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.............

Thursday, July 12, 2012

1st overnite in Canada - Clinton, BC

2 very long days of driving and we're in Clinton, BC for the night.  Small, clean RV park with a bit of internet.  I had been thinking that Canada would be a good place to live - until I saw some prices.  Gas is something like $4.79 a gallon!  Beer?  $14 for a 6 pack!  And I thought $7.99 was high!!  
The weather is still pretty warm up here.  Cache Creek is known as the Arizona of BC.
Large dish and cluster of dishes near Monse, Wa.  They are part of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory Very Long Baseline Array.  It is 1 of 10 sites spread across the US to allow astronomers to make detailed studies of celestial objects.  Used simultaneously, the 10 sites function as a single antenna 5,000 miles wide.  They can measure image detail of better than a thousandth of a second of arc, which is equivalent to being able to see a football on the surface of the moon. 

 Not a lot of places to pull over for photos, so taking them out the window.....  Landscape keeps changing.  We took the more direct, but less traveled route yesterday and went through some really beautiful country.
Orchard country - lots and lots of fruit stands alongside the road.

Believe it or not, we're going down the steep Hamilton Hill into Merritt, BC.  Very similar to Cabbage Hill East of Pendleton.  I wanted to get a photo of the Hamilton Hill sign, but.....

Well, time to hit the road.  I may not have a chance to post again for a few days as we'll be boondocking.  Y'all take care now!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Rhubarb bounty and Dean's woodworking

 A lot of rhubarb left, so wanted to put up what I could - before it goes tough later in the season.  We have 4 plants that we got from Redmond Greenhouse several years ago.  They always produce well, thanks to Doug's recommendations.  2 different varieties - red and green.  And no, not like the TV show!  LOL

When all finished slicing and dicing, this was the bounty.  10 cups for the freezer, about 6 to make sauce, and 4 more that I used to make 2 loaves of bread.  Yum!!  Frozen things can get over the border - I've heard.
I hope!

With 3 people now living in the house, we sometimes wash clean dishes again.  So, frugal me, I made a sign hoping the guys would pay attention.

BUT - Deans didn't think it was fancy enough, so he took some scroll saw therapy yesterday and made a 'C' and a 'D' with magnets on the back.  Problem solved?  Hopefully!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Garden Update

Peas from the garden!
Went out to pick peas yesterday and had so many I had to fill my pockets, too! Let the shelling commence,

One of my favorite childhood memories is picking and shelling peas with my paternal grandmother.  She had a large garden - at least I thought so at the time, since as a kid, everything seemed huge.  Going back to some of those places as an adult, they weren't so big after all.
After I shelled the peas, I blanched them, drained them well, put them on a cookie sheet to freeze, then into a zip-lok.  Looking forward to some pea and cheese salad like my aunt used to make.  Comfort food!

We're getting ready for the big trip - so much to do.  Looking forward to being on the road so my mind isn't constantly trying to remember all the things that need to be done.  Canada is a foreign country and has a lot of rules and regulations for crossing the border.  The dog food, for instance, must be in an unopened bag.  No fresh veggies or meat (hence freezing the peas...).  Limit of 40 total oz of wine or liquor OR 24 bottles of beer.  Then, crossing the border into Alaska will be another set of rules.  Luckily, Canada has grocery stores.

I'm going to miss seeing my lilies in bloom since they're just starting. 

OK - a bit of weird-ness to end this post.  These moths spent the day in this plant - mating.  All day?