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From North Beach in St. Augustine we headed to the St. John’s River KOA  in DeLand. We rented a Pontoon Boat and visited Blue Spring State Park to see the Manatee.  We then headed  to Crescent City and spent a few nights at Renegades on the River, where we…you guessed it… rented another Pontoon Boat. We then headed to Cherry Blossom Campground in Crescent City where we…again…rented a Pontoon boat. They are great for seeing birds, turtles and gators! Enjoy the photos from the Bird Lady!

A Manatee at Blue Spring State Park.

Manatee with calf. Also known as Sea Cows.

Scott and Spotter driving the boat.

Ibis

A Gator and his turtle buddy soaking up the sun.

Egret

Selfie on the boat

Trout Creek off the St. John’s River

Egret (Bird Lady side note: This guy is looking quite fancy showing off his breeding plumage)

Gator

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St. Augustine
January 232021

It’s been a while since our last post. We’ve been quite busy finding a permanent home down here and we have been fighting pretty poor internet! All is well. On Dec 20th we rolled into St. Augustine for a two week stay at North Beach Camp Resort. We had a pretty luxurious set up with lots of trees and privacy. We enjoyed the beach to say the least!

Foxy looking good at our Campsite.  All  decked out for Christmas!


St. Augustine City Hall

Casa Monica Hotel in Downtown. This was during the Nights of Lights festival that runs through the holidays. Downtown St. Augustine is quite beautiful!

Castillo de San Marcos

The Castillo is a Spanish Fort built in the 1600’s to guard the City from (in order) the French, the British, the Confederacy. The National Park Service took it over in the 1930’s. So Alison got a stamp!


Birthday happy hour on St. Augustine Beach.
 The Anastasia Light as seen from Anastasia State Park. Watch out for gators!

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Last Stop on the Gulf
December 202020

Our final stop on the way to St. Augustine was a little town on Ochlockonee Bay, called Panacea. We had great site on the water with gorgeous sunset views. We are now settled into our spot north of St. Augustine, and looking forward to no more long driving days for a few months!!!


Our campground on Ochlockonee Bay (sunset header photo is a view from the camp site)


One of the highlights of Panacea was a surprise manatee encounter on a walk near the campground. There were at least half a dozen hanging out in this creek just inland from the bay.


More manatees!


We saw this young buck at nearby Bald Point. He was clearly smart enough to be hanging out in the safety of the state park during hunting season.


Black Vulture shopping the flats at low tide.


Otter Pond, which was false advertising as far as I am concerned. There was not an otter to be seen.


Spanish Moss on the trees at St. Mark’s National Wildlife Refuge

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Pensacola Beach
December 162020

We are finishing up our two week stay at Pensacola Beach (header photo is our campground). The weather was a bit sketchy at times but we had plenty of sunny, blue sky days to enjoy the beach, the National Seashore and surrounding area. It was a good long stay to revisit the area after we were here last winter. The bridge from Pensacola to Gulf Breeze was out due to damage from Hurricane Sally, so we stayed pretty local except for an excursion to visit our mailbox facility in Crestview!!! We are headed to St. Augustine tomorrow with a stop in Panacea for a few days. Enjoy Alison’s awesome photos!

 

The Boardwalk at Pensacola Beach. (it was closed to walk on because of hurricane damage.)

Sunset at Pensacola Beach

Pelicans looking for lunch.

Gulf Islands National Seashore.

5753 HWY 85 North…Our mailing address! They brought our mail out to us in the truck.

I found a turtle on Fort Walton Beach!

The rays were amazing to watch, they swam so close to the shore.

You can see at least eight of them in the wave.

This is an awesome video!

 

Alison was smitten with the alien at the mini golf course….which is why I won!

Tiki Totem.

Hanukkah dinner complete with candles and Latkes!

Our Christmas Tree.

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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 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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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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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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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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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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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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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 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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