Friday, July 30, 2010

Denali National Park - Part 2

We enjoyed our time at Savage Creek Campground.  Further from the hub-bub of the larger campgrounds and the helicopters at "Glitter Gulch," the commercial district at the entrance to the Park.

First morning, we saw this female moose (cow) and her baby (calf) twenty feet from the back of our home.

Moose present a serious danger to the unwary in the best of circumstances, doubly so when accompanied by their young.  So I snapped this photo thru the back window rather than my usual method of running outside for a closer encounter.  (Readers with excellent recall will remember that time with a bear at Yellowstone NP.  This one

Another day, we rode the park shuttle for seven hours round trip to the Eielson Visitor Center at mile 66 of the park road.  During the ride, we saw numerous grizzly bears, including this threesome on a hill.
As well as a mother (sow) and her two cubs, and another grizzly maybe 20 feet from the bus.    Also moose, a golden eagle, a caribou, mu gulls, dall sheep, and squirrels.

Last morning, day of departure, we finally saw Mt. Denali (McKinley) from our campground.
75 miles away.

Then on our way out, this moose grazing in the shrubs by the road.

And so we leave the wilderness for now.  On to the metropolis of Fairbanks.


Sunday, July 25, 2010

Denali National Park

Nice place, this Denali.  The Park Service  maintains one road into the wilderness, which runs 15 miles of pavement, then another 50 miles of gravel.   By arriving early, we scored a nice site in the Riley Campground one mile from the entrance.

Mt. Denali is the principle attraction, at 20,320 feet, it is the highest peak in North America.  All the more impressive, you see it from 1,500 feet elevation, thus view far more of the mountain than peaks even in the Himalayas.  Less impressive, however, clouds typically obscure the view in the summer, particularly in this unusually wet summer of 2010.  Thus our view of Denali on day 1 from 50 miles away, and every day since.
You can see why we drove 3,000 miles to Alaska.

During our first few days, we took a bus tour 15 miles into the Park.  We saw several mooses, as well as a grizzly bear ambling down a dry creek bed.

Another day, we visited the Park sled dog kennels.  The NPS rangers still use sled dogs to patrol and service the backcountry of the park during the winter.

Bruce went on a river rafting excursion on the Nenana River, including some Class 2, 3 and 4 rapids.  A good and wet time was had by all.  Bruce, the (ahem) senior member of the crew, is showing the young blond how to paddle.  You gotta teach 'em everything.

Tomorrow we move our RV to a campground 15 miles into the park.  No phone, no Internet service, no nothin'.  Just the way we like it. 

Don't call us.  We can't call you.


Monday, July 19, 2010

The Way Home

Curious about our plans from here?

Thinking of joining us?  With your own sleeping arrangements, of course.  Remember the wisdom of the successful RVer.

Our RV
Drinks for 8
Dinner for 4
Sleeps 2 + Clancy
Friends and family excepted.

Herein our thoughts about our route from here:
  • Denali National Park - see our Alaska song for our plans to see wildlife
  • Fairbanks, Alaska's big city
  • Back to Whitehorse, YT for more time at the Yukon brewery
  • Dawson City, YT, the famous gold rush town
  • Drive the fabulous Top of the World Highway, returning to Dawson City the same day
  • South on the Cassier Highway, another fabulous and remote highway in western British Columbia
  • Washington Border - gimme back my guns!  (No guns.)
  • Olympia, WA to see friends once more
  • Eugene, OR for another solar panel
  • Ashland and Grants Pass, OR - we like it there
  • Park Sierra

Figure another seven to eight weeks till our return.  For a total of about four months and 10,000 miles since we left Park Sierra.

Then let the tire cool down. Check in with our medical practitioners, to see if they are feeling OK.

Tucson for the winter?  Maybe, if Arizona pulls back some on their current political initiatives, i.e. DWWNW (Driving or Walking While Not White) and packing heat in restaurants and bars. 
We ain't the only ones either.


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Return to Seward

So we returned to Seward, to our same fabulous site looking out into Resurrection Bay.

We visited nearby Exit Glacier.  You can hike up to the edge of this retreating glacier, which comprises just one part of the Harding Ice Field.

Took a nice boat cruise on the bay, where we viewed mountain goats, puffins, and saw the edge of the Kenai Fjord National Park.  One of the few sunny days since we arrived in Alaska.  We felt mildly sea sick as we sailed along the edge of the Alaska Bay.

Chatted with a couple whom we met at Park Sierra  3,000 miles away early last year.  Small nation that.   Clancy took exception to the presence of their dog in our trailer, even tho he had played with him during their last meeting.  Must have been wearing a different cologne.

And otherwise waited to leave for our reserved spots at Denali National Park.  We depart tomorrow, expecting to arrive two days later.


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

South Kenai and Homer

We spent a few days in the south part of the peninsula. 

We visited friends Gene and Joyce at the Deep Creek State Recreation Area, where they are working for the summer.  We drycamped along the beach, just five feet above and ten feet from the high tide line. 

The two main activities at this SRA - fishing and bald eagle watching.  Many salmon carcasses on the beach attract eagles and gulls.  One morning I counted 18 bald eagles along a 50 feet strip of beach in front of us.

From there, we drove 30 miles to Homer, another fishing and tourist town similar to Seward.

Big news there was the Hoka Hey Motorcycle Ride from Florida, ending in Homer.  Bikers were arriving in twos and threes, some learning for the first time that others wonder if the whole enterprise was a scam.

Since we don't fish, the park was so far from everything but fish, and we faced a forcast of rain for seven days, we returned to Seward.  And moved back onto the same site we occupied during our last visit, The Best View We Have Ever Seen.


Towers of Power

True Story

Since we arrived in Alaska, my cell phone only rings once or twice, short rings at that.  Then the caller goes to voicemail.  In other words, I can't receive phone calls.  I'm just not that fast any longer.

I've called Verizon several times without result.  Today I learned something new.

[The Short Version]
"My phone doesn't ring properly since I arrived in Alaska."

"I'm sorry sir.  You must connect to one of our Verizon towers to reset your phone programming."

"I haven't found any Verizon towers.  I'm always roaming.  Do you have towers in Alaska?"

"One moment sir....Are you near Kansas?  Or Toronto?

Kansas?  Kansas?

"Yes, sir, the state of Kansas."

Which explains why some of your calls don't go through.

Not So True Story
Approaching the Alaska-Kansas Border

"Now remember, we're just passing through, on vacation."

Border Guard:  "Good Afternoon, sir.  Passports please."

Us:  "Certainly.  Here you are."

"Do you have any fruits or vegetables or pets?"

"Just Clancy, our Australian Terrier."

"That's fine then.  What is your reason for entering Kansas today?"

"We're just passing through.  We're taking Clancy to see his home in Australia."

"Fine, fine.  Australia is just a few hours east of here."

"Then we're off to see the Wizard, the Wonderful Wizard of Oz."

"OK, don't give me that fairy tale.  Step out of the truck, nice and easy now."

"Is there something wrong Officer?"

"Hold on now.  Give me those cell phones."

"Cell phones?"

"Just as I thought.  You're roaming, aren't you?"

"Oh no.  Are we roaming?  I didn't notice!"

"Don't hand me that.  You want to connect to our Verizon cell towers, don't you?  And you couldn't find Toronto!"

"All right, I admit it.  Please!  Please!!"
[Breaks into song, of course.]

Oh give me a Home where I don't need to Roam,
Where I'll make and receive calls all day.
Where voices I'll hear on a signal so clear,
And I don't throw my minutes away.

Home, home....

"Shut up!  Same old song.  You make me sick."

"But, but...."

"Turn this RV around.  Go back to Alaska."

"No!  No!!"

"Yes!  And leave Clancy with us."

"But why?"

"He doesn't wear a cell phone.  He's a watch dog."


Sunday, July 4, 2010

Kenai and Soldotna

We spent one week at the small Kenai RV Park, owned by a nice Native couple from Anchorage.  On July 4, they served us deep fried halibut at a pot luck.  Good time for sure.

We visited an active Russian Orthodox Church in Kenai, including an impressive number of religious artifacts.  More churches await us on our trip south on the Peninsula.

This was our first contact with the the remnants of Russian settlements in Alaska, which began in the 18th century.  Russian fur traders enslaved the native populations in Alaska in search of otter skins and other animals.  The Russian Orthodox church arrived later to convert the natives.  Such activities continued until Russia sold Alaska to the USA, at which time the process started again.

What else?  We spent parts of two days with Lu and Larry, our immediate neighbors at Park Sierra.  They live here in the summer.

Saw this very nice moose on the edge of town.
Still can't find my keys!

And then we turned south.

Friday, July 2, 2010

A Glamorous Life

We lead a glamorous life.
  • Travel to exotic places.  Currently we are touring Alaska, The Last Frontier.  Next week we camp on a beach without utilities.  Again.
  • Sleep in top rated highway rest stops in the middle of nowhere.
  • Eat at exclusive restaurants.  We last dined at the Burger Bus next door.
  • Turn down interviews with Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous magazine, as well as RV Septic Monthly.
  • Kill our own food, grow our own coffee, and make water from wine.


The "Little People" don't always understand the strain we live under to maintain such an exclusive lifestyle, the way we work to live a life they can envy. 

You know you envy us and we know you at least try to understand.  We do it for you.  And us.  Mostly us.

But sometimes the effort takes everything we have.  Every ounce of strength.  Every last calorie of that Tiramisu Fondu and that Baked Macaroni and Cheese.  All of it.

Then we fall to earth, exhausted, but happy for you.
Now you know.  And you thank us.

You're welcome.