April 22 – August 21, 2014 Alaska Road Trip

First stop on our way north.  Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada.  Arrived on Wed 4/23.  We got a great spot at  Atlatl campground, with a beautiful view of the surrounding mountains.

CampValleyOfFireNvAtlatlCampValleyOfFireNv CampGroundAtlatlThis pic is from the climb up Atlatl mountain looking back at the campground.   Took a hike that afternoon along Mouse’s Trap Petroglyph trail.  Several locations with well preserved petroglyphs.  Very cool. We discovered that Poppins is NOT a hiking dog.  It was a short 3/4 mi. round trip hike and we kept her well hydrated, but I guess being just a couple inches off the ground and breathing in the sandy trail wasn’t great.  Greg carried her out the last little bit.  She stayed in the RV for the rest of our hikes and just got out around the campground. 🙂

Petroglyphs
Petroglyphs on the trail

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From the site that evening we saw a huge bird on a mountain about 5 miles away.  Pulled out the binoculars, but it was just a bit too far to tell what kind of bird it was.  If you zoom on this pic you can see it spreading it’s wings at the very top of the point.  We thought it was a goat at first look, just seeing it moving around up there .BigBird

Day 2, we hiked White Domes trail, Rainbow Vista & Fire Canyon. CanyonAtWhiteDomesTrail

EndOfWhiteDomesTrail-ValleyOfFireNv

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Spring has sprung in the Nevada desert.

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They were filming a Ford commercial along the road we were on, so there was a helicopter and film cars all over.      DSC_0189

Back at camp – we called this rock formation “Screaming Man” ScreamingMan

Friday, 4/25 – climbed up Atlatl steps to see more petroglyphs right in the campsite before heading out. AtlatlMtnPetroglyphs

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Kinda glad they’ve put in new stairs to see the petroglyphs, looks like these were the previous way up and down! OldStairwayAtlatlMtn

There’s a storm coming in for northern Nevada (Ely, which is where we were headed), so we’ve changed our route.  Heading for Idaho up the 15 N today instead.

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Storm clouds from Atlatl mountain.

Wouldn’t think I’d post a picture from a Walmart parking lot, but we had a great view of the mountains in Springville, UT, then the storm blew in.

MtnsAtWalmart

Saturday, 4/26 – since we couldn’t go the way we’d first chosen, decided to try a campground near Soda Springs, ID.  In my never ending search to find a name of my father’s birth parents.  He was adopted straight from the hospital in Soda Springs (only 3K ppl there now), 1939.  Probably nothing recorded that I’ll be able to find, but since we’re in the area….. Found a very small campground – Lava Spa RV along the Portneuf River.

Portneuf River

Sunday after visiting some historical spots along the Oregon trail, where the town of Chesterfield was founded in the late 1800’s.  Poppins was happy to see us pull up at the homestead. 🙂 IMG_1032

Poppins standing up and greeting us out the front window as we pull up.

Mon 4/28 – Visited Soda Springs public library in search of Dad’s birth parents. No luck, but the librarian gave me a couple of large books with the history of Soda Springs, names and pictures from the late 1800 to the 1950s. Since we were told Dad was the son of a doctor and perhaps a nurse at the hospital at the time I tried to find pics of doctors in resident at what I hope was Caribou County Hospital in 1939. She also gave me a card with a phone # of Soda Springs Family Historical site which may have newspapers from the time on microfiche… They’re only open a few hours Wed thru Friday.  No luck, again.   Left Lava campground about noon, north on 15. Arrived @ Idaho Falls Elks parking lot ~2pm. $10 for electric – filled up water. Saw a drug deal go down in the parking lot around 5:30 pm. Money thrown from one car to another & a bill fell on the ground. Went out around 15 minutes later and made $20 illegitimate dollars that day! 🙂   Tue 4/29 – Got up at the crack of dawn to leave Idaho Falls by 8:30am. Again North on 15. Arrived at Costco in Helena, Montana around 3ish. Nice manager allowed us to stay the night. Wed 4/30 – Left Coscto, Helena 8:20am. 15N to 287. Beautiful, narrow roads with rolling hills, snow capped mtns all around. AlmostToCanada    RoadToPieganCrossing Had to slow down a bit to allow a cattle drive to join us on the road.  The cowboys use 4-wheel ATV’s now instead of horses. Lots of little calves all along the trip. CattleDrive Got thru the Port of Piegan US/Alberta CN border with no issues. Our first time in another country!  She didn’t even stamp our passports – DANG!  Apparently passports and documents showing the dog has a valid rabies shot and a really nice officer at the border is all you need! 🙂 SignsToAlberta Arrived at Lee Creek Campground, Cardston, AB around 2:30pm. They haven’t opened for the season yet, so no water on until, hopefully, tomorrow. We’re the first ones here and thankfully they let us in. Beautiful grounds with a large creek behind us and a walking trail. Poppins is very happy to be still for a couple of days. HorseCarriageCardston As we’re unhooking, this happened on the trail across the creek 🙂 Our site across from the creek, and the walking bridge across the creek, then a shot from the bridge.  Gorgeous.

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Thursday, May 01, 2014 –  Exchanged US for Canadian currency. Drove on 5W to Waterton Nat’l Park. Had lunch at the lodge (Vinny’s, yum). Saw a red fox while at lunch, lots of big horn sheep. Beautiful blue/green glacial lakes.

Friday, May 02 – Departed Lee Creek Camp in Cardston, AB. 2N thru Calgary and stopped in Red Deer at the Westerner Campground. Cramped, tight, and not a lot of scenery here, but there’s a storm a’comin and it’s a safe place with electricity for a few days. From here we can visit Edmonton and Calgary for day trips in the Honda, weather permitting!   Saturday, May 3 – Snow flurries all day.  It didn’t stick until around 5pm, but was beautiful (and cold) to walk in.

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Snow, Saturday evening.

Sunday, May 4 – 3″ of snow overnight.  Flurries all day, but melting when they hit the ground and the snow accumulated, melted pretty quickly as well.  We walked the Kerry Wood Nature Center around Gaetz Lakes in the snow.  Around 35 degrees F.  Such a beautiful nature preserve, we decided to come back tomorrow when the snow was to let up.

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Cold and snowy @ Kerry Woods nature trail

Monday, May 5 – Took the loop around the Kerry Wood Nature preserve.  Still not a lot of wildlife out and about, but we did see some pretty large moose hoof prints, tons of deer poop, a beaver working on his dam, a red squirrel who was not happy with us, and lots of birds.

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Get off my lawn!
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Beautiful trail around the lakes
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Small beaver working on his dam.

Tuesday, May 6 – Again, no it seems we actually DON’T learn!  The awning on the living room slide froze over night and Greg spent 30 minutes climbing the ladder and scraping it off.  At least we didn’t need the blow dryer this time.  Left Red Deer, AB around 10:20 and arrived in Devon, AB, just 15 minutes south of Edmonton, around 12:30.  Camped at the Devon Lions RV park right on the North Saskatchewan River.  Beautiful park, lots of hiking trails all around and the river is huge and fast!   We had snow flurries most of the afternoon, it was cold and the wind bit thru our heaviest jackets.

Poppins & I at the river - looks like they had some cave in's along the bank this winter.
Poppins & I at the river – looks like they had some cave in’s along the bank this winter.

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North Saskatchewan River

Wed, May 7 – Headed to the West Edmonton Mall for kicks.  Wow, I’ve never gotten actually lost in a shopping mall, but this one was crazy.  They have a beach, ice rink, black light miniature golf, several food courts, and more stores in one place than I’ve ever seen.  Went to Eddie Bauer and got Greg a warmer and better fitting jacket.  We’re ensuring good weather from this point on with this purchase. 😉

The Santa Maria, at West Edmonton Mall
The Santa Maria, at West Edmonton Mall
West Edmonton Mall
West Edmonton Mall
The beach at West Edmonton Mall
The beach at West Edmonton Mall
Waves and zip liner at the mall
Waves and zip liner at the mall

Thursday, May 8 – Left Devon about 9am, heading northwest to Valley View, AB. Arrived at Sherks RV Park around 1:10pm.  Very nice, clean, friendly park.  Had a nice walk about the grounds.  The sun sets so late these days!

Taken at 9:20pm - still have about another hour of light.
Taken at 9:20pm in ValleyView, Alberta – still have another hour of light.

Good coverage again at Hi Country RV park in Whitehorse, YT – The capital city of the Yukon Territory, Canada.  Gonna catch up on the last couple of weeks now.  🙂 Friday, May 9 –  Drove from Valley View, AB to Dawson Creek, AB.  Camped at Northern Lights RV Park. Nice visitor center and Kim loaded us up with way too many brochures for our trip.  The grain elevator art gallery next door was closed for a private party, but looked like it would have been a great place to visit. Right at the visitor center/art gallery area is the true “Mile 0” of the Alaska Highway.

StartOfAlCan         IMG_1098

The “Mile 0 post” was moved to the center of downtown at some point. Mike Jalbert, owner of the Northern Lights RV park we were staying at, happened to be downtown and snapped this pic for us.   Mike and his wife Annette were great hosts. 🙂 IMG_1102

Saturday, May 10 – We visited Kiskatinaw Provencial Park, home of an original curved wooden bridge built in 1942 for the Alaska Hwy.  We’ll have to remember this beautiful park on our next trip! IMG_1108    KiskatinawProvincial

 

 

 

Had dinner that night at Fixx, an outstanding restaurant recommended by Robin, office manager at the RV park.  YUM!

Sunday, May 11 – Time to leave Dawson Creek.  Drove through the city of Fort St. John on our way north, and some whack job decided to pass everyone in the middle median spewing sand, rocks, and gravel up on everyone’s windshields.  We got 3 windshield chips out of that.  He sped off, in a hurry to visit Mom on Mother’s Day, I’m sure… We were hoping to boondock for a night at Inga Lake, but it seems there are no signs heading north on the AlCan, and we hadn’t synched our odometer to what the Milepost book said so we never found the turn off!  Ended up at the Sikanni River Campground.    Seemed a little rough, but it was on a nice river and the manager was a nice guy.  The electric was run from their own generator, which had broken, so they were running on a backup.  They had us at a kinda crummy spot with a view of the snow plows, backhoes, and burning brush.

SikanniFirstViewAndWindshieldCrack  SikanniRiverBoard

But we plugged in, and after a few minutes heard a loud pop.  Assumed we’d blown a circuit turning on the microwave.  Then we started to smell an electrical burn in the bedroom area, which was kind of hard to discern from the strong burning leaves wafting in.  We’d seen that the manager had kicked a fire ring out of the way for us to back in to the spot, and we thought maybe something was burning under the rig in the back. We decided the spotty electricity and smoke from the brush wasn’t worth it, and asked if we could just move to a spot along the river bank without a hookup.  Since there was no one else in the park, and since we’d already paid $35 for the electricity, of course it was no problem.  Turned out to be a great spot, with a beautiful river view.  The smoke smell dissipated a bit, but was still very strong in the bedroom.  Figured the smell had really soaked into the fabric.

SikanniRiverSpotAfterMoving

Monday, May 12 – Next morning, Greg noticed there was an error code on the fridge and it wasn’t cooling anymore.  Turns out the flaky generator had fried our Hughes Auto-former, which helps regulate uneven electrical currents.  That was the burning smell, the pop we heard, and the dead fridge.  Thank goodness it’s housed in its own metal case and didn’t fry anything else.  $600 down the drain, and now only one safeguard between bad electricity and the coach.   Decided to head backward to the larger town of Fort St. John.  A nice lady, at the Rotary Club we called in Fort St. John, recommended the Fort Ford dealership, and the people could not have been nicer.  They immediately got their top tech, Clint, to look at the fridge.  He figured out a full restart on it and got it working like new again!  It was done in about 30 minutes and the cost was minimal!  Clint is DA-MAN!  Found a windshield repair place back south in Dawson Creek who could fit us in the same day, so we headed backward again, and they fixed us up within about an hour.    All good – so we headed north again and spent the night in the Fort St. John Walmart.    One step forward and two back, but we’re going in the right direction now! 🙂

Wednesday, May 14 – Stayed at Triple G Hideaway in Fort Nelson Tuesday night, and headed out for Muncho Lake this morning.  Within about 15 minutes, we saw two baby black bear cubs climbing a tree.  We think they were frightened by the RV pulled over looking at them, so we didn’t stop to get a pic.  This was some of the beautiful scenery: DriveFromFtNelsonToMunchoLake

A bit further on, we saw two large black bears.  Finally seeing some wildlife!

BearAndFinger

Stopped at Tetsa River for highly recommended cinnamon rolls, then at the Toad River Lodge for gas.  Great little spot, we came back here for a great  lunch during the week, and will remember it for camping in the future.

ToadRiverLunch FirstNiteMunchoLake Further up the road we saw a herd of wild horses, and the biggest beaver in all of North America down a ravine by the river along the road.  (sorry, no pic of that guy or gal – s/he was fast!)   Got to Strawberry Flats Provincial park at Muncho Lake.  We were told these provincial parks would be open , but apparently not until the 15th (tomorrow).   Luckily, there was one spot right outside the gate on the lake and we were able to pull right in there for the night for free!

FirstNiteMunchoLake

Beautiful blue/green water is attributed to the copper oxide from the surrounding mountains.  The name “Muncho” is derived from the Kaska language and means “big water”.  Absolutely gorgeous, even though the lake was mostly still frozen.  We got to watch it slowly thaw along the coast during our first 4 day long  boondocking stay. Thursday, May 15 – The gates opened and we moved to the best site in the Strawberry Flats campground (since there was no one else there)- #15.

NorthShoreMuncho   OurSpotAtMunchoLake_15   RelaxingAtMunchoLake   OurShoreAtMunchoLake

Took a drive up to the Northern Rockies Lodge for lunch.  Beautiful lodge also on Muncho Lake, but quite a bit more expensive than a Provincial park – which is $16/nightly.  Saw a few caribou, big horn sheep, and bison (quite a few babies) along the way to lunch and back to camp.

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Caribou2 Caribou

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FrancescaAndPoppinsAtMuncho

Saturday and Sunday (5/17&18) – Did a bunch of trail walking, went back to Toad River for lunch.  A little girl, Francesca camping with her family from Fort Nelson, learned to ride a two wheel bike this weekend in camp, and fell in love with Poppins.

We were fascinated by the cracking and tinkling of the ice on the lake as it started to thaw.  The water along the shore was crystal clear and you could see the rocks below like there was nothing in between.  The ice was up to a foot thick where we could see it, and as it broke apart formed crystal spears.IceCrystalsMunchoLake MunchoLakeClearWaterAndIce

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Liard Hot Springs

Monday, May 19 (Victoria Day in BC) – Left beautiful Muncho Lake and landed at Liard Hot Springs Provincial Park.  Another low cost stay, but in a beautiful wooded area with mineral pools to soak in.

They were testing a bear deterrent, different pitch whistle sounds would go off every 15 seconds or so.  Supposedly, the bears don’t like that particular sound.  Guess it worked, we didn’t see any during our stay there. This is a shot of the source of the hot spring.  The pools are beautiful and HOT!  It’s a great stop, even for those of us that don’t generally enjoy sitting in a vat of hot water with total strangers. 😉

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Tuesday, May 20 – One month on the road.  Had a good thunderstorm last night.  Left Liard Hot Springs park and beautiful British Columbia today for the town of Watson Lake, Yukon,  Northwest Territory.  After over a week of boondocking, we finally have electricity, water, sewer, WiFi, laundry facilities, a grocery store, and LO AND BEHOLD – – CABLE TV!!!!  The campground (Downtown RV) was a dirt/mud/gravel pit, but seemed like an oasis to me.   Went for a walk around one of two Wye Lakes.  They have a beautiful boardwalk and trails all the way around the lake.  Supposedly, the town was designed around these two lakes and the main road formed a “Y” between them.  The lakes are Wye and Wye2.

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HeresOurSign
SignPostForestWatsonLake

Wednesday, May 21 – Added our sign to the Watson Lake signpost forest, a well-known location for memorializing your journey on the Alaska Hwy.  Here’s our sign:

We also went to the Northern Lights Center in town to see a SciDome projection presentation.  One was on the cosmos and black holes, the other showed videos of the Aurora Borealis at different times of year and different northern locations.  Figured that was the only way we were going to catch the northern lights, as summer is not prime time for them up here!   Thursday, May 22 – my official one year retirement anniversary. 🙂   Drove through mostly rainy and low 40 temps, and have arrived at a Yukon territory campground on Teslin Lake.  More boondocking, but with views & locations like this, it’s worth it!

TeslinLakeNorth

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Friday, May 23 – Departed beautiful Teslin Lake, and drove up to Whitehorse, YT – the Yukon capital.  Staying at the Hi Country RV park.  Lovely people all over so far.  Can’t wait to explore the city over the next few days.

Saturday, May 24 – Explored the Whitehorse Visitor Center and it’s beautiful location on the river.  Then hiked along Miles Canyon.  A gorgeous trail along a deep river gorge.   You take a swinging suspension bridge to get to the trails.

Suspension bridge - Miles Canyon, Whitehorse, YT
Suspension bridge – Miles Canyon, Whitehorse, YT
Greg on suspension bridge at Miles Canyon
Greg on suspension bridge at Miles Canyon

Ran into the nicest couple from San Jose who have been RV’ing since the 70’s.  We ended up chatting for the longest time.  Shared info on RV’ing, where we’ve all been and where we’re going.  Talked about the best grocery stores in the area and agreed we’d all kill for a Trader Joe’s!  (Future daughter-in-law, Sharon, currently a “Captain” at Trader Joe’s,  this post is for you 🙂 !)

TheLindas - Wouldn't you just love to find a Trader Joes? :)
TheLindas – Wouldn’t you just love to find a Trader Joes? 🙂
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 Sunday, May 25 – Beautiful day in Whitehorse, YT.  Took a long walk with Poppins along the Yukon riverfront.  Whitehorse has made a wonderful walking/biking/dog walking (and cross country skiing in the winter) path along the Yukon.  We saw our first bald eagle!!!  We’re walking along, and I look up, see this big bird with a white head and white tail…  “Is that a bald eagle?????”  Greg – “I believe it is!”.  Of course we didn’t have our good camera with us as it landed on the top of this tree on the other side of the river – but this is what we could get with our phone cameras. Honest!  It was a bald eagle at the very top of the tallest tree!  We also saw a beautiful red fox trotting across the dirt/gravel road as we went over to Long Lake this afternoon.  Loving the wildlife. 🙂

Later that evening the neighboring campers accidentally backed into a not well secured WiFi post (the campground and local provider were just  figuring out the best locations for updating).  And wham.  Yet another windshield trauma..Ouch.

Ouch.

Thankfully, they were so nice and apologetic and offered to pay for the damage.

Monday, May 26 – From Hi Country RV in Whitehorse, YT to Congdon Creek Yukon Gov. Campground along the Kluane (kloo-WA-nee) Lake.
Another amazing lake that was mostly melted when we got there so we got some good pics of the mirror images of the mountains around us. They were not allowing tent camping due to bear activity, so of course I was freaked out. This poor dog hasn’t been on a proper walk due to my fear of running into a bear in so long! 😦

From Whitehorse to Kluane Lake, YT
From Whitehorse to Kluane Lake, YT
Our spot @ Kluane Lake/Congdon Creek Yukon campground.
Our spot @ Kluane Lake/Congdon Creek Yukon campground.

Beautiful Kluane Lake (although it was hazy due to smoke from a fire, it was still fab):

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Greg at Kluane Lake, YT
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Kluane Lake refection
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Beach and reflection on Kluane Lake.
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Reflections at Kluane Lake, YT

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Found this at our campsite Kluane Lake, YT :)
Found this at our campsite Kluane Lake, YT

Tuesday, May 27 –
The Alaska Hwy after Kluane Lake was rough going – we had to go really slow. They’re starting work on it as they have to do every year.
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More orange flags

Aaaaannd we arrived at the 49th state :):
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Checked into the Sourdough RV Park and Campground,Tok, AK.  Very nice, lots of trees, squirrels, and birds.

Wednesday, May 28 – Greg drove all the way up to Fairbanks, about 4.5 hours each way, to get the windshield in the Honda replaced. He left early in the morning and got to see this guy along the road:

Moose between Tok and Fairbanks
Moose between Tok and Fairbanks

I stayed with Poppins in the RV and cleaned and watched an insane bird attack himself in the mirror, on the kitchen window, and on the horn on the roof all day! 🙂

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Perfectly cute bird on the mirror checking himself out
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Crazy attack bird!!

Went to the famous pancake toss on Thursday night. It was fun. The owners of this park Dave and Ann really work hard to make everyone feel welcome.

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Saturday, May 31 – Left Tok, AK for Chicken, AK.  We camped at Chicken Gold Camp for $14/night.  No plugins this night, as we didn’t want to risk electricity.  The entire community runs on generator only.  Since we lost our auto-former at Sikanni River, we didn’t want to risk blowing anything else electrical.    Had a mad lightening/thunder/rain and wind storm about 5 minutes after we unhooked the car and backed into our dirt spot.  The winds knocked one of the tail feathers off of the 30′ chicken statue and knocked down trees.

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Lost a tail feather after storm. (Not Greg, the Ptarmigan)

As the story goes:  In the late 1800’s, early miners traveled here in search of gold.  Food was scarce, but this particular area was abundant in Ptarmigan, now the state bird, which bears a resemblance to a chicken.   In 1902, the town was to be incorporated, the second town in Alaska to do so.  The name “Ptarmigan” was suggested.  The only problem was that no one could agree on the correct spelling.  They didn’t want the town name to be the subject of ridicule, and they figured everyone could spell chicken, so they decided on “Chicken”.   🙂

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Original downtown Chicken
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Stopped here for a beer around 5:30 Saturday afternoon. Cafe was closed and they were hoping to close too. Rocking downtown Chicken! 🙂
AttackChickens
Attack Chickens

Came this way to drive the Top of the World Hwy.   Didn’t want to take the RV as the road is gravel a lot of the way (Dawson City side).  We camped at Chicken to take the Honda on the dirt road and then turn around and come back when the big gravel started.

The storm we just experienced, although it only lasted about an hour did some damage on the Top of the World Hwy:TopOfWorldAfterStorm

HadToGoThisWay

Thankfully, this alternate roadway was avail as the trees blocked the Top of the World Hwy after the storm.

Saw this old closed up mine along the way
Saw this old closed up mine along the way
View from Top of the World Hwy
View from Top of the World Hwy

On the way back stopped at a state recreation park to let Poppins rest from the road trip a bit.

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Recreation area along Top of the World Hwy

Sunday, June 1 – After grabbing some yummy baked goods for dessert at the Chicken Creek Cafe we headed back to Tok for a quick lunch at Fast Eddie’s (highly recommended) and then on to Moon Lake Rec area for a boondocking night.MoonLakeStateRecArea

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Our spot on Moon Lake 6/1/14

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Monday, June 2 – Pretty along the way to Fairbanks from Moon Lake today.  Saw 3 moose grazing along the way. 🙂

We haven’t had too much trouble yet, but we know it’s coming:

Mosquito

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Toward Fairbanks 6/2/14

Stopped at River’s Edge RV park in Fairbanks for a few days to explore Fairbanks.  Got a nice spot on the Chena River.   Great green grass to walk Poppins.  Too bad it’s been raining all day long. Hopefully tomorrow will be clearer.

Our spot at River's Edge on the Chena River in Fairbanks
Our spot at River’s Edge on the Chena River in Fairbanks

Wednesday, June 4 – And it’s a gorgeous, sunny day! Thoroughly enjoyed the Riverboat Discovery Tour this morning!  Had a bush pilot take off and land a couple of times for us on the river, and talk about the importance of them in the history of remote Alaska.

Piper cub taking off..
Piper cub taking off..

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Then we cruised over to the Trailbreaker Kennels where we met Laura Allaway, who will be a first time contender at the 2015 Iditarod.

Trail Breaker Kennel was established in 1980 by the husband and wife team of David Monson and Susan Butcher (four-time Iditarod winner).

We got to meet some of the new puppies and learn how they’re trained.  Then they started saddling up the dogs to show us a mushing demo with an ATV.  The dogs were just going nuts!  They were so excited to get to run.   The ones in the kennel were going just as crazy wanting to get out and run with them!

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aaannndd, they’re off!
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at the end of the run.

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As 2015 will be Laura’s first Iditarod, as well as the first for the lead dogs, she doesn’t expect to win. Just excited to join the experience.
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Reboarding after a guided tour of an authentic Chena River Indian village, showing us how they survived the brutal winters.

After docking, we went into a room they have to experience a typical mid-winter day in the upper Alaskan interior at 40 below!  I didn’t stay in there long enough to take a picture.  🙂   The river boat guide told us of taking his kids trick-or-treating one Halloween at 37 below.  BRRRRR!

This afternoon, we rented a canoe to float down the Chena River.  What a beautiful day!

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Relaxing in the canoe
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Saw our home as we floated down the Chena 🙂

After the canoe float we enjoyed an Alaskan Amber at Pikes while waiting for the pick up!

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Afternoon from Pikes of the Chena
Afternoon from Pikes of the Chena

The day was perfect.

Thursday, June 5 – Rainy day, but we really enjoyed the University of Alaska Museum today.

Friday, June 6 – Walked a trail at Creamery Field Wildlife Sanctuary.  We fed mosquitos all the way –they were vicious, but it was beautiful.

CreameryFieldFairbanks      CreameryFieldFBGullWarning

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Thankfully, we were not attacked by the Mew Gull!

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Saturday, June 7 – I’ve decided to move to Fairbanks & buy this house, which just went up for sale, across from our campground on the Chena River.  (When we win the lottery…)    😉

MyHouse

Sunday, June 8 – Drove from Fairbanks to Denali National Park.  Several very long patches of no pavement.  Bumpy drive.

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We were a day early for our reservation but hoping there might be a spot open somewhere inside.  Nope.  Camped tonight at Denali RV Park and Motel.  Just about 20 minutes outside of the park.  Pretty darn nice for a last minute find.  J

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Monday,  June 9 – Arrived at Savage River Campground and grabbed a pull-thru site, #A29 – it’s first come first serve once you have a reservation.  Found out later from the camp host that when it’s clear you can see Mt. McKinley from the site.  Only 30% of the visitors to Denali ever see Mt. McKinley (tallest mountain in North America ~20K feet) due to the clouds.    It was socked in today.

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OurSiteAtSavageRiver
OurSiteAtSavageRiver
Greeter At Denali Visitor Center
Greeter At Denali Visitor Center

Tuesday, June 10 – Took the Savage River, Savage Cabin, and Mountain View trail walks.

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SavageRiverWalk

As it was our 36th anniversary we splurged and went out of the park to the Salmon Bake restaurant for dinner.   Excellent food.  The whole building is slanting to the south though.  It would never pass inspection in California. J

AnnivDinner-36
36th Anniversary Dinner!

When we got back to camp, we sat outside with a campfire for a bit.  The camp host came ‘round and told us it would be best if we put Poppins inside as they’d just had a grizzly come thru their site and into to woods behind us about 45 minutes ago.   Yeah, we picked up and went inside.  Liz (the camp host) will hopefully email me some pics she got of him!

Wednesday, June 11 – Got out for a small walk with the dog in the morning armed with a big can of bear spray.   Of course, I want to be prepared, so I had the safety off.  When we got back to the RV, I bent over to remove Poppins’ harness and the spray dropped out of my pocket spraying a little bit in the RV.  Poppins and I started gagging.  We all ran out and Greg opened all the windows and vents to air it out.  Of course it started hailing, then snowing as we’re sitting outside getting fresh air…   Now that the RV is as cold inside as it is outside we figured it was ok to go back in after getting rid of the entry mat the bottle fell on.  All was well, thankfully.  What a moron – I’ll keep the safety on unless I actually see a bear.

SnowAtSavageRiverDenali

Full on snow kept coming.  Huge flakes and it snowed for about 3 hours.

It stopped around 1:30, the sun came out and we went for a hike called the Savage Loop. Beautiful walk along the Savage River. It was freezing!!!

SavageRiverLoopFreezing

Later that evening, around 8:30pm we saw a momma and baby moose in the woods next to our campsite!

Thursday, June 12 – Greg got up around 4am and chanced to look outside (it’s always light here) and lo and behold – Mt. McKinley big as day, covered in snow, and clear as a bell!  We are now part of the 30% club.  Such a stunning view most of the day.

DenaliMcKinley2
Still a bit of a white out, but McKinley in the distance.
DenaliMcKinley
McKinley/Denali

 

                                                                                         Friday, June 13 – Left Savage River Camp and headed in for our last 3 days in Denali at the Teklanika Campground.  We had to leave the Honda outside at the Visitor Center as you can only take one vehicle in that far, and you’re locked in for at least 3 days – no trips out.  Getting a shuttle tomorrow morning at 7:10am to go further into the park – no RV’s allowed past this point.

Saturday, June 14 – It rained hard all night long.  We decided about 2:50am to not take the 7:10am bus trip on the long and winding road into Eielson.   The rain stopped around 7:40am, we decided to see if we could catch a later bus.  Caught the 9am bus into Kantishna, which is another 30 or so miles further than we had planned to go because we didn’t want to leave Poppins alone more than 6-7 hours in the RV, but the driver Sheila Paxton, told us we could ride along anyway to our destination on her bus.   She was a great tour guide.   We saw a large, beautiful gray wolf, caribou, Dall sheep, a Pika, and several grizzlies (our first!) along the way.

GrizzlyDenali
Grizzly
GrizzlyCruzinDenali
Cruzin’
BigGrizzlyDenali
Big Grizzly
GrayWolf
Gray Wolf – She looks pretty healthy, maybe expecting cubs?
GrayWolfPeeing
Gray Wolf – She’s marking turf, and/or taking a pee…

We were very lucky.  They said wolves are a rare sight around here anymore and that only about 4% of visitors to Denali actually see one.

CaribouHerdDenali
Herd of Caribou
CaribouFamilyPortrait
Caribou Family Portrait

Beautiful and terrifying (at times) drive from Teklanika to Eielson in Denali:

PolychromeMtnDenaliBusTrip
Polychrome Mountain drive from Eielson to Tek Campground in Denali

The bus driver who should have been watching the 5,000 foot drop off the cliff decided to point out a family of Pika to us halfway down instead.  😉

A tiny Pika
A tiny Pika
Along Denali bus ride
Along Denali bus ride

Sunday, June 16 – Walks along the river bed  at the campground.

Moose Tracks by camp in Teklanika/Denali
Moose Tracks by camp in Teklanika/Denali
To the west at Tek River camp/Denali
To the west at Tek River camp/Denali
RiverBedWalkTek3
West view at Tek Camp/Denali
OnBearAlertTekCampWalk
I was about done with the exploring thing after lots of bear scat and grizzly tracks. I wanted to go back to the RV – NOW!
Ptarmigan crossing on road leaving Denali
Ptarmigan crossing on road leaving Denali

 

Monday, June 17 – Left Teklanika campground and Denali Natl Park heading south.               As we stopped at the dump station to refill water and dump the tanks, near Riley Camp in Denali, the door to the RV decided to lock.  I was out walking Poppins after picking up the Honda after 3 days in Teklanika.  Greg had the keys, but the lock was broken…  Greg found that one of the windows wasn’t locked completely, and was able to get the ladder out, open the window and climb into the coach.  From there, he was able to hold the lock open and open the door.  (Wish I’d gotten pictures of the climb thru the window)

DoorRiggingWe figured out a scheme of bungee cords and such to make sure it didn’t come open during the trip south and hoped we’d find someplace soon that might be able to fix it.

Landed in Talkeetna, AK at the Talkeetna Camper  Park.  Right in front of the Alaska railway and the Talkeetna airstrip.    Cute little town.  It’s the home base for many of the climbers of McKinley.  We got another chance to see the beautiful mountain while we were here.

 

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Our spot at Talkeetna. Poppins doing her business…
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View toward McKinley after the rain
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Tree full of these blooms near the airport on the way into town.
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Same tree. So beautiful!
Flowering tree
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I think Mom has a side business here in Talkeetna she’s not telling us about…. 🙂

 

 

 

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Train tracks over the Susitna River

 

Had a great walk into and around the town along the huge Susitna River.

 

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Susitna River
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Lots of green along the way

                                                                                               

 

 

 

Wednesday, Jun 18 – Left Talkeetna toward Anchorage.  Gotta hit Costco and get some laundry done!  (whoopie)

 Friday, June 20 –  A great birthday!  Walked to the Slam’n Salm’n Derby right by our campsite to watch fishers try to nab a salmon as they make their summer run up the river.  We didn’t see any fish, or anyone catching any, but it was still fun.  Did a great walking tour around downtown.  Ended up at a restaurant called “Ginger” – – Oh my gosh – so, so excellent!   Greg said it was probably one of the best chicken sandwiches he’s ever had, and I wolfed down the kale salad in no time.SlamminSalmonDerbyOnShipCreek

Took an hour long tour trolley ride, which was totally worth it.  Saw a lot of sea planes taking off and the Moose guard that they have adjacent to the airstrip.  Then got to see a baby seagull on the way back home.

AnchorageTrolleyTour
AnchorageTrolleyTour
DowntownAnchorage
DowntownAnchorage – the flowers are just crazy beautiful all over town!
DucksAtShipCreek
DucksAtShipCreek
MomDadAndFluffballShipCreekAnchorage
MomDadAndFluffballShipCreekAnchorage – you need to open and zoom in on this pic!

We’re leaving Anchorage tomorrow 😦  toward Hope, AK and will be boondocking there and near Captain Cook Point, so we’ll probably be off line for a week or so as we head south around the Kenai peninsula.

Saturday, June 21 – Drove south along Turnagain Arm around Cook Inlet.  During our tram tour yesterday the guide told a very interesting story on how the place got it’s name.   From Wikipedia:

“During  the 1778 expedition of James Cook who sailed into it while searching for the Northwest Passage. Cook received maps of Alaska, the Aleutians, and Kamchatka during a visit with Russian fur trader Gerasim Izmailov in Unalaska, and combined these maps with those of his expedition to create the first Mercator projection of the North Pacific. The inlet was named after Cook in 1794 by George Vancouver, who had served under Cook in 1778. Turnagain Arm was named by William Bligh of HMS Bounty fame. Bligh served as Cook’s Sailing Master on his 3rd and final voyage, the aim of which was discovery of the Northwest Passage.

Upon reaching the head of Cook Inlet, Bligh was of the opinion that both Knik Arm and Turnagain Arm were the mouths of rivers and not the opening to the Northwest Passage. Under Cook’s orders Bligh organized a party to travel up Knik Arm, which quickly returned to report Knik Arm indeed led only to a river.

Afterwards a second party was dispatched up Turnagain Arm and it too returned to report only a river lay ahead. As a result of this frustration the second body of water was given the disingenuous name “Turn Again”. Early maps label Turnagain Arm as the “Turnagain River”.

She also explained how the tidal surge is around 14′ daily in Turnagain Arm and how the salmon come up the river on the tides.  It’s called a bore tide.  The beluga whale chase the salmon up the inlet based on the tide which can have a wave up to 10′ high.  Pretty amazing in my book!

TurnagainArmDrive
TurnagainArmDrive

We were lucky to get the last open spot at a BLM campground  called Porcupine in Hope, AK for the next two nights.   And they have pretty decent coverage in the area, obviously!

Gull Rock Trail
Gull Rock Trail

Took a great little hike along Gull Rock Trail this afternoon and hope to go further tomorrow.

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Along Gull Rock Trail
View from site 8 at Porcupine Camp in Hope, AK
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Huge table, beautiful raised eating area and a great firepit for $18/nightly.

Sunday, June 22 –  Breakfast this morning at Discovery Cafe, great little diner with some good food!  Another hike today along Gull Rock trail.  Much longer, but still didn’t make the almost 6 miles in.

DogwoodGrowsEverywhereAlongGullTrailHopeAK
LowTideAtHopeAK
LowTideAtHopeAK
MushroomTreeHopeAK
Mushrooms growing on trees all over the walk at Hope AK

Monday, June 23 – Left Porcupine Camp in Hope, AK for Cooks Discovery State Park.  Beautiful walks and sites along Cook Inlet.  The tides are still just phenomenal with their 20 foot changes.

Most signs in Alaska are used for target practice.
Most signs in Alaska are used for target practice.
Greg at Cooks Discovery State Park

Tuesday, June 24 – Tide was way out, we had a couple hour walk along the Cook Inlet beach to Swanson River and back.

TideOutAtCooksInlet
SunsetAround1AMCooksInlet
RockAtCaptCookInlet
BluffsAboveCookInlet
Mt. Iliamna
MamaMoose
LowTideCooksDiscoveryPoint
Wild Chocolate Lily’s everywhere!

Wed, June 25 – Arrived at Halibut Campground (Alaska State Campground) in Anchor Point.  One word – WOW!  Met some of the nicest camp hosts there.  Nina and Cody, they are San Marcos, CA transplants.

EagleAtAnchorPointKenai
AnchorPointSign
EagleAnchorPointKenaiAK
Look at the size of that bird!
OtterAt AnchorPoint

Took a 30 minute drive north to a tiny little town called Ninilchik with a lot of Russion history.

NinilchikFromChurch

 

Thurs, June 26 – Rainy, drive to Ocean View RV park in Homer

DriveIntoHomer

.

IMG_1360
Greg had to add ours to the hundreds on the walls at Salty Dog
AtSaltyDogSaloonHomerSpit
InsideSaltyDog
InsideSaltyDog
Lots Of Fishin Goin on
Lots Of Fishin Goin on

Friday, June 27 – Walk to old downtown.  “Two Sisters Bakery” for breakfast – amazing, fresh yummy food!  Long walk along the slough and bird sanctuary then the rocky beach back to camp.  Dinner at Captain Pattie’s Fishhouse – YUM!

TwoSistersBakeryHomerAK
FamilyAtBelugaSloughHomerAK
RockyBeachHomerAK

Saturday, June 28 – Visited the Islands and Oceans Research Museum today after a walk up from the Beluga Slough.  Lovin’ that Two Sisters Bakery so we got sandwiches to go for dinner  from there and ate overlooking our beach.

IMG_2135 IMG_2138

Sunday, June 29 – Reluctantly left Homer, but got to enjoy a little drama from Mt. Iliamna volcano across the Cook Inlet  on the drive.

SmokeFromMtIliamna

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Tuesday, July 1 – From Stoney Creek RV park in Seward, we toured Exit Glacier.  So called because in 1968 a party of seven made the first documented traverse of the Harding Icefield. Traveling west to east on skis and snowshoes, the party made the crossing in seven days, completing their traverse at the appropriately named, Exit Glacier.

AtExitGlacierSewardAK

ExitGlacier ExitGlacierSign

 Wednesday, July 2 – Visited the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward.  A very well done education and rehabilitation center.  Beautiful aquariums and views from the deck.

BirdAtAKSeaLifeCenter
BirdAtAKSeaLifeCenter
ViewWestFromSeaLifeCenterSeward
ViewWestFromSeaLifeCenterSeward

Thursday, July 3 – We had to move from our spot at Stoney Creek for a couple of days because we hadn’t reserved far enough in advance.  There are loads of places to camp along the water, but that was also just crazy, packed with campers due to the July 4 holiday.  Luckily, we were greeted by the City Manager, on one of our outings, and he let us know that the Seward Elementary school parking lot was going to be open for camping during the holiday.  It was $15/day and the $$ went toward field trips for the students during the year.  Perfect!

AtSewardElemSchool
BeautifulWildflowersInSeward
SewardElemSchoolSpot

Friday, July 4 – Every 4th of July, Seward hosts the Mount Marathon race.  These crazy people race up and down this steep mountain for fun!?  Here’s some pics from the photographers on the mountain, and some trivia.  In the 2012 race, a man was lost on the course and has never been found.  Last year a man fell, hit his head, and was in a coma for a couple of months – he came back to run it this year!

The whole town (and thousands of visitors) come out.  There’s the race, yummy food, vendors, pie, and a great 4th of July parade down the main street.  One of the best 4th of July’s we’ve ever had. 🙂

MtMarathon This is what they’re climbing.
RaceCourseTips
Zoom In On this one – Runners Going Up The Mountain




RaceStart
ParadeReindeer
MissAlaskaAtParade

Hated leaving the Kenai Peninsula, but had to move on after enjoying a couple more days cruising around Seward.

Tuesday, July 7 & 8 – Drove up the Glenn Hwy, then down the Richardson Hwy toward Valdez.

GlennHwyFromAnchorageEastbound
MatanuskaGlacierFromAnchorage

Camped at Squirrel Creek State Park.

SquirrelCreekAK
Site4AtSquirrelCreekAK
PrettySquirrelCreek
PrettySquirrelCreek

Wednesday, July 9 – Along Richardson Hwy, beautiful rivers, waterfalls, Worthington Glacier in the Thompson Pass.  Trail of ’98 and Keystone Canyon.  Some of the most beautiful scenery we’ve ever seen!

BridalVeilFallsInKeystoneCanyonAK
DogOnDRoad
DriveIntoValdez
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Trail of ’98 – a good morning hike!
KeystoneCanyonBridalVeilFallsValdez
WorthingtonGlacierComingIntoValdez
WorthingtonGlacierOnRoadToValdez
WorthingtonGlacierOnRoadToValdez

Checked into Bear Paw Camper Park on the Valdez Bay Small Boat Harbor.

 

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BigSealAtHatcheryValdez
BigSealAtValdez Hatchery
OurCampFromOtherSideValdezHarbor
OurCampFromOtherSideOfValdezHarbor
LittleBearValdez
LittleBearInOldValdez

Tuesday, July 15 – Left Bear Paw Campground in Valdez. Spent the night at Beaver Creek RV Park in Yukon, then on down toward Haines, AK.  Horrible road conditions, lots of pilot cars and gravel.  We lost both of the Honda fog lights due to the rocks.  Spent the night of the 16th at a roadside pullout for the Kluane National Park.  What a gorgeous view (another one, sigh!) and a free night – – although we did have an earthquake at about 4:40am!  Thankfully, the epicenter was quite a distance away.

Thursday, July 17 – Arrived at Haines HitchUp Park in Haines, AK.  We loved this park! Green grass and very clean.  Enjoyed lots of fresh halibut, walking down to the bay, and all around Haines.  Took the ferry over to Skagway on our last day there.

Tuesday, July 22 – Traveled from Haines, AK to Hi Country RV park in Whitehorse, Yukon for 2 nights.  Enjoyed dinner at the Klondike Restaurant.

Thursday, July 24 – Traveled from Whitehorse to Big Creek Yukon Provencal Park.  We just can’t say enough good things about Canada’s Provencal parks.  They are usually on a lake or river and very reasonably priced.  We stayed here 2 nights for $24.

BigCreekYukon

Friday, July 25 – Heading south on the Cassiar Hwy.  Very slow and bumpy with lots of devastation from a fire back in 2010.

Landed at Boya Lake Provencal Park in British Columbia. Site #16.  We loved this place, spent 2 days renting canoes and hiking. Stunning!

BeaverDam1_BoyaLake
Boya Lake Beaver Dam – check out how CLEAR that water is!

Sunday, July 27 – Headed south again for one night at Mt. Shadow Camp in Iskut Valley, BC,  then on to Bear River RV in Stewart, BC.  This park is about a 5 minute drive back and forth to Hyder, AK so we used this as a base camp and drove the Honda back and forth.  We took the drive up to awe inspiring Salmon Glacier, and spent lots of time at the Fish Creek watching the spawning salmon.  Those poor babies work so hard to get home and die.  ;(

This was our last stop in Alaska, proper.  We took our time heading south through Prince George, Cache Creek, & then Oliver British Columbia.  On down to Orondo, WA and then Memaloose State Park on the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon where we got to spend some good times with cousins Don, Erin, Sam, Darby & Colleen!

Had some coach work done at Oregon Motorcoach near Eugene, OR.  Spent a couple of nights at Sunset Bay State Park in OR (highly recommend!).   Then down to Trinidad, CA in the middle of the giant redwoods.  Lodi, Buellton, CA and arrived home in San Diego at 3:15PM on Thursday, August 21, 2014.

The entire trip was approximately 10,000 miles and about 130 days and we’d do it again in a flash! 🙂

 

 

 

14 thoughts on “April 22 – August 21, 2014 Alaska Road Trip”

  1. Am so thrilled to see this. Debbie, you do an excellent job on the journaling. I get to live a little vicariously through you two. Happy trails to you!

    1. She is so funny! She stands up and greets us at the front windshield every time we return. When we try to get her out to come on a small day trip with us, she runs back to the bedroom inside her crate! Have to trick her with just a walk to get her out and into the car. She’s turning into a great RV dog. Misses her buddies though…

  2. That White Domes Trail looks amazing. It’s wonderful to see you guys having such a great trip (and it’s just begun). 🙂

  3. Your blog just keeps getting better and better. Love it! And I loved “Shirley’s”. And from what I see in the picture, it really could be my side business – – notice they have only mustard on that hot dog. Any purist knows that you ONLY put mustard on a hot dog. 🙂

  4. haven’t seen any more blogs since July 1 hope nothing is wrong or that I just am not getting them. . Take care nancy

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