We left Carlsbad at 5:00 AM and arrived at the Elks Lodge in Oceano at 11:00 AM. After a short rest we went to the Grove where the Monarch butterflies spent the winter. They were all gone. So we went to Pismo Beach and walked around some stores and then went to the pier. There we watched a sea otter laying on its back and eating some food and playing in the waves. There also were girls in bikinis on the beach, enjoying the sun. Of course I did not pay much attention to them. Doreen was saying that she had a figure like those girls when she was young.
This is another warm day. We drove to Walnut Creek where we camped in front of our friends house. We unhooked the car and put the towing equipment in the trunk. The car gets a rest until Doreen comes back from the trip and uses it to drive home to San Diego. Our friends took us to a fancy restaurant.
Doreen's sister in law and brother in law were also invited. They will live in the house and take care of the dog while Ken and Jean are on vacation with us.
I was the only non English person in the group. Our waitress was Irish with red hair. Our friend Ken ask her whether she was Irish, and the fun started from there. I told her that I was not English and if she thought about putting something in the food for the English, she should leave me out. We had a lot of fun and the food was very good.
We left Walnut Creek at 8:15 AM. It is shorts and T shirt weather. Ken refused to buy a CB. He bought two Motorola 5 Mile walkie talkies. He forgot the instructions though and the charger. Now we are using my 5 Mile walkie talkies for communication.
They are complicated to program and we have to learn as we go along. In case we get separated, Doreen and Ken have Cell Phones.
We stopped at Weed for the night. Weed is at the foothills of Mt. Shasta and we have a beautiful view of the snow capped Mountain from the motorhome.
When I woke up this morning and looked out of the window I got a big surprise, there was a white blanket over the picnic bench, the trees, motorhomes and tow vehicles. It had snowed during the night. It was a beautiful sight. Everybody took pictures. It was 42 degrees F. in the motorhome. Doreen had gotten up in the night and taken one more blanket.
The rest of the day it rained periodically and it was cloudy all day. We made it to Salem, Oregon, where Jean and Doreen walked to a craft store.
The RV Park was located near a Home Depot. Ken and I walked there and bought batteries for the walkie talkies. We were back in 20 minutes, typical male efficiency.
It rained when we left Salem and it rained when we arrived at Mt.Vernon, North of Seattle, it was raining all day long.
After we hooked up Ken and Jean,s motorhome, I took Ken to Mt.Vernon to buy a small electric space heater. It is easier with our motorhome, their motorhome is nine feet longer. We went all over town and all stores were sold out. Walmart, Target, and Fred Meyer let us down.
We came home tired and disappointed. I went to the swimming pool and swam laps and felt better. This KOA had an indoor pool.
We left Mt.Vernon in the rain. The drive to the border was going fine.
There were only four cars beside us and it took only five minutes to get through the border check point in Sumas. It took me longer to eat two apples and deposit the cores in the bin beside the customs booth.
When we were asked whether we had any fruit, I was honest and told the customs officer that we had some apples, he told us that we can not bring apples into Canada, but that we can eat them and leave the cores in the bin. Instead of eating the bag of apples we had, I ate one and put an offering of one whole apple in the bin. I made sure he saw me and worried that he would have somebody check the motorhome.
We went to Hope, BC and had lunch and walked about town. Hope is known for its large wood carvings. They are on street corners in the down town area.
Then we went along the Fraser River through Fraser Canyon. This was a beautiful 100 Mile drive. We stopped at Hell's Gate and had a look and a little walk.
When we left the canyon we came to a dessert like area. The mountains block the clouds from coming over to the east side of the Lillooet Range.
We stopped at Cache Creek and set up camp.
Last night was a cold night. I turned on the electric heater at 5:00 AM and slipped back under my warm covers. Doreen is glad that I covered the windows in her bed area with 3/4 inch insulation material.
We stopped at 100 Mile House and did some shopping. Ken bought an electric heater.
We had blue sky all day long and it was pleasant in the sun. We stopped at Williams Lake and at the Cariboo Wood Shop, which is located between Williams Lake and Quesnet.
We started looking for a RV Park and found most of them still closed. Their season starts May 1st. We looked in the book and found one in Quesnet. April 1 was their opening date. When we arrived there we were told, because of the terrible spring, they opened yesterday. A lot of work is still going on.
The lady was very nice and let me plug in my computer in her telephone line to receive my E mail.
The motorhome developed an electric problem. When we run the water pump the lights stop working. I noticed it while we had lunch in a rest area. When we have hookups everything works fine. This has to be fixed before I go further North.
I thought a lot about the electrical problem while I was in bed and I went through the whole electrical circuit in my mind. Finally I came to a conclusion. I had installed a switch to cut off the alternator when the solar panels were charging the batteries. When I was done I realized I did not interrupt the right wire. I left the switch in place and I wanted to correct this at a later date. Yesterday I moved a box which was stored under the dinette table and I must have turned off the switch. This cut off the power from the battery to the converter. I had to wait until the morning to check whether I was correct. Everything worked fine after I flipped the switch.
Today we went to Barkerville, a refurbished gold mining ghost town. When we got up there we were in deep snow. The town was still closed but we could walk around. It was very interesting.
Staying two nights in one place gave us a good rest We are ready to go on tomorrow.
We are fast learners. We learned to disconnect the water and sewer hose
in the evening and store it. A couple of mornings ago we tried to
disconnect the water hose and it was stiff. I was lucky, I had used the 10 foot hose, Ken had 25 feet of frozen hose to content with. He put it inside the motorhome.
We left Robert's Roost RV Park and hope we find some more like it. The RV Park is located on beautiful Dragon Lake. The Lake is frozen now and the Canadian Honkers put on a show for us. The geese were not landing gracefully on the ice. They came down and tumbled across the ice.
Everybody told us that the lake very seldom is frozen in the last part of April. The geese came home too early, they should have stayed down south a bit longer.
Today we drove only 90 Miles, to Prince George. We are camping in the snow. There is a foot of snow on the ground. Only ten sites are cleared and they are muddy. The owner of the RV Park is busy moving snow.
We went to the Fort George Park and the Museum.
Everything went fine during the day, but I got myself in trouble in the evening. Since we are in Canada the women loaded up on Cadbury candies and chocolates. I love Eclairs, a caramel candy with milk chocolate centers. Several years ago I ripped off two crowns while eating them, and I should have known better this time. Now I have to find a dentist on Monday.
Because of the weather the RV Park did not turn on the water at the camp sites. One could fill up the water tank at the faucet near the office. I thought we had enough water. At night the water pump acted strange. It would not turn off when we turned off the faucet, the pump was still going. I thought the demand pressure switch was broke. To get to the pump a full size mattress and a big sheet of plywood has to be moved.
We went over to Ken and Jean's motorhome and played a game with triangular, numbered pieces. While we were playing I had my mind on fixing the pump. When we got home I checked the tank level monitor and it showed that the tank was empty and the pump had sucked up air. I felt stupid, the second time in a day. We carry a gallon container with water under the sink, this water came handy for flushing the toilet.
We filled up the water tank and emptied the holding tanks and took off for Fort St. James. Like everything else, the Fort is opening during the second week in May. We were lucky though. When we arrived ,there was a Husky puppy tied up at the railing of the entrance. All three of my companions went ape and stroked and did all kind of things to the dog.
Sasha loved it. When the lady, who was with the dog ,came out of the building, she took us for a little tour. She was from security.
From Fort St. James we went back to highway 16 and headed west, looking for a RV Park. All were snowed in. At Burns Lake we saw a KOA sign and went in the side road to the park. When we got there we knew we were out of luck. I knocked on the office door anyway. A man came out and looked at me like"what are you doing here". I told him we needed two sites. He told me that they would open in two weeks. Then his father came out and told me that all RV Parks are snowed in up to Prince Rupert.
After some discussion and me telling them that we only need electricity they made us an offer. They would clear some snow in front of the office to get to two outlets. We could park there and they would get the shower rooms ready. We were lucky to have the water tank full and the holding tanks empty.
They were actually glad we came, they were procrastinating for some time and now they had to get into action. We took showers in freshly painted and very clean shower rooms and Doreen did her hair.
Today was a lousy day. It was Ken's turn to have a bad day.
When I woke up this morning I heard loud noises on the roof of the motorhome. It was snowing, little ice crystals were coming down. Ken was up already and even wore a heavy coat and a warm cap. He knocked on the door and told us that we should get ready and get out of this area.
We left in a hurry. When we got a few miles down the road it looked better and the sky turned blue.
When we got into Burns Lake we stopped on the main street and I went looking for the dentist the RV Park manager had told me about. The dentist was not there yet but he came 15 minutes later and put my crown back.
When we headed west we came to a narrow bridge and Ken was on the bridge when a truck also entered the bridge from the other direction. The next thing we heard on the walkie talkie was, to stop at the next possible place. We continued until we found a spot where a passing lane was on our side, and we stopped in the slow lane. The motorhome driver side mirror on Ken's motorhome was missing, only the arm was there.
The arm is hinged and when hitting the trucks mirror or some other part, swung into the driver side window and broke it into a thousand little pieces. Ken was lucky, he got only a bloody finger. But his heart condition showed up and he was shaking.
Doreen took care of him while Jean and I cleaned up the mess and tried to use Saran Wrap and Duct Tape to cover the window.
While we were doing this, a car stopped and the couple in the car asked us whether we need help. We told them that we could use some better plastic.
They told us to follow them, they lived five miles down the hill. It was a couple from Holland. Their house was in a secluded area, they had four cows, dogs and other animals. Doreen drove our motorhome and I drove Ken's motorhome. Doreen was behind me and telling me when cars tried to pass me and told me when it was OK to make a left turn.
The man and I covered the window with heavy plastic while the woman made tea for the rest of the group. They also gave us the telephone number for the Ford Dealership in Smithers. Ken called them and told them about his problems.
After some tea and cake we got on our way to Smithers. Smithers is located in a beautiful valley surrounded by high, snow covered mountains. The Ford people got all the information and told us they would have the window tomorrow and jerry rig a mirror. They also called RV Parks in the area and found one which is open. We had passed it on our way to Smithers. We drove the eight miles back and are the only campers in the park.
When we arrived it was snowing and we had sunshine at the same time.
I used Doreen's hair dryer to open up the frozen valves for the gray and black water tanks. Then we went to the Ford Dealer in our motorhome, and found out that the window for Ken's motorhome is in Edmonton and will arrive tomorrow. Now we hope it is the correct window, there was some confusion about this.
I still can not believe that we had this accident. We drove some days without having any other vehicles near us, and here Ken has to be on the bridge at the same time as that large truck.
After the visit at the Ford dealer we went into town and did some shopping. Smithers is a major skiing area.
The houses on Main Street have fronts like houses in Switzerland, and some houses have large murals.
Ken and I separated from the women and ended up in a hardware store. Then we decided to go to the bank and exchange money. The lady at the window told me: "You must be from San Diego" I looked at my jacket, but my Boeing jacket would not be a clue. I could not believe how she could have known. She laughed, Doreen and Jean had been in before and Doreen had given away some of the information.
We hope the window will be fixed tomorrow. Ken, Jean and Doreen have to be in Prince Rupert on the 26th. for the ferry to Vancouver Island.
I woke up at 2:00 AM. The windows were iced up. The electric heater did not work. I checked the fuse box and everything was fine. I put on a jacket and went outside to check the park fuse box. They had a padlock on the box. The warm bed was the best place to be, and that's what I did, got under the covers.
At 7:00 AM I got up again and I wanted to go to the office and wake them up and get the key for the fuse box.
I saw that Ken was up and ask whether they had electric problems too. He said no, but he had a problem with the plug before. We checked that out and Ken got his tester out. We had power in the outlet.
That meant I had a problem in the motorhome. We found burned wires in the box were the outside wires are joined with the wires from the power converter.
Ken got three tool boxes out with electrical test equipment and one box with wire nuts, at least ten of each size in little compartments.
We fixed the burned wires and Ken checked out all the circuits. We had to stop and go to the Ford Dealer since the window had arrived. I drove Ken's motorhome again and Doreen ours.
We completed the electrical repair in front of the Ford Dealer while the women went shopping at the Canadian Tire Company, a store similar to Walmart and Home Depot combined.
We were just finished with our job when the women came back. They had left the shopping cart full with stuff at the store and asked me to drive them there and pick up everything.
When we came back it was lunch time and the window was installed and a temporary mirror attached to the mirror arm. We ate lunch in our motorhome and then headed west. After an hour Ken called and asked that Doreen drive his motorhome. We stopped and Doreen went over.
Highway 16 follows the Skeena River. There were snow capped mountains on both sides of the valley. The sight made up for all the problems we had. We drove a 168 miles and stayed in Terrace.
Doreen was very proud of herself. She drove that big box on the road, through gas stations and side roads. We have 100 more miles to go to Prince Rupert. If we have no more problems, that will be an easy task.
We had a pleasant drive from Terrace to Prince Rupert. It took us about two and a half hours. On the way we stopped at a scenic overview for picture taking. A young couple arrived at the same time. They had an Alaskan Malemute, a beautiful big dog. Of course, the creature got a lot of loving from our group.
We also stopped in Port Edward for a short time, all the tourist attractions are still closed.
In Prince Rupert we went to the Ferry Landing and then went to the RV Park which is only three minutes from there.
Prince Rupert is the biggest city we have seen since we crossed the border. There is a lot of tourist activity already. We went to the Cow Bay are and the women went shopping for awhile. We also stopped for Fish and Chips. On the way back to the RV Park we stopped at the Totem Pole Park.
Prince Rupert is worth a stop. We could have done more if we had a car, but we managed by using our motorhome.
The ferry leaves at 9:00 AM tomorrow morning. It takes Ken, Jean, and Doreen 16 hours to get to Port Hardy on Vancouver Island. We all have been there before but everybody is in love with Victoria, and they want to visit it again. They will go home via Port Angeles, in Washington State.
I will head back to Kitwanga and go North on the Cassiar Highway. I will encounter some unpaved portion of the highway. The motorhome looks like I was coming from the Cassiar. It is gray from the rain we encountered in Oregon, Washington and Southern British Columbia. Nobody would guess that I have a blue bicycle, it is gray also.
My biggest concern is getting gasoline on the Cassiar. The highway is open but a lot of commercial places are not open until the beginning of May. They had the same snowstorm three weeks ago as the rest of Northern British Columbia.
I probably will send this report tomorrow, and I have a feeling it will take some time before I get a chance to send another.
Last night I almost fried the converter again. I think, since I am retired, my brain is retired too. I finally figured out why I burned the wires. First of all, running the electric heater all night at 1500 Watts is too much for the wiring of a motorhome. To make it worse, I had the heater facing the converter and that poor fan in the converter worked overtime to get rid of the heat. Hopefully this is the last stupid trick I play.
I can not afford to goof up now, since I am by myself and Ken is on the ferry. It is better for a trip like this to go in two vehicles. As it looks right now I will be on the Cassiar highway alone. The few people who are in the Campground here in Prince Rupert ,are going to the Islands. Most of them are tour guides and camp hosts.
I checked the mileage for the longest stretch between gas stations, it is 207 miles. With the five gallons in the Blitz gas can I can travel 230 miles under normal conditions. In that stretch are 60 miles of gravel.
Today is a super day, blue sky and in the sun it feels like summer. I decided to stay another day and walked into town to go sightseeing. A trail from the campground goes through a forest and joins the highway just before town. It took me 45 minutes to go to Cow Bay on the other end of the city.
I went to the visitor center and ask about the weather for the next few days. Since there are no clouds they predicted more cold nights. On the way home I went to Safeway and bought some oranges, they cost $1.00 a piece.
Last night it was cold again. At 3:00 AM I slipped in bed with Doreen. She has a feather bed on top and bottom and had two big blankets on top. This felt comfortable. Now this bed is mine tonight.
Everybody tells me that we were lucky to have sunny days in Prince Rupert. It is the city with the most rain in Canada. I had checked out again the wires on the converter and relieved my stuffed clothing closet by transferring clothing to Doreen's closet. I removed the chairs and the table from the ladder in the back of the motorhome and cleaned them and put them on my bed, which is above the cab.
The propane tank is full, the motorhome runs good, I am ready for the Cassiar Highway. This morning when I left Prince Rupert the sun was still shining. The
snow on the mountains looked like glazing on a cake when the sun shone on it.
Since it is a Saturday there was more traffic. During the 80 mile drive to Terrace, ten vehicles passed me, and about ten passed me from the opposite direction. Most of them had boats with them. I saw a lot of people fishing along the Skeena River.
I passed again the avalanche area and took a better look at the two places where the snow had ripped a path down the mountain to the road. Some of the snow is still there. Tomorrow morning I will leave for Steward, it is about 200 miles from Terrace. This is the easy part of the Casiar, the second leg has 60 miles which are not paved.
Since the nice lady at the RV Park office lets me use the telephone line I better send my E mail today. I never know when I get another chance.
Yesterday, after I went and got my E mail, I took my bicycle and rode it to the river, a few miles west of town. Many people were fishing, some from boats and some stood in the river. As I could see nobody was catching anything.
At 8:00 AM this morning I was on the road heading east to Kitwanga. There I filled up the fuel tank and then went on the Cassiar, highway 37. I stopped at Gitanyow. Gitanyow has the largest concentration of original totem poles. In Prince Rupert they are placed throughout the city, and they are replicas.
I learned that the totem poles have no religious significance, they are representing the clan, just like in Europe the coat of arms. Later on, while driving, I saw a black object on the left side of the road. First I thought it was a tire, but when I came closer it moved. I slowed down and came face to face with a bear. He only looked at me.
Last week we saw on two occasions bald eagles on the side of the road. That was quite an experience, it is totally different then seeing them at the zoo.
At Meziadin Junction I stopped and had lunch. Doreen left some Tofu cheese. I made a sandwich with the stuff and had some soup. The cheese tasted just like regular Kraft slices. Under the cheese were two small marzipan bars. Thank you, Doreen.
From the junction I went west on 37A to Steward. All RV Parks are still closed. I kept on going and went to Hyder, Alaska. The same story there. Even the road to the Salmon Glacier is closed because of snow.
I turned around and headed again for Steward. The lady at the Canadian customs house came out and said:" You did not buy anything". She had seen me make a U turn in the middle of town. 102 people live in Hyder, 650 in Steward. Since Hyder is only accessible through Steward, their currency is Canadian.
I went back to Steward and stopped at the RV Park. They will open in two weeks. But they told me the Park in Hyder might let me stay since they will open on May 1st.
So I went back to Hyder. There were three men standing on the side of the
road in the middle of town. I asked them whether the Camp-Run-A-Muck is open. They told me that it is still snowed in. One of them told me to park right here next to the store. The store will not open for another month.
I got the laundry bag out and stuffed some of my laundry in the outside shower box, to protect the water lines from frost.
Today was another pleasant day, blue sky and warm. The contrast of the white mountains and the blue sky is fantastic. The Bear Glacier is another highlight of the day. I waited for it to calve, but I think it is not warm enough for that. Tomorrow on the way back I will stop again.
It was a cold night. I jumped out of my warm bed this morning and turned on the furnace, and went back under the covers. After 15 minutes I got up, turned off the furnace and turned on my Coleman propane heater.
At the Canadian customs office the same lady was there. I told her that I found a place to stay. We talked for a few minutes and I headed east. At the Bear Glacier I took another picture, with the sun shining in the Glacier.
I enjoyed the drive along the Bear River and through the valley with high mountains on both sides. Fraser Canyon was fantastic, but I think the drive from Hyder to Meziadin Junction will be the highlight of this trip. I did not like the "Avalanche Area" signs though.
When I turned north on the Cassiar Highway I noticed that is was narrower than the southern portion. Soon I came to the section which was not paved. I could see a dust cloud in the distance. It was a large truck approaching me. The trucks do not slow down. I took it easy and drove 30 to 35 miles an hour. I wonder how this works in the summer with more traffic. I encountered only four trucks.
This lasted for about five miles. Later on another section lasted about 50 miles. It was not as bad as I had envisioned, but I was glad when the road was smooth again. I still had to look for pot holes, the big ones are marked with signs on the side of the road, but they missed some, I know. I ended up in Dease Lake. The owner of the gas station let me park on his property.
I left the gas station at 8:00 AM, after thanking the old man for letting me stay there. He, his dog and his cat are there from 7:00 AM to 9:00 PM.
As soon as I was out of town I saw two bald eagles. Later on I saw what I thought were deer, on the highway and on the side of the highway. As I came closer they turned out to be caribous. I stopped and went to get my camera. When I got in position I saw their backsides disappear in the forest.
When I arrived at the junction of the Alaska Highway and the Cassiar, I prepared lunch and filled up the gas tank.
The Alaska Highway so far is a lot better than what I expected. It is wide, has shoulders and a yellow stripe in the center an white stripes on the sides. Compared to the Cassiar this is a pleasure to drive on. There are some problems with frost and the holes are marked with red flags.
I tried to make it to Teslin because one RV Park was supposed to open May 1st. When I got there I was told that it is still too wet to let vehicles in. I overheard a couple taking about a RV Park at Johnson's Crossing. It advertises that it is open all year. I went there and got a site with electricity. The sewers and the water do not work yet. I was able to fill the water tank from the faucet at the side of the house.
Of course that water after use goes in the holding tanks, and they have to be emptied in a few days
The shower that I wanted to enjoy today has to wait. The shower rooms have no water and without a chance to empty the tanks I can not take a shower in the motorhome. Whitehorse is only 80 miles from here
It was very windy when I left Johnson's Crossing. When I arrived at Whitehorse there were dark clouds n the sky and it looked like it would rain any minute. I found one RV Park which was open. They had electricity and sewers, but no water.
I decided to go to the city first before paying for a site. At the Shell gas station I noticed a sign saying free sewer dump with a fill up. Since I was there filling up I took advantage of that, and emptied the holding tanks. From there I went to the Elks Lodge and checked whether they have camping facilities. They had none and did not invite me to stay at their parking lot because it was Bingo Night and they needed every parking space. I left the motorhome there and walked to the SS Klondike, which is a museum now.
When I came back I drove to the Walmart and did some grocery shopping. There were two motorhomes, the people had stayed there overnight. I talked to them and the were just heading north. It was 12:00 noon and I changed my mind, instead of going back to the RV Park and sit there all day I headed north too. It had turned cold and it was no weather for sightseeing. Yesterday it was 80 degrees F and I had a hard time falling asleep. It is still light outside at 10:00 PM and at 5:00 AM the sun comes up.
After an hour driving it started to rain and in the higher elevation the rain turned to snow. There was no stopping, I had to get to Haines Junction. To make it worse the refrigerator door came open. I stopped and closed it, but at the next turn it was open again. I forgot about Duct Tape and instead took some stuff out which pushed the door open.
I made it safely to Haines Junction and there was one RV Park open. I met several people again, I had seen them the last few days at different places. The people from the Walmart were there too. They will be Camp Hosts at Denali National Park from June to August. The woman was very excited that they got the job. I took a shower and then fixed the refrigerator latch.
I was under the impression that the Alaska Highway is completely paved, was I wrong.
I got out of Haines Junction and hit the gravel road. Gravel is OK, but this was gravel with washboard, and deep washboard. The four foot blind over the dinette came down, the screws ripped out of the wall. It was ten miles of fun. A paved section rotated with another gravel section.
Along Kluane Lake is was bitter cold and the road was icy I had planned to come back this way again instead of going the Top of the World Highway. That highway has a gravel section too. I will come back the Top of the World Highway now, it can not be worse than what I experienced today.
When I came across the border the first 60 miles were really good and then the frost heaves popped up. One has to have the eyes on the road all the time, some of those holes are very deep.
Now I have to remove the Canadian Dollars from my billfold and put the green backs back, the same goes for the change. There was one RV Park open in Tok and the people I met before were there too. The shower rooms at the park were super clean and warm and not coin operated.
Last night was the coldest night so far. I woke up at 3:30 AM and it was 32 degrees F in the motorhome. It must have been 22 degrees outside. I worried about the water pipes and turned on the furnace for an hour. Then I turned on the electric heater. I was lucky, no water problems.
The ride from Tok to Valdez was terrific, a good road and fabulous scenery. I stopped at the Worthington Glacier and the Horsetail and Bridal Veil Falls.
The motorhome was airborne twice when I hit unmarked dips in the road. The road runs parallel to the Trans Alaska Pipeline. Part of the pipeline runs above ground. The support columns act like air conditioners, they keep the ground from thawing.
The RV Park in Valdez is next to the small boat harbor. Still no water and sewer connection, but electricity and cable, and showers. The dump station works and fresh water is at a faucet next to the house. Valdez is surrounded by mountains.
I walked along the small boat harbor and then walked through town. I like it here, I think I stay a few days.
This was a super day. I got up at 7:00 AM, made pancakes and then went outside to talk to the handyman who is cleaning the picnic tables and wheels them to the camp sites which are free from snow. I found out that I could have slept another hour. Alaska is not on Pacific Time.
Later I went to the office and paid for another day and to inquire about the six hour boat trip to the pipeline terminal and the Columbia Glacier.
This morning clouds had moved in and I was worried about the weather.
The lady at the RV Park called and was told that the weather will be worse on Monday when the next trip is scheduled.
So I bought the ticket and asked her how much a telephone call to Anchorage would cost. She called the telephone company and found out. Then I asked her whether I could hook my computer into her telephone line. She agreed and I got my E mail.
The boat left at 12:00 noon and after we left the small boat harbor they served lunch. We were seven passengers, there were 143 empty seats on the boat, a lot of room to move about. First we went to the terminal, where two large tankers were loaded. A million barrels leave Valdez every day.
After the Exxon Valdez disaster there were many safety precautions installed. A tanker is accompanied by two tug boats, in case a problem should arise. They follow the tanker 76 miles to the open sea.
Valdez is in a fjord, with a narrow opening to the Prince William Sound. We saw bald eagles, mountain goats and bears and stellar sea lions. The captain was always on the look out for wildlife, and when he saw something he slowed down the vessel so we got a good look. Sea Otters and their young were sitting on the icebergs.
When we came close to the glacier the icebergs got bigger and there were hundreds of them, some were a beautiful blue color. The clouds had disappeared and it was a good day for a cruise.
When we came back I walked into town where they had a Cinco de Mayo celebration. For ten dollars one could eat as much food as one wanted. I saw a lot of sombreros and Mexican costumes, but no Mexicans. I saw the RV Park owner at the party, she was in charge of one of the booths. I went back to the park and washed the motorhome, a few minutes later she came too, she did not say anything though.
Another motorhome had arrived and a van with a tent. I was not alone anymore. At 11:00 PM the sun disappears, at 5:00 AM it is daylight again.
This was a lazy day. I went to the drug store and bought some post cards. I called Doreen and she was driving through Los Angeles. She was almost
home. I took another walk in the small boat harbor. They call 50 foot boats
small. Most of the boats are motorboats, but there are some beautiful sailboats too.
Across the street from the RV Park are large trees, in one of those trees are three bald eagles, sitting on bare branches.
I disconnected the power and the cable and went to the dump station and emptied the tanks and filled the fresh water tank. I am ready to take off tomorrow morning.
The street cleaner woke me up at 5:00 AM. Valdez is a clean town.
Since I was awake I stayed up and got ready. At 6:30 AM I was on the road. Going back over the coastal mountains I experienced snow, rain ,and blue sky, depending on the altitude at the time. I arrived at Anchorage at 1:30 PM.
I left Anchorage at 7:00 AM after I checked my E mail at the office. Since I had a local Telephone number for Juno it was rather easy.
The Milepost calls the Seward Highway the most scenic highway in Alaska, I agree. The road follows the water of the Cook Inlet and then goes up the Chugach Mountains. Seward is a small, beautiful city, like Valdez, surrounded by snow covered mountains.
I am staying at the Waterfront Park, across the water are the high mountains. The Park is a city park. It is the first place where the water faucet works, Everything is thawed out. I had a nice talk with my neighbor. They are not 40 yet, they sold their house and all their belongings and bought a big motorhome. They work as they go along. In two weeks they start as security guards for one of the cruise lines, for $ 14.00 an hour. They just came up from Imperial Beach, where they stayed for the winter and did all the San Diego tourist things.
They have been here for two weeks and he has figured out where to get the best deals in town, like free videos at the library.
After talking to him I went by bicycle to town and did some grocery shopping and then walked to the library to check out their computers. I came at they right time, two were available and I sent Doreen an E mail, and checked my Yahoo E mail account.
Yesterday, on the way to Anchorage, I stopped at a Pipeline Viewing Area. I could actually walk up to the pipeline. There are visual aides on big boards, explaining how the system works. The two posts and the crossbar are insulated and also work as refrigerators. The posts have fins on top which dissipate the heat. The oil enters the pipeline at 130 degrees F and enters the tankers when it is still 100 degrees F.
In the mountains the pipeline is under ground because of avalanche danger. There the pipes are insulated.
While writing this I watch the boats coming to the harbor and leaving the harbor
I went this morning by bicycle to the Kenai Fjords National Park Visitor Center and got some information about Denali National Park. They called Denali and I was told that the park is open and I can drive in up to mile 30, since the buses are not running yet. I also found out that the Alaska Heritage Center in Anchorage will open May 12th. This is good news.I will leave Seward tomorrow and head for Homer and then on the 12th go back to Anchorage.
While at the visitor center I saw a wonderful slide show about the park and this region.
Later on I walked to the Alaska SeaLife Center. It is a research, rehabilitation and education center, established with some of the money paid by Exxon for the oil spill. It was fun watching the puffins fly through the water. Several high schools were there and the kids had to take notes from the displays.
They have tanks with glass sides so one can see the fishes, birds and other sea creatures.
Then I went to the library, checked for E mail and read some of the magazines.
All that work made me hungry, I went home and cooked a spaghetti dinner. My neighbor had some good news, besides the job as security guards, they also were asked by the city to become camp hosts, which means they can camp for free.
The 160 mile drive from Seward to Homer was fine. There was a little fog in the mountains, but as soon as I came to lower elevations there was blue sky. I stopped at Sodotna, at the Fred Meyer store. A lady had told me that they sell mosquito suits. I wanted to buy one for Doreen, since mosquitoes love her. Unfortunately they had none. I ended up buying groceries and oranges, ten pounds for $ 9.99. The last 100 miles was on flat roads, no mountains. This surprised me, I have seen pictures of Homer with mountains in the background. I found out there are mountains, but they are across the Kachemak Bay.
I stopped at a RV Park on the Homer Spit, the Spit is a narrow piece of land reaching into the bay. The Spit is seven miles long, I know, I wrote my bicycle to the library in town, which added another mile.
There are boat yards, the ferry and cruise ships stop here and there are shops on stilts, the boardwalk is about ten feet above ground. It looks rather nice.
The charge for the campsite is $15.00, beginning tomorrow it will be $21.50, that is when the season starts. I talked the lady in to give me two days for $30.00. The customer behind me wanted to make reservations for the summer, they were completely booked. Caravans and other large groups book one year ahead.
Homer calls itself the Halibut City of the World. They catch 350 pounds halibut here.
The lady in the office took her little dog for a walk and passed my motorhome. She told me she does not feel right with all those eagles looking down at her dog from the trees and lampposts. She also told me that the old lady in the compound of four old trailers feeds the eagles.
She was right, all those eagles sitting around, came down in late afternoon, on the side of one trailer. They were hovering around on the ground, fighting for the food the old lady threw over the fence. It was quite a sight. There were at least 20 eagles on the ground and some in the air and on posts.
At 9:00 PM I took a walk on the beach and then went to the harbor where hundreds of private and charter boats are moored. With the sixteen-mile bicycle ride and the walk I slept pretty good.
I went to the library and checked my E mail and then went for a long walk on the Spit. I entered some of the stores and had some nice conversations with the people working there. Most of the stores are getting organized for the season.
The Shorebird Festival started today. There were many groups of people walking around with binoculars in hand. Tomorrow the Wooden Boat Festival starts. Homer lives of tourism, of course fishing is the big thing here.
When I got up this morning and looked outside, I was surprised. The RV park was almost full. There were even some tents near the beach. I had gone to bed at ten, they must have come later. When I drove along the Spit I noticed a lot of motorhomes on the public land too.
On the highway I had a lot oncoming traffic, all Alaska license plates. Many cars pulled boats.
The plan was to go to Soldotna, which is 60 miles from Homer. When I arrived there I went to Fred Meyers and did some grocery shopping and filled up the gas tank, they have the best gasoline prices.
The weather was just too nice to sit in a small town. I drove to the Portage Glacier Visitor Center and looked at the exhibits. There was a movie playing 30 minutes later. So I went to the motorhome and prepared lunch and after lunch I saw “Voices of the Ice” a movie about glaciers. It was very interesting and one could ask questions after the show. The ranger had ice worms in a jar. There are worms living on the glaciers.
Now I was only 46 miles from Anchorage and figured I might as well keep on going. When I got to the RV park I took the sheets and pillows of the bed and got the rest of the laundry and put them in the washing machines in the laundry room and I took a shower.
Later on I talked to the man from Georgia who came up the Alaska Highway a few days earlier than I. He had two broken head lights on his car, the hinges on the toilet door in the motorhome were broken and the left side of the motorhome had a lot of stone damage. He had written to the Yukon government. In seven years coming up to Alaska he had never experienced such bad road conditions. I heard that from other people too. He is staying every year for five months. One month he spends on a reservation doing medical work as a volunteer. He had cooled down and gave me some tips for when I go to Denali.
I left the Anchorage RV Park and Resort at 8:50 AM and went across the highway to the Alaska Native Heritage Center. I was the first guest of the season. Since it was mothers day they charged only one dollar. This gives me $16.00 more for gasoline. Gasoline is my biggest expense.
It took me three hours to take the tour of the facility, watch the dances, listen to the storyteller, see a short movie and come along for a guided tour. Five Eskimo tribes participate at the center.
I had lunch at the parking lot and then took off for Denali National Park.
I drove two hours and left the main highway; I took a fourteen-mile detour to Talkeetna. A couple I met at the boat tour in Valdez had told me about this town. Talkeetna is a small tourist town, with a few shops and many rafting outfits and sightseeing flight companies.
Before I got to town I stopped at an overlook. Mt. McKinley, or Denali as the Alaskan people would like to call it, was right in front of me, all 20,320 feet of it. No clouds covered the top; it was a beautiful sight.
Today was another blue-sky day, it was very warm and the snow on the ground is taking a beating.
There is only on campground, a river park, no hookups. Since it is so beautiful I decided to stay. For excitement I walked to town and had an ice-cream.
I left home exactly four weeks ago. In that time I have seen hundreds of signs of a moose, I have seen signs saying:” Give a moose a brake, roadkill: 255 moose have been killed this winter and I had not seen one.
This changed today, I saw a moose and its calf on the side of the highway, trying to get across. The calf was actually cute, mama was ugly.
I also saw the first mosquito, I hope it is the last one for a while.
Next to the campground is a small airport. When I got up and looked out the window I saw blue sky again. After breakfast I drove to the airport and inquired about a flight up Mt. McKinley. The first flight was scheduled for 10:00 AM. I booked and waited in the motorhome for two hours.
We took off in a little Cessna equipped with skis. Getting into the air was kind of shaky. I had to think about Pete Shurko’s father. He crashed in a Cessna. As soon as we were up it felt fine. There was not a cloud in the sky, and visibility was 150 miles. We went through canyons and I had the feeling the wings would touch the mountains. We came down at the Don Sheldon Amphitheater, a giant glacier.
When we got out is was absolutely quiet. A couple from Indiana was also on the plane, and they were also in awe of this experience.
I will not complain about the cold anymore. People were actually camping on the glacier. They fly in and either have snow shoes or cross country skis, and some pull a little sled with supplies.
After the flight I had lunch and then went on the road. After three hours I arrived at Denali National Park. I went to the visitor center and got some information. There is a campground near the visitor center, but no hook ups. The next commercial campground is 12 miles further north. I decided to stay since I still have water.
After dinner I got on my bicycle and checked at the store and other places for water. All the faucets are dry and the dump stations do not work either. Since it is warmer they will be turned on this week.
I tried to use the generator, and it started but I have no electricity. The switch in the converter makes funny noises. I had planned to use the microwave oven, but had to change the menu. The microwave oven works fine when the motorhome is hooked up. The last time the generator was used was in Smithers, when Ken and I fixed the wires in the converter. We run the generator to be able to use the electric heater.
Today I would like to be at home. Doreen is having visitors, friends of mine from Chicago. She made beef rouladen, red cabbage and mash potatoes, a meal to die for.
I got up at 5:00 AM and ate a fast breakfast and took off for the Denali Park Road. The first 15 miles were paved, then came gravel with an oil coat. After one mile I gave up and turned around. I saw no animals and figured with the snow on the side of the road there is no reason for them to be there. Usually they eat the grass on the side of the road. I went back and took my old campsite and went back to bed.
After my second breakfast I went to the Visitor Center, watched the slide show and looked at the exhibits.
I found out that the tour buses start running tomorrow, but they can only go to mile 30. The shuttle buses start running on the 25th. I went back to the motorhome and ate lunch. Then I put on my hiking boots and went to Horseshoe Lake. It was a five-mile round trip. Beavers created the lake. Those industrious creatures made the dams. After that hike I was ready for a nap.
I am there; I am at the halfway point, from now on it will be going towards home. It took me about 2½ hours from Denali National Park to Fairbanks. The drive was uneventful, one moose stood on the side of the road and looked at me. I had stopped and we looked at each other.
The whole countryside looked different, no snow around Fairbanks. They had a mild winter and very little snow. I did not expect that since I went farther north. It is very warm here right now.
My first stop in Fairbanks was the Elks Lodge. They have plenty of room. I filled up my water tank and went looking for a RV Park. The man I had talked to was right. Because of the wet ground they will open up on Memorial Day. My next stop was Alaskaland Pioneer Park, a mixture of museum, gold rush town, and a big stern wheeler, the largest built west of the Mississippi. There is also an air museum and a train going around the park. In the evening there are saloon shows from the mining days. For the kids they have a carousel and other means of entertainment.
I went back to the Elks and paid my ten dollars and hooked up the electricity. I was told that I am welcome to use the shower. I liked that. I had planned to turn on the hot water heater and take a shower. While in town I had found a Texaco station with a dump station. Now I do not have to go there tomorrow, I can wait until I leave Fairbanks.
I took a shower, took a nap and then cooked my dinner. At the lodge they had steak night, $10.00 per meal. This is a bargain for Alaska, but I did not feel like eating a big steak.
After breakfast I bicycled to the Visitor and Information Center, the Log Cabin. I got a good map of Fairbanks and a lot of information. Since I will stay here for a while, I might as well be prepared.
Then I took the motorhome to the library and checked my E mail and wrote Doreen a note. From there I called Dawson City and was informed that the ice of the Yukon River is breaking up and the ferry might be able, in the middle of next week, to bring vehicles across the river. I will call them back on Monday.
It will take me about three days to get there, but I do not like to be there to early, since I have more fun in Fairbanks.
I finally found some good bread at Safeway; it comes from a German bakery in Canada. They had two loafs , and I should have bought both of them.
From the library I went to the University of Alaska Museum. It was very interesting and I learned a lot about Alaska, the people of Alaska and about gold and other resources. Besides English there are 20 other languages spoken. One lady is the last member of her tribe and she has nobody to talk to in her language.
In the afternoon I walked downtown and looked for a cyber café to send this report. I found one, $4.00 for 30 minutes or a purchase of $ 4.00. I guess I have breakfast there tomorrow morning.
The temperature was 73 degrees F today. There were a lot of people in shorts. Children in Fairbanks schools stay outside during recess until the temperature drops to -20 degrees F; they do not raise sissies here.
Got a big surprise last night. I was dental flossing my teeth when I heard something running outside. When I looked through the window; I saw three moose running through the parking lot toward down town.
The motorhome is standing parallel with the Chena River. I jumped out the motorhome and saw the moose swimming to the other side of the river. There are only houses there and I did not find out what happened to them.
This morning I walked to the Internet Café and had breakfast. This gave me free Internet access. I was not successful sending my trip report, because just like at the library, I could not get to the 3½ inch drive.
I went back to the lodge and told the bartender about my problem and he told me to use his telephone line.
At 2:00 PM I took a cruise on the Riverboat Discovery. We went on the Chena River and the Tanana River.
On the way the captain stopped the boat at the sled dog kennels of Susan Butcher. Susan won the Iditarod four times. Her husband stood at the shore and talked to tour director via the intercom. The dogs are huskies, but not all the same color or with blue eyes.
We got off the boat at Chena Village. Athabascan Indian guides told us about the survival techniques the natives have used for thousands of years. Dixie Alexander, renowned Athabascan bead work artist, showed us some of her work. She has one of her parkas at the Smithsonian Museum.
We met some of the sled dogs and saw a team perform over wood chips. Only voice commands are used to steer the team. The dogs are the gentlest creatures.
There were three other motorhomes at the parking lot. I thought that would not pay for the fuel for the boat. 15 minutes before departure six Princess Tours buses arrived. We were about 300 people on the boat. The boat can handle 900 passengers.
The tour lasted 3½ hours and it was fun..
I bicycled to Creamer’s Field, outside of town. It is a refuge for migratory birds. At the moment there are sand hill cranes and geese.
Creamer,s Field was the Creamer Dairy, with a lot of flat land for the cows to graze on. The birds use it as a stop over on the way North.
The Alaska Fish and Game Department had open house and there were booths from Ducks Unlimited, Search and Rescue, fishing clubs, hunting clubs, and other outdoor type organizations. The Boy Scouts sold Hot Dogs. There was a fishing pond where the kids could try their luck. There was also a shotgun range.
It looked like the children had a lot of fun and learned about the environment at the same time. It was rather warm and I wish I had worn my shorts.
In Fairbanks we have 19 hours daylight and it gets longer every day. The nights are not really dark, one can still see without artificial light. I will not be able to see the Northern Lights. People told me to come back in January, no thank you.
Spring arrived yesterday. At 8:30 PM I took a walk along the Chena River and all the trees had suddenly leaves. It sure looked different than in the morning. The temperature in the evening was still 79 degrees F. This must have been a record for that day.
The Elks parking lot was filled to capacity. People were sitting at the large deck, having dinner and watching the boats go by. Some people came by boat.
Today I bicycled across town to the Safeway store and to the library. Now I am getting ready for the Top of the World Highway.
I left Fairbanks at 7:30 AM this Morning. Since the Lodge let me use their telephone line again; I did not have to go to the library at 10:00 AM.
When I arrived at Delta Junction I called the Visitor and Information office in Dawson City. They told me the ferry is in service. Since it was only 10:00 AM, I decided to go further, to Tok.
At the gas station in Tok I talked to somebody and was told that there is hardly any traffic on the highway to Chicken. I knew there would be 40 miles of gravel road and I was worried about the windshield. I rather go early in the morning to beat the traffic. Since it was only 12:30 PM and I felt still pretty good I took off for Chicken.
The first 24 miles were paved, with every two miles a washout. Since I was alone on the road I could take my time. When the section with gravel came, there was a pilot car, which the two vehicles in front of me and I had to follow. The pilot car guided us for ten miles and then took the waiting group on the other side back
I slowed down for a while and let the vehicles in front of me disappear. The 40 miles of gravel were smooth, so far no wash board. I arrived at Chicken at 3:00 PM and went to the little community, three buildings plus the post office up the hill. Mail comes by airplane every Tuesday and Friday, weather permitting.
The three buildings are a tourist store, a bar, and a restaurant. After I walked through the store and nobody showed up; I left. They probably knew I would not buy anything.
I drove another half mile and there was a gas station with a little store and a small camp ground. I did very well for today and stopped and took a camp site, no hook ups, only a picnic bench. The gas was $ 2.00 a gallon and the camp site $9.00.
I was handed a pan and the lady showed me the pile of dirt next to the river. She gave me a few pointers and after I parked the motorhome at the site; I went gold panning. The family has a gold mine on the premises.
When I got hungry I stopped and prepared my dinner. Later on I went back and tried some more. I could not even find a tiny piece of gold. I think they want to get rid of that pile of dirt and not start up the giant earth movers they have standing around. They use free labor, namely tourists.
I left Chicken at 5:15 AM to make sure I was alone on that highway. The road was a little worse as before but I managed. I arrived at the border at 7:45 AM. At 8:00 AM the Canadian customs lady removed the orange cones from the road and let me through. She asked me about fire arms, but not about apples, so I did not have to lie. This time I would have not thrown any apples away. I think it is stupid.
The Canadian part of the highway was in good shape. There were some soft spots.
This was the day for moose, they were in the middle of the road and on the side of the road. They feed on the new leaves of some of the bushes. There were also some caribou, by the way, they are the same as reindeer. The difference is, the reindeers are domesticated.
At 10:00 AM when I got to the ferry, I only had to wait three minutes, the ferry had just come across the Yukon River.
I went to the RV Park in town. When I arrived there the lady told me they are not open, the water is frozen and there is no electricity. When I pointed to the two motorhomes at the camp sites she told me if I want to park there it is OK with her. There is no charge. The first thing I did after going to a site, was to climb on top of the motorhome and clean the solar panels.
It was a good decision to take the Top of the World Highway. The highway was better than the Alaska Highway after Haines Junction and I had an experience. Now I know why the highway has its name. I must have been able to see more than a hundred miles.
After lunch I walked into town and did some sightseeing. There are some
beautiful homes from the gold rush time, when Dawson City was the capital of the Yukon.
At 7:00 PM I went to the Diamond Tooth Gerties Gambling Hall and Can Can Show and left a Donation on the quarter machines. I had bought tickets when I arrived at Dawson City for the Gaslight Follies at the Palace Grand Theater for 8:30 PM. One thinks that they can not fill up a theater when one looks around in town, but the big busses come from the cruise lines. Most people wore badges from the Holland-American Line.
This morning I did the out of town stuff. I drove up to the 4,048 foot King Solomon Dome. From there one has a 360 degree view of the Klondike and Yukon valley and the entire region. The two rivers meet in Dawson City.
Then I drove to Dredge #4. This monster is sitting in the Bonanza Creek,
the creek where the Klondike Gold Rush started. It used to be called Rabbit Creek. Men started with pans to search for gold. Then came the sluicers, where the miners dug deeper and filled the sluicer to look for the gold. The ultimate tool was the dredge. It could dig up the gravel in the river up to 16 feet deep, wash the gravel and separate the gold and dispose of the gravel at the other end.
I drove the eight miles along the creek to the dredge. Along the way I saw many pieces of equipment, like steam boilers, generators, pumps and so on. They are all rusted and were left when things did not work out. More fortunes were lost than made at the quest for gold.
Back in town I checked my E mail at the library. The computer was very slow and 30 minutes just fly by. I left town at 12:30 PM and arrived at Whitehorse at 7:30 PM. Since I knew where the Walmart was; I just went there instead of looking for a RV Park.
The last time I came through Whitehorse it was cool during the day and the trees were bare. Now everything is green and the lakes are blue and turquoise.
I arrived at the US Custom station at eight o'clock. The officer had a hard time believing that I was alone and asked me if I could open the side door. He came into the motorhome and opened the toilet door and looked around.
When I came close to the White Pass I encountered heavy fog. When I arrived at Skagway it still was foggy.
I took a site at the RV Park between the cruise ship dock and the railroad station, and then walked over to the station and bought a ticked for the White Pass Summit. This is the route thousands of prospectors took to get to the gold fields. They had to carry 1,000 pounds of supplies, one year worth of food, over the pass.
The railroad made it easier and it was an instant financial success. I could have taken the train which left in five minutes, but chose the 1:00 PM train instead. It was a good decision. The fog lifted and is was sunny with some white clouds.
The train worked itself up to 2,800 feet. In some areas there was not much soil on the side of the tracks, down to the valley.
After the train ride I walked around town. There were three cruise ships in the harbor and a lot of people in the street and in the stores. Doreen would have had a ball and I would have had to watch her navigating the wooden sidewalks. Last time she had a broken rib.
At the library I signed the computer schedule for 1:30 PM tomorrow. I hope it is faster than a snail.
After breakfast I walked to the new cruise ship and talked to some of the people coming down the ramp. They were heading for the stores, and there are plenty of them. Practically every house is a store. It is very well done though, it looks
clean and with the mountains surrounding the town it is beautiful.
Then I got on my bicycle and went to the gold rush cemetery, 1-1/2 miles out of town. Soapy Smith, the villain of the town, is buried there, so is the town hero who killed him and died 12 days later of the gun shot wounds he received during the fight.
At 12:00 o'clock I went to he Elks Lodge for Senior Lunch. After lunch I walked across the street to the library ad checked my E mail and sent Doreen a note.
All afternoon I walked around town, practiced my German and had an ice cream. I stopped by at the National Park Visitor Center and watched a movie and a slide show of the gold rush and asked the ranger about the Klondike and about dredging
All three RV Parks in Skageway are almost filled up. In this park is one caravan from Eastern Canada, about twenty units, and German visitors in rented motorhomes.
Tomorrow morning I will go over the coastal mountains on more time and head for the Alaska Highway near Whitehorse. It will be a driving day since I covered that part of the highway when I came North.
I left Skagway at 8:00 AM and when I arrived at the White Pass the sky was still blue. On the way to Skagway I had heavy fog.
This was a driving day . I made it all the way to Watson Lake. At the gas station I asked somebody where the library was. It was just across the street. I got there at 4:30 and they were closing . The lady was nice enough to let me on the computer for six minutes.
The Downtown RV Park was in the next block and I went there and got a site. The location of the park is in walking distance of the Northern Lights Centre and the Sign Post Forest.
At 6:30 PM I went to the Northern Lights Centre for a show. It is a theater in the round. The back of the chairs are very low, it is almost like laying there and looking at the ceiling. The show explained the Northern lights and showed beautiful pictures of some of the occurrences.
I could not believe what I saw at the Sign Post Forest. Street signs and town signs and other signs from all over the world. I could not miss the yellow Swiss and German town signs. Those are the signs at either end of cities and towns. People must steal them and bring them to Watson Lake.
There are plenty from Canada and the US too. There are about 50,000 signs.
After a shower I joined my neighbors from London, Ontario for a long chat. We sat in front of the motorhome and tried to solve the problems of the world. At 10:00 PM I was tired and went in.
This was a super, duper day. It was supposed to be a driving day but turned into a fun day.
My neighbor had told me about the road construction site just south of Watson Lake. When I woke up at 5:00 AM I ate breakfast and quietly took off. There were seven miles of road repair. They just bulldozed a new temporary road next to the highway. It was dusty but smooth.
The first thing that got my attention was a black bear trying to cross the road. I slowed down and waited. But he looked at me and went back to the woods.
Before I came to Liard River Hotsprings Provincial Park I saw browns spots at the side of the road. First I thought they were brown bears, but bears do not show up in groups. When I came closer I faced a herd of buffaloes ( American Bison). They were grazing at the side of the road and did not even look up while I was standing there.
I stopped at the hotsprings, it was too early to stay there for the night so I went to the day use area and changed into my bathing suit and went to take a dip.
I also stopped for a while at Muncho Lake. This lake is known for its beautiful green water. The color is caused by copper oxide leaching into the lake.
When I came up the Stone Mountain Summit I saw six Stone Sheep along the highway. I slowed down but could not stop because the side of the road was on one side going up several hundred feet and on the other side down several hundred feet. The highway is very narrow, without shoulders, and curvy. I did not want to get hit from the back, so I slowly kept on driving. There were four adults and two small babies. They must have climbed up the side of the road.
I also saw plenty of deer today.
I arrived at Fort Nelson at 2:00 PM and after a nap, washed one load of clothing and cooked meat sauce for two meals of spaghetti.
Another driving day. I arrived at Fort St. John at 11:00 AM. The library is closed on Monday, the same in Taylor, so I drove to Dawson Creek.
I parked the motorhome at the Visitor Center and walked to Alaska Highway Mile 0. It is a monument in the center of a side street, not actually on the Alaska Highway. I said goodbye to the road which can bring a lot of pleasure but also some pain. Most people start at mile 0, I started at the middle and drove North and came back on Top of the World Highway and went then south.
At 12:45 I was at the library and waited until 1:30 PM to make sure I got a computer.
When I left Dawson Creek it started to rain. Somebody must have liked me and gave me all those sunny days in Alaska and the Yukon. Now I am again in British Columbia and on my way to Alberta.
When I arrived in Prince George it was still raining. I went to a parking lot and took a half hour nap and ate lunch. After that I felt great and since it was still raining; I saw no point in staying in Prince George.
I went on the Yellowhead Highway east, highway 16. The last time we were in Prince George we headed west, towards Prince Rupert.
I stopped in McBride and went right away to the library. The lady asked for a dollar for 30 minutes. This is a bargain compared to Internet Cafes. Most libraries do not charge for using the computer.
After I was done I told the lady that I would not mind paying $ 2.00 if she let me use her telephone line for two minutes. Since I had gotten my E mail already I knew it would not take long to send my mail. She agreed and I brought my computer in and send all the mail I had in the outbox.
The rain had stopped and I went hunting for a rattle under the motorhome.
First I thought it was my bicycle hitting the carrier. A two foot long support bracket, in the back near the bumper, is broken, the weld to the frame was bad. The weld had only burned a little into the frame. A bungee cord is holding it in place now until I get to a welding shop. I also noticed a 1/4 inch nut and lock washer are missing from the bracket which holds the five gallon Blitz Can on the bumper.
Tomorrow I will be in Jasper I hope the clouds disappear over night.
I left McBride under cloudy skies. When I arrived in Jasper at 9:00 AM it was actually 10:00 AM, another time change. The weather had improved. I went straight to the National Park and got a camp site at the Whistler Campground. The site is under large trees but the mountains are still visible.
On the way to the town of Jasper I made the wrong turn and ended up on the road to the tramway. I went all the way up the hill to the parking lot and investigated. The next tram was to leave in twenty minutes. I went to the ticket counter and got a surprise; they did not take my greenbacks. That was the first time that happened. I looked in my pocket and I had enough change for 20 Canadian Dollars. This is not difficult, I had some two dollar coins.
While waiting for the tram I practiced my German again, there are plenty of opportunities. The tram is the same as in Palm Springs, only the sights are different. Some of the lakes are a beautiful green just like in Alaska. And the mountain range is something to see. I would like to come back here and spend a two week vacation.
Jasper is a clean little town, their only income is from tourism. I went to the library and then walked through town. In the evening I started a fire, somebody had left a pile of wood.
I arrived at Lake Louise at 10:30 AM. Highway 93, the Icefield Parkway is one of the most scenic highways in North America. It was breathtaking, the snow covered mountains, the green forest, the green and blue lakes and hundreds of elks on the side of the road. The wonderful weather helps too.
In Lake Louise Village I filled up the gas tank and then went to the National Park Campground and secured a site. The campgrounds are large but fill up fast. Whistler Campground in Jasper has 800 sites and most of them were occupied by 8:00 PM.
I talked to my neighbor, an English lady, and got some information. After lunch I drove to Lake Louise, the lake. It was open since the famous Chateau Lake Louise is on its shore. Moraine Lake was not accessible, the road had not been cleared of snow. There was still some ice on the lake, but it was beautiful. The German tourists were outnumbered by the Japanese though. I have not seen so many
Japanese since Hawaii. They stay in the hotel. I checked the prices and they range from $ 238.00 - 828.00 for a simple room. A suite is from $588.00- 1226.00
Then I went to the National Park Visitor Center and saw a movie about grizzly bears and checked out the displays. Back at the campground I had a long conversation with my English neighbor. She lives in her 21 foot motorhome. The winters she spends near Phoenix, Arizona and the rest of the year she goes where ever the wind blows her. She has children and grandchildren in Ontario, that
is where she lived before her divorce. She is on the road now for eleven years.
In the shower I took first an involuntary ice cold shower. In the next shower stall I heard somebody say something in German and it did not sound nice. I asked him whether the water is warm and he said no, it is not. Then he said he had figured it out, turn the handle to the left and then push the button in the wall. I did that and got a rude awakening. I waited for the water to warm up and finally turned the handle to the left, then it worked.
The drive and sightseeing today were perfect, but my money management today was lousy. First, the ranger at the gate took my $ 20.00 US and gave me back change for $10.00. That was $10..00 down the drain. On the way to the lake I looked for a bank but could not find one. In the afternoon I bought an ice cream and had only $20.00 US. I should have known better. I got Canadian change back. I told the lady that she charged me $6.00 for the ice cream instead of the $2.25. Well that is the exchange rate we give in the store, was the answer. Two times in one day is a little too much. There is no bank in Lake Louise, but a money exchange. I went there and got some Canadian money, she charged me a fee.
I probably have only two days left in Canada and do not want to change it back for another loss. Most stores are very good, but there are exceptions.
I left Lake Louise at 6:00 AM and by 6:45 AM I was over the Continental Divide and out of Banff National Park and out of Alberta. I was once again in British Columbia. By 11:00 AM I crossed the border into Montana. The agent came into the motorhome and checked whether I had somebody with me.
Highway 93 was a pleasure to drive. Near Radium Hot Springs I had to stop because four mountain goats were walking towards me on the road. I let them pass me and kept on driving. There were 20 more resting in the grass one mile down the highway. I saw another black bear and plenty of Elks and deer.
Near Fairmont Hot Springs I stopped at a scenic view area. One could look over the whole valley and the mountain range.
When I walked back to the motorhome I noticed a black puddle under the motorhome, behind the driver door. I thought it was oil but it was gasoline. The fuel line for the generator was worn down again from the movement of the motorhome. The generator is cushioned and moves up and down. That happened last year also. I have to redesign this and give the hose more clearance. I made a temporary fix.
At 2:30 PM I arrived at Kalispell, Montana. I was not tired yet because I had a nap after lunch, but I saw a Elks Lodge while going through town and they have a nice RV Park with water and electricity. I stayed there.
The drive from Kalispell to Missoula on highway 93 was scenic, especially along Flathead Lake.
In Missoula I got on I-90 East to I-15 South. I drove all the way to Idaho Falls, a long drive but I wanted to get to the Elks Lodge there. When I filled up the gas tank, and emptied the holding tanks, at the gas station in Kalispell; I noticed they had a coin operated computer there. I went on the Internet and checked my E mail and sent Doreen a very short note.
I had defrosted some meat, I thought it was a steak, but it was meat for a stew. I was tired after that long drive, still, I made the stew. It turned out fine. I used Doreen's Bisto, an English thickener and gravy maker. I suppose that makes it an English stew. At the military hospital I had to make gravy from scratch. We used a lot of butter.
Now I stay on the same road until Escondido, on I-15.
I am in Provo, Utah. Today I took it easy. The last two days I was pushing it and I experienced back pains. I can not come home with a back problem.
A rain storm hit Salt Lake City while I was coming through. It was no fun driving in that traffic with difficulties seeing the lane markers on the highway. The clouds were hanging on the mountain and could not get over it. As soon as I got out of the city the rain stopped.
I have to get home; I need a haircut. My hair is getting heavy, it makes me tired. Even the fuzz on my bald spot grew. I could actually comb the long hair across the bald spot, like some old men do it. No way.
I arrived here at 11:00 AM and had lunch. The KOA has a good modem connection. I will go now and get my E mail and send this report. The swimming pool is waiting.
9,506 Miles driven and 337 more to go.
I am in Las Vegas and tried to win back what I lost in Dawson City. No such luck. I had the money but I put it back. I hit one 100 coin jack pot and one 200 coin jack pot and did not stop. I wanted more.
I arrived in Las Vegas at 3:00 PM and went swimming, ate something and went to see the Circus and then went on the slot machines.
I had planned to stay in St. George but changed my mind, Las Vegas is more fun. The roof air conditioner was running all afternoon and evening, it was warm in the motorhome.
I was gone eight weeks. Actually one day short of eight weeks.
I left Las Vegas early and arrived at home at noon.
Would I do it again? Absolutely yes. I would not leave in the middle of April though.
I saw a lot, learned a lot and took the mystery out of the gold rush. The rangers at the National Park Visitor Center in Skagway knew me after the first day. I saw them five times and had some good questions for them.
I would like to see Alaska in the fall. The alder and birch trees must look beautiful late September.
But first one more time the gulf coast and Florida. That will be the last long trip. Everything will be shorter after that.
I want to thank all the people who sent me notes of encouragement and just notes. I also would like to thank everybody who did not sent me jokes, pictures, long files and warnings about deceases and disasters.
Anybody who is bored by my trip report should let me know and I will take them of the list. I do it for my own benefit. When I get home I clean up the reports and make one long report in Microsoft Word format.
I will be busy the next few days with cleaning the motorhome inside and outside, and my poor bicycle needs some attention. I have a long list of what has to be fixed on the motorhome.
I hope all of you have a wonderful summer. After the motorhome is brought back in shape, Doreen and I will go to Eureka to see Nicollette, Claudia and Scott.