THE MARATHON DRIVE CROSS COUNTRY TO BUFFALO, NEW YORK

As I said in an earlier blog, Lennard jokes that I am a slave driver, making him drive hundreds of miles across country. But in reality, he is participating in the decisions…it’s just that he forgets he said, “Oh sure, lets drive four hundred miles tomorrow.”

So we are now only driving, not sightseeing, so we can get to Buffalo, New York and meet up with my cousins, Darlene, Rick and Doreen, as well as our dear friends from Las Vegas, Jim and Joanne. We will be seeing Niagara Falls and staying at the Grand Island KOA. We would like to have a day or so “down time” before we start sightseeing again.

During all our travels, I have booked some Passport America RV Parks, some KOA RV Parks and some Good Sam RV Parks. All of them have turned out to be great and have adhered to their advertising as far as cost. I have been pleasantly surprised that even when I book the day before or the day of, I have been able to get space every time except for once. That time I just booked a different RV park.

For gas we have looked for Flying J or Pilot stations to get the Good Sam discount. They are also easy to navigate in and out of, which is important. Even a three cent per gallon helps when you are buying 100 gallons or more. Lennard likes to make sure he has about ½ tank at all times.

We run the generator when we stop at rest stops to make coffee and cool down the rig a bit. It helps a lot to take a little break even for 20 minutes or so. The microwave runs on the generator too. My stove and oven run on propane. We filled the propane tank up when we first left and I still have plenty left. No, it’s not that I haven’t cooked, it’s because they don’t use much propane. Hopefully it will be cooler when we arrive. It has been blistering hot and humid across South Dakota and Minnesota so far.

Since we aren’t seeing much but the freeway now, I’m posting some photos we took along our trip that I did not post and should have. Please enjoy!!

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Gypsy loved Tom

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Moon over Homer

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Our view in Homer

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MT RUSHMORE AND THE 75TH ANNUAL STURGIS MOTORCYCLE RALLY

Okay, I admit it. Maybe I did schedule a little too far to drive. We drove from Spokane to Billings Montana in one day. About 508 miles. Stayed in Walmart parking lot again, but then who doesn’t?

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Our neighbors in the RV Park bikes. George and Debra and JR and Tina were the best.

The next day we arrived just outside Sturgis, South Dakota at the Rush No More RV Park. It is in a lovely setting in the woods. Our aim was to be near Mt. Rushmore, but we found out we had arrived the week before the 75th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. How lucky was that? Now we don’t know much about motorcycles, but we learned a lot there. That night there was a Jam session at the RV Park meeting room. About ten local musicians showed up to jam. Bluegrass was the basic theme. What a nice evening to end this marathon lap of the trip.

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Sturgis is a town of about 6,080 people and this year, because it of the 75th anniversary, August 3rd – 9th, they are expecting over a million people. Over a million? Where are they going to put everyone? It seems every square foot of land and every hotel and every home and yard that could be rented out is… for miles around. We took a quick trip into Sturgis the next evening just to see what was going on. Tents for vendors were everywhere, lining the streets like a new city being erected out of nothing. We even saw a huge drone being used to scan the streets. I’m sure it was practice for the real deal the next week.

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We met King and Red at the Knuckle Saloon, and they were helpful in guiding us in our plans for sightseeing the next day.

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King and Red

The scenery in this part of South Dakota is absolutely beautiful. There are rolling hills, mountains, pine trees, limestone cliffs and waterfalls at every turn. We took the road through Vanocker canyon to Mt Rushmore.

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Pactola Lake

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We stopped at the old mining town of Keystone along the way.

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Mt. Rushmore is simply spectacular. There are no other words to aptly describe it. Sculpted by Gutzon Borglum between 1927 and 1941 it is a monument to his vision and dedication. He said:

“Let us place there, carved high, as close to heaven as we can, the words of our leaders, their faces, to show posterity what manner of men they were. Then breathe a prayer that these records will endure until the wind and rain alone shall wear them away.”

The four presidents depicted are:

George Washington, our first president and the Father of our country who said, “Government is not a reason; it is not eloquent; it is a force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.”

Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence. He said, “A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned – this is the sum of good government.”

Theodore Roosevelt who worked to ensure the rights of the common man. He said, “The things that will destroy America are prosperity at any price, peace at any price, safety instead of duty first, the love of soft living and the get rich quick theory of life.”

Abraham Lincoln, who held our nation together during the civil war who said, “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms; it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”

Thinking about these great men and their words, I wish we had just one person in politics who holds these beliefs to be true and who could bring our nation back from the precipice I feel we are on. Just a bit of opinion!

There is no entrance fee, but it costs $11.00 to park. Dogs are not allowed at the memorial, so I waited at the entrance while Lennard went up and then vice versa. While we were there it began to rain and then hailed. It made the day even better as far as we were concerned. It was an inspiring morning.

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Hail at Mt Rushmore

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Next we traveled back north through Hill City and Lead to Spearfish Canyon. Stopping at Spearfish Falls, we hiked the short trail to the falls. Set among the trees, the falls cascade down creating a light mist across the small lake at the bottom. We had lunch at Chute Rooster, an old mining camp building.

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Early evening found us traveling through famous Deadwood with its casinos and on to Sturgis and then back to camp.

Our neighbors in the camp came for the rally. George and Debra brought their brand new Harley trike, and Tina and JR brought their Harley bike. These lovely people saw how tired we were and gave us dinner, prepared by George, the chef. We were floored by their kindness. Over the next two days we would see them in and out of camp and became friends. They of course, tried to talk Lennard into getting a Harley. I, of course am abstaining. We have enough toys at the moment.

On our last day we travelled into Sturgis again to see the famous Buffalo Chip Saloon and the Budweiser Clydesdale horses. Because it was the week prior to the event we were able to drive right in and see the horses up close and personal. Bella and Gypsy got held and did not utter a sound when they saw those great horses. As they were being groomed, the handler let us take photos of the horses, pet Chip the Dalmatian, and see the new Dalmatian puppy. He told us there were ten horses there of the more than 200 Clysdales they now have.

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We also stopped at Full Throttle, the three story, largest bar in the world. As we talked to the staff preparing for the event next week, we were blown away by the scope and size of the plans. Police and EMT service are being brought in. Stages, bars, zip lines, and small cities for workers are being erected from the ground up. About fifteen famous bands will be playing including Lynard Skynryd, Dan Lawson Band, and Def Leppard. There will also be the first Mixed Martial Arts professionally sanctioned Caged Aggression event. Although the rally will be amazing, we were happy to have been there the week before!

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FINALLY: BACK IN THE USA AGAIN

It’s great to be back in the USA again. As beautiful as Canada was, we are happy to be home. We will be changing our trip route to stay in the US the rest of the time, so we have our phone and internet service.

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Entering the US

We met our good friends, Tim and Jan, from the Sun City Anthem RV club along with their dog, Star at the Spokane, Washington KOA. It felt like home to meet up with friends.

Since Bella and Gypsy were literally “dirty dogs” we took them to PetSmart for grooming and when we picked them up we hardly recognized them they looked so good. I almost thought we got different dogs back.

Lennard’s great neighbors from his old neighborhood, Tom and Joanne, live in Coeur d’Alene, which is only 30 miles from Spokane. They invited us over to their home for a barbeque, and what a spectacular home they have. Tom designed it himself and put most of the living space in the kitchen and family rooms. We were lucky enough that two of their three children were there that night and their nephew. Trevor, Juliana and Greg made the evening more interesting just by being there. Their eldest son, Taylor will be getting married in a week and they were preparing to receive 80 guests for an outdoor reception in their back yard. With five acres, they have the space and what a fabulous setting with lots of trees and grass. Now that’s what I call taking on a project!

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Tom at the barbeque

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The beautiful Yard.

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Lennard and Tom relived some fond memories and we said goodbye with promises to return to beautiful Coeur d’Alene someday.

The next day we took Joanne’s advice and visited downtown Coeur d’Alene. It’s a quaint and lovely town set right on Lake Coeur d’Alene.

Next to the lovely Coeur d’Alene Resort and Marina is Tubbs Hill. The city has provided a 2.2 mile hiking trail around it. Normally 2.2 miles would be easy, but in 85 degree weather with 60% humidity…not so much. And that was at 10AM! I of course got way too hot, but Lennard and the dogs just got warm. In spite of the heat, it was a great hike with extraordinary vistas of the marina and the clear, blue waters of the lake. We had lunch and several glasses of cold water to cool down before returning back to the RV Park for a little housekeeping.

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Tim is a master of barbeque and along with Jan, they made a lovely dinner the next evening. Sitting outside in the RV Park with the three dogs and good friends was something we enjoyed so much. Needless to say, dinner was delicious and the company even better.

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Tim and Jan

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The plan now is for us to travel towards Grand Rapids, South Dakota to see the iconic Mt. Rushmore. I saw it about 50 years ago, and still remember being awed by it.

THE BEAUTIFUL NATIONAL PARKS OF CANADA

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Elk were often seen in the evening.

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Totem in Jasper

The RV parks in Canada Parks are crowded, so we decided to stay just outside Jasper National Park in Hinton at a lovely KOA. We arrived early and took a walk at nearby Beaver Boardwalk. The boardwalk is a marshy area where you traverse the marsh on boardwalks, built by the local lumber company and volunteers. As we arrived, there was a quartet playing music out in the marsh. Can you imagine that? We walked over about a half mile of boardwalk, but did not see a beaver just their houses. I guess everyone went to bed early that night after the concert.

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The next day was filled with Jasper and its beautiful and unique areas. Pyramid Lake is a jewel in the mountains, perfect for kayaking and canoeing with its clear calm waters. Athabasca Falls is a thunderous waterfall with a walkway around it for viewing. It can take your breath away.

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Loaded for Bear!

Our last foray of the day was a 2.5 Km hike to the Five Lakes Valley. These lakes are known for their vibrant blue / green color and they did not disappoint us. The color was magnificent. The forest around them was dark green and filled with birds, squirrels and bears. The hike was moderate and I was all tired out until the very end, when we met up with a group of ladies just finishing their hike too… and one of them was 84. They have been making the hike every year. Was I embarrassed!

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On the way to Banff and Lake Louise we drove through the Icefield Parkway, which is just one stunning glacier shrouded mountain after another, and each more beautiful than the last.

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We camped at Tunnel Mountain Provincial Trailer Camping area in Banff, and were pleasantly surprised at how beautiful it was. The first afternoon we toured the elegant Banff Springs Hotel, which is now owned by Fairmont.   I was afraid it would not be as lovely as I remembered, but it was even more beautiful. However, the number of visitors had multiplied by thousands, and I mean thousands.

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We still had a few hours of daylight, so we drove to Bow Falls, which was stunning, and then to the Bow River Lookout to see the Hoodoos. I couldn’t help but think of the outstanding hoodoos in Bryce Canyon.

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Our aim was to see Lake Louise and surrounding area the next day. We started out at the Lake Louise Chateau and found that parking was a momentous problem even in the Honda Fit. To say parking was limited would be an understatement. The number of tourists was unbelievable. Cars, trucks and RVs and busses full. The lake and the Chateau were as magnificent as I remembered, and we were able to take a hike along side of the lake for about 1.5 Km. We were blessed with clear skies and sunshine. The color of the lake was opaque blue; the surrounding mountains varied colors of green, and grey.

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Roof top view from the Chateau Lake Louise

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View of Chateau Lake Louise from trail around the lake.

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From there we went to beautiful Moraine Lake and found the same parking problems. The color of the lakes comes from the rock sediment of the glaciers that feed the lakes, from which all the colors are reflected but blue, which gives them their indescribably beautiful blue color. We were able to hike along this lake too.

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On our way home we decided to take the 1A scenic loop. We couldn’t have made a better decision. We left the maddening crowds behind and had the road almost to ourselves, bringing back memories of Alaska.The route had many little stops where you could look over beautiful rivers or hike down trails.   We stopped at Johnston Falls and took the trail to the lower falls. (A little over ½ mile.) The hard part was the dogs were afraid of the narrow bridges over the canyons, so they had to be carried over the bridges. The good news was, I was so worried about them, I didn’t have trouble with the height myself. The falls were spectacular. The water curses through the canyon with such vengeance it carves out the canyon, leaving layers of multicolored sediment on the walls. It was a spectacular hike.

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We were famished by then and it was almost seven at night, so we ate a lovely dinner at the small restaurant at the bottom of the falls. Later as dusk settled, we saw buck elk in the meadow and even got a glimpse of a huge black bear.   It could not have been a better day and we counted our blessings once again.

On our last day in Banff National Park we awoke to gray skies and rain. We had planned to take a float trip on the Bow River, so we hoped for the skies to clear and they did. The float trip was serene and relaxing until the end when the rain started again. To make up for that, Lennard took me to the Banff Springs Hotel for a lovely lunch in the upper grill room, and we had a table looking out at the river and mountains.

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At the end of this last day, we drove to the Vermillion lakes. We hoped to see the sunset turn the lakes vermillion, but the clouds came and it rained off and on. We were able to hike a bit and then sat on a bench to watch the birds on the marsh and the colors of the lake change by the minute. No, they weren’t vermillion, but they were beautiful shades of blue, grey and gold. We even saw a rainbow over the famous Mount Rundle.

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Tomorrow we head back into the US and will be ecstatic to have our phones back and the internet. It has been problematic trying to get a few things done without our usual services. We are also looking forward to meeting up with our friends Jan and Tim, and Lennard’s former neighbors and good friends, Tom and Joanne. It will be a nice peaceful time before we begin our trip across the US to the east coast. Yes, we are still talking to each other and have not yet resorted to the boxing gloves.

THE DANCING GIRLS, THE PETRIFIED TOE AND THE ALASKAN HIGHWAY MILE ZERO

P1020106Dawson City was at one time a bustling gold mining town of about 30,000. Now it has a population of about 1,800, but there are still some mines being worked. The town’s buildings are painted pastel colors, giving it a personality of its own. We took the walking history tour in the morning and then looked around the rest of the city in the afternoon including the local cemeteries on the top of the hill.

P1020054 P1020032 P1020036 We had met Jamie, a friendly Aussie, in Chicken who told us about the “Drunken Goat” Greek Restaurant in Dawson City. We had dinner there and saw Jamie again. Later we went to the “Follies” show at Diamond Tooth Gerties. We shared a table with some people from Montreal including a local miner, who told us about current mining in the Dawson City area. The dancers were very professional and the show entertaining.

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THE TOE!

Later, Lennard continued his tradition of participating in whatever crazy scheme the bars have dreamed up to sell liquor, at the Sourdough Saloon. This one took the cake though. You buy a shot of at least 40 percent alcohol and then you actually pay to have them put a real, petrified toe in the shot and then you drink the shot, but not the toe of course. It was disgusting! And…he survived the Sourtoe drink. The toe is black and I guess has been in formaldehyde. Anyway, I hope it has. We may have to take Lennard to the vet too. P1020126 P1020129

The Signpost Forest in Watson Lake has approximately 80,000 signs put there by visitors. It started in 1942 and has grown since then. We met Jay and Sherrie at the RV Park and together Lennard and Jay made signs so we could contribute to the forest. Ours is near the iron picnic table in the grove of 7 pine trees if you ever go there. We will be giving Jay and Sherrie a call the next time we are in San Diego, as we had a great time with them.

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Now we are on our way down through British Columbia towards Dawson Creek and Jasper National Park. We will be traveling some long days, so I will be writing again in a few days, as we approach Jasper National Park, Banff and Lake Louise.

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Preparation for the Top of the World Highway

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Bison along the highway are “normal”

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Update. There is a raging fire in Jasper National Park, so we will have to see what our options are. We had to travel though one fire on our way to Dawson Creek. The smoke was thick and stifling. To see the devastation of hundreds of acres of forest hurts your soul.P1020204

Before we got to Fort Nelson and Dawson Creek, we were able to stop at Liard Hot Springs for an hours dip in the river hot springs used by the men and women who constructed the Alaskan Highway. It was a marvelous stop and sooo refreshing, even though the temperatures were from a 100 to 116. You pay just $5.00 and follow a boardwalk through a marsh, where we saw a moose by the way, to the springs.

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Dawson Creek is mile zero on the Alaska Highway. Most people start here, but we went the opposite way and ended here. Either way, we can say we traveled the entire Alaskan Highway. Hopefully, the fire will be contained and we can proceed from here tomorrow.P1020219 P1020221

SURVIVED THE TOP OF THE WORLD HIGHWAY!

After a lovely dinner with our friends, Tom and Linda, we went back to our RV to drink a little Tuaca. That stuff tastes great, but is dangerous! Count on a headache the next day for sure. The next night we had dinner at our RV and the halibut Lennard caught was simply delicious. Mostly it was the company. We will miss the stunning landscape of Homer.

With sad hearts we left Homer and stopped at Kenai on our way to Alaska. It is a historical town with lots of preserved old cabins and a lovely restaurant where we had an outside lunch. There is also an Old Russian Orthodox church in operation since 1841.

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Then we had a brief stop back in Anchorage with Dennis and Sandy, and then off across the Glenn Highway to Glennallen for the night, before heading to Chicken, Alaska for the Fourth of July. Lennard taped heavy plastic to the front of the RV to protect it from the gravel we knew we would incur. Along the Glen Highway we stopped to see the Mantanuska Glacier which is 27 miles long and at its widest 4 miles wide. It is beautifulP1010964 P1010954 P1010985

Chicken is the stop prior to the Top of the World Highway, and it is the highway I had steadfastly declined to go on and had relented the night of the Tuaca debacle, due to Tom’s urging. Chicken is also where the miners did a lot of gold mining.

We arrived in time to hear the music and went to bed early, only to be awakened at 11PM by the cannon outside the bar. They shoot it off when they get a pair of underwear to use as powder. Silly tradition, but effective in waking up the whole RV Park in the middle of the night.

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The Top of the World Highway is about a 125 mile stretch of mostly gravel, narrow road with pot holes, bumps, wash board, no shoulders or guard rails, and thousand foot drops. Fun…no. I was terrified most of the way, but Lennard stayed calm in spite of my muttering about “the end is coming”! We crossed the border into Canada at Poker Creek, the highest border crossing in North America to add to the ambiance of the trip. We survived it and I was happy.

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When you get to Dawson City, you have to take a ferry across the wide, Yukon River. It is fairly small and we just fit in our lane with the tow car. That was fun too. By the time we got to the other side, I had completely disintegrated into a small, sniveling ball.

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Our Gypsy had eaten some Foxtail and was coughing like she could not get her breath, so we found the RMCP office and asked for a vet. They told us about John, the local vet, and he was kind enough to see her at his house and gave us some antibiotics. The next day she was better, but we still have to keep an eye on her. I’ll get back to this tomorrow and tell you about Dawson City.

HOMER SPECTACULAR HOMER and SELDOVIA

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As we crested the viewpoint hill just before Homer, our breath was taken away with the beauty of the mountains across from Homer and the Kachemak Bay. It was just spectacular. And that was after the beautiful drive to get there along the Kenai Mountains and past Cooper Landing, Soldotna, and Ninilchik, where we saw tons of people fishing for Salmon in Deep Creek. It was a beautiful clear day and we had the whole day to get to our camping site on the spit.P1010554 P1010557

The spit is a long, narrow protrusion 4.5 five miles into the bay with lots of tourists’ attractions. (Halibut and Salmon fishing, eating, drinking, camping and boat trips across the bay.)

IMG_0511 Heritage RV park offered us parking right on the bay. From our front window we could see the water and the mountains on the other side of Kachemak Bay. The beach was just below us.

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The next day was taken by mundane stuff as we had now been gone six weeks and traveled over 4,500 miles. The dogs got washed, the clothes got washed, we got haircuts at “Legends” and the RV got cleaned up. Eventually you do have to clean up a bit.

Seldovia called to us, so we took the Rainbow Cruise across the bay to the historical town settled by Russians prior to America buying it from them along with the rest of Alaska.

P1010709 IMG_0507This waterfront town can only be reached by boat or plane. That’s right- no roads to there. We passed Gull Rock on the way to see various types of birds including the lovely little Puffin with its black and white feathers and orange beak. We also saw red footed pigeon Guillmots, new to us, but common in Alaska.

P1010672  P1010643Seldovia was quaint with lots of flowers and eagles. They were so many eagles, making so much noise, we were surprised and loving taking photos of them diving to pick up salmon. Sometimes they choose unwisely and can’t get up into the air with their catch, so they fly/paddle to shore with their prize.

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That night we had the best dinner we have had in Alaska at Cups Café in town. This small, eclectic, art, restaurant serves local fresh fish and they did an outstanding job. It was delicious.

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Lennard was off to Halibut and salmon fishing on Mike Manns’ Artic Addiction the next day at 5AM. Of course I did not go. I stayed home to document our travels here! It turned out to be a very COLD, WET morning, but cleared up during the day.  Lennard caught his two allowed halibut, some rock fish and some pink salmon.  We had it flash frozen but shipping was prohibitive, so sorry everyone.

Homer is know for eagles and these two roosted on the light pole right next to us every day.

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Going down on the boardwalk on the spit to the famous Salty Dawg and to get Lennard his fish and chips dinner.

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Inside the Salty Dawg

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Lennard getting his local Cod fish and chips

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All in all we have had a wonderful week in Homer, and are looking forward to meeting up with Tom and Linda again tonight for dinner.

I appreciate all of you who are following and in particular your comments.  Please remember to like this on Facebook.   Till the next adventure I’ll see you soon.

Anchorage and the Beautiful Portage Area

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Portage glacier area

I thought Anchorage might be the capital of Alaska, but that is Juneau. However it is the most populist city in Alaska. We parked next to Dennis and Sandy’s home downtown Anchorage. It was so convenient for us and we so appreciated their hospitality. The first day we “did” downtown and the museum which was extremely well done and informative with four floors of exhibits. We went to dinner at a local tourist place and stopped at the gift shop across the parking lot to see the world’s largest chocolate fountain and a Polar bear of course.  Mandatory tourist stuff! P1010417P1010411

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Anchorage’s population is over 300,000. Can you imagine? Sitting on the Cook Inlet, it is within 9 and ½ hours flight time from 90% of the industrialized world. That makes it a very strategic city for business. The inlet is named for Captain Cook.

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Captain Cook statue

The next day we ventured out to Portage and Whittier. Portage boasts several glaciers and the views from the road were to die for. The tunnel to Whittier (The Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel) is the second longest in the US at 2 and ½ miles. We did not expect it to be so crude. There were lights, but the sides were pure rock. As it is one lane only, you go through one direction at a time on a schedule. Scary! Whittier is a small town on the gateway to the Prince William Sound. Several cruise ships stop there.

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Entering the tunnel to Whittier

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Lennard at Whittier docks.

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Bella and Gypsy at the glaciers

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Fortune smiled on us the next day as we were able to get our water pump fixed so we could dry camp. Later Dennis and Sandy took us out to their lake house on Big Lake where we met their talented and polite grandson, Kyle. If you love photography check out his website www.kylelavey.com. The lake was like glass and the day was warm as we rode around on their pontoon boat looking at the scenery and houses around the lake. The view from their cabin was to die for. We were so fortunate to have shared the day with them. We will see them on the flip side when we start our long journey back to the lower states.IMG_0477 IMG_0467

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On NO the usual roadwork on the way to Anchorage.

ALASKA THE VAST WILDERNESS

P1010415Alaska is a vast land of wilderness and beauty. You can drive, walk, bike, hike or boat for miles and not see a soul. It is also a land of friendly faces and people. We have met some lovely people on our journey these past few weeks and among the have been our current RV neighbors, Tom and Linda, from Arizona.

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Tom and Linda sharing happy hour with us.

After taking a jet boat cruise up the Susitna River today to the area where it begins to have class V rapids, they asked us to join them for Moscow Mules. Never having had them before we were pleasantly surprised. Served in a copper cup, they were delicious! The conversation was even better. We certainly hope to see them again along the road in Alaska.

Moscow Mule:       4 OZ. Ginger Beer

1 and ½ OZ Vodka

1/6 OZ Lime Juice.

Garnish with Lime slice and serve over ice.

Talkeetna is a lovely little town with several great restaurants and a local brewery. We had a late lunch / dinner at the Wildflower restaurant and it was terrific. The population of Talkeetna is 876 and is a mixture of old town and new. This time of year everyone puts out their rendition of a decorated moose, which makes a lovely addition to the already quaint town. It is located on a spur road only 14 miles from the highway, about half way between Denali and Anchorage. We stayed at Talkeetna Camper Park, which is located close enough to town (3/8 mile) to walk and right next to the train depot.

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The Hurricane train runs from Talkeetna to Hurricane Gulch. It is the only flagstop train left in America. That means you can get on or off anywhere you want just by flagging it down or letting them know where you want to be dropped off. Lots of campers and people rafting down the river use it to get out into the wild. It runs five days a week during the summer. (Thursday-Monday) It is a two hour, 55 mile route…well depending on how many stops it makes. Round trip ticket costs $96.00.

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Our RV camp was managed by a terrific couple, Noreen from Ireland and Trevor from Britain. They were helpful, friendly and funnier than heck. We loved our spot near the train tracks. It was a bit tight, but we had trees near us and the camp was clean and quiet, except for us of course. I highly recommend anyone touring Alaska to stop here.

The jet boat tour today took us about 65 miles up the Susitna River towards Mt. Denali to Devils Canyon. It was a very smooth ride until the rapids and then was a little bumpy. Our Captain, Eli, did a great job of keeping the boat in place while we took photos of the rapids. The naturalist on board, Emily, took us on a short walk in the forest to see an authentic trapper cabin and native Dena’ina Indian encampment. She carried a rifle with her in case of bears. She also pointed out several dangerous plants that we should avoid. It was a great day.P1010356 P1010315 P1010297 P1010391

It’s Father’s day so I took Lennard to the Roadhouse for breakfast. We met one of the mountain climbing guides, Tomas Ceppi from Argentina. He had just led a group to the top of Mt. Denali.

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Family style breakfast at the Roadhouse. Lucky me got to sit next to a mountain climbing guide. Tomas Ceppi. Note small meals served here

Tomorrow we are off to Anchorage and meeting our friends from Vegas, Dennis and Sandy who also have a home and business in Alaska.

WHEN DOES THE SUN SET? OR WHAT HAPPENED TO THE MOON?

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Mt McKinley

As we travel north and get closer to the summer solstice on June 21, we have more and more daylight. We haven’t seen night for over a week now. It is so strange to be out at 11PM and it’s still daylight.

Well, so much for the Alaskan Highway being a great road, which it was up to Tok. The road from there to Fairbanks was fraught with road work, pot holes, frost heave and gravel! But, taking advice from our friend, Frank, we drove slow and survived it. We did see a grizzly and some beautiful scenery along the road though. Can you imagine Lennard’s face when he saw how dirty the RV and tow care were? Yikes!!

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Our RV park in Fairbanks was terrific. We had a site right along the Chena River with lots of space and trees. I was able to do laundry there in a clean laundry room.

We took the Discovery Paddle Boat up the Chena River with views of Fairbank homes along the river bank, an example of the local Athabascan Indians camp, salmon preparation demonstration,and a show by mushers and their sled dogs. Susan Butcher was the second woman to win the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in 1986. She won four out of the next five sequential years. Her daughter, Tekla, carries on her tradition taking care of the descendants of her sled dogs. Her lead dog, Granite, was a hero among sled dogs. Unfortunately, Susan succumbed to cancer in 2006, but her tradition lives on

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Thirsty after the sled run!

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Discovery Paddle Boat

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Soon to be sled dogs.

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Tekla and her sled dogs.

Lennard and I both joined the “Turtle Club” and got “turtled” at a local restaurant.  You have to answer four questions to join.  For every question you can’t answer, you have to drink a shot. ! Luckily, we figured out all but one question.  We have our friend, Sam, to thank for this experience! We are now certified turtles with club cards.

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Sam the best bartender!

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The last day in Fairbanks we boarded Bella and Gypsy out to “Holy Dogs” and took a tour to the Arctic Circle via the Dalton Highway. We left at 6AM and returned at 11PM. It was a long day, but only one percent of all the tourists who visit Alaska cross the Arctic Circle. Along the way we stopped at a trapper store, saw some wildlife and the Alaskan Pipeline, and several lookout points. We got to walk on the tundra which is soft and dangerous for walking because it is very uneven. Underneath the tundra is frozen ground. And No, there wasn’t any ice or snow there in the summer. I was surprised about that. We had a little celebration at the demarcation line. I was expecting champagne, but got tundra chocolate cake with snowcap whipped cream on top. Nice.

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Alaskan Pipeline There are over 800 miles of it.

Our next stop was the exquisite wilderness of Denali Park. It is home to the highest spot in America, Mt. McKinley at 20,320 feet above sea level. The locals call it Mt. Denali. In Denali we stayed in a virtual parking lot. I shouldn’t complain, as at least it was only a mile from the park entrance. We should have stayed in the park and dry camped. Our mistake, but never mind.

We took an all day tour to see Mt. McKinley and it was a spectacular day. (Only 10% of visitors actually get to see it because of usual cloud cover.) We had the best day you can have for viewing the majestic mountain. Along the way we saw moose, caribou, grizzly bear, and Dall sheep. Dall sheep are the only pure white sheep in America. We stopped at several view points, but the last one was spectacular. We are grateful for that perfect day.

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The road to Mt. McKinley

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Grizzly

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That night we had dinner at the famous Denali Salmon Bake Restaurant. I looked in the kitchen and it looked like Hell’s Kitchen, with everyone yelling out the next items due up. The food was great, but as usual…too much of it.

The next day we took the dogs on a little hike, keeping in mind Pomeranians don’t necessarily realize they are appetizers for grizzlies. Later we visited the only national park sled dog kennel in America. The dogs here were different from the ones in Fairbanks. These were all huskies, bred to pull loads while the ones in Fairbanks that we visited were mixed breeds, bred to race. It was HOT in Denali that day and most of them were sleeping until time to hook up and they all went wild. They also had a liter of six puppies born just a month ago. Their mom was just about to the point of deciding she had had just about enough of them and weaning them off her milk. They had other ideas about that program.

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There is a heat wave here this week and everyone is loving the weather, as it usually is a lot cooler. I’m hoping it will cool down again. After all, that was one of the benefits of leaving Las Vegas for the summer!

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