Monday, May 29, 2006

A-day +21 Seattle to Longview

We left Seattle about 11:45 pm (PDT) and flew to DFW, arriving about 6:00 am (CDT). Some of us slept some, while others did not. We sat around at Gate A9 until 9:15 am (CDT) and we landed in Longview at 10:00 am (CDT).

We were met with the news that Doug and Sue's grandson, Paxton, fell from the golf cart and cracked his noggin pretty hard. He is in a Shreveport hospital, so I bet MiMi and PawPaw are with him as this is being written.

Sweety and I went to Buckner's for lunch with her dad. Now I'm going to turn on the TV and take a nap.

GREAT TRIP, Doug and Sue and Sweety. I had a blast. Hope you did as well.

No pictures. Use your imagination.

A-day +20 Homer, AK to Seattle, WA

We left Homer about 9:58 (OK, EXACTLY 9:58) and arrived in Anchorage at 3:15. We returned the RV's and were taken to the Anchorage International Airport. At 6:15(ADT), we boarded our flight to Seattle and arrived at 11:30 (PDT).

No pictures. Use your imagination.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

A-day +19 Side Trip to Seldovia

This is the final day of fun on the trip as tomorrow we drive from Homer to Anchorage to get on the big bird to come home. This will also be the last blog for a couple of days.

Today we took a boat across Kachemak Bay to the small community of Seldovia. On the way, we passed this fascinating rock. Kids, can you guess its name?

If you said "Elephant Rock", give yourself a pat on the back.

Here we are on the dock to prove we went to Seldovia.

The main reason I wanted to go was the First Annual Seldovia Invitational Chain Saw Carving Contest. It was very loud and very cool. They even gave visitors free ear plugs. Here are some examples. This one is my favorite, two eagles fighting in flight for a fish.

And this is part of a two parter with whales. They looked almost complete and this lady is sanding the smaller of the two smooth.

I'm staying up as late as possible tonight to try to get a picture without flash around midnight. It is impossible to sleep up here because the sun seems to never set.

Hope you enjoyed the trip as much as we did. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, May 27, 2006

A-day +18 The Homer Spit

We had a great meal of halibut last night at the Spitfire Grill on the spit in Homer. The spit is a gravel penisula that can be seen in this picture jutting out into Katchemak Bay from the city. It doesn't look very big in this picture, but is actually about 2 miles long. We were on a bluff high above the city eating lunch today when this picture was taken.

After a hard morning of gallery hopping and shopping, we took naps and then went out to the spit. Doug was driving and he dropped me off at the man-made fishing hole. When the salmon run, they come into this giant pool built up like a levee constructed along side the spit. There is a gap in one side where water from the bay enters and allows the salmon to swim into the pool. While the girls shopped and Doug read in the RV, I sat in my folding chair and watched the action. No one caught anything. It looked like Doug and me. Lots of different methods were employed, and none were working.

After supper, we came back by and Doug wanted to stop and see what was happening and wow, what great, free entertainment.

This little kid has a great big king salmon hooked. Look how hard he is working to land this giant fish. He made two trips up and down the bank fighting this bad boy.

After about fifteen minutes he finally got the fish to the bank. Everyone on the bank applauded.

If you are squeamish, don't look at the next picture.

Here is the proper technique for killing a giant salmon--HIT IT IN THE HEAD WITH A ROCK!

Look how cool this kid is with his catch. He has all the gear and a real fisherman's look about him. I think he may be Russo-american, as I think he had a Russian accent.

Anyway, it was a great show. Posted by Picasa

A-day +17 Kasilof, AK to Homer, AK

Don't I look like a fisherman? I'm proud to report that I did not have to clean any fish stink off my hands. Neither did Doug, or anybody else that I could see. But we had fun and the river was beautiful. After about 1 1/2 hours, my feet were frozen. We left for better water on the road to Homer, one of my favorite cities in Alaska.

We stopped for lunch at Anchor Point, AK, and watched this action on the beach. They have a system for launching and trailering boats here that I have never seen before. They use this big four-wheel drive tractor to launch the boats, they assign a number to the trailer, and then when the boat is ready to be put back on the trailer, the tractor puts the trailer back in the water and hauls the whole thing out.

BTW, the road to the beach at Anchor Point is the most westerly highway in North America.

This is a typical view of Cook's Inlet as one drives down the western coast of the Kenai Peninsula on Highway 1.

We have arrived in Homer and look forward to not doing much. I'll go look for that Motel 6 guy. Posted by Picasa

A-day +16 Talkeetna, AK to Kasilof, AK

This was a pretty routine driving day. Nothing but beautiful weather and scenery everywhere one looks. We stopped at Alaska's premier ski resort, Alyeska, in Girdwood south of Anchorage for lunch at the top of the tram. Here we are loading up.
After lunch of Smoked Salmon Chowder in a sourdough bread bowl, we went outside to play in the snow. The Turnagain Arm of Cook's Inlet is visible in the background.

Doug is trying to push Sue off the mountain. (Not really, kids.)

This is the double black diamond slope near the tram. What kind of fools would intentionally head down this cliff with two boards strapped to their feet? EVE and STEVE!

We heard about some fishing opportnities in the area of Kasilof, so we are staying at an out-of-the-way (read kind of dumpy) RV park on the Crooked River. Hopefully we will catch a fish. Or see a fish. Or close our eyes and dream of seeing a fish. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, May 25, 2006

A-day +15 Afternoon

So much happened today, I couldn't get it all in one blog.

After lunch, Doug and I bought fishing licenses and went fishing in Goose Creek, about 20 miles south of Talkeetna. While we were fishing, Sue and Sweety went shopping. Who would have guessed? Sweety got the coolest bag-o-fur, about 20 or more pieces of real fur from lynx, fox, mink, rabbit, nauga, etc., all for only $10. The best part was this tail that Doug is using to make us think he has enough hair for a pony tail.

Little children, do not be afraid. It's only PaPa.
Here he is not catching fish on Goose Creek.

After a wonderful supper, we went to town for dessert and at the end of Main Street, we went out beside the Susitna River and took more pictures of Mt. McKinley.

Is this a great place or what? Posted by Picasa

A-day +15 Side Trip to Mt. McKinley

Best day of the trip, so far. In fact, I'll predict there will be nothing better.

We woke today to perfectly clear skies and this view of the tallest mountain in North America. Rarely do visitors see Mt. McKinley. It is estimated that only 30% get to see it. This is our 3rd visit and by far the best view ever. We are told they get only about 2 days a month where the mountain is completely visible. It is over 20,000 feet tall. Colorado is proud of its "fourteeners" and rightly so, as they are magnificent. But this baby practically pops out of the ocean and goes up over 20,000 feet.
Last time we were here, we tried to get a flight around the mountain, but the clouds were too dense. This time we lucked out. We booked the flight while on the road yesterday with Talkeetna Air Taxi. When we got to the airport this morning, the lady at the counter asked if we were sure we didn't want to do a glacier landing. We kind of hemmed and hawed about it until a guy behind us said we would regret not having done it, and if we didn't like it, we could have our money back. Turns out this guy is the owner of the company. So for an extra $40 each we set out. We had a great pilot, a very young Alaskan named Jonathan. He was an excellent tour guide and told us all about the geography and history of every area we flew over.

After circling the mountain, he said to check our seat belts as we were about to land. We headed straight at the mountain and before you could say, "Ski Patrol!" we were perched safely on the Ruth Glacier. There was already another plane perched up there. And shortly after we landed, a third plane landed.

Finally, on the journey home, Sweety was the CO-PILOT! Watch out for that mountain straight ahead!

This was SOOOOO fun! We did not ask for a refund. Posted by Picasa

A-day +14 Tok, Ak to Talkeetna, AK

A long drive today from Tok to Talkeetna. But beautiful sights abounded. This is Mt. Stanford.

And this is a glacier (name forgotten). There is a school nearby named Glacier View High School. I don't know for sure, but I hope that they had the hutzpah to come up with a great mascot. My choice would be the Glacier View Fightin' Ice Worms.

There is limited internet access in Talkeetna because it is sort of at the end of the world. Blogging will be limited (in fact non-existent) until Thursday in Homer. Posted by Picasa

Monday, May 22, 2006

A-day +13 Whitehorse, YT, to Tok, AK

Ho hum, just another day on the road. But what a road! Yesterday's scenery was the best I've ever seen. But today wasn't too shabby. How about this taken just south of Haines Junction, YT?

After Haines Junction, the road becomes more like a ride at Six Flags than a highway. I was in the lead today, and I learned to adjust the speed of the RV based on the straightness of the yellow stripes in the middle (when there was one) and the white stripe along the side (which is nonexisitent in this picture). Can you see the hump in the yellow stripe? Better slow down or you'll think your on the mechanical bull at Gilley's.

Though the pavement was bad, this is the Alaska Highway after all. Let's check out the wildlife-o-meter and see what Mother Nature graced our eyes with today:

1 Black Bear (licking its foot) on the side of the road
6-8 Elk grazing on the side of the road
24 Dahl Sheep resting on the side of a mountain
2 Moose (a mom and her yearling calf) next to the road (but very camera shy)
Snow (not technically an animal, but still pretty cool to a bunch of Texans)
1 Proctology wannabe with a flashlight in a holster in the cafe. (This is another story)

And finally, this huge bird. It looked sort of like a bald eagle, but was way bigger--turkey sized. The bill was strange, too. Anyone have an idea what this thing is?

Well, it was great today. We have another long drive tomorrow, but we are going to my favorite town in Alaska--Talkeetna.

Keep the rubber side down. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, May 20, 2006

A-day +12 Side Trip to Skagway, AK

(Editor's note: I wrote this blog two times yesterday and each time there was some error that kept me from successfully getting it published. Finally, I just tried to get the pictures posted and it worked. So now I will try once again to put some words with the pictures. If it doesn't work this time, I trust you will just make up your own stories to go with the pictures. Sometimes, that's what I do.)

Sweety and I took an Alaskan cruise several years ago and our favorite stop was Skagway. It was originally one of the two starting points for miners who were headed north to the Yukon to search for gold in 1897. It is a true gold rush town, once boasting a population of more the 10,000. Today it is a tourist destination with a year-round population of only about 800. During the tourist season, cruise ships bring hundreds of thousands of visitors and many seasonal employees are imported to accomodate the visitors.

Since Whitehorse is only 110 miles from Skagway, we suggested that we thought Doug and Sue would enjoy the odd mix of the funky old Alaska with the cruise ship gauche of modern day Alaska. Skagway has a rich history full of zany characters ("Soapy" Smith), beautiful scenery and old homes. We were thrilled that Doug offered to drive us down for the day.

This is a picture of the main street looking toward the dock. You can see one of the cruise ships. The town was crawling with these nice people.

Sue and I took a walking tour of the city conducted by the US National Park Service. A nice young ranger lead our group of about ten people around town pointing out various points of interest. It was a great tour and FREE! (Well, free if you forget the taxes you and I pay.)

As the tour was ending, Sue and I were walking back down the main street when I looked across one of the side streets and saw an RV being sprayed by a whole bunch of firemen. I said, "I wish I had my camera, this needs to go in the blog!" Sue said, "No, that is too sad. Don't go there." So we went back to the RV to meet Sweety and Doug to go to lunch. When we got there, I told Doug about the apparent fire and the RV and we talked about how that would be. Poor people. There was a huge rush of water coming down the street from where the RV was to the drain in front of the cafe where we ate. When we finished lunch, we got back in our RV and headed up the street from whence came the water. I said, "It looks like that RV was right beside the fire station. How lucky was that?" As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I saw the hand written sign--CAR WASH. Yep, the firemen were having a carwash/barbecue fund raiser right there in the street beside the fire station. How dumb am I? Anyway, I'm glad to say that no RV was burned, no one was injured, and much money was raised.

Another funny thing is that when Sweety and Doug were walking down the street in front of the Red Onion Saloon, a couple of young "dancing girls" from the saloon were visiting with the tourists. One of them asked Sweety if she would like a job at the saloon. She was flatered and amused, but declined the invitation.

We were totally amazed by the drive from Whitehorse to Skagway. Sweety and I had never made the trip as we had arrived by ship last time we were in the city. I promise I have never seen any scenery more beautiful than what we saw here. It was like something out of National Geographic. Or something from a travel brochure for Switzerland. Just unbelievable.

Here we are with the snowcovered valley and mountains behind us. I have another picture of a young lady and her dog out on the snow. He has a harness and is pulling her. Very neat.

In my never ending quest to bring you the best things in the world, I offer the following. We passed a sign beside the road advertising Caribou Crossing and it claimed to possess The World's Largest Bear. So we stopped in and I paid the $7.76(C) just so I could send you this picture of The World's Largest Bear. He is 11 feet long. You people should be paying ME for this stuff.

Finally, I give you a picture from the city of Carcross, YT. Its previous claim to fame is that it was here in 1899 that a golden spike was driven in the railroad to complete the White Pass and Yukon Railroad. This allowed miners to ride up the mountain from Skagway rather than have to carry a ton of food and equipment up. Today the biggest claim to fame is this store which is The Longest Continually Operated Store in the Yukon. Who knew? I went in looking for a bottle opener. All they had were t-shirts.

Tomorrow its back to the good old US.
Posted by Picasa

Friday, May 19, 2006

A-day +11 Watson Lake, YT to Whitehorse, YT

As we left Watson Lake today, I just had to have a picture of the sign post forest. It started back when the Alaska Highway was built in 1942 as a way to supply troops in Alaska during World War II. Soldiers posted distances to their home towns and it has grown into this amazing forest of signs left by people from all over the world.

This was the first day of what I consider typical north country weather--cold and drizzly. Even so, the landscape was beautiful. We think the winter was colder/snowier this year because there is so much snow still on the side of the highway. Many (most) lakes still are covered in ice. Last year, we didn't see this much snow. Whenever we stopped for breaks today, the air was chilly. Somewhere around 5 degrees Centigrade. (Children, see if your parents can change this to Farenheit by multiplying by 9/5 and adding 32).

Here we see Doug and Sue (Papa and Mimi) are leading the way through the mountains.

The mountains up closer.

Finally, today, I don't have the world's biggest anything, but you CAN see the Yukon's longest something.

This bridge crosses the river (name I've forgotten) into the Village of Teslin. This bridge is The Longest Bridge Span in the Yukon. Double click the picture and the bridge looks longer.

That's it for today, boys and girls. Off to eat halibut fish and chips for supper. Yummmmmmy! Posted by Picasa

Thursday, May 18, 2006

A-day +10 Dease Lake, BC to Watson Lake, YT

What another wonderful drive today. Snow everywhere, frozen lakes, and abundant wildlife. Everything you go to Alaska for. And we're not even in Alaska yet!

This moose was enjoying a fine breakfast of aquatic vegetation.

Saw some Dahl sheelp up high on a mountain side. These aren't the ones we saw because we had a camera malfunction, so I Googled this picture.

This is Jade City, BC, looking south down Hwy 37. We had just come through those mountains you see. This is known as the Cassiar Highway. It is a bit rougher than other main highways up here, but the beauty makes every pothole worth it.

Finally, I've shown you the World's Largest Cross Country Skis, The World's Largest Chainsaw, and maybe the World's Largest Hockey Stick. Add The World's Largest Fly Rod to your collection. It is in Houston, BC, and I didn't get it blogged on the correct day. But I had room for it today and I knew you were anxious to see it.

We got to Watson Lake very early (12:30 pm) today so we have done laundry, grocery shopped, checked our email and written the blog. Tonight we are going to a display of the northern lights at the Northern Lights Theatre here in Watson Lake.

This is also the town with the signposts from all over the world, but I put that in the blog last year. Tomorrow is Whitehorse and some delicious Halibut Fish and Chips. Yummmmmm! Posted by Picasa