Time to Play Catchup!

I had attempted to post a few days ago but after working on the post for 40 minutes I lost it in cyberspace…stupid technology!

The morning of the 16th we headed to Lone Butte, BC…and Lone it is:

Lone Butte, BC

The park isn’t really set up for large rigs and the “pads” left a bit to be desired. The front wheels are off the ground in case you can’t tell.

Wheels Up!
But it was located on a nice lake and we had a great walk. We headed out early the next morning for Vancouver where I would meet Linda Olson in person for the first time. The park there was nice but rather expensive ($70/night) compared to most ($30/night). Richard was out washing the windshield when a guy came by to let him know there was a rig washing bay on the property. Richard said thanks but he was fine and the guy told him the don’t really have dirty rigs in the park…too bad!

We met up with Linda at an Indian restaurant where the food was wonderful. It was such fun to meet her after “talking” online for the past 13 years!

Linda and I in Vancouver

Next up was Seattle as our Port of Entry. What a nightmare! Freakin’ 2.5 hours to travel a couple of blocks, have a very short conversation with Border Patrol and then find ourslves in bumper to bumper traffic all the way to Seattle. Travel Tip of the Day: Don’t cross at Seattle on a Sunday morning during the summer! It took up all our time for sightseeing so we’ve decided a Pacific Coast Tour will be added to our list. I had really wanted to meet another friend there, Julie, but I wasn’t in a good mood after that fiasco.

Border Crossing at the one hour mark
2 Hour Mark
2 Hours 15 minutes

Next up was Portland, OR and it was a pleasant drive. After posting our destination a classmate from High School who lives across the river said to call and meet up for a beer. He’d been playing gold and so came by the RV first and then we headed down the road for supper. It was lots of fun meeting up with him. Last saw him and everyone else from my class 43 years ago! Holy Crap that’s a long time!!! Didn’t’ get a picture of Gary and me but got this one of the moon over theย  RV Park::
DSC02918

Next day was was Baker City, OR 320 miles away. What an absolutely incredible drive along the Columbia River! Also amazing was the change in the topography the further west we went. The next morning we went to the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center located just 5 miles from Baker City in an area called Hell’s Canyon. I can say that the area is aptly named and I can’t imagine walking across it, or any other part of the Trail. It has reducied some of my whining but crappy interstates still make me whine.

August 21st found us bound for Hagerman, ID and I can’t really say much about the place except we were parked right by the office and I had excellent wifi and I believe this is where I lost my previous entry. Nothing pretty about southwestern Idaho and if it wasn’t for the ranchers irrigating their hay fields it would be ugly and brown this time of year.

Our next stop was Salt Lake City and the park was good and the wifi great. We took a free shuttle into the Town Square to tour the LDS facilities. We had to young Sisters as our guides. One from Nebraska and one from Bolivia. I have often wondered if the females did mission work like the young men you see on bicycles. They do volunteer work at the major Temples around the worl. Each has to earn the money to travel and live where they are posted. They were lovely and very soft spoken though the girl from Nebraska seemed to be rather shy.

They showed us the building where the Mormon Tabernacle Choir rehearses, the place where the congregation gathers to hear the prophets speak, the outside of the Temple (only members of LDS are allowed inside and they only use it for weddings and special ordinations), and the Visitor’s Center where there is a replica of the interior of the Temple. The gardens are amazing and one of the Sisters told us the flowers are replanted every 16 days!

DSC02945DSC02948

We had dinner at Brio located in the wonderful shopping mall across from the Town Square. It was wonderful and we got the free shuttle back to the park.

Next day was Rawlins, WY and there isn’t a thing worth mentioning aside from the trains that ran all night.

We are currently in Colorado Springs and the park is adequate but the sites are rather tight. One night wont hurt, eh? Tomorrow we will be traveling through New Mexico on the way to Amarillo and that’s in TEXAS! And that mean’s only 3 travel days left…WOOT!

Homeward Bound…

We departed Skagway on Saturday and started the long haul to the Lower 48 as it is known in Alaska. The next seven days had 5 long travel days with the intent of getting the group to Prince George, BC. ย The difficult part of traveling with a group is the long travel days and only staying one night. We did have a two night stay in Stewart, BC with a 2 mile drive to Hyder, AK with a freakin’ border crossing! I mean really, you can only get to Hyder by boat or from Stewart. There is no Customs agent to enter Alaska there so why the Canadian one? It must be the worst posting for all of Canada!

Hyder is such a sad little town. It was originally call Portland City, named for the canal that gave access to the area. The name was changed in 1914 when the US Postal System told the citizens there were lots of places called Portland City, it was changed to Hyder, after Frederic Hyder who predicted great things for the area…he couldn’t have been more wrong. It was the only access to the silver mines in Canada, at the time. The main area of the town, built on pilings burnt in 1948. We were there to see bears catch and eat salmon or so goes the claim. We missed it by this [ย  ] much. ๐Ÿ™„

The following morning we decided to drive up to the Salmon Glacier located on the Salmon River, go figure. Well, it was drizzly and very foggy. We enjoyed the drive until we ran into construction…out in the middle of nowhere! Richard slowed down and the sign guy moved the sign a bit towards the car, Richard slowed way down but still at a crawl because he wanted to make sure we were on the right road. Sign Guy moved the stop sign to right in front of the car. It was like he was saying, “Stop, really, Stop!” ๐Ÿ˜‰ So we stopped and Richard rolled down his window and started talking…dude was wearing earplugs and he went, “Eh?” Priceless! We were on the right road but after another 30 minutes we couldn’t see the road any more so we turned around. Disappointing…

On the way up we saw the remnants of calving in the Salmon River. I had noticed an area where you could walk out to the icebergs so Richard went out and sat on an iceberg.

Richard sitting on an iceberg along the Salmon River

Richard sitting on an iceberg along the Salmon River

 

During our drive through Hyder to the glacier Richard noticed a bear, in his review mirror, walking across the street. Richard turned down the next street and we found the bear creeping around the local bar. We’re certain he was smelling whatever they cook in the bar and he crawled into an open garage type door only to find beer. Poor thing evidently can’t pop a top so he moved on back the way he came in…our first random bear sighting!

Bear Sighting in Hyder, AK

ย  Bear Sighting in Hyder, AK

 

Bear Looking for Beer?

Bear Looking for Beer?

We left Stewart on the 14th and headed to Smithers. Once again it was a one night stay but the woman that parked us was an idiot! We had to wait an hour before the rig that was scheduled to park next to us arrived!! However, our “group”, The Farishes, Dennis and Eddie and the two of us went to dinner. I was put in charge of finding a place since I’m the “picky” eater. Found an outstanding place that even had a gluten free menu! The Riverhouse Restaurant & Lounge, should you ever find yourself in Smithers, BC is absolutely amazing. Lovely decor, fireplace, and huge wood slab table. Service was way above par! My gluten free pasta dish was late coming to the table because our waitress asked the kitchen if it was actually gf pasta…it wasn’t. She then comped the meal, Dennis’s steak was overdone and while he didn’t comment on it, Randie made sure the waitress knew and his was half-off. No complaints from any of us as I was happy just being there with now very good friends. So when you find yourself in Smithers,BC and have the opportunity to dine at the Riverhouse Restaurant and Lounge be sure to ask for Courtney! It was a wonderful quiet night out for the 6 of us.

Next stop was Prince George…Day 58 of 59 Days with the Group. We had a Farewell Dinner Celebration…a feast for the carnivores! Seriously, prime rib, pork ribs, grilled chicken, lamb on a steeeeek! Salads galore and a dessert table to die for! I was able to order a separate meal which was outstanding and some wonderful honeydew melon for dessert. The reminiscingย  was sooo much fun. We laughed a lot and then Lee wrote and recited an amazing poem about the tour. I hope it is shared via the caravan’s blog.

We departed the caravan on the morning of the 16th. Bittersweet but looking forward to having Dennis and Eddie visit us in March.

 

 

Just a Little Note

We have arrived in Vancouver and have very limited wifi access. Just wanted to let you know we are moving closer to home and tomorrow we will hit the Lower 48!

Will post more about the trip tomorrow…hopefully!

In and Out…Destruction Bay, YT to Skagway, AK

We left Valdez on Sunday and headed back into Canada in order to reach Skagway. We will be doing at least three more border crossings before we are in the lower 48.

The park at Destruction Bay was sparse but it had decent wifi which is a priority when traveling. The owner, Loren, was great and he was also a one-man show. From the dinner he prepared to the entertainment it was all Loren…and a nice guy to boot. When he was told there was a gluten free vegetarian in the group and the wagon master inquired about the menu he said there was green salad, potato salad and pork n beans. When asked how pork n beans could be vegetarian Loren replied, “Oh, the pieces of bacon are kinda big so she can pick them out, eh?” ๐Ÿ™‚ I brought my dinner. ๐Ÿ˜›

He sang and told some stories and was much better than a previous “entertainer.” Then I learned that someone had ratted me out about my one and only Karaoke song…fortunately, I had had enough to drink that I could remember all the words this time!;-) I am, however, still searching for the rat…

Monday we drove to Skagway which is one of the best stops that we had on our cruise 13 years ago. Old haunts were still there but unfortunately the cruise line shops have increased.

We saw yet another cancan but it was so cheesy it was funny and it also told the story of Soapy Smith (aka Jefferson Randolph Smith), the notorious con man in Skagway.

Tuesday was a free day so I cleaned house and Richard did some outside cleaning. We have experienced incredible amounts of dust! So bad that Richard was sneezing quite a bit though it didn’t seem to bother me. So it was a total wipe down of every nook and cranny.

Yesterday we took a boat trip to Juneau which lasted 13 hours though not all on the boat. We had lunch on our own and found a good local spot. We then took a bus to yet another glacier…just about glaciered out at this point. Supposedly there were brown bears feeding off the sockeye in the creek. We saw evidence but no bear.

During the boat ride back though we did see a momma bear catch a fish for her cub and then one for herself. Amazing!! Also encounter lots of humpback whales. One pod had 5 adults and one calf! Sighted both Pacific white side porpoise and Dall porpoise. Great trip though very, very long.

Tonight a local place is having live music by a local group so we plan on eating dinner there and maybe dance a bit. Two other couples a Re going with so should be fun.

Tomorrow we are headed to Northern Beaver Post, YK…interesting name if nothing else. We’ve been told that here is a new Customs Agent who for some reason doesn’t like Canadians or those crossing the border. We may have to wait 30 minutes for an inspector if she doesn’t like the looks of us. If that happens I will definitely be writing a letter!

The nights are getting shorter as we’ve come south. We even saw the street lights come on Monday night! We’ve less than a week left with the group and we are seriously going to miss some of the friends we’ve made.

Not sure of wifi or phone for tomorrow as we’ve been without phone for most of the travel time but leave a message and will get back to you! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Seward, Palmer, and Valdez

It is late on Saruday night here inValdez but we have had a great time since we left Homer…not that Homer wasn’t great fun!

We left Homer on Friday the 26th of July and headed for Seward. An easy driving day with only 163 miles.

We were in Seward 13 years ago when we took our first cruise on Royal Caribbean. We flew into Anchorage and rode a bus down to Seward. Being total newbies to cruising we didn’t know that arriving a day or two early was even an option…we’ve since learned.

Friday afternoon, after parking and setting up, we drove into town to check things out. Small town but well laid out with loads of restaurants. We chose to eat at Ray’s on the Waterfront. It was in the center of the marina with a lovely view of the Celebrity Millenium (which we sailed on from Ensenada to Hawaii). Seems a cruise ship is in port about every other day in Seward. Great meal, exceptional service in addition to the great views.

Saturday morning the group had a date with some Puffins at the Alaska Sealife Center. I am not a fan of flying birds so I had some extreme reservations about this encounter because we were told we’d be locked in a room with the birds for an hour! Seriously, a whole hour? Not even the opportunity to leave for a potty break? I envisioned a room where the little suckers would be flying everywhere!! Alfred Hitchcock all over again.

Sometimes the lack of information is harmful to my health! ๐Ÿ˜‰ We were in a classroom type room with one of the staff and there were two puffins both in cat crates and only one out at a time. Granted the first one did take flight though I was t the back of the room. Truth…Puffins don’t fly or at least they aren’t airborne for more than a few feet…I was safe! Beautiful birds when they have their mating plumage otherwise they are just fairly boring black birds with webbed feet and hooks on them. Their real talent is their diving! They can dive up to 400’…400 feet from a sitting position on the water!! The Center has a tank that is very tall (not 400′ tall) and you can watch them dive a out 50′ in amongst other sea creatures…very cool! The Center has some amazing displays and we enjoyed our time there.

Rhinoceros Auklet

Rhinoceros Auklet

She was so comfortable being around a large group she just sat down and watched us!

She was so comfortable being around a large group she just sat down and watched us!

After the Sealife Center we went to Safeway and then went home and did some laundry…the occasional reality check. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Sunday was a 5.5 hour of the Kenai Fijords, Glacier, and Wildlife Cruise…lunch included. Beautiful day though I was a bit sceptic of being trapped on a boat for 5.5 hours without a stateroom! ๐Ÿ˜‰ I packed my own lunch since catered lunches tend to sneak wheat into the strangest places. However, the carnivores were extremely happy because it was an all-you- can eat buffet that had grilled salmon and prime rib…nobody remembers the sides. We saw Dall porpoise, sea otters and humpback whales! It was an amazing trip and didn’t seem anywhere near 5.5 hours long!

Monday we hiked up to Exit Glacier so named by the Klondikers because it appear to be an exit from the surrounding glacial area. It was hot that afternoon! Probably not Texas hot since I would not have hiked the 3.6 miles (round trip) and the area was covered in flies! To the point that I waved my fan so much and so hard that it broke! I asked a Ranger why the flies were so bad and their theory (and they’re sticking to it) is the flies are feeding on the decaying blossoms of the cottonwood. Some theory, who knew flies fed on vegetation?

Tuesday, July 30th we traveled to Palmer…we hadn’t a clue as to why this place would require a two night stay. Well it seems that Palmer was one of at least 100 Colony Towns set up by the Federal Govt during the Depression. 204 farming families were moved to Palmer from farming communities in the lower 48, mostly Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois. They were given 40 acres, a house (that took over a year to build), 2,000 pound shipping allowance, and a furniture allowance. They had to sign an agreement to pay $3,000 over 30 years for the opportunity ( no set payment amount and no penalty or late fee). Palmer has quite a few of the original houses. The new residents left the upper Midwest by train to Seattle, then by boat to Seward and then by train to Palmer.

An original Colony House

An original Colony House

We're we had lunch and the building was a dormitory for the ingle men who came to work in Palmer.

We’re we had lunch and the building was a dormitory for the ingle men who came to work in Palmer.

That afternoon we visited a Musk Ox Farm that belongs to the Inuits. The Musk Ox became extinct in Alaska but were brought back, though not to roam free, with the help of Canada. The indigenous people take care of the farm, harvest the undercoat known as qiviut and spin it into yarn that sells for $95/ounce. The yearn is beautiful, it is machine washable, doesn’t shrink, can get wet but still keeps you warm, and can be dyed. The yarn is beautiful, the animal…not so much. In fact, the adult is better looking than the babies! We entered the raffle for knitted items (the blanket retails for $6,000) but the ticket price of $10 buys a bale of hay which helps to feed the herd over the winter. The animals are never sold for meat but buried in a special area of the farm once they die.

A bull on the farm

A bull on the farm

Thursday, August 1…is it really August?…was a travel day to Valdez. Nice port/fishing town regardless of it’s name being attached to the Exxon disaster. We did a 9 hour boat tour of Prince William Sound on Friday and it was lovely. Saw otters with pups, saw harbor seal pups, saw Dall porpoise and even a humpback whale with her calf! We went up to the Merses Glacier where we saw lots of calving. The weather was spectacular! I hardly knew I was gone for 9 hours.

Today, Saturday the 3rd, we had a black bear cub in camp. He has been here before because he knew about the trash cans. Seems Mama was in the area but I didn’t see her.

Later in the morning we went on a Bear Hunt along the rivers when the salmon are spawning but didn’t see any. We did see gulls fishing and going straight for the eggs/caviar. We also went down to the local Hatchery and watch the salmon (pinks) climb the ladders to the hatchery.

We went to dinner tonight at the Dat Mermaid and had a good meal and great fun with friends we have made on this trip.

Tomorrow we travel to Tok again for one night and then one night in Destruction Bay. We then travel to Skagway where we will be for 5 nights…I’ll catch up with y’all while we’re there.

Oh, today was our first totally rainy day! It was wonderful as the temperature never got above 57* gonna be hard when we get home…