Monday, July 26, 2010

Almost Home

Tonight we are at Gunsmoke Campground in Dodge City. We have spent the last seven days at River's End Campground at Taylor Reservoir. It is north of Gunnison, Colorado. Our boys and families were there with their atv's. So we stopped to have a little fun with them before heading home today. They will be home later in the week.

No updates because there was no wifi connection. I did get an email message or two sent from one of the daugher-in-laws Iphones. I think I will have to have one of those before long.

Rex and Elaine have gotten their trailer fixed and are on the road again. We did get a call from them today and they are in Washington state. They are going to attend a wedding there in a week or two. So happy to hear from them.

More news about the trip later in the week. Thanks for making the journey with us.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Still in Montana

Saturday, July 17
We stayed at Dick’s RV in Great Falls, Montana last night. The park is on the river and very nice. With asphalt pads. We did some power buying at WalMart as we were out of fruit and vegetables. We also purchased a soft long-handled brush and some automotive soap. When we got back to the park, we washed the truck and fifth wheel. It really looks nice now that the Alaska mud is gone.
Today we took Highway 89 to Interstate 90. The highway was a scenic route and that was really true. It ran through a narrow valley with a river. There were big bluffs, lots of pines, and clear streams. The views were awesome. We stopped at a turnout and the guys saw one of our tires was separating, so it was time to use the big tools for a job quickly done. Then 50 miles on down the highway, the PressurePro indicated that tire had low pressure, so we stopped and pumped it up. We stopped at a co-op in the next small town and they put in a new valve stem in less than half an hour. It was an interesting stop in a town with a mercantile and two cafes.
Then it was back to big rolling hills beside the Yellowstone River and gigantic wheat fields that are almost ready to harvest. Tonight we are parked at the 7th Ranch RV. We stayed at this park when we were northbound.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The North Country for my Sewing Friends

This is a picture of the back of an aspen leaf. I noticed that the aspen trees had the color of a Russian olive and I just had not remembered that before. So one evening at a campground I looked closely at the leaves. Most of the trees have this pattern. There is a very small moth that looks like a small piece of cottonwood fuzz that blows through the air. Well, the moth lays it eggs on the leaves and then the larva make this pattern as it eats part of the leaf. I decided that it looks just like the stippling that would be on a quilt. All the leaves are different and have interesting patterns.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Monday and Tuesday

7-12 & 7-13
We are working on getting back to the United States. The Yukon Territories and British Columbia seem to be extremely big, especially at 45 mph. Yesterday the biggest news of the day was that Elaine and Rex have plans to solve their problem. The second biggest event was that we saw a brown bear walking along the ditch and I got a picture.

Today is Happy Birthday to me Day! We headed down Highway 37, or the Cassiar Highway. The first few miles were kind of rough and then there was lots of road construction. So it was slow going for about 5 hours. We did stop at the Jade Shop along the way and found out that 90% of the world’s jade is mined from an old asbestos mine in the Cassiar Mountains. After getting to Dease Lake the road became smooth and it was great driving. It was a 300 mile day. Our animal sightings were a small herd of horses in the road and a black bear hurrying up the hillside. I don’t know where all the moose are hiding. The Cassiar Mountains are a new awesome experience at each new turn in the road. There were lots of lakes and they were beautiful blues, but not quite as pretty as Dease Lake.

Venice was so kind to fix me a birthday dinner complete with a birthday cake and candles. She hurried a little with things and the wax on the part of the candles stuck in the cake melted because the cake was still hot. It really didn't matter, it was great cake.

I couldn't get any pictures to upload. Maybe next time.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Saturday and Sunday

7-10 & 7-11
These two days have not been the best ones on the trip. Saturday morning in Valdez, one of the sensors on the trailer tires said we had a low tire. So the day started with changing a tire in the rain. We drove in rain about half the day and when we finally arrived in Tok, it was sunny and mild. We had supper together on the picnic table. Venice had a wonderful angel food care and berry topping dessert--yum!
Sunday dawned rainy and stayed that way for most of the day. From Tok we headed down Highway #1 to Haines Junction. The road was awful. Lot of patches and rough spots. It was impossible to go very fast--not over 45mph tops. After clearing Canadian customs, Rex and Elaine said they had serious problems. They had broken welds on the hitch. They found a RV park just .5 miles down the road and checked in. So after much discussion, unanswered phone calls to their roadside assistance, Excel, and their insurance-- and at their insistence, we left them there to find a fix for their problem. It could take several days or a couple of weeks. So we headed for Haines Junction. The road we were on got even worse than in the morning. So it was slower going for 200 miles. Tonight we are staying at Kluane RV Park in Haines Junction. Nothing special but it has water and electricity. I did not see the elusive Sunday moose…We really miss Rex and Elaine!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Prince William Sound

On Friday, Elaine, Jim, and I got on the Lu Lu Belle about 1PM for a cruise around Prince William Sound. The rest of our crew had gotten up early for a fishing excursion for halibut. We arrived early and decided to sit on the upper deck with Captain Fred. The captain did an excellent job of telling us the history of the Valdez area, the real deal on the Exon Valdez, about the Aleyeska pipeling, the 1984 earthquake, and the natural history of the sound. We left the dock area by going by the fish cannery. The fishermen of the Sound transfer their catch to a bigger boat which brings it into the cannery and it is sucked up by large flexible hoses. We next saw sea otters who were just resting on the water. He put the tip of the boat into a crevice in the rocks to see the nesting area of puffins--one of the items on my Alaska list. We also saw puffins floating in the water. Then it was the seal lions sunning themselves on the rocks. They are not really like in the Sound because they eat so many salmon, but they were put on the endangered species list to protect them!!?? We saw whales--lots and lots of whales and some so very close to the boat. I have some great whale pictures--even one of a blow as they surfaced. Then it was on to look at the Columbia Glacier as it comes out of the Chugach Mountains. The captain took us right through many of the ice chunks. We had a great time and the weather was perfect.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Journey to Valdez

Today we traveled from Palmer through Glennallen and on to Valdez. The drive had awesome views. The mountains are beautiful and seem to go on forever. Mountains are covered with alders and other bushes or much higher and covered with snow. We saw the Matanuska Glacier which is quite close to the road. It averages 2 miles wide and has been stable for 400 years. We also saw the Worthington Glacier as it appeared to flow down from several mountains. The oil pipeline was visible as we headed south to Valdez. We saw two massive falls--Bridal Veil Falls and Horseshoe Falls--that are beside the highway.
After setting up the trailers at Bear Creek RV, we drove into Valdez to check out a glacier tour for Elaine, Jim, and I. Rex, Jim M, and Venice are going halibut fishing tomorrow. We checked out the dock area and watched fishermen fillet their catch. A bit north of town we checked out a small stream that flowed into Prince William Sound. We saw people catching salmon in the sound as they were headed up to the stream. There were also many eagles, gulls, and sea lions. We were looking for bears but did not see any.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Today we went touring in Anchorage. The weather was warm and partly cloudy. Our first stop was at the visitor center in downtown Anchorage. The flowers all over Alaska are the most beautiful I have ever seen. They hanging baskets are awesome with vibrant color. The visitor center has lots of flowers as well as most of the stores. We chose to take the trolley tour of the city and our driver was Jody. She has lived in Anchorage her entire life and has great pride in the city. This is her last year driving as she will be student teaching next semester. She did a great job and had lots of facts about the city. One of the dates important for the area was the 1964 earthquake that registered over 8 on the Richter scale and the tsunami. One of the stops was at the seaplane part of the airport where they have connected two lakes with two channels that allow the planes to taxi and takeoff. After the tour we stopped at the musk ox cooperative where articles are sold by knitters using the soft hair. We even found a quilt shop in the area. We also stopped at the ulu factory. Ulus are a curved knife that are great for chopping vegetables. Our last stop was the natural history museum.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


On the fourth of July we moved from the Denali area to Homestead RV Park close to Palmer, Alaska. We drove in rain for much of the 200 mile trip. The owners of Homestead are Bill and Cathy, who we met in the park in Arizona. The afternoon was spent getting things set up. We watched eagles below the bluff we are on. Venice has a friend who lives in Wasilla, so they were off to visit with her.
July fifth is Rex’s birthday. This morning Elaine and I checked on the lowlands and saw a moose taking a nap. We spent time watching him and taking pictures. I baked some cupcakes and then Venice’s friend took us all on a tour. We went up Hatcher Pass and stopped at a resort for some tea and coffee. The stream beside the road was beautiful with many huge rocks. The mountain sides were covered with alders. We also saw fiddle ferns. After a little lunch we headed for Cook’s Inlet. The inlet has miles of mud flats when the tide is out. It was very windy and rough on the water today. We stopped at Indian Valley Meats. They take people’s fish or wild game and fix it however they want. They can smoke it or make jerky from it. It was a very interesting place. Our last event of the day was a drive-by of Sarah Palin’s house in Wasilla. Then it was back to camp to frost the cupcakes, make some ice cream, and have a birthday party for Rex. It was another fun day.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Denali National Park

July 3, 2010
The alarm went off at 4:30 a.m. because we had reservations for a 6:00 a.m. bus tour. It really did not seem like 5:15 when we left our RV’s because it was so light. The first highlight of the day was the moose and baby that were right outside the parking lot. That was a real treat. We didn’t see much wildlife until a couple of hours into our trip. Then we stopped to watch the Dall Sheep on the mountain ridge on the right side of the bus and the caribou in the river bed on the left side of the bus. After that we saw lots of sheep on the high mountains and more caribou. We were almost to our turnaround at the Eielson Visitor Center when we saw a momma grizzly bear and her big cubs. They were grazing on grass on the meadow. We saw them again on the return trip and they were napping on the hillside. We saw another set of grizzlies further down the road and they were grazing. We also saw a golden eagle. The sad part of the tour was that Denali Mountain or Mount McKinley--whichever name you want to use--was in the clouds today. We were back home by about 3 p.m. and it rained the rest of the day.

The area is a favorite of hikers and backpackers. When they are back to the road any of the buses will pick them up and take them back to the park headquarters. We picked up a 20ish young man who had been in the wilderness for 5 days. The national parks are also a favorite for foreign travelers. We had people from New Zealand, Germany, Korea, and Sweden.
The first picture is an Alaskan sunrise! The second is a picture from the bus as we drove above a valley in Denali Park.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Sled Dogs

July 2, 2010
Today we moved near Denali Park. We toured the park as far as they would allow personal vehicles to drive. Then we stopped an dropped in at the Denali Park Kennels where they raise, train, and use sled dogs. Most of the employees of the kennels are young women. We heard a presentation about the dogs, their training and use in the park. They they brought out the “summer sled” and hooked five dogs to it. As soon as the first dog was taken to the sled, all of the dogs barked and howled because they wanted to be the ones chosen. When all the dogs were in their harness, they were off like a shot--they ran like the wind. They came around an oval that put them back before the audience and then the trainer answered questions. It was a great event.

The Alaskan Pipeline

July 1,2010
Yesterday we checked out the Trans Alaska Pipeline System near Fairbanks. Oil was discovered in 1968 in Prudhoe Bay in northern Alaska. Pipeline construction began in March 1975 and was finished in June 1977. Crude Oil began flowing on June 20 of that year and the first tanker was filled at Valdez on August 1. The 48-inch diameter steel pipeline runs 800 miles and crosses three mountain ranges and 800 rivers or streams. Because of the permafrost large segments of the pipeline were elevated above ground to keep the permafrost from melting. More than 16 billion barrels have moved through the Trans Alaska Pipeline System. Alaska supplies nearly 14% of the United States’ domestic crude oil production. Over 19,000 oil tankers have been loaded at Valdez. The Marine Terminal cost $1.4 billion to build, covers 1,000 acres, and includes 18 oil storage tanks with a capacity of 9 million barrels.
I thought maybe you would like the little board that was posted at the pipeline sight about sunrise and sunset.