North to Alaska

We are heading out on a RV adventure........north to Alaska!

Thursday 14 July 2011

Smithers and south to Kelowna

The next day takes us back out to Highway 37 and we continue south, the nights are getting darker and longer the further south we go.  I really do enjoy the long daylight in the North and will miss it.
We stop for the night in the Bulkley Valley, near Smithers.  A really beautiful area with wonderful scenery, a lively town, ski hill and lots of fishing.  Hmmmm, interesting.  Intrigued, we stay over another day and poke around town, try a fishing lake and just enjoy the area.  The house prices are reasonable, weather not to severe and there is an airport if you just have to get out.  This just might have to be investigated a little more and in more seasons.  
I mean really, how can you not like an area that has the world’s biggest fly rod? And a very nicely made one too.  But no sign of the fish you would try to catch with it.
World's biggest fly rod

The road to Prince George is not too busy and we make good time past there and on to Quesnel.  Joe finds a lovely spot on 10 Mile Lake, and does a little fly fishing from the dock.
Rainy day in Barkerville

In the morning we take another side trip, this one into Barkerville.  The weather is not great, low clouds and some rain but we are used to that by now.  Really interesting old buildings and of course the people in costume going about town and giving tours.  

We spent our last night at Jorn’s place in 108 Mile Ranch.  Missed seeing Ellie as she was away in Ontario.


Near Merritt

And then it was our last day on the road!  We stopped on the side of the road near Merritt to add diesel, the truck had been on empty for too long.  Over the Coquahalla and down into the Okanagan.  Drop off the trailer at the storage yard, dirty and a little worse for wear, we will unload tomorrow.  Pick up Rosie from her storage spot and home!

Okanagan Lake

Lots of putting away and laundry to do today.  Everyone is tired and just happy to hang around the condo.  I  get to have a good look at the fabric that I collected on the trip.  Whenever we saw a quilt shop we had to stop and have a look, ok, ok I had to stop!  I have a few ideas written down and some plans on what I will make with the fabric over the winter.   
Fabric treasures!

Almost 10,000 km, over 5 weeks on the road.  It was a wonderful trip, you really appreciate how vast BC and Yukon are when you drive through them. 

Alaska was very beautiful and wild.  We met friendly interesting people all along the way.  Saw a huge variety of wildlife, black and grizzly bears, bison, foxes, moose, a lynx and many eagles.  There were Trumpeter swans in Alaska, sea otters in Homer, mountain sheep and coyotes.  We really only saw such a small part of it all.  Definitely have to go back again.  

Sunday 10 July 2011

Dawson City Yukon

                                                                                                                                                                  Happy Canada Day all!

 Dawson City actually put on a pretty good parade for such a small town.  Lots of red fire engines and kids having a great time sounding the horns.   There were gold panning contests, cupcake decorating, lots of bbq and the usual official speeches.  

Happy Canada Day!

In the evening we stop by Diamond Tooth Gertie's for a bit of gambling, Linzi is buying, but we miss the show by a few minutes.  Later we get in line for the Sour Toe cocktail.  I won't go into the details but if you are curious you can look it up, one of The major events in Dawson City.

The three of us go out on the river for the paddle wheel cruise the next night and it is a perfect day for it.  Up river to the paddle wheel graveyard, there are about 4 of the old boats pushed up on the bank there.  At one time there were over 200 paddlewheeler's on the river, some of them a side wheel like the one we were on but mostly stern wheelers.  

Paddlewheel graveyard
Some souvenir shopping and we have had 5 great days in Dawson City.  We had some time with Linzi and Randy but they are both working (a lot!) so we decide to head on down the road. 
We spend the night at Fox Lake, just north of Whitehorse, a beautiful campground we found on our trip up here last year.  The sunset is spectacular!

With no real plans for  the trip home we decide on a side trip to Atlin, B.C.  The road down has lovely scenery but a lot of road work.  The lake is beautiful and the water so clear and cold.   The trip back certainly deposited a ton of dirt on the truck and trailer but it was worth the drive.

                                                                                                  We decided to stop again at Dawson Peaks Resort on Teslin Lake, but while we did try the fishing again there was still no northern pike for me.  I had hoped to catch one on the trip.  Joe hooked a large lake trout, I saw it too, but he lost it just at the dock.   

We are heading down Highway 37, the Cassiar Highway, it was closed by a huge forest fire when we were heading up north.   The burned area is very black, but in some spots the green grass is showing up.  There are mushroom pickers in the area, apparently the morel mushrooms come up after a fire.  

The road is rough, fairly narrow with lots of seal coating going on and no road lines.  We see quite a bit of wildlife, the most dramatic being this fox taking home some fresh lunch.  It crossed the road in front of us and stood on the side for a minute or so before walking past the truck to head off where it wanted to go.  

There were lots of black bears on the side of the road, one day we saw 6 in a short period of time.  And these three stone sheep looking a little rough loosing their winter coats.

We do a detour into Stewart, and that has to be the one of the most beautiful stretches of road in the province.  Waterfalls, steep mountains and the Big Bear Glacier feeding Bear River.  Just amazing!

Big Bear Glacier

Stewart itself has seen better times, a lot of the stores are empty or boarded up.  The people are friendly though and the scenery is wonderful.   

Just in case any of you following this are missing seeing pictures of Joe with large fiberglass wildlife here he is with the bear in downtown Stewart, BC.

Sunday 3 July 2011

Homer to Dawson City, Yukon

We are ready to leave the coast now, that tsunami warning was scary enough for one trip, but went and got another half crab so we can enjoy our Alaska King crab dinner while it is still warm.  And it was very, very good!

So we are back on the road and heading north through Anchorage, a big city and not fun to drive through with a trailer. Really not a great part of Alaska but there was this amazing fireworks stand beside the road that we just had to stop at.   Just in case you wondered where Batman parks his car when he’s not using it................
The weather has turned grey and wet and covered all the mountain peaks in cloud so we missed seeing Mt McKinley.  All the stores have lovely post cards with pictures of the mountain on them so we do know it is there, just didn’t get to see it ourselves. 
We stay in the area for a couple of nights but the low clouds hover around and keep the mountains hidden.  But a moose did come out to say hi.
The museum at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks had been recommended to us so we stop by for a look.  Finally a bear for me to have my picture taken with!  And of course, one for Joe too.  
As we head south we go through North Pole, seems a fellow bought up the town in the 50’s and changed the name from Davis, trying to attract a toy manufacturer to set up shop in town. It didn’t work out so well, but all the light posts in town are red and white candy canes and the streets have themed names.   
We continue to see wildlife along the road, moose being quite common, but were very surprised to have a lynx cross the highway in front of us.  Too quickly for a picture but it was much larger than we thought one would be.
Most of my scenery pictures are taken through the truck windows, there are many miles to cover on this trip but occasionally Joe lets me out of the truck to take some pictures too!  Just to let my sister know that not all my pictures are drive-by’s.
So now we are on the last run through Alaska and heading back to Canada.  I found a really lovely quilt shop in Delta Junction, the Calico Cow.  On to the Taylor highway and the border.  In 2004 the Taylor fire burned over 1.3 million acres, the highway climbs and winds in and out of it for miles and miles.  It is a rough, half gravel, half paved road that goes to Chicken and then on the border.  We have read all the warnings of soft shoulders and are being very careful but the poor folks in the motorhome we came across stuck in the ditch were not so lucky.  They had a long wait for the tow truck.
We spent the night in Chicken, a very historic spot in Alaska.  In the morning we visited beautiful downtown Chicken with it’s three stores and bought the T-shirt you just have to have!  In the summer the population is 23, not counting the RV’s, and in the winter it goes down to 6.  The road is not kept open in the winter either so these are really hardy folks!
In the morning it is time for the driving challenge of the trip, up the Taylor Highway to the border and then over the Top of the World Highway to Dawson City.   The Taylor is gravel, or dirt really, narrow, winding and has those famous soft shoulders or no shoulders at all. It is full of RV’s of all sizes and shapes.  Our trip over wasn’t too bad but there were a few corners where  we were glad we didn’t meet anyone.  The road climbs to over 4000 feet and there you find the Canadian customs.  Just past it in Yukon is a pull out with an amazing view, you really do feel like you are on top of the world!
The road improves right away for a fairly easy trip down to Dawson City.  A short wait for the ferry and we are here!  Check into our campground and it is nice to know we will not be moving for a few days!  
Great to see Linzi and Randy.   Off to see the Canada Day parade and dinner out at the Greek restaurant, the Drunken Goat      

Friday 24 June 2011

North to Alaska

Second week or is it the third? Hmmmmmmm? 
We have made it part way through Yukon and are seeing quite a bit of wildlife, moose, black and grizzly bears.  Many birds, a porcupine but luckily no more mice.
Could be our retirement home?
Railway snowblower in Skagway
We wander around Carcross and decide to drop south into Skagway, Alaska.  The landscape on the road down is amazing, almost a moonscape, it is so barren and inhospitable!  We pass by the Chilcoot Trail and are amazed that people walked through this area to get to the gold fields in Dawson City carrying so much in supplies.  
We stay the night in Skagway, right downtown by the cruise ship docks.  Yup, must be back on the coast, it is cold, windy and rainy.  Low clouds obscure the mountains but you know they are very close by and big!  Wander around town with the other tourists the next morning and of course a visit to the quilt shop is in order.  The White Pass railway goes right by our campsite.  

Rainbow Lake

Marshmallows over the fire!

Evening fish on Teslin Lake, Yukon
Back into Yukon and by lovely Rainbow Lake and on to Whitehorse for supplies and a windshield repair.  We get our fishing license and some inside information from the local outfitter, including a suggested camping spot.  It is a beautiful mountain lake, the water is clear and very cold, the ice has only been off for a week or so.  Camp right beside the lake but no fish from the shore.  But it is time for the camping staple of hotdogs and marshmallows for dinner :)
Now we get into the worse section of road so far.  It is built on permafrost and really doesn’t stay where they put it.  The frost heaves are huge, have to take it quite slowly and still the trailer is getting beaten up badly.  We have to repair something almost every day, mostly loose screws and broken latches.  I am getting to be an expert on holding doors closed with bungie cords.
Joe and the moose.

Momma moose and babies

Midway Services
Cross over into Alaska at Beaver Creek, the road improves right away but only for a few miles, just to tease you I guess.  Starting to see trumpeter swans in the ponds near the road.  Moose continue to cross the road now and again and bears as well.  

Stop for supplies in Tok (rhymes with smoke) and fishing licenses.   We are stopped beside the road when a fellow stops his car and comes over to talk to us about the fishing.  We are not sure of him at first and his invitation to stay for free at his place and he will show us some fishing areas.  So we go to a government campground for the night and then decide to stop in at his place the next day.  Midway Services, highly recommended if you are driving on the Tok Cutoff. 

Mentasta Lake 

It turns out he is one of those people that it is a pleasure to meet.  He and his wife homesteaded the property, he bow hunts, fishes and traps as well as runs the mom and pop store.  Kind, generous, full of interesting stories, a real character.  He took us down to the river and gave us a short lesson on fly fishing and left us to fish his favorite spot where the creek joins the river.  

Arctic Greyling for dinner
Of course we didn’t get the salmon we were hoping for but we did spend a few hours and catch some greyling so at least we had fish for dinner.  Jay lent us a quad for the evening if we wanted to take it out, and of course the free camping.  He had a group of hunters in as well, staying in his famous old bus in the back.  The store was well stocked and had quite a display of pelts and hunting pictures.  Coffee is always on, and free, and there is always time for a story or two.  It was one of the nicest days of the trip.
Jay's bus
Matanusta Glacier
We had our first flat tire the next morning, but no problem, Jay helped to fix it.  And of course had some more stories to tell, this time about the big earthquake in 2002.  Shook them very badly and took out the road, and in November when it is cold.  He has a book of amazing pictures of the destroyed road and colorful anecdotes to go with it too.

After a days rest we are back on the road again and making our way to Anchorage and south to Homer on the coast.  Finally find a library and check emails, gee just like real mail, only bills.  Well, and one from Rosie letting us know she is doing well at her boarding place and getting the woman taking care of her trained well.
Turnagain Arm, Anchorage, Alaska
The scenery continues to amaze with huge mountains, glaciers, rivers, lakes and finally Turnagain Arm as we get to the ocean.  In Girdwood you can stay in the parking lot at the ski hill in the summer, only 300 feet above sea level but huge mountains.  

Sailor's Memorial

Small boat harbour, Homer Alaska
Halibut charter

So now we are in Homer, Alaska.  Camped on the 3 mile long spit south of town.  Mountains, glaciers and the ocean on both sides, fantastic views.  Joe went out on a halibut charter yesterday and came home with fish for dinner and now we have 10 lbs of it in our freezer as well.  I wasn’t able to join in as I pulled a muscle in my neck the day before and really couldn’t have reeled in a fish.  
Waiting for dinner.
Now that's a fish!

Walking on the spit

Tonight it is king crab for dinner, yummmmm.  And daylight till after 11pm!  
I really can see how people fall in love with the North!  

Longest Day   Solstice  Alaska
Ok, maybe a brief update on that thought,  we just had a tsunami warning!  Magnitude 7.4 earthquake off the Aleutian Islands tonight.  The sirens go off, the loud speakers say tsunami warning- everyone evacuate.  We grab the passports and head out in the truck.  Traffic is getting thick on the only road off the Spit.  It takes about 10 minutes but we reach high ground and the radio says the warning has been cancelled.   So back to the trailer and our now cold crab dinner, but it was still good and what a story to tell!