JULY 2011

 

Home
Up
DECEMBER 2010
JANUARY 2011
FEBRUARY 2011
MARCH 2011
APRIL 2011
MAY 2011
JUNE 2011
JULY 2011
AUGUST 2011

 

 

Friday, July 1, 2011

Woke up to sunshine. and two cruise ships in port, " Radiance of The Seas" and the "Regatta:"  We put all our flags out this morning; 2 American flags, a Newmar Kountry Klub flag, and  a FMCA flag.  They had been hanging no more than 30 minutes, than a couple walked by and showed us there hang tags.  They were with the Newmar Kountry Klub Caravan.  They came into town yesterday.  They said there were 15 coaches in the caravan.  They also came over the Top of the World Highway and said it was in terrible shape, water was gushing over the road.  They will probably have to close it again for repairs.  We have also heard the road from Tok back to Whitehorse is also in bad, bad shape from the frost heaves.  That means 25 to 30 mph going home if we are lucky.  I'll let you know later how that goes, if we go home that is.  Bob is in no hurry to go home.

 

Anyways.......off we went to the Sea Life Aquarium Center.  No sooner did we get there, than the place seemed to get crowded.  It started to rain so everyone started looking for inside activities.  They had wonderful exhibits on sea lions, harbor seals and Artic birds.  The puffins seem to be quite tame.  They also have a wonderful touch tank full of starfish. There was also the Giant Pacific Octopus named Squirt".  It was a female about 2 to 3 years old.  Don't  ask me how they know, I just read the sign.  One starfish had as many as 24 legs on it, they call it the Sunflower Starfish!  The colors were amazing.  Another tank had sea cucumbers, urchins and numerous other animals.  There was a little girl standing at the tank who was so inquisitive and also very knowledgeable.   It's always a delight to hear children get so excited about learning.  And their little minds just soak it up.  It's so much better than reading about it in a book, sitting in a classroom. (sorry teachers).

 

 

 

The flowers you see are from the flower beds in front of the aquarium, they were so beautiful.  The summers may be short, but the flowers grow fast around here!  Later, back at the RV, I continued my people watching.  The Alaskans don't let anything bother them.  Their summers are so short, they must take advantage of every minute of it.  If it rains, no problem, just put on your rubbers (galoshes) and raincoat and head on out, kids too.  Saw a mom pushing a baby stroller in the rain; they don't use umbrellas, too cumbersome.  The young teenage girls are out in flip-flops and shorts, while I am dressed in a sweatshirt AND jacket.  Alaskans have to be some of the healthiest people on earth, 

Since it was raining, I had to cook the pork chops inside instead of Bob using the grill.  We are too close to our neighbors to put out our awning.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

This morning we awoke to heavy, heavy fog.  We were lucky to see as far as the water.  You certainly couldn't see anything across the bay.  There wasn't much moving out there as far as I could tell.  When the fog finally did lift, you could see all the small (relatively speaking) boats heading out.  The bay is so big, they can really rev those engines up and go for it.  Not like at home when you can hardly move for fear of creating a wake.

The picture to the right shows the boat we went out on for our Fjords tour.

There weren't any cruise ships in town today.  We walked along the waterfront today but I wasn't able to go very far. We did find out that because of where we are camped we catch all the wind.  Closer to the fishing docks is not as windy and is much nicer.

We met a couple  a few doors down from us, Howard and Marlys.  She is into photography and we were able to compare pictures.  She had some wonderful pictures of eagles feeding down in Valdez at Bayside Park.  We have got to remember to go there.  Her husband is the fisherman. The day finally broke clear around 4 pm., which is the time the otter usually makes his afternoon round of the waterfront.

Another man came in with his catch of the day, and was cleaning it down by the water.  He was a big hit with the seagulls and one BIG bald eagle. The bald eagle did not leave until he got a couple of good size helpings!   Got some terrific pictures of him.  It was actually light until after 11 pm here tonight.  That is a real switch.

Sunday, July 3, 2011 

You can feel and see the excitement growing around the campground for this holiday weekend.  All the campgrounds are packed and the arts and crafts and food tents and stalls are set up down town.  There are a ton a kids of all ages walking on the pathway in front of our campsite.  This is the place to people watch this weekend.  There was also another ship in port, the "Vaandam".  Even the weather cooperated today.  The sun has been shining all day.  They are giving airplane and helicopter rides; you can see them flying all over the place.   We spent most of the morning talking with neighbors and friends, about fishing, photography, and travel plans.  Found out Howard and Marlys bring two deep freezers when they come to Alaska to take all their fish home to Fresno, CA.   We walked downtown late this afternoon.  The USAF group band "Top Cover" was playing popular late favorites in front of the Sea Life Center  As I sit here typing this I can see 3 kites flying out over the bay.  What a lovely day it has been today.  Can't wait for the races up Mt. Marathon tomorrow.  The mountain in the picture is Mt. Marathon and there are over two dozen people on it.  Can you spot them??(You can click on a picture to enlarge it)  I am assuming they are practicing for tomorrow.

 

It's hard to believe tomorrow is the 4th of July, and I am bundled up in a tee-shirt, sweatshirt, jacket, socks and long pants!  High of 60 degrees and low of about 48 degrees. 

We SKYPE'd calling home to talk with everyone.  It was so good to see everyone together, and get a peek at Stephanie's baby bump!  Rachel wanted to read us a story, Kylie wanted to bang on the keys, and just overall enjoy seeing and talking to everyone of them before they all scatter again tomorrow.

Monday, July 4, 2011 
Happy Birthday America

Last night the fireworks went off at midnight!  It was like watching when Hank and Sandy start playing around with the bottle rockets early; it's still fairly light out.  We were rather far away (at least further than what we are used to).  They were not very impressive but I told Sandy you have to remember this town council doesn't have as big a budget as Wilmington has in which to buy/pay for fireworks.  The population of the town is a little over 3500.  It looked like everyone walked down to the waterfront to watch them.  Good thing the tide was out, I don't know where everyone would have stood.  There were probably 35,000 people in town for the 4th of July weekend.

 

The eagle on the right was perched in front of our RV this morning.  And so were some immature ones. They are truly amazing to watch.

Woke up to a cloudy day but with warmer weather.  It was a good day for a race, so the racers didn't get so hot or overheated. We got going in time to catch the start of the women's race up Mt. Marathon, immediately followed by the little kids, ages 2 to 6.  They had to run up hill ( a slant really), about 1/2 a block.  The three and two year olds were fun to watch, mainly because most of the parents had to run with them or they wouldn't run!  LOL!  All the kids got a toy or some trinket for participating and the winners in each age category got big, big ribbons.  They start these kids young wanting to race.  As soon as they were all done, the women were already coming back. Unbelievable!  The woman who came in first ran the race in about 50 minutes.  We saw the top three winners come in and headed home for lunch.  We didn't wait for the others as there were over 300 entrants and waiting on them all could take a while.

 If you don't finish the race, you lose your slot/chance to run next year.  There were many women with  "silvered" colored hair that impressed me.  One 66 year old women was running to honor her son who had competed last year, but who had been killed in Afghanistan during the past year.  This is the second oldest foot race in the US.  Only the Boston Marathon is older.  When you lose your spot in the race, a random drawing is held the next year, and they auction off the last ten spots.

Last year, these spots went from $1700 to $2400 dollars!  Bob and I were very impressed by these people who run year after year. You can see in the picture the runners look like ants crawling up the muntain.  The black that you see is loose shale that the runners slip and slide on.

After lunch, Bob walked back into town to watch the Parade and catch the start of the Menís Race.  I saw the pictures Bob had taken later that afternoon.  Some of those men had bloody knees and dirty butts, where they had either fallen, or slid down the mountain at times. The men's race was run in the afternoon, but I didn't go back because of my foot.  It seems to be getting better, very, very slowly. The men usually run a faster race. 

Margie and Bill left town after the women's race.  they are heading over to Homer, with a stop overnight in Soldotna.  We will be following tomorrow.  The sky cleared later in the day and got rather nice out towards evening. 

 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Today we took off for Homer, AK.  While it's exciting to see new places, it's hard to leave such beautiful scenery behind. Seward is a vibrant town with people who are friendly and outgoing.  We only made it as far as Soldotna this afternoon what with all the photographic stops I had Sandy make.  One spot we stopped was to get pictures of pond lilies and I hiked back a good ways to get the picture; got back in the RV and around the bend was a much better place to stop that had a boardwalk that went out into the middle of the lake for taking pictures!  How was I supposed to know?  We had a sunny day for traveling.  You really relish these sunny days because they are not an everyday occurrence like we have at home.  The average summertime high in July on the Kenai Peninsula is only 60 degrees.  That is nowhere even near the night time low at home this time of year  And here I was worried I didn't bring enough shorts for summer weather!  Not a problem.  The only thing I forgot to bring was gloves.  The others have used them on several occasions, but my jackets have pockets so I have done fairly well.

We parked in a Fred Meyers store parking lot for the night.  They have signs telling RVers where they can park, and they also have dump and fill which is very nice of them. The store is like a WalMart, but it's so much more, better quality, more variety.  It's like a Harris Teeter grocery store, with Belk's clothing store, Reeds jewelers, Best Buy, and Target all rolled into one.  When you are in one section, you don't notice the others; it's really, really nice.  We needed to finish laundry so off we went to a laundromat. Found a real nice one, with attendants and real clean.  They also have showers.  Five dollars buys you twenty minutes in a full bathroom with towels and washcloth.  When you come out you throw your wet towels in the hamper and you're done! Of course all the places up here also have free wifi. So we were done in no time.  Dinner was spaghetti, salad and fresh sourdough bread, yum!

 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Before we hooked back up to the RV, we road up to Kenai, AK. There were some things up there we wanted to visit, like the Russian Orthodox Church and the chapel.

Kenai also had a Walmart and a Carl's Jr., which is the owner of Hardee's, so we were able to get fast food that we're used to at home.

 

 In the afternoon we hooked the car and continued our trip to Homer with a couple of stops for photo ops.  As you are driving south, you can look west across Cook Inlet and see a mountain range over there with several mountains over 10,000 ft.  Among these are Mt. Redoubt and Mt. Iliamna, inactive volcanoes with Mt. Redoubt last being active in 2009.  You can see these mountains but they are over fifty miles away!  (The air is very clear up here)

 

 

 

You can see the Homer Spit as you come into town riding down the mountain, very picturesque!  The backdrop to Homer are the mountains containing the Harding Ice Fields that were behind us over in Seward.  We are now on the other side of the peninsula, which is flatter.  Margie and Bill were able to save us a spot next to them parked out on the Spit at one of the municipal campgrounds.  When we got parked Bob noticed a LOT of oil on the car. (More about this later.)  After spending Happy Hour at their RV, we all went out to the Land's End Restaurant for a Halibut dinner, which was absolutely wonderful!  They had theirs grilled and ours was cooked with an artichoke and crab sauce over the top; scrumptious!

On the way back Margie wanted to stop at the Salty Dog Saloon, which is THE local landmark around here.  She wanted a "Duck Fart".  She read where it was the state drink of Alaska, and she didn't know if that was true or not, and if the bartender would know what she was talking about.  Sure enough, it was true, and the female bartender was amazed that a tourist had even heard about it.  The guy sitting next to Margie at the bar, has lived here for eight years, and he was amazed he didn't know about it.  But then he and his friends were celebrating just being alive after encountering grizzly bears while fishing for salmon at the Momma bear's favorite fishing spot and the fishermen and women were between the bears and the river!  They got pictures to prove it.  People are so friendly up here.

.....Anyway, a Duck Fart is, a shot of Kaulua, a shot of Bailey's and a shot of Crown Royal!  And it goes down smooth!

We will have to go back to the Salty Dog Saloon before we leave and get pictures.  It's a log cabin, with a LOW ceiling and the whole inside is covered with dollar bills that are attached to anything and everything!  Fun place!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

This morning Margie and Bill took a boat tour of the bay area riding over to the fishing village of Soldovia; boat and planes are the only way of getting there.  Bob spent time investigating the cause of all the oil on the car. When he checked, the oil was high, but he could smell diesel fuel.  That was not a good sign.  He spent the rest of the morning on the phone with Cummins, and some mechanics, and Coach Net.  The repairs are beyond his abilities, so right now we have an appointment in Anchorage next Thursday at the Cummins dealer.  Not sure how we are going to get there yet. 
Spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning the car off, moved the RV long enough to dump and fill at the city RV dump.  There is an eagle's nest up a dead tree, right next to the dump, so while Sandy did the dirty work, I took the tripod over and got pictures of the Momma and baby eagle, me and a half dozen other people, that is.
Happy hour lasted a little longer than expected and we ended up not eating dinner until almost 10 o'clock.  What can I say, I WAS HUNGRY, and we had fresh corn on the cob to go with our hamburgers.  YUM!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Today we took the day off to catch up on blogs, bills, and other trivial matters.  Margie and Bill went halibut fishing.  We may or may not check into it. In the afternoon, we checked out the sailors and Mariners Memorial, dedicated to those who have lost their lives at sea.  All the names are there from like the past 50 years at least.  Very sobering.  Makes you remember that the water is very powerful and usually always wins. From there we drove into town to check out the Quilt Shop "The Sewciable Quilt" which has just opened it's doors.  Very friendly owners and employees and a nice selection of fabric.  She also has her long arm machine sitting in the store.  While I was perusing the shop a man walked in with a uniform on.  He was a state trooper, there to pay and pick up fabric his wife had selected earlier.  Outside he started talking with Bob and I.  He is on the investigating team that recreates accidents to find out the cause for the accidents.  That's when we learned he has been on the Ice Truckers Road show when those guys have an accident.  He has also been on Alaskan State Troopers.  His name is Mike Rogers, and he was born and raised in Wilson, NC.  His upbringing really showed when he called me Ma'am.  When I told him to call me Carol, he said, "Yes, Miss Carol"  Yep, he's a good ole' boy all right!

After that we rode out the East End Road, which heads east out of town for about 20 miles.   You get fabulous views of the glaciers and Kachemack Bay.  This is also farmers of Russian background that live in this area.  Most of the Kenai Peninsula is of Russian Heritage.  Guess all the Russians stayed after Mr. Seward bought Alaska for 2 cents an acre!  By the time we got back to the campground, Bill had a fire going.  The wind had died down enough to sit outside by a fire for a change.  When the wind blows it really sends a chill right through you, even if it is July.  I don't want to know what it feels like in January.  It is also warmer in the interior of Alaska, than it is here.  I think I saw where Fairbanks was 79 degrees yesterday!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Margie and Bill left this morning.  They are headed for Ninilchik to go razor clamming.  They got a heads up on a campground with the owners will show you how to do it.  We were sorry to see them leave also.  They have been good traveling partners too.  We will probably not be able to catch up  with them as we'll be stopping in Anchorage to get the RV fixed.  We have met some wonderful people along the way.  RV people are the greatest people in the world.

Later in the day, we had several eagles descend on the beach.  I got a few pictures.  After that people spotted a huge raft of otters out in the water.  It was too far away for a picture.  You  could barely see their heads and flippers bobbing up and down in the water.  There must have been at least 20 of them.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

We took a ride up the coast today to Anchor Point, We had heard it was a great place to see eagles. That was an understatement to say the least. OMG! There were eagles everywhere. Bob happened to be on the phone talking with Rick when he pointed out an eagle that flew behind a building. I watched but the eagle never came out from behind the building. So curious me, I walked over to see what was going on, where could he have disappeared. WELL, I couldn't believe my eyes! Below me on the beach were over 50 huge sea gulls, but there were over a dozen eagles down on the beach eating fish! They were making such a commotion, that I couldn't hear before because of the ocean waves and the huge tractors that were running around in and out of the water!



First, the eagles. They were feeding on fish that the fishermen must have thrown to them as they looked too big to be carried. Besides, I don't think the gulls would have let them fly away with it just for themselves, they were greatly outnumbered. They were so busy feeding, you could walk up pretty close to get your pictures. There were numerous immature eagles also that had not yet developed their full coloring. This was a photographer's paradise. Thank goodness for digital cameras, I could just click away. Just wish it had been a sunnier day.



Secondly, the tractors. Because the sand is so soft here, and the shore line is so shallow, they use monster tractors here to launch and retrieve boats from the water. This is where the farmer meets the fisherman. Most of these are charter boats, carrying 4 or more customers on board along with their catch. The tractors would go out in the water to the height of their tractor wheels and the boats would just haul butt pushing onto their trailers, then the tractors pull them out, up the hill to the parking lot, and stop next to a set of stairs where the customers can walk off the boat and their feet never get wet! It's a real slick deal up here. We also saw a guy down the beach who tried to retrieve his own boat, and he ended up needing 2 friends trucks and a tow truck to get his boat out of the water! Unbelievable, just because he didn't want to pay to have his boat pulled out. I say those tractor guys are worth every penny. Then we got the picture we had also been looking for, the Western most road on the North American continent.



On the way back to Homer we took the North Fork Loop Road, looking for the village of Russian "Old Bellievers" that moved to Alaska after the revolution in 1917. There is still a community of about 300 people of Russian heritage that live in the old ways of Mother Russia. We passed the road intending to stop on the way back, but one way Bob...what can I say, it's called a loop road for a reason! LOL! We also got to see two young moose cows cross the road in front of us. Those are fun moments, when you get to see them when there is no one else around. Back in Homer we took the road down to the historic "Street" of Homer, and while turning around, we got to see a Ptarmigan chicken with 3 baby chicks. That' s the official state bird, yeah us! The only things we have left to see are a wolf and a polar bear (and that's never going to happen.)

I've embedded a couple of short, short video files, on the eagles (don't blink), and one on the tractors.

Monday, July 11, 2011

We drove around Homer, getting pictures of the places where we didn't have the camera with us before, like the Salty Dawg Saloon, which has a NOAA approved lighthouse on the top and is shown on all nautical charts. (You can always chart a course to the saloon, haha.) We also stopped at the "Time Bandit" fishing shop. (This is the boat from America's Deadliest Catch TV show). Homer is the home port of "The Time Bandit". They were just in for about two months but had just left last week and won't return until sometime in September. We also stopped at the quilt shop again and then picked up the mail. Now I know how servicemen feel when they get mail call. I was expecting pictures of my granddaughters and I couldn't wait to see them. The bird shown here is a Ptarmagain, the state bird of Alaska. It's posted here for our good friends Bill and Margie, who said they saw one, but never got the picture! (smile!)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

We left right after the picture below as taken. We dumped and filled our propane tanks before heading over to the elementary school where we will be picked up by the tow truck tomorrow morning. It ended up an absolutely gorgeous day; the sky was clear blue for the first time in a week!

The first picture was taken at 10:38 am and the second picture was taken at 3:01 in the afternoon. Same location. What a difference a couple of hours makes.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

We followed the tow truck all the way to Anchorage today.  I was lucky Bob allowed me to make a bathroom stop.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Sat at the Cummins dealer all day while they worked on our coach.  Good thing we are not on a schedule.  It took them all day to determine it was our fuel pump that was bad.  They ordered one and it should be here tomorrow by 11 am.  Keep your fingers crossed.

Friday, July 15, 2011

The part came in and they got it in and cleaned up by about 6pm. It was a beautiful day today; sunny and warm.  We have been able to stay in the RV while they worked on the engine.  We will be spending a couple of days right here while we finish doing some sightseeing here before moving on.  We drove to Sam's Club to buy a new battery for the car.  The mountains around here remind me of the mountains in Honolulu, Hawaii.  Bob reminded me that they are all volcanic peaks in both places.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Today was a good day. The sun was shining and the air was warm. We took off for Whittier and the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. It took us about an hour to drive down to Portage where you get to drive through a railroad tunnel to get to Whittier and pay for the privilege. IT'S THE ONLY way to get there, unless you get there by boat. The tunnel is 2 and 1/2 miles long and was built by the US military during WWII. Whittier was built by the military during the war as a supply route for the military in Alaska, because it was an ice-free deep water port. This is also the primary docking facility for all Princess Cruise Ships that come to Anchorage. From Whittier they either ride the train or go by bus to all points north. The whole time we were here it was misting and the surrounding mountains were covered in clouds, so the views weren't all that spectacular. We were back through the tunnel in no time at all. Checked out a couple of Federal campgrounds on the way back. The one that could handle big rigs had a paved road and paved sites, but no water, dump or electricity and only pit toilets, but then most RVs don't need those facilities. When we got to the Wildlife Center it .was raining pretty good and they didn't have any wolves, and we have seen everything else in the wild, so we decided to save our money for a better opportunity. Driving back along Turnagain Arm, we were hoping to see a Bore Tide, but somehow we missed it. Turnagain is a long, shallow bay that never completely empties at low tide and when the high tide starts to come back in, you have a fight where these two forces are pitted against each other. Because of this, you can have very high tides coming in as high waves, anywhere from 6 inches to 6 ft. This is second only to the Bay of Fundy as having the highest tides in the world. We stopped at one point to look at the bay, but the attraction was on the mountain side above us. A small herd of Dall Sheep, was located way up near the top of the mountain, so the picture you see is quite small. By the time we got back to Anchorage the sun was shining as it was when we left. It would seem like we had gone to a different planet for the day.
Don't know if I've mentioned this before or not. The last big crop of wildflowers up here is called Fireweed; it is very profilic and grows everywhere and anywhere, with roadsides seeming to be its' favorite spot. It blooms from the bottom to the top. It is said when it reaches the top and stops blooming, that summer is over and winter is coming. (I have been keeping my eye on this plant especially). I don't want to get caught in the snow, although I am not going home until it cools off down there. We keep hearing there are triple digit temperatures at home.
We are located not far from a small airport here in Anchorage. I have never seen so many small planes in my life. They say 1 in 60 Alaskans has his/her pilots license and I think they all park their planes HERE! But we are also on their flight path and they all sound like they have been wound up with a rubber band. We were also on the flight path for these small planes in Homer. Guess I'm kinda' getting used to the sound.
Margie and Bill called this evening. They are already in Haines and will be taking the Alaska Marine Highway Ferry over to Skagway day after tomorrow. Tomorrow they are taking a fast boat down to Juneau, the state capital of Alaska. The only way to get to Juneau is by boat or plane. I will be anxious to hear what they have to say about Juneau.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

We cannot leave until tomorrow.  When they were closing up shop on Friday afternoon, they also put our ladder in the their shop.  We didn't realize where it was until it was too late.  We must wait until tomorrow morning to get our ladder back so we can move on.  Road trip to the laundromat.  Manager of the laundromat was born in Mars Hill, North Carolina.  He has been up here since 1966.  Most of the people we meet came up here long time ago and loved it.  He worked on the Alaska Pipeline.  People that live here when they go to visit either say "going to the outside" or down to the "lower 48".

Monday, July 18, 2011

We were on the move early this morning, as we were blocking the work bays at Cummins. (We wanted to make sure we got our ladder back). Boy, where to go, what to do? Well, it's raining, so let's head east and see what we come across. Hey, let's go back to Wasilla to see the Iditirod Headquarters. Actually, it was very interesting. The championship cup was there, it's pretty BIG! The race was started back in 1971 by Ed Redington. He was trying to drum up support for the historic Iditirod Trail, which was used in the winter to deliver mail and supplies to the rural areas of Alaska.  The race starts the first weekend in March, and covers over 1100 miles from Anchorage to Nome. Mr. Redington's son is still there and he was the one that gave us our ride with the dogs attached to a small wagon. These dogs love to run, they are bred for it. So off we go, mush! It is only a short trip, but since it had rained all morning the course was pretty muddy and we didn't go all that fast, but it was fun. These dogs only weigh about 48 pounds each! These are race dogs, not the ones used to haul supply sleds with heavier loads like the park dogs we saw in Denali; those dogs weigh more. They also had some puppies that were SO CUTE! aahhh! (Mr. Redington has a granddaughter that lives in Fayetteville, NC). Everybody up here is related to someone in North Carolina, I swear it's true.
On the move once again, we keep heading East along the Glenn Highway. They only have about 8 highways up here, so they all have names, mostly of people important in the history of Alaska. Our real destination is Valdez, but we don't think we want to make it in one day, so if something interests us, we are stopping. There were several glaciers along the way; there was also Sheep Mountain, so named because the sheep would walk all over the mountain to lick the salt from the heavy mineral deposits that exist on the mountain, which, is also very colorful because of all the mineral deposits. So they made it a preserve for the sheep; no one can hunt on the mountain. We finally came to the end of that highway and turned south on the Richardson Highway when we saw the Headquarters for the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. It's a chance to get another stamp for our Passport Book, so in we go. This park is home to 9 of the nation's 16 tallest mountains, and many, many glaciers. This park is THE largest park in the USA. It is 6 times the size of Yellowstone, more than 13.2 million acres and it only has 2 roads into the park. One is 32 miles and the other is 60 miles, arriving at McCarthy and the Kennecott Copper Mine, which is a National Historic Landmark. Guess where we're going? We took the time before we left to watch the movie about the park. On the way out of the building a couple of women were looking up! There above them in the rafters of the roof was a momma robin feeding her baby chicks, after which, she promptly sat down on them! ! ! Now that's what I call control!
We drove down to the starting point of this road in Chitina (pronounced Chit-NA). It consists of a couple of small buildings and a population of about 25 and another ranger station. We went looking for a place to park and everything was so muddy, we stayed at campground five miles back that we had seen as we drove in. It didn't look like much, very rocky and weedy, and it was self registration, but only 20 bucks, and it had full hook-ups with sewer and 50 amps! Go figure. It was nice to have electricity and I was able to finish up the laundry was didn't do in Anchorage because of expense. Also to run water without worrying when it's going to run out, this is sheer luxury. Yes, we are self-sufficient, but it's nice to be a little luxurious once in a while. Here I complain while most of the town is running on water from a community well, where you fill up your own jugs or containers, and outdoor plumbing. (aka: outhouses).
         Sidebar: The motorhome is running wonderfully

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

We didn't rush to get going this morning, we are getting lazy. The local ranger said the road was in bad condition because of recent rains, potholes and washboarding. (They tell you to carry 2 spare tires on this road because it is on top of an old railroad bed. Beware of old spikes which can get dug up when they grade the dirt road. She also said there are a couple of resident moose here in Chitina, one, a cow with 2 babies, but we never got to see them.
Within the first mile we were able to see the local natives fishing with fishwheels which they use for subsistence living. They also do dip-netting during the salmon runs, but only Alaskan residents are allowed to use them. Fishing regulations up here are Crazy with a capital C. They have different regulations for different rivers, different fish, use a lure, not use a lure, it's CRAZY! Anyways.....The road was very rough in the beginning because of the rain yesterday. You could see where rocks had fallen all over the road; I kept telling Sandy to move over! It took us 3 hours to go 60 miles with only a couple of pit toilet stops along the way. We packed our own lunch.
The only wildlife we saw along the way were a pair of Trumpeter Swans. They were the only ones on the pond. They are very territorial and don't like to share with other swans. When you get to McCarthy, you have to park, and walk across the bridge, where you can pick up a van shuttle that will take you up to the Kennecott Copper Mines for ten dollars round trip, and it's five miles one way. If you are staying at one of the lodges, you carry your bags across the bridge.

The entire mine site was wonderful. We only had a short time there before they were going to close for the day. (We didn't realize it would take 3 hours to get there). But we had enough time to visit the manager's office, the general store and warehouse and the recreation hall. We could see all the other buildings, we just couldn't get in them. The mines were worked from about 1908 until about 1938. They were invested by the Morgans and the Guggenhiems. This site was the largest copper mine in the world at that time. We saw many hikers coming back from the Root Glacier. You can also see the Kennicott Glacier that runs along side the Kennecott Mine. This is a young person's paradise. Lots to see and do here, like Ice climbing, and hiking up to the copper mines. We met some graduate students from Colorado University working on the glacier, and hikers from France. You can hear many different languages up in Alaska. We didn't get home until late and Sandy wanted to wash the car; it really needed it. Here we could use hot water and not only get rid of the oil from the fuel pump leak, but also from all the mud we encountered again today. It was over an inch thick on our running boards. Dinner at 10 pm again.
Got a wonderful surprise tonight. The time stamp on this rainbow photo is 10:39 pm! It was raining off in the distance and this picture doesn't do it justice. I have never seen the intensity of the colors as deep as this rainbow was. By the time I could grab the camera and try to adjust the exposure for this late in the evening, it was starting to fade. I yelled at Bob to come quick! He said can't it wait, I said NO. When he got up to the front window, all he could say was, WOW ! God is great, God is good, God is a great artist! (The dot in the middle is a bug on the outside of the window. I don't have software with me that can remove it).

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Woke up to an absolutely gorgeous morning! When I looked out our front window there wasn't a cloud in the sky, except, to the north, where a few were crowding around a mountain. My brain started functioning and I realized it was Mt. Wrangell, elevation over 14,163 feet, is the largest active volcano in Alaska. On a cool crisp morning they say you can see steam rising from the cone. I took my share of photos. We are continuing our trip to Valdez down the Richardson Highway, which has to be the most scenic drive in all of Alaska. The weather cooperated and it was a beautiful drive. Stopped for pictures at the Worthington Glacier and in Keystone Canyon, where there were some magnificent waterfalls and before you knew it we were in Valdez. It is beautiful here, it is completely surrounded by the mountains except where it heads out to Prince William Sound on the water to the south. It took us all day to get here because we stopped so often today. We didn't camp across the bay like the others did, but instead are camped at the Glacier Campground a few miles out of town by the Valdez Glazier. We weren't in the campground an hour, when a black bear came ambling down the roadway. I was on the phone but Bob managed to grab a few shots, before he walked out of sight. At least we have electricity here. There are also cottonwood trees here, and it constantly looks like it is snowing! I am posting just some of the highlights we saw today because there so many. I always feel like I am leaving something important out. Bob is just as amazed and fascinated as I am.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

We took in the Valdez Museum today which had a lot of history on the Earthquake and the early days of Valdez, before the Earthquake. Actually there are two museums and we only went through one today. We get so entranced, we always stay longer than we plan on. When we left the museum, we saw a couple of people swimming in a pond in the corner park downtown! Brrrr! Down at the boat docks, you can see so many fishing boats with their nets all hanging out to dry. Then we headed over to Peter Pan Fish Co. to buy some fish. We found out it was less expensive to buy the fish, than to go out for 8 hours on a charter. Bob says, less labor too. On the way back home, we drove to the Valdez Glacier 1/4 mile past the campground. It all trickles into a lake at the base (or what used to be the base) of the glacier. It has retreated back into the mountain quite a bit. Many glaciers are retreating up here because of climate change. (It's politically incorrect to say "Global Warming", because they can't prove it). I think these melting glaciers prove it.

Friday, July 22, 2011

We had to leave the campground before 11am check out, so we parked down at the corner before going into town again. I stopped to take a picture of the eagles nest in the campground first. They closed four sites so as not to disturb the eagle and her chick(s). I thought that was very generous of them. It was another glorious day. Maybe I should mark these days on the calendar, they are precious and few. We went to visit the second museum before we left town today. I enjoyed this one so much more. The exhibits seemed more professionally done, showcased better, and the condition of the building was newer. For a town that had to literally move and rebuild after the earthquake, they still have a lot of history to showcase. The exhibits went all the way back to the natives before the land was bought from Russia, up to today, with the monetary settlement so many received from Exxon. The earthquake hit on Good Friday, March 1964, when we were just teenagers, so many of the people are still around from that time. To listen to their recorded stories was heart wrenching. The pioneering spirit of the first generations to come during the gold rush in 1898 lived on in the hearts and minds of these people who stayed to create a new town, literally rising from the ashes. (When the new town was built, they burned down what was left of the old town). Then on Good Friday, again, in 1989 there was the oil spill of the Super Tanker Exxon Valdez. There was much also devoted to that disaster. We saw our old vacuum cleaner (The Kirby), in one of the exhibits. Guess we are getting old when our possessions show up in exhibits. (The top picture is one of an 1886 hand pumper fire truck. It has been restored to original condition and was pumped back in 1996). The bottom picture shows a 1907 steam fire engine restored. They were beautiful.
And we're off....we're headed towards Tok, where we can pick up our last bunch of mail before we get back to the states. It won't be in before Monday, so we have all the time in the world to get there. And today was another beautiful day, (did I say that already)? We are headed back up the Richardson Highway to the Tok Cutoff just above Glennallen. Stopped for a few more scenic pictures and drove through Copper Center to get a picture of "City Hall", before we settled for the night in a picnic pull-off by the Tazlina River.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Early this morning there was a knock at our front door, Bob didn't know what was going on. A man was standing there asking Bob if he was interested in Salmon. Long story short, we ended up with 10 1/2 pounds fresh caught Copper River and King Salmon, already filleted. We know it was that much because we weighed it. The man was very generous, and said he was doing his good deed for the day. Talk about being in the right place at the right time. God is good. We continued on our way to Tok where we will stay until our mail arrives.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Visited the Teslin National Wildlife Refuge Center and a couple of gift shops before the rain started. Blah. Picked up our mail at the post office. We saw this momma moose on our way up to Tok. She had 2 babies with her but I couldn't get them both in the picture.
(Remember, you can click on any picture to enlarge it.)

Monday, July 25, 2011

One of those rare gorgeous Alaskan sunsets taken in Tok, Ak at 10:25 at night. If anyone has ever driven to Alaska, you have driven through this intersection. (The Alaska Hwy and the Tok Cutoff.)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

We are on the road to Haines. We crossed from Alaska, back into Canada. We feel like we're leaving Alaska, but we're not done yet! We didn't make it quite half way, spending the night in a Canadian rest area with 3 other camper vehicles. The trash cans have bear prints on them, so we'll have to be on the look out for bears. I also saw another rainbow this evening, although it was a little earlier, say around 7:30pm. (Kluane River Overlook Rest Area 1726 km) Today's wildlife included a moose, 2 trumpet swans, and a ptarmigan which we almost ran over because he wouldn't move out of the road. At least one chipmunk at the rest area and two things that crossed the road that were so small, Bob said one was the size of a scorpion (not) and the other the size of a teeny-weeny mouse. Did you know there are no snakes in Alaska? That's GREAT.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

We passed through Yukon Territory to British Columbia, and back into Alaska today. No problems so far. We stopped at the Alaska Chilkot Bald Eagle Preserve about 20 miles outside of Haines. This is where they have the largest concentration of eagles in the world. Each Fall, 3000 to 5000 eagles arrive to feast on the last salmon run in the area to fatten up for the winter. This preserve is approximately 3 miles by 30 miles long. It also allows for the traditional uses of hunting, fishing, berry picking and other subsistence practices by the Natives of Alaska. Learned a lot of neat stuff about the eagles.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Checked out the AMHS Ferry schedule before doing anything else today. We will probably stay here a day or two before heading over to Skagway, about a one hour ferry trip from here. We are parked in a pull off, protected by bushes from the road. I can look out my window and see daisies and the Lynn Canal through the trees. It has rained most of the morning, not a very nice day to do any sightseeing. But the sky finally broke through about noon.
Sightseeing in Haines. We took off for the Haines Visitor Center to see what was going on. They asked if we have gone to the State Fair. We said no, and she gave us several other ideas to do. We headed first to the American Bald Eagle Foundation. They also asked us if we had been to the state fair, adding they had 3 live raptors on display there as well. They have more than 200 specimens for birds, mammals and other wildlife on display. Very well done. They also had two live raptors on display, a barred owl (named Hunter, and a red tailed hawk, called Sitka). These raptors will never be released into the wild again, as the injuries they sustained will keep them from hunting which is necessary to their survival. They are amazing; they can turn their heads 270 degrees to watch for prey. Their eyes do not move in their heads like ours do, but their vision is about 10 times better than ours. They do attempt to rehabilitate the birds and release them back into the wild if at all possible. They currently have 10 birds they are working with.
From there we drove out to Chilkat State Park which is located several miles below Haines. There is a campground we wanted to check out, and beautiful views of two glaciers on the other side of the Chilkat River. (The Rainbow and Davidson Glaciers) There are several camping sites that we could fit on, it's just getting down and back up the hill with a 14% grade! I would worry about.
On the way back we drove through the area that used to be Ft. Seward, an army base that is full of Victorian style homes now. Although a National Historic Landmark, most of the buildings are private property and they are all in variable states of repair or disrepair I should say. They are all located around the dress parade ground, which seems to be all they did while stationed up here. One building of interest, now located on the parade grounds was all marked up with native
markings. Interesting.
We were going to head home, but decided to drive five miles further up the road to Chilkoot Lake and Campground State Park. We were told that the salmon were running. When we got there, there were cars parked along the road, like in the Smokies. It was a BEAR JAM. Yes, a momma and two cubs were fishing down on the river. You are told not to get out of your car as there are bears present in the area. We took a picture or two and headed on up the road to the campground. Beautiful campground overlooking Chilkoot Lake. Since the salmon are running, this campground was FULL! We would have a hard time finding a site that would fit our motorhome. So we drove back to where we spotted the bears at the fish weir. There, we realized there was a man out on the weir. He was counting the fish and measure them as they come through a small opening in the weir. This is all regulated through the Alaska Fish and Game Program. Below the weir, there were dozens of fishermen trying their hand at catching the salmon. We stopped a little below there, and saw two women watching the fishermen, asking if they had seen the bears. They said, "Oh, you mean the momma and two cubs down there?", pointing to a spot about 100 feet down river. We chatted a few minutes more, before rushing on to get some more pictures of the bears. We were not alone in our pursuit; but with dozens of others getting out of our vehicles to get that "special shot". Momma could care less about us; she was interested in getting some dinner for her youngins'. That's not to say, we didn't all run backwards, when she took a couple of steps our way. All you could hear was the clicking of the cameras, total silence except for some very muted whispering. Now this was AWESOME! Needless to say, we have LOTS of pictures. Dinner was late that night.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

We decided to do the fair today. We figured we could do the fair pretty quick and still make it in time for the ferry by five o'clock. It was a beautiful day. I mean it was so warm and the sun was shining so brightly, we didn't take any jackets into the fair. How nice for a change. I mean now this is a small fair. They don't have much of a midway here, just a few rides like a train and a ferris wheel, and a few more. We were told they have a Logging Competition that is pretty good, and also a wonderful quilt display in their exhibitor's hall. We managed to get to the quilts before the competition started. They may have had what I call 5 full bed quilts, perhaps 15 lap or smaller quilts, then quilt hangings, table toppers and a quilted jacket. They were wonderful! I didn't see anything showing native culture, but the women worked hard on these quilts and their handiwork really showed. I think I enjoyed the children's crafts section the best. Everything there had a ribbon on it, most of them blue ones! Now that's what I call encouragement! But...OMG! The Logging Competition was wonderful. From young men to old timers, women included! Everyone gets equal billing up here. Seeing women wielding chain saws, WOW! I guess we can do it all. There was one native couple I think entered every competition, Maria, and a man affectionately called "Animal". This must be their occupation, I mean she was wearing her own hard hat!
There was small chain saw competition, large chain saw, obstacle bucking (walk waaaaaay out on a tree limb about 12 feet with the chain saw RUNNING, cut off the tip of the limb and make it back without falling off! Whoo Hoo! Now that was dangerous; a couple of men didn't make it to the end of the limb, they just canceled. Maria was the first person, and only woman to do it! Yea!! There's also "Setting the Choke", a young guy with long legs won that. You have to jump from log to log (BIG logs) set a cable, run back, attach it to a cable and PULL! There was also Axe throwing. WOW! Some people were better than others, some hit the target, some over, some under, some went in the log roll water and some guys had to go in that water to get them back! Brrrr! One guy even knocked that target down. You could get fifty dollars if you hit the postage stamp in the middle of the bulls eye. Yep, sure enough, one man did just that. Now that was a pretty small target.
But the competition that really got the crowd roaring, was the log rolling competition. I guess that's why it was last. This was definitely a young persons challenge. Funny! Each round only lasted a couple of seconds. The women were pitted against men, it didn't matter. You just had to stay on the log longer than your opponent. But once you got soaked, if you won you had to wait for your next round, and that water was COLD! Brrrr. By this time, the pond was in the shade, double Brrr! All in all, good, clean, fun.
During all this, you could hear music coming from the entertainment stage. Some really good music, the fiddling was fantastic! We worked our way down to the main thoroughfare, where they had crab pot tossing, putting on life suits and jumping into a rubber raft, and fish bait setting competitions. We walked through the animal barn, and the community garden. One of the last things we did, was talk to a totem pole carver and looked at piece he was working on. Wonderful work! What a wonderful day! Our faces were red from too much sun for the day. We were tired, we're staying another night!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

So far was have take 8,138 pictures with our camera.  That does not include the ones we have taken with our cell phone cameras.  Now aren't you relieved to be reading this short synopsis of our trip and look at these FEW pictures.  We are so GLAD we have digital cameras!

 

 

Home | Up | DECEMBER 2010 | JANUARY 2011 | FEBRUARY 2011 | MARCH 2011 | APRIL 2011 | MAY 2011 | JUNE 2011 | JULY 2011 | AUGUST 2011

Last updated 08/15/11