Wednesday, August 15, 2012

On the homeward leg

 NOTE: This is the post I was working on when I lost the connection the other day.  We're parked by a McDonalds in Whitehorse right now and I have some internet.  Headed South on the Cassiar Highway today for some spectacular scenery.

Here are a few of the photos that failed to load the last time I was here.
Our marvelous host, Don Kartevoldt, showing the guys how to properly fillet the catch of the day.   He was a wonderful guide and told great stories, too.
Dean showing off a few of his catch.  This was their best day fishing.
Like I mentioned - the freezer is full of salmon.  Note that there is room for a gallon of ice cream, however.......
After we left Soldotna, we drove to Homer for the day.  Watched them fillet the fish - those pros can do it in no time at all!!  Huge halibut.  But we noticed that the charters for salmon didn’t do as well as the guys did in the Kenai.  I wanted some oysters since I had read that they are supposed to be so good.  Janet had a recommendation of a restaurant, so we went there for dinner.  The only oysters they offered were raw or Rockefeller - I had wanted grilled, but settled for Rockefeller.  6 tiny ones.  Disappointment.  Taste was just ok, rather overwhelmed by the “sauce”.  We’re used to higher prices, but this was something else.  Oh, well, another adult adventure!!
We drove out of town about 20 miles to an overlook to spend the night - hoping for a good big mountain view across the bay.  Fog bank.  Did get a glimpse of the top of one, though.
On our way back to Soldotna we took a detour to Kenai to see the town - very nice!  Well kept and clean.  Then we gassed up at Freddy’s then headed to Seward to take a glacier cruise on a 2 for 1 deal from a coupon book.  Sounded like a good deal till we got to the window and the gal totaled it up.  Not such a good deal after all and no glaciers.  We passed and went to the Aquarium instead which was a much better deal.  Very nice and lots of displays.
On our way to Seward, we stopped at a secret fish viewing place - secret because although it was mentioned it our 5 year old Milepost, it wasn’t marked on the highway or at the pullout.  I walked down the eighth of a mile or so trail - whistling the whole way because bears also like to view fish - to a nice viewing platform over the river where I was totally entranced by the spawning salmon.  Bright red female fish wiggling in the gravel beds to lay their eggs and shooing off other females who want that particular spot.  

The males were showing off by rolling and fighting of the other males for the privilege of fertilizing those eggs.  The preceding commentary is totally my own - since the info board mentioned in my Milepost was missing, I’m only guessing!!  But I stayed for a bit, then went back for Dean, Jim and Janet.  We spent some quality time there.  And, I loved walking through the woods to the creek/river.  That was the best part!!
After the Seward adventure, we headed back - through the 4 miles of road construction, I might add - and over the Turnagain Pass to the road to Portage and Whittier.  We found a nice Forest Service (1/2 price for us old folks.....) campground with a great view of a glacier.  Sooooo blue!!  I wanted to take a photo, but decided to wait until morning when the light might be better - but it wasn’t :<{.  We left early for our trip to Whittier because we wanted to make sure we made it through the tunnel in time to get there for our 1:00 Glacier Cruise reservation.  Turns out, no problem.  We were only a few vehicles back in the line to go through the Whittier tunnel.   The 2 1/2 mile tunnel was built during the WW2 originally to transport military supplies by train from Whittier to the interior because the harbor there does not freeze over.  Even today, most of the goods entering Alaska come through there.
We did get our glacier cruise from Whittier and it was wonderful.  Up close and personal with several of them and got to see them calving.  We went out on a small boat and I'm glad we did because we could move freely around with only about 50 people on board.  Met people from Texas and Australia and had a great time.

Right now, we're in Tok, Alaska getting ready to head back into Canada, so this will likely be the last post for a while.  The trip has been good and we've learned and experienced a lot.  When we get home in a few weeks, I will take the time to further edit photos and post some good commentary about the trip.  It's been a bit difficult since we haven't stayed in the fancy campgrounds with unlimited wifi.  I think the roadside pull-offs have served us quite well - with a much better view.  And I've learned that being hard of hearing has it's rewards.  When I take my hearing aids out at night, I don't hear the traffic!!  It hasn't been that bad, though, because Dean seems to have no problem!
The weather is good right now, and I'm looking forward to being in the interior where it will be warmer and sunnier, I hope.  I sure have faded.  
Looking forward to seeing home in a few weeks.  Till then........

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

From a laundromat in Soldotna.....

Well, we left Anchorage Thursday AM in pouring rain.  Drove out what would be a beautiful route on a non-rainy day, up to Girdwood, around the end of the bay on what is appropriately called the Turnagain Highway and through the mountains to Soldotna where we dumped and filled at Freddy’s and eventually found the home of our wonderful hosts, Grace and Don, who have a cabin and a couple of small lots in an area of part-timers dedicated to fishing the Kenai, and boy, do they know their stuff.  We crowded all 3 motorhomes onto their parking area - 1 small, 1 medium, and 1 larger. 
The first night we were here, several of the guys got together and cooked us dinner - BBQ pork loin, dirty rice, fruit, coconut deep-fried salmon, Wow!!  The following night, Rick cooked 5 (yes, 5....) chickens and gave Janet his special recipe for Greek Pasta Salad.  Another Yum!!  The next evening, I made a Tetrazzini from the left over chicken - yes there was some left over - and Zenna made a big green salad.  And the next night was fresh salmon on the BBQ by Janet and a lot of left overs.  The salmon was silver which, according the the locals, does not freeze well, but it sure was good fresh!!
Monday (Happy Birthday Janet and Happy Anniversary Grace and Don), Jim fished on the gravel bar and limited, Dean and Larry went with Don and they got a bunch more and threw back a bunch.  The freezer is now FULL!!!  And we have a pretty big freezer for a small RV!!

Most of today’s catch is going home to be smoked in brother Larry’s smoker.  We’ll divide the rest when we are ready to part company with the other 2 rigs.

For whatever reason, none of my photos would load today.  So, I'll just finish this by saying we are now headed to Homer, then back here and to Kenai, then Seward, Whittier, and Girdwood.  Hopefully I'll be able to post the photos soon.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

VERY short update

We went up to Talkeetna yesterday on our way from Denali to Anchorage.  Quaint, cute little town with an unexpected overabundance of tourists - from bus and train.  Managed to have a late lunch at a nice brewpub - had something called Matt Porter which was a combination of a stout, a red, and an IPA.  Very nice.  Also, some pretty decent fish and chips.  While strolling through town, I had to take a picture of these guys waiting for the official driver..........

A few more random ramblings:
Drivers here are either in a big hurry - or no hurry at all.  We got behind a guy yesterday pulling a tiny trailer whose top speed was about 30mph.  At one point, we were going 20 and not able to pass on the windy road.  OR, people are in such a hurry that they pass unsafely.  We've seen a lot of big rigs do that - obviously not our boys driving, huh, Jimbo and Gary!!

Previously, when I thought of Alaska, I thought up - as in elevation.  Not true!  Most of the time, we've been below 1000', often around 200'.  I think the highest we've been was the Top of the World Hwy at about 4000'.  And, we certainly thought we would see more wildlife.  Maybe coming up on our trip down to the Kenai.  We're heading to Soldotna tomorrow and will be down there for the next week or more.  Don't know what wifi we'll have, but I do have texting ability - hint, hint......

Well, we're 'camped' in a Home Depot parking lot tonight and I want to thank them for the use of their wifi, but not too speedy, so couldn't upload photos from my big mega-pixel camera.

To be continued..........

Monday, July 30, 2012

More Alaska stuff

To say that I am disappointed that I can't get on more often to update would be an understatement.  I have so much to share, it's frustrating!!  We are in Denali - where it is cloudy, but thankfully not raining.  We spent the day seeing what we could - bus rides and visitor centers.  I haven't downloaded any photos yet, so I will just do some catching up.

Random thoughts and observations:
Alaska has 2 seasons - snow and mosquitos!
Everyone who lives here has a 4 wheeler - and probably a snowmobile, too
So many trees!!  We’ve seen just a few clear cut or logging areas - many of them to clean up the dead trees.  Lots of dead trees.  Beetle kill?  Forests are thick!  
We were finally getting kind of used to the km to miles conversion in Canada, but Janet got confused when in the store one day and saw a small chunk of cheese for $9 and thought ‘oh, it’s just about $5’.  No, our dollar and theirs are close - we just WISH our actual price was a bit over half.  The prices on most things are - well, high!  
LOTS of tourists on the roads everywhere we go.  We were leap-frogging with a car of Japanese for several days.  They seemed to find the good photo ops!  A few days ago, we got behind a rental motorhome with German people - at least we think so.  There was a Germany sign on the back.  In the 100km/65mph area, they were going about 30mph.  There was nothing very interesting where we were following them, so don’t know why they were going so slow.  There are few passing lanes in the area  so we had to wait a while to get around them.  
On the subject of roads, for the most part, they are very good - considering that they are under snow for most of the year. The surface is bumpy and they are doing a lot of repair and chip-sealing.  There was not as much traffic as we got farther north.  The main problem that we encounter is that there are few places to pull over for photos!  
In most places, Canada and Alaska, the roadsides are cleared on either side for up to about 100’.  We’re guessing that it is so drivers can see the animals before they enter the highway?
Animals - so far, we have seen few Moose!  So disappointed.  We HAVE seen Coyote, Wolf, Deer, Black Bear, Grizzly Bear and 2 cubs, Caribou, Stone Sheep, and a Mink.

A few photos to satisfy the Neecer.........

Dean - cleaning off the back of the rig following our trip over the Top of the World 'Highway'.  Muddy and/or rough the whole 108 or whatever miles.  I am not posting the photo, but our traveling companion washed his whole rig.  I'm surprised they allowed us to continue traveling with them.

 Our first - and hopefully only -  problem of the trip.  As we were leaving the campsite at Nome Creek, a boulder became lodged between the dual wheels in back.  We heard a funny clunk clunk and stopped to see what it was.  Dean pounded and pried for quite a while with no luck and finally used the jack to dislodge it.  By boulder, I'm talking big as both my fists together.  The photo is of us parked in the middle of the 'road'.

 Had to get a photo of Dean at the Chicken Post Office.  It is staffed 5 days a week and mail is delivered twice a week via bush plane.                      

We were in Chicken for almost a week and saw a lot of history.  This is the Pedro Dredge and ore buckets which was relocated to Chicken.

The Chicken Saloon is a story all by itself and likely worthy of a whole blog entry of it's own.  The last night we were there, we overnighted in the back parking lot - for free.  We celebrated all the gold that was found!!  LOL.  You have to see the place to believe it.

There are hats and various garments attached to the ceiling and walls as well as business cards.  Here is Dean's.
And here is Dean!  
The 'town' of Chicken
The official end of the Alaska Highway in Delta Junction
Hopefully, this will get you by for a few days and make up for my lack of recent posts.  We should be in civilization for a while now, so maybe you'll see something else soon?  We'll leave here in the morning heading toward Anchorage and then the Kenai.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Onward toward the Yukon!

Our gas tank filler is acting up and when Dean thinks he has it as full as possible, it’s not.  In Dawson Creek, it didn’t get full again, so we had to stop in the middle of nowhere and pay $6.11 a gallon - got just enough to get us to Fort Nelson where it was ‘only’ $5.51 and this time we really must have filled the tank because it was $185.00!  
Stayed overnight Saturday in a nice rest area with running water (therefore flush toilets!)  When we stopped we were the only ones there, but by the time we went to bed, there were cars on either side of us and several other RV’s.  The truck that was idling, in spite of the ‘no idling’ signs, left, thank goodness!
This was the most scenic part of the trip, all in all.  So far.  Lots of vistas of the Northern Rockies and many rivers.  
Our plans to camp at and use Laird Hot Springs were thwarted when Janet spoke to a woman at the visitor center in Fort Nelson.  She was covered in mosquito bites from using the pool there.  And she had used 100% Deet, too.  I’ve gotten a few bites, but nothing bothersome.  
Plan B was to go to an RV park at Muncho Lake.  When we all met up there, we decided  against it because it was $50 a night!!  None of us wanted a shower THAT badly!  The Schaffers, however, needed to access WiFi and there was no where else to do that, so they ended up staying there while The C’s and Dean and I opted for staying ata wildlife viewing area (where all we saw were 3 caribou) next to the lake.  It was a pleasant evening, no mosquitoes, and 3 of us even played a few games of Rumicube!  Since it was still so light out, it was after 10 when we turned in.  Went to sleep pretty quickly.  When I woke up a couple of times during the night, it was dusk-ish, so never did get dark.  

A few nice photos were taken by Jim and I
Today - Monday, I think - we went to Watson Lake and stopped at the Visitor Center (of course...) where the famous sign post forest is located.  It's got to be the very best!  The people were incredibly friendly and helpful.

A few of the more than 71,000 signs.......

Janet bought a board and we put our names on it to add to the 'forest'.

This evening, we are camped in an RV park that is nothing like the advertisement, but we decided to stay anyway.  There IS internet, after all, so I can get caught up!!!  It's the little things, right?  The showers are not working, so they let us into one of the 'motel' rooms to use the shower.  Interesting!  There IS electricity, so we can at least charge up our devices.  No water at the sites, a possibility of a dump, the laundry?  I think I'll wait!  And the noise?  We're in the middle of the Yukon, so the power comes from a generator - noisy!  There is a chopper that has been evidently ferrying workers to somewhere and planes take off and land occasionally from somewhere nearby.  When we arrived, there was a large group of bikers - the motor type and with sag wagon, no less - that were intending on staying.  When they learned that the showers were inconvenient, they decided to mosey on.  Several large motorhomes came in after us, however, and stayed.  Go figure!

More about Barkerville

Going back a few days to the restored mining community of Barkerville.
As we drove up to the parking lot, I must admit that I was a bit skeptical of this adventure.  The lot was crowded with RV's from all over and as we walked to the entrance, I could hear barking dogs.  The sound was coming from a shaded kennel area for animals while their owners were touring the town.  Nice touch!  I am happy, however, that we decided to leave our little girl at home with Tom who is, I am sure, giving her a lot more attention than we could in our long days of driving.  Abbey is getting older and less adaptive to our traveling agenda.  She doesn't really care for riding and is always happy to get out and sniff everything around - not very possible so far on our trip.  Thanks, Tom, for taking good care of her while we're away!!
Back to Barkerville!  

If you know me at all, you know that I love to take pictures of old churches.  This is the quaintAnglican church in Barkerville which is still used for weekly Mass.  I love the light coming through the windows.

In a small house in town

 Guess who this is for!!!  Neecer - it's the library!!!

 Of course, I had to take a picture of Dean in front of the Post Office!!

There are actors all over the town portraying people of 'the day' - and the day could be the 1880's, the 1920's or the 1950's.  In this scene, the woman on the top left was introducing the music of her time with the assistance of the 2 gents on the ground and the children from the observers on the porch with her.

We took the tour of the China town from the gold rush days.  The Chinese laborers lived separately from the rest of the workers, but they were very well thought of for their herbalist talents - as they often are today!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Lots of driving!!!

Will we ever get there?
Seems like we've been doing a lot of driving and I'm having few opportunities to blog.  I don't know how the people who do this daily during trips manage, unless they stay every night in an RV park with internet - which we haven't.  In fact, we haven't been in an RV park since the first night in Canada at Clinton.  
This will be quick as we're in a visitor center in Fort Nelson and people are getting itchy to get on the road again.
Very nice historical stop - had an orange and licorice ice cream cone.  
loved this display at the visitor center in Williams Lake
As of this point, not bothered much by mosquitoes. Nice lake on our way to the historical town of Barkerville.
Chetwynd is, I believe, the chainsaw carving capitol of the world.  There are walking and driving tours all over town.  

Janet and Dean
Well, here we are at the beginning of the official Alaska highway at Dawson Creek.  As you can see, we continue to have good weather.

No more time for verbiage right now, but we're having a great time in spite of having to pay $6.11 a gallon for gas today!!

To be continued.............