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Curbside Austin
November 282020

We have had the official outdoor Austin experience…lots of hiking, curbside BBQ, and walking around town. It’s been a fun visit, even if it was lacking the nightlife and live music that Austin is famous for.

May as well lead off the photos with the food! We hit two of the top 5 rated BBQ joints, which involved a lot of leftovers. I think we’ve possibly eaten some form of BBQ 6 of our past 8 meals…thank goodness we’ve been getting in 5+ miles a day of walking!


Micklethwait’s Craft Meats: sausage, brisket and ribs! A+ with extra credit for the mac and cheese and cheddar jalapeño grits!


Leroy & Lewis – BBQ Thanksgiving dinner of smoked turkey, cranberry BBQ sauce, mac & cheese and honey bourbon whipped sweet potatoes. Needless to say we have some calorie repenting to do!


Hiking at Goodwater Lake. They describe it as a “classic central Texas limestone trail” which I translated to “keep your eyes on the ground or it’s going to kill you”.


Crockett Gardens Spring. This area has tons of natural springs.


Lady Bird Lake in downtown Austin. We were not there at the right time of day to see the famous colony of bats coming or going, but we could hear them up under the Congress Street bridge when we walked beneath it.

Stevie Ray Vaughan

Sculpture Falls along Barton Creek. Popular swimming hole when there is water! The limestone creek bed was pretty neat.


We had a great walking tour around the University of Texas Austin. Pretty campus, but eerily quiet with all the students gone home.


Scott outside the football stadium.


Me with saber-toothed tiger aka “Smilodon Fatalis” which sounds like the most made up Latin name ever.

We will be here one more day then off toward FL with a few stops along the way.

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Big Bend National Park
November 202020

We spent a gorgeous week exploring and hiking all over Big Bend. The desert landscape is spectacular, with mountains, canyons, and the Rio Grande River. Everywhere we visited in the park the geology was different and we saw all sorts of spiny plants and interesting critters!

The border is currently closed, so we could not go across the river to Boquillas, but we still managed to interact with their local economy, buying a few handcrafted souvenirs that they bring across the river and place along the hiking trails with a little jar for payment. We even got a serenade across the river from a guy who had his tip jar set up on our trail! The village relies entirely on tourism from Big Bend, so the Covid border closure has been a big deal for them.

Anyway, most of the story is better told with the photos, which Scott has captioned. A quick overnight tonight in San Angelo, and then onto Austin tomorrow.


Scott is halfway to Mexico in the middle of the Rio Grande! (The sandy bank is Mexico)


The Sierra del Carmen mountains with the Rio Grande in the foreground


Alison in Boquillas Canyon


A curious Javalina across from Foxy


The Ernst Tinaja trail…or the Dead Animal Spitoon as I call it. Luckily, there were no dead animals! (When the water gets low they sometimes fall in while drinking)


Alison at Balanced Rock at the top of the Grapevine trail.


The Ernst Tinaja Trail with cool rocks.
Santa Elena Canyon


Santa Elena Canyon


Me on the rocks!

The Lower Burro Pour-off trail


The Lower Burro Pour-off…pretty high!


Roadrunner…Beep Beep!


This guy was on the road driving to Ernst Tinaja…He ended up walking under the truck on laying right next to the tire…so Alison had to throw little pebbles at him to get him to move so we could keep driving. It was all pretty humorous!


Ocotillo on the trail.
Chisos Basin

Us on the rocks…literally, not figuratively! We will check in from Austin, Texas!

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The Texas Panhandle
November 112020

We are on the road again, with the theme being…flexibility! Our original plan was to spend this week in NM, visiting White Sands and Carlsbad Caverns, but when we rolled into Santa Fe for a one night stopover on the way we found out that there is a 14 day quarantine required for out of state visitors. So we did a quick regroup and decided to head straight to TX.

It’s been a pretty few days here on the rim of Palo Duro Canyon. We hiked in the canyon for two days and took a day trip to visit Lake Meredith National Recreation Area and the Alibates Flint Quarry National Monument. Tomorrow we roll to Midland to pick up our curbside grocery order before a week in Big Bend National Park. We are feeling good about our rolling quarantine machine and ability to avoid most humans! Hope you are all doing the same.


Palo Duro Canyon (translates literally to “Hard Stick”). Gorgeous hiking trails and pretty colors on the canyon walls.


Especially the “Spanish Skirts” formations.

Lake Meredith. It might have been prettier as a canyon before they dammed it up. Seems like it was probably a more active place when the water level was higher.

Flint at the Alibates Quarry. This very high quality flint was highly prized by Native Americans for making tools and arrowheads. It was traded across a 1,000 mile radius! We enjoyed a guided hike to the quarry with Ranger Eileen.

The flint was formed through a similar process as petrified wood – cells in organic matter being replaced by various minerals. Here that was sea creatures as opposed to trees, but the effect is quite similar. Lots of colors!

Off to Midland tomorrow!

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Four Seasons in Six Months
November 102020

We really couldn’t have asked for a better place to take a hiatus from traveling than Crested Butte. Where else can you spend six months and experience every type of weather, all while being surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery in the world??

We thought that as we head back out on the road (YES – we are back in the RV) we would take a look back and share some photos from time at home since May. Enjoy, be well, and stay tuned for updates.

 

Spring (aka wildflower season)


Rustler’s Gulch

 

Summer


View from Scrap Ridge


Our piéce de résistance… the new deck!


Our resident mountain bluebirds, dubbed Zeb and Teo. They had three hungry babies above our garage door.


Paddling at Lake Irwin


Falls on upper Crystal Creek


Ermine!


Our first high altitude gardening project.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Fall


Crystal Mill


Hiking Oh Be Joyful with Bethany and Will

Hiking Rustler’s Gulch with Jessie and Alex


Curecanti Creek


Mt Crested Butte decked out in golden aspens!

Winter

We kept the salad going long after the first snow (Sept 9th)


Mt CB reflected in icy Peanut Lake

 

And a few birds…


Western Tanager


Stellar’s Jay


Snowbirds…about to join the southern migration!

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We’ve been home in Crested Butte for almost two weeks and are settling into life in a much bigger house that doesn’t roll. It seems like we will be here at least all summer, so have been doing things like working in the yard and planting a garden. We are still hopeful that this fall we can take the RV east before heading south for another Florida winter, and then picking up our itinerary where we left off.

The pause in our trip fell at pretty much the one year mark, giving us a good point to reflect from. In some ways the year flew by, but then when we think about Alaska, it seemed so long ago. Anyway, a friend asked what lessons came from the first year, and in keeping with our recent string of Top 10 lists, we are putting our heads together to share some lessons from life on the road before we take a blogging hiatus till Foxy rolls again! Everyone stay safe and healthy.

 

Top 10 Gap Year Lessons/Takeaways

 

10. There are a lot of bad drivers and never ending amount of road construction.

9. Everyplace in our country has its own beauty, and wildlife sightings are always a highlight.

8. It is a REALLY long drive to Alaska!

7. Extended travel isn’t exactly a vacation. Real life still happens, and it’s not always good stuff, but you get through it.

6. You might think you can plan it all out…but you really can’t. (Being flexible is a huge asset.)

5. We need way less stuff than we ever thought. And the less we had, the happier we were.

4. After looking back on the past year, we wouldn’t change how or where we travelled at all. Planning ahead and making reservations suited our style, and the few times we needed to make a change it wasn’t a problem.

3. We missed our friends and family. We met some nice people, but life on the road turned out to be not nearly as social as we expected.

2. We picked the right RV. Foxy met all our needs very well and wasn’t too hard to tow or squeeze into the National Park campgrounds.

1. We married right, AND we still like each other. Whew!

 

Here are the other Top Ten lists from Year One, with a few new additions

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Colorado or Bust
April 272020

Well, we are headed back to Crested Butte to hunker down. We were felling pretty good in FL, until other campers started showing up, and suddenly we didn’t have the place to ourselves! It was two long driving days to get to Shreveport, LA, and all was going smoothly until our brakes threw an error code, literally as we were pulling into the campground last night. Foxy is currently getting worked on and we are hoping to be back on the road this afternoon. In the meantime, I’ve been working on another top 10 list (or maybe top 14 list since I’m having trouble whittling it down). Enjoy!

Top 10 Feathered Friends

OK, Really it’s top 14, but I couldn’t cut it all down to ten! These are in chronological order from our travels.

Raven Family  Jasper National Park, Alberta Canada 

The Boss  Anchor Point, AK

Staring Contest  Anchor Point, AK

Acorn Woodpecker (and his stash)   Moss Landing, CA

Got Fish?  Tarpon Springs, FL

Great Blue Heron and Egret (Not Socially Distanced)   Anclote River, FL

Osprey   Anclote River, FL

Hitchhiker   Tarpon Springs, FL
This Egret was on the roof of our truck!

Anhinga  Everglades, FL

Tri-Colored Heron   Everglades, FL

Juvenile Ibis   St. Augustine, FL

Red Shouldered Hawk   St. Augustine, FL

Red Shouldered Hawk and Chick  St. Augustine, FL
(This nest was over our camper for about a month and I finally got this shot just a day before we left.)

Anhinga and Chicks  St. Augustine, FL
This nest was also in our campground and was much fun to observe daily. The babies were growing fast and always hungry!

 

Time to fly,
The Bird Lady

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One year ago today we left Denver, CO. Since then we’ve driven 29,500 miles, traveling through 17 states and 3 Canadian provinces. We have made home in 95 different campsites…from the desert, to farms, to the infield at the Daytona 500!

We’ve seen a lot in 365 days, and certainly couldn’t ever have imagined that this anniversary would find us holed up in Florida amidst a pandemic. We feel exceedingly fortunate that we have such an amazing travel year under our belts, and that we (and our loved ones) are safe and healthy. It seems likely that we will pause our itinerary in May, and head back to Colorado until life resumes some normalcy. In the meantime we thought it would be fun to reflect on the highlights from the past year! Check back over the coming week or so to see more top 10 lists added to this post.

 

Top 10 Breweries

Isolation has given me a great opportunity to review our travels over the past year in the context of a topic near and dear to my heart…Breweries! We have visited many; many great ones, many Ok ones and a few so-so ones. Here are our 10 favorites…best enjoyed while drinking a beer!

10. Alvarado Street Brewery – Monterey Bay, CA
This was a very cute courtyard brewery that made pretty good beer. We enjoyed an afternoon there after visiting the Aquarium.

9. Russian River Brewing Co – Sacramento, CA
On recommendation from Chris Farland. This brewery did not disappoint!

8. Yukon Brewing Co – Whitehorse, YT
Fine little place in Whitehorse, good beer and they served whiskey too! Extra bonus!

7. Klondike Brewing Co – Skagway, AK
Nice little brew pub, we stopped in after getting off the ferry from Juneau!

6. Denali Brewing Co – Talkeetna, AK
Fun place, great beer!

5. Coastal Dayz Brewery – Ft Meyers, FL
We met Paul and Mary here while staying in Pine Island, FL. We enjoyed meeting the owners, Lisa and Greg, who are friends of the family.

4. 49th State Brewing – Healy and Anchorage, AK
We had a great time in both the Anchorage and Healy locations. They make Great Beer and decorate with bizarre taxidermy! Photo with Paul on their deck overlooking Anchorage.

3. St. Elias Brewing – Soldatna, AK
This was a small place near Kenai, they do a great job. If you get there, taste the Willawaw IPA!

2. Alaskan Brewing –  Juneau, AK
This is our long standing favorite, they had a chance to be number one but they stopped making the Winter Ale!

1. Rogue Ales – Newport, OR
Rogue won by far! They make a lot of REALLY GOOD BEER!!! Combat Wombat, Batsquatch, Dead Guy  in Whiskey Barrels….and it was a short bike ride from our campground on Newport Beach. We will be back!!!

And my tattoo!

Honorable Mention – Costco in Oregon
For the best Costco bomber selection ever!

Cheers!
Scott

 

Check out the other Top 10 Lists! (more to come soon)

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St. Augustine
March 312020

We are hanging out at the KOA in St. A for the foreseeable future. It’s a nice place, there is a pool we can use if there are not a lot of people in it. The beach is now closed. But, it’s 80 and sunny and fine. The bikes and kayak are getting regular use! At some point we will head back to CB but right now we think staying put is the best option. We are fine and we hope all of you are as well. Enjoy the local photos!


The view from our front door!

Mama duck with four ducklings…unfortunately, there are now only 3 due to the mama hawk seen in the previous post.

Cute!

The parade grounds at St. Francis barracks. Each pillar has soil from the battlefield from every American conflict.

Old city gates in St. Augustine.

Castillo de San Marcos.

Pretty cool!

Statue of Ponce de Leon in the city center. He landed here in 1513!

St. Augustine Light.

Busy Bee!
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We migrated to the northeast of Florida about a week ago, and are camped at a nice spot in St. Augustine. RV-ing turns out to pretty conducive to social distancing, since we are quite self contained, and not that close to our neighbors. We did modify our itinerary a bit to hunker in here for 3 weeks, which we may extend. Of course, things are changing daily, and it’s always possible that the campground could close, or be closed by ordinance. If that happens, we will likely put Foxy in storage and head to CO with just the truck to ride things out. But for now, one day at a time. We are a mile from the beach, which is still open, and now much less populated as they have closed all the public parking lots. They are patrolling the beach pretty heavily and enforcing the CDC distancing rules. We have been enjoying riding our bike over there daily. Otherwise, it’s been lots of time at the campsite doing crosswords, RV maintenance projects, and watching the local wildlife. Enjoy the photos and stay safe!


We made a one night stopover at the “Bee Barn” in Zolfo Springs. The bees were all offsite working in CA, but we came away with some beeswax/honey items from the farm.


Central Florida is filled with farms and orchards. We visited one farm stand where I asked for a bunch of collard greens and this is what I got. I asked twice if he was sure it was only one bunch! I cooked them all down in one huge batch and am still eating them a week later.
I tried to offload a few leaves of them on the resident chickens who were completely uninterested!


Our campsite in St. Augustine.


We don’t make fires very often, but decided we should eat some of the S’mores fixins that have been in the cabinet for months. We didn’t have any newspaper, but had just finished a book of crossword puzzle which did the trick!


The campground doesn’t have any recycling, but we have scoped out the closest bin in a park up the street.


There is a gorgeous hawk nesting in the tree behind our site. Haven’t spied any babies yet!


Turtle pond across the street. People must feed them, because they were very excited to see us.


Everything in town is closed, but we did take a short walk around Castillo de San Marcos. No National Park stamps this trip.

The round turrets made us think of the Castillo San Cristobal in San Juan, Puerto Rico, which we visited in late 2016, shortly the big hurricane.


And hanging out at the camper. Last night we had kilted happy hour. I in my family’s traditional Wallace plaid and Scott in the Wallace hunting plaid. Slàinte mhath! (Good health!)

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Key Largo
March 152020

We took a quick overnight trip to Key Largo this week, for some snorkeling and kayaking. Enjoy the pics!


It was about a half hour ride, and the water was choppy once we got off the boat, but we had a good time checking out the coral reef and swimming with the fishes!


Blue Parrotfish


Another pretty Parrotfish


Multicolored Scottfish


The following day we kayaked through the mangroves at John Pennekamp State Park. (Thanks Kris, for the recommendation!)


Mangrove “cathedral”


The hotel we stayed at had lots of lizard guys to entertain us by the pool!


Tail grab!

 

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In the Everglades
March 102020

We are entering our second week here in the Everglades, on a place called Chokoloskee Island. It’s a whole lot less crowded than our last stop (and most of Florida) and we have not missed sitting in traffic at all. Foxy will be parked here for about another week in the southernmost campsite on our trip.


Our campground has a marina, and is a lovely spot to watch sunset.


The marina has gators.


And sometimes no water! Low low tide!


There are also plenty of these hungry (and oh so bold) guys always hanging around the fish cleaning area.


But the sunsets are gorgeous!


This area is famous for stone crabs. I spent a lot of time cracking these open, and I kind of don’t get the fuss.


We took a fan boat through the local mangrove swamp (with Boston tourists!)

And we kayaked on the Turner River in Everglades National Park.


There were plenty of gators…


Including this big mama!

If you look closely, you can see one of her babies curled up in safety of her tail!


Scott with a gator ahead!


The mangrove tunnels were gorgeous.


The swamps are full of bromeliads and birds!


Great Blue Heron


Tri-color Heron


Beastie!


Marco Island – Tigertail Beach


Congregation of Ibis on the beach


And this rare blue tongued mammal was spotted in the local ice cream shop! The flavor was Cookie Monster!

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Fenway South
March 52020

We spent the weekend at Jet Blue Park, aka Fenway South. Jenn and Andy flew in from Ohio and we had a great time watching baseball, sitting by the pool and generally carousing around Fort Myers. On to Chokoloskee!

Ali and Jenn with Wally

Us at Jet Blue Park

Ali, Jenn, Scott and Andy with the Green Monster in the background.

The Raven Lunatic!

This was our favorite watering hole on Pine Island!

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We’ve been camped on Pine Island, west of Ft. Myers for the past week. Not much in the way of a beach on the island, but we do have a great trail for walking/biking, an array of tiki bars in walking distance, a resident bald eagle that perches atop the cell tower, and a nice pool at the campground. We have gotten off the island a few times to connect with family (all from Colorado!) and check out some local beaches. We are here for about another week, before venturing a bit further south.


Paul and Mary (my aunt and uncle), Us, Ed and Cheryl, and Costal Dayz owners Lisa and Greg. We enjoyed trying many tasty beers at their brewery in Ft Myers.


Visiting Rena and Barry (Scott’s aunt and uncle) on Sanibel Island.


Today we took a ferry from Pine Island to Coya Costa State Park. Beautiful and uncrowded beach.


Scott taking the plunge. I got in for a few minutes. Kind of chilly!


This guy! Gopher tortoise.

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We camped on the infield, right at turn 1 at the Daytona 500. Friday night was the Truck series race, we ended up walking out to the boat dock at Lake Lloyd and meeting Sheldon and his crew who run Destination Yachts. They had a big boat in the water and graciously invited us onboard to join them in the revelry of watching the race. They were part of the sponsor group for Chris Buescher and the #17 Ford (He did great, finishing 3rd in the 500 and is our new favorite driver!). We ended up rejoining Sheldon on the boat after the rainout Sunday and a good time was had by all! Thanks a ton! Saturday was the Xfinity series 300 mile race which we watched from the Fan Zone. Sunday the President showed up, took a pace lap and then…IT RAINED!!! (Coincidence? We think not!!!) The race was postponed till Monday so we had an extra day at Daytona. All the Trumpers left Sunday, the stands were about half full and we sat above the entry to turn 1. It turned out to be a really exciting race, Denny Hamlin won by a couple hundreths of a second. Unfortunately, the weekend was marred by the horrible crash at the end when Ryan Newman’s car flipped, was hit head on and then caught fire. It was REALLY SCARY and happened right in front of where we were sitting. All the best to Ryan and his family.


The Fan Zone on Saturday


The view from our seats on Sunday.


That’s Foxy in the Orange Circle inside of turn 1.
The Thunderbirds provided the pre race flyover. It was awesome watching them take off and do their thing!


Pit Row


Kyle Busch’s car in the garage.


The concourse shortly after it started raining.


Us in the seats on Sunday.


Our neighbors brought a video game machine!

Foxy camped in the loudest, brightest campground ever!


Wheelbarrow races in the campground on Saturday night!


The Destination Yachts crew!

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Tarpon Springs
February 132020

As we are set to leave this beautiful campground tomorrow we have great memories of the beach, the food, the people and our great experiences here over the past 4 weeks. Dolphins swimming just off the docks, Miss Vicki’s on the water, Cap’n Jack’s, Dimitri’s, Bolts game, Dali Museum, Honeymoon Island, Caladesi Island….I’m sure I forgot a few but we had a great time! On a bittersweet note, we ate the last piece of Halibut from Alaska the other night. Yum but boo! Enjoy the photos and it’s on to Daytona!!!

 


Saganaki at Dimitri’s restaurant on the water! Flaming cheese….


Galaktoboureko….good stuff!

Islanders vs. Lightning at Amalie Arena. Unfortunately the wrong team won, but we had a great time anyway exploring downtown before the game.


Caladesi Island


We hit the Florida State Fair in Tampa, where we found Free Fallin’, the Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers tribute band from Minnesota! “Don’t come around here no more…”


The before pic on the Tilt a Whirl….the after pic was much worse…I was green!


At the Dalí Museum – even the building was surreal.

Inside the Dali museum


The Dalí Mustache


Dinner on the water before the museum…with a friend!

Sunset on our beach at Hickory Point RV Park.

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Sarasota
February 62020

We got to check out Siesta Key and Sarasota for the last couple of days. We met Matt and Anne in Siesta Key, had a great evening and then drove back to Foxy via Sarasota where we had lunch with Susan and Bob. We also found time to get a round of Mini Golf in… Alison won….AGAIN….but they had alligators and we got to feed them with a long fishing rod. So that was cool!

Alison and Susan

Alison feeding the gators

Alison, Scott, Anne and Matt on Siesta Key.

It wasn’t that warm!

Me and Matt outside the hotel. Just like high school!

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Spending time in nature has always been my favorite way to regroup and re-center, and I’ve been in need of both since my dad’s passing. Some shots to share from the past few days as I am finally getting back out into the world:


Floating down the Weiki Wachee River. The river is spring fed and the water is crystal clear.


My hero…who did all the paddling, and who has kept me sane the past several months. Love this guy!


Turtle Island


Turtle Beach


We had almost given up seeing any manatees, but at the very end of our trip, we saw three.


They are big and slow!


Dolphin off the dock at our campground


Sunset at the campground


This guy made himself perfectly at home on our truck and rode with us across the parking lot.


Great Egret


Osprey


Heron and Egret

 

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Rugby in St. Petersburg
January 282020

Foxy arrived in Tarpon Springs, home for the next month. I Immediately cruised down to hang out with Jessie who was running the National Small College Rugby Tournament at Eckerd College in St. Pete. Beautiful setting and it was great to spend time with her.

 

 

Foxy in his new home for the next month!

I saw this guy when I stopped at a bar in Clearwater Beach.

Me and Jessie

Fun Rugby tourney, the team from Carolina Coast won it all!

Jessie working.

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Tom Petty Tour
January 132020

We spent the last two nights in Gainesville on our way to the Tampa area. Gainesville, of course, is the hometown of Tom Petty, Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench. They are the founding members of Mudcrutch, the band that morphed into Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. We checked out the local museum that had a special display honoring Tom Petty and then took to the streets of Gainesville to take in the sights. Rest in Peace Tom. We miss you and thank you!!!

This is  a mural on the wall of Tom’s elementary school.

A special guitar on display at the museum.

Another mural on the street.

Tom Petty’s home.

The park across the street from his house.

Ole 441…like waves crashin’ on the beach…

The swamp next to our campground.

Cormorant

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Birds and a Buggy
January 102020

We are wrapping up a 4 night stay in Port St. Joe, a bit southeast of Panama City. This area was slammed by Hurricane Michael in 2018. The power of the storm, as well as the slow recovery process, is evident in the number of buildings that are still lacking roofs. But the beach area is pretty, although we hit it during a cool and windy stretch. We walked a lot of miles and found some 4-wheeled entertainment to rent from one of the locals who said he didn’t have any real damage to his house, despite a 5 foot storm surge (all the homes here are on 10+ foot stilts). So we bundled up and cruised (and bird watched!)


BEACH BUGGY!

Too bad we can’t add this fun little guy to our fleet!

Cruising in Florida style…with PUFFY COATS on the beach!


Full moon rise

Sunset

Another feathered friend I’ve been waiting to spot in the wild! An American Oyster Catcher.


A Sanderling with a tidbit extracted from the sand. Yum?


This beach also had lots of colorful “coquina” shells.  I have fond memories of my Grandma Sophie sending me in search of these little pairs, which she used as butterflies in her shell art. It was probably a great way to keep a 10 year old entertained for hours, and I still remember proudly bringing back my treasures for inspection.

From here we are off to Gainesville, and then Scott will take the camper south while I make another trip back to Colorado to spend more of what I only sadly say is too little time left with my dad.

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We spent the last 5 nights at The Fort Pickens Campground in Gulf Islands National Seashore outside of Pensacola Beach Florida.  This was a great spot, we visited Navarre Beach, Destin, FL and Gulf Shores, Alabama while we were here. Alison maintained her dominance in mini golf, got a couple National Park stamps and we visited the World Famous Flora-Bama beach bar for some live music. We are already plotting a return visit, and found a great RV park in town to stay at in the future. We are officially snowbirds!


The beach across the street from our campground. It was a bit stormy the first day!


Fort Pickens


Sunset on the beach


Great Blue Herons hanging out near the campground.


Ali found Herbie in Destin!


Arrrgh!


I’m a sore loser!
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Houston and Baton Rouge
January 22020

Team Blitz had a wonderful one night stay at The Finstuen Castle in Houston. It was great to catch up with Jon, Anne and Sandy, if only for a few short hours. We then headed to Baton Rouge for New Years Eve…where we promptly went to bed at 8 O’clock after realizing we were not gonna party like rockstars into the New Year! We did wake up to fireworks at midnight. We tried to check out the town on New Years Day but EVERYTHING was closed. This morning we woke up early to deal with a leaky camper tire. We headed to Port Allen Tire at 9 AM, they TOTALLY took care of us, changed the tire (that’s the tenth tire we have purchased so far on the gap year between the truck and camper!) and sent us to Bergeron’s Boudin and Cajun Meats for breakfast (Thank you Charlie and Sandy)….a few Boudin balls and cracklins later we were set! We almost bought everything in the store! We made it to Florida, currently camping at Gulf Islands National Seashore.


Jon, Anne, Scott and Alison


In the words of Tom Petty…”Louisiana Rain…” Seriously???


Another new tire…


Cracklins!


Cracklins and Boudin balls!

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The Texas Coast
December 282019

Taking in the coast in Rockport, TX. This town was ground zero for Hurricane Harvey in 2017 and they are still rebuilding from the storm. We’ve been touring around, eating seafood and enjoying our guests 🙂


Christmas dinner in the camper!


Padre Island National Seashore.


View into our beach cleanup trash bag!

Daniel getting his Junior Ranger Badge! (2nd out of 3 on this trip!)


Check out those Junior Ranger badges!!!

Manning the guns on the USS Lexington

Dale on target!

On the flight deck

Looking the part!


Rockport Maritime Museum


At the Boiling Pot awaiting our crustacean invasion!


At “Big Tree” – a 1,000 plus year old Live Texas Virginia Oak that is the 2nd biggest tree in Texas.

Monkeys in a nearby tree that encouraged climbing!!!

Kelly, Dale and Daniel


Daniel finishing up the requirements for his 3rd Junior Ranger badge of the trip!

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San Antonio Christmas! The Alamo, The Riverwalk, Sea World…everything is bigger in Texas! It was great to meet the Jacobsens in San Antonio and then travel with them to Rockport on the Gulf Coast. We had a great time, a great Christmas dinner and a great visit. Daniel got his Junior Ranger Badge at The Mission at San Jose. We had a Christmas tree, lit Hanukkah candles and carried on!


All of us at The Alamo.

My silhouette

The Riverwalk.

Alison and Daniel at The San Jose Mission.


Scott and Kelly at the San Jose Mission.


Stamp, stamp, stamp, stamp.

We also visited Sea World, this is the before photo on the river rapid ride…we were all a lot wetter by the end of the ride!

Dale and Daniel


These guys!

The roller coaster  (Daniel went at least 6 times and is now an official fan of roller coasters, much to Alison’s joy)

Ali and Daniel

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Tucson and a Hiatus
December 62019

Just spent two nights in Catalina State Park. Beautiful hiking and lovely campground. Made the drive today to Las Cruces, NM and put Foxy in storage for a two week trip back to Colorado for some family stuff. Be back online for Christmas in San Antonio!


Saguaro and skeleton

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Family Fun Week 2
December 32019

Happy Thanksgiving! We have spent the last two weeks driving through Gila Bend AZ….seven times! Alison and Valerie drove up to Flagstaff and took the train from Williams to the Grand Canyon! Always a beautiful place. We then congregated at the Yuma Blitz Thanksgiving dinner. Thanks a ton to Howard and Nancy for hosting. It was great to see everyone. Scott helped Jenni move into her new house on Sunday, another spontaneous cousinfest. Foxy is getting chassis work done, Val is safely back to Boston, and we hope to be on the road this afternoon toward Tucson.


Chilly but sunny day at the south rim.


Ain’t it GRAND!


On the Grand Canyon Railroad – Kokopelli Car


With the moms in Phoenix!


Yuma Blitz Thanksgiving! Lisa, Jenni, Nancy and Patti


Scott and Howard


Val, Phebe and Howard


Al and Val


Scott and Phebe


Moving day at Jenni’s house with the Blitz cousins!


Meerkats at the Desert Botanic Garden in Phoenix

Nice day to peruse the cacti!


Cholla, saguaro, and prickly pear…oh my!


Foxy at Ann and Cliff’s in Yuma. They win the award for best driveway camping spot to date. Water, sewer and electric hookup and free laundry 🙂 Thanks for the hospitality, and thanks to everyone who travelled far and wide to be part of the Arizona Thanksgiving festivities!

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Family Fun Week 1
November 242019

Just back from Puerto Penasco, Mexico. Enjoy the photos…


Beach house


Full of “mixed nuts”


Making cheesecake with Dad


It was as good as it looks!

Scott making shrimp scampi


Dad and Rex soaking up the sun


Sunset

Pelicans


Phebe and the band. Ay Carumba!  Hey Baby, Que Paso, Que Paso, Que Paso!!!!

Me working on getting Montezuma’s Revenge.

Ann and Cliff


Roy and Rex


Puerto Penasco


Scott and Linda at the Pirate Bar

Cocktails at Armando’s

Baby Shark! Doo doo da doo doo.

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Jojoba Hills
November 192019

We enjoyed 4 nights with Al and Diane in their “happy place” of Jojoba Hills. I have been hearing about this RV Park for almost 20 years and it did not disappoint. Friendly people, lovely grounds, and so much to do. I can see how Al and Diane fell in love with it, and why they go home to their RV there year after year.

Happy campers! My former in-laws (but forever family) Al and Diane have been RV living for over 20 years. Great role models!

The world’s hardest mini golf course!

Finally, someone who appreciated my Pats shirt.

Scott also got to meet up with his college roommate JJ while we were in the area. These two look like they would never get into any trouble together 😉

We rolled out with 6 new CDs of road tunes from Big Al the DJ. Much fun.

Next leg of the trip is two weeks with family. Foxy is staying in Yuma while we travel around AZ and down into Mexico.

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Joshua Tree
November 152019

We spent two nights in the Cottonwood Springs area of Joshua Tree. Beautiful desert and wonderful company with Greg and Anita coming out to camp for a night. It’s fun to be embarking on a stretch of family visits for the next several weeks, hopefully we remember how to act around other people!


Group shout with Greg & Anita, us, and Wilma

On the Mastodon Trail

Greg was an awesome geologic guide to hike with!

Scott & Greg. Out-laws!!!

A Joshua Tree.

Yes…I hugged it.

Chollo Garden

Sunrise on the desert.

The full moon was still up at dawn.

We are now parked with Al and Diane in Jojoba Hills, for our last 4 nights in CA!

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Death Valley
November 112019

We spent the last three days in Death Valley National Park and surrounding area. Pretty interesting Park, the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere is at Badwater Basin at 291 feet below sea level.  We saw the 20 mule team reenact pulling the wagons filled with Borax from the mines nearby. This was a short lived mining era from 1880-1885. Lots of cool places to visit in the area. Let the photos begin. Tomorrow it is off to Joshua Tree NP.


The 20 mule team reenactment.

I got a close up meet and greet!


The mules in action!


The salt flats at Badwater basin.


Natural Bridge

Me at the end of the Natural Bridge trail.

Dry waterfall

The remains of Harmony Borax works.

Artist’s Palette


Sandstone dunes in the park.

The view of Death Valley from Dante’s Point, at 5,400 feet above sea level.

Moonrise on the drive home.

Scenery from our campground.

Sunset from our campground

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We planned an overnight on our way to Death Valley so that we could visit the César Chávez National Monument. It is a beautiful site, that encompasses his home, office, burial site, and still includes operating offices for the United Farm Workers. The museum includes many photos of the farmworker strikes in the mid 60’s, and documents the historic struggle that Chávez led to create the first farmworker union and improve working conditions and compensation for those toiling in the field. It was a very moving and inspiring place to visit.


The Memorial Garden


During his lifetime, Chávez underwent several extended hunger strikes that were part of his commitment to peaceful protest. This photo from the museum documented his ending a 25 day fast by breaking bread with Robert F. Kennedy, who shared his vision for economic justice for all Americans. Less than three months after this photo was taken, Kennedy was assassinated.


The grounds of the monument include a garden with plants representing Chávez’s birthplace of Yuma, AZ.


There is also a beautiful rose garden.

After leaving the memorial, we took a back road home to the camper and gathered up some other local history about the railroad as well as enjoying the nearby wind farm. A few more photos to share…


Sort of the same principle as the Georgetown Loop, but instead of building a trestle, they used an existing hill.


We were happy to find the plaque which explained what the dotted line (train route) was doing on our GPS screen.


Arrow shows where the tracks cross over themselves. The front cars on long freight trains actually cross the bridge over their own back cars!


Moonrise over the windmills. Amazing to see so many of them up the hillsides.

On to Death Valley tomorrow!

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Team Blitz spent the last 4 days at the Three Rivers Hideaway RV Park. We accessed Sequoia National Park, Kings Canyon National Park and Kaweah Lake. The Big Sequoia Trees were impressive. The photos don’t really do them justice. Kings Canyon was a great drive, and we decided to spend the night at The Wuksachi Lodge, which turned out to be a great choice instead of driving an hour in the dark on the windy road back to the campground. Today we set out to Lake Kaweah to put the Duckie in the lake, but once we got there we found out they rented peddle boats…so we did that! A great time was had by all and now we are off to Death Valley!


The largest tree in the world. No joke!

They are huge!


The Sequoias start from this small pinecone.

I am standing inside the trunk of a fallen Sequoia.

Moro Rock

Of course we hiked to the top. We had to get our altitude hiking lungs back…7,000 feet!

That’s the road!

Roaring River Falls in Kings Canyon.

Our nice hotel room.

Tokopah Falls.


Tokopah Falls

And then we saw these guys on the way out of the park. Da Bears!


Lake Kaweah with the boats!

That was ours for the day!

Lots of house boats in the marina, like a floating RV Park.

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Monterey Bay
November 32019

We’ve had a great week here in Monterey Bay, watching the otters and birds, enjoying the beaches, and catching up with friends. This areas is incredibly beautiful, with the deep water bay (it drops off into an underwater canyon that is 2 miles deep) creating amazing habitat for critters on and off the land. Lots of photos to share before we head inland to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park today.

Otter photos first! These are the highlights of about 300 photos…


Momma with baby otter is about the cutest thing ever. We saw this pair at the end of a boat safari trip up the Elkhorn Slough, a 7 miles long muddy tidal inlet.

She made a quick swim off with her pup after I got a couple pics. The naturalist we were with said the little guy was only a few days old.

An older pup that was looking for his mom. She popped up and gave some very loud yelps and they were soon reunited.


He quickly snuggled right back up. Apparently a pup of this size is close to weaning and going off on his own.


Just checking out the boat!


Us on the boat!


Brown pelicans


Sun bathing seals


This guy was hanging out with us when we were sitting on the jetty at Moss Landing Beach. Not sure who was watching who.


We had an awesome two days hanging out with Sharon and Julian, eating, hiking about and watching the local critters. Love you guys and can’t wait to have a future RV meetup 🙂


On our hike with S&J, we got to see an Acorn Woodpecker. I have a pretty short birding bucket list, and this guy was on it! He makes holes to stash his acorns in. There were 3 woodpeckers working on 4 trees and they were putting up quite a supply.


Acorns! This was only tiny area of one tree. I can’t imagine how many there were in total.


We spent a fabulous day at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Really interesting place with stunning displays, and a focus on conservation, particularly keeping plastic out of the ocean! This is the kelp forest which was two stories tall.


Beautiful jellies!


Lunch in Monterey, with some input from the Monterey Aquarium’s “Seafood Watch” app. You can download it to learn more about what is being harvested sustainably in your area.


Another day we went up to Santa Cruz! The amusement park was closed, which means I didn’t get to drag Scott on a roller coaster!


But we did find a pirate themed mini golf course!


I won’t brag about my winning margin.


Oh, and another highlight…Foxy got a bath! And boy was it needed. These guys removed a lot of bugs.

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From Mountains to Oceans
October 292019

Yosemite National Park was outstanding. It was difficult to leave but the journey continues with great days ahead! We stopped in Fresno on the way out of the Park to visit Adam, Karen, Louie, Ari and baby Leo. Grandpa Larry was also visiting which was great. After a great lunch (thanks guys!) we continued on to Marina, CA, just north of Monterrey. On Sunday we travelled to Levi Stadium in Santa Clara to watch the Niners absolutely destroy the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers are not a bad team. SF will go deep this year. Their defense is scary good. Ok, I’m done with the football critique now! The Monterey area is great and we are looking forward to the week here.

Scott, Alison, Cousin Adam, Karen and Leo.

Scott, Alison and Uncle Larry

Levi Stadium

The beach that is 500 yards from our RV resort!

Sunset

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Thank goodness for pictures, because it’s hard to describe Yosemite in words. We spent 5 nights camped next to Half Dome, biked all over the Valley, visited the Mariposa Grove of Tall Trees, and took in the breathtaking views from Glacier Point.

A little history worthy of sharing is that although Yellowstone was the first official National Park, Yosemite was the first area preserved for public use by the federal government. In 1864, in the middle of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln created the Yosemite Grant which preserved the area and gave California administrative control the park. In 1890, it became the second national park. Teddy Roosevelt visited the park in 1903 and spent four nights camping and conversing with John Muir, after which he went on to designate 228 other national parks/monument sites. Needless to say, much of what we know as the National Park system today was inspired by the awesome beauty of Yosemite.


El Capitan and Half Dome


Scott in front of El Cap. We enjoyed searching for rock climbers with our binoculars. They are so small in comparison to the cliff that you can barely see them with the naked eye on their multi-day climb to the top. (Did not inspire us to take up climbing.)


Yosemite Falls is dry this time of year, but we hiked to Bridal Veil Falls which is currently flowing, or mostly misting!


At Glacier Point


The California Tunnel Tree in Mariposa Grove. This was the only tree not fenced off from visitors (aka…the only tree I got to hug). Apparently they figure what more harm could be done to it. It was cut out about 100 years ago. Needless to say, they do not do that anymore.


History and photo of Roosevelt and Muir at the Grizzly Tree


Me at the Grizzly Tree!


Sunset on Half Dome was our entertainment every night. We had a gorgeous view from our campsite. The sunset reflects off the rocks in the most dramatic fashion, casting a glow that ranges from gold, to orange to red.

Time lapse photo of sunset! We did this every night. From the campsite, from the roof of the RV, and this one from the meadow near our campground. 45 minutes condensed down to 30 seconds. Enjoy.


In the Yosemite Valley. The fall colors were gorgeous!


We had tons of deer come through our campsite. This buck was traveling with his ladies in the valley.

And now for my homage to Ansel Adams. I took a half day photography class through the Ansel Adams Gallery in the park. It was so much fun! There were only two of us in the class and we walked about 5 miles with the instructor, visiting spots where Adams took photos and taking a shot a recreating some of them. In addition to the history, there was a lot of hands on instruction that gave me such a better understanding of the manual settings that I had never bothered to master my digital camera, including black and white! It made me miss the days in the field with my 4×5 view camera, and even more the long nights in the darkroom! Ansel Adams created so much of his magic in the darkroom. Anyway, enjoy my amateur recreations, and maybe there will be a few more black and white photos to come on the blog.

 

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Fun times visiting Bethany and Will in Ukiah and touring the wine making facility that they are working in for a few months. We made it out to Mendocino and up through the Anderson Valley wine region, as well as taking a side trip to Sacramento. Tomorrow we head to Yosemite.

Getting the tour! So many huge tanks filled with wine in various stages.

We got to taste several wines, and learn a bit about the process. Bethany and Will spend their days  mixing and adding things to the tanks, of which their are hundreds! It is a very scientific and massive production process.

We got to spend a night with Scott’s friend Chris in Sacramento! Fun to catch up.

On Saturday we went wine tasting at a vineyard that is part of the wine family B & W are working for. These are all of their brands on the signpost.

We then headed out to the coast, where we added 3 gallons of gas to the truck for $19.70…yes, that is $6.56 a gallon! CA gas is pricey!

At Anderson Valley Brewing, playing disc golf.

And climbing trees 🙂

In the tasting room with the “Beer” (part bear, part deer)

Stopped to check out the sunset on the way home.

Pretty!

We then dropped of the kids who had to get up at 5:00am and went to the Ukiah Speedway, right next to our campground, and watched the races. Very entertaining! I’m considering it my warmup for the Daytona 500 in February, which Scott tells me is much bigger.

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Oh the Trees!!!
October 152019

Redwood National and State Parks contain the majority of the giant redwood trees that survived the logging boom 100 years ago. Thanks to the passion of people who thought that the tallest trees on earth deserved preserving, we still have 38,000 acres of the original 2,000,000 redwood forest. It is truly magical to walk among the trees, many that have stood well over 1,00o years. I was giddy with tree hugging, and I took too many photos. Enjoy!


Kinda puts things in perspective!


Almost impossible to get the whole tree in a photo.

Scott for scale!!!
 
The redwood roots are remarkably shallow, only 6-10 feet. A great deal of their strength comes from interlocking their roots and holding hands underground. LOVE!


Memorial in the Lady Bird Johnson grove.

Hollowed out tree. The vasculature of the redwoods is all in the outer layers, so they can survive even if lighting and fire burn away all of their heart wood. Many of the trees have large hollows to explore. This one was carved out all the way to the canopy.



Group hug!
 
Tall trees!

I want to be a fairy in this forest!

Big Tree! A mere 1,500 years old. Apparently that earns you a fence!


Prairie Creek Grove


Howland Hill Road. The truck barely fit between a few of these trees! It was quite a ride!

“Catch! calls the Once-ler.
He lets something fall.
It’s a Truffula Seed.
It’s the last one of all!
You’re in charge of the last of the Truffula Seeds.
And Truffula Trees are what everyone needs.
Plant a new Truffula. Treat it with care.
Give it clean water. And feed it fresh air.
Grow a forest. Protect it from axes that hack.
Then the Lorax
and all of his friends
may come back.”
― Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

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Elk Country
October 152019

Elk Country RV Resort. The name says it all! This herd of Roosevelt Elk made their home in our campground. They are huge and they were close!!! We spent hours watching them from the campground. We explored the beach as well, and the Redwoods. More on that to come. A huge thank you to Shari, Ted and Linda for your hospitality, dinner and letting us hide in your RV when the elk got real close!!! Can’t wait to meet up again for more games of 31 for laundry quarters.

Bugling Elk. The rut had just finished a couple weeks before we arrived.

This guy was around too!

The surf was pretty big.

Point St. George.

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Harris Beach State Park
October 102019

Our last stop in Oregon did not disappoint. Harris Beach, with all of its rocks and tide pools has been a wonderful stop for three nights. We have been so impressed with all of the state parks that we camped at in Oregon, and hope to be back to visit again. Onward to California and the giant trees tomorrow!


Harris Beach


Star fish? Star squish! Hiding out as the tide recedes.


Big star, little star.


Green sea anemone!


Arch Rock


Nap Rock. We had a decadent snooze here.


Soaking up some rays pre-nap. The weather here has been a welcome change. Warm and sunny!


The driftwood in these parts is just enormous!


Seems like a good spot to find some pirate treasure!


Gorgeous succulents clinging to the cliff. If I could have climbed up there to get a start, I would have! Two of the three plants that started the trip with us have departed. One with some kind of mold, and one re-homed in Juneau as it was growing too much!


Sun setting behind Goat Island.

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Three days at Crater Lake RV Park and yesterday at Crater Lake National Park. I think Crater Lake is the most beautiful National Park I’ve been to. It’s small relative to Yellowstone, Glacier and Great Smoky Mountain, but it is just stunning when you get on top of the volcano and look down into the incredibly blue lake. This National Park started forming 7700 years ago when Mount Mazama erupted and then over the next few hundreds of thousands of years the volcanic debris eroded and a lake formed in the caldron from snowmelt. The lake is almost 2000 feet deep, the deepest in North America and 4th deepest in the world. The photos don’t do it justice! It was on to Harris State Park in Brookings, OR today.


Phantom Ship rock formation in Crater Lake


The lake is crystal clear.


My beautiful wife!


You can really see the Caldron of the volcano.


Wizard Island


The RV park had DirecTV with NFL Sunday Ticket…I was good to go!


The road to the park. The trees were huge!


We drove to Rabbit Ears.


Avenue of Boulders.


Nice Tree!


Pearsony Falls


The Rogue River goes through a lava tube. This is the entrance of the tube.


That is the exit.


You can take the girl out of Medford…


On the way to Brookings, OR.

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The Fox and the Grapes
October 52019

We had a beautiful campsite among the grapes at the Freed Estate Winery last night. Mike Freed was an excellent host and we enjoyed tasting MANY of their wines, before agreeing on a few bottles. The Umpquah Valley is filled with wineries and fruit orchards, and we were happy to resupply on apples, pears and a few other veggies at the farm next door this morning. We are now camped near Crater Lake National Park for three nights before heading back out to the coast.


The grapes were well guarded by loudspeakers that played recorded hawk screeches every 15 minutes or so during daylight hours. It made for a comical alarm clock this morning.


Making friends in the tasting room!

We had a lovely outbuilding over the river for our wine and cheese picnic!


Foxy’s spot. Grapes on one side, creek on the other, a perfect location. This morning Scott said he should start giving me a glass of wine regularly before we make the final adjustments on the camper. I admit that I am pretty obsessive about things like parallel lines, and being perfectly level, but yesterday we parked, went wine tasting, and then walked back to unhook the camper and I said something unheard of like “it’s level enough”.

Pears in the adjoining orchard. It was another misty Oregon morning as we were heading out.

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Sunset Bay State Park
October 42019

We spent the last three nights at Sunset Bay State Park near Coos Bay, Oregon. Contrary to the photos, it rained….ALOT! We made the best of it, getting to the beach while the sun was out, exploring the Coos Bay Farmers’ Market and getting laundry done. The sea lions provided much entertainment! Heading inland for a few days after this.


The coast is a bit more dramatic here!



Rocky “concretions” along the coast at Shore Acres. This state park was formerly the site of a private residence of the Simpson family who made their fortunes in lumber in the late 1800s/early 1900s. Louis Simpson bought a significant portion of coastline and then eventually donated it to the state park system.


It was still summer in the Shore Acres Botanic Garden 🙂


Dahlia!


Giant Prickly Rhubarb from Chile.


Me, under the influence of much cold medicine, at Basendorff Beach. Note lighthouse in the distance.


Same lighthouse from the other side of the stone reef.

And these guys. At least they were far enough away that we couldn’t smell them!!!


Just sea lion around! Arf, arf, arf!

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South Beach
September 302019

South Beach State Park, Newport, OR! This is a beautiful spot. We’ve spent the last 3 days riding our bikes, hiking on the beach and drinking Rogue beer! (The brewery is right down the trail.) We visited the aquarium, Alison wanted to adopt a sea otter but cooler heads prevailed! The Oregon coast is awesome and we definitely plan on being back here soon.

South Beach

Old Bayside Harbor

The Sea Lions put on a show for us. This NOT the aquarium!

They make REALLY good beer!

Yeah, Baby!

I decided  to get a tattoo.

 

Alison wanted to take this guy home! This is at the aquarium.

Feeding time!

Check out the octopus leggings!

Sea Anemones

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Two Days in Portland
September 282019

With Scott in Phoenix for a few days, I set about exploring Portland. I was only here one other time, about 20 years ago, and it was much like I remembered, only bigger, and displaying all of the good and bad signs of urban expansion. One thing I really love about cities out here is that they have huge expanses of green space in the city. Portland’s Washington Park is over 400 acres and reminded me a lot of Stanley Park in Vancouver BC, with trails, forests, gardens and attractions. It was a great place to explore.

Enjoy the pics…


A huge highlight of Portland was getting to reconnect with a close friend from high school. Susan and I had been completely out of touch for 25 years, and had a great time catching up and rehashing a few old tales from the glory days!


Powell’s City of Books has to be the greatest independent bookstore in the world. Covering an entire city block and boasting over a million books, it is a place you could (and should) get lost in. I love the way they subcategorize and highlight staff favorites on the shelves. The Pirate section was a great example with subcategories including “Shiver Me Timbers” and “Avast”. I ended up leaving with a minute to spare on my parking meter and 4 more books to fit in the RV: Perfect Mile, The Oregon Trail, Jimmy Cater: A Full Life, and An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States. I never even made it to the fiction section!


The Rose Garden at Washington Park


Rainy day Pho! YUM!


The Japanese Garden, described at “nature in its most perfected form”.

Some of the leaves are turning already.


Colorful Portland


And of course, coffee! People here must run on coffee with so much rain, I know I would if I lived here. Anyway, this was a particularly lovely swan on my latte.

Scott is back now and we will be spending the next several days in Newport, OR, a little further down the coast.

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The Oregon Coast
September 252019

Nehalem Bay State Park has been home this week. A gorgeous spot, with miles of beach, trails, and the adorable seaside town of Manzanita just a 10 minute bike ride away. We were only supposed to be here for 4 nights, but turns out it will be a week, as Scott needed to take a trip down to his mom’s for a few days. I’ve been happily holding down the Fox, getting a few projects done, and heading up to Portland to see an old friend. We will be heading south again on Friday, to Newport Beach. Oregon is already on the short list for places we want to come back to…preferably in warmer (and drier) weather.

Some photos from earlier in the week.

Nehalem Beach

Nehalem Jetty. It is cover with driftwood.

It was about a 6 mile walk to get to the jetty, and we had gorgeous sunshine the whole time!

We were not the only ones leaving tracks in the sand. Elk and seagulls apparently cross paths here too.

Foxy has been seeing lots of his kind up here! The Northwood factory is in Oregon and suddenly after never seeing any Fox Mountains on the road, they are everywhere. There were 3 others in the campground the other night, including this 2018 that we pulled up alongside at the dump station.

 

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Talk Like a Pirate Day
September 202019

Arrrgh me mateys! We be in Oregon country, drinkin the Grog, explorin the Lewis and Clark history and pillaging what we can! Tough goin for the pirate ships on the Columbia River Bar.  Camping at Fort Stevens State Park. Me young lass got a new purse. So we are all happy! Thanks to all those who wished us a happy talk like a pirate day.


We have been getting more comments on our tire cover and license plate.  There be more Pirates on the west coast!


Fort Stevens State Park

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s wife for me.

Fort Clatsup, Where Lewis and Clark spent the winter in 1805-6.

The mouth of the Columbia River.

Ahoy me hearties!

A pack of loud Sea Lions.

They be angry!

Sunset on the Pacific Ocean.

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Olympic National Park
September 172019

We just left Olympic after 4 nights and a lot of rain! The laptop is on the fritz. Short post with a few pics from the phone. Just arrived in Oregon. See forecast below.

Us with Mt Olympus

Uh huh

Yup. Hiking with umbrellas.

Purple mushrooms. There is moss growing on moss here. So much moisture.

Big trees! Some are 750 years old!

And some are bridges!

Sol Duc Falls

The sun/rain awning! More rain than sun these days.

We did get about an hour of blue skies yesterday and hiked in the “Ancient Grove”

Arrived in Oregon. The beach at Fort Stevens.

And this is what the weather says! Yikes!

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Port Townsend
September 132019

Foxy’s last ferry ride for a while! Coupville to Port Townsend, WA. We got the front row seat on the boat and enjoyed the view from inside the truck. Lots of tight corners and spaces as the photos show below. Had a fun time in Port Townsend, including meeting up with my old friend Steve!


Just getting into line at the ferry was tight!


Foxy on the boat! At least 6 inches to spare.


Our view from the truck, coming into the Port Townsend dock.


Fun lunch and reunion with Steve! It had been about 15 years or so. Where does the time go?


Port Townsend…could have been Portland, ME. What a cute town.


And yes, with all this wet weather, I am starting to identify as a duck.

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Visiting the Orcas
September 122019

We went Whale watching in the Salish Sea (all the water from the Puget Sound, up to Vancouver and out to the Pacific.) Alison got some great photos.


Orca Whales, they travel in pods. The group of Biggs Orcas we watched was a grandmother, mother and two sons. These are members of the non-resident pod in the area, and eat marine mammals (aka seals) rather than fish.


Cruising the coastline…watching for seals.

This research boat was collecting Whale poop! According to the naturalist on our boat, the dog on board was a trained poop sniffing dog. They can learn all kinds of things about whale health and diet from the samples.


We hung around with this humpback whale for a while.


There she goes!


On the Ocean Explorer 5


View from the Deception Pass bridge.

We saw this seal from the bridge.

Below the bridge.

Sunset at West Beach

This beaver was really hungry! We watched him stuffing his face, with both hands, for quite some time.

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San Juan Island
September 122019

We took the ferry from Anacortes (Fidalgo Island) to Friday Harbor (San Juan Island). We took the truck on the ferry and drove around San Juan Island. The Islands have an interesting history as a war between The US and Great Britain almost broke out in the 1850’s because an American farmer killed a British Pig. Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed and the German Kaiser ended up settling the border dispute through the San Juan Islands. The USA got the Islands east of Vancouver Island and the British left peacefully. On to the photos!


The ferry landing at Friday Harbor.

Huge tree at British Camp.

Lavender garden at British Camp.

Old gun (block) house at British Camp.

The Lavender Farm, a little past peak season.

American Camp on the South end of the Island. The Brits had a much nicer spot!

Anne and Tom gave me this shirt over 10 years ago. I wore it out. We saw it when we walked into the crab house gift shop. Had to buy it again!

Alison after kicking my ass in Rock’em Sock’em robots!

The whole crab at the Crab House!

Sunset from Deception Pass Bridge.

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Island Life
September 122019

After one last night eating our way through Vancouver, and watching the US beat Canada in rugby, we headed across the border to Washington. Several photos to post today, so will let the captions do the talking.


Public Market in Granville Island. site of many delicious things!

Our last water taxi.

Inside BC Place. Go USA!!! Final score, 20-15 in this World Cup warm up match. They are off to Japan next!

Oyster Bar. Mmmmmmm.

On the road back to the USA. Maybe they are trying to make it so people can’t figure out how to get in??

Our campsite in Deception Pass State Park


Recycled plastic art at the campground. Courtesy of local second graders.


There are tons of wild blackberries near our campsite!


They taste as good as they look!


The bridge across Deception Pass (the “deception” is that the people who first explored the area thought it was a peninsula, and it turned out to be an island.)

Cap Sante in Anacortes

Locals

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Bridges and Boats
September 72019

We have had a great time in Vancouver this week. Lots of biking and walking around town. On Wednesday we visited Horseshoe Bay, a nice little coast town where the ferries run, and then the Capilano Suspension Bridge. Thursday we biked into town and took the water taxi to Granville Island and took in the market. It reminded us a bit of the market in Madrid, Spain. Tonight we are off to the USA v. Canada rugby match and tomorrow we get back to the USA!!


Alison at Horseshoe Bay.

The BC ferry in Horseshoe Bay.


The Capilano Suspension Bridge…it moves a lot when you walk over it. Built in the 1800’s it spans the Capilano River. Now it’s pretty much a tourist attraction…but hey, we’re tourists!

On the cliff walk near the bridge.

Scott on the tree walk

Alison on the tree walk.

I got a prize!

The market at Granville Island.

Yum!

The Whiskey Distillery on Granville Island.


BC Place, this is where the rugby game is.

View of Vancouver from the False Creek water taxi.

Ali found a friend!

This the fishing area under the bridge near our campground. The locals trap the Salmon running upstream. Seems kind of mean but I guess they taste good.

We are done with the Milepost portion of our journey so we left the book at the RV park for someone else to use. This book has been our invaluable guide for over 5,000 miles. Anyone driving to Alaska needs to bring this along. Thanks Brian and Cathy for sending it to us!

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In the Big City
September 32019

We are having a great time touring around Vancouver. There are so many people here! We’ve for sure been around more people in the past two days than the past 3 months! It was a great call to get bikes before we got here, as it is an amazingly bike friendly city, with tons of bike paths and separate lanes. A few pics from the past 2 days…


Our sweet new rides!


View of Vancouver Harbor, with the Lions Gate Bridge. Yesterday and today we biked across the bridge to town from our campground. Directly on the other side is Stanley Park, an amazing 1,000 acres of bike trails, hiking paths, beaches, gardens and more.


Including giant redwood trees!


Helmet selfie


Today, after riding through the park and down the waterfront, we locked up the bikes and walked to Chinatown for Dim Sum.


We feasted on pork buns, scallion pancakes, dumplings, shrimp noodles, sesame balls, radish cake (more like steamed goo) and fried sticky rice. It was all a great idea till we had to walk a mile back to our bikes and then ride 4 miles to get home. Many people pedaled passed me during my climb up the bridge in the bike lane!

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2,000 Miles in 10 Days
September 12019

Well that was a long haul! It feels like we were just in Skagway, and we arrived in Vancouver today. Back in civilization!  We made  it down the Cassier Highway, then the Yellowhead Highway, then picked up the 97 in St. George and then the 1 to Vancouver. We visited 3 breweries along the way, got 2 bikes in St. George. We saw the world’s largest fly rod, the worlds largest gold pan (although we think the one in Burwash Landing was bigger!) and the world’s largest Rice Krispy Treat in Boston Bar (self proclaimed!) Now we are enjoying Vancouver. Time to test out the new bikes tomorrow. Laundry and a carwash are also on the agenda this week!

The world’s largest fly rod in Houston, BC.

The world’s largest Rice Krispy Treat in Boston Bar!

The old Alexandra Bridge in BC. Nice short hike right off the highway.

The new Alexandra Bridge.

Us walking on the old bridge.

Boston Bar. Many  areas are called “bar” after the gold rush claims on sandbars along the Fraser River.

On the Lions Gate Bridge in Vancouver.

View from the Bridge.

Ali and the Lion!

Our Campground, Capilano River Rv Park. Crowded City Rv Park in Vancouver.

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Meziadin Lake
August 282019

We spent the last two nights at Meziadin Lake Provincial Park, an access point to Stewart, BC, which is an old mining town from the turn of the century, and Hyder, Alaska, which is basically a ghost town. The weather has turned to fall, temps in the forties and fifties with rain and clouds. We have now moved on, south and east, to Smithers, BC. 68 and sunny today, I donned shorts and a t-shirt for the first time in two weeks! Some highlights below.


We saw a black bear right about here the day before we took this picture.


The Salmon Glacier, the fifth largest glacier in North America.

It was pretty impressive

The road to the glacier had a few potholes…


This marmot was kind of interested in us.

More interesting rainforest with moss growing from the trees in Stewart.

Yikes!

View from the Cassier Highway.


Smithers Brewing Company

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Down the Cassier Highway
August 252019

We are heading south down the Cassier Highway, from Skagway, en route to Vancouver. This is a gorgeous and less traveled route through British Columbia. So far we have spent one night in Teslin, YT, two nights at Boya Lake, BC, and are currently in Iskut making use of extremely slow and limited wifi! One night here then of to Meziadin Lake Provincial Park for three nights.


Moonscape at the top of White Pass coming out of Skagway.


Rancheria Falls, our lunch picnic spot.


Boya Lake. What a gorgeous place to camp!


Chilly hike! It is feeling a lot like fall up here!


Beaver dam. They like the trees too.


Scott on the trail.


We paddled around several islands in the lake, getting back just before the rain. There were many loons, myself among them when I almost dumped Scott in the lake landing out rental canoe! What I can say, I’m used to the lower center of gravity in our kayak.


Our site tonight in Iskut. Stunning views and only a few neighbors so far.


The water in the photo above is just a tiny inlet of a much larger lake that we hiked over to.

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Last Port in Alaska
August 222019

We arrived in Skagway via ferry yesterday and spent our final night in Alaska. This town’s original boom was gold, but today it is all about the cruise ships! The population of 1,057 residents rises and falls dramatically with about 10,o00 people coming into port daily!  There is some really interesting history here of the Gold Rush craze in 1897.

Coming into Skagway.


Selfie on deck. Our last ferry ride for a while.


We had to unload on a floating dock!


Foxy and Blue on the ferry! We got called over the PA twice on the trip due to the car alarm going off due to the movement of the boat.

Scott bravely drove off the boat, onto the floating dock and then up another ramp to solid ground.


We visited the two local breweries, Klondike Brewing…

…and Skagway Brewing, with our campground friends from North Dakota (Pat, Greg, Nadine and Dave). Hope our paths cross again somewhere!


The narrow gauge engine from the White Pass Railroad.


Getting my 200th National Park Stamp at the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Site! Yeah!!!

Off to Canada!

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Driveway Camping
August 202019

We have had a great 2 weeks in Juneau, Brian and Cathy have hosted us in their cul de sac and we have enjoyed using a house kitchen and washer and dryer! We explored the Mendenhall glacier, Auke Lake, the Alaska Brewing tasting room and the Breeze In for donuts!!! We took advantage of the “big city” and made multiple trips to Costco! We ferry to Skagway tomorrow and then head south….just in time, it’s getting cold up here!

The Alaskan Brewing tasting room….good beer!


Paddling in Auke Lake, Cathy photo bombing behind us!


We towed Cathy in after her swim.


And then she pulled us!


Donut window at the Breeze In!


Scott and Smokey having a stare down!


Two photos of the Mendenhall Glacier. This one was taken yesterday, the one below was taken from the same spot 7 years ago. The shrinking glacier is obvious…


Us at Nugget Falls.

On the shore of Mendenhall Lake

Brian and Cathy looking good!

Cathy and Alison on the East Glacier trail.

Scenery on the East Glacier Trail.

 

This is a video of a Coho Salmon jumping up a beaver dam near Mendenhall Glacier. If you have your audio on you can hear the crowd respond when he makes it.


These guys had already made it up and over the beaver dam.


Humpback Whale statue in downtown Juneau.

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Glacier Bay
August 172019

We left Foxy in Juneau and took the ferry over to Glacier Bay National Park to spend two nights in the lodge there. The bay was carved by a huge glacier that has advanced and receded within the past 250 years. Everything that is on land today is only a few hundred years old, as is the huge ocean inlet that borders the park. Lots of interesting history with the Tlingit culture which has used the land since before the glacier advanced and is now working with the National Park Service to reinstate traditional uses within the park boundaries.


Hiking along the beach. The fog here is spectacular. It appears and disappears very quickly.


Mussels and barnacles are among the species that have adapted to store water to survive being on shore through low tide.


So happy to have our head nets! Lots of buggers on the beach!


Sea Lion! It was so quiet in the park that every sound seemed amplified, including this guy taking big deep breaths every time he surfaced.

A traditional Tlingit kootéeyaa (totem pole).


Glacier Bay Lodge.


The climate is so wet that moss grows everywhere! In the trees…

…and on the ground.

Tlingit trail marker.

On our last day we rented a kayak to explore the bay. The weather started out pretty clear, we could even just make out the snowy peaks in the Fairweather Range (above the fog bank in this photo).


But the fog quickly rolled in the further up the bay we traveled.


Kelp forests.


Hard to tell where the water ends and the sky begins! We had to keep to the shoreline the whole time. Wouldn’t want to paddle too far into that fog.


Jellyfish!


Great paddle adventure before a 4.5 hour ferry ride back to Juneau.


And the healing totem. This recent collaboration between the Tlingit and the National Park Service tells the story of their rocky and still evolving relationship. The Tlingit used the area that is now Bartlett Cove (in southern Glacier Bay) until the glacier advanced in the 1700’s burying the land and their villages under almost a mile of ice. As the glacier retreated, they returned to these traditional hunting and gathering grounds. At the same time, conservationists, including John Muir, were lobbying for the preservation of Glacier Bay. When the area was designated a National Monument in 1925, the Tlingit were informed that they land was no longer open to their traditional uses. The loss of their traditional lands, not once, but twice, and the current state of the relationship between the NPS and Tlingit are depicted.

Read from the bottom up: Traditional foods gathered in the “breadbasket” of Glacier Bay (gull eggs, sea lion, salmon). The face of the glacier crushing in on the village structures. Fleeing the advancing glacier in boats. Returning to harvest and dry salmon, and establish fishing villages after the glacier’s retreat. Arrival of the “faceless, soul-less, being with many hands” a.k.a. the federal government who barred the Tlingit from their lands. Two Tlingit faces with tears (which are not visible in the photo) depicting the things they lost (crabs, halibut, gull eggs) and surrounded by rough seas. Then a blank scroll representing the start of dialog between the NPS and the Tlingit, surrounded by still rocky, but slightly calmer seas with the traditional fishing boats returning. Finally the arms of a Tlingit and a park ranger holding aloft the newly built Tlingit Tribal House in the park.

It seems as though there is still much work to be done on the relationship, but in recent years there is certainly more consideration being given to the cultural and long-standing usage of the land by the Tlingit. They are starting to reinstate traditional harvests, and use the land for communal gatherings. You can see more about the installation of the healing totem here: www.nps.gov/glba/learn/news/healingtotem.htm

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Juneau
August 142019

We made it to Juneau, the state capitol of Alaska!  Putting Foxy on the ferry in Haines was a bit exciting. Alison did a TREMENDOUS job backing the camper down the ramp. We are staying in Brian and Cathy’s cul de sac. Great accommodations. So far we have run a bunch of errands, went to a beach picnic on Auke Bay and went whale watching in a skiff with their friend Kurt. We also hiked up the local ski mountain, Eaglecest. Great photos below. Off to Glacier Bay in the morning.

The ferry in Haines. We loaded Foxy in the door just below the red raft in the back.

Alison backed Foxy down the blue ramp.

Safe and sound on the ferry.

Lover’s pond at Eaglecrest ski area hike.

Brian and Cathy

The hiking trail on the ridge.

The hikers

Putting the skiff into Amalga Harbor

Humpback whale tail.

Momma and calf

Captain Kurt and Cathy

Sunset on Auke Bay.

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Haines, Alaska
August 82019

We arrived in Haines after leaving Kluane Lake and driving through Kluane National park in Yukon, Canada. We are set to board the ferry to Juneau with Foxy in tow tomorrow. Haines is a small harbor town notably connected by highway to Canada and the lower 48. Juneau is not.  We have been bear and eagle watching. We stumbled upon a crab dinner at the campground last night which was quite awesome, and we have tried the local beer at the brewery and tasted the whiskey at the distillery. We explored both Chilkoot and Chilkat state Parks (a bit confusing!) and walked on the beach. Photos below (header is Chilkat Glacier). Enjoy!


View of Haines Harbor from our campground.


We saw this guy on the side of the road.

I think he was flirting with Alison!!!

Chilkat State Park beach.

Us on the beach at Chilkat State park.

The Fireweed is done for the season.

The Hammer museum in town with the world’s largest hammer!

All kinds of hammers! 1,800 in total!

Bald Eagle in his yoga pose.

Crab dinner at the campground.

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Klaune Lake Take 2
August 52019

We are currently in the Yukon Territory, doubling back over about 200 miles of the Alaska Highway that we traveled northbound in June. It feels kind of funny when we’ve done nothing but see new places for 4 months! Anyhow, we are happy to be camping at the same gorgeous spot on Kluane Lake, and blogging (and eating pie) at the same little roadside diner as last time. We head back into Alaska tomorrow for a few nights stay in Haines before we ferry over to Juneau.


Enjoying a paddle on Kluane Lake. The water is a little bit warmer than it was in June. We both jumped in for a quick and somewhat shocking dip!


Klaune Lake. You can just make out the campground on the shore.


We took a pretty hike today in Klaune National Park. Our uphill climb on the Sheep Creek Trail was rewarded with some spectacular views.


View from the trail


This mountain seemed to have a lot of “heart”


And we got to see this guy! Our first ever lynx sighting!!!


A couple pics from the ride yesterday. Me and the world’s largest gold pan.


And the end of the fireweed. We have been enjoying these gorgeous magenta blooms all over Alaska. The blooms start at the low part of the stalk and the locals say that when the blooms get to the top it’s the end of summer. Many have no blooms left now, but we found a few at the campground we stayed at near Beaver Creek. The bike riders in the background are part of an 86 person team of University of TX students riding 4,000 from Austin to Anchorage, raising funds for cancer research. We chatted with a few of them. They were pretty excited that the next day they would finally be in Alaska after riding for 2 months.

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We are back on the road and heading south toward Haines. The strike that had the ferries closed down for the past 10 days has ended, so it looks like we will be able to keep with our original plan to take Foxy over to Juneau.

We spent the night at Cathedral Creeks, not really a campground, but a B&B that was one of the old lodges built along the original Alaska Highway. They have two grassy campsites, and a backyard of old abandoned highway, pictured above. Over the years they have rerouted and straightened many sections of the highway, likely placing some existing businesses off the road altogether, but this spot is close enough to the new road that they just added a driveway to realign. We walked along the half mile or so of old roadway that we could access and that is currently being taken back over by the forest. Kind of fascinating, although we have not been able to figure out how long ago the section was bypassed.

And the mosquitos were fantastic!!!


Delta Junction – the official end of the road, mile 1422. We will have driven every mile after our trip today.


A view of the old road. The trees are winning!

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The Northern Terminus
August 12019

Tonight will likely be the last 11pm sunset we see for quite some time! Tomorrow we leave Fairbanks and begin the trek south. Our plan is to make it to Juneau in a week, but the Alaska Marine Highway is currently closed due to a strike that started 8 days ago. Hard to know what will happen, but for now we will being making our way toward Haines in the hopes that the negotiations will pan out before we are set to sail on 8/9. If not, we will figure something else out. We are getting quite good at that on the road!

It’s been a fun few days here. Brian and Cathy drove up with us from Denali so we got to enjoy an extra night (and decadent dinner at The Pump House) with them before they flew home. Since they left, we’ve been taking in the local sights and doing a bit of touristing. Sadly we won’t catch the northern lights. The season officially starts a bit later in August, when there is a little bit of actual darkness, now it just still gets kind of dusky for a few hours.


On campus at University of Alaska Fairbanks.


They have a pretty awesome botanical garden on campus which includes the official seed gene bank for a variety of sub arctic berry plants, rhubarb, peonies and mint. They also had an experimental dye garden for coloring yarn and other textiles.


Scott with the Alaska giant cabbages! Sadly we were not allowed to taste anything.


Yesterday we hiked the Angel Rocks trail on our way to Chena Hot Springs. Gorgeous views from the granite “tors” that were created by volcanic activity and then exposed through erosion. (Header photo shows several of the tors we hiked around.)


On the rocks.


And the reward at the end of the hike…Chena Hot Springs. A wonderful place to soak and relax.


Today we visited Gold Dredge #8. This behemoth was built in Philadelphia, shipped piece by piece, and reassembled just north of Fairbanks. During its 26 years of operation it mined 600,000 ounces of gold as it made a very slow 4.6 mile crawl and dig through the area. The process for excavating gold in this area is wild, including removing about 150 feet of surface soil and gravel, then injecting water to defrost the permafrost, before flooding it so that the dredge can float and scoop rock for sluicing (rinsing with water) to harvest the gold. The whole process is basically the same as panning for gold: scoop, shake, rinse, collect!


Which is exactly what we got to do at the end!


Waiting to see what we got.


Whoop! $53 worth! About half a gas tank. This is probably not our get rich quick strategy.


Our tour ended with a talk about the Alaska Pipeline, which moves a lot more money around these days than the gold industry.  To date the pipeline has carried over 17 billion barrels of oil across the state, from the oil field in the north to Valdez, AK, the northernmost ice free harbor in North America.

And a few photos from around downtown Fairbanks tonight…


Success…we found a recycle bin! Recycling on the road has been a bit of a challenge, but we have been doing ok. It helps that we only buy aluminum cans since that seems to be the most common bin we happen upon!


Downtown Fairbanks


Antler arch!


Technically we are past the end of the Alaska Highway, but this milepost marks Mile 1523 from the start of the road in Dawson Creek. We will be back on it tomorrow…southbound!

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Blitzing Denali
July 302019

We spent the last four days in Denali with Brian, Cathy, Phebe, Jenny and Susan. We rafted the Nanana river, we hiked Mt. Healy in the rain and saw a cow moose with her calf right by the trail. All in all we had a great time. Phebe and her friends went back to Anchorage, while we drove with Brian and Cathy to Fairbanks. It was the first time driving with other people in the truck while we were towing. Blue is getting a checkup as I write. All good so far!

Rafting the Nenana

Jenny and Phebe

The rest of us!

The whole crew in our “mostly dry suits” after the trip.


Scott, Ali, Cathy and Brian in front of the Denali sign.


Fireweed on the trail up Mt. Healy.


Us at the top.


Again…


We decided to pose with the bear outside of the visitor center at Denali.


From the deck of the Alpenglow restaurant at the Grand Denali Lodge, that’s the mountain we hiked, Mt. Healy. The Nenana river below.

There you go! Putting the “Ali” in Denali!

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We spent the past three nights camping in the heart of Denali National Park, along the Teklanika River. The road into the park is closed to vehicles after the first 15 miles, unless you are a park bus or one of the lucky people to camp where we did. (We made those reservations back in February!). It was a gorgeous spot, with lots of space, access to the river, and interesting evening programs led by park rangers. We attended a talk on moose, another on wolverines, and half of one on Aurora Borealis…which was disrupted by a bear that sent us all back to our campers! There is lots of wildlife to see in the park, and as it should be, people are expected to give them the right of way. Here are some photos from our bus trip and hikes around the park with more to come! We are staying in the area for 4 more nights, outside the park, as we are about to be joined by Scott’s mom, brother and sister-in-law.


Our first closeup view of Denali, from about 40 miles away – at 20, 308 feet, it looks more like a cloud than a mountain!


Teklanika Campground


Teklanika River – There are not really many hiking trails in the park so we made use of the riverbed for exploring.


Wonder Lake – The end of the road in Denali, at mile 85. We took an epic 9 hour bus ride to go all they way out there. We were rewarded with lots of animal sightings, and some gorgeous views of Denali before the clouds rolled in.


Denali above the clouds


Mama bear and cubs. We saw so many bears in the park- a true sign of healthy wilderness. There was a wonderful quote about bears at the Eilson Visitor Center: “What mattered was not so much the bear himself as what the bear implied. He was the predominant thing in that country, and for him to be in it at all meant that there had to be more country like it in every directions and more of the same kind of country all around that. He implied a world.” – John McPhee.


Picking blueberries at Wonder Lake! YESSSSSS!


Finally saw a caribou…aka reindeer. I was beginning to think they were fake.


Big bull moose!


Mrs. Moose


These two bears were running around and playing. It’s amazing to see how fast they can really go.


Stunning Denali quilt in the visitor center (this one is for Millie).

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Talkeetna
July 212019

We made it to Talkeetna, Alaska. Talkeetna is a cute little hippie town about two hours north of Anchorage. It began as a mining and railroad supply town in the early 1900’s and is now a tourist mecca for cruise ships and railroad passengers and the jumping off point for climbers who fly from here to the glacier on Denali. It also happens to be home for Jessie and Alex this summer so we had to pay them a visit! They have a lovely spot on Christiansen Lake. Alex has been taking flying lessons and recently got his pilots license, and Jessie is guiding raft trips on the Talkeetna River. We enjoyed our four days here and now on to Denali NP!!!


The view from Alex and Jessie’s house. Christiansen Lake with the float planes.


The modest cabin! Outdoor plumbing with all the comforts of home.


Jessie and her proud Papa!


Alex making Pizza.


This is Alex’s boss, Don, feeding his pig.


Scott making pizza.


The family at the lake!


On the Talkeetna river with Jessie. The header photo shows the confluence of the Talkeetna and Susitna  Rivers.


About to go rafting!

Alex and Jessie


Scott attempting to ride a townie bike that is just a bit too small!


Alison among the ostrich ferns.


Denali Peak. 70 percent of visitors don’t get to see it so we feel very fortunate. It is really stunning!


Jessie and Casper!

Jessie and Alex off to new adventures!

 

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Anchors Away
July 172019

We have enjoyed two and a half beautiful weeks here in Anchor Point. It’s the first place on our trip that we have found ourselves saying repeatedly that we would like to come back to someday, but with so many places to explore ahead, it’s too soon to tell. A few more photos to share from our beachy spot, and then off to Talkeetna tomorrow.


Lucky spot number 9

 


The tractor launch at Anchor Point – it was very entertaining watching them haul boats in and out!


Our beach – it was nice enough to walk barefoot and wade in the water today.


Other days required waders and rain gear, but we walked the beach miles every day we were here regardless of the weather.


Otter eating a crab


I’ve been collecting and piling these striped rocks on the beach for over 2 weeks and finally assembled them into something…

…that turned into a sea turtle!


Mt. Iliamna


Otter staring back at me!


Juvenile eagle


Before the trip to the barber!


And after!


Mt Redoubt from our campsite. It was clear enough this morning that we could see steam venting from the top of the volcano.

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Saturday we drove from Anchor Point to Seward and boarded a Kenai Fjords tour boat for a cruise out of Resurrection Bay to the Fjords. Great wildlife sightings of humpback whales, sea lions, otters, puffins and more (pictures below).  We stopped at a small island on the way back for a steak dinner and found the local brewpub later to soak in a little nightlife. We spent the night in a local motel (we didn’t want to move the trailer for one night) and then hiked Exit Glacier on the way home. The rain has helped the wildfire situation a lot. On the drive to Seward the Swan Lake fire had the road pretty smoky and visibility was poor. The next day the drive back was much clearer. We made it back to Anchor Point without incident.


Aialik Glacier from the tour boat


Us in front of the glacier.


Our hike to Exit Glacier


It was rainy at Exit Glacier.


We thought this was really cool. This is a map of the Harding Icefield. Icefields supply ice to the glaciers which create Fjords when they recede. We hiked Glaciers at opposite ends of the Harding Icefield. The Grewingk Glacier a few days ago and Exit Glacier yesterday. We saw Aialik glacier from the boat. The topography is really cool. Exit Glacier is 60 miles from Grewingk Glacier as the crow flies…or a 3 hour drive from Homer to Seward! Thanks to my awesome graphic designer wife for this map!


Humpback whale

Puffin

Sea Lions


Sea Otter

The Grotto (home to the Sea Lions)

Island in the Fjord


Another one

Dinner on Fox Island

Crab and Prime Rib. I could get used to this!


Fire haze at sunrise on our drive to Seward

The fire scar along the highway

You can see the helicopter dropping water buckets on the fire. A huge thank you to all the firefighters in the Kenai area. They have done an incredible job keeping everyone in these communities safe.

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The Bears of Katmai
July 122019

There’s not a lot that could get me onto a little tiny airplane, but apparently two days in a row of disappointing weather cancellations for bear viewing by boat will do it! It was truly a magical experience to be able to get so close to these amazing creatures and watch them in their natural habitat. The bears in this reserve have never been hunted, never exposed to human food or trash, and do not perceive people as predator, prey or food source. They seem pretty comfortable sharing their space with the lucky few who can access their wilderness by boat or plane, and barely paid us any attention at all. Our guide was wonderful, ensuring that we got to observe several bears safely and without disturbing them. There isn’t much more I can say, other than that it has been hard to whittle down the 500+ photos to a few dozen for this post. Bears and stunning views from the plane! Enjoy!!!


Our first sighting was this sow with two yearling cubs. These cubs are about 1 1/2 years old. They stay with their mother for approximately 4 years. They were lazing about and napping in the sun, with the mom making an occasional survey of the surrounding area.


Back to napping


The salmon have not started running yet, but the male and/or solo bears on the beach seemed to be eagerly awaiting something more interesting to eat than grass and clams.


Nope, still no fish.


May as well take a nap. They dig big holes in the sand for sleeping and lounging in.


Our next sighting was this big sow laying by the river.


And behind her…three new cubs! These guys would be about 6 old, and they were adorable!


After a bit they got to work. Mom grazing on the sedge grass and the cubs being cubs!

  
One of the cubs was a bit more reserved, preferring to do a bit of grazing and snuggling with mom amid the horseplay. The other two were a constant tumbling pile of fur. They were just adorable to watch.



We watched this family for a long time before heading back to the beach to see who else we might see.


More beach napping bears!

This guy was just beautiful!


And here’s our friend again who dug quite a hole after not finding any salmon. The bear equivalent of a LazyBoy recliner!
 

It was sad to leave the bears, but the flight home was stunning. There were five planes in total and Scott and I were actually on separate planes. Mine took off second, and plane three got a bit stuck in the sand, apparently a common hazard when the beach is your runway. Since we got a little head start, my pilot took a scenic detour over the glaciers and volcano. It was breathtaking.


My plane parked on the runway! The takeoff was a quick 90 degree turn and a slightly wild ride down the beach involving some fishtailing before we popped up and out over the water. Much more dramatic than the takeoff at the airport. And for those of you who know I am not a huge fan of flying (and are wondering how the heck this even happened), I have to say that the whole thing was a really great experience. I loved sitting in the copilot seat and getting to see everything that was going on. The weather was also very smooth and my pilot, Ben, was top notch.


Katmai Glacier

Above the ice field that feeds into several glaciers.

The pilot tipped the plane so we could get a good under the wing into the caldera of Mt Katmai. It’s hard to see in the photo, but the volcano was actually steaming in spots.

Braided glacier river. Everything was so green and lush

The coast near Katmai was glacier gorgeous!

Almost back to Homer


Scott’s plane caught up and we all landed one after another. What an amazing day to remember!

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Shortly after our fishing trip the fog rolled in and has been hanging heavy over the water ever since. Our boat trip to go over to Lake Clark National Park to see the bears has been cancelled twice now! We’ve been using our time instead to explore some other areas of the Kenai Peninsula, and hope this afternoon to get across the bay to Katmai National Park, if the weather cooperates. Some foggy photos to share in the meantime.


The volcanos poking out above the fog bank in Homer


The layer of fog over the water was wild. Driving into Homer we were actually above it.


The dip net fishing season opened yesterday. Residents can net up to 25 salmon, but the water is still apparently a bit warm. We saw a few get hauled in here, at the mouth of the Kenai River.


The oldest Russian Orthodox Church in Alaska, located in Kenai. At the narrowest point of the Bering Sea, Russia is only 55 miles from Alaska, and there were many early Russian settlements here.


It’s possible I jinxed our trip to Lake Clark National Park by getting my stamp in advance! The park is all wilderness so the stamp is at a visitor center in Homer. It seemed like a sure deal that we would be going, but now it looks like it will be Katmai National Park instead due to the weather. The one time I pre-stamp…seriously?


The bad weather has also given us time to check out a couple of the local brewers. St. Elias in Kenai.


And Kenai Brewing.


And good news…we picked up the Halibut yesterday, and it all fit in the freezer!

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Gone Fishin’
July 82019

It was a successful day hunting halibut from the S.S. Alaska Spirit! We both took home our limit (one over 30″ and one under 30″) which filleted out to just over 31 delicious pounds. It is currently being cut, vacuum sealed and made ready for the RV freezer! It was a fun day on the boat with 4 other people. Captain Mike clearly knew where to go, because after the hour and a half ride out, I caught the first halibut of the day only about 5 minutes after we anchored. Seemed like someone almost always had a fish on a line and everyone caught what they were after. Two of the guys on the boat were after “big fish” and went away happy, one with a 70 pounder and one with a 100 pounder. Amazing to watch them bring those huge halibut in, with harpoon assist! We were happy with our smaller fish, which tend to be better eating and didn’t require us having to figure out what to do with what wouldn’t fit in the freezer. (One of our camp neighbors spent over $600 to ship 40 pounds of fish).

Anyway, today will be a relaxing one, I for sure have some tired muscles and was very happy to bank about 12 hours of sleep last night when we got home after 7 hours on the boat.


The Alaska Spirit! We rode on the boat during our launch, this was taken when they were coming in the day before. Tractor launching is quite the experience. They just haul you across the beach, turn around, back way out into the waves  and shove you off!


Tractor launch! Check out all the tire tracks from boats before us.


Scott’s first fish! (Mine is the one still swimming in the header photo)


Nice catch!


Nate, deckhand extraordinaire, holding up our other two smaller fish in the background.


Dave and Mike with their BIG FISH!


Nate expertly filleted all the fish on the way back.


Tractor pull back onto the beach!

 

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Yesterday we took a water taxi from Homer to Kachemak Bay State Park and hiked to Grewingk Glacier. It was a great boat ride, we saw a sea otter, a puffin and a harbor seal on the way. The hike was relatively flat and the glacier was spectacular! There were a bunch of people there, some hiked with their inflatable kayaks and kayaked between the glacier fragments. We heard the glacier calve a couple of times, but visibility was relatively poor because of the wildfire smoke. Off to catch some Halibut at 5:30 tomorrow morning!!


Our water taxi driving away after dropping us off on the beach. We are scheduled to get picked up 5 hours later at a different place….we hope!


Pica, our guide dog on the boat!


The trail to the glacier lake.


We made it!


Team Blitz


You can see the glacier coming into the lake on the right side of this picture. Heavy smoke just above.


A good view of the glacier, albeit smoky!


Waiting for the water taxi to pick us up after our hike.


Homer harbor.

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Well, as if the eagles aren’t exciting enough, we had our first earthquake the other day! We were sitting on the couch, and the whole camper started shaking. Our first thought was that some animal or person was messing around outside (i.e. my grandpa’s famous story about waking up in Alaska with the whole camper being shaken by a moose scratching himself on the side mirror). Anyway, by the time we got our shoes on, there was no culprit to be seen outside and everything was still as could be. Scott seemed unconvinced when I said “maybe it was an earthquake?”, but Google quickly confirmed that indeed a small quake had just been recorded. Apparently they are quite common here, with 20 or more daily. We never would have noticed it if we weren’t both sitting on the couch. It mostly felt the same as it does when one person is up walking around in the RV, but still, kind of neat to know it was a quake! (Addendum…maybe a little less neat now that we are reading about quakes in CA)

We are spending the 4th here at the beach, making clam chowder and watching the birds. My plans to dig clams have been derailed by a 2019 clamming closure due to population decline. The only beds that are open are across the bay, so we bought some in town yesterday, along with salmon, rockfish and scallops! Our deep sea fishing trip is still a few days away so we needed some local goodies to sustain ourselves till then. Hope everyone enjoys the holiday! No fireworks here in the land of eternal daylight!


Our little quake!


There was a lot of activity around a fish that had washed up on the beach. There is a very clear pecking order among the eagles. The juvenile eagles sit around and watch a dominant adult eat, and the adult will quickly abandon the feed when someone “higher up” the order swoops in. It always seems like there is only one bird eating, while others are watching, and seagulls are making noise.


The eagles are so huge!


Changeover. A higher ranking eagle showed up to takeover the feast. (Or sometimes they just carry it off, like in the header photo!)


These two seemed to be having a standoff while another adult was eating. Maybe trying to decide who was next in line?


Crazy bird watcher! The haze lifted a bit yesterday so you can see the volcano across Cook Inlet.


Oh, and we got a first hand view as to why the seagulls never get too close…


Here’s a warm and fuzzy seagull pic to make up for the last one.


The harbor in Homer. We are looking forward to several boat trips in the coming week.

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We finally made it to the beach! Yesterday we drove from Anchorage to Anchor Point on the Kenai Peninsula. We are staying at Kyllonen’s Rv Park for 2 weeks, our longest stop yet. It’s good to not be driving for a while, and we can set up for a long stay. We drove through thick smoke on the way here because of the Swan Lake wildfire. It cleared once we got to the ocean and now we have beautiful blue skies and sunshine! We saw the tractors put the boats in the ocean this morning, quite a sight! There are tons of Bald Eagles, they are huge and fun to watch! We drove to Homer today, which is 20 minutes from Anchor Point. The Homer spit is quite the tourist place. We have plotted halibut fishing and a bear tour for next week.


The road to the Kenai Peninsula was really smoky.

Volcanos rising out of the ocean in the distance, about 20 miles north of Anchor Point.

Home for 2 weeks! Yay!


It is quite windy on the beach!


The tractor pulling the boat to the ocean. A new way of getting a boat in!

He dropped the boat and is coming back to the parking lot.


The Homer Spit

The bay near Homer.

 

And from the bird lady:

The eagles are amazing. We have seen dozens of adults and juveniles. They are so large it’s equally awe inspiring and terrifying when they fly over. I’m sure I’ll have more photos than anyone wants to see of them over the coming weeks!


Here comes the BOSS!


Staking his claim.


Don’t even think about it!


He even stood his ground in the waves.


That’s definitely HIS fish head!


And off he goes…


Juvenile bald eagle. They don’t get their white head and tail for 4 years!

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In the Big City
June 302019

We had a fun day in Anchorage, visiting with friends and family, after a morning of restocking on supplies (Yay Costco!). We are heading south this morning to Anchor Point on the Kenai Peninsula, which will be home for the next two weeks. Gonna hit the clam beds and try to fill the freezer with halibut!


Scott’s brother Brian happened to be in town playing in a disc golf tournament, and Jessie came down from Talkeetna where she is raft guiding this summer. Blitz reunion!


Also had a nice visit with Scott’s old residency friend Paul.


We then spent some time watching the fishing action on Ship Creek (header photo) and although we didn’t see anyone reel in a fish, there were a couple of salmon being filleted at the bait shop when we came out after dinner.


One of our shopping scores…head nets! Just let those mosquitoes try to get us now!!!!

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Lake Louise, Alaska
June 292019

We spent the last two days at Lake Louise, Alaska, not to be confused with Lake Louise in Banff. It is a huge, beautiful lake. The roads have been a bit challenging with lots of frost heaves and potholes, but we made in unscathed. We spent hours on the kayak both days, saw Loons, seagulls, a muskrat and a cow moose with two young ones on our way out of the park. There is not much darkness up here these days! The camping was tight so we decided to get to Anchorage a day early to get our errands done. Had great Halibut at Humpy’s last night. Now we have been to the Humpy’s in Kona and Anchorage!


On the lake


Army cabins built around WWII. There was a recreation camp here where they flew officers in (by float plane) for rest and relaxation. Three of the cabins are still standing. Eisenhower stayed here in 1948.


Cow moose with two young ones


Construction worker fending off the mosquitos. (Alison has the same electric bug zapper/racket and it works wonders)


Mt. Sanford from the road. Over 16,000 feet of inactive volcano!


The Matanuska River, comes from the Matanuska Glacier which is why it is so silty.


Matanuska Glacier

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Covering 13 million acres, Wrangell-St. Elias is by far the largest National Park and wilderness area in the US. There are only two roads that take you into the park, one being the Nabesna Road where we are staying. Today we drove the whole 42 miles of the road and took a gorgeous hike up Caribou Creek. We didn’t see any caribou, but we did see a moose on the ride.  We yielded to her and she hurried across the road in front of us and disappeared into the brush.

The mountains here are stunning, but the weather didn’t provide any great photo ops today, with clouds sitting atop the big peaks. Nine of the 16 tallest mountains in North America are located here, the tallest being over 16,000 feet. This landscape has a way of making you feel a bit insignificant!


Along the Nabesna Road


We caught a glimpse of the snowy dome of Mt. Sanford before the clouds rolled in.

 


Hiking, with as little mosquito exposure as possible!


Fireweed


This hike, and the wildflowers, reminded us a lot of the West Maroon Pass trail in CB!


Apparently we were not the only ones out for a stroll today! There were a few big old paw prints crossing the trail and tons of moose tracks.

Phone booths show up in odd places out here, and they really work, providing you are calling someone collect (which can’t be a cell phone) or that you have a pre-paid calling card (which no one seems to sell). So they kind of work, I guess. My one attempt was a fail.

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Back in the USA!!
June 262019

We crossed the border at Beaver Creek on Monday and drove to the Sourdough Campground in Tok, Alaska. The roads have been quite interesting with pretty big frost heaves and potholes (see header photo). They try to warn you with an orange cone (sometimes) but we have seen a few vehicles with flat tires. Luckily we made it unscathed. They have a tradition of a sourdough pancake toss at the campground. Someone made it in the bucket and got a free breakfast. Someone else didn’t. See if you can tell who’s who!!!

It was great to catch up with Cousin Derek yesterday morning at the campground. He is trapping Lynx in the wilderness and putting GPS collars on them to track their migrations…sounds cool!

We are now at the Hart D ranch in Slana, accessing the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. Tomorrow it is off to Lake Louise.


Winner breakfast! That is reindeer sausage….Rudolph tastes like hot dog!


And from the bird lady…trumpeter swans!

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Big Beautiful Bears!
June 242019

We finally have had some grizzly sightings! Last night on our way back to camp at Kluane Lake, and this morning along the highway. They are so incredibly beautiful. Eating lots of “salad” this time of year while they await the salmon buffet.


Big Griz! Shot from the truck with my zoom lens.


View of Kluane Lake out the camper window this morning.


Boy was it cold!


On the beach


We made full use of the mini golf course at the campground. Scott won, 2 rounds to 1. And yes, that is a wheel chock obstacle!


We are currently stopped and using the visitor center wifi in Beaver Creek, Yukon. Pretty amazing map showing the distances from here. Denver is 2,850 miles away, and Honolulu is only 3,000!

We have about 5 miles to the border from here and will be spending the night in Tok Alaska! Can’t imagine a better way to celebrate our 2nd wedding anniversary!!!!

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Kluane Lake
June 232019

Today we drove from Whitehorse, YT to Destruction Bay, YT. It was a nice, relatively short 3 hour drive. Destruction Bay was named during the building of the Alaskan Highway because a bunch of equipment and buildings were destroyed here after a storm on Kluane Lake. It is a really pretty spot. The mountains and lakes around here are amazing. Back in the USA tomorrow. We are heading to Tok, Alaksa!

 


Old Canyon Creek Bridge. We passed by it on the drive and got out to check it out. Originally built in 1903 during the Yukon Gold Rush!


Mountains and Kluane Lake on the drive.

Kluane Lake…it’s huge!


Foxy on the lakeside pad looking good!! (If you look really close at the photo at the top of this post, you can see Foxy off to the right)


Yukon Brewing in Whitehorse

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On the Mighty Yukon!
June 222019

We are in Whitehorse, making our second to last stop in Canada before we cross into Alaska. We got to paddle our ducky on the Yukon River, got new tires for Foxy, and visited the local sights. On the ride from Watson Lake we crossed the Continental Divide. At home we are so used to that meaning water goes east to the Atlantic and West to the Pacific, but here it means northeast to the Arctic Ocean, southwest to the Bering Sea.


On the Divide


We found this great pullout with a boat launch, fired up the generator to inflate the ducky, and hit the river!


On the Yukon.


Paddling under the Alaska Highway!


Foxy by the river.


Getting ready for Alaska with 4 new tires!


The Yukon River is wide and fast here in downtown Whitehorse. It was the primary means of transport before the railroads. We toured the S.S. Klondike paddleboat (on the right bank in the photo above).


Me on the suspension bridge at Miles Canyon…


In the not-too-quick department (or maybe just slightly afraid of shaky bridges), when I first sat this sign, I thought it meant it would be dangerous to jump on the bridge…cause it would wiggle…like in the illustration, and might break, and the water had strong currents you could fall into. It didn’t occur to me till later that it was intended for (much braver) people who might actually consider jumping OFF the bridge, like Scott. (Don’t worry Mom, if all my friends, or husband, was jumping off a bridge, I still wouldn’t do it!)


Miles Canyon. The water was about 30 feet lower before the dam down river was built.


We thought this was a good one, for people who insist on getting too close to the edge.


Scott (not jumping) on (or off) the bridge!


Downstream at the dam is the world’s longest fish ladder (or fishway). The Kokanee salmon come this way in mid-August and make their way up this ladder which gets them over the 20 foot high dam. Pretty amazing lifecycle they have. Born in the steams, they spend 1-2 years in the freshwater river, 3-4 in the ocean, and then come back 2,500 miles up the Yukon River to spawn and die where they were born. Each fish lays 5,000 eggs and of that 2-3 fish complete the lifecycle and make it back.


These are the only salmon there this time of year, but still a neat place to visit.

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Uh huh
June 202019

Today turned out to be the quintessential Gap Year Day. We hobbled into Watson Lake with no trailer brakes, spent the night at a parking lot campground and then found a mechanic who was on Watson Lake time! So we had a few hours to kill. We had breakfast at the local greasy spoon and then stumbled upon…the Signpost Forest! Started in 1942 by a homesick army engineer building the Alaskan Highway, this street side signpost forest has grown to thousands of street signs, city signs, home made travel signs, etc. Quite a scene to say the least! Soooo, of course we made a sign to add! We got Foxy fixed with the help of our Tiki God and set out for for Whitehorse. We got to Teslin and decided to call the campground since we were pulling in late. Of course they didn’t have our reservation. All worked out as we got a site in Johnson Crossing for the night and will get to Whitehorse tomorrow and they have a site for us. Such is a typical day in the Yukon on the Gap Year! Cheers everyone!

 


Norman taking off wheel three of four!


It was that kind of day!


Our Tiki has never let us down, and today was no different! The repair was a success! An exposed wire in the brake drum.


The Sign Post Forest, this is only a tiny part of it! It is huge! So fun to walk around and find signs we connected with.


Unity Maine! Home of the Common Ground Fair!


Shout out to Cape Cod!


Estes Park – Home of Rocky Mountain National Park


Arvada? Have the Grossmans been here???


Hey – who is this Allison with two Ls?


Sooooo of course we did. It wasn’t like we were going anywhere while Foxy was getting fixed.


Scott did the install!


Immortalized for ever (or as long as Sharpies last) in Watson Lake!


Happy Blitz Gap Year!

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Bears and Hot Springs
June 192019

We spent the last two nights off the grid at Liard Hot Springs Provincial Park Campground. Lots of wildlife sitings including bison, sheep and bears…two of which walked right through our campsite while we were in the camper. Photos to follow! The hot springs were great, there wasn’t much around except for a gas station, so we filled up…to the tune of $1.95 per liter…a cool 8 bucks per gallon! No choice! We pulled into Watson Lake, gonna have some work done on the trailer brakes, hope to get it sorted out today. Plan to get to Whitehorse tomorrow.

 


Views along the Alaska Highway – Norther British Columbia


Foxy by the Liard River


Lakeside selfie


Muncho Lake


Stone sheep/lamb


Wood bison

 


Momma hiding her calf. She might have been happier if they were not standing right in the breakdown lane!


Our campsite at Liard Hot Springs – the first time we’ve set up the mosquito tent!


The boardwalk out to the hot springs


Marmot munching away alongside the boardwalk


Wetlands around the hot spring. There is an extended climate due to the hot water that lets plants grow here that otherwise could not survive.


Liard Hot Springs!


In the hot springs. It’s amazing to be in the natural spring area with all of the vegetation.


Alison at the source of the spring. The hot water bubbles up from the earth at a toasty 127 degrees!


In the pool near one of the cool water inlets!


Visitor at our campsite!


Momma and cub!

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Had a stunning drive up to Ft. Nelson yesterday. We saw 4 black bears and a moose grazing/lazing along the Alaska Highway! We pulled into the Triple G Campground and couldn’t resist their “turkey dinner with all the fixins” for Father’s Day. Scott’s favorite part was for sure the strawberry rhubarb pie a la mode…and the fact that he got to watch the end of the U.S. Open on TV. Another great day on the gap year!

Getting a windshield ding repaired this morning (thanks to a muddy pickup that hurled a rock at us) and then off to Liard Hot Springs for two nights. We are really getting up here. Sunrise was at 3:57am!


Happy Dad on Father’s Day!

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Charlie Lake
June 152019

Today we paddled on Charlie Lake. Beautiful lake just outside of Fort St. John. The weather was great! 75 and sunny. We grilled steaks for dinner and we are off to Fort Nelson in the morning!

There we are!!! The wheel in the back of the kayak is our kayak dolly which has worked great!!!

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Yesterday we rolled right onto the Alaska Highway, our route for the next 1,300 miles! Built in 1942, by the Army Corps of Engineers, the road is now a well travelled and completely paved thoroughfare for a bunch of RVs. We are currently in Fort St. John for two days, happily leaving behind most of the mosquitos in Grande Prairie (except for the dozen or so that stowed away in Foxy and met their demise courtesy of my electric bug swatter when we arrived). A few photos, more to come later after we explore Charlie Lake in our boat!


At Mile Zero!


This didn’t claim to be the world’s largest beaver, but I have to assume!


We took a short side trip on an out of use (re-routed) section of the Alaska Highway that includes the only remaining wooden bridge. That is Scott driving Blue and Foxy across the Kiskatinam River. We were pretty close to the weight limit so I walked over to take photos (kidding!)


Us at the campground in Fort St. John


We had a lovely conversation with the owner of this other Fox Mountain (only the second one we have ever come across in the wild). Fun to compare notes and hear how much they still love their Fox after 7 years!


Scott deemed that it was time to raise the pirate flag! Arrrrgh!


Blue got a little tire check up today and was given the all good for hitting the road again tomorrow!

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Grand Prarie Alberta
June 132019

Today we drove from Jasper to Grande Prarie, Alberta. Long drive, luckily pretty uneventful. We checked into the Camp Tamarack RV Park and then….wait for it….we went to the laundromat!!! What excitement! Got Blue washed too. Tomorrow we are on to the Alaskan Highway! Can’t wait!!! Enjoy a few photos.

 

Rainbow outside the pizza place in Jasper where we watched the Blues beat the Bruins in game 7 and hoist the Cup.

Elk on the side of the road in Jasper.

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We spent our final two days in Jasper hiking and floating through the scenery. Tomorrow we start the trek north and will cross the border into Alaska on 6/24. Have really enjoyed out time here among the mountains, bears, rivers and lakes. Both Banff and Jasper are incredibly beautiful!

Maligne Lake – we are not sure, but it might translate to mosquito lake!

Scott tending the fire…at about 10pm! Still daylight.

Finally…sunset! We had to stay up till almost 11pm to see it! Hard to get used to this latitude!

A bald eagle watching us from his nest near Medicine Lake.

Hike in Maligne Canyon. Huge potholes carved out of the limestone.

Maligne Canyon

Ok – I know I am a bit of a bird nerd, but this was pretty awesome. Noticed this raven nesting on the canyon wall, during a nest changeover, where the parents swapped duties.

I thought there were just eggs, but when the mama (or papa) bird moved, I could see there were very new babies in the nest!

They were left unattended for a bit. Two eggs and three chicks. The chicks were moving around and snuggling together.

Then the first parent came home and it was ALL open mouths!

Luckily reinforcements  showed up soon after! Really amazing to have such a vantage point from above the nest to watch this raven family.

Today we floated down the Athabasca River. Gorgeous colors!

Confluence of the Athabasca and Miette rivers. The Athabasca is glacier fed and very blue, in contrast to the pond fed Miette.

Scott…always happy to be on a raft!

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Icefields and Bears!
June 102019

After waiting out the snow for a night in Banff we headed north up the Icefields Parkway to Jasper on Saturday. It was still pretty overcast, but we had much better views (and driving conditions) than we would have had the day before. We made a few stops along the way looking for places that my grandfather had noted in his photo journal from trips in 1980 and 1985. He and my grandma Sophie did the trip from Cape Cod to Alaska twice in a Ford Pickup with a much smaller camper on the back that what we are towing!

Since arriving in Jasper, we’ve hiked out to some falls and gorgeous lakes, had our first bear sightings, and enjoyed a lengthy soak in the Miette Hot Springs. We have been getting our sports fill here with both the Stanley Cup and NBA finals, and plan to explore more on foot and by boat the next few days!


Crowfoot Glacier – or what you can see of it in the clouds. Along the Icefields Parkway.


Columbia Icefield – feeds three different river systems and several glaciers


Athabasca Falls – This river flows to the Arctic Ocean!!


Sunwapta Falls


Our first bear sighting! Munching along near the campground.


Lake Five – in Valley of the Five Lakes. (Cover photo on this post is Lake Three)


Us by the Athabasca River, behind our campground.


Another bear.


We apparently bored him.


Foxy at Wabasso Campground


Our latest Foxy accessory, found in Jasper!

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SNOW DAY!!!!!
June 72019

We got snowed in this morning so we are spending an extra night in Banff before heading to Jasper on the Icefields Parkway. There was a road advisory when we checked the news this morning, so we moved Foxy to a different spot in the same campground, the campgrounds cooperated with us nicely so all in all no big deal except for getting VERY wet!! Alison made French toast and we are having a relaxing rainy, snow day!

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Canmore and Banff
June 62019

We have really enjoyed our five nights here in Banff, and are getting ready to head up the Icefields Parkway tomorrow to Jasper National Park. Today we hiked at Lake Minnewanka and went to check out the town of Canmore. Yesterday we hiked near our campground and went to the Banff Farmers Market where we scored all kinds of goodies: strawberries, cherry tomatoes, fudge, beer, fresh rolls, apples and rye whiskey (with which made fabulous old fashioneds last night). Canada has converted Scott to being a fan of farmers markets since there are all manners of people there giving our samples of beer and locally distilled spirits!

Photos below tell the rest of the story…


Lake Minnewanka


Lake Minnewanka


On the “Teddy Bear’s Picnic” trail yesterday. We of course had to take our stuffed pals Spotter and Zohan along!


View of Bow River Valley from the Teddy Bear’s Picnic Trail


Finally a bear sighting in Canmore today!


My favorite vendor at the market – This little VW bus contained two people and an espresso machine! The partially obscured sign reads “If you think you are too small to make a difference, try spending the night in a tent with a mosquito”. They also put personal messages on each latte. My lid read “Be the attitude you want to see in others”. Good coffee. Good karma. Good Volkswagon!


By the river in Canmore


Also by the river in Canmore???!!!


And in follow up to the vortex post, sadly it turns out that even the brooms in store will stand on end. No weird energy field required. Bummer.

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Oh Canada! They actually let us in and we might never want to leave…until winter anyway. After a one night stop at Wasa Lake Provincial Park, we are now camping in Banff National Park. Today we visited Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. Yesterday we hiked Johnston Canyon, visited the Cave and Basin National Historic Site and walked all over town. There are quite a lot of tourists here already, although it’s not officially high season.


Moraine Lake from the Rockpile trail. The water gets its spectacular color from the rock dust that the glaciers scrape off as they slowly move down the mountains. It is suspended in the lake water and then refracts the sunlight!


Moraine Lake


More of Moraine Lake. Hard to resist taking too many photos.


Iceberg!


One of the Glaciers above Moraine Lake.


Lake Louise (as is the header photo on this post)


On the Lake Louise Gondola. Supposedly there had been a bear sighting earlier in the day from the gondola, but we have still yet to see one.


Cave and Basin National Historic Site – birthplace of the Canadian National Parks. The site had been used previously by the Stoney nation, and was re-discovered in 1883 by three railroad workers who wanted to make it a private attraction, but the Canadian Government decided to preserve it for the public and made it their first national park. (Yellowstone was the first US National Park in 1872.)


A MOOSE! Ooops, nope. Just Scott.


On the trail to Johnston Falls


Upper Falls – Johnston Canyon


Upper Falls


Foxy glamour shot on the side of the road, near the Continental Divide.

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Yesterday we ended our visit to East Glacier with a hike around Swiftcurrent Lake, enjoying the mountains before the smoke settled in today from the fires in Northern Alberta. We had a few great wildlife sightings (still no bears) and had to climb over some lingering snow along the way. We got back to the camper last night and spent today doing chores. Whatever the horrible red staining bugs are that we drove through on our way into Montana have all been eradicated, the hot water heater has been flushed, and we have clean laundry to hit the road with tomorrow. On to Canada!


What’s with the snow?


More snow!




Ms. Moose – We had to skirt off the trail and up to the road to avoid encroaching on her too much.


Mountain Goats lounging in the sun.

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What an amazing time we have had for the last week in Glacier National Park. We hiked around West Glacier for a couple of days, took a canoe out on Lake Macdonald, took a boat cruise, then headed to East Glacier and spent yesterday hiking in the St. Mary’s area to St. Mary’s falls and then Virginia falls. Pretty awesome stuff. They say you need to hike with bear spray. We have not encountered any bears yet, just deer. That’s probably good. There was a young grizzly at Avalanche lake where we hiked a couple days ago, Apparently it got into someone’s pack, which is not good. We heard the report from other hikers but we left the lake right before it all went down. We talked to a Park Ranger who was on his way up to the lake to investigate. Here are some photos…


Canoeing on Lake Macdonald


Avalanche lake, apparently right before the bear got there!


My tree hugging wife!

 


St. Mary’s Lake


St. Mary’s Falls


With us…


Virginia Falls


Stud standing over water


Close encounter with a deer!

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We’ve barely scratched the surface of exploring Glacier these past couple days, but the weather is about to change for the better! Today we are in Kalispell taking care of business…wifi…oil change…and a bit of shopping. Expect more photos soon of sunny skies and short sleeves. A few rainy/cloudy day adventure pics in the meantime:

 


Lake MacDonald


The water is incredibly clear.


Hiking in a wildfire recovery area. This burn occurred in 2003 and consumed 13 million acres.


Falls along the North Fork of the Flathead.


The Merc is WORLD FAMOUS for their huckleberry bear claws. Luckily the road up there recently reopened and we were able to judge for ourselves.

Yup. World Famous.


Yesterday we got sucked in the vortex that is the Montana Mystery House. We still can’t really figure out what was going on. Supposedly an energy vortex that does all sorts of weird things. Some seemed like maybe they were more optical illusions, because in this photo things look pretty normal, but when we were there the effect was a shift in heights.


Scott defying gravity in the Mystery House.

This is the one that left us stumped. We moved this broom around several times and were able to stand it up on end at a different angle than everything else in the leaning house. I also have to report that the whole time I was in there I thought I might hurl from dizziness. Not sure if it was just my brain trying to straighten out all the old angles (marbles rolling uphill for example) or if we were really in a crazy vortex. Ether way we were so tired afterward that we took a two hour nap!!!!

 

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The Mighty Lochsa!
May 232019

We have been off the grid the last few days visiting Bethany and Will in Syringa, ID. They are raft guides on the Lochsa River this spring. No cell phones, no internet….WooHoo! We spent Tuesday checking out Selway Falls and running errands in nearby Kooskia. On Wednesday, Will guided us down the river. We had a blast and made new friends, Ashley and Dan were on their honeymoon from Orange County, CA and Robin and Taylor joined us from Portland, OR. We all had a great time in the wet, wild rapids! Ali and I got to join Bethany in the 2 man raft at the end of the trip. Today we packed up and took a hike with Bethany to Weir Creek hot springs before heading back to Missoula for the night. Tomorrow we are off to Glacier National Park.

 


Scott and Bethany above Selway Falls


This is what raft guides do on their day off!

 


Our 3 boats on the Lochsa


Will in back guiding, Ali and I right in front of him going through Lochsa Falls. Note the green wave!

The almost Oh Shit moment!


Dan getting nailed in Pipeline rapid. No one fell out.


Bethany and Eric in the 2 man raft.


Approaching the wave!


Us in wetsuits at lunch, Bethany photobombing!


Our guides! Will, Bethany and Jonas.


Alison, Bethany and Scott in D2.


All of us in guide camp.

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Maggotfest 2019
May 202019

Been several days chock full of rugby and reunions here in Missoula! Scott got to reconnect with some college teammates (Colin and Ashby) and we had a great time watching the matches and joining in the festivities.

Rugby gatherings never disappoint, bringing together such a fun community of genuine people (many in spectacular costumes). It doesn’t matter if you are old or young, a guy in a tutu, a woman with a moustache, or if you are roaming around in an inflatable pig costume. There is a place for everyone, everyone plays well together, and no one seems to question anyone’s choice of self-expression. It’s a pretty good model for society!

Anyway, a few pics from the festival as we roll out of town to meet up with Bethany and Will!


Colin (left) played at Oxy with Scott…no shortage of good stories with these guys.


The Saturday night party. Gives a little sense of the size of the Fest.


At the field. They had 8 pitches set up to accommodate dozens of teams from as far away as Alaska.

We ended our time in Missoula by hiking Mt Jumbo with Colin. The wind was fairly spectacular, but the view from the top was well worth the trek!

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So this is what the Gap Year is about…we had to make a small detour in Idaho to take care of some banking business, so from Craters of the Moon we ended up in Pocatello this afternoon and then ended up at a Harvest House called Grand Teton Distillery in Driggs, ID. They are famous for their Potato Vodka but they also make whiskey. After parking Foxy and taking the tour, we drove up Ski Hill Road to Grand Targhee ski area. Basically at the base of the Grand Tetons. About 30 miles from Jackson Hole…over the Tetons! I will definitely return here to put the boards on. Quite a drive and view. It’s great to not have a tight schedule and be able to visit cool, relatively unknown places!!! Off to Montana in the morning.


This is our hotel for the night…Happy Birthday Casper!!!


The Grand Tetons from the Idaho side in the clouds.


Our booty from the distillery!

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Moon Landing
May 132019

Spent last night camping at Craters of the Moon National Monument. It didn’t really look like what I think of as the moon, but it was quite an expanse of a’a (Hawaiian for sharp painful jagged lava – much like the sound you make when it’s in your sandal- ah! ah!) and pahoehoe (pa-hoy-hoy – smoother flowing lava). We hiked around quite a bit in the wind, and rolled out this morning.

Happy Mothers Day to our moms – Val and Phebe! And shout out to all the other great moms we know 🙂

Pahoehoe lava


Scott in the a’a


Not sure what you call this one…lava goo?

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Today we went to Promontory Point to see a reenactment of the driving of the “Golden Spike” that joined the Transcontinental Railroad 150 years ago. At the time, completing on the rails from east to went meant that people could suddenly travel across the country in 6 days instead of 6 months. They reenacted the whole ceremony as if we were there in May of 1869, right down to attaching a wire to the final spike so that the strike of the maul hitting it would be transmitted across the telegraph wires from coast to coast, signaling the tracks were joined. It was an engineering feat that was celebrated far and wide, and one that ushered in a whole new era of transportation and commerce.

The celebration extended beyond Promontory Point to other towns, including Ogden, UT which hosted two huge restored Union Pacific locomotives, the “Big Boy 4014” and the “844”. We visited those yesterday on our way north. Really amazing to see how many people turned out at these events. Thousands and thousands! It was fun to be able to shift around a few things on our itinerary to be able to take it all in. Off to Idaho tomorrow!


Golden Spike!


Engine 119 making its way to the rendezvou


Joining of the rails!

Need to do a little more research on how to include a video, but for now, you can download if you wish. Shows the approach and the HUGE crowd gathered to watch: Golden Spike Video.

 

And a few pics from Union Station in Ogden, UT yesterday…

The Big Boy 4014



Engine 844 – the “elephant ears” were designed to keep the steam out of the engineer’s compartment.


Engine 833 – the same “elephant ears” model on permanent display in Ogden. You can really get the scale of how huge they are!

 

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The Big Red Barn
May 102019

We left Hanksville, UT yesterday and drove 3 hours to Santaquin, UT where we stayed at our second Harvest Host, Rowley’s Farm and the Big Red Barn!  Excellent Host, we immediately had apple pie a la mode and did some grocery shopping. We ran some errands in Provo and spent a great evening at the Barn. We came away with steaks, homemade butter, brats and other cool items. This morning we drove 3 hours to Snowville, UT (right on the Idaho border). Great campground. Along the way we visited the trains in Ogden (more on that in tomorrow’s post). All is well and we will be in touch soon!


There was one other camper sharing the lot with us and they were nice enough to take us this photo and give us lots of advice on Alaska.


Apple Blossoms


Foxy Sunset

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Goblins!
May 82019

This morning we spent meandering around the weird and wonderful rock formations of Goblin Valley. This place has been on my bucket list for a long time. We got up really early to beat the rain and were happy we did as it has been pouring on and off all afternoon. I’ll let the pictures tell the story, and if you think it’s a long story you should know I took over 240 that I whittled down to these dozen or so!


Just look at all those little goblins!


Lazy goblin

There are no trails in the three valleys, you just go out and wander and explore which was really fun.

Another wild gnome!





It was funny to look at the GPS map from Scott’s Fitbit and see our five mile exploration through the valleys. Lots of dead ends where the valley walls got too steep and we had to double back to find alternate routes.

 

And a few shots from our last hike before leaving Escalante-Grand Staircase National Monument the other day. It was a “wet hike” that followed and criss crossed back and forth across the Escalante River. Accessory of the day: neoprene socks to keep our feet warm!


Escalante River


Escalate Natural Bridge was the endpoint of our hike, although the river trail went over 100 miles!

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Sleeping Rainbows
May 52019

We are still camped in Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, and have been enjoying hiking around the area, as well as meeting some of the townsfolk. This has been a great spot for our first boondock and looks like we can make it 6 days easily with our tanks. We’ve only had to turn the generator on once, and that was only because we were entrenched in a game of Oregon Trail and were about to run out of juice on the laptop. A few more photos from the surrounding area. We are heading north to Hanksville, UT on Tuesday, hopefully without the mouse that found his way into Foxy last night!


We visited Petrified Forest State Park yesterday and hiked the Sleeping Rainbows trail through a forest of amazingly colorful petrified trees.


Scott and one of the largest tree sections we saw


Even a million year old tree needs a hug

Today we visited another nearby State Park, Kodachrome Basin. It’s fascinating how all of the parks are so close to each other, but really have their own unique geology and appearance.


Easy to see where the park gets its colorful name


We dubbed this guy “Gnome Rock”

And a few more photos from around town…
Artistic renderings of the Hole in the Rock Expedition. (See previous post for more info)


Awesome lizard friend at the Visitor Center


Scott multitasking. Saturday Night Live and the Avs game. (We do have a TV, and can plug our phones into it to get a full picture, but since we are off the grid, we would have to run the generator to power the TV.)

Derby Day in Escalante! Yes, that is a mint julep 😉

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Hole In The Rock
May 32019

Today we spent 6 1/2 hours driving…110 miles. We are camping on the end of Hole in the Rock Road. 55 miles SE of our spot is the Hole in the Rock. This is the spot in 1880 that Mormon settlers found a crossing through the Colorado river (there was no dam or Lake Powell). They took their wagons 55 miles SE from Escalante and came to edge of Glen Canyon. Not to be deterred, they dynamited the rock walls and lowered their wagons down to the river. No one died. Pretty awesome stuff. They crossed the Colorado and settled Bluff Utah. It was a pretty awesome site, and a really long drive, most of it 4 wheeling through rocky, twisty roads. The photos explain!


Plaque at Hole in the Rock


Hole in the Rock at the end of the 55 mile drive. Road to the right. This is what they saw in 1880.


This is what we saw today, lake Powell in the distance. They blasted through the rock walls to get the wagons over edge. Pretty crazy.


Lake Powell from above Hole in the Rock.


Us


Hot chick hiking!


Us


4 Wheel drive road….55 miles of it!

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Boondocking
May 22019

This is the first time on the trip we are boondocking…meaning we are staying off the grid, no campground, no hookups, on BLM land. We grabbed a great spot 5 miles east of Escalante, UT, right off Hole in the Rock road. Lots of other campers are around but we have a ton of space and great views! All is well.  Got to use the outdoor shower this afternoon. Sorry, no photos! We took a great 6 mile hike to Calf Creek Falls today. The photos are following.

 


Camper spot

Trail to Calf creek falls


The Falls!

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May 1st?
May 12019

Sunrise on the snow, what a lovely way to say goodbye to Bryce Canyon. We are heading to lower elevations this morning to get out of the cold temps. We’ve enjoyed our time here so much. A few more photos to share:

 

And a few pics from our hike through Fairyland Canyon yesterday…




This was as close as we came to seeing a fairy. He didn’t grant us any wishes, he just wanted Scott’s Chex mix. We are pretty sure there are fairies though since they left a whole bunch of fairy dust overnight!

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We arrived at Bryce Canyon yesterday and made the most of the good weather. This is such a beautiful landscape to admire from the rim and from the canyon below. We did a lot of hiking, down into the Queen’s Garden and then back up to the rim, all the way to Inspiration Point. We didn’t realize how high in altitude this park is and were surprised to see snow still clinging to the cliffs. Today we awoke to gray clouds and cold temps, not as favorable for hiking, but we took a walk along the rim and drove out to see the distant view points. Rainbow Point, at the far end of the park road is almost the same elevation as Mt. Crested Butte, at 9,100′.

We are camping just outside the park, but conveniently the park shuttle stops right here. The National Park Service has done a great job of reducing traffic congestion in the parks with the use of buses. It also give you a lot of freedom to make one way hikes without having to worry about getting back to your car! Anyway, nice campground here in Bryce Canyon City. We enjoyed chatting with our neighbors last evening who turned out to be olympic medal winning bobsledders (you just never know who you are going to meet) before the cooling temps chased us inside. Tonight we actually have to unhook our water since there is a chance of freezing. We thought we were done with cold weather!


Inspiration Point


Bryce Amphitheater


Hoodoos on the way to the Queen’s Garden


Please note – shorts and sunshine yesterday


Scott heading up the trail


Natural Bridge


Arrrrrgh


Still gorgeous in the clouds


What is with all this snow?


Please note – hat and puffy in 39 degrees. Boooooo!

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The Zion Mt Carmel Highway has been closed for repairs and just happened to open up in time for us to use it to depart the park yesterday. It is QUITE a road, with many tight switchbacks and sheer drop offs. As if that isn’t enough, at the top is a tunnel with such low clearance that they have to stop traffic to allow RVs to drive straight down the middle so they don’t get stuck. In hindsight, we have no idea why they even allow RVs to do this, but they do…so we did. Well, more accurately, Scott did. With 5″ of clearance between the top of our AC and the roof of the tunnel, he put on the high beams and did an amazing nerves of steel drive straight down the double yellow line for 1.1 miles! It was quite an experience, one we might have skipped had known exactly what we were in for, but there was no turning back once we got there!


There were no lights at all in the tunnel, just an occasional sky light!

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Zion National Park
April 272019

Visiting Zion National Park. The pictures pretty much tell it all. We have stayed in the South Campground for the last three nights. It is quite beautiful and we have had great access to the park. We rafted through the park today on the North Fork of the Virgin River. Quite beautiful. The hikes were astounding, I think we’ve hiked about 20 miles since we got here. The Zion/Mt. Carmel tunnel just opened so we are heading East toward Bryce Canyon tomorrow. So far so good!


Day 1 we actually had about 20 raindrops


Sunset from our beach


Watching the Virgin River flow past the campground.


Breakfast!

Paddling our ducky down the river


Our Campsite. We are used to being on the small side of campers everywhere we go, but here, we are surrounded mostly by tents! (Don’t worry tenting friends…we’ve not even turned our generator on once!)

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Warbird Museum
April 252019

Last night we stopped over in St. George, Utah for one night on our way from Lake Mead to Zion, NP. We stayed at a Harvest Host for the first time on our trip. These are farms, breweries, wineries and other non profit organizations that allow Rv’s to spend one night on their property. In exchange, the guest is supposed to make a purchase or give a donation to the host. This one was a war plane museum at the airport. A bunch of war veterans who collect and restore old warplanes. You can see a few in the photos.  We camped in their parking lot which was a few hundred yards from the runway so we spent the evening watching planes take off and land. Pretty interesting and fun!

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Ebay
April 222019

Today I am considering my first day of retirement…in as much as I have taken 2 week vacations in the past…but I didn’t go back to work today…. Just slept in, Alison and I had breakfast, then took a walk/hike, then went boating. Life is good and we realize we are very fortunate to be in this position. Echo Bay has been home for the past week and the campground here has been wonderful. There were a few more people around for Easter weekend, but now we basically have the place to ourselves. We have explored pretty much the whole area taking multiple hikes, kayak excursions and drives on the North Shore Road. The only negative is that we still have not seen a desert Tortoise… but we will keep looking.


RedRock trail


North Shore Summit


North Shore Summit


Dude


Chick


Blue and Foxy


Nuff Said


Earth day.

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Modern Day Ghost Towns
April 202019

I’ve been thinking for days about how to write this post. To say the least, it was shocking and terrifying to get to Lake Mead and see the water levels. Living in the west, we know that there has been an extended drought, and we know how many people rely on the Colorado River basin for their water, but seeing the “bathtub ring” 150 feet above the water level is a serious gut check.

The place we are staying, Echo Bay, used to be a thriving destination for boaters and tourists, but as the water has receded, the people have left. The marina ended up stranded on dry land. The hotel and restaurant still stand about 3/4 of a mile from the shore, boarded up and crumbling. A new road leads to a boat ramp on a peninsula that used to be completely submerged. The old boat ramp ends in a sandy field. This place which once drew people, and even inspired the creator of the biggest online marketplace to name his website eBay, is now a modern ghost town. Created by a dam, destroyed by drought and demand for water. The same picture is reflected all around the lake. Even the marinas that are still open have had to extend their boat launch ramps and move their slips further and further into the lake to stay afloat.

Yesterday we travelled to the end of the lake to visit the Hoover Dam, probably the place where the water level is most evident, with the intake towers standing so far above the surface. We read that if the water level were to drop 30 more feet, the dam would no longer be able to generate power, and if it dropped 80 feet, water would no longer be able to pass back into the Colorado River. We came home wondering if things were really as bad as they seem, and spent some time trying to figure out if our assumption about water use and population growth was accurate. We did uncover an interesting report that showed that although usage is still outpacing supply, there is not a direct correlation to population growth in the southwest. In fact, despite increases in population, many water districts have decreased their water usage every year over the past decade. So some hope is there that at some point, despite growth, demand could decrease.

Today we went to the other end of the lake to see a different kind of ghost town, one that emerged after sitting on the bottom of the lake for decades. The Town of St Thomas was flooded in the 1930s as Lake Mead filled. Walking around the tree stumps and building foundations, we found ourselves talking and wondering at length about how so many dams ended up on the Colorado River, and how people built the southwest simply trusting that there would always be enough water. It was pretty humbling to stand among the ruins of that old town and look around at a huge valley that used to be underwater and realize that it probably looks just like it did when people lived there. Maybe we aren’t so good at outsmarting nature after all?

Anyway, I don’t mean for this to be a totally somber post, but it surely has been an eye opener for us. It does seem timely that we are here as new legislation is moving forward in the form of a drought contingency plan for the Colorado River states.

 

Echo Bay boat ramp to nowhere


Hemenway Harbor Marina and their half mile long boat ramp


Hoover Dam viewed from O’Callaghan Tillman Memorial Bridge (Second tallest bridge in the US, topped only by the Royal Gorge Bridge in CO)


Intake towers at the Hoover Dam


Pulling up to the trailhead to the St. Thomas town site, our GPS still thought that the green field in front of us should be a lake. There was literally no water in sight in any direction.


The building foundations were amazingly preserved. Addendum 4/22 – We found out today that this where John Wesley Powell went at the end of his Grand Canyon Expedition!


The only thing that made you realize that this was not your ordinary ghost town was the proliferation of mussel shells everywhere.

And just so you know we haven’t been moping around the whole time, here’s a smiling selfie from our hike through the old railroad tunnels that brought building supplies to the dam.

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Valley of Fire
April 182019

After three days in Sin City it’s time to get back to camping! We spent the morning hiking in Valley of Fire State Park. Beautiful and HOT! We are gonna get on the lake in the kayak this afternoon. All is well. Happy Birthday Bethany!!!

 


The “Fire Wave”


Hike to Rainbow Vista


Fire Canyon

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You all know the saying…I’m not allowed to say much about what happens in Vegas, but suffice to say, we had a great time. Aerosmith did not disappoint. What a show! Shout out to Tom And Cindi for making the trip down. Now off to Lake Mead for catching up on some sleep.


Aerosmith at the Park MGM – The Bad Boys from Boston are Still Rockin!


Hanging out with Spandex Nation – Our favorite 80’s cover band on Fremont Street!

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River Beach
April 142019

Today was a great day! We spent the morning at the pool, and then hit the beach in the afternoon.  We were quite fortunate to have access to pool and beach since the KOA is associated with the Avi hotel. It all worked out great! The Colorado river comes out of the Davis Dam just above Laughlin, and we had a great river beach to hang out on! We put the Airloungers to work and also ran into a classic car show that was going on outside the hotel/casino. A fun, relaxing day, and now on to Vegas! Vegas Baby!!!

 

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We spent today exploring the outskirts of Laughlin, NV. We hiked Grapevine Canyon and drove up over Christmas Tree Pass. We saw everything from petroglyphs and flowers to rattlesnakes and Christmas ornaments! Great excursion getting to hike and put the truck in 4WD for the first time this trip.

Petroglyphs of bighorn sheep in Grapevine Canyon

Scott after scrambling up to the top of Grapevine Canyon

I climbed up the other side, which wasn’t quite as steep!

The wild grapevines that give the canyon its name

They already had some tiny grapes forming on them!

At the top

More petroglyphs

And a chuckwalla!

The drive up Christmas Tree Pass was stunning

This guy was sunning himself in the road! A western diamondback rattlesnake. Happy to admire him from inside the truck!

At the top of the pass there were all sorts of actual decorated Christmas trees!

Although we are pretty sure the pass gets its name for the rock spire on the right!

And a couple cactus flower closeups – they are so gorgeous this time of year!

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In and Out
April 102019

It started out like any other day… we woke up… and then realized we are on the gap year! So we did what any other normal person would do…we went to In and Out Burger. And then took the ferry across the lake to the California side to the Casino…. well, we could have done better!  10 bucks for a good boat ride! Not the best casino in the world, but we made the most of our ten dollars! We returned to the Arizona side and checked out the Turtle Bar…. Good drink and good food. All in all, Havasu was quite fun. On to new adventures tomorrow!  Thanks for all the comments, keep em coming! We love all of you!

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London Bridge. The ACTUAL London Bridge, the very same one that used to span the Thames, was taken apart brick by brick and shipped to Lake Havasu in 1968. It was reassembled on land as part of a real estate development plan, and then had a river dredged out from beneath it. Seriously…you can’t make this up. But apparently the plan worked out, as this area is now a hopping tourist mecca, with London Bridge smack in the middle of it. So of course we had to get out there and paddle under it, and later walk over it, because…why not? I mean, they seem to have gone to so much trouble to get it here! Anyway, you can read more about the history of how this happened on Wikipedia.


Paddling with proper pinkie extended position


Superman…London’s calling!

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Made it to the Lake
April 82019

After 4 days of driving we finally made it the first real destination! Lake Havasu, AZ! Sun, water, shorts, kayak!!!! All is good so far. Alison masterfully backed Foxy in to our spot and we had halibut on the grill in no time! We are looking forward to exploring Lake Havasu tomorrow. We are not moving Foxy for 3 days.

Trip log: 210 miles today, 980 total!

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Black Bart’s
April 72019

Rolled into Black Bart’s RV Park in Flagstaff today. Scott has been waiting to stay here since he first spotted it in 1995.

Fun day with a couple guest appearances from AZ folk. Scott’s mom, Phebe, as well as cousin Lloyd. We enjoyed some sunshine and a fun dinner show here at the campground. Nice to have most of the day to lounge about thanks to an early departure this morning, and to gaining an hour when we crossed into AZ!


One more drive day tomorrow will get us to Lake Havasu and 90 degree boating weather!

Trip Log: 250 miles

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Day 2- Big drive today…300 miles from Raton, NM to Grants, NM. We stopped for lunch at Fiesta Balloon Park in Albuquerque and met our buddy Gordon. Great to see him! Smooth sailing so far. Flagstaff tomorrow!

Camping tonight at a KOA that happens to be in the middle of the El Malpias (Badlands) lava field. Pretty views of the surrounding hills with lava in the foreground.

Long drive day meant we had to get gas “hooked up” to the camper. Got go to the pumps with the big boys and use the long handled squeegees to clear the bugs of our windshield!

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3…2…1…Liftoff
April 52019

It’s official, we are on the road! Day one finds us camping in Raton, NM and bidding farewell to Colorado for a long while. We are making a quick overnight at the KOA, and heading on to Grants, NM tomorrow. These first few days are just one-night stops as we make our way far enough south to be warm and get our boat in the water!

We had a wonderful send off last night in Denver. Thanks to everyone who could make it out for one last hurrah. Special thanks to the Bear Valley NWP staff who went above and beyond to celebrate Scott’s retirement. It’s official! If you have photos from the party, please share them with us!












 

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Launch is imminent!
March 302019

5 days until we roll! Keep your eye on the map as it will be in motion THIS week! Vegas in 2 weeks so meet us there if you can. If you are in Denver, come on our to final happy hour at Winston’s Pub in BelMar this Thursday (4/4). We are psyched!

SB

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Winter in Golden
March 32019

Well, March came to Colorado with a bang! -2 F this morning. We are so over winter! Foxy is doing great, but we decided to stay at the Hampton Inn for 2 nights. One more month and then we hit the road so hopefully the weather will improve soon. We are all set to go at this point, we will make on last run to Crested Butte in a couple weeks to drop the last of our stuff off and get the kayak. I will get me last few days of skiing in as well.

The first stop is the Raton KOA on the way to Vegas. We will write more from the road. Everyone be well!

Cheers,

Scott

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Oh the People You Meet!
December 192018

People keep asking what we are most looking forward to on our trip, and that a hard question to answer, because there is no one thing. There will of course be amazing sights to see, food to eat, and adventures to be had. There will also be the much anticipated freedom of no set schedule or structure to our days. But one constant highlight that I am already realizing will be with us, no matter where we park our home, is interesting people!

If our little campground in Golden is at all representative of the greater RVing world, we are in for a treat. Everyone we have met seems to have a different story as to why they are here, and we are just enjoying how chance connections unfold. Last week a tour bus pulled up next to us with a rock band from NYC (shout out to Makuta, pictured above), and we went from chatting in the campground to cheering them onstage at the Gothic Theater! We’ve met a tattoo artist who travels around doing guest residences at studios, a couple who shares their motorhome with a 90 pound pig named Frank, young folks who are working here in Denver and looking for an alternative to expensive home prices, and everyone in between. Some campers are like us, spending the whole winter here, but there are a surprising number of people on the move, with big rigs coming and going daily. The only true constant seems to be the dedicated group of winter camper caretakers that keep the park running, while sharing their advice and expertise on things like how to keep your water lines from freezing!

Interestingly it all blends together to create a real sense of community. I was just commenting to Scott the other day how we have met and talked to more “neighbors” here in the park over the past month than we did in the almost 5 years we lived in our house. It was sort of a sad revelation, about how easy it is to fall into a busy routine and not make time to get to know more of the people around you. I think it will prove to be one of the greatest adventures of our trip, just having time to talk and listen to the people who happen to pull up next door.

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Christmas Foxy
December 52018

We have moved into our winter home, spot G4 at the Dakota Ridge Campground in Golden. Foxy is ready for Christmas. Come say hi if you are in the area! Happy Holidays to all!

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Officially Full Time RV-ing
November 182018

The house is sold and home for the next 4 months is Dakota Ridge Campground in Golden. Winter didn’t hesitate to show up right after we parked in our spot, but inside the camper has stayed warm and toasty so far. It will be interesting to see how things like our plumbing fair when it’s zero degrees outside. We expect to put the “4 season’ rating to a full test over the coming months. Take off date is set for April 5th, so come out and visit us before then!

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Getting Ready to Gap
August 152018

This plan has been several years in the making! We have the RV, the house is going up for sale, and we will be rolling on April 5th. In the meantime, we are in full scale planning mode as we get ready to hit the road in our 5th wheel for about 18 months of adventures! You are invited to follow our adventures and pick a spot to join us along the way!

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