie, a moose, several stuffed animals in a pen in a museum, a magpie and some elk in a pen.

Day 12 June 4, 2006 Dawson Creek Day 2

This morning I chose to sleep in rather than accompany the group to breakfast at o’dark thirty. The RV Park here is very peaceful and the neighbors are very quiet, as one of my photos will illustrate. Lorna and I set off on foot to explore the Pioneer Village next door. It was a very well done restoration of buildings from 1928 to the early 1940’s. The homes were circa log cabin moved here by the historical society. My favorite was the school building with desks on rails and in a row. Notable were the maps on display. Certainly the Canadian Province maps were appropriate but seemed odd to someone who always saw US maps on display in schools. A car show was being held and the cars were from an era long ago and well restored. We kept seeing items from the past that brought back family memories.

Later in the day Terry and I did the Dawson Creek walking tour. From a city of 600 the population grew to 10,000 overnight when troops arrived in 1942 to build the Highway. In it’s hey day it was most likely a hopping place. Today I would say it could use a bit of “downtown” revitalization. One place marked on the tour as an Inn that became licensed to sell alcohol is still a bar and the building holds the distinction of being type of business occupying the same building for the longest period. We noted a good deal of blood just outside the front door on the sidewalk and it trailed down an alley. My CSI powers took over, arousing much curiosity. A few minutes later a police car with lights flashing parked outside the bar. We still don’t know what happened so we can only guess. The life size murals painted on the sides of the buildings depicted life in the by gone era and were fantastic. It was like a life size art gallery. You may note that as it is Sunday I had Terry catch me returning from the “church” in one of the paintings.

Motorhome Miles driven, 0
Temps: High 68 Low 48. Light winds with gnats and flies
Wildlife sightings: 0

Day 13, June 5, 2006 Fort Nelson, British Columbia, Canada

We departed Dawson Creek and headed North on the Alaskan Highway. Today I learned how to use the Milepost guidebook and it sat on my lap the entire 6 hour drive. Every hill and dale and river and hamburger joint is listed along the way. Interesting tidbits of history are thrown in as well as a commentary on the local flora and fauna. I was able to read aloud to Terry as a tour guide as he drove. Not far into our trip we took a bit of a side tour to the Kiskatinaw River Bridge. It is the only original timber bridge from the Alcan Highway construction still in use. It is 531 feet long, curved and high. I walked over it to get pictures of the motorhome driving over it. We were safe as it has a 25 ton pound limit as we only weigh about 20 tons.(now he tells me)

The scenery would have been considered boring today except for thinking of those men who worked so hard to carve a road down this swath of forest. The road today is thankfully cleared of trees about 50 to100 yards across. This gave us a chance to see above the tree line and to watch carefully for animals that might dart out in front of us. We crossed down a 10% grade. We passed several Natural Gas drilling operations and saw a multitude of forest service industries and logging operations working. When we arrived at Fort Nelson at around 3:30 Ned and Lorna were here and had saved us a place here in the Bluebell RV Park. As it had drizzled and/or rained most of the day I can now understand why all other travel journals I’ve read, speak so much about car washes. Our rigs are trashed with mud, dirt, dust and gunk.

First stop was to the Visitor Information Center. Here we were given interesting prospects for afternoon activities and we toured the Fort Nelson Heritage Museum and attended an evening slide show with talks from two local residents. One gal has lived here 25 years and told of the scenery and changes over the years. The other guy works as a forester and spoke of the timber industry and explained why this area is so good for raising trees. He described how Aspens and Spruce intermingle in the forests, which was ever so apparent in our drive today. This would be a beautiful fall color place near mid September when leaves change.

He spoke of the OSB made in the local big mill mostly from Aspen or cottonwood trees. It is a kind of pressed particleboard. He explained why drilling for Natural gas (quite prevalent in Northern British Columbia) has such a short drilling season. It is normally done only in winter months because when the ground thaws, all heavy equipment will sink up to the roof. The are finding ways to make wooden roads and platforms so natural gas can be pumped for longer time periods to meet the demand. Since the talks were held at the local movie theatre, when it was 8:00 the movie was about to begin so the talks abruptly stopped. We were hungry for a pizza and visited a chain restaurant called Boston Pizza. The sign outside said “Help Wanted.” They were very busy and badly in need of extra help. The waiter explained to us it is very hard to get any help in this town for low paying jobs, as a high school drop out can earn $20 per hour working in one of the Pumping camps. It feels like winter here to me. A planned stop tomorrow will be a soak in Liard Hot Springs to warm up. This trip is fascinating and informative and I am so glad to share it with all of you who are reading it.

Motorhome Miles driven: 279
Fuel fill up: 56.5 gallons Cost per gallon $3.36 (US)Thanks JamesOne for the conversion table.
Temperature: High 51 Low 40 Rain, drizzle all day
Wildlife sightings: 1 red tailed hawk, one dead elk along the road, several deer along the road.
One white stuffed Moose in the Museum (does it count?)

Day 14 June 6, 2006 Fort Nelson to Liard Hot Springs, British Columbia, Canada

Today was another of those “pinch me is this real?” days. Once again Russ, Ned and Lorna beat us on the road by 1-½ hours. We continued down the Alaskan Highway with fresh new information from our forester last night and the mix of trees in the forest was even more apparent today. Spruce and Aspen make a good color combination. We also noted many landslide areas along the road and very rocky hillsides with many “Rocks on the Road “signs. We followed rivers rushing down the road beside us. The section around the crystal clear turquoise Muncho Lake was one of the most difficult in the highway’s construction because so much rock had to be carved out along the lake. It resulted in a spectacular drive that would have been even better, I think, had it not been pouring rain. Even so the scenery is awesome. The wildlife was abundant today. We saw a deer run across our lanes. We caught a glimpse of a caribou run across the road and up into the brush. We saw a moose. I’m sorry my camera does not have the zoom capacity as Terry’s new one and that the photo I share of the moose is so far away. Despite his distance for you to see , he was thrilling for me to see along the road. Maybe I will learn to use the “good” camera but not in that nano second you have to snap an animal! Then the Stone mountain sheep appeared and Terry got his hands on his camera. See how much better he looks up close with that zoom? Then we saw buffalo. WOW!

I don’t know what I expected of Canada and British Columbia in particular but this is beautiful country. Perhaps it is because it is my first time to see it or that I had no expectations, but it is clear it will be a do over trip for me! When we do it over, we will be better informed. We want to tell you about Liard Hot Springs. This is a not to miss event but it would have been better if we had dry camped in the Liard Hot Springs Provincial Park for $17 dollars per night that included the $5.00 fee to soak in the mineral areas. Instead we got into the electric and water campground directly across the street Liard Hot Springs Lodge for $32.10 a night and very poor power as they generate their own. The lady at the Provincial Park told us big rigs would have been given the bus parking spaces and you can park there for the night. There is also a big parking lot across the street you could just pull up, park and go for a soak and then drive on your way. Many people do this, as there is not much else here at the springs to do and believe me a 40-minute soak cured all my aches and I could not have taken another minute. This is the hottest water I’ve ever been in. The mineral pools are in theirs natural setting with a gravel bottom and so pretty with all of the lush greenery around it. At one end you can sit on a bench and a waterfall gives your back a good massage.

The tour book says the weather can change here faster than anyplace in Canada. Within 5 minutes a storm can blow in dark rain clouds, it will pour rain and in 10 minutes the sun is shining. We’ve had a t least 3 of those scenarios since we arrived at 1:30 today. We are not seeing nearly as many of the Class C type rental RV’s we saw in Jasper but now we are seeing lots of 5th wheels and bigger motor homes with toads. According to the sign- in books in the tourist offices, most are headed for Alaska. Tomorrow we head for Watson Lake, home of the Signpost Forests.

Motorhome Miles driven: 190 (didn’t even unhook the car)
Temperatures: High 55 low 39
Wildlife sightings: deer, caribou, moose, mountain sheep, buffalo
Camping Cost: $32.10 for One night Electric/water

Day 15 June 7, 2006 Liard Hot Springs to Just past Watson Lake 1062.7 km

Today a pleasant 3-hour drive was made more exciting by our wildlife sightings. First thing out of the campgrounds we spotted a buffalo lazing on a hillside just watching the Rv’ers pass by. Not long after that a red fox crossed across in front of us and then with little warning Terry spotted a BIG bear grazing up along the hillside. I hope he got some good shots as he was able to pull over to the side of road and we watched her for several moments. Then we spotted a deer watching us along the road. She looked like she wanted to dart right in front of us but Terry sounded the air horn and she hopped away like a kangaroo into the woods saving us all. Then another red fox was seen running across the road and they are so fast there is no chance of any camera action. It was a beautiful day with lovely mountain forest scenery and rivers to follow and small lakes to pass by.

We stopped for a photo at the entry to Yukon Territory. We fueled up at a convenient station just into Watson Lake and despite the trucker’s discount we were given, paid the most for fuel we have ever paid. Diesel fuel calculated at $3.93 per gallon US.

Upon entering Watson Lake we met up with Russ, Ned and Lorna and toured the infamous Signpost Forest. We searched for the RV Forum sign we thought had been posted there but we did not have all day! We visited the new Northern Lights Center and watched an entertaining technological experience on the Northern Lights and another on the size of the Universe. It is bigger than I thought!

Then we drove off in search of the perfect boon docking spot. Found one at KM 1062.7 for future traveler reference. Pretty sight right by the Lower Rancheria River. We are settled for the night and I feel so fortunate to have the ability to do this trip!

Motorhome Miles Driven: 178
Temperature: High 62 Low 44 Clear all day.
Wildlife sightings:deer, buffalo, bear, red fox, chipmunk, Canadian jay,seagull Camping costs: $0
Diesel fuel costs per gallon: $3.93 We took on 84 gallons. (Bean soup for dinner tonight)

Day 16 June 8, 2006 Dry camp at km 1062.7 to Teslin Lake Mukluk Annie’s Yukon,Canada

Today we experienced a case of “severe clear” (as Ron Ruward would put it). We had blue skies, beautiful scenery, and animal sightings of a bear. We crossed back and forth from British Columbia to The Yukon a few times as the road wound it’s way down snow capped mountains and mirror like lakes. Today was the day you see the places where picture post cards are taken. Terry did make note of the fact that so far The Yukon should be called “ the land of the potholes.” Russ was in the lead and he called out the potholes on the CB radio much like the trip leaders on a caravan. I wondered if he and Terry had been drinking, such was their wandering all over the road to avoid them. Then we came to a 7km section of construction with gravel. Now I know why it is the law in The Yukon to drive during the day with your headlights. The dust was incredible.

We stopped for photos at an information kiosk just before the town of Teslin. In the distance we could see the Nisutlin Bay Bridge, the longest water span of any bridge on the Alaska Highway. (1917 feet.) We visited the George Johnston Museum. He was an innovative Tlingit man who purchased the first car for the area despite having NO roads in the community. It was a 1928 Chevrolet and is very nicely restored in the museum. The museum display ceremonial robes and trade goods of the Tlingit Indians. A video, produced by an ancestor of George Johnston, shown in the museum shed light of a different nature on the impact of the building of the Alaskan Highway. When the white man and soldiers came, they brought diseases for which these native Indians had no immunity. Many all of them died of measles and influenza. Off duty soldiers were also given free license to hunt the grounds and shot bear for sport. Not good things. We stopped for a look at the Tlingit Heritage Center with its Totem Pole Carvings out front.

Mukluk Annie’s was our next stop. This is where expectations of a trip come into play. Terry had heard for years about the Free camping here if you ate at the salmon Bake. He has talked about it for days. Well, when we arrived this year, the rules had changed and it was $10.00 to boon dock. We stayed anyway after a brief search of the area did not turn up anything better and Russ could get online here in the parking lot. We astutely chose not to park up close to the cliff where the view might have been better but we noted the ground looked a bit soft. We watched later in the evening as the owner pulled out a pickup with a fifth wheel buried to his axels in the soft dirt. We ventured into the place for a meal but it was too hot inside and so we wandered back home for a quick meal inside. No salmon bake. The evening was finished off with a lovely boat ride for $5.00. We fed the seagulls and enjoyed the warmth of the day. The sun will not completely set until almost midnight and they tell me it gets like dusk until 2am when it gets light again. I’m glad to have put that silver colored bubble stuff over the bedroom windows to keep it dark. Tomorrow will be Whitehorse. We are still not in Alaska.

Motorhome Miles Driven: 122
Temperature: High 70 Low 44
Wildlife sightings: bear, rabbit, seagulls
Camping costs: $10 to boon dock at Mukluk Annies
Fuel: We noted fuel prices were about 5 cents a liter cheaper outside of Watson Lake. It would have saved us some money if we could have waited. Who knew?

Day 17 June 9, 2006 Teslin to Whitehorse, Yukon Canada

Today we got a leisurely 10:20 a.m.start for a 2 hour drive to Whitehorse. We wonder where have all the potholes gone, as the roads are good today. We turned down a road at the Yukon River Bridge turnout to enjoy the views the book tells about and Terry exclaims, ”Oh sh#*.” This turn out only has one exit, so we must exit the way we turned in and he does not figure we have enough room to turn around without unhooking the car. He says he should have trusted his instinct. But I tell him we can make it in one big slow turn. He says ok we will try. Russ photographs the turn and guess what we can turn around in 78 feet! I had to move some tree branches away from the mirror but we are out and on the highway again. Did I mention the views of the Yukon River and Valley were wonderful? Terry did not see them. When we arrive in Whitehorse, the challenge becomes that of selecting a camp sight that is Internet friendly AND will connect to Russ’ Direct TV as it is a big Formula One Race weekend. We unhook the car and I act as the scout and drive up the road considering southern skies and no trees. I liked the Mckenzie RV Park north of town. We settled on a very small campground called Mountain Ridge Motel and RV Park. It is close to town, has free wifi and clear views of southern skies. Terry and Russ are watching races as I compose this message. Ned and Lorna selected the Pioneer RV Park just outside of town. Next stop visitor center. Whitehorse is a lovely little town with a large waterfront area that is along the Yukon River. Armed with tourist guides we drive around the downtown area, stopped in a few gift shops, have raspberry gelatos and drive to some of the river viewpoints for photos.

We attended the Frantic Follies Vaudeville Revue in the evening and came away with sore stomachs from laughing so much. The girls could kick higher than you could imagine and the colorful costumes along with the humorous monologues of Robert Service provided an evening of local color and good clean entertainment! I now have the hang of the black out curtains for the bedroom so I can sleep.

Motorhome Miles Driven: 101
Temperature: High 78 Low 45
Wildlife sightings: a rabbit.
Camping costs: $30.00 per night with wifi

Day 18 June 10, 2006 Whitehorse, the capitol of the Yukon and Touristy Places

What a day. We visited the Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre and learned about the last ice age and the giant wooly mammoths that roamed the area. As we were the first tourists to arrive we had a personal tour of the place and the guide took us out back where each of us was given a lesson in how to throw an atal atal, which is an ancient spear throwing device used to hunt by the First Nation Indians. I speared a ground hog, Russ speared a beaver (I think) and Terry’s arrow went the farthest and he got the wooly mammoth. His arrow even stuck into the target. We had quite a giggle with this activity. Wevisited the Yukon Transportation Museum (Terry’s favorite) and saw unique displays of railways, sternwheelers and First Nations transportation modes. We visited The MacBride Museum and experienced early Whitehorse natural History and gold rush history. We visited the SS Klondike National Historic Site which is a grand old 270 foot stern-wheeler that was used to transport goods and passengers to the Dawson City via the Yukon and it is now permanently on display in the harbor. It is an incredible restoration and was my favorite of the day as the guide was very knowledgeable! We love tours. We took a 2-hour cruise on the Yukon River on the most beautiful day of the year. Warm sunny skies have everyone in a great mood. We saw a nest of Ravens along the wall of the Miles Canyon. We visited a local art gallery in the countryside and Russ has his eye on a sculpture done in antlers.

We ate at a restaurant recommended by a woman at City hall and it turned out to be a fantastic meal with linen table cloths and napkins.. By looking at the place we would never have selected it, so the lesson learned was ask a local where to dine! It was called G and P and it featured steak and Pizza. It was pricey but well worth every cent! We are enjoying this city so much that we decided to stay one more day as they have more art galleries, more museums and Terry wants to wash bugs off front of rig. I need to shop for groceries and there are several markets in town. I am trying to talk any of you reading this journal into visiting these places. This is a wonderful trip rich in history and natural wonders! I love it here! Of course it was 82 degrees today. The locals are complaining about how hot it is!

Motorhome Miles Driven: 0
Temperature: High 82 Low 67
Wildlife sightings: eagle in harbor at dusk when we had no camera. Ravens in nest.
Camping costs: $30 Mountain Ridge Inn
Museum Fees: I don’t even want to know today!

Day 19 June 11, 2006 Whitehorse, Yukon 3rd Day

Today we slept in and took a slow pace with the touristy things. First stop in Whitehorse was a return to get gelatos again. This time I had maple walnut. Then we drove all over town taking pictures of the murals on buildings depicting days of old. We took a short round trip on the local little trolley along the waterfront. It was first used in Portugal and then in a museum in Van Couver and now it hauls tourist up and down the shore at Whitehorse. It was well worth the $1.00 fare especially since Russ paid our fee.

Then we drove out to the fish ladder but it will be mid July before the salmon have found their way back here to spawn. Still impressive to see how the ladders assist fish over the dam. Russ and I took in some culture at the local college, Yukon Centre for the Arts. We saw displays of Tlingit masks and several rather nice large oil paintings, glasswork and a variety of wood worked furniture. Several real life sculpture were outside. After a grocery store run and a return to the SS Klondike for a book, we are good to go for another day. Late in the day (8:18 p.m.) Terry goes on a photo shoot for the eagle we missed yesterday. He got her on the nest. Off toward Dawson City tomorrow. I love hearing if you like our trip or not.

These days of long daylight are something. It's a weird psychological thing about having so much daylight. I like it, I think.

Motorhome Miles Driven: 0
Temperature: High 87 Low 67
Wildlife sightings: 1 eagle Terry is seeing all of the mosquitos. I have no bites.
Camping costs: $30 Mountain Ridge Inn 3rd night

Day 20 June 12, 2006 Whitehorse to Pelly Crossing Campground along the Klondike Hwy

Another late start and fuel fill up and we are on the road by 11a.m. Not far out of Whitehorse we turned off the Alaskan Highway to Highway 2 heading North, which is the Klondike Highway. Good roads and new scenery today. The roads roll through hills and low mountains with aspen trees and some pine and spruce. The aspen and cottonwood trees are all leafing out and everything looks green despite quite a dry spell here. At one point a sign signals a forest fire occurred in 1998. I am depressed as miles and miles are burned and I think what a loss. At the Boreal Fire Interpretive site we learned that careless campers who failed to completely extinguish their fire caused this fire. Winds whipped the fire into a 45,000-hectare (111,195 acres) fire that burned from July until December. It burned in the crown of the trees, trapping firefighters (who huddled in the lake for safety) Those fires are not easily fought and spread quickly. But the signs said fires are a natural part of the forest. It guided me to look at the re-growth that brings new life to the area. If aspens had any life left at their base they can send out suckers and clone themselves into new trees. Lodge pole pine trees actually need a fire to reproduce as their seed cones are resin coated and only a hot fire will release them. Forests start again but never exactly as the one before it. Birds were chirping. It takes a spruce tree 80 years to reach maturity.

Next stop was Braeburn Lodge famous because the Milepost said their cinnamon rolls would feed 4 people. Note attached picture. We stopped at Five Finger Rapids on the Yukon River for a hike and a look at the most dangerous section of the river that sternwheelers had to navigate. The book said it was down 219 steps. Well, it was also quite a distance and in the near 90 degree heat today I was huffing and puffing on the way back up those stairs. I most certainly burned enough calories to finish off that cinnamon roll.

We found a large gravel area to pull over for the night and Russ can get an internet signal but Ned and Lorna are not here so Terry and Russ drove ahead in Russ’ car and found them up ahead at Pelly Crossing Campground. So we move. This is a delightful, no hookup but free campsite. We are on a cull de sac and have not had to detach. Perfect for one night. It is right on the river, grassy and beautiful purple flowers abound. The same flowers were all along the highway. Mile marker 167.8 Lorna and I walked up the road to The Selkirk Heritage Centre that is a replica of the Big Jonathan House at Fort Selkirk. First Nation Heritage is the showcase and I spy an antler carving I think Russ may enjoy. We share a happy hour in Russ’ coach and Terry and I head for a much needed shower after today’s strenuous hike. Dawson City tomorrow.

(a request was made to add GPS coordinates daily so this is now added to daily statistics)
Motorhome Miles Driven: 178 Fuel cost $3.57 per gallon US
Temperature: High 86 Low 47
Wildlife sightings: 1 dead fox in road. Several seagulls
Camping costs: $0 Pelly Crossing Campground free dry camp
GPS Coordinates: 62.826137 and -136.581109

Day 21 June 13, 2006 Pelly Crossing to Dawson City Yukon, Canada

Thank you to all for your kind words about our trip log. Terry has taken the photos posted here in our journal with his new camera. I am the writer, he is the photographer. So far we think at least 2 people have considered purchase of the Panasonic FX30 based on his pictures.

We continued along the Klondike Highway and I felt parts of it were like a Disney decorated corridor with bright magenta flowers on both sides of the road and yellow dandelions sprinkled in as well. My pictures didn't do the flowers justice so I won’t include them. You’ll have to come here in June and have a look yourself. At the lunch rest stop Terry took a photo of an interesting rig with a couple from Germany. We struck up a conversation with a couple of young kids in a pick up loaded with supplies and water. I thought they might be river raft tour trip leaders but it seems they were fire fighters who have been sent to Dawson City. Lightening storms are predicted and 21 firefighters from Vancouver were given a phone call and within an hour were on a plane to Whitehorse and now are driving to Dawson City. The lady at the visitor center said one of the worst fires in the Yukon occurred in 2004 and it burned nearly 3% of the Province’s total forest and conditions were quite similar to those seen now. A water bomber plane was also flown in. They want to be prepared. Their mission is to protect people and structures. They let the forest burn as nature intended. We continued down the rather rough potholed road and encountered our first real road construction. Traffic was stopped one way and we watched heavy equipment do it’s thing. The delay was only a few minutes but they watered the road just before we passed. Talk about muddy. We were able to judge the depth of the potholes and road “whoop de doos” by the distance Lorna’s bike bounced from the back of their car being towed.

We arrived safely and camped at a very nice (but graveled) campground just outside of town. Off to the visitors center and bought a pre purchased ticket book to save money on admissions to their many museums and sights. Dawson City is completely restored to the early 1900 styles. Board sidewalks and cute little storefronts abound. We visited the SS Keno which is a Sternwheeler (circa 1920) It is not nearly as impressive as the Klondike but interesting to see the differences. The Northwestern Arctic Tour people were there and have us thinking about a trip to the Arctic where we could put our toes into the Arctic Ocean. We’ll have to see. In the evening we drove up to the Midnight Dome Road for a spectacular view of Dawson City below and the tailings from all of the mining. Tomorrow we visit the mines and the museums.

Motorhome Miles Driven: 151
Temperature: High 87 Low 55
Wildlife sightings: chipmunks
Camping costs: $ 23.00 per night 30 amp/ water GuggieVille RV Park 2.5 km south of town
GPS Coordinates: 64.04128, -139.39413

Day 22, June 14, 2006 Dawson City, Yukon Canada

Well here we are tourists again. We are 3 weeks into an Alaska trip and not yet there. Dawson City’s economy is divided among tourism 48 % and individual present day gold mining companies 48% and the remainder subsidiaries of mining companies. We took an early morning walking tour of the town with a guide who was born in Dawson City and is now 27 years old. She told us of present and past history. We visited the bank, the Red Feather Saloon, the mortuary, the Post Office and learned they have an historic building code so that all new building in Dawson must fit the 1900 circa. We learned on the tour that the local mortuary actually counted who might be sick and pre dug their graves as winter frost made digging graves during winter impossible. We visited the reconstructed Palace Grand Theatre that was the center of activity in early 1900’s, Most recently it served as the place for the local high school graduation. Lorna and I then visited the cabin of Robert Service a poet of the times and listened to a fascinating story of his life.

After a quick lunch in our rig we drove the 30 minutes to the Number 4 Dredge for the tour of this massive piece of mining equipment developed in 1912 to mine for gold. It was the mechanized version to replace individual picks and shovels and sluices. It only took 4 men to operate the machine itself but many men to prepare the soil for mining. They had to defrost the soil before they could mine it for gold. Mining was one of the best paying wages during this time of world wide poor economy. As mining continued, Yukon did not feel the depression. This machine was massive! Parks Canada (Canadian Government) has been very instrumental in restoring segments of Yukon history for all to enjoy. The last thing we did today was to visit the Dawson City Museum where we learned the most significant fact of the trip. The Klondike Gold Rush yielded 1,000,000 ounces of gold while the California Gold Rush in 1849 yielded 30,000,000 ounces. The Klondike find is significant because it was found in such a depressed time and it offered hope and dreams to those who traveled to find the riches. It was s the last gold stampede in modern history.

Speaking of riches…we held a mini forum rally at 7:45p.m. when Paul from UK drove by. Seems he and Ann Marie and driven a gravel road from Tok and were covered with dirt. Terry, Lorna and I went to Diamond Tooth Gerties for the musical review and hoped others would follow but they wanted to kick back. Since it was Ned’s birthday and anniversary we said he could so what ever he wanted. Russ thought he might sleep through the show. Our Tour Saver coupon was good for one free admission thanks to the word from Paul.

Tomorrow we depart from our friends to head North on the Dempster Highway. We have the Arctic Circle and Inuvik in the Northwest Territories on our schedule. We will pack a bag and may stay in a hotel overnight and see what the scenery offers. We may be out of internet service for a while. The final toast of the show tonight was to “love life and happiness!” This was fitting close for the day.

Motorhome Miles Driven:0
Temperature: High 88 Low 53
Wildlife sightings: 0
Camping costs: $ 23.00
GPS Coord: Same as last night

Day 23 June 15, 2006 Day trip Dawson City to Inuvik, Northwest Territories, Canada

Well folks today we detoured from our trip to Alaska and what an adventure. We started off to breakfast at 6 am and were on the road by 7 am heading up the Dempster Highway. This highway was completed in 1979 by the oil companies to provide a road to their oil and petroleum fields. It is unique in that it is built upon a gravel berm anywhere from 4 foot to eight feet high to insulate the permafrost from the road. Without this gravel base the perma frost would thaw and the road would sink into the ground. It is gravel almost all the 460 miles. One could take their motorhome on it but it would be filthy from the underside up and inside out. The highway heads north of Dawson city and ends at the northernmost of all of Canada's cities, Inuvik. I saw the most spectacular scenery I’ve ever seen today. The massive ecosystem of tundra and miles and miles of untouched wilderness were beyond anything I could have imagined and pictures can’t capture the magnitude or the size of this land. Not a phone pole or electric lines, Just nature. There were places I could stand and turn in a circle and see mountain ranges after mountain range for 360 degrees. It is pretty this time of year as the snow-melt contrasts with the fuzzy green of the tundra. The scraggly trees point all directions as the perma frost cause them to freeze and thaw and point in all directions. It was a long day and we traded off driving . During the first 10 miles of this road we saw 1 bear, one deer, one porcupine and scenery to die for. When it was my turn to drive we rounded a corner and there right at the side of the road sat a bear smiling. He posed for Terry who threw his coffee cup, The Milepost on the floor in excitement to catch the shot. Wow. We crossed four mountain ranges. We saw several Arctic hares(rabbits), two things I think were mink but Terry thinks they might have been marmots. We’ll have to look in a book to identify them for certain. At mile 252 from our start we reached 66 33 lat long. This was the ARCTIC Circle for heavens sake. “Who’d a thunk!” as Margi would say! I thought we were going to Alaska this summer and today I was on the Arctic Circle and heading north. We had beautiful but windy weather. It was about 73 and sunny. We passed several viewpoints and campground along the way. Now we even get to cross 2 rivers on ferries. The first one was scary but no big deal. Just drive on ride a minute and we’re across the Peel River. The next crossing at MacKenzie River was a bit different. There was a car in front of us so we waited and we waited and we waited from 6:45 to 9:15 pm for the ferry to arrive. We could see her sitting across the river, just sitting. Finally I struck up a conversation with a trucker who said it is a new captain and he thinks it’s too windy to cross so we shall wait until the wind dies. This could be all night. It is 85 miles back to a campground we are in the car with no sleeping bags) and no place to go ahead. Finally the ferry loaded us and we were the first ones on and first off and flew down the road at the 90 KM per hour speed limit. Boy did the dust fly behind us. When we arrived in Inuvik, we find our little Arctic Chalet to stay the night. Seems the Petroleum Conference is in town and all the rooms are filled. We stay in the Trapper Cabin with no water and the bathroom is up the road so far we take the car to brush our teeth. We love having a motorhome! But we are troopers and tired. We had the gal call and hope to get on a flight to Tuktoyaktuk to visit native culture and step into the Arctic Ocean tomorrow.

Motorhome Miles Driven: 0 Car driven 460 miles fuel= $1.41 per litre, only one station along the entire road.
Wildlife sightings: 2 bear, 1 caribou, 1 porcupine, 2 mink/marmots?, 2 rabbits,
Temps: High 73 Low 53
Camping Costs: $50.00 for a room with no bathroom!
GPS loc: 68.128908, -133.667955

June 16, 2006 Day 24 Inuvik to Tukyoyakyuk , Northwest Territories, Canada

This may be a long post so sit back and enjoy. It was quite a day.

We leave our comfortable little trapper cabin early in search of a breakfast place. We eat in a restaurant connected with a local hotel and I find it is right out of the 1970’s in decoration. The government created this town at that time and this place certainly has not changed. We were at the Arctic Nature Tour Center promptly at 8:30, the advertised opening time, and no one was there. We waited for a ½ hour finally a man showed up. Our name was on a list to go out on the tour but it was not leaving until 3pm and we could not see what we might do here the entire day. This is NOT a destination resort, in fact I would say not many tourists come here at all. We told him we wanted to leave earlier and he said he would see what he could do.

While we waited we stopped next door at a beautiful visitor center. We watched a video on the Dempster Highway that we traveled yesterday. (We really do deserve a bumper sticker for that drive.) The lovely lady who hosted the center is a native Inuvik. She is young, really pretty with a distinctive look. I learn that the Inuvik people are the northern people I learned about as a kid and referred to them as Eskimos. The historical accurate name is now Inuvialuit culture. I ask lots of questions, see many videos in the center and have my Dempster Highway Passport stamped. She then presents Terry and I with a certificate that reads… Betty and Terry Brewer having demonstrated the initiative, integrity and bold adventurous spirit of the true Arctic explorers who have crossed the Arctic Circle, will hereafter be recognized as an honorable member of the Arctic Circle Chapter, Order of the Arctic Adventurers. I asked her for a picture for this occasion.

We get a call from the Arctic Nature Tour center via the visitor center and we are now leaving at 1:00 whoopie! They take us on a bus to the Airport that is filled to the brim with the guys from the now finished Petroleum conference who are seeking flights to Edmonton or Calgary. Now they tell us the flight is delayed an hour. We boarded our flight at 2 pm and filled a 6-passenger flight. It was very noisy and if you had more than a backpack for luggage you’d have had to left it home. The 40-minute flight is scenic and awesome. I feel as if I am in the space shuttle high on top of the earth and looking down. This land is filled with millions of lakes; ice filled ocean and no vegetation except for low growing brush of the tundra. We see Pingos, ice created conical hills created when lakes recedes and covered with perma frost, the oil exploration rigs, and water, water, water.

When we land it is very windy and I hang on for dear life. I hear a great bit of noise and think we may be crash landing. Among my final thoughts are ”If I die I’m sorry I have not spent my last cent.” We landed on the gravel runway and I did not die but vow to spend even more money in life!

A lovely young woman greets us and introduces herself as Jennifer who was born and raised here in Tuk Tuk (short for comfort of the pronunciation by tourists). She is a college student in Victoria now but spends her breaks as a tour guide. Her father still lives the native ways and she begins to spin the tales of those I “knew” as Eskimos so long ago. She took us on a tour of the town highlighting her elementary school, which is no longer there because the tides took away the land, the churches built by missionaries of long ago, the community ice house which acts a deep freeze within the perma frost layers. This community ice house freezes the food people have for the winter. Many keep their dog food under ground in storage. The government now rules that in order to hunt caribou and whales you need to use a dog sled and in order to maintain a dog team you must feed them. Left over fish, and the fish caught in nets that die, serve as dog food. She did not take us below to the ice house as she said it smelled. It is included on the all day trip. (Note if you ever come here: they require a minimum of four people to go on these trips. It is possible for you to come all this way and if no one else wants to go with you, you’d be stuck staying in Inuvik.)

She tells us about their homes. As an Rv’er I think you’ll find this interesting! Because of the permafrost (permanently frozen ground) no plumbing of any kind is buried beneath the ground, as it would freeze. They have black water sewage holding tanks that are pumped out by a truck. They have water tanks that are built within their home and are filled with 250-gallon deposits with a tanker truck. Water conservation is key. They use steel like container filled vessels with fuel oil to heat home and to heat their water. None of this construction makes for an attractive place.

She told us that with the invention of the snow machine (aka snow mobile) the people now establish communities and stay in one place. Before they used to move camps and hunt moving locations.

Her father still depends on the migration of the caribou for the hunt for food and for a whale catch each year. She brought us to her parents’ home and we sampled the white fish they were smoking. I did not care for the taste, or texture of the fish. She showed us the tools her dad used to harpoon whales and described the many time consuming steps involved to convert whale blubber to cooking oil. She described how neighbors help neighbors in the catch of whale. We got to see the sled dogs her dad raises. This community may have been more attractive to me with snow all around. We walked on the mushy ground of tundra. None of the houses have any landscaping of any kind as the weather does not permit. One of the fellows on our trip was raised in British Columbia and he wanted to come here as his childhood school geography memories are of a teacher saying , ” Tuktoyaktuk, as far north as you can get.” When he was bad, his mother would scold him ands say I will send you to Tuktoyaktuk. He vowed as a fifth grader to visit this place someday. Our guide drove us to the seaport edge and we were given the opportunity to skinny-dip or to dip our toe in the Arctic Ocean. We took off our shoes and stood in the very cold water. I have now stepped into the Arctic Ocean. “Who’d a thunk! “

The return flight to Inuvik followed the MacKinzie River, which freezes in the winter and acts as a highway to connect the Tuk Tuk peninsula with the mainland. Within 40 minutes and we arrive safely. It is a lovely day and Terry had a plan to get us “home.” It is 6:00 pm. Stay tuned

Motorhome Miles Driven: o Car miles driven O
Wildlife sightings: 0
Temps: High ? Low ? No way to measure it. Very cold out in The Arctic Ocean! Windy too
GPS Coordinates: Lat 69.43 Long 133.07

June 17, 2006 Day 25 Inuvik back to Dawson City via Dempster HWY in reverse

This saga is going to begin as we exit the Inuvik airport at 6p.m. when our tour is over on Friday. The saga will end 20 and 1/2 hours later.

We are pretty excited about everything we just saw in Tuk. We seem to have lots of energy and think we can drive all night back to Dawson City by trading off driving. It should be a 10 hour drive. However there were a couple of problems to consider. There is only one place to fuel up along this 460-mile road about ½ way in Eagle Plains. They close at 11:00 pm and do not pump gas again until 6:30 a.m. We don’t think we can make it to Eagle before they close as it is about 7 hours away and despite one time change in our favor it will be close. But Terry has an idea. We buy a 6 gallon gas can at the local market for $20.00. (Oh well you can always use a spare gas can) Another tourist tells us fuel in Fort MacPhereson is almost 25 cents a gallon cheaper and we can top off our tank there (98 miles into the trip) and we decide to buy the extra gas there as well. After purchasing a big bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken, some Hershey’s kisses, a couple of bottles of water and some granola bars we are ready for our all nighter.

Recall it does not get even the slightest bit dark so it will be no problem, an adventure right? We had just driven this Highway the day before so we know what to expect. We are on the road again at 6:30p.m. The gravel road is pretty good here and we make good time going the maximum 90 KM per hour. When we get to the Mackenzie River Ferry crossing where we had encountered the long delay the day before, we are waved right onto the Ferry and go across slick as a whistle. No delays, it is a piece of cake. Off we drive for the second Ferry crossing. When we pull up we notice there is a line up of about 25 cars in front of us and we are just behind an 18-wheeler gas truck. We wait for about 10 minutes and nothing seems to be happening so Terry gets out and walks up to talk to the guys in front. The guy in front has been waiting 9 hours already! The ferry has closed due to the winds and the waves on the water. No one has a clue as to when it will open again. Well we break out the chicken and have dinner in the car. I have a nap as I’m exhausted and my turn to drive will come soon enough and I don’t want to be tired. Well we waited 2 ½ hours and finally Terry runs back to the car and cuts out of the line and up in front of a string of big rigs and RV’s (recall we are in the car now) A nice man told him they are only taking 4 wheel vehicles across the ferry at this time. They have built a new berm at the end and it is rough to get on and off but we can make it because we know how to climb rocks we’ve been to Moab! So off we go. We load onto the Ferry with very little problem. On the ferry it rocks and rolls and water splashes and I am really pretty scared. Water is washing aboard. I hate ferries. We get off and it is not too bad and off we go the Fort MacPhearson fuel stop only 8 miles away. We find it easily. Pull up and I go “in” to pay. I can’t find any door open. He can’t pump fuel. A little kid on his bike rides up and tells us they are closed. They closed at 6. There is no other place to get fuel here. It might have been cheaper but it was closed.

Our plan is foiled but our hope is that since the ferry stopped traffic for so long that the Eagle Plains gas station will stay open a little later to help those caught in the delay. There is only one choice and only one road so off we go. As we get closer to the Arctic Circle the wind picks up a lot! It is cold and darkish looking with clouds coming in. We stopped at the Yukon border for a better picture of the “Welcome to Yukon” sign and Terry gets out to take the picture. I hear holler from across the street. Someone is shouting, “Hello can you come over here?” We drive across the road to another big sign and there huddled against it is a bike rider with all of his gear. The wind is howling so much you can’t hear very well. It is very cold. He is sitting on his bike with black plastic wrapped around him and leaning into the sign. I ask if he is ok and he shrugs. He says he is from Belgium and his accent is very thick French. I ask if he wants a ride or something. He says no he will wait it out. It is about 11:30 pm. He said he rode for 8 hours in the wind. He asked if we had a bit of food for him. Well I packed up a big piece of chicken and offered him almost anything else we had to eat but he only wanted the chicken. He asked where we were from and I said USA. I hope he remembers the nice American couple that wanted to help him. I will never forget him. I wonder about his story. Those who bicycle to the Arctic Circle are real adventurers.

It starts to rain. Now this gravel road is a mud bath. Terry thinks we are driving a panel truck as the back window is completely covered with mud and no light comes through. The sun behind us is the rear view mirror is pinkish and looks a tiny bit like an Arizona sky. A big rainbow appears straight down from sky as the sun shines through the rain. The poor biker is now in the rain.

I’m so glad we saw this scenery when it was clear as there is nothing to see now but clouds and rain and mud. Ukkkk. There are very few cars on the road as we finally come to Eagle Plains, our hoped for fuel stop at 1:30 a.m. They are closed. The parking lot is filled with big rigs; cars, campers and all are filthy. I go into the Motel and it is closed with no vacancy. People are sleeping on the floor all over the lobby. The bathroom is clean and welcome to me but I can’t find my toothbrush in the back of the mess in the car. We pull into a parking space beside the motel. We haul out our pillows; lay the car sets back and try to get some sleep as we are not going anywhere until morning when we can buy their $4.98 cent a gallon fuel. Now we have a souvenir gas can from Inuvik still unused. We can’t get comfortable, toss and turn and Terry coughs all night as he is getting a cold. Finally he takes off his shoes and socks and falls asleep. I fall asleep when I use the blanket to cover my head to block out the light. We awoke at 6:20am and started up the car to get into the gas pump area to be outta there at 6:30 when they opened. Well they opened at 8 a.m. I went into the motel coffee shop and got 2 large coffees to go and listened to truckers say “Yeah I’m living my dream!” Everyone was frustrated. It was still raining and very muddy.

We are the first ones fueled up and are out on the road by 8:10 a.m. We eat granola bars fro breakfast. We climb those beautiful mountain passes I told you about a couple of days ago, only now they are completely covered in clouds and fog. We can barely see the road in front of us. I thought I saw a wolf but when we loaded the pictures on the computer it was actually a big fox. 460 miles never seemed so long. We arrived back at our motorhome in Dawson at 2:30 p.m. We immediately got change for their pressure washer and turned our car back into a vehicle we recognized. We did laundry. I went to bed early and did not fix dinner. I am beat! I have been to the Arctic Ocean and back.

Motorhome Miles Driven:0 Car fuel, $4.98 per gallon We drove 967 miles, 940 on gravel road!
Wildlife sightings: fox, porcupine, Terry thinks he saw Saaquatch in the wee hours of the drive
Temps: High 55 Low 45
Camping Costs: $0 slept in car

June 18, 2006 Day 26 Dawson City, Yukon Canada to Chicken, Alaska, USA

Eureka, After 25 days and 2037 miles (since we crossed into Canada) we have finally arrived in Alaska. We have spent $1100.00 in diesel fuel to get here.

We left Guggieville Campground in Dawson City and head to ferry. Arrived at ferry at 9:02 and boarded her at 10:02. The trip takes 15 minutes and there were several in front of us. We have caught up to the caravans. We spotted a fox along the road but I’m not sure I got her on camera.

We head to the Top of the World Highway. We missed the “Welcome to Alaska” sign as it was full of the 23 rigs traveling with the Adventure Caravan. The road today lived up to every expectation I had of Alaska. It was bumpy, it was pot holed, it was narrow, it had beautiful views, it was fun! All I could think of to say was “whoohoo what a ride!” We did have our first casualty of the trip. Around one of the winding downhill roads we heard a crash. The coffee carafe fell to the floor and broke off the handle. This pot has traveled thousands of miles with us with no problemo so it tells you a bit about the ride! The road was not too dusty as it rained last night but it was dried off by today. We have none of the dirt like yesterday. I thought the no guardrails and narrow roads were harrowing but when I asked Terry how it was, he said the Mexico Baja road was way worse. We enjoyed sunshine for the drive and loved our short day’s drive.

We are dry camped in Chicken at Chicken Gold Camp for $10.00 a night and paid an extra $5 for wifi so I could keep up with this journal and get my email. We took a walk around camp and noted a huge gold dredge that has just been designated as an Alaskan historic site suitable for restoration. We can see it from where we are parked. I love the little gift store and they take US dollars and the prices are in US currency and this camp has no trees. We did not have to unhook and have enjoyed a relaxing day. We are off to Tok tomorrow. Maybe our mail will be there.

Motorhome Miles Driven: 110
Wildlife sightings: 1 fox
Temps: High 70 Low 60
Camping Costs: $10 to dry camp.
PS Coordinates: 64.09913,-142.06712

June 19, 2006 Day 27 Chicken, Alaska to Tok, Alaska

We had a pleasant drive over Taylor Highway and saw the remains of a forest fire that burned 1,600,00 acres in 2004. It was the largest fire (in acres burned) in Alaskan history. We have also caught up with the caravans. We followed 10 rigs in front of us for miles before they pulled off at a rest stop. It’s more fun to be in a caravan than to follow one.

We arrived in Tok (rhymes with joke). We are in The Salmon Bake and RV Park, a pleasant treed campground with free wifi. We filled up the car with gas and got a free car wash. Our mail was here as planned and it is a beautiful sunny day. We both commented how much we like being “Back in the USA.” It just feels more comfortable. I like it because my money works here. We used our Tour Saver book for the free ¼ pound of fudge. We both bought T-shirts and think we got bargains. At the visitor center we were entertained by residents who played guitar, banjo and told tales of Alaska. We learned that Tok is the coldest inhabited city in the North. They get winter temperatures from –60 to -80 degrees below 0 with no wind chill factor. Kids do not have to go to school if it gets to –50 degrees. They also get temps in the 100’s in summer so their temp swing is 180 degrees. They say you have to be real hearty to live here year round. (ya think?) They also claim if you go straight north you will not find a road until you hit Scandinavia and if you go straight south you won’t hit a road until you hit Hilo, Hawaii. I would need a globe to prove this for myself. All Alaskan travelers who drive into Alaska will pass through this little city of 1200. They boast of no form of government, no mayor, no elected officials, no building codes, no zoning laws, no taxes and no lawyers! They call this the true wilderness.

Off to the big city of Fairbanks tomorrow.

Motorhome Miles Driven: 76 fueled motorhome @ $3.12 per gallon diesel
Wildlife sightings: 1 rabbit
Temps: High 72 Low 47
Camping Costs: $14.00 dry camping
GPS: 63.3350, -142.8555

June 20, 2006 Day 28 Tok to Fairbanks, AK

We left the Alaska Highway today as it officially ended and became the Richardson Highway. We got photos of the end of the line. We traveled a total of over 1422 miles on this historic highway. We got our first glimpse of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. We also saw 2 moose right along the road. I love our new camera. Learned today that it is illegal in Fairbanks to give a moose alcohol. It was beautiful scenery today and a short drive. We passed Eielson Air Force Base that is a northern base on the ready for our air defense! We were not allowed to take any photos during this stretch of the road. We passed the North Pole and Santa’s shop and I gotta go back. It is only 20 miles back. We met up with Ned and Lorna and Russ at the Chena Marina RV Park. We have a water front sight and can watch the floatplanes depart and there are a billion insects out on the water. We will stay here a week as there are so many tourist things to do here in Fairbanks, Alaska’s second largest city. The parks are full of tourists to see “the Summer Solstice” but I can't figure out the big deal as it has been light all night for days.

First stop was a haircut at Super Cuts but they had a 2-hour waiting list and I passed. A trip to Safeway and I am a happy camper. We planned our weekly activities this evening and showed each other our tourist purchases. We bemoaned our rig squeaks and the need for WD 40 and the things that shook loose in the trip so far.

Motorhome Miles Driven: 211.5
Wildlife sightings: 1 chipmunk, 2 moose
Temps: High 74 Low 50
Camping Costs: $34.00 per night with water/electric Chena Marina RV Park
GPS: 64.816665, -147.91170

June 21, 2006 Day 29 Longest Day of Year Summer Solstice Fairbanks, Alaska

Today is the longest day of the year and a seeming holiday here in Alaska. Town is filled with visitors just for the event.

Today we visited the University of Alaska, Museum of the North. I have visited many, many museums all over the world and this one is certainly in my top 5 of all. It opened in March of 2006. The building itself is a work of art. The exhibits features Alaska’s 5 geographic regions and focus on the states rich cultural and natural heritage. We rented the headphones and listened to narration on 60 items with in the exhibit. The second floor art gallery was a unique combination of modern art, native crafts and the typical oil paintings. To give you an idea of the details portrayed, the seagull poop was totally realistic with the seabird display as was the fossil feces. The massive stuffed polar bear may be the only one we see on our trip and he was impressive. We watched a demonstration of Alaskan native games and I was given the opportunity to play “Eskimo yoyo.” I did pretty well.

We then did a run to Sam’s Club and I tried again to get a haircut. Seem Super cuts closed early due to the ”Holiday.” We dined on rib eye steaks purchased at a meat packing plant just outside of Fairbanks that were from South Dakota and delicious. Terry is the best at the bar-b-que ! Tomorrow we pan for gold and visit the Discovery boat.

Motorhome Miles Driven: 0
Wildlife sightings: 0, but many in museum!
Temps: High 70 Low 50
Camping Costs: $35.00
GPS: 64.81665, -147.91170

June 22, 2006 Day 30 Fairbanks, AK

Today we panned for gold at the El Dorado gold mine. Between us, Terry and I netted $12.00 worth of gold dust. I bought a locket in which to store the gold flakes. It cost $19.95, trip cost $29.95 net loss $37.00 but what a time we had! This was a very professional slick tour of a placer mine. We got to pan for gold, to travel by train through a perma frost mine and learned of the hardships early miners had with the weather and frozen ground. The only down side was the 12 tour busses who joined our tour. We have hit tourist season and the cruise ship side trips. You may note all the extra people in our photos. Our cell phone worked today and I got to talk with friend Linda L. and to John W. Terry bought a new watch at Wal-Mart to replace the one where the battery died. Ned, Russ and Terry are all having automobile service done here. It’s nice to be in civilization again.

We saw some more of the800 miles of the Alyskan Pipeline. We learned that in 1973 Fairbanks economy was impacted when many went to work for the Pipeline. There were no waiters, no bank tellers as all went to work to make more money on the Pipeline. In the afternoon we sailed on the Riverboat Discovery a big sternwheeler and visited Athabascan Indian Village. We viewed a kennel in which dogs are in training for Iditarod. Susan Butcher (4 time Iditarod winner) was not here as she is under going chemotherapy for leukemia. We watched float planes land and take off.

I learned more today about little trapper cabins. Seems cabins were built one day’s journey apart for trappers along the trap lines. They needed shelter from the –50-degree temps and these little log huts were a welcome comfort to trapper for the night. So was our little cabin a few days ago. Do you know the difference between a reindeer and a caribou? Answer: Reindeers can fly…. Actually the reindeer is a domesticated caribeau. We finished off the day with dinner at The Pump House. They have some of the same pump hoses on display used to hose off the gravel during the mining processes. It was lovely setting with a less than memorable dinner but we had a good time. Tomorrow we visit Santa’s House and the North Pole.

Statistics: Motorhome Miles Driven: 0 Wildlife sightings: Reindeer family Temps: High 71 Low 49 Camping Costs: $35.00 GPS: Same as yesterday.

June 23, 2006 Day 31 Fairbanks, AK and North Pole

Our first stop early this morning was to the North Pole to visit Santa Claus House. We called ahead and learned if we arrived between 8 and 9 am we could avoid the big tour bus crowds’ so off we went early! We were one of the only ones there and got our outside photos and learned Santa does not start work until 10 am. So we had pictures in his chair. Terry wanted me to sit in Russ’ lap but I refused. I wanted Russ to wear the Santa hat but he refused! Lorna wanted Ned to come on this day trip, but he refused! We all bought matching t- shirts that will be featured in an upcoming session. We giggled like kids. We bought souvenirs and I wondered where all the snow was. This was after all the North Pole. I learned today they do not have year round snow despite what I learned as a kid. They did have the world’s tallest Santa. Ho ho ho

Today featured a bit of neat technology. While standing out in front of the Fairbanks Log Cabin Visitor Information Center, we phoned Don Miller on our cell (we have good reception). He was able to go on his computer and log onto the Fairbanks web camera to see us all the way from Camp Verde, Arizona. He could see us standing in front of the 18 foot bronze monument “Unknown First Family.” How cool is that? He directed us to a plaque around the base of the large fountain commemorating the Proud Alaskan Families who supported this park project in Fairbanks. We easily found his family names. It is an impressive park and a very welcoming area. Bravo to those who celebrate Fairbanks history and heritage by providing such wonderful art. You too can see this park by logging onto

A bit of downtown shopping, more amaretto fudge and we head for haircuts. Bingo. We both have haircuts courtesy of Supercuts. We had been given a coupon from our RV Park for a free bowl at a bowl company. I had no idea what this might be but it was free and it was close to our campground. Well let me tell you this little company stole my heart. They make all sizes and shapes of wooden bowls from birch. They use trees from Southern Alaska as the soil is better there for growth of bigger trees. They showed how bowls are cut, sanded and oiled into beautiful pieces of art or functional bowls. I used more of my Christmas money to buy a big salad or popcorn bowl, and a wooden cutting board. My “free bowl” will be a planter as they use the skull of the first cut of the tree for outside planters. I took Lorna back there and she made some purchases as well. We are very good customers!

Statistics: Motorhome Miles Driven: 0 Wildlife sightings: 0 Temps: High 67 Low 48 Camping Costs: $35.00 GPS: No change from yesterday

June 24, 2006 Day 32 Fairbanks Alaska

On Saturday we visited an extension branch of The University of Alaska. It is a very Large Animal Research Station. (LARS) The subjects of study are the musk ox, the caribou and the reindeer. The musk ox was around during the days of the wooly mammoth in dinosaur days and almost became extinct for some unknown reason. With the help of these researchers the herd has come back from 34 to over three thousand. These animals are among the heartiest and largest mammals in the Arctic. Only a polar bear is bigger but it is considered a marine mammal. The musk ox has an incredibly dense undercoating of fur, which makes it able to adapt to –50 below temps. Its fur is sold by the small skein for $60 and is as soft as cashmere. The horns on the head are part of the skull and made of the same material as our fingernails. They are a significant source of study in that they have 4 stomachs and digest almost all of what they eat. They are considered garbage disposals of the Arctic, as they will eat anything. They did not want to come forward for a picture for us as they had eaten just an hour before and the guide says they like to lie back and chew their cud. It was also a warm day and they do not like it warm.

The other creatures in this study are reindeer and caribou. Both have the exact same DNA, but reindeer have been domesticated for thousands of years by the Laplanders. There are slight differences in their antlers, hooves and body shape. The caribou antlers can grow up to one inch a day in the spring. It is a wonder as their diet consists of plant material and lichen and no visible source of calcium yet their metabolism is able to create this calcium like structures weighing up to 30 pounds each. The male caribou lose their antlers right after mating season. The females keep theirs until the babies are born. The caribou herds are plentiful in number in Alaska having migrations in the numbers about 450,000. I came away thinking we have so much to learn from nature. Just think of the ramifications if our metabolisms could adapt to create minerals or proteins we do not consume. I learned so many other things but I will spare you the long post. I am a much stronger supporter of animal research from my one-hour visit here.

I’d like to give a pitch here for our RV Park here in Fairbanks, The Chena Marina RV Park. The sights are wide, grassy and spacious. The photos are fro mour rig or right in front. The free wifi is excellent with a good signal even in the rain. The facilities are good. Managers are friendly and helpful in arranging tours. The view of the floatplane pond in front of us has provided entertainment and a wake up call in morning, as some of the little planes are quite noisy. Coffee and rolls are provided in the morning if you get up early enough. It is a reasonable driving distance to all of Fairbanks sights. We have been here 6 days and will move tomorrow just to get a less expensive rate boon docking rate elsewhere in town.

Motorhome Miles Driven: 0
Wildlife sightings: Musk ox, caribou, and reindeer
Temps: High 70 Low 50
Camping Costs: $35.00
GPS: 64.816665, -147.91170

June 25, 2006 Day 33 Fairbanks, Alaska

On Sunday evening we ventured outside of town to Ester Gold Camp. It was in actual gold mining until 1960’s. Now it’s buildings are on the National list of historic places. We attended a Photosymphony “The Crown of Light” mostly because it is listed as an activity of those on a caravan. It was a wonderful panoramic slide show presentation set to classical music that featured the sights of Fairbanks in winter and the Aurora lights. The photographer and producer of the show Leroy Zimmerman, was there to tell us about his photography. His web site gives a few clues of his photos.

We then attended the show at the world famous Malemute Saloon. It was a beer drinking (Alaskan Amber Ale) peanut tossing on the floor experience. We lost power during the first 10 minutes of the show. So we held a sing along with the piano player for a few minutes until power resumed. Poetry of Robert Service was featured and we sang and clapped along to songs of celebration of the Gold Rush.

June 26 Day 34 Fairbanks Pioneer Park

We moved this morning about 2 miles away to the Pioneer Park. It is a large amusement park that offers dry camping in their parking lot for $10.00 per night. It rained all day (0.45 inches). Russ picked the dinner spot tonight and Terry exclaimed it was his favorite dinner of our entire trip. We ate at the Pad Thai Restaurant at 3400 College Road. We ate larb, coconut soup spicy prawns and lots of other spicy things. My nose is still running!

Motorhome Miles Driven: 0 Fuel for car $2.89 per gallon
Wildlife sightings: 0
Temps: High 69 Low 52
Camping Costs: $35.00 per night, $10 at Pioneer Park

June 27, 2006 Day 35 Fairbanks AK

Today we visited the Georgeson Botanical Gardens to see what grows under the midnight sun. Many flowers were not blooming due to a late June 1 frost. Studies are on going on for tomatoes, corn and cherries, which are tough in this weather. (Especially tomatoes without a green house.) It was a pretty sight and stunning for me to recognize so may flowers. Terry’s mom would have loved this visit. You should see how high they build the fences so moose don’t jump over and eat the cherry tree saplings.

In the afternoon we visited Pioneer Park. It was originally built to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the purchase of Alaska from Russia. Today it is an historical site and community park. It reminded me of Knott’s Berry Farm many years ago. The park has many museums and galleries. Terry went to the Pioneer Air Museum and I chose to go through each little building that was moved here and is now a shop setup like a gold rush town. The carvings by local residents were fascinating and I could not sleep over one bear standing on a whalebone while fishing. Tomorrow will tell if I make it mine. We had the car serviced and got “free” car wash.

Motorhome Miles Driven: 0
Wildlife sightings: 0
Temps: High 70 Low 50
Camping Costs: $10 Boon Docking
GPS: 64.83744, -147.77376

June 28, 2006 Day 36 Final Day in Fairbanks, Alaska

Today was the coolest event of our trip. Literally. We visited the Ice Museum where the displays are stored at 10 degrees. Each year in March an international ice-carving contest is held using ice block from the frozen Chena River. The blocks are 7500 pounds and 3 feet by 5 feet by 8 feet. The displays we saw were those carved this past spring. Teams of 2 are given 2 days to carve their masterpieces. The prize money is only in the hundreds of dollars and contestants must buy their ice and pay an entry fee. They do many displays for children to play. Terry and I took the opportunity to slide down the ice slide. We are kids at heart. We dragged Russ with us and think he was glad he went.

Terry panned for Gold at Gold Dredge #8 this morning. He said if you are only going to do one gold panning trip, this would be the one. There were videos of the workings of the dredge and you get lunch. He panned for $7.00 worth of gold and he sent it to his mom in a locket. What a guy.

While he was doing this, Russ and I visited the local Farmers Market and bought very expensive vegetables but they are big, pretty and fresh. Russ and I then returned to Pioneer Park shops and he made an investment of art in carving form. We met the carver and he told stories of his ventures into carving. Russ did not sleep on his decision, he just made it!

I decided not to get the bear as I have a Southwest home being built and you don’t see many bears catching fish in Arizona. The evening was made complete by our dinner at The Turtle Club. George and Don had recommended this place for Prime Rib as had all tour books. Wow! What portions, what service what a meal! I only wish I had had room for dessert as everything here was so delicious! We have enough left overs for another couple of days. We think we have done everything nine days in Fairbanks will offer. We have really enjoyed “the big city.” Off to Denali tomorrow.

Statistics: Motorhome Miles Driven: 0 Car fuel $2.86 per gallon with the Safeway discount Wildlife sightings: Ice animals Temps: High 72 Low 55 Camping Costs: $10. Dry camping at Pioneer Park GPS: 64.83744, -147.77376

June 29, 2006 Day 37 Denali National Park AK Home of Mt McKinley

Arrived at Denali Riverside RV Park after a 2-½ hour drive. Lovely scenery despite crossing through newly burned forest fire areas. We opted to stay in the dry camping area while Russ, Ned and Lorna selected riverfront sights with electric and water. We have a view of the highway and mountains; they have a view of the river and comment on the CB’s from time to time about the rafters who are coming down the rapids. It is neat how we leave our CB's tuned to channel 34 and when we need to tell one another something we just grab the CB and communicate! We are parked over 100 yards from Russ and can pick up his satellite signal so we have Internet. What a life!

I went with Russ and Lorna to the Visitor Center while Terry cleaned bugs off the front of the coach. The visitor Center was as busy as that of Yosemite and zillions of tour busses abound! Terry had a nap. (noteworthy as he never takes naps)

We are having left over Prime rib from last night’s Turtle Club dinner and fresh zucchini from the farmers market. Tomorrow we will take the flight over Mt McKinley that Ned and Lorna took today. It is in the Tour Saver book. We hope our weather and views will be as good as theirs. The winds are very high. A little camper van has hunkered down close to us to block the wind. Note we’ve had gusts to 38 mph so far tonight. It does seem to be blowing clouds away and we hope for clear skies and calm winds in the morning.

Motorhome Miles Driven: 119
Wildlife sightings: ground squirrel
Temps: High 62 Low 50 Wind gusts to 38 mph so far
Camping Costs: $18. dry camping includes 15% Escapees discount
GPS: 63.7689, -148.9120

June 30, 2006 Day 38 Denali National Park, Awaiting a glimpse of Mt McKinley

I could not sleep a wink last night. Maybe I was excited about today’s flight to see Mt McKinley, maybe the wind was keeping me awake. The coach shook and sounded like gravel was being thrown at it. Turns out at 7:45 a.m., we had a wind gust of 48 mph. Well we trekked off for our 11 am flight with Talkeetna Aero Services. Not many people in the parking lot and when I announce our arrival, I am informed that due to weather conditions, they have decided not to fly today. I am so relieved. I worried all night about the wind and clouds. This outfit promises you a good view and if they can’t deliver, they reschedule you. We will try again at 9 am in the morning. This is one advantage of not being on a caravan. We have the flexibility in our schedule to change things. We booked a bus trip into the heart of Denali for Monday and they offer NO refunds. If we miss the bus we are out of luck.

I took Terry to the Visitor Center where we saw the movie and visited the touristy shops in Denali. Prices in Fairbanks were considerably more favorable. We kicked back all afternoon waiting for the weather to clear up. We see patches of blue sky on the horizon, then it will sprinkle. I am doing dinner dishes and Russ announces excitedly on the CB, “Moose across the river!” Terry jumps up, dons his sweatshirt and sandals, grabs his camera and off he trots across the park to the River side. He is not happy with the shot he got of the moose but I make him post it as it is the best we have seen all day. Thank you to Russ for the keen eye. Hopefully we will have shots of Mt McKinley in the morning.

Motorhome Miles Driven: 0
Wildlife sightings: 1 moose
Temps: High 62 Low 48 Light sprinkles and a wind gust of 48
Camping Costs: $19.00 per night dry camp Denali Riverside RV Park

July 1, 2006 Day 39 Mt. McKinley Alaska

I awoke this morning to the sound of raindrops on roof and feared our flight to McKinley might be canceled. I phoned their number at 7:10 am and learn our flight is a go and that it is clear up on top. While sitting on the couch, something caught my eye and behold there was a fox trotting very quickly down the side of the road. He was carrying his catch in his mouth that looked like a big rabbit. A run for the camera and in so much excitement I failed to focus properly but I think you can get the gist. I don’t think seeing wildlife do their daily chores will ever become ho hum.

We arrived at the Healy Airport and after a video briefing us on the safety issues we boarded our Navajo Chieftain twin-engine plane. She was a whole lot more powerful than the plane we took to the Arctic. She carries 8 passengers plus a pilot. We take off and have a few very bumpy moments as we climbed to about 10,000 feet. The captain searched for holes in the clouds through which to make his ascent. We were given the oxygen masks and secured the elastic straps firmly behind our ears before he headed up through the rest of the clouds to see “the great one.” One’s first glimpse of the summit takes your breath away. I have no words to describe it. With the wispy clouds below us, the scene looked ethereal and heaven like.

We were flying at 20,000 feet and circled the summit clockwise and then counter clockwise. We looked at the path the climbers take. There have been 1300 permits given out this year to make the climb and 400 have already been completed. It takes hikers about 19 days to make the climb (as they have to stop to adjust to the altitude for days) and about 2 days to come down.

So when do you think McKinley was first ascended? Answer in 1910 by Sourdoughs. They left Dec 19 and reached the summit on April 9. How high is the highest peak? 20,320 feet and is the highest mountain on the North American Continent. The mountain continues to rise about 1mm per year. Our outside temperature up there today was 14 degrees but winters at the low 14,500 base drop to minus 98 degrees with 150 mph winds. Permanent snowfields cover 75% of the mountain. Mt McKinley was named for then Senator, later President William McKinley. Denali is the name of the massive National Park (6 million acres) making it larger than the state of Massachusetts. Of the 20 highest mountains in the United States, 17 are in Alaska. Alaska has 19 peaks of 14,000 feet, 7 are in the Denali area. Your final picture will be, in my opinion, the only way to see the summit! I'm not hiking it!

Motorhome Miles Driven: 0
Wildlife sightings: Fox with prey in mouth
Temps: High 62 Low 47 0.09 rainfall
Camping Costs: $19 for dry camp

July 2, 2006 Day 40 Denali National Park

Today it drizzled all day and was cloudy which made for a good tourist souvenir-shopping day. I bought a poster and the book Into the Wild. I saw a coat I thought Russ would like and a phone call later, bought it for him. Lorna bought one just like it for Ned. In the afternoon Russ drove us on the 15-mile drive you are allowed to take into the National Park. Any farther and you need to be on an offficil bus which we will do tomorrow. We saw a big moose right near the Visitor Center. On the way back we saw the tourist train from Anchorage go over the trestle bridge just at the moment we stopped for pictures. As we were taking pictures of them we noted the flashes of them taking pictures of us. Being a tourist is a kick.

Russ had us over for a big pot of meatball soup that was so good on this chilly day. Russ is moving on to Anchorage for tires in the morning and we will lose our Internet connection. I may be off line for a while but will send updates when I can. We need to be on the bus at 6:20 in the morning for our 13-hour tour to the heart of Denali that ends at the Kantishna Roadhouse. Tim and Jan Lynch recommended this trip. I need to go to bed now, to be ready to go on time.

Motorhome Miles Driven: 0
Wildlife sightings: 1 Moose, 1 rabbit, 2 chipmunks, and 2 seagulls
Temps: High 63 Low 46 0.06 inch of rain
Camping Costs: $18.00 Riverside RV Park

July 3, 2006 Day 41 Denali National Park, Kantishna Roadhouse Tour

Today was one of those Good News, Bad News days. I shall try to report it as such.

GOOD NEWS: Alarm went off on time.
BAD NEWS: It was 5 am.
GOOD NEWS: We arrived at the Denali Bluffs Hotel for our 6:20 am pick up.
BAD NEWS: Their shuttle buss is full and we have to drive our already parked car to the next hotel stop.
GOOD NEWS: Many really nice people waiting for the bus for this 13 hour trip and the bus shows up on time.
BADS NEWS: They are over booked and ask one couple to wait until tomorrow to go.
GOOD NEWS: We volunteer to step off as it is a rainy foggy day are offered a free dinner for our anniversary.
BAD NEWS: This is not the same company with whom we booked our reservation.
GOOD NEWS: We use hotel phone and the company we booked with says our bus is late but will be there.
BAD NEWS: We wait and no bus arrives. Call company. They say bus left us and we missed it. We will be charged.
GOOD NEWS: We drive to next hotel and find bus that says Kantishna Road House. OURS! BAD NEWS: We are not on their list.
GOOD NEWS: Driver takes pity on us and accepts us as passengers.
BAD NEWS: It is rainy and foggy and we can’t see our hand in front of face.
GOOD NEWS: They clean the mud off of our side windows at every rest stop with squeegees.
BAD NEWS: Driver says this is the wettest dirtiest day they have had this year.
GOOD NEWS: We start to see wild life and it is all good news from here on…

Our driver, Turk, is a Naturalist and very informative. He spoke of Deanli National Park; it’s history and defined wilderness as a place big enough to sustain its inhabitants, free from unnatural trammels. He told us the dictionary definition of trammel was no barbed wire, no electrical wires, no dams, and no intervention by man of any kind. 45 % of Alaska has been designated a “Wilderness area” by Congress where only 2.5% of the lower 48 State areas have been so designated. Once again I can only be in awe of the nature here. As the fog rose we began to see the countryside before us. We traveled 95 miles into the heart of Denali National Park on a gravel road built in the 30’s. The goal is to maintain the road but not to improve it so as to not disturb nature. It was considerably better than the Top of the World Highway. It did have hairpin turns and very narrow passages for two busses meeting each other in the road. I’m so glad they do not let the general population drive this road. We rose from regular alpine tundra to arctic tundra. We watched the trees grow from the shriveled up spruce to no trees at all. After the lunch break at the fancy Kantishna Roadhouse Hotel, we listened to the son of the Iditarod winner in each of the last 4 decades. His long time Alaskan heritage family trains dogs and we got to meet them and watch him take them for a spin.

When we saw Arctic squirrels, Turk asked: So, who has seen a squirrel? What is the significant characteristic of it? We learned that an arctic squirrel hibernates like a bear. But what has naturalists scratching their heads is that a squirrel is able to lower their body temperature to 28 degrees during hibernation. Of course they have to get up every 3 weeks and pee, but who wouldn’t at that temp? I want to give you so much information. Maybe I am still a teacher at heart. Maybe I want to share with those of you who will never ever get the good fortune to tour Alaska. I hope I do not share too many details.

How many bears do you think live in this Park of 6 million acres? Naturalists guess between 350 and 400. We saw at least 8 of them today! Who is the biggest threat to a grizzly bear? Answer…Male grizzly bears that go after the young cubs. We spotted mew seagulls, a beaver in his home, Dahl sheep, a moose, bear, caribou and arctic squirrels. Turk pointed out the diversity of this area for such a variety of wildlife. We did not get to see Mt McKinley as the clouds hid it and we learned it is hidden 80% of the time during the summer. (Paul from UK you lucked out and we shall treasure your pictures) One 13-hour trip into Denali National Park and you experience wilderness of a lifetime. IT WAS A GOOD DAY.

A major thought Turk left with me today was that an experience of wilderness is new each day. I cannot compare what our friends saw yesterday or what a poster showed me. What I saw today was what the wilderness offered to me today. Each day is different. When you experience it, it will be yours. (Pretty soon I will be quoting H.D. Thoreau.)

Motorhome Miles Driven: 0
Wildlife sightings: Several Arctic horseshoe hairs, several Arctic ground squirrels, lots of grizzly bears, a moose, lots of dahl sheep, a beaver , dew seagulls, a red fox
Temps: High 56 Low 49 0.12 rainfall
Camping Costs: $18.00

July 4 2006 Day 42 Denali

Today was our 9th wedding anniversary. We celebrated by sleeping in and taking a leisurely day off. I read Into the Wild and did a few errands. We dined at the Denali Princess Hotel downtown and had a very good meal with one exception. There is a complete lack, absence and void of any July 4th festivities. Granted it is forest and daylight so no fireworks would be appropriate, but no flags? , no July 4th dinner specials? no parade, no banners nothing, nada, zip. It is as if we were in France. No wonder Paul from UK was confused about the Memorial Day festivities when there are not even any July 4th activities here in Denali. We have been asking all week if anything was offered. Russ tells us celebrations happened in Anchorage. Next year I am going to a parade! Any July 4th parade. I am an American and proud of it. I like celebrations!

Motorhome Miles Driven: 0
Wildlife sightings: 0 Temps: High 65 Low 50 cloudy all day 0.01 inch of rain
Camping Costs: $18

July 5, 2006 Day 43 Denali

We waited all day today for a package to arrive. A week ago, Verizon decided to “update” Terry’s cell phone and asked that he call *228 to activate the change they had made in the wee hours of the morning. When he tried, nothing happened and a call to tech support told him he had to be in a Verizon service area to get “fixed.” Since we are going to be in Alaska a long time, he was going to be without a phone all of this time, as there is no Verizon area in Alaska.

He protested and they finally offered to send him a new phone with the programming already in it. This would have been a good solution if you have an address and/or know where you are going to be. We waited 6 days for the phone to arrive at the Riverside RV Park in Denali and lots of snafu’s with UPS. Ironically our motorhome faced the highway and we watched as the big truck transferred the package to Fairbanks and back to Anchorage and back again, unable to locate our RV Park. Finally they contracted with Roadrunners a private delivery service, who promised delivery early in the morning. We shall see.

No tourist news today.

Motorhome Miles Driven: 0
Wildlife sightings: 0
Temps: High 67 Low 51 0.08 inches of rain
Camping Costs: $18

July 6, 2006 Day 44 Talkeetna, AK

Can you believe it? Package with Terry’s phone arrived at 7:15 am this morning just as promised. But it did not work! After a good long hold on my cell phone to tech support they worked their magic and Terry has phone service again. We headed down the road for Anchorage but as the sky cleared up we decided to stop at Talkeetna. It is so nice to travel with the flexibility of no schedule. We stopped at the Russ, Chet and Paul from UK tourist spot marking the Mt McKinly viewpoint. As you can see from the photo, I’d better buy a postcard for this shot. This huge mountain makes it’s own weather, which keeps it, pretty much in the clouds and out of view. However we trek on and turn off the Parks Highway on to the 14- mile Spur Road to Talkeetna. This village is situated on the confluence of 3 glacially fed rivers and is home to mountain climbing schools and climbers must get permit to make the climb here. Everyone in town looked rugged and like an adventurer to me. (Except for the busloads of passengers from Princess Cruise lines!)

We decided to take the jet boat ride. It’s in he toursaver . This was really cool. We got front seats. Our captain looked like Gulligan and the Naturalist on board who is a native Alaskan looked just like my niece Allison. This boat has 3 Cummins engine3, over 1000 horsepower, a ½ inch steel bottom only needs 2 feet of water to support her. The Talkeetna River is very swift and wide but e darted out with no problem. We were shown how much power ice has. Each of these rivers freezes hard all winter even to the depths of 12 to 14 feet. In the spring these ice chunks let go and charge down the river taking anything in their way. Last year was an exceptionally early thaw and ice mowed down and entire island of cottonwood trees that were 50 feet tall. The shoreline showed erosion and cracked trees all done by ice flowing. We stopped to see what Israel, our captain and a native of Talkeetna, thought to be the world’s largest beaver dam. It is no longer in use as the course of the river changed and waters no longer flow through it. Anywhere from 10 to 12 beavers can live in a dam. We were shown their hides and those of a river otter who is a beaver’s dark enemy. Our guide, Angela, carried a shotgun with her as we trekked out through the tall ferns and plants to see the beaver dam. There are bears out there and she wanted to be protected. From here someone spotted a bald eagle sitting in a tree. Angela guessed it was male because it was just sitting there doing nothing! She took us to a replica of a camp of Dena’ina Indians. I learned about another form of refrigeration….a big hole in ground with Permafrost, cover with willow reeds. We peeked inside a trapper cabin the size Isreals parents built on their Alaskan 5 acre homestead in 1972. It has a dirt floor and no windows. Most of us agreed we would not spend a night there!

We learned about several plants native to the area and of their medicinal qualities. Seems Moose eat these plants and develop some medicinal qualities of their own. I’m told if you have chapped lips and spread moose droppings on your lips it may not heal the lips but you won’t want to lick them anymore. (I was just checking to see who really reads this stuff!) After being served paper plate sized oatmeal raison cookies we turned around on the river and headed for the gorge but the captain informed us that he had lost his #2 engine and we needed to head for home. He was sorry he could not complete the trip but informed us he would offer us a 50% refund. Terry thinks if his engines had been CAT this would not have happened.

The town is very cute with touristy shops in historic 1920’, 30’s 40’s s circa mining buildings. They are all done up hippie style with flowers and beads and a lovely collection of decorated wooden moose in the street. We will miss the Annual Moose festival this weekend but Costco calls! This was a terrific stop over.

Motorhome Miles Driven: 154
Wildlife sightings: 1 bald eagle,
Temps: High 65 Low 48
Camping Costs: $27. Talkeetna Camper Park Water/Elec. free wifi
GPS: 62.3179, -150.1035

July 7, 2006 Day 45 Anchorage, AK

This morning, in Talkeeta, I went back to a gift store to return a t-shirt I bought yesterday that didn’t fit. We were on the road by 10:30 and headed to Anchorage. We saw a few beautiful mountain ranges and arrived at Ship Creek RV Park by 1:30. We hooked up to wifi and took a free shuttle bus ride around town. We visited Ship Creek to watch for salmon spawning and saw none. Will tour city tomorrow. This RV Park is packed. There are only 12 inches or so between rigs when they have slides out. Tonight is the first time in weeks we have been able to watch local news. No loss.

Statistics: Motorhome Miles Driven: 113 Wildlife sightings: 0 Temps: High 61 Low 52 Camping Costs: $28. full hook ups Ship Creek RV Park GPS: 61.22219, -149.87006

July 8, 2006 Day 46 Anchorage, AK

Today was a self-induced killer tourist day. We headed to Hilton Hotel to pick up tickets for City bus tour and Sourdough Mining company dinner tonight. Terrible lack of parking, but Terry found a prime space just along the Hilton Hotel. It was such a good spot that he decided we would keep it all day and not even return to the motorhome. We spent 6 hours wandering the streets. We went to the Saturday Market and looked at the heads of cabbage for $5 each. Did not buy any. We looked at the neat carvings done by Alaskans in Alaska. Saw very nice photography for sale. Bought a tourist hat for Terry to put over his GPS in Motorhome. Ate fish tacos (very fishy ) Rode the town Trolley car. Went to Alaskan Experience theater and saw movie about 1964 earthquake and devastation it caused. Used free coupon for cup of coffee in town. Forgot to use 2 for 1 coupon for movie. Went back, plead ignorant and got a $10 refund. I love bargains. Got 2 free souvenir necklaces at trinket shops. You just gotta buy the Tour Saver book. Finally it was 6 o’clock and we boarded big Grayline bus for a City tour. We took an interesting look at the Hood Lake and all of the seaplanes. There is a 10-year wait to get a slip for your float plane. Alaska has more pilots per capita than any other state. 1 out of 60 Alaskans has a pilot’s license and 1 out of 65 own a plane. There are over 1000 take offs and landing a day here.

They let us off at the Sourdough Mining Company for dinner and we ate halibut. It was very tasty. We were too tired to stay for the show. Terry says he has now done enough city tours for the rest of the trip. Thank god. Tomorrow we will not tour anything except Sam’s Club.

Motorhome Miles Driven: 0 Car fuel $2.79 per gallon
Wildlife sightings: 0
Temps: High 63 Low 51 Sunny in afternoon and needed sunglasses at 10:PM
Camping Costs: $ 27 full hook ups with free wifi

July 9, 2006 Day 47 Anchorage, Alaska

Halleluiah, Today we saw the sun. I was beginning to be pretty depressed but today the sky was blue and clouds stayed off in the distance. We took a long walk back into the down town area today as I figured I needed the exercise. The bear sculpture I saw yesterday was gone and the one they had left was not for me. We toured the ULU factory and I purchased a cutting block to go with the Ulu Winnie gave me last year for Christmas. We walked back home, called Russ to join us for a 15-mile drive into Eagle River. Eagle River is the former home of our good friends George and Pam V. They had a beautiful home in a beautiful neighborhood and today was a beautiful day to show it off. Some snow still on the mountains behind them and wow we discovered their home is for sale! However, we doubt they will consider moving back. Nor will we consider moving up here!

We went to dinner at a Mexican food place. Grocery shopping was done at Carr’s (owned by Safeway) Can you believe I paid $2.43 for a head of lettuce? Now you know how much I think I need to be on a diet! Tour guide told us Mr. Carr was a long time Anchorage resident/ businessman and when he died, Safeway bought his store and put up their Safeway sign. No one shopped there! Seem those in Anchorage like to be loyal and when the name was changed back (by Safeway) shoppers came again. Anchorage is a big city full of typical city things. While I enjoy the amenities of a big city for shopping, I prefer the more remote villages for touring. This past weekend the national Veteran Wheelchair games were held here in Anchorage. We saw many men and women in wheelchairs out in the community. I wish I knew more about their events and had had the opportunity to attend.

Pending weather we may drive to Portage Glacier for a boat ride to see glacier tomorrow.

Motorhome Miles Driven: 0
Wildlife sightings: a seagull note photo carefully. He fits in with the weekly activities.
Temps: High 70 Low 56
Camping Costs: $27. Full hookup weekly rate

July 10, 2006 Day 48 Anchorage, Portage Glacier, A huge River of Ice

Today we drove 62 miles south to take the Portage Glacier Cruise. It was one of my favorite sights of the trip for the bargain price of only $29. (We had a tour saver coupon.) We lucked out and there were no tour busses with us so we had lots of room to roam from side to side of the boat to see the best views. Terry found a jacket he wanted while we waited for the ship to sail. It was drizzly up top where Terry and Lorna wanted to ride for photos. Russ and I stayed inside and dry. When we arrived at the glacier the weather turned perfect and we were able to take photos for about an hour from any vantage point we desired! This glacier is one of 100,000 glaciers that remain in the snow-capped mountains of Alaska. Do you know the recipe for a glacier? You need freezing temperature, abundant precipitation, far northern latitude, high elevation and time. It takes about 10 years for a snowflake buried under layers of new snow to become glacial ice. The colors today included that intense blue you see in a glacier. There were icebergs floating in the water and the people standing on the on top deck could hear some calving.

After our cruise, we stopped at several viewpoints, watched a movie in the visitor Center and thoroughly loved this scenic day. The 4 of us oooooohed and awed every time we turned a corner. The Chugach National Forest, home of this Portage Glacier is a rain forest and the green of the mountains certainly reflects the rainfall. Everything is so green. Someone in the car commented that the emerald green-forested mountainsides were capped in fog like a poorly fitting toupee. We watched the tides go out to expose huge expanses of mud fields. Anchorage is home to a 38-foot tide.

We took Chet’s suggestion and looked around Girdwood ski resort and scoped out a possible place to camp on our way back from our Kenai Peninsula visit. We dined at Chair 5 Restaurant, named as the ski resort has chair lifts 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7 and 8. Lorna ate an Arctic Burger (Musk Ox). We all enjoyed our meal! This was a perfect touring day. I love seeing things in nature that I’ve never seen before. I took all of today’s photos.

Motorhome Miles Driven: 0
Wildlife sightings: Mamma duck with ducklings crossing highway, 1 chipmunk, 1 bald eagle
Temps: High 70 Low 59
Camping Costs: $27 full hook up

July 12, 2006 , Day 50 Anchorage

It was a beautifully clear day today with Mt McKinley visible in the long distance.

We had lunch at the Arctic Road Runner, a hamburger joint recommended by a longtime Alaska resident, George. It was one of the best hamburgers you can imagine with country music playing and Ship Creek running in our view. Thanks George for the recommendation!

Then we were off for our cultural trip for the day. This was in my opinion a MUST SEE event for anyone who has an interest in people native to Alaska. The “Alaska Native Heritage Center” has only been opened since 1997 and it was a very well spent day. It is a beautiful facility with films all day long in their theatre, demonstrations of native dancers and an outside tour of typical homes built by each of the 5 major native tribes in Alaska. A major thing I learned today is that there is a linguistic relationship between native languages here and those in Arizona. These natives seem to be related to Apache, Navajo and one other Southwest tribe whose name I can’t recall.

Our guide was a native Athabaskan and about 21 years old. He shared his upbringing and how his aunts and uncles had the responsibility to teach him the ways of the land. It is the custom of the natives for aunts and uncles to teach, as parents tend to be too permissive. There is no word in their language for cousins as all are considered brothers and sisters. He had his first shotgun at age 6 and shot his first moose at age 18. He was proud of his ancestry but quick to point out how hard the old ways are and how much easier it is to just turn up the thermostat or to go to Home Depot to get your stuff. He described how hard the Whale hunt is. He gives tours here in the summer but works as a heavy equipment operator in the winters. Terry spent a full 45 minutes in the theatre while I watched dancers. When I joined Terry in the theatre, the hunt for the whale was still on and blubber as a delicacy was just not my cup of tea. Then we went outside and toured a replica of each of the 5 native cultural homes. I learned that each one of us lives in an “igloo,” as the definition of igloo is home. I think this cultural center is an excellent representation of native Alaskans. The Totem Pole we saw represented that children are the base of carrying on the traditions, and I can’t recall al of the other stuff up the pole.

A very nice day.

Motorhome Miles Driven: 0 Car fuel, $2.79 per gallon
Wildlife sightings: 0
Temps: High 66 Low 54
Camping Costs: $27 full hook ups Ship Creek Landing

July 13, 2006 Day 51 Last day in Anchorage

Today Terry had his favorite lunch of the entire trip. He felt like he was back at work in Monterey Park. He said we should have been eating there all week long. I shopped at the Sagawa Market and should be all set for a spicy Asian meal real soon. We did chores and will take off tomorrow for Willowah State Park.

Motorhome Miles Driven: 0
Wildlife sightings: 0
Temps: High 72 Low 53
Camping Costs: $27 Full hook ups Ship Creek Landings

July 14, 2006 Day 52 Portage Valley Glacier Area

We moved south out of Anchorage today and met up with Russ, Ned and Lorna at Willawaw, a US Forest Service Campground with no services tucked back within tall trees and shrubs. Well, I miss my Internet but I will survive! We took a drive back to Girdwood Chair 5 Restaurant for lunch and again it was a hit for all. Russ shared his salmon quessidilas with us and yum, it was a treat. We noted how much this area lives up to the fact that it is in a rain forest. While in the campground it is misty and wet and lightly sprinkling, within 2 miles toward the road it is still, cloudy but dry. We noticed today how much traffic there is on this 2 lane road heading toward the Kenai Peninsula with lots of cars, motorhomes, SUV’s with boats and big rigs. Russ and Terry scout out a place to park on Sunday so they can hopefully catch a TV signal for formula one race. Russ has a new toy (like Lorna’s) that is a big hand held compass that tells you precisely what direction you are facing. We seek clear views of Southern skies.

Lorna and I headed off the very close by, Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center as it was in our Tour Saver coupon book as a freebie and we never pass up a bargain. Every time I visit a place here in Alaska it exceeds my expectations, as I had no clue what to expect. This place was actually like a “drive through zoo” with places to stop and get out and watch wildlife through the acres of “fenced in” areas set up for public viewing. The place is privately owned and the owner seeks federal grants to preserve wildlife that have been injured or orphaned. The new bear cub is here as a result of her mom being shot. A zoo in Ohio has adopted the bear cub and in 18 months (when they estimate her habitat to be ready) she will be sent there to live. The moose here are babies of mothers killed by traffic. The owners then seek adoptive parents for the animals. These animals will likely never be returned to the wild having had this close encounter with “Man.” While I realize these sightings are not as good as animals in the wild, it was a chance I will never ever get to see them so up close and personal. The bears behind the electrified fence are but 3 feet away. I could see quills very distinctly on the back of the porcupine. We wondered about the history of each animal, as it is not very clearly made evident. The gals in the gift shop near our RV Park told us more than the park itself! The animals we saw today included; owls, coyotes, brown bears, moose, caribou, musk ox, fox, bald eagle and tons of bison.

We also learned that the earthquake in 1964 destroyed the town of Portage as it sunk 8 to 12 feet allowing tidewaters to flood the town. Entire forests were killed by saltwater in their roots. As nature heals, the forest will come back and the land is rising with silt and debris and plant matter. Nature is grand! We are starting to see the fireweed in bloom.

Motorhome Miles Driven: 54
Wildlife sightings: 2 rabbits, (Several but in a conservation area)
Temps: High 54 Low 48 0.03 inches of rain today
Camping Costs: $13 Willawaw, US Forest Service Campground, Dry camping in trees, good roads
GPS: 60.78569, -148.87865

July 15, 2006 Day 53 Whittier, Prince William Sound Cruise AK

Today was an Oh mygosh, Oh my gosh day! We picked up Russ and Lorna at 10 am. Russ had a bag of garbage he loaded onto the roof of our car. When we arrived some 200 feet later at the bear proof trash bin Terry stopped to let Russ toss the bag into bin. Russ’ face paled and he said to Terry, ”What did you do with my trash?” as it was no longer on top the car. We circled the park once again with their one-way streets and voila; there is Russ’ bag in trash intact along the road! We had a good laugh and headed off for our short but unique commute for the day. We are going to pass through the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel that is a 2.5-mile tunnel that opened for passenger cars in 2000. We have only a 15-minute window every hour to travel toward Whittier as we share this tunnel with trains. This tunnel is the longest vehicle-railroad tunnel in North America. Needless to say we lost our GPS signal. It is eerie to travel on a one lane road in the dark with traffic regulated to travel by traffic signal every 25 feet or so and straddling railroad tracks. It took only 6 minutes at the 25 mph speed limit to traverse the tunnel but what a thrill. Never have done that before!

Whittier is a port town and not very picturesque. We saw lots of “junk” there from World War II or whatever. I must admit all of our perceptions were made through with the cloudy, rainy wet day. We boarded the Klondike Express Tour for our cruise of 26 glaciers that was guaranteed not to cause sea sickness or your money back. This was important to our Dr Mahoney friend who is prone to throwing up on such ventures! No one wanted to sit by Russ. I was somewhat disappointed with the weather in that we could not see the mountainous scenery for cloud cover. The things we could see were still fantastic. I could call this sea otter day even though one of our first wildlife sightings was that of an eagle perched on an iceberg. Next we saw a wall of 5,000 nesting pairs of blacklegged Kittiwake (they look like seagulls to me). They nest along the cliffs to avoid their predators like a fox,who can’t reach them out here on a bluff but the eagles can get them! From a distance their numbers looked like snow along the hillside. Ok here is a Jeopardy trivia question. What do you call a group of sea otter that live together? Ding, ding, ding…. Answer a RAFT. We saw rafts and rafts of sea otter out here in the cold water. I learned some interesting facts about sea otters today that include; sea otters are the smallest marine mammals, they are the size of a German Shepard and are in the weasel family. Their fur is the thickest and densest of any mammal. They have 500,000 to 1,000,000 hairs per square inch. This coating helps keep them warm in this frigid water and makes them prey to fur trappers. It is now illegal to sell an otter pelt unless you are a person indigenous to Alaska. We saw them rolling over and over in the water and I thought they were playing but actually they are grooming themselves to keep clean and dry. The must consume 25% of their weight in food each day. They can dive 250 feet and they eat crab, clams, sea urchins, and octopus. They are one of the few mammals able to use a tool. They can swim on their back and hold a flat stone they use to crush prey they catch animals they want to eat. I prefer my crab already shelled and with drawn butter!

Ok Ok. The glaciers are what we came to see. Whoo hooo . Did you know it takes 300 inches of snow to make one inch of a glacier? Glaciers appear blue to the eye because they absorb all colors of the spectrum except blue that is reflected back. I saw and heard gigantic section of glaciers calving (or falling into the ocean.) Then we watched the tidal wave ripple back toward us. They gave out free souvenirs of glacier chunks and told us they would not melt due to their density! Note my picture. We met many Alaska travelers today and we are all having fun! The Glaciers along Prince William Sound are incredible even on a rainy day.

On the way home we stopped at the gift store and bought some souvenirs to keep us warm. Reindeer hides! Tomorrow we move up the road a mile so Terry can watch the Formula 1 race with Russ.

Motorhome Miles Driven: 0
Wildlife sightings: 1 bald eagle on iceberg, manyl rafts of sea otters, hundreds of Kittiwake Birds
Temps: High 56 Low 53 0.07 inches of rain
Camping Costs: $13 Us Forest Service Dry Camping at Williwaw

July 16, 2006 Day 54 Portage Valley to Seward

We left our forest service Campground early and met up with Russ who spent the night at a rest stop hoping to catch a TV signal to watch the Formula One race, but alas it did not record. So we relaxed and took a leisurely drive through the picturesque Turnagain Pass. I kept feeling around every curve that I was in Switzerland. Lush green “meadows” and mountains with snow filled crevasses were the predominant sights. It was interesting to me that several miles of this highway have been designated as a “Safety Zone.” It seems many motor vehicle accidents have occurred along this very scenic route as a result of speeding and unsafe passing. This came as no surprise to me as we have noticed over the last few weeks how rude some Alaskan drivers appear to be. Illegal lane changes, passing on double yellow lines, exceeding speed limits and honking are driving practices we see all the time. Alaska now has my vote for worst drivers. Massachusetts used to be my number one in this category


We arrived in Seward with directions given to us by Russ. He arrived early and reserved this site for us after a phone call to see if we wanted it. We have a site right on the water. We can see a large Holland America Cruise Ship. We see several small vessels in the harbor in front of us. We see sailboats. We see fog and it’s been misting all day. The average mean temp for Seward in July is 55 and today was 55. It is cool for us but I love this site as I feel it looks like Long Beach, CA with June Gloom. There is a bike path in front of us and we can watch joggers, walkers, and bicyclists. The TV signals are clear for 2 stations and we have the privilege of an Internet connection courtesy of Russ. Tomorrow we will explore the city.

Motorhome Miles Driven: 81
Wildlife sightings: 0
Temps: High 55 Low 51
Camping Costs: $25 Seward City Park Campground Electric Only. On water, facing Harbor
GPS: 60.10767, -149.43411

July 17, 2006 Day 55, Seward

If you think you might ever visit Alaska and Seward in particular, you MUST make this campground one of your stops. It is the BEST one we have used since our trip began. We face the water and watch all of the harbor traffic come and go including cruise ships, ferries, charters, private vessels, and kayaks. When the clouds lifted we could see that we face a hanging glacier and beautiful green mountains frame our setting. We watch other campers have weenie roasts in the rain in the waterside fire rings in front of us. We have nice wide sights and full 50 amps electric. There is a dump station nearby and are with in walking distance of downtown tourist sights. We will likely extend our stay. One caveat however, the city offers this space as an RV Park as they do not allow anyone to build here. The ’64 earthquake and tsunami wiped out all along this space. There are signs throughout the peninsula with warning signs and evacuation routes in case of a tsunami.

Today Terry and I walked to the downtown tourist shops. We picked up Russ and took a drive out to the area we can see across from our rig. It is a dry dock area with lots of RV parking with no hookups that would do in a pinch. You can see many abandoned boats there. It is off Nash road. Terry stopped out along the water where fishermen were busy. He talked “fish talk” with a local and figured out how to set up a rig to catch fish. On the drive back home I spotted an eagle in flight and Terry got shots as it landed in a tree. He took photo after photo and waited for it to fly again.

We then drove 8 miles out to Kenai Fjords National Park to view Exit Glacier. This glacier is unique n that you can walk right up to it and touch it. I thought a glacier would feel like the many snow packs I have felt when taking a fall while skiing but no it feels like a giant ice cube only very heavy! We checked out a place for breakfast and will likely take another tour of glaciers tomorrow.

Motorhome Miles Driven: 0
Wildlife sightings: Bald Eagle
Temps: High 57 Low 47 0.04 inches of rain
Camping Costs: $25 North Resurrection Bay City Park beautiful setting

July 18, 2006 Day 56 Seward, AK Renown Tour Kenai Fjords National Park

Today we took the 6-hour tour of the Kenai Fjords National Park with Renown Tours. We selected them because they are in the tour book and a fellow traveler we met in Anchorage raved about the trip. It is now my second most favorite sight of our now 56-day trip! (Arctic Ocean being the first) Following breakfast at the Resurrection Roadhouse and with a misty and cloudy day, we set sail at 11:30, on board the “Glacier Express.” The boat was only ½ full and we had choice of seating. A few minutes into the trip the captain advised us that they sell seasickness medication on board and he recommends it for passengers prone to motion sickness as the swells out in the open ocean are about 4 to 5 feet today. I purchased this very quickly with such a warning! Russ had his trans derm scope patch AND took Bonine!

This catamaran cruised out of the harbor, past our motorhome and included narration with a National Park ranger. Our first wildlife sighting today was a couple of sea otter easily floating and rolling around on their backs. Next we saw Puffins, with their unique orange beaks and feet. Then we slowed down to see the harbor Seals. Our next treat on this Disneyland of days was a pod of Humpback whale. I mostly saw puffs of water shooting into the air but Terry got a good shot of a whale tail! Now I need a gold necklace to memorialize this moment.

Then someone spotted a tiny black dot on the horizon and began a hushed whisper and rumblings of a wildlife sighting. It was a 2-year-old black bear cub. At first sighting he was swimming toward shore, then he wandered around the rocky shore and as we inched closer he took refuge by skimming a 90-degree straight up wall of granite rock and disappeared into the bush. Our photos do not do justice to this sight. Our captain said this was a rare sighting. Our next and very rare sighting for this area was a bunch of moon jelly fish. They look like transparent Frisbees and were here by the thousands. They looked like translucent discs in the water. Now we are in the open ocean and many of my fellow passengers are wishing they had taken the medication. Many sea sick bags were put to use. I felt fine.

We then spent a good bit of time watching the Aialik Glacier. It is awesome but the notable thing about it today was that the captain made each one of us be very quiet while out on deck and we could hear cracks as loud as shot guns and booms as loud as thunder as the ice moves. This was a real life example that glaciers live! I have never heard such sounds. Then the calving began! As the ice chunks fell to the ocean it created waves and huge booms of sound that echoed to the opposite side of this glacier! We spent many memorizing moments staring at this wonder. I was reluctant to leave. I think the captain also wanted to stay. We watched more calving and the captain wanted to see the huge vertical fissure break away as he was certain would do with in the next 24 hours. There is something most reverent about a glacier.

Now a bit of trivia…..If 1,000 ice crystals represent the number of glaciers on earth, how many do you think are in Alaska? Ding ding ding ding… 995 of them would be found in Antarctica. Four % of them would be in Greenland. Less than 1% would be found in Alaska and a miniscule amount from other countries would be found. On the way back we saw stellar sea lions out on the ice fields. Later we saw them on Fox Island right out on the rocks.

When we returned and walked to the parking lot, we noted salmon swimming in the city drainage creeks. If we had a net and a license we could have snagged some big fish! Whew ! What a day. Terry signed up to go Salmon fishing on Thursday. I will shop again tomorrow in Seward.

Motorhome Miles Driven: 0 , car fuel per gallon $ 2.99
Wildlife sightings: humpback whale, black bear cub, puffin, sea lion, black bear, bald eagle, sea otters, harbor seals, moon jellie fish, stellar sea lions, Salmon
Temps: High 55 Low 50 .0.3 inches of rain
Camping Costs: $25 per night, North Resurrection Bay Campground City of Seward Park

July 19,2006 Day 57 Seward, AK RV Forum Mini Rally

Ahhh, It is so nice to sleep in with no agenda for the day. In the afternoon we picked up Russ and visited the Alaska Sea Life Center. It is a gigantic aquarium with real life of the area on view. All of the animals here are being researched. My favorite of the day were the invertebrates, the Moon jelly fish who have no skeleton, no heart, no brain, but have the capacity to decimate an entire ocean’s food supply. These delicate creatures float with the tides and consume the plankton it offers. They are the ones in photos from yesterday. We saw sea lion, sea otters, and many, many fish. We watched puffin dive under water to catch their fish. The Sea Life Center is very well done but not nearly as extensive as the Monterey Aquarium.

Later in the afternoon we discovered forum friends Frank and Barb parking their rig in the row almost behind us. We decided to meet for happy hour and later got a call on the CB from Barb as to what time? You can run in this forum but you can’t hide. She had recalled from an earlier post that we use channel 34 for local communication. We met up in our rig and viewed the clearing skies. We watched the Glacier Express cruise by and shortly thereafter, Ned and Lorna joined us as they had just come back from their cruise on Resurrection Bay. We swapped tourist stories and shared immediate plans for the future. Tomorrow Terry will go out salmon fishing. Barb and Frank will do the Bay tour, Ned and Lorna will move on to Homer while Russ and I will stay here to enjoy this view of our campground. This evening it is like we moved to another campground. The clouds lifted and we see the circle of snow-capped mountains that surround us as well as a bit of blue sky. We see the mountaintops that jut up from the end of the bay to form a protection to the harbor. It is an awesome and beautiful sight.

We ate at the Crab Pot but did not order the wiggly fresh crab!

Motorhome Miles Driven: 0
Wildlife sightings: 0
Temps: High 58 Low 48
Camping Costs: $25 water/ Elec Seward City Park Resurrection North

July 20, 2006 Day 58 Seward fishing Day

Today was another sleep in day. Terry had previously signed up to go out on a 6-pack fishing charter at the very reasonable hour of 1:30 pm. I did business errands on line all day and found the local library to send a FAX. I dropped Terry off for his adventure downtown around noon and we agreed he would call on his cell phone when he wanted to be picked up! A few minutes later he phoned to say he was just crossing the bay in front of the motorhome so I snapped some shots. I waited and waited and waited and finally at 6:30 I decided he most likely returned and had a dead cell phone battery so I just drove to the fish cleaning docks to retrieve him. I stood around the dock and listened to the woman cleaning fish tell of how slow the fishing has been with the poor weather. The young kids (early 20’s) standing around complained that the waves were higher than any they have ever seen.

Now I am sure he was lost at sea. Pretty soon the cell rings and he is coming into port. He is happy! He caught 2 of the 6 salmon brought aboard today. We took photos and watched the captain clean the fish. He was ready for a hot navy shower and we had very fresh salmon for dinner tonight. We don’t particularly like salmon, but fish this fresh is very nice! I used my food sealer vacuum packer to freeze the rest. We will be eating salmon for a while! My husband is such a good provider! We tried to give some to Russ or to Frank and Barb but no takers! The clouds have rolled in again and in re reading Gary’s journal of his visit to Seward I fear that this rain forest area is cloudy most of the time. It is still beautiful and still beats working! Tomorrow we will visit the library and watch the movie about the earthquake while Frank and Barb go on the Renown Tour that they postponed today as a result of weather watch warnings. Life continues to be good in Alaska. We feel for our friends who live in the heat.

Motorhome Miles Driven:0
Temps: High 63 Low 54 0.04 inches of rain. Wet misty cloudy all day.
Camping Costs: $ 25 Elec. Seward City Park

July 21, 2006 Day 59 Seward, AK

Our morning entertainment today came from right outside our windshield. The sea otters played in water out front as high tides allowed them some grounds for fishing. Then several very interesting and colorful vessels cruised by. We saw a tug pushing a cargo container that looked like it might be emptying the trash. Then a vessel circled around out front and we watched as a crew repaired an under water cable of some sort. A yellow helmeted diver jumped off the back end of boat and had a ray gun looking thing in his hand. It was a meter to see when the cable would be. The guys on shore marked in paint the spot where cable was, and then two of them began to dig with shovels. Later a big backhoe dug a bigger hole. It is so easy to be entertained here along the waterfront. As we watched I had an idea of why a phone bill, cable bill or utility bill of any kind might be so high. The amount of heavy equipment, and workers to do this repair was astounding.

Our afternoon adventure was an unexpected treat. We went to the local library and for $3.00 saw a movie depicting the earthquake damage in Seward in 1964. It was done in black and white with the old movie tones used in theatres and reminded me of Edward R. Murrow stories. It was factual, informative and left everyone very quiet after seeing the power of nature’s destruction. I have no confidence at all in where our motorhome sits with regard to surviving a tsunami. The film showed a 90-ton train engine that was carried several hundred feet by the waves that hit almost 30 minutes following the 9.2 earthquake. With lessons learned from the past, the train station is no longer housed along this waterfront area. A second 30-minute film illustrated the damage through out Alaska and portrayed the immediate response to the emergency and the subsequent rebuilding of Alaskan cities around the area. Russ commented while driving home in the car, that he had already mapped out his tsunami evacuation route. It is straight up one of these back streets to high ground. He won’t even unplug from the electrical pedestal first! We all discussed the parallels that might be drawn from response and rebuilding to this great natural disaster and compared it to recent Hurricane Katrina in the gulf. We think we have a lot more bureaucracy to go through now to get anything done! The late afternoon gave us the “return of flotilla scenes of the day.” We watched as Barb and Frank’s tour boat passed by. Then Terry spotted an eagle swoop down and attempt to pick up something from the rocks in front, but he decided against it (or he missed it.) Did you know that eagles have superior eyesight and can see a rabbit as far as one mile away! Then Russ came on the CB and announces a sea lion sighting. AND we can see the construction crew digging with their big backhoe way down on the rocks now that the tide is out! Overtime on my cable bill! Tomorrow we go out to breakfast and meet up with Frank and Barb to hear about their adventures of the day! I am really enjoying the pace of these days where we don’t “have” to be on tour. We just sit back and enjoy Alaska! Tomorrow is day 60 and Terry will recap our expenses so far! eeewwwwww!

Motorhome Miles Driven: 0
Wildlife sightings: Sea otters, bald eagle
Temps: High 63 Low 51 0.05 inches of rain
Camping Costs: $25 Seward City Park Resurrection North area. Elec/Water

Time for a 60 day expense report.

Expenses reflect costs from Day 1 when we crossed over into Canada just north of Sandpoint, Idaho on May 24.

Fuel includes motorhome & auto.
Meals includes groceries & restaurants.
Lodging is campgrounds.
Miscellaneous is everything else...mostly sightseeing/tour fees & souvenirs.

Meals................... 1600.73
Lodging................ 1288.69
Miscellaneous.......... 2596.79

Total.................... $7514.72

$3757.36 a month or $125.36 a day for two people. We Have Not SKIMPED on anything.

July 22, 2006 DAY 60 Whoo hoo 2 months! Seward, AK

Last night around 1 am a very loud foghorn that blew several times awakened us. I have camped near trains, highways and machine shops and never have I heard a sound as loud. I got up to see what was happening. Nowadays it is dark at 1 am. A huge Celebrity Cruise line was inching through the harbor in fog so thick we couldn't see Russ’ coach 20 feet beside us. At first I could not see anything and thought that the moon was reflecting on mountains, but upon further scrutiny I discovered it was this mammoth cruise ship and all I could see were the lights on top very faintly. I am so glad I was not the captain of that ship.

Today was the rainiest day we have had on the entire trip. It never let up. It rained all day. It was OK with us however as our tourist activities for this city are over. We went to breakfast with Russ, Frank and Barb and shared experiences with the tours. We got a special kick out of comparing how many people got seasick on each of our cruises. When the captain says you may want to consider seasick pills LISTEN to him!

We watched the construction of the fiber optic line being placed under the bay all day. A larger ship and colorful buoys magnified the events of yesterday. Today 4 vessels were in action. Now this is a Saturday and it is pouring rain, but they worked all day. The bay is showing whitecaps and still they work! The local newspaper headlines gave us a briefing on this cable installation, which will go from here in Seward to Kodiak. We couldn't get entertainment any better than this if we had asked.

Did you happen to notice the 2-month expense report Terry made? I recall having toured Europe on $5.00 per day in 1971. I was poor and scrimped to make the trip. We are not holding back on this trip at all. Too many friends, family and framily have died young and we don’t want to think we missed out on anything.

Motorhome Miles Driven: 0
Wildlife sightings: sea otters out front, seagulls
Temps: High 55 Low 50 0.40 of rain so far today at 7:01 pm
Camping Costs: $25 Water and/elec. Seward City Park North Resurrection Area

July 23, 2006 Day 61 Last Day at Seward

The big outing of the day was a trip to Safeway with Barb. Grocery prices are high and the store seemed to be out of things I wanted. While I was vacuuming the rig, Russ called on CB that he could see dolphin out front and sure enough we saw a school of them just swimming by. Boat crews continue to work on the cable out in the bay. Terry and I took a walk along the bike path out front and ended up in town having crab for a late lunch. Terry was thrilled because it came to him already split, with the meat exposed and ready for the pickings.

We will move on to Kenai tomorrow and hope for better weather though the forecast is not promising!

Motorhome Miles Driven: 0
Wildlife sightings: Dolphins, sea otters
Temps: High 64 Low 54 0.27 inches of rain Cloudy and misty all lay
Camping Costs: $25 Seward City Park Water/elec

July 24, 2006 Day 62 Kenai, AK

The major activity today was surviving the road out of Seward. Less than 24 hours ago, I drove this road and it was bumpy and under construction but no big deal. Today something had changed! Nearly ½ mile of road looked like it was from the moon. Deep regular shaped potholes had formed and were filled with water so as to deceive you about the depth of the holes. We were shaken from side to side and back and forth. It was HANDS DOWN the worst section of road we have ever driven! We were only able to travel about 2 mph. Passenger cars, pick up trucks, big rigs all going the same speed in a weird samba or Congo line dance. Doors opened in coach. Things creaked rattled and rocked. At one point I thought the windshield cracked but it was 2 opened doors hitting each other over my head I quickly got on cell phone to warn Russ to take the frontage road, which he did. Barb and Frank’s phone number was not in my phone so they experienced the road and can confirm it was BAD! Barb was so traumatized that she insisted we go out for dinner, as she could not cook. Neither could I. So we went to Louie’s for dinner and each of us had a memorable dinner. We will likely go back again. We are in Kenai tonight in an RV Park that Russ stayed in 4 years ago. It is on a bluff and overlooks the outlet of the Kenai River. We can see snow capped mountains on the other side of the inlet. I visited the visitor center upon our arrival and am armed with flyers for our touring activities for the next few days. Still shaking head about that road. Worse than anything we saw in Mexico or Top of World Highway and yesterday it was OK. I wonder what piece of equipment ran over it to make such a mess.

Motorhome Miles Driven: 117
Wildlife sightings: 1 bald eagle flew over our campsite
Temps: High 63 Low 48
Camping Costs: $44.63 Beluga Lookout Lodge and RV Park Full Hook ups Great view!
GPS: 60.55146, -151.26704

July 25, 2006 Day 63 Kenai AK

Well, we are getting a little weary with the days on end of rain. We have a lovely view that we can’t see due to the clouds. Terry went to Fred Myers today to look at fishing gear on sale but is debating about whether or not he will go out here. Seems Dept. of Fish and Game enacted an emergency order and effective midnight of last night is not allowing sockeye salmon fishing in Kenai River. The booklet on what you can catch and where, is the size of a small phone book.

Maybe we will just eat out! There is not much to see or do in Kenai if you are not a fisherman. We have been spoiled with cities full of activities and here in Kenai we have found fewer tourist attractions. But Home Depot and Fred Myers have their own way of calling out to you. Good weather may change my perceptions!

Motorhome Miles Driven: 0
Wildlife sightings: 0
Temps: High 57 Low 52
Camping Costs: $44.62 Beluga Outlook RV Park

July 26, 2006 Day 64 Kenai, AK

It was a beautifully sunny day…at long last. Kenai is very pretty when you can see the mountains that surround us and are able to see the bay in front of us. My attitude was improved with the weather. We took the walking tour nearby of the original buildings in Kenai. One of them was the Russian Orthodox Church still in use today. The priest inside gave us a brief talk about the history of the church and early missionary work. He pointed out the recent restoration of the paintings. Other buildings were old and have not been refurbished so they are fenced off and we did not get a real good feel for their history but the walk outside in the sunshine felt so good. One of the older wooden buildings was the first kindergarten in Kenai. We had planned our walk to coincide with lunch at a local “hot spot” called the Burger Bus. It served some of the best burgers and fries of our trip. We called Russ who joined us and tried to call Frank and Barb, but Barb (we learned later) had set her phone to vibrate only and she did not get our call. Our miracle of communication has not worked well with them!

After lunch, Terry took on the job of washing the car. The construction areas we traveled through made a big mess of the cars and rigs. The stuff on the car is like it has been spray painted with tar. Tiny specks of grit have been imbedded into the paint. A regular car wash does nothing to remove them. Terry bought several cans of “Tarminator” and has to hand scrub tiny areas at a time to get it off. Ugg, road seal or something. The trouble with cleaning it off is that it might just happen again when we get on the next area of construction. He will do a small section each day as a project.

While Terry cleaned the car, Russ drove Lorna and I down to the end of the Kenai Spur Highway as we were looking for the animals said to be along the forest areas. We only saw a dead porcupine in road but did see the magnificent volcanoes in the background and saw several off shore oil rigs. We drove along the beach area and watched as the tides came in.

Later in the evening Barb had the good idea to have an ice cream social. We loaded up our bowls with ice cream and she provided the toppings. Russ had salad bar fixings from Safeway. He’s trying to win this week’s bet!

While the wind was cool, we all remarked what a lovely evening this was with good views, good friends and good weather.

Motorhome Miles Driven: 0
Wildlife sightings: Porcupine Road kill, seagulls
Temps: High 61 Low 49
Camping Costs: $43.00 Full hookups

July 27, 2006 Day 65 Kenai, AK

Today was another sunny day with clear skies and magnificent views. Frank and Barb extended their stay another day. Terry and I slept in while others went out to breakfast. The park is not even ½ full as the shortened fishing season has limited the number of folks who come to fish. Terry and I went to the visitors Center to visit their museum, art show and movies. We watched the 60-minute video on Grizzly Bears within Alaska. What an informative feature! I wish we could see the bears as close up as those professional photographers. We enjoyed sitting in the sun in the afternoon overlooking the bluffs and even got Ned to join us despite his runny nose. We planned our departure time in the morning so we can do farewells, as Ned and Lorna are heading to Palmer. We are following Russ to Homer while Barb and Frank are heading toward Denali.

Motorhome Miles Driven: 0
Wildlife sightings: 0
Temps: High 63 Low 50 Sunny
Camping Costs: $ 44.62 Beluga Lookout RV Park

July 28, 2006 Day 66 Kenai to Homer Spit

This morning Russ, Lorna, Terry and I donned our “We Be Touring” t-shirts, for a photo opportunity. These were the souvenirs we purchased at the North Pole many weeks ago but have not taken the time to plan the day’s wardrobe until today. We snapped photos and said good byes all around as the Framily group here might not meet again until Quartzsite. It was another sunny day and unusual for us, we opted to go out to breakfast. Upon return from the campground we learn that Ned and Lorna had trouble with their tow bar and broke a fitting. Frank and Barb encountered no brakes on 5th wheel and discovered a tire in need of changing. We discovered, our brake lights would not come on in the toad. So 3 of the 4 of us had some problem this morning all within 100 yards of the campground. Russ kept knocking on wood. As Terry and I always say, ”Another day…another adventure,” and Frank now adds, “ And bring more money!”

Our drive from Kenai to Homer was not one of the scenic drives on a map but the sky was blue and the traffic light and the pavement fine on Sterling Highway. We got calls from Lorna and Barb to tell us they were fine and problems solved. Nearing Homer as we drove around a curve, the most magnificent views of mountains, glaciers and bay appeared. It was just as breath taking as the tour books said it would be! We followed Russ to the end of Homer Spit and located a City camping ground for $15 a night. Works for us. Russ has clear view of Southern skies and we can see the bay with a ring of snow-capped mountains on the left of us. We were not as lucky as we were in Seward to get a front row waterfront site but our view is still awesome. It is NOT a fancy campground but we see all aspects of camping; families with tents, vans, class C’s, boats cars and pick-ups. Everyone is having a good time. Campfires abound, as it is 53 and windy outside. I am grateful for my nice comfortable motorhome. During the afternoon, we took a couple of the tour book scenic view drives through the area and discovered an eagle in a tree who had a big fight with 4 or 5 ravens who dived bombed her and landed on her back and pecked at her trying (we think) to get her to move but she did not. On one of the drives we discovered the true meaning of “home on the road.” Note photo. We turned around and will take this drive another day.

Thanks to Don Miller’s suggestion, we stopped at the Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center and Terry purchased his Derby ticket for halibut fishing. We are already dreaming of the $50,000 prize. A gem of a tourist spot was Alaska Islands and Oceans Visitor Center. This free attraction had a stunning 14-minute film of the wildlife of the region and specifically on the diversity of birdlife in the region. The building is spectacular in its architecture and they spared no expense with kelp sculptured door handles, sea shelled flooring and interactive displays of a worldwide globe and real life-size sculptures of sea animals. Admission was free and I’m still trying to figure out who sponsors this attraction. Russ purchased several DVD’s of the area and it may be the Quartzsite entertainment. The clouds rolled in around 6 pm but we had a beautiful afternoon. I know Homer is going to be one of my favorite spots!

Motorhome Miles Driven: 88
Wildlife sightings: Eagle and raven (crows as I know them) Russ saw a mouse but I did not.
Temps: High 59 Low 50
Camping Costs: $15 per night (dry camping) Homer Spit City Campground
GPS: 59.60747, -151.43504

July 29,2006 Day 67 Homer and Vicinity

You know what they say, “Spit Happens.” Yes we are out here on the Homer Spit and it is only about 200 yards wide. It is the result of a terminal moraine created by glacier action. For those of you not familiar with geologic talk (as I wasn’t a few weeks ago) this means land is pushed forward by a glacier and when the glacier melts it leave this scoured land. In this case it is a long skinny strand of land. As I look out the front windshield I can see water of the bay and as I look out the side window I can see the waves crash of the ocean. Today reminded me of my Long Beach, California days. The ocean was restless with 5 or 6 feet swells crashing down on a rocky beach. (The rocks are way different than the sand of Long Beach, CA) The air smelled like a salt-water sea breeze and the winds blew.

Our day started with a bit of a disappointment as we had hoped to take a boat ride to Seldovia, a city accessible only by water or air across the bay but the trip was canceled this morning due to weather. I think this means big swells result in people getting too seasick. Even the fishing charter boats canceled trips. The day has a few clouds and is cool and windy but we can see blue sky. So Plan II was quickly put into place and Russ drove us back across the Sterling Highway that we had traversed yesterday. When you have a big motorhome you avoid many of the interesting little side roads and today we took advantage of every stop on the Highway in Russ’ car. This section of road took us to Anchor Point, which is designated as the most westerly highway in North America. We toured Ninilchik, a Russian community with famous long clam beaches and a Russian Orthodox Church more spectacular from a distance than from up close. We drove through every state park along the highway and discovered Deep Creek State Park, facing the beach that will be a stop over on our way back for sure. We discovered an Airstream RV with a unique paint job and clever place to sore sewer hoses. We also saw a very tall wood carving with 2 bears. We toured a couple of Art Galleries on the way back into town. Terry and I walked to the charter boat he will be taking tomorrow to see if he should drive or walk. It was an 8-minute walk. What do you think we will do? He scurried back to the motorhome while I took in more tourist shops and stood by the ocean and walked the dock of this neat harbor.

I am planning to go to the local theater (it is walking distance about 1 minute to get there) tonight for a couple of one-act plays put on by the local thespians. The guys won’t go with me because they are watching Formula One races. I’m just back from the Plays. They were actually summer theater and the group of kids range in age from 11 to 14. They were very good one funny and one serious. I sat next to he grandmother of the star! Boy was she proud!

Motorhome Miles Driven: 0
Wildlife sightings: 0, zip, nada, nothing except one seagull eating a dead fish
Temps: High 56 Low 53 Windy
Camping Costs: $15.00 per night Dry Camping Homer City Spit

July 30, 2006 Day 68 Homer, Halibut capitol of the world

Terry arose early, fixed his lunch and packed up to go out on his halibut charter experience. He was back home within ½ hour. The Captain of his charter cancelled due to weather, as did every other charter captain. Terry rescheduled his fishing trip but it is getting harder and harder to reschedule as several days have now gone by with cancellations and the list of fishermen in wait, stack up. Today turned nasty, cold, cloudy and rainy. Terry and Russ now had time to watch their boy, Michael Schumacher win the German Grand Prix. The guys are happy when their boy wins! The weather did not spoil my day however as Russ and I had already planned to see the art galleries in town of which there are MANY. Despite many very talented artists and superb galleries, we did not see anything we needed to purchase today. If I cannot sleep dreaming of an object I may go back to that gallery. That is the beauty of having time to spend in a town (indecision). Russ already has many paintings in storage and I have a home being built with a southwest theme so none of the sea otters or whales will fit that theme well.

We visited the Pratt Museum. It is very well done with the history of the area, outstanding quilt displays and the highlight was their live video camera. This live video shows bears sitting along McNeill River and feasting on the salmon that travel up river. One bear caught several fish but lost them to a more dominant bear that took the fish away from him. I could have spent all day watching that video feed. We visited a local side of the road artist colony of wood carvers and various artists. I bought a crab stepping-stone to put into my garden. It cost less than the crab dinners Terry has been eating! The rain has picked up and the clouds have come in even thicker. If you were here and had not seen the surrounding mountains, you would not have imagined the beauty of this area on a clear day. We took a chance and have booked the trip across the bay to Seldovia tomorrow. Maybe and hopefully the weather will clear; otherwise our Bass Pro Shop rainwear will come in handy.

Motorhome Miles Driven: 0
Wildlife sightings: 0
Temps: High 56 Low 49 0.25 inches of rain and growing
Camping Costs: $15 dry camping on Homer City Campground

July 31, 2006 Day 69 Homer to Seldovia by Boat

Today we had a couple of “ National Geographic” moments and a complete Norman Rockwell scene as we took the boat trip tour to Seldovia. We boarded the 75-foot Discovery boat with lightly clouded skies. The day had hope of clearing. The 2-½ ride was spectacular. As we circled Gull Island we witnessed thousands of birds flying in a rhythm and flow synchronized by their leader and others flowed up down around and they looked like swarms of smoke in a breeze but they were all seagulls. They nest on the island. We also saw cormorants, puffins and two other birds( I can’t recall heir names) and a few eagles that live in the spruce lined forests. An interesting kelp plant life was present in waters today. It is one of the fastest growing plants known and can grow up to 100 feet in a day. The deep tangled masses of their growth make good places for sea otters to play. We saw dozens of them playing in the water, chasing each other and floating on their backs. They are so cute!

When we docked at Seldovia the quaint picturesque harbor stood out like something Norman Rockwell would have designed. The city of 350 is only accessible by boat or by plane. It is very laid back! We had a leisurely lunch and realized how dependant local businesses are on the supplies from across the bay. The weather the past 2 days has prohibited any deliveries to them and they are out of many menu items and closed just after we order. We explored the homes on stilts and walked their boardwalks high above the bay, which was at very low tide. The village was once a big seaport and had canneries but they have long since closed. A bridge spans the Seldovia Slough and we got a kick out of watching the local boys fish for salmon. They simply cast out lines and snag them. They jumped for glee every time they had a fish on, as did all of the tourists on the bridge! Products of the annual chainsaw contest are placed around the town. The skies cleared a bit and we had good views out toward the volcanoes in the distance. Four o’clock came all too soon and we had to board to head back “home” to Homer. As we cruised slowly out of the harbor the captain came on the radio and announced that at our 11:00 position there was a BIG BLACK BEAR swimming in front of us! It was the biggest and closest bear I have ever seen. He did not like the boat and turned away from us but the captain circled so we could get a better view. The bear could swim almost as fast as our boat could travel. He seemed to use a dog paddle motion as we saw his big feet come up behind him. The captain marveled at how rare this sight, with a bear in this bay. I told you Homer was going to be one of my favorite places.

Russ was waiting at the dock to pick us up and we tried a local Mexican Restaurant that will make the recommended list if you ever come here. We capped the day with a drive out to East End and enjoyed the skyline ridge views of this beautiful place they call Homer. Terry will go out fishing and we hope to have halibut for dinner tomorrow. What a trip!

Motorhome Miles Driven: 0
Wildlife sightings: Thousands of Birds, Dozens of sea otters, a big black bear!
Temps: High 56 Low 49
Camping Costs: $15 dry camping Homer City Spit Campground

August 1, 2006 Day 70 Homer , Alaska Halibut fishing!

Another day, another adventure and another month of this trip is complete. Terry arose early and drove the car to pick up his charter fishing boat. I opted not to get up early and drive him as I needed some exercise and walked up later to get the car.

The day is about his adventure on a 6-pack halibut fishing trip. (I had spaghetti as a standby for dinner in case he did not get any fish.) He said there was boat traffic jam out of the harbor at 6:30 am. Can you imagine? People are actually up at this hour! He said the seas were 2 to 4 foot and that he would have bruises on his legs from the railing of the boat hitting him all day. He did get to see a pod of Orcas! And he only had my old camera, as it is the one that fits easily into your pocket. It is hard to take photos when you have fishing gear in your hands.

He caught 2 halibut, which are very heavy and come up as dead weight. The fish are over 300 feet down so there is a lot of reeling! We had the photo shoot at the end of day. I invited Russ over for our fresh catch of the day. My skills with fresh fish need some work, as the fish was not up to my own standard. Good thing we had baked potatoes too. I’ve got lots more fish and will practice. We planned the activities for tomorrow and decided to stay here in Homer another day. I still want to visit Salty Dawg Saloon and all of us wanted clam chowder at a local restaurant. My great white hunter is so tired tonight that if he were a drinker he could not raise his arm for a beer. This fishing for halibut is hard work!

I took a shot of an eagle today. Russ took better ones!

Motorhome Miles Driven: 0
Wildlife sightings: a pod of Orcas (8), halibut, eagles, and seagulls
Temps: High 56 Low 48
Camping Costs: $15 dry camping Homer Spit City Campground

August 2, 2006 Day 71 Homer

We had a leisurely day. We went out to lunch at Russ’ favorite restaurant ” The Sourdough Express” and had halibut chowder. This restaurant will make the recommended list. Russ has been there 4 times and we can see why!

Terry and I visited the Salty Dawg Saloon where I was going to buy a beer but it was so smoky inside I could not see. But we did take note of the dollar bills all over the walls and ceilings. I think the floors are dirt. We visited The Memorial to Those Lost at Sea.” It sits right out at the end of the Spit and looks out into the ocean. We have really enjoyed this place and would suggest that anyone who comes here stay out on the Spit. So much to of life to look at! Last night, around 2 a.m., I heard pounding and voices. When I awoke and looked outside this morning 9 tents have been pitched beside us in the dark of night. It seems to be several families here on a fishing trip. They have dozens of kids (some of them really little!) who have entertained us all day with their use of the hills and wooden boards and teeter totters and soccer. Leave it to kids to find ways entertain themselves. No nintendos needed here. What a lot of work to dry camp here in this 50-degree weather. The sand is wet and so are the seats of the kid’s pants! (But who cares?) The weather is clearing in Homer and if it gets any nicer we will stay longer. We sure love the flexibility of our schedule. If we like a place, we can stay longer! This may mean I have to make a return visit to many of the Art Galleries in town. Oh darn!

Motorhome Miles Driven: 0
Wildlife sightings: Seagulls
Temps: High 59 Low 52
Camping Costs: $15 dry camp in Homer City Campground

August 3, 2006 Day 72 Homer, AK

Recall I said something about the weather clearing. Well I was wrong, very wrong. All last night and today, the wind gusted up to 32 mph. It is 53 and rainy. Now I’m pretty comfortable in my self-contained motorhome, but that family of 9 or 10 tents is not so lucky. The kids are still all running around with glee but the moms began the process of disassembling the tents at about 1 o’clock. It still is not done at 4:40. You cannot imagine how much stuff it takes big families to go tent camping. The women look a little worried and watch the seas for their men who have gone out fishing early in the morning. Finally at 4:47 the four men appear without their boat, totally wet, looking chilled to bone. They get out of wet clothing ASAP and wrap them selves in the many warm blankets. Their faces tell a story of a miserable day. They speak a native language so I’m unable to know the factual story but with wind this high and the size of their boat this cannot have been a fun day for them. I don’t know how they got here and the trailored boat that was with them when they returned yesterday is not here now. We wonder where it is. The fire, which had long, since been put out by the rain and lack of wood, was quickly relit and the weary wet fishermen huddled around it with blankets wrapped around their shoulders. When the men begin to quit shivering they pitch in with the packing. The wind and rain continues. One of their cars won’t start and another is moved into place so that jumper cables can be attached. These families are prepared. The fishing boat shows up being pulled by a pick up and the families launch into packing up the stuff. By 6:00 all of them have headed home with but a few pieces of litter to ever know that so many were here.

I wish I could have spoken to them. I wish them well as the children grow up. I am so grateful that I don't have to camp in a tent.

Russ treated us to split pea soup that was piping hot, yummy and really hit the spot on this cold rainy day. Russ is a considerably better cook than I am.

Motorhome Miles Driven: 0
Wildlife sightings: Seagulls, eagle soaring overhead
Temps: High 53 Low 51 0.05 inches of rain
Camping Costs: $ 15 dry camping Homer Spit

August 4, 2006 Day 73 still in Homer learning about the sea.

Went back to day to the Alaskan Ocean and Visitor Center to hear a Ranger talk about the sea otters, birds and seals on the Aleutian Chain. I learned many things that I wish I had known before we went on the boat trips to see those animals out in the wild. For one thing, did you that know a baby otter cannot swim? They lay on their momma’s stomach until she teaches them to swim in about 2 months. But they can float on their back. Otters sleep on their backs and to avoid drifting with the currents they often attach themselves to the kelp beds that are attached to the ocean floor and this stabilizes their sleeping area. I look again at my photos and notice all of the kelp around them. The sea otter population has been steadily declining and over the past years. This center sends out their research vessel to study the marine eco systems and the decline of so many types of marine animals. When they notice the rookeries or bird nurseries and see a healthy bird population they believe things in the sea are also going well as these birds eat the fish in the sea. A 10-year recent decline of 70% in the sea lion population has all alarmed. Some theories are that Orca predation accounts for the loss. Orcas are eating more otters than they used to maybe as a result of their food source being somehow otherwise diminished. Orcas are now eating more sea otters even though the caloric value is considerably less than a sea lion, as they have no blubber. For every theory there is a proposed theory of how to intervene to assist the endangered species but each event in the food chain causes a reaction to another species within the food chain and on and on. It’s hard to fool with Mother Nature. This Center has the responsibility of balancing commercial fisheries with the natural eco systems of the area. It is a wealth of information and we will go back tomorrow night to see another movie.

Tonight I am going to get another cultural treat. The Pier One Theater has a play starting tonight and I am going! The guys are watching races! We have enjoyed staying in a place for a while. We get familiar with the city, how to get around and get friendly with the restaurant owners, at least our favorites. We returned again today to the Sourdough Express for lunch.

Motorhome Miles Driven: 0
Wildlife sightings: Eagles. gulls
Temps: High 57 Low 52 0.06 inches of rain
Camping Costs: $15 dry camping Homer

August 5, 2006 Day 74 Homer Spit

You can never predict the weather. Today was gorgeous compared to so many past days. Temps did not get high but the sky was blue. This place is so pretty when it is clear. I understand why we have so often heard tales of people coming to Homer and falling in love with it and staying. If they just didn’t have such cold weather I might consider a home here.

Terry and I took a much needed long walk today to end of spit. We were looking for a restaurant for dinner tonight. We found none but this place just teems with activity. We watched boats, birds, tourists and fog rolled in for about an hour at 6 pm then floated out over us.

We returned to the Alaska Oceans and Islands visitor Center for a viewing of the film “Rivers and Tides,” by world-renowned sculptor, Andy Goldsworthy. He has a whole line of stuff for sale on Amazon. I will likely purchase this DVD. His creative mind sees things in the environment that I would never see. His sculptures are not meant to last as he builds them in the wind or in the tides or on the sand or out of ice. His photos are what remain! This free film was a prelude to the “Artrageous August” planned here in Homer. Tomorrow we will go to the beach and see what local artists do in the sand and we are invited to participate! There are lots of arts to enjoy in this little town. When we came out of the film a fog bank had rolled in that was so thick we could not believe how it obliterated the scenery, yet we could see above it. Of course none of us had our cameras. We hurried back to rigs, retrieved cameras and went on a photo hunt.

Dinner was at My Thai and was among the best meals of the trip! I’ve learned to order what Russ orders and it is always good and SPICY HOT.

Motorhome Miles Driven: 0
Wildlife sightings: 2 pair eagles, one pheasant, seagulls, and crow eating lunch
Temps: High 56 Low 50 0.01 inches of rain in night
Camping Costs: $15 for dry camping on beach at Homer City Campground

August 6, 2006 Day 75 Homer

Today was among the best days we have had in Alaska weatherwise. It was a perfect day for the planned art event out on Bishops Beach. While the wind blew and temps were cool, it was clear and not raining. A few local artists worked with the natural materials on the beach and created some unique figures. One gal was building a sculpture in the tide line using the shells from her crawdad festival last night. The bright red shells were a very nice contrast to the black sand beach. Other rock formations were created from the rocks on the beach. We learned that this beach will fill with sculptures throughout the month and by end of August it will be a full gallery! We just oooooooed and ahhhhhhhhed about the pretty day.

Final runs to the bakery and Safeway were made as we head out tomorrow. We have a short drive of 40 miles as we head back to camp on Ninilchik Beach.

Motorhome Miles Driven: 0
Wildlife sightings: Seagulls
Temps: High 59 Low 49 0.01 inch of rain (must have been in night)
Camping Costs: $15 dry camping Homer City Campground

August 7, 2006 Day 76 Ninilchik, AK

We left Homer with sadness. Russ came on the CB and announced that we are now on our way home. We have been farther West than Hawaii and are as far North as we will be on the remainder of the trip. We traveled only 40 miles today to a State campground right on the Cook Inlet. We would never have turned off this road unless we knew the road, as it was narrow and steep and headed right for the beach. I spent the day collecting rocks and making rock sculptures. The day was beautiful and the air smelled of the sea. I watched the mini waves lap the beach and the tides go way out. When I was a teenager we lived near the beach and I often spent weekends going to the beach. This place brought back memories of 40 years ago. The sea breeze has it’s own specific smell and this beach’s odors are enhanced by the many fish carcasses washed ashore. I gathered up many flat rocks for souvenirs and sculptures. Our views out the front windows of the motorhome are of the ocean with the Mountain ranges across the Cook Inlet in clear view. It is a million dollar view for $10.

Terry did trouble shooting on our heater today and blew a fuse so we won’t have the Webasto heater until we get service on September 18 in Oregon. Russ’ alternator is not providing enough voltage. He has a call into Coach net. These are blue jobs so I am still a happy camper! We tried the “Poor Man’s Lobster” recipe provided by George Van Luchene tonight as a way to prepare our halibut. It was yummy. Once again sunny days color my experience of a place. This is among my favorite places. We will spend another night here enjoying all of the views. We’ll watch the local fishing going on in the backgrounds more carefully tomorrow.

Motorhome Miles Driven: 40 Motorhome fuel, $2.98 per gallon diesel
Wildlife sightings: Seagull
Temps: High 63 Low 51
Camping Costs: $10 per night Dry Camping Deep Creek State Park
GPS: 60.03154,-151.70296

August 8, 2006 Day 77 Ninilchik

Today was a lazy kickback; enjoy the view kind of day. Sitting right on the beach and listening to the waves lap, for $10 a night just can’t be beat! Terry watched boats being launched all afternoon while Russ and I ventured up the hill and around the corner out for a newspaper and some photo shots. We visited the RV Park where he stayed 4 years ago and it discovered it belongs to long lost friends of George and Pam. Sharon, the owner recalled other friends of Pam and George who visited in year’s past. She could not recall names but did recall he made her a leather wallet. We knew it was Tom and Margi! It is such a small world. The name of the RV Park is Alaskan Angler RV Resort and Cabins here in Ninilchik. It looks very well kept and they also offers charter fishing called AFISHUNT . 1(800) 347 4114. John the owner is a retired Lt Col in USAF. He was in Seward running a charter so we did not get to meet with him. We exchanged phone numbers and e-mail addresses and hope “old” friends can be in touch again. Russ joined us as I fixed poor mans lobster for dinner and we planned tomorrow’s departure time. It will be a long day, almost 180 miles to Anchorage! We need propane and to look at woodcarvings.

Motorhome Miles Driven: 0
Wildlife sightings: Seagulls
Temps: High 62 Low 49 Sunny
Camping Costs: $10 dry camping Deep Creek State park

August 9, 2006 Day 78 Ninilchik to Someplace North of Palmer (60 miles from Anchorage)

We left our glorious spot on the beach this morning headed back toward Anchorage. We had traveled this highway a few weeks ago but things always look different coming from the other direction. The weather was misting and cloudy so light was not good for photos but the drive was scenic never the less. The Fireweed is almost at its full bloom and the colors are just spectacular. They are a much more brilliant magenta than they were a few weeks ago and they go way up on the hillsides. Of course every pull off we could reach had none! I think we stopped at every scenic turnout and had lunch with a spectacular view of wetlands but no birds in sight.

Russ wanted to visit the woodcarving village we had seen in Soldotna so we spent some time “reviewing” their woodcarvings. It was there that we saw a classic dog/ cat chase. It was an RV errand day; we got propane in Soldotna on one side of the street and paid $2.65 per gallon, while Russ stopped on the opposite side of the street and had to pay $2.78. Luck of the side of the street you shop!

We topped off with fuel just before Anchorage and both paid $2.92 per gallon and like the propane stop we were like synchronized Rv’ers. Russ at one side of pumps us at the other and pull out at the same time. Anchorage provided another shock…traffic! We have not seen a big city in a while and they stink! But we did a Sam’s run and Safeway and off down the road toward Glen Ellen. Had no plans, had no reservation but found a lovely pull out north of Palmer and stopped for the night. The big drive today of 243 miles was more than the guys had driven in one sitting in a long while and we were tired and ready to stop. Guess what? Even among the trees and mountains, that surround us, Russ gets and Internet signal so I can keep you informed of our whereabouts! Russ is a wonderful traveling companion. Plus he is so easy going! Terry and I have slowed his pace.

Motorhome Miles Driven: 243 Not fun, Topped off with diesel at $2.92 per gallon
Wildlife sightings: Swans, Seagulls, eagle flying overhead, dog chasing a cat
Temps: High 63 Low 53 .01 inches of rain
Camping Costs: $0 Boondocking at a long double ended pull through north of Palmer ( 60.8) GPS: 61.7148, -148.8416

August 10, 2006 Day 79 Glennallen working our way to Valdez

We left our lovely boondocking spot and headed onward toward Glennallen. We pulled off at most of the easy access scenic view pullouts. Touring some of them we had to laugh, as they must have been built years ago and the trees have long since grown up to cover any possible view. Not much was lost however as we had a cloudy day with misty rain and if a mountain was going to appear in the distance, it would have been a miracle. Despite the poor weather, the scenery is still outstanding and the interpretive signs gave us a wealth of information. We traveled along the Matsunuska River today and the road was as windy as the river. It would have been a perfect road for a convertible sports car! But the guys decided there might have been mosquitoes so we are keeping our motorhome and not trading for a sports car. We have had almost no mosquitoes all summer and we are thankful. Maybe the cool damp weather has kept them away. Who cares why…we are just glad to have not been bothered by them so far! We stopped at the Matsunuska Glacier State Recreation area and viewed the glacier from afar. The interpretive center panels were very informative. I could not recall all of the information so I took photos. The bark beetle news was partiality interesting as the insect has always existed but just now he is overtaking so many of the black spruce trees as to kill off an entire eco system. When we arrived at Glennallen we visited the Copper Valley Visitor Center and were not impressed with the information or enthusiasm of the staff. We drove 7 miles down the road to the exquisite and only 4 year old Visitor center for the Wrangle-St.Elias National Park. The film they shared as an overview was among the most outstanding films I have seen. The aerial pilot photographer took 4 years to make it, as he had to wait for the perfect weather to get the shots he did. This National Park is called the Crown of the Continent in that it holds 4 major mountain ranges that meet in the park and has 9 of the 16 highest peaks in the Untied States. This National Park is the largest in the US and is as big as 6 Yellowstone’s. The Wrangle Mountain Range is volcanic in origin and it joins the Kluane National Park in Canada. The summit we crossed today was just over 3000 feet and the vegetation changes with the altitude. We are seeing more of those spindly black spruce trees which look sick but I guess we would too if we had to endure the temperatures they do, have our roots in Perma frost and winters with no sun!

Back in Glennallen we visited The Wildlife Museum, which is a collection of Alaskan animals nicely preserved by the taxidermist owner in realistic settings, though somewhat gruesome. Survival of fittest still reigns in the food chain. The tour books guided us to look for place where the Alaska Pipeline goes underground to allow our road to cross over it. Since this Pipeline is the one very much in the news now, we searched for it to have a look. Note photos. It was more impressive to see it out here in the wild than where we last saw it in Fairbanks at a regularly scheduled tourist stop. The pipeline is nearly 5 feet in diameter and over 800 miles of insulated pipe. The pipe was built above ground with heat transfer fins in the upright posts to help keep the perma frost ground frozen that the posts sit on. The pipeline rests on Teflon coated crossbeams so it can move in an earthquake without breaking. We kept off it as instructed. That is a lot of pipe to maintain! Russ fixed his chili and I fixed coleslaw from his grandma’s recipe. I told you he is going to make a cook of me yet! Tomorrow Terry and I will head for Kennecott Mines. It is a 120-mile dirt road and we will take our lunch for the long day. Russ is heading for Valdez and will hopefully save us a place!

Motorhome Miles Driven: 124 Car fuel, $3.22 per gallon
Wildlife sightings: 0 because Wendy won’t let me count those we see in a wildlife Museum
Temps: High 62 Low 48
Camping Costs: $18 Water/electric Broadway RV Park (formerly Hickock and sons)
GPS: 62.106845,-145.515352

August 11, 2006 Day 80 Glennallen to Chitina and Back

Today was one of those make lemonade out of lemon days or whatever the saying! We awoke to rain and it had rained all night long. This prompted us to change our plans of driving 120 miles on a dirt road to the Kennicott Mine and try again on the way back from Valdez as we backtrack to Palmer. We slept in and then Terry went out to breakfast. Russ is so easy going that he decided to stay with us for the extra day. We knew of some scenic drives “up the road.” and took off in the car at 12:30, armed with cameras, binoculars, rain jackets, maps, tour books and snacks. You can never be too prepared! First stop was at the local Espresso stand of which Russ is a connoisseur. Then off down the road we went. It actually stopped raining but was still very cloudy. We drove some 64 miles along the border of the Wrangle-St Alias National Park to Chitina, which was once proposed as the capitol of Alaska. It was once a major supply center when the Copper River was used to ship goods. It fizzled when the CRNW railroad failed. The little community is very quaint and has 2 restored buildings, a hotel and an Art Gallery. Russ found a “souvenir”; I did not. The wonderful surprise of this day was the find we made just over the river beyond Chitina to a fishing area in which only native Alaskans are allowed to fish. There, along the Copper River, which is the most heavily sedimented river in Alaska, were dozens of fish wheels. These home made contraptions are set along the river designed for the water’s current to turn them. The baskets scoop up the fish and deposit them in a holding area for the fisherman. We had to drive out across a few running streams to see this event. It is NOT on the tourist trails! Boy did we have fun. We saw fisherman cleaning fish and the seagulls were happy with the leftovers. Who cares that the mountains were enveloped in clouds, we saw the locals fishing in a long-standing traditional way. The fish wheel is thought to have originated in China and was brought here. What a thrill. Because I had the Milepost on my lap in back seat, I guided us to a small turn out where we discovered Liberty Falls and took lots of photos. The rushing water was immense and we would never have seen it, had I not been reading The Milepost. If you come here, it is the Bible of Alaskan travel.

On the return trip home, the view of the Wrangle Mountain range was even more invisible than on the way out. We stopped at Copper Center to see their historical buildings. The good news was the museum was free; the bad news it was closed. We marched onward toward home. One Espresso stop later for Russ and one Native Gift store stop for me and we landed home. Our sights are set on moving to Valdez tomorrow. Will it ever quit raining? Chet are you happy now? If what locals say about the Fireweed blooming out and winter sets in, we’d better get going. All of the Fireweed was bloomed completely out in this area!

Motorhome Miles Driven: 0
Wildlife sightings: 1 chipmunk
Temps: High 56 Low 45 0.41 inches of rain
Camping Costs: $18 water/elec, Boardwalk RV Park

August 12, 2006 Day 81 Glennallen to Valdez

Another leisurely start to the day and we were on the road by 11:30 a.m. We only had 119 miles to go and had traveled some of the same road yesterday. It was a good road with a few whoop de doo’s! Even though the bumps are well marked with red flags, my stomach still flips when we go over them.

Now a few days ago Lorna and Ned drove this road and reported the views to be like a little Switzerland. We will have to take their word for it, as we did not see any of it. The fog and low cloud cover was so thick we could only see up to the top of the nearest spruce trees. The road was clear so we could see how very little traffic we were encountering but what a gloomy day. We got a few glimpses of the Worthington Glacier and Bridal Veil Falls and Horsetail Falls but we will have to go backing the car when weather lets up. It’s just got to get sunny again sometime. I was a little worried when we crossed through the summit at Thompson Pass. While it is only 2800 feet, this pass receives the greatest amount of snowfall of any place in Alaska. Average snowfall here in winter is 325 inches with a record of 5 feet in 24 hours! I thought it might snow on us today but the signs below indicated the pass to be open and the temps only dropped to 46. It might as well have been a snow white out for all that we could see. The snow poles reached far above our heads (even in motorhome) to mark the way for snowplows. The last 7 miles were that terrible black gravel construction road stuff. It blackened our vehicles.

We checked into the Sea Otter Campground that was very crowded. There is a Women’s Fishing Derby going on and hopefully tomorrow we can move to a waterfront sight. First thing the guys did was to hose off the cars so they could see out windshield to park them. We had dinner at Ernesto’s. It will make the “restaurant list” not only for the good Mexican food but because Terry asked for extra onions in his enchilada and they served him a plate of white sliced onions. When the bill came he was charged $2.50 for an order of onion rings. Russ had asked for extra lettuce and he was charged for a side of salad. We had a little chuckle. We think the waiter spoke Russian. Russ treated us to a tour of the town after dinner. Low thick fog is still here at 9:00 pm and we can hardly see the harbor. I think it is winter in Alaska.

Motorhome Miles Driven: 119
Wildlife sightings: 1 rabbit, several bald eagles, 2 swans
Temps: High 51 Low 46 0.08 inches of rain
Camping Costs: $22 water/ poor 20 amp elec. Sea Otter Campground
GPS: 61.12336, -146.35083

August 13, 2006 Day 82 Valdez, AK

Today was Sunday and several locals who come here for the weekend to fish, checked out. We quickly nabbed the sights Russ had in mind on the waterfront. Even though these sights cost $5 more per night we think the daylong entertainment value is well worth it! It is a parade of boats. Big ones, little ones, coast Guard, commercial fishing, and the big ferries. What a show. We sit and watch and speculate the cargo and the purpose of trip. When mom and pop are in their fold a boat with a net and a pole, the purpose is pretty obvious. Some of the huge trawlers with cranes aboard or an 18-wheeler as cargo are a little harder to guess. All of the passengers in little open boats look cold to us. Our first shopping trip of the day was to “Prospectors”, a very nice sports outfitters store, where we both bought waterproof shoes. The parking lot here is about 3 inches deep in water and it went over the top of our tennis shoes so now we can have dry feet. Everyone wears them! Russ already had his boots handy in a bay. While the fog has lifted, it is still cloudy but we can see the islands in the bay and watched the ferry go in and out. I just reviewed Gary Brink’s log of their 2002 trip to Valdez and found he experienced the same kind of weather. We went to the Valdez Museum and were impressed with the quilt displays and the memorabilia from gold rush, earthquake and oil drilling days. It is one of the nicest buildings in town. The city itself is spread out and not very aesthetically pleasing. Translation, Valdez has zero character or architectural interest. Most buildings are just square with metal siding but they are colorful! But hey, we are retired and traveling and nothing will spoil our days. I have new shoes!

Motorhome Miles Driven: Moved across parking lot probably 300 feet to sights 40 and 41.
Wildlife sightings: 1 Sea otter, seagulls
Temps: High 51 (at 7 pm) Low 47 0.08 inches of rainfall
Camping Costs: $ 27 Water /elec. Good 20-amp power

August 14, 2006 Day 83 Valdez, AK

We had planned to take the Glacier Cruise but it was raining and foggy so decided to not to go. We visited the Old Valdez Museum and were treated to the expertise of a youngster (around 30) whose grandfather rode out the earthquake in 1964. This young man has lived here his whole life and had many interesting stories to tell about Valdez. The most memorable thing he shared was that right after the Exxon Valdez oil spill disaster, one of the big buildings here in town was used as a place to clean up animals affected by the oil. The city went from a population of about 3900 overnight to 12,000 (most of whom came with no supplies). Hotels were filled, campgrounds were filled and the grocery stores and restaurants were emptied. This population explosion created more hardships on the people living here, in spite of the visitor’s desire to help. It gave me another perspective on the magnitude of the oil spill disaster.

We went to a little dime store and watched their free 45-minute video on the Pipeline Construction. I marveled at what an engineering feat this was both in size and time and to think it was done with a private company. The men and women who worked on the Pipeline had to have been a hearty stock to have worked at 50 below and in terrible conditions over mountains, valleys, and rivers! It is still cold and foggy here but the guys are enjoying the parade of boats in and out of the fog. A huge tanker came and off loaded oil (we think.) They put up big rope-like buoys around the ship first. We think it was an oil barrier.

We’ll have a quiet evening and I’ll think sunny thoughts.

Motorhome Miles Driven: 0
Wildlife sightings: seagulls
Temps: High 53 Low 47 0.10 rain
Camping Costs: $27 water/elec waterfront at Sea Otter Campground

August 15, 2006 Day 84 Valdez

The activity of this rainy day was to attend Jr. College. No kidding! We went to the listed event in the Valdez tourist book of a film on the Aleyska Pipeline and followed the map directly to the Jr. College. It was a well-kept building and I liked it. Just before the 1-½ hour video was to begin, the lady announces that the building we are in was the FIRST to be rebuilt following the 1964 earthquake. It was originally the elementary school. Now I know why I am so comfortable. This building was just like Jefferson School for my former education buddies following this journal.( I am a retired educator with 33 years in) The video was a compilation of some we’d seen before and a nature sightings of the Prince William Sound. The construction of the Pipeline and the worthiness of ‘”Polar Bear Express” an oil carrying tanker were the stars of the show. There is a notable lack of mention of the Exxon Valdez oil disaster at any public showing. The lady at the gift shop made the comment to me that the oil company “owns the town”. There you go.

Terry purchased the video on the Prince William Sound and those of you who may come to an open house at our new home will likely be treated to this video! Following this educational experience, we returned to “ Prospectors”, where Russ bought new rubber shoes just like the ones we bought a few days ago. The parking lot of our RV Park is now underwater enough that we require rubber shoes to get in and out of our car! We “love” Alaska weather and now understand why my friend, Pam, who lived in Alaska for 22 years now just loves the Yuma sunshine! So do we. The builder called today and the house is ahead of schedule. Sigh… we would like to be home to see its completion. Mostly I would like to be out of the rain.

Motorhome Miles Driven: 0 Car fuel, $ 3.39.9 per gallon
Wildlife sightings: Sea otter in front of campground, seagulls, Lots of them in the videos. Ok Wendy?
Temps: High 50 Low 47 0.76 inches of rain
Camping Costs: $ 27 water/20 amp electric Sea Otter Camp Ground

August 16, 2006 Day 85 Valdez, AK

I have a new strategy to enjoy Valdez. I’m pretending we are in Hawaii in the rain forest. The things we can see are very green and lush! The temperature is kind of hard to ignore however as it is not tropical. Instead of humidity we have fog. Russ was the designated driver for our day’s touring. My guys dressed for the occasion and I snapped a photo of the ready tourists!

We a visited the US Forest Service at Crooked Creek and were able to watch literally hundreds of salmon making their last journey at the end of the line. The ranger station also showed an under water live camera of the fish but they were so numerous it was easy enough to see them from outside! On ward we trudged looking for eagle shots. Found one in an area off limits, unless you were an oil employee and had a permit but we tried out the telephoto. The next attraction was the Maxine and Jesse Whitney Museum. This collection is advertised as the World’s Largest Private Collection of Native Alaskan Art and Artifacts. It was indeed impressive and I found it very interesting that this couple came to Alaska in 1947, loved it and stayed. They assembled this collection and donated it to the Prince William Sound Community College so that generations to come could enjoy the adventures they had. Can you imagine that any of the souvenirs we collect in an RV lifestyle would ever fill a museum? Let alone an interesting and informative one? It is a must see in Valdez. Besides it is indoors and weather does not matter to enjoy it! We drove back down the Richardson Highway to view Horsetail Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, an abandoned railroad tunnel project. We crossed Thompson pass and noted the cannon like features high above us that are there to set off avalanches to reduce risks on road. We drove up to the Worthington Glacier and hiked as far as we could go on pavement and took photos of it. It was very different to see a glacier end in land as we had seen so many from our cruises. During this viewing the guys started to shout and attracted many of us from inside the gift shop. The SUN actually peeked through but only for about 2 minutes.

Back down the road we drove and spotted four beautiful swans on a lake right beside the road. Russ whipped the car around and returned so we could sit in car and watch them for several minutes. Ahhhh a wildlife sighting! Life is good.

Motorhome Miles Driven: 0
Wildlife sightings: 2 eagles, 4 swans, lots of pink salmon and chum
Temps: High 50 Low 44 0.87 Rain forecast for the next 6 days.
Camping Costs:$27Water/elec Sea Otter Camp(Waterfront sites, water in back and sides too)

August 17, 2006 Day 86 Valdez Alaska

We saw some sun today and it quit raining for most of the day. We took a really fun 4-wheel drive trail 5.5 miles out into Mineral Creek Canyon. Not only was the scenery spectacular, but also the ride was one of those rocky narrow in places, no shoulder drop off kind. Then the bridge was out so Terry drove across the stream with me screaming “Terry I don’t think we should be going this way. Terry I don’t like crossing this water, it is too fast it is to deep.” Russ is hanging on! The towering waterfall right beside us feeds this rushing stream. We made it! There were so many waterfalls among the lush green mountains that we kept commenting on how “Hawaii like” this was. At one point we could see 6 waterfalls by standing in just one location. Some are fine ribbons of water, others are huge masses of water cascading down over several vertical levels and turning corners mid way. Ahhhhh is all we could say and cameras can’t capture it all. I saw what looked to me like a weasel run across the road. It may have been a marmot.

We had a fine dinner at The Pipeline Club that is reportedly the place where the Captain of the Exxon Valdez got inebriated. You know the rest of that story. We drank water and diet Coke.

We headed out of town after dinner to do more sight seeing. We were held up by traffic as the big road equipment, making up for lost work days in the rain and was working well into the evening with new pavement (but not on our side) We took the road out toward the Pipeline Terminal and passed stands of dead trees where we spotted an eagle. Then we headed toward Solomon Gulch Fish Hatchery that is closed because it is so late in season. There are several creeks here fed by waterfalls and the sights we were about to see were none I could have ever imagined. You know that after the salmon spawn they end their life cycle. Well we saw thousands and thousands of them swimming up stream and thousands more that had already met their death along the streambeds. It looked like a carpet of salmon. I’m glad I cannot send you the aroma. It was ripe. The seagulls enjoyed it however as did the bears. YES bears. We finally saw a couple of smallish bears catching fish in this stream. We watched for a good bit of time and saw them get a fish take it up the hillside and drop it. The fish rolled back down the hill; so back into the water they went to catch another. Sometimes when they caught a fish they would stand up on their hind legs as if to say, “Look at me” and then they would run off up stream out of our view. I’d seen this in videos but today was the real deal. They were close enough to see by watching from roadside but with binoculars I thought they were headed right for me. Oh for a tripod!

Terry’s package has still not arrived and he is mad at UPS. We are leaving on Saturday (unless package is not here)

Statistics: Motorhome Miles Driven: 0
Wildlife sightings: 1 marmot, 1 eagle, 2 bears, little birds, 1 sea otter, thousands of salmon
Temps: High 56 Low 46 0.03 inches of rain
Camping Costs: $27 Sea Otter Campground site 40/41 on the harbor entry

August 18, 2006 Day 87 Rainy Valdez

Today it rained all day and I did not go out of motorhome except to have soup at Russ.’ See Terry’s T-shirt from a couple of days ago!

Motorhome Miles Driven: 0
Wildlife sightings: Sea Otter, seagulls
Temps: High 52 Low 49 0.85
Camping Costs: $27 water/elec Sea Otter Campground Waterfront site 40

August 19, 2006 Day 88 Valdez

See yesterday’s message! Terry’s t-shirt on the Alaska weather forecast continues to ring true for us. We had planned to drive the 120 miles of dirt/gravel road to Kennicott mine but since it is still pouring rain and has been for umpty-ump days, we opted to sleep in instead. I am growing webfeet and losing my tan! I spent the day on the Internet, thanks to Russ’ connection, and fixed a salmon treat tonight that was a 5 on a scale of 10. I don’t really like salmon but my freezer is full of it so we must eat some. We have had almost 4.17 inches of rain so far in Valdez. I’m liking getting caught up on paperwork in the rig. The parade of boats continues to be our entertainment. Terry and Russ went sight seeing after dinner and they saw eagles, bears, and swans as I just sat at home pouting due to poor weather!

Motorhome Miles Driven: 0
Wildlife sightings: seagulls, 3 sea otters out front, eagles, swans, bear, lots of spawned out fish
Temps: High 53 Low 48 1.78 inches of rain
Camping Costs: $27 Sea Otter Campground water/elec., waterfront sites 40 & 41

August 20, 2006 Day 89 Last Day in Valdez

The locals tell us they have never seen anything like it….this many days in a row of hard rain! We are leaving in the morning to go back to Glennallen for an over night then off to the State Fair in Palmer. It is forecast to rain there too. But heck, I don’t have to go to work and deal with “rainy day lunch in the cafeteria." Life is good….and wet.

Motorhome Miles Driven: 0
Wildlife sightings: Seagulls
Temps: High 50 Low 43 2.25 inches of rain (So far in Valdez 6.50 within 9 days)
Camping Costs: $27 water and elec. Sea Otter Campground

Time for a 90 day expense report.

Fuel includes motorhome & auto. Meals includes groceries & restaurants. Lodging is campgrounds. Miscellaneous is everything else...mostly sightseeing/tour fees & souvenirs.

Meals................... 2733.29
Lodging................ 1936.19
Miscellaneous.......... 3746.75

Total.................... $10843.94

$3614.65 a month or $120.48 a day for two people. We Have Not SKIMPED on anything.

Betty is happy because our daily expense has dropped almost $5.00 from last month.

August 21, 2006 Day 90 Valdez to Glennallen

OK Folks it is official…It is winter! We left Valdez this morning under continuing rainy and foggy skies. We noted a new Caravan of Airstream Trailers had pulled into our waterlogged camp and we wished them well. We hooked up several miles out of town, after the construction zone to try to avoid as much black crud sticking to the car as possible. We had traveled this road a week or so ago and today it was a new road! The waterfalls that had been a trickle are now a rushing torrent. The white ribbons of water falls a week ago are now fully white foam and running swiftly down mountains to the running streams that have become rivers. There were places on the road where waterfalls wet the road and still there is more water. The views were spectacular but a camera could not catch them as traffic still travels on this road. The power of this water is unbelievable. It carries fallen trees and spews out along the slit-ridden riverbanks. The River that had been an easy float trip is now a rushing class 4 river with silty water and rapids all along the way. NO WAY am I going on a raft trip now. This is what 7.5 inches of rain will do for you in 9 days. We hardly ever saw the sun in Valdez but the drive through the Thompson Pass today was spectacular. The temperatures dropped to 35 in the pass. All of the surrounding mountains have a new dusting of snow. I call it winter because our drive included sleet on the windshield and we are not going to any ski destination! The same mountains we saw a week ago are now snow covered. The St. Elias Wrangle Range is in her full glory. Recall the second and third highest mountains in North America are here and we saw them clearly today! Mt. Drum was visible and stated; “I AM HERE” to all tourists. The locals are a bit concerned because the snow is all the way to the base of the mountain on August 21, this means the end of the season and it could snow at any time! They lament because they had snow until May this year. The Fireweed is at the end of it's bloom. We saw some sun today and Terry tried to sit in his chair and read but the breezy temps of 40 degrees brought t him inside in a hurry. We are only going to spend the night here in Glennallen and then move on to Palmer where we will make our first stay at an Elks Club Campground. We plan to attend the State Fair. I am much happier tonight to have seen some sun and blue sky today.

Motorhome Miles Driven: 118
Wildlife sightings: several eagles in flight, swans,
Temps: High 48 Low 35 inches of rain 0.75 inches of rain
Camping Costs: $18 full hookups Boardwalk RV Park
GPS: 62.10677,-145.51564

August 22, 2006 Day 91 Palmer, Alaska

We fueled up in Glennallen and headed back toward Palmer. It is amazing how different a road looks when you approach it from the opposite direction. Today was a bit of back tracking to allow us to attend the Palmer State Fair. It was also the first day of school in Alaska, and Election Day, so it was a big day for many. The scenery has considerably more snow than last time through and is still spectacular. When we arrived at Palmer Elks Club and went into pay, we were told,”Come back when the bartender is in.” This is our first stay at an Elks Club and the place is beautiful. We drove around Palmer and Wasilla. The Visitor Center offered a nice yet small museum and gardens of rather healthy looking vegetables. We were directed to the Colony House Museum that was the highlight of my day. This 1935 to 1945 circa building was an original. The lady who grew up in it gave us the details. During the Depression Roosevelt selected 203 families from Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota to come to Alaska to begin farming. Each was given 40 acres, a house, a barn, a chicken coop, a horse and a cow and a few chickens. They were given $250 from either Sears or Montgomery Ward to buy furniture. They were also given a $3500 mortgage with payments to begin in 5 years. She showed us the house, which was like déjà vu for me. The linoleum was like my grandparents, the toys like mine as a kid. Do you remember shoe skates? Did you play monopoly? They now call these antiques! Palmer has the distinction of being one of the few Alaskan communities settled entirely based on agriculture. Most farmers had cattle, hay and vegetables. Every local in town is talking about the weather. One lady said that in her 31 years in Alaska, she has not seen so much rain. Heck it is not foggy here in Palmer so we think it is an improvement! We tour Hatcher Pass tomorrow.

Motorhome Miles Driven: 145 Diesel fuel per gallon $3.24
Wildlife sightings: Chipmunk, eagle in tree.
Temps: High 49 Low 39 0.66 inches of rain
Camping Costs: $12 per night Palmer Elks Club, 30 amps electric (Our first Elks Club Stay)
GPS: 61.60813, -149.29153

August 23, 2006 Day 92 Palmer, Alaska

I was born August 23, 1948, making today my birthday! Today was a beautiful day with blue skies and NO RAIN. It has been so long since we had a clear day that I did not quite know what to do. We took a drive up Hatcher Pass and enjoyed the rushing Suista River, mountain vistas and the Independence Mine. The hillsides are green and lush and while there are a few waterfalls trickling down the hills, they do not compare with those in Valdez. We noted arctic ground squirrels and hoary marmots as the critters of the day! We enjoyed the restored areas of the Independence Mine. It produced over $5 million dollars worth of gold in l940’s. The generator took 1000 galloons of diesel fuel daily to run the project, but it only cost 15 cents per gallon then! This pass had been closed for several days due to flooding but we are glad it was opened today, as it is so beautiful. I bought a core sample from the hills of the mine for myself as a birthday gift. Maybe it will have some gold in it!

Because it was my birthday, I got to pick the restaurant. I’ve become a fan of Thai food and locals recommended the one we attended. I order what Russ tells me. YUM. Tomorrow is the Palmer State Fair!

Motorhome Miles Driven: 0
Wildlife sightings: squirrel, marmot, birds magpie's
Temps: High 64 Low 41 0 inches of rain whoooohoooo
Camping Costs: $12 elec. Elks Club Palmer

August 24, 2006 Day 93 Palmer, Alaska State Fair Opening!

Today was THE highlight of the sights Terry wished to visit while in Alaska. We attended the opening day of the Alaska State Fair in Palmer. This was the 70th year of this fair and they expect 300,000 people to attend, with 400 vendors displaying their wares. The large vegetable displays were the most impressive to me. This fair has produced at least nine awards in Guinness Book of Worlds Record right here in Alaska. I heard the wife of a world record holder cabbage grower speak about these vegetables. This has been a good year for vegetable weights with all of the rain. When you enter a contest under Guinness standards there are very specific harvesting guidelines and the biggest cabbages won’t be harvested for at least a week. We are not going to wait around. The vegetables are grown from very specific stock. She gave the analogy, you would not expect a Shetland Pony to grow as big as a Clydesdale just as each cabbage must have it’s own genetic excellence from which to start! The regular home gardener is not going to get one of these big boys! They all impressed the heck out of me! Terry ate his way through the Fair; note photos! My favorite was the lumberjack show. These hardy young men had their own fan club shouting and cheering! They are in very good shape.

The final highlight of the day was dinner at the Elks Club. We met a couple who are well into their 70’s, are full timing and are on second time around relationships both having lost spouses. They met in Quartzsite at a single s gathering! This is their 4th trip to Alaska and he is a former Exalted Ruler at an Elks. We exchanged stories and had many laughs about our RV travels. We slowly head toward lower 48 tomorrow with next stop back in Glennallen.

Motorhome Miles Driven: 0 Car fuel, $2.88 per gallon
Wildlife sightings: Several Fair animals
Temps: High 60 Low 49 0.23 inches of rain
Camping Costs: $12 Palmer Elks Club Water only, beautiful setting

August 25, 2006 Day 94 Summit Lake (just South before Delta Junction) rest stop

We left Palmer this morning and headed back across the Glenn Highway. We traveled this highway only 4 days ago and already fall colors have set in. Weeds along the road that were greenish have now turned a reddish color. Trees are showing yellow and gold colors. Since this was our third trip along this stretch of highway I thought I had ”been there and done that” …..But wait! Off in the distance in a beautiful pond I spot a moose. As luck would have it, there was space to pull over so Terry could run out and get her picture! (OK Carl, now I believe you, there are moose in Alaska!) What a thrill. Then, out of no where a pair of beautiful white swans flew in perfect unison right across our windshield and off to the distance. I was mesmerized and unable to pickup the camera! We traveled on and like rental horses wanting to get back to the barn, had a longer day than we normally drive. Russ’ calculations estimate at least another 1927 miles until he departs westward toward Iowa via the 2 Canadian Provinces he does not have on his map. Then we will head south to the lower 48. Alaska is very far away from the Continental USA!

Motorhome Miles Driven: 220
Wildlife sightings: 2 wild swans, 1 moose
Temps: High 49 Low 42 inches of rain 0.57
Camping Costs: $0
GPS: 63.08779, -145.50125

August 26, 2006 Day 95 Richardson Highway To Delta Junction, Then past Tok

Today was payback for all of our days of rain. It was beautiful and the views were absolutely breath taking! We must have stopped at every scenic viewpoint and said WOW at the freshly fallen snow on mountaintops well within our view today. Along a tree-lined section I spotted a Moose but when she heard us slow up to get her photo she ran back into the woods. Over the next bend or so Russ comes on CB shouting, ”Moose in pond on right! Moose in pond on right! “ Now Russ is usually pretty low key so this was big. And yes there was a big moose in the pond on the right. We were able to slow up, stop and I tried to get her photo out the side window but got a bit of window reflection. She wanted to swim away from us. Moose in the wild are very shy. I am so happy to have seen 2 moose today. We traveled on stopping at some pretty spectacular scenes of the Pipeline as it crossed under streams and down steep hillsides. I got some good shots of the heat fins that keep the buried pipeline from thawing the ground. The snow covered mountain are what I had pictured Alaska might look like and it does! We traveled through Delta Junction where Russ took his motorhome through a coffee Kiosk! We stopped in Tok and had lunch, bought a few groceries and got fuel. The most important thing I did today was to buy an Alaskan souvenir. I saw this soapstone carving of a fish on June 19 when we came through here on our way into Alaska. It was too early in the trip to make a big purchase as I thought I might see something I wanted more. Here we are on August 26 and I still remembered the fish and it was still there. It did not go on sale however so we just bought it. We drove out of town toward the Canadian border and we found a lovely boon docking setting beside the river high on a bluff with views of mountain for miles. Russ could not get a signal for the Formula One race so he moved down the road. There are lots of turnouts along this road. We will meet up in Haines Junction tomorrow night. Life is so good!

Motorhome Miles Driven: 227 Diesel fuel $2.99 per gallon
Wildlife sightings: 2 BIG Moose
Temps: High 67 Low 49 0.0 inches of rain
Camping Costs: $0
GPS: 63.05505, -141.88419

August 27, 2006 Day 96 Haines Junction, Yukon Canada

We stopped for the day at a lovely rest stop about 15 miles before Haines Junction which is in Canada. We met up with Russ mid day who was trying to nap along a turnout, but we came along and woke him up! Today we had it all! This is what I expected all of Alaska driving to be like but thankfully today was the worst. It was Terry’s least favorite day of driving! We had rain, mud, and whoop de doos, dust, potholes, frost heaves and a 6-mile construction delay. Signs said EXTREME DUST AREA AHEAD, we laughed as it was raining and we had mud. Usually when it rains, you have no bugs but it cleared enough of the day to have bugs smash against our windshield and front. Or speed ranges from 5 mph to about 40. Terry is whining all along the way about how dirty the rig and car are becoming! From the perspective of the passenger, who does not do blue jobs… was a lovely day. Without a doubt, fall is in the air! The smell of my crock-pot cooking a pot roast while traveling down the road was wonderful! I saw a pair of swans swimming in one of the many beautiful ponds and lakes along the road. I saw a Great Gray Owl, a fox or something like a fox (maybe a coyote) at the lunch rest stop. We saw Kluane Lake the largest in Yukon and it was beautiful. I told Terry it looked like Lake Mead. He said too many trees. I told him it looked like Tahoe he said not enough trees. We decided it looked just like Lake Kluane in the Yukon. Yes we passed through the border and customs back into Canada today. We waited only 10 minutes for the 4 RV rigs in front of us to pass by the border. Russ was a bit earlier and he had a ½ hour wait for traffic. There was very little traffic on the road today as we think most of the tourists have already headed home. Not us. We had Russ over for dinner and watched the rainbow settle over the golden trees just outside our view! Terry used Skype to get Russ’ Direct TV back up and running by using their automated service. (Thanks Ned for the idea.) Technology is our friend.

Motorhome Miles Driven: 235
Wildlife sightings: 2 swans, 1 gray owl, 1 fox?
Temps: High 55 Low 44 0.15 inches of rain
Camping Costs: $0 My favorite kind!
GPS: 60.85480, -137.79425

August 28, 2006 Day 97 Haines, Alaska

Today was beautiful. The only traffic we encountered was the Caravan of about 20 Airstream Trailers going the opposite way from us. We had seen them earlier in Valdez. The road was smooth as glass compared to yesterday. The scenery was filled with snow capped mountain and glaciers. I kept saying “Glacier at 9 o’clock and Terry would say and one at 2 o’clock and one at 11 and one at 3. Heck the whole drive was filled with glaciers. It was misting a bit so rain on windshield prevented good photos so I hung out the back motorhome window. The wind in my face was refreshing but the pictures were not so spectacular. No one can say I did not try. The deciduous trees are a very pretty golden color and the weeds along road a reddish color. We slipped through US border back into USA with a couple of questions and were relieved to have miles and not kilometers as markers once again! We drove through the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve and did not stop, as we will take a raft trip back on the river to see the eagles nesting. Coming down the mountain into the valley this little fishing village looks so quaint and inviting. It is a small town with a colorful boat harbor, neat little shops and lots of beauty surrounding it. Russ found us the same RV Park he visited 4 years ago. It is on the waterfront and we can watch cruise ships off in the distance and seal life and eagles in front. It is another fantastic view sight. We quickly made reservations for the Alaskan Marine Highway (Ferry) on Friday to Skagway. This ride will save us 350 miles of driving and with the saved costs in fuel only ends up costing us $69. Plus we get the experience of the ferry ride! We took an early evening ride out to the lake and watched a BIG bear eat several freshly caught salmon. I don’t care how many times I see it; it will always be a thrill to watch wild animals. Further down the road we saw a lovely blue heron preening his feathers near the fish counting station. Upon our return to the RV Park, the camp host invited us to a fire out by the water’s edge but we declined, as 51 degrees is just still too cool for me to “sit out.” Russ however did join the fireside group! They said it is usually not this nice. Maybe our luck on weather has changed! This is going to be another one of my favorite cities!

Motorhome Miles Driven: 159
Wildlife sightings: lots of ground chipmunks, 4 swans, 1 blue heron, 1 bear, 1 eagle
Temps: High 61 Low 41 0 inches of rain (trace while driving)
Camping Costs: $22 full hook ups, with cable, waterfront Ocean View RV Park
GPS: 59.23544,-13544157

August 29, 2006 Day 98 Haines, Alaska

Today was summer! We had a warm, beautifully sunny day and every local said how lucky we were to have such a day! Given a tip by our waitress at last night’s meal we took the Chilkat River Raft trip today. It was sunny and warm and the views to die for. We have been traveling along in motorhome for miles and watching these Glacial fed rivers. Today we experienced them first hand. They stay 38 degrees and I hoped we would not fall out of the raft. We drove 26 miles to the Chilkat Eagle Preserve, had lunch and boarded our raft. We floated down river in the silt filled Chilkat River and within 3 minutes of our trip had a “flat tire.” The valve on our raft blew out and the folks on the other side of us knew and they were sinking into the water. We pulled over in very swift water and our guide John made a repair using some dried up silicone. The Glacier Rivers are designated as skinny (shallow) and phat (deeper). The river today was both skinny (shallow) and phat (deeper) and we were hung up in the skinny river parts several times. Our guide told us about the Chilkat Eagle Preserve and explained that it is all about the fish. The Eagles stay here because they have fish until December. This section of the river has the distinction of being one of the few rivers that have all five types of salmon and they will be here until December. We saw 5 or 6 very large eagles today sitting on shores in far reaches of our camera views. The river is so silt filled that eagles can’t see salmon until they happen to breach themselves on a sandbar. CP was our guide and he told us about the 5 kinds of salmon and their second name. The five kinds of salmon can be counted on our hand. The thumb is the chum, the forefinger is the sockeye, the middle finger is the King, the ring finger is the Coho and the little finger is the pink salmon. The “other ” names are the dogfish, the reds, the Chinooks, and silvers and the humphys . The shallow fast moving rivers are not at all transparent and we could not see one thing below the surface until we felt the rock scraping the bottom of our raft. It was a trip. The folks on board were all from a Celebrity Cruise and we felt fortunate to have even more time to spend in this wonderful city. Tonight the hosts of our RV Park held a potluck and served salmon. We had a wonderful dinner and met interesting people who have been Alaska travelers almost as long as us. Tomorrow we sleep in.

Motorhome Miles Driven: 0
Wildlife sightings: 5 eagles
Temps: High 64 Low 48 000 inches of rain
Camping Costs: $22 full hook ups, cable and a park sponsored Salmon bake

August 30, 2006 Day 99 Haines, Alaska

Even though a cloud cover came in, we enjoyed a lazy day in Haines. A huge Holland America Cruise ship came into port today and we could see her from our front window. Chores happened. Yes even on a trip one needs to allocate days for laundry, window washing and vacuuming. I did a walking tour of the shops in town and saw a few lovely galleries. Russ suggested the dinner place and after dinner Terry wanted to return to motorhome so Russ and I went bear hunting. I take all photos you see in today’s pics. I was so thrilled to use this camera. Even if you don’t get a good picture you get to use the camera as a telescope to get up close and personal. We saw a home along the way decorated with my favorite Inushuk figures and an old abandoned home in their neat setting. Russ drove us out to Chilkat Lake, the scene of our last bear sighting, and once again we were pleased with nature’s splendor. This time we saw the 3 bears. We saw a mama, a papa and a baby but I could not get them all on digital. It was a photo frenzy. Those of you, who know me, know I am a rule follower. At one point there were many tourists taking pics along the road and it looked like the bear wanted to cross the street. There is a uniformed ”Fish and Game Man” warning tourists of danger and there basically (I think) to protect the bears. All I saw were the bushes along the way and could not get a shot, so I opened the car door and stood up on the car floor with my other foot on the armrest of Russ’ car door. From here I could get a wonderful vantage point of the bears. (Light was low so shots are blurry) Now I do hear the Fish and Game Warden tell Russ to move the car but bear frenzy was in effect and I continued to shoot pictures! No wonder people get eaten by bears, they are so fascinating! The bear I did get was fishing in water, and then he caught the fish and ate it. We will go back tomorrow in better light. I love Alaska. You must come here!

Motorhome Miles Driven: 0
Wildlife sightings: 6 eagles, 3 bears, 1 blue heron
Temps: High 59 Low 52 trace of rain
Camping Costs: $22 Full hook ups including cable Oceanside RV Park

August 31, 2006 Day 100 Haines, Alaska

We awoke this morning to the Alaska we have come to love. It was cloudy and raining! I visited the Sheldon Museum and had a haircut. Russ made a big investment in Alaskan art but that is his story! Terry and I toured the Chilkat State Park and wandered into a neat little art gallery. I now own a piece of stained glass art from a Haines artist! We visited the Dalton City area of town, which was the scene of the movie “White Fang.” We toured Fort Seward Area and finished visiting all art galleries in town. We leave tomorrow via the ferry and I could have spent a few more days here. We missed several tourist things in town. Their schedule has slowed down and only certain hours are available. Today was DAY 100 of our trip. We celebrated with a Thai lunch and left overs for dinner.

Motorhome Miles Driven: 0
Wildlife sightings: 0
Temps: High 55 Low 51 0.62 inches of rain
Camping Costs:$ 22 full hook ups with cable, Ocean view RV park

September 1, 2006 Day 101 Skagway

Sadly, we left Haines, which has been one of my favorite stops. We traveled to get fuel and then meandered down the road 6 miles to the Marine Ferry Terminal. We got our lane assignments and waited for directions to move on. This was very organized and considerably better than the ferry loading in Mexico! The tour book says this is one of the deepest and most beautiful fjords in North America. We had so much fog and rain you could not have seen the view so I will take the books’ word! Russ was little PO’d because he had paid extra to keep his toad attached and upon boarding, they required him to detach. Fortunately a ferry terminal employee was able to drive his car aboard. The one-hour ride was uneventful and even a bit boring! Terry had to back off the ferry, which was no big deal. He radioed me when he was off and drove away on his own to find the RV Park. I was stuck in the rear of the ship and was among the last off. When I arrived at the RV Park, he had already checked in and parked. I took Russ back to get his car and we celebrated with happy hour and Russ’ bottle of Chateau Trimoulet or Saint-Emilion Grand Cru from France. This was purchase at a delightful little wine shop in Haines, Alaska. Tomorrow we tour Skagway.

Motorhome Miles Driven: 6 Motorhome ferried: 15 miles Diesel $3.58
Wildlife sightings: eagles, seagulls
Temps: High 53 Low 50 0.62 inches of rain
Camping Costs: $ 30 Pullen Creek RV Park Water/elec.
GPS: 59.45049,-135.31708

September 1, 2006 Day 101 Skagway

Sadly, we left Haines, which has been one of my favorite stops. We traveled to get fuel and then meandered down the road 6 miles to the Marine Ferry Terminal. We got our lane assignments and waited for directions to move on. This was very organized and considerably better than the ferry loading in Mexico! The tour book says this is one of the deepest and most beautiful fjords in North America. We had so much fog and rain you could not have seen the view so I will take the books’ word! Russ was little PO’d because he had paid extra to keep his toad attached and upon boarding, they required him to detach. Fortunately a ferry terminal employee was able to drive his car aboard. The one-hour ride was uneventful and even a bit boring! Terry had to back off the ferry, which was no big deal. He radioed me when he was off and drove away on his own to find the RV Park. I was stuck in the rear of the ship and was among the last off. When I arrived at the RV Park, he had already checked in and parked. I took Russ back to get his car and we celebrated with happy hour and Russ’ bottle of Chateau Trimoulet or Saint-Emilion Grand Cru from France. This was purchase at a delightful little wine shop in Haines, Alaska. Tomorrow we tour Skagway.

Motorhome Miles Driven: 6 Motorhome ferried: 15 miles Diesel $3.58
Wildlife sightings: eagles, seagulls
Temps: High 53 Low 50 0.62 inches of rain
Camping Costs: $ 30 Pullen Creek RV Park Water/elec.
GPS: 59.45049,-135.31708

September 2, 2006 Day 102 Skagway

(Posted a day late due to no internet connection in Skagway)

The weather cleared today after a night of really hard rain. Terry and I took The Skagway Alaska Streetcar Tour this morning. We learned more about the colorful history of Skagway as it was founded when the gold rush hit. And we heard some really “bad” jokes that left us laughing and laughing. Tour guides are very clever and gave us our money’s worth!

We toured the town shops and I now own some Alaska gold in the form of a 14-karat gold whale tail. In the afternoon we stopped by the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park and were given a walking tour of the town by a Park Ranger. He pointed out the three distinct gold rushes of Skagway.

1. The stampeders who rushed through the city on their way to the Klondike in 1898. It was interesting to me to hear the gold rush stories from this end of the journey as we had heard so much about the gold rush in our travels along the Yukon River where the actual gold was discovered. This brought the era to a full circle.

2. The arrival of thousands of GI’s in 1942 to build Alaskan Highway. The GI’s mostly came through and did not stay but Skagway grew by the thousands over this yearlong period, and then sat idle once more for years.

3.The presence of tourists since 1988 with big cruise ships bringing almost a hundred thousand passengers a summer to Skagway. We certainly left a bit on gold in the pockets of the Skagway merchants and vendors!

He summarized we all find riches when we come to Alaska in its land and the beauty!

And as a topper to the day, we attended the Days of 98 Show that is a vaudeville show depicting the days of Soapy Smith. Robert Service poetry was read and dancing girls danced and banjoes hummed. We hand clapped our way into the evening and at nine o’clock were driving home on dark and empty streets. The one cruise ship in port sailed at 7 so the town was a ghost town. Tourist season is winding down and all the t- shirts are on sale. It is a good time to be here!

Motorhome Miles Driven: 0
Wildlife sightings: 0
Temps: High 58 Low 48 0.01 inches of rain
Camping Costs: $30 Pullen Creek RV Park Overlooks docked cruise ships Water/elec

September 3, 2006 Day 103 A Rest Stop South of Teslin, British Columbia

As we had only a 2-day stay in Skagway we needed to get in some early sight seeing before we left. We left the RV Park at 8:20 and noticed 2 Big Cruise ships had come in during the night and one small one. Russ drove us out to Dyea (Pronounced die ee), which was one of the two original towns settled so quickly during the gold rush era. It is now only a ruin but a very interesting drive. It is a narrow, winding and gravel road for about 7 miles. We saw bald eagles out on gravel bars along the river and hoped to see bears but none showed up. We did see lots of moss, ferns, mushrooms, toadstools and water plants. Russ identified the colorful ones as poisonous. Yep, this is a rain forest! Our final stop in Skagway was to the Alaskan T-shirt shop where we made them even richer! The guys laughed because their Alaskan weather t-shirt was on sale for only 7 dollars. They paid much more! The streets were bustling with cruise ship tourists so we got right out of town about noon. I could have shopped for days so it was a good thing to get going


It was a day of international travel. We crossed back into Canada with only questions about whether or not we have firearms and how much booze. We are back in Pacific Time zone now as we lost an hour. It is a curious thing that once we cross the border, the scenery changed! We were in volcanic type rocks with trees and excellent fall color. Beautiful lakes and rivers dotted the roadsides. We took the Teslin Cutoff and did not return to Whitehorse, so much of the road was new territory for us as we head north to go south. The trees were orange and red and yellow and we had no place to pull over for a picture. We crossed from the Yukon onto British Columbia several times today. Then I spotted a bear along the road eating berries but with the roar of diesel engines pulling up he does not stick around long. We had no destination in mind but we recalled a lovely spot we boon docked on the way and head for it. However there was a nice wide pull out about 80 miles before that and the guys decided they had driven enough for today. Russ can get his Internet signal and we are hungry for an Internet fix. We have been two days with out it! Russ announces on CB that we are having a colorful sunset. The pink sky reflects on the lake beside us and pink inched below the clouds. Yes it was pretty. It is getting so dark now that we may have a chance at seeing Northern Lights, but first we need to have sky clear enough to see stars. We watch weather forecasts hoping for clear weather as we head to Stewart and onto Hyder for some bear viewing.

Motorhome Miles Driven: 190
Wildlife sightings: 2 eagles, 2 mountain sheep, 1 bear, chipmunks, and a couple ground squirrels
Temps: High 60 Low 48 0.01 inches of rain
Camping Costs: FREE Rest stop outside Teslin.
GPS: 59.9548, -132.0230

September 4, 2006 Day 104 Road side stop near Dease Lake, British Columbia

Today was a day of firsts in a long time. It was the first time I needed my sunglasses, it was the first time we needed the sunshades down while driving, and it was the first day in a long time Terry wore his sandals. It was warm! Finally. The trees look like something out of a fall calendar and are reds, orange and yellows and almost neon in color. Even the ground cover has turned red! Much of the road taken today from Telsin to the junction of the Cassiar highway we had already traveled on our way in to Alaska. What a difference 2 ½ months can make. It was like going from a black and white movie to a color movie! We had lunch right beside Swan Lake, where I spotted a loon. While driving onward, I spotted a little black bear who just walked across the road in front of us. I snapped up the camera but he was gone. That was the good news.

The bad news came in two areas. The price of fuel at the Junction of the Alaska Highway and the Cassiar Highway was $4.61 a gallon when converting liters to gallons. They gave us even money and no exchange benefit! Sadly it is the only fuel available as several stations are closed for the season. So we paid it! What are you going to do? There is very little traffic and many tourist shops and restaurants are closed up even boarded up for the winter! We passed through Jade City which is really nothing more than two business along the road who sell jade. Did you know 75% of the worlds jade is mined right here in British Columbia? The rest is mined in Taiwan or New Zealand. Ok now I own some jade. I bought an art piece for the niche in my new home. Russ also got a souvenir. But I ramble.

The second piece of bad news of the day was the condition of the road along this section of the Cassiar Highway. While it is mostly paved, there are pot holes and whoop de doos to look out for. The worst was a section that is gravel and the only good thing was that it was not raining or we would have been filthy. It was wash boarded and pot holed and narrow and soft shoulder and even though it had nice scenery my driver was not interested in it as he was watching the road. We took it very slowly and were very careful when opening doors and cupboard when we parked as everything got a real good shaking. Thankfully it was only 16 miles but it seemed forever.

“They say” the road tomorrow will be better. We were rewarded with a beautiful roadside pull out where we will stay overnight right. It is beside a rushing river and we can hear the water fall over the rocks and it will put us to sleep tonight. It was warm enough for one more of the 2 times we can recall sitting outside for a happy hour. There were bugs, but not the kind that bite so we just swatted them away and enjoyed the sunshine! It is only 250 miles to Stewart where we will park and then drive to Hyder to see bears. (We hope.)

Motorhome Miles Driven: 268
Wildlife sightings: 1 loon, 1 swan , 1 bear
Temps: High 72 Low 44 0.02 inches of rain
Camping Costs: Free at km marker 481.3 Dalby Creek. We are right on rushing river!
GPS: 58.3779, -129.9222

September 5, 2006 Day 105 Stewart, Canada and Hyder, Alaksa

I guess I spoke too early yesterday as we awoke to rain today. We left early (for us.) We drove this section of the Cassiar Highway and hit the 17-mile gravel section full of potholes and rain. Car is trashed, as is motorhome! The last section of the road did have nice pavement and lines even! By the time we arrived in Stewart, it was sunny. We stopped to view Bear Glacier right along the road. We got parked and Russ decided to take advantage of the bit of sun we were having and wanted to take a ride to Hyder, which is in Alaska. I drove this short 5-mile drive to Fish Creek viewing area where they have built a platform along the stream. You can watch the salmon spawn and die. It smelled worse than it does when you visit in mid August according to Russ. I had hoped to see some bear come to feed, but none appeared while we were there, however a big grizzly had been there earlier and left his droppings after he ate a few rotten fish. . We moved on up the mountain to view the Salmon Glacier that is the 5th largest glacier in Canada and the largest accessible by road. This was one of the most interesting glaciers I have viewed because we drove up the mountain edge above the glacier so we could see down on it. It is long and the sun was right to show the crevasses and the length of it. One could also the valley this glacier has carved. They are so powerful! On the way down the hill the gravel streambeds were home for at least 5 eagles. We stopped again to see if we could see any bears and none appeared however Mike Scott a bear expert was giving a talk on bears so we learned a few facts. A bear’s diet is 85% vegetarian. They eat right up until the time they go into hibernation. Alaska has 3 bears, the polar bear, the brown (grizzly) bear and the black bear. I am so fascinated by bears that Russ and I will return to the viewing station at 7 am. No kidding. I am going to get up early to see a bear! Terry is going to sleep in. I have to get to bed early so I can get up and go bear viewing!

Motorhome Miles Driven: 235
Wildlife sightings: chipmunk. 2 hoary marmots, 5 bald eagles, seagulls and hundreds of spawning salmon
Temps: High 60 Low 42 .03 inches of rain
Camping Costs: $20 full hook ups Bear River RV Park
GPS: 55.9515, -129.9790

September 5, 2006 Day 105 Stewart, Canada and Hyder, Alaksa

I have to get to bed early so I can get up and go bear viewing!

September 6, 2006 Day 106 Stewart/Hyder

Russ and I went out to shoot bear early in the morning. We beat the crowds at Fish Creek in Hyder and within an hour spotted a black bear on the hillside eating his breakfast of a freshly caught salmon. On the drive home from Fish Creek we spotted over 8 eagles in the gravel riverbeds. They too were feeding on the salmon. The little villages of Stewart and Hyder are very rustic country type villages. They have very limited groceries and most of the tourist shops are now closed for the season. The scenery above each community is phenomenal however. Hyder sits right on the Pacific Ocean and majestic coastal ranges that border these communities form the 90-mile Portland Canal. Glaciers hang above the cities and green mountains create a snug little place for these villages. Mining and logging activities are the base of the local economy. I skipped the Toaster Museum because it was closed; maybe next time. We leave in morning to head toward Prince George, the final destination of our caravan with Russ.

Motorhome Miles Driven: 0
Wildlife sightings: 1 black bear, salmon, eagles, seagulls
Temps: High 69 Low 45 0 inches of rain
Camping Costs: $20 Bear River RV Park, full hu with wifi and cable

September 7, 2006 Day 107 Houston, British Columbia Turnout

We left Stewart this morning in a light rain, of course.

It is a sad day. All of the things that Russ wanted to show us on our Alaska adventure have been accomplished. We are in travel mode, heading home. We are still a long ways from Yuma, Arizona and Russ is 2200 miles from Des Moines, Iowa. Our roads were good today and the fall colors are still evident yet not as spectacular as a few days ago while we were farther north. We are at a turnout along the Yellowhead Highway. Prince George is the destination for tomorrow and Russ may move on even farther.

Tonight over dinner, we exchanged stories on the highlights of our trip. We are very grateful that Russ’ satellite was able to give us access to the Internet so that these journals could be forwarded to you. I am not sure when we will have a satellite signal from our Direcway and until then I may have to delay our final journey descriptions. When I am back on line I will post the remaining details of our trip to the USA Border. We plan to cross in Lynden, Washington. I will also give you highlights and reflections of this trip of a lifetime!

Motorhome Miles Driven: 264 $3.57 per gallon US, for Diesel
Wildlife sightings: eagle in flight over a river
Temps: High 61 Low 48 0.01 inches of rain
Camping Costs: Free
GPS: 54.4695, -126.2085

September 8, 2006 Day 108 105 miles South of Prince George, BC, CANADA

Today was a Farewell Day. We awoke and donned our matching Alaskan Sweatshirt Souvenirs. Russ set up the tripod and snapped our group picture as a memento of our last day together on this trip. Russ and Terry chattered on the CB the next 170 miles. We stopped at a beautiful rest area and had lunch outside. It was the warmest day we have seen in months! It was way too hot for the sweatshirts but it was nice enough to eat lunch outside and do our hugs and handshakes and “see ya laters!” In Prince George we turned to head south and Russ continued east toward Jasper. It was a very sad moment. We have been traveling together just short of 4 months. Russ has been an outstanding tour guide and an excellent travel companion. We will miss him but have already planned our next adventure together.

Terry and I continued south on very good roads and passed through some very pretty cities in British Columbia with many tourist attractions listed in the Milepost, but “ we be toured out.” Now we just want to get home, back to the USA where the signs are listed in miles and not Kilometers and our money is good. We are at a big double-ended turn out for the night. Terry put on his shorts, climbed on the roof and connected us to the Internet and Direct TV. We have not had a signal since Banff and we love being back in touch with the world. My final journal entry will be tomorrow as we anticipate crossing the border and I want to provide you with the details of coming back into USA.

Motorhome Miles Driven: 270
Wildlife sightings: Birds Temps: High 84 Low 49 0 inches of rain
Camping Costs: Free
GPS: 52.563, -122.464

September 9, 2006 Day 109 385 miles N of Drumheller

Did not get internet dish to pass cross-pol but did get F-1 race qualifying this morning. Still smoke haze over the Rockies from fires to the west.

As I left Jasper nat park, the speed limit was 50 mph with warning to watch for wildlife crossings. No such luck, only saw 2 deer and that was in the farm country. Was on the same stretch of road in May and saw mt sheep.

At Hinton, the Yellowhead becomes a divided (but not limited access) hywy... boring. Zig-zagged southeast to main road between Edmonton and Calgary, a full limited access freeway... gave me hives. Jumped off it as soon as I could and worked my way to a truck weighing station 10 miles N of Drumheller. I Overnighted here 4 yrs ago after visiting the museum. Got locked on with internet sat so am online tonight.

Mostly forest W of Edmonton. Hay and cattle appear as I headed S. By Red Deer, grain had appeared. Now the horizon is dotted with grain elevators.

Woe, 3rd day of sun and warmth. I hardly know how to act.

Final 109 day expense report.

Fuel includes motorhome & auto.
Meals includes groceries & restaurants.
Lodging is campgrounds.
Miscellaneous is everything else...mostly sightseeing/tour fees & souvenirs.

Meals................... 3169.89
Lodging................ 2163.14
Miscellaneous.......... 4793.17

Total.................... $13764.09
$126.28 a day for two people. We Have Not SKIMPED on anything.

Miles Driven Alaska/Canada

Gmc Envoy................3343