Saturday, July 12, 2008
Friday afternoon found us in Vanderhoof, BC at a delightfully immaculate campground called Dick's RV Park. There we met a couple from Merritt, BC; Morley and Henny. They were on their maiden voyage in their new Class A motorhome (think Greyhound Bus size). We got along very well and had a great chat about the RV life. After saying goodbye on Saturday morning, little did we expect that they would pull into the same campground in Lac La Hache, BC later that day. The picture above is our site at that campground. I made my last attempt to catch a fish in Canada that afternoon. After dinner, we joined our new friends in their coach for drinks and conversation.
Sunday was our last full day in Canada. We traveled to Oliver, BC by a lesser highway with great scenic views. The last 40 miles or so was along a very large lake that was obviously a popular resort area for southern British Columbia. We had a good spot in a combination motel and campground with 2 special attractions for us; a great supply of fresh cherries picked from trees in the campground and a swimming pool/jacuzzi that we enjoyed very much. It is getting much hotter now that we are near the US border.
Monday morning found us crossing the border into Washington state about 9:00 am. For the first time, a customs officer decided to take a look into the camper. She was very brief and did not find anything to confiscate, so we were on our way towards the KOA in Spokane. While in Spokane, we met up with a brother of my sister-in-law, Joanie. Charlie and his 5 year old daughter came out to the campground to chat for an hour or so. We had a good visit.
Tuesday morning we crossed the panhandle of Idaho, going along beautiful Coeur d' Alene Lake before crossing into Montana and the Mountain Time Zone. We were starting to feel close to home. We had made reservations at the Wagonhammer RV Park in North Fork, ID for our last night on the road. This is the same RV Park where we spent our first night of the trip. The owners remembered us and welcomed us back. They have a 5:00 pm cocktail hour in the main building every night and we met several other wonderful folks there.
Wednesday morning at 6:30 we headed down highway 93 for home. On the way, I completed a work project for my former employer (had to make a little money to help pay for this trip); but we managed to arrive back home about 1:00 pm. It sure is different to have 1,800 sq. ft. to live in than the 200 sq. ft. we have been in for the last 7 weeks. I went to the post office and picked up 2 tubs of mail and we manage to start going through that pile before the end of the day.
Well, it is over. We drove 8,422 miles from start to finish. We did not have any flat tires, no chipped windshields or any mechanical failures. The truck and camper did get seriously dirty, but a little soap, water and elbow grease will cure that problem. This is something we will remember for a lifetime, but will not do again. Alaska is incredible, but it is a long ways away, and Canada is a very expensive place in which to travel. Diesel fuel in Canada hovered above $6.00 per gallon. Food is also very expensive. About the only reasonable cost we found in Canada were the campground fees.
We hope you enjoyed taking this journey with us. Our next trip will be starting August 10th when we head for the family reunion in South Dakota, followed by a stopover in our former neighborhood in Colorado.
Friday, July 4, 2008
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
We drove out of the rain in about 2 hours and headed northeast, back towards the Alaska Highway. Our first choice for a campground was deserted and there was no one in the office. We headed into Watson Lake, BC and stumbled into the Downtown RV Park. Sure enough, the wi-fi worked and there was cable television. We got our CNN news fix and learned more than we needed to know about Seattle current events. There was even a decent grocery store and we stocked up on a few things. A caravan of about 20 big rigs pulled in about 4:30 in the afternoon. What a sight.
On Wednesday morning, we checked out the signpost forest in Watson Lake before we left town. As you can see in the picture, Rosie found a sign from her homeland. We put another $100 of diesel in the Chevy and headed back west up the Alaska Highway. Why west, you ask? Well, we wanted to come home a different way than we went so we could see some more of Canada; so we were going back west about 10 miles to connect with Highway 37 south through British Columbia.
While the scenery was new, the view through the windshield continues to be a highway (a bit rough in places) going through the forest. We cannot believe how many trees there are in this country. Wildlife is becoming a rare site. We saw 3 foxes at 3 different times. Only one hung around long enough to get his photograph taken. After 210 miles we arrived at our destination; Mountain Shadow RV Park. This is a beautiful park in the woods, near a lake and nowhere near civilization. No cable TV, but the wi-fi works great; which is how I am getting this blog out tonight. Two more days on the route will get us to Prince George, the largest town we will see until we arrive in Spokane, WA on Monday. I will see if the signal here is strong enough to upload photos. Be back at you later for more of our journey home.
Monday, June 30, 2008
At 1:00 pm today we joined the organized walking tour of Skagway led by a young lady with the Forest Service. We learned about the rowdy history of Skagway in the late 1800's at the time of the gold rush in Dawson City; and went into some old buildings that have been reconstructed with some of the original furnishings.
It was steak and salmon night for dinner, usually a Sunday meal, but we are off our schedule just a wee bit. In the morning, we pull up the long hill back into Canada and head for Watson Lake. We have cut one day out of our return trip and will be going back through Spokane and Salmon, ID insteaed of the longer route we originally planned. We are kind of anxious to get back to our home (and a king size bed). The camper is getting smaller every day (or so it seems). We will be updating the blog in Canada as often as we can get an internet connection that is strong enough.
Friday, June 27, 2008
Monday, June 23, 2008
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Hi again! The picture on the left was taken in front of Horsetail Falls about 8 miles northeast of Valdez, Alaska.
It has been a while since I wrote; so here is the latest. We pulled out of Homer on Thursday morning and proceeded north of Anchorage to a State Campground with no electricity, much less any wi-fi; which explains why the delay in these updates. After settling in to the campsite, Michelle and I drove into Eagle River to find wi-fi at the town library. Later in the day, we headed for the airport in Anchorage. On the way, we stopped for dinner at Chili's Restaurant. Got to the airport about 8:00 pm and went in with Michelle. I used the airport wi-fi to fill business orders while Rosie and Michelle had some mom and daughter time. Rosie and I headed for the campground about 10:00 pm. Michelle had to wait for her flight to leave at 1:45 am on Friday.
During the day Friday, we just relaxed. I went fishing at a nearby lake and caught my 3rd six inch trout for the trip. We shopped for groceries and filled up the tank in the truck. We picked up broasted chicken with potato salad and cole slaw from the deli for dinner. I crashed around 7:00 pm. I don't do well entertaining myself without electricity to run the computer!!!
Saturday morning we got up at 5:00 am and hitched up; hitting the road by 6:30 am. The schedule called for us to spend the night near Glenallen, Alaska. However, we arrived there by about 9:30 am, so we decided to continue on directly to Valdez. The drive from Glenallen to Valdez was the most spectacular to date. The last 30 miles before Valdez is breathtaking. There are waterfalls on both sides of the canyon walls. We went over a pass at 2,600 feet which was incredible, considering that elevation is nothing in the Rockies, but here it was so dramatic. We dropped down into Valdez, which is on the edge of Prince William Sound. We checked into the Eagles Rest RV Park and got set up. We have reservations for a ship tour of the Sound tomorrow, including a glacier and several other interesting wildlife observation spots along the way. There is a lady in the RV Park that does pet sitting; so she will take Sammy out for two walks while we are gone for about 7 hours. Will post new pictures and a new blog after our adventure tomorrow.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Friday, June 13, 2008
Monday, June 9, 2008
Today we visited the Dog Sled kennels and saw a demonstration of the use of dog sleds in Denali Park.
We petted the dogs and took a lot of pictures. There was also a litter of 8 new puppies that are incredibly cute as only puppies can be.
The rest of the day was uneventful. We treated ourselves to ice cream at a local store.
Tomorrow we hook up and head for Anchorage. On Wednesday Michelle arrives at 9:45 pm. We are all excited about her coming to join us for a week.
Sunday, June 8, 2008
Saturday, June 7, 2008
After our day from road hell on Tuesday, we drove from Tok to Fairbanks. We set up in Fairbanks at the Rivers Edge RV Park for 3 nights. This is a really great park with good cable TV (we can watch CNN again) and full hookups. Only the wi-fi was weak. While we were here, a lot of housekeeping issues needed to be attended to. Rosie did a large load of laundry and scrubbed the floor of the camper. I repaired some things that had fallen off the walls and the dinette seating from the rough road. I got the truck serviced with new oil, etc. On the way out earlier today, we used the RV Wash to try to clean the camper exterior.
Fairbanks is like any mid-size town in the lower 48. Nice streets, shopping malls, lots of trees and parks. The city is surrounded by rolling hills with more trees than you can count in a lifetime. We took a couple of day trips out of town in pursuit of fish; with very limited success. All I have to show for my $145 license so far is a little rainbow trout out of a stocked lake. All the rivers are low and muddy. I am beginning to wander if the only way to enjoy the Alaska fishing adventure that is so heavily advertised is to spend a $1,000 or more on a float plane and a guide. That is certainly not in our budget. Well, we will see how it goes as we get further south.
The caravan of 17 RV's rented by the group from Denmark that we met in Ft. Nelson showed up in our park in Fairbanks. I can't imagine what it would be like to try to keep a group that large organized. We met some of our other neighbors in the park. Nice folks from Wisconsin, Virginia and other parts of the lower US.
Today we traveled about 125 miles to Denali RV Park; about 7 miles north of the park entrance. We drove down to the park Visitor Center and encountered a moose grazing roadside. Rosie got some pictures which were sent out separately. Unfortunately we were on the south side of the north bound moose, so the view is not the most inviting. We have our tickets for the 8 hour tour of Denali National Park tomorrow. The RV Park where we are staying offers pet sitting services (they will take Sammy out for 2 or 3 walks while we are gone). The tour bus leaves on a 66 mile journey at 7:30 am and we can get off anytime to hike or sightsee, then get on the next bus that comes along. We will be bringing our own lunch and water. Hopefully we will see much beauty and many animals. We are scheduled back about 3:30 or 4:00 pm.
We will report on our adventure tomorrow evening.
Thursday, June 5, 2008
We finally got to the Alaska border where a couple from the Chicago area was taking pictures at the Welcome to Alaska sign, so we got them to take some pictures of the two of us together. See photos to come later. The road got a lot better in Alaska. The US Customs was quick and easy. We continued on to Tok, Alaska where we checked in for the night. We were exhausted by then, but the bad karma for the day wasn't quite over. The cable TV was partially down and the wi-fi connection was expensive with a limited capacity. As it turned out, the owner of the RV Park has her permanent home right around the corner from our home in Idaho Falls.
I got my Alaska fishing license along with a new baseball cap and t-shirt. I am so ready for Alaska. Tomorrow we move on to Fairbanks, where we will rest up for a few days.
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
After 250 miles, we pulled into the Continental Divide RV Park. This is a nice, newer, campground with some trees around it and large sites. The wi-fi system is down (story of my life in remote areas) and no cell service either. Oh, well; it is Sunday and I don’t have web business customers to serve today. We spent some time this evening with another couple that are full time RV’rs. They live in their motor home full time; wintering near Phoenix and traveling from April to November. They are headed out on their first trip to Alaska also.
This campground has a free RV washing station so we rinsed the grime off the truck and the camper. Rosie, trooper that she is, scrubbed the floor of the camper on her hands and knees. What a woman. Well, I hope to send all this stuff out Monday night from Haines Junction, our last night in Canada. We cross the Alaska border on Tuesday.
Today we drove 156 miles from Fort Nelson to Muncho Lake. This is one beautiful spot. The highest price for a campground ($42.00) and fuel ($1.63 per litre); but we have a site 20’ from an incredible lake. We were setting up at the same time as another couple and we got to talking. They are from Alberta, Canada; just north of Calgary and they were headed for Dawson City in the Yukon Territory to pan for gold. We spent a lot of time in the afternoon talking with them and he went with me over to the boat dock while I did some fishing. First cast brought in an 18” lake trout. After that, nothing that evening or even the next morning. He and I surmised that I had caught the last trout in the lake. I do have a photo of this fish for all of you doubters out there.
We saw one bear, 3 mountain sheep and 2 deer on the road today. Got pictures of the deer and 2 of the sheep (they may be goats, I am not sure). The weather was a mix of overcast and partly cloudy. It did get a little sunny in the afternoon after we set up, so we got to sit in the sun on the lakeshore.
Tomorrow we head north again. I am not certain where we will spend the night, but there are several possibilities.
Friday, May 30, 2008
I think the picture says it all. We are on the Alaska Highway. After 9 days on the way to Alaska we are finally on the official Alaska Highway that actually gets you to Alaska!
After a full day of rain yesterday at Mile O RV Park, we awakened at 5:10 am this morning to bright sunshine. Not a cloud in the sky. We were so excited we got up, packed up and headed up the highway by 7:00 am. Have I mentioned that daylight is from 4:00 am to 10:00 pm? And the longest day of the year isn't until June 21st. Considering we will be much further north on the 21st, it will probably be daylight from 1:00 am to midnight.
Anyway, we were up the road about an hour and a half and came upon a cow moose and her calf alongside the road. Rosie was holding the camera and I managed to slow down long enough for her to get a few good shots. They will be in the photos for the day.
We made it to Fort Nelson (283 miles) by about 2:30 and found a decent RV Park with a functioning Wi-Fi. After dinner, we drove to a nearby lake so I could start the fishing part of this trip. Rose was standing by to photo document my first fish of the trip. Unfortunately, as I was trying to hold my first Canadian northern pike, it managed to slip the hook and my grip. The picture was snapped just as the fish dropped out of view of the lens; so no photo of the first fish of the trip.
Tomorrow we have a short drive (200 miles) to Muncho Lake where there is a lakeside campground where I hope to continue the fishing experience in Beautiful British Columbia.
No blog tomorrow because there is no internet connection at that campground.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
We had decided to make a day trip to the west to see a place called Emerald Lake. By the time we were 20 minutes down the road, the sun was peeping through the clouds and the temperature had risen from 39 degrees to 48 degrees. We first stopped at the Natural Bridge; a place in the river where water had cut a a rather large hole in the granite. We got some pictures and a brief video. A nice couple from Singapore asked me to take their picture and so we also got the husband to take a picture of the two of us. Another 20 minutes and we were at Emerald Lake. What a beauty; deep blue green water and a fantastic lodge on the lake shore ($400 per night according to my local guidebook). Where to people get the money? We leashed up the Samuel and headed on the trail around the lake. Got a lot of pictures and Rosie got to hear a loon for the first time. I also got a great picture of the loon.
We had lunch back at the camper and then took off north on Route 93 to explore the Continental Divide. The guide book says this is a spectacular drive and the book was right. We took more pictures and pulled into all the turnouts to look around. We turned around at the Saskatchewan River and headed back to Lake Louise. We filled up with fuel and hit the market for a few items, then headed for the camper for the rest of the day. We had a great spaghetti with sausage dinner followed by a walk along the Bow River followed by the movie "Ray" about the life of Ray Charles. Jamie Foxx did an incredible job playing Ray Charles.
It is time to call it a day. Tomorrow we are back on the road headed north through Jasper to the KOA near Hinton, Alberta.
About a mile and a half from the gas station we came to the entry point for Kootenay National Park and paid our entrance fee of about $50, which also covers Banff and Jasper National Parks for the 3 days we will be here. Just past the entrance, we stopped to wait for the one way traffic to come through the rock scaling area. We got going after about 20 minutes and headed into a gorgeous canyon. This looks like the Colorado Rockies, only more dramatic.
About an hour up the road, we came upon a black bear snacking it's way along side the highway. Rosie got really excited, but managed to get a picture anyway. We came on another bear a little later and I got a picture of that one. We also got a shot of a bull elk grazing along the roadway.
We arrived in Lake Louise and checked into the campground at exactly 11:00 am. This was a short day on the road. After settling into our site, we headed up the road for Lake Louise. What a magnificent place. The lake was still frozen except on the very edge. There is a huge hotel on the lake shore that goes for $560 a night (non-lake view) and $670 a night for the lake view side. There were a lot of people here and we leashed up Sammy and headed around the lake shore hiking trail. Along the way we met a couple from Holland and had a nice chat with them in an interesting mixture of German and English. They were also camped at Lake Louise Campground in a rented motor home.
Dinner was delicious BBQ chicken with rice and corn, grilled on the RVQ. We did bring the RVQ inside for the night, since this is bear country and the guy at the gate was emphatic about leaving no food items or cooking equipment outside. Did I mention the RR tracks are about 200 yards from our site. The trains run often and seem to have a need to blow their horns a lot.
After dinner, it was a short drive through the forest still covered in about a foot of snow to Morraine Lake. Another magnificent scene. Most of the lake was frozen. There were a lot of downed trees along the shore. We got back to the site, checked out the shower facilities, took a short walk and crashed for the night. I was exhausted and actually turned in around 8:00 pm. Tomorrow we will hit Banff and the scenery between here and there.
Friday, May 23, 2008
We drove along a large river for many miles. The forest and the meadows were green. Cattle and horses were in abundance. We also slowed down for an occasional deer to cross the highway. We pulled into a large grocery store to replenish fruit and vegetable supplies since we weren't supposed to bring these things into Canada (even though the border guard did not ask us about fresh fruits and vegatables) and had made sure we didn't have any at the border. All went well at the grocery store, then I went to a liquor store. SHOCK!!! The price of a 1/2 gallon of Smirnoff is $57.00 Canadian (about the same as US$). No wonder they won't let you bring more that 1.4 liters of wine or liquor per person into the country. It took me a little while to recover from that surprise; but we continued north along Highway 93. The views of the Canadian Rockies are spectacular; much more dramatic than in the US (or at least they seemed that way).
About 7 km before Radium Hot Springs we pulled into the Mountain Shadows RV Park. This is another lovely RV Park in the woods; with large sites and a friendly staff. We set up the camper and went for a walk with Sammy. All is well this evening with the computer. We have Wi-Fi at the site; cable TV (47 channels) and all the comforts of home.
Tomorrow we head into the mountains and will settle in for 3 days at Lake Louise. We will be out of touch for 3 days because all we will have is electricity and water (maybe); no wi-fi, no cable, no cell service, etc. So it will be Tuesday when I will be reporting from the Hinton/Jasper KOA. See you then. Photos to be sent separately.
The weather continued to be slightly crappy through Poulson, MT and along the western edge of Flathead Lake. Flathead is so huge, you sometimes think you are going along the sea shore. We stopped at a scenic overlook and met another couple in a pickup camper also headed for Alaska. After a brief chat with them, we drove through Kalispell and northward towards Whitefish. Our destination was the Whitefish KOA. This campground turned out to be in a great spot in the woods and well off the highway. The beauty of the campground was diminished slightly by the lack of W-Fi at our campsite. I had to take my laptop to the laundry to access the internet. After downloading e-mail, I returned to the camper. That is when my laptop decided to behave in a very peculiar way. Without going into great detail, I was very concerned that my ability to continue to serve my customers from my web site was in peril.
After grilling country style ribs and having fried potatos and corn on the cob prepared by the lovely Rosie, we had a filling meal. I then loaded my laptop into the truck and headed for the Geek Squad desk at the Best Buy in Kalispell. A really nice young guy plugged in a diagnostic program and proceeded to analyse my hard drive for viruses and other nasty things. I began to look at alternatives; like possibly having to purchase a new laptop and try to load up everything I would need to get the new computer to do everything the old computer does. After about an hour, we pulled the plug on the diagnostic program and I tested my laptop. Who knows why or how, but everything seemed to be working exactly like it should and I was able to depart the store without spending a cent.
I will send out the pictures for the day separately. For those of you who don't know, I use Snapfish to upload pictures for others to view. You do have to register with Snapfish to view the pictures; but there is no cost for registration, and you do not have to make any purchases.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Our trip today was short, about 185 miles. Our destination was the Wagonhammer RV Park north of Salmon, ID. We had received a call a few days before hand from the RV Park that we should give them a call from Salmon before we headed for the RV Park because they were just finishing a new bridge across a portion of the Salmon River. When we arrived, they were still about 15 minutes away from completion. The bottom line is that we were the first customers to drive across the new bridge. This event was documented in the photos sent out seperate from this blog entry.
All is going well on our first day out. The rig is functioning like it is supposed to. Sammy is happy to be traveling again; and so are we. This campground is very nice and we had a great social hour with the owners and some of their friends that are helping them out with running the park.
Tomorrow it is on to the KOA in Whitefish, MT. Friday we cross the border into Canada. I hope we have arranged our food and liquor supplies so we don't exceed Canadian limitations. Rosie hates to throw out food and I hate to pour out booze. :-)
However, I expect all to go well with the border crossing. We will probable get a wave through and all the worries will be for naught.
Saturday, May 10, 2008