Thursday, July 29, 2010
This kind of driving is something we do well, although it is not particularly relaxing. We did pass some extraordinary scenery, Muncho Lake in northern B.C. long mesas in the northern Rockies, and the delightful Okanagan valley just before getting to the border with Washington state. Problems in the first few days were caused by the Canadian system of summer road repair. Basically, cars are halted for up to fifteen minutes by a flag woman/man, and then a pilot car takes the string of cars slowly up a single lane road. Sometimes these stops take up a full hour. And then, fifty miles down the road, another repair. But by the time we left Prince Rupert, the system changed so that cars can go both ways, although slowly, through the repair zone.
Hitting Penticton around 4:30PM in the hot sun revealed everyone doing as much water based stuff as possible, including floating down between lakes on every type of inflatable contraption known to man. We bought a crate of peaches (this was after Nick warning Mary "Don't even think of buying a full crate of peaches!") north of the border and, fortunately, were allowed through customs into the U.S. with them. They are fantastically good.
It looks like we can make central Oregon tomorrow (that will finish off the hot weather for sure), and we will try to camp. We have a great chili dish that Mary made, and it only gets better. That and a salad and a beer will be a great final dinner in the camper.
Saturday, July 24, 2010
Meanwhile, Mr Bear below was intent on his meal of soap berries, which apparently taste like, well, soap. He can't be choosey since he must gain a few hundred pounds in a hurry to make it
through the winter. All in all, a pretty good day's work. In addition to these fine specimens we saw many moose, golden eagles, lots of bears and cubs, and even a gyrfalcon, apparently a rare bird for those who are building their life time list.
Monday, July 19, 2010
During the ride we saw many grizzly bears, beginning to descend to river banks since the berries have ripened. We also saw caribou (nowhere near the grizzlies) and Dall sheep. The ability to see so much wildlife is reason enough to come here. Mary temporarily lost her camera today after Nick had taken one bear shot. It was turned in to lost and found and is now in our hands. But, as a result, nothing in the photo department.
After a couple of days of feeling low about the weather, we are pretty pumped for the last few days of our journey (to remote cabins in Denali) prior to turning the rig south for the long journey home.
Friday, July 16, 2010
July 15, No Internet Connection, Rain-Weary, and Wondering What to do Next
This posting is being prepared offline, despite the availability of a storng wifi signal nearby. Unfortunately the computer is showing signs of advanced age and it is so far refusing to link with a communications device.
The scenery is most likely magnificent in
We wandered out into the boat harbor and were able to buy some fresh and delicious sockeye salmon at the retail outlet of Peter Pan Fisheries, one of the processing plants here. Cooked up on the sauté pan, and served with boiled potato and chard, it was sensational. Almost as good as the tequila we sipped during the meal. This is a nice RV park and we got our showers in and laundry done in very little time.
We talked about what to do next. We both are tired of constant bad weather, and our curiosity about what is around the next corner has diminished after more than a month of travel. We have a reservation at a nice lodge deep in
Here are a couple of Alaskan vignettes for the reader:
We walked into Kenny Lake RV Park's diner last night after returning from Kennicott/McCarthy. We had low expectations but we felt pretty good after the long day, and it was nice to sit in something other than a bouncing shuttle bus. We began to talk about whether it would be fun to drive up some bad roads and visit Chicken and Eagle, both on the way to the
Our dinner arrived, and we feasted on the best burgers we have tasted in a long time, and even better curried rice soup. I noticed that the cook was also doing all of the waiting on tables, and wondered if she could finish, since there was quite a crowd. But her daughter showed up soon and things moved pretty well.
This morning I returned to the diner for coffee and chatted with Kim Morse, the woman who cooked dinner for us. She has very recently purchased the diner, and is renaming it "The Willow Woman Diner". She in fact is pretty willowy, that is, flexible and strong. Kim looks like life has been hard, but she still has beauty in her eyes, and her attitude is terrific. She has some visions on how to change the menu, but she said that they have to use up what was in the cooler and on order first. She loves the local produce that is available in the short summer months. Her soup is a borrowed recipe from a Thai pull-through diner about one hundred miles up the road. I congratulated her on the good dinner and said that things were pretty busy when we left. "Oh, you should have stuck around. We had some real excitement around 10:30. Apparently the horse belonging to another local up the road went prancing down the highway in front of the RV Park. That set the cell phones buzzing and soon someone road the horse bareback for a few miles to return it to the owner. Anyone who happens on
The driver of our shuttle yesterday was pretty sure she didn't want to go to a wedding that she was committed to later this week. "He is such a nice man, and none of us can imagine why he is marrying his fiancé. He is forty and she is sixty. My husband said if she was hot, that would be one thing, but that isn't the case. She did hard drugs for thirty years, and some of us think she is still doing them. She is terrible to his kids. We are thinking of giving them a rafting trip on the
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Saturday, July 10, 2010
Sunday, July 4, 2010
Saturday, July 3, 2010
McLaren Glacier, 63d 20s latitude, 146d 30s longitude, feeds the McLaren River, and it passes like a sleepy python through an enormous grassy valley, mostly above tree line. We hiked along an ATV road near McLaren pass summit, heading towards Osar Lakes. The weather held up, and we were treated to vistas unknown within our experience. At the end of the hike, Mary noticed a female Willow Ptarmigan in summer colors with three chicks. Ma P looked like she would make a tasty addition to the stew pot.
Unsatisfied with our
The cigar afternoon at a nice campsite provides an opportunity for the mind to slow, and to consider the many impressions of
Alaskans love their salmon runs up select rivers, such as the Kenai. People stand twenty feet apart, casting a limited distance so as not to foul a neighbor. Twenty miles away there is no-one and we get a terrific state campground to ourselves.
Alaskans love their RV's, their ATV's, and presumably their snowmobiles. We met a nice family, three girls and a three year old boy, from
Alaskans are friendly, offering tips to the visitor on where to go. One of these conversations led to our idyllic campsite overlooking the Susutna. As this is being written, an ATV rider stopped to ask Mary about his lost dog, a Chow/Setter mix. He is camped about two miles up the road and may have another family grouping down the road. At any rate he and his friends keep burning gas going back and forth, back and forth.
Political candidate signposts are every where. We have yet to see the words Republican or Democrat on any sign, but all of the candidates for State House, Congress, Senate, are pro-Alaska, pro business, pro jobs.
According to my boat captain in Homer, Greg Sutter, no-one does value added work in
Moose may be pretty rare. We finally got a good sighting west of the
June 29, 2010
Mary and I drove east of Anchor Point ( on the
Nikolaevsk has a beautiful three domed Russian church, St. Nicholas, guarded by Archangels Michael and Gabriel. We had read about a Russian restaurant in the village, the Samovar, and found it. It was run by a dynamo woman named Nina Felkikov, who is excellent at making the tourist part with his money.
She reminds me of my step mother Sandra in many ways. She is forward, orders everyone around, and puts on a great feast of borscht, piroshky, and pelmeny. We ate Russian style, meaning that Nina put Russian costumes on us, and took many photographs with our cameras, then sat us down for the excellent meal. She bustled around taking care of us and another two couples who showed up around the same time. Her English is good but accented much like many of my Russian relatives. Her speaking is staccato, "two minutes until food, thirty seconds until you take this picture, two minutes to get this garment on and take more pictures, thirty seconds to sit down and eat."
Nina's restaurant is chocked full of bric-a-brac, and we walked away with two lacquered Russian soup spoons as well as some good memories. Nina played a CD with Russian music and I promised to send her another CD with Sandra's singing of Russian gypsy music.
Nina is an electrical engineer (
Nikolaevsk is a pretty basic place. There are several ordinary looking houses, but a few have lace curtains and blue roofs, very much in keeping with Old Russian custom. In the long winters people come to snowmobile in the area. For all I know, Nina keeps them warm with borscht.
After this experience Mary and I had difficulty staying awake with the short drive to our campground, and this was so even with no vodka at the meal. We took two pounds of frozen pelmeny with us and dined on some of them at our camper dinner this evening.