Monday, August 17, 2009

08/17/09 Trip Summary

So anyhow, once upon a time a long, long, long time ago...

In Jul/Aug of 2009 Alex and I had an Alaskan Adventure of a lifetime and here is our story:

I drove about 95% of the 8,709 miles on this trip. To put this in perspective - the drive from New York to LA is 2,700mi. We drove from New York to LA, LA to New York and New York to LA again. And we drove an additional 600 miles to boot! Whew! Thankfully there were no mechanical problems over some pretty remote and inhospitable terrain.


  • Spent 5 weeks (35days) on this, our first, Alaska Adventure
  • Spent a total of 4 days under a roof, in a house, sleeping in a bed (Alex actually slept on a couch). The other 31 days we slept in an RV.
  • Saw no darkness from the time we left the US until the time we re-entered the lower 48 states
  • Saw smoke from the various forest fires most of the time in Alaska
  • Drove the Alaskan Highway twice (up and back) 1,450mi x 2
  • Drove through 5 states (KS CO, WY, MT, AK) and 3 Canadian Providences (Alberta, Yukon, British Columbia)
  • Climbed Flattop Mountain, the most climbed mountain in Alaska
  • Went to Hatcher's Pass to see the Independence Mine
  • Hiked some (3-5mi) of the Coastal Trail in Anchorage
  • Went to see Portage Glacier
  • Went to Alyeska ski resort, had lunch at Roundhouse Cafe after tram ride
  • Went to Crow Creek Mine (Alex panned for gold)
  • Saw fishermen elbow to elbow at Bird Creek (reds were running)
  • In Seward, went to SeaLife Aquarium, saw too many ships to count, Alex threw rocks on the beach
  • Hiked (~5mi) up to Exit Glacier
  • In Homer, watched eagles buzz our campsite, enjoyed the beach, collected sea shells
  • Drove through city of Kenai and Soldotna
  • Stayed (in RV) at cabin on Kenai River
  • I caught one Salmon
  • Alex caught three Salmon (we made him throw back the 3-5lb, 15" too small for us)
  • In Talkeetna, visited the shops and the town square
  • In Denali (near Mt McKinley), went on a 6hr bus ride and a 3hr rafting trip
  • In Fairbanks, went to Univ of Alaska museum and a Northern Lights movie
  • Went to the Christmas shop in North Pole, AK
  • Stopped at Delta Junction for a little R&R, I took lots of pictures of 1940s road equipment
  • Watson Lake, BC - Signpost Forest
  • Shopping in Estes Park, CO

We've seen the following animals:

  • Black Bear
  • Brown Bear (Grizzles)
  • Beluga whales
  • Coyotes
  • Wolves
  • Fox
  • Porcupine
  • Elk
  • Deer
  • Moose
  • Buffalo
  • Horses
  • Salmon
  • Caribou
  • Mountain Seep
  • Rabbits
  • Reindeer
  • Eagles
  • Ptarmigan

We've also seen quite a few bicyclists on the Alaskan Highway (all over Alaska really). I figured they could also be in the list of wild animals because they'd probably made one a good tasty snack. If you're on a bicycle I really question whether you have any respect for Mother Nature. You couldn't get away from any bear or moose - and these are the animals that will charge you. They will kill you if they think you're any kind of a threat. Who knows what's going through these dangerous animal's minds when a biker swishes up on them? Ah, to be young and foolish.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

08/16/09 Home (1wk later)

Okay, okay, I can't stand it any more. I haven't shaved since we left and I almost lasted 6wks. This darn thing itches like crazy, it's got to go (and so it went).

Monday, August 10, 2009

08/10/09 Colby, KS (I-70 Rest Area) to Baldwin City, KS

Let Sarah drive for quit a while, I think she likes the RV. Not really, she likes her car a whole lot more. Just your normal boring Kansas drive - flat, straight and flat. Did I mention it was flat?

The Boys are back in Town! We made it back - 5 weeks, 8k miles and we made it back around 1:00pm this afternoon. We began early because I couldn't sleep, too many cars rolling into the rest area. We ate breakfast in Hays, KS. Alex stayed in bed, he said he didn't feel too well but I know he doesn't do 'early' very well. It was way before 10:00am!

I'm bushed.

Checkout the pictures:

Sunday, August 9, 2009

08/09/09 Estes Park, CO to Colby, KS (I-70 Rest Area)

Went shopping in downtown Estes Park, CO. What a nice day, great weather. We're up at 7,500ft and I think I got a little altitude sickness. I went back to the RV and slept it off, felt real good after a few hours.

Tried to make it up Highway 7 to the Long's Peak trailhead. The RV was smoking so much I decided to turn around. This is our only way back to Baldwin so I just couldn't see pushing it too hard. It's been running so good and has been very dependable.

Traded driving with Sarah, I think she's getting the hang of this thing. We drove until midnight or so. We stopped at a Rest area 30mi or so from Colby, KS.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

08/08/09 Billings, MT to Estes Park, CO

Sarah enjoys driving

Let Sarah drive the RV for a while. Her comment was that driving is actual work - there's no cruise control so it was wearing out her leg, the wind bucked the RV all over the road and she had to plan ahead for driving up hills (as in floor it for a few blocks to get a good run at the hills). That diesel engine is so gutless that birds pass you by on hills.

We made it up the twisting turning road to the KOA campsite in Estes Park around 9:00pm. I made hamburgers on the grill for all of us.

Checkout the pictures:

Friday, August 7, 2009

08/07/09 USA +30Mi to Billings, MT

So that's what night is like, wow.

Met Jane & Sarah in Billings, MT. They flew in to help driving and because they just couldn't stand to be without us - well, that's what we'd like to hear anyhow. Should be a fun family vacation, plan to go to Cheyenne and Estes Park. Black Hills is out because Sturgis is going on this week. It would be too hard to maneuver the RV around all those bikers.

Really good timing, I told Jane to make reservations last Sunday while still in Fairbanks. They had to wait about 5min outside the airport for us to arrive. I even had time to get a KOA campsite for the night.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

08/06/09 Edmonton, Alberta to USA +30Mi

Nicer roads, I can't believe it. Still two lane highway but at least no gravel, frost heaves or roller-coaster rides.

Went through the US/Can border about midnight. The female officer asked me for my permission slip to bring Alex back to the US and for my shotgun papers. No problems, she asked how much ammo I had. I get the distinct impression that these border people think everyone is importing scads of high power ammo into and out of the US. The news media has done a superb job of scaring the daylights our of everyone regarding firearms. It's long, it's black it uses mountains of ammo - it must be bad. After she asked me a few questions she asked Alex some of the same ones to see if I was lying - he kept his cool. All she asked about was shotgun ammo, whew!

Went to another area where they X-Ray'd the RV. That officer was real nice, told me of a rest area a few miles within the US.

I'm truly glad to be back in the US.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

08/05/09 Somewhere to Edmonton, Alberta

Alex in Dawson Creek, BC

We made if off the Alaskan Highway, I hope the road gets better real soon.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

08/04/09 Watson Lake, BC (plus about 80mi) to Somewhere

Let's redefine what I meant about the road conditions. They're still bad all the way to Ft Nelson, BC. Very challenging for the driver, today it was all driving around the mountains (I do mean AROUND the mountains), up and down hills, gravel turns and an average speed of about 45mph. At least I think I'm done with the worst of it.

When we drove north on the Alaskan highway we were on the mountain side of the highway, coming back south, we're on the cliff, gully, or water side of the highway. No room for any mistakes. About the time you'd say "Ooops", it would be way too late to do anything about it.

Alex and I have running noses, head congestion and coughing. It is because of all the fires up here. There is smoke everywhere. You always smell a wood fire burning. Sometimes on the highway it is very heavy. We went through two areas today where there were warnings about active fires.

The animals are on the move too. We saw one deer, wild horses, a few moose and a herd of buffalo. I had to stop on a bridge because one of these mangy beasts was wondering across it towards me. I got pictures and video to prove it too! At one point we saw about 25 head of buffalo.

Stopped at a really pretty spot on Mounch Lake. Took lots of pictures.

We finally got back to civilization - we're in a campground anyhow. After three days of stopping in the boonies we need showers, laundry, cooked meals (you can't live off of popcorn!), re-charge the RV batteries and we just dumped the grey and black water.

We just watched one of my Sherlock Holmes DVDs so it off to bed.

Monday, August 3, 2009

08/03/09 Haines Junction, Yukon (short by ~10mi) to Watson Lake, BC (plus about 80mi)

Click on this picture, you'll see the road conditions, notice the red flags.

Alex slept until I got to Whitehorse. Breakfast and lunch kind of smash together when you get up late. The roads got better after Whitehorse. Between Delta Junction and Whitehorse the roads were not maintained very well.

Went by Sign Post Forest in Watson Lake. You'll see the pictures....

Saw four buffalo just before we pulled over for the night. They weren't more than 6’ away from us, got some great pictures.

We’re making good time and are ahead of schedule. I told Jane to meet us in Billings on Fri. They told us they bought a new car. They now have spent more money that we did on vacation – we will have to do better!

Check out the pictures:

Sunday, August 2, 2009

08/02/09 Fairbanks to Haines Junction, Yukon (short by ~10mi)

Dawdled around in RV Park in Fairbanks and got a late start. Then we spent some time in North Pole, AK. A few miles south of North Pole we began seeing the frost heaves in the roads. We are well into Canada and still the roads are horrible. I've bottomed out the shocks many times. Some of the heaves are marked with red flags but most just sneak up you. We can only go about 45mph. We made it past my target destination (Destruction Bay, Yukon – hey, I liked the name) today but drove until 11:00pm. And yes, it was still light outside so it is very easy to just keep driving. We saw a number of moose right up close to the road, I even got a few pictures of one.

Alex slept almost all morning – some navigator, eh? He slept through my stop at Delta Junction, AK. It is the end of the Alaskan Highway from Dawson Creek, BC (1,450mi). Lots of machinery still around.

At the Canadian border they just asked if I owned the vehicle (no proof required). Wanted to know if I had permission to bring son Alex (showed notarized paper). They also wanted to know if I had a firearm - well, of course, I do. I had to show them the papers I had on that also (upon arriving in Canada I had to pay $25 for some kind of 60 day firearm registration paper). They also wanted to know why I had it with me (for wildlife protection) and how much ammo I had for the shotgun. I told them I had about 12 rounds, which is true (they did not ask if I had any ammo for any other guns - I've probably got 300rnds for all the other firearms). I sent them via UPS back home because these hillbillies don't get guns!

I think Alex likes Canada because he can convert Km to Miles (.60) and liters to miles (.26). He does all the math for me when we stop for gas. There is no trip meter so I have him calculate the miles driven and then our miles per gallon. The road conditions and going up and down mountain roads is really messing with our mpg. We've been getting about 10mpg.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

08/01/09 Denali to Fairbanks, AK

Drove from Denali to Fairbanks today. Went through the Univ of Alaska Museum and saw the Northern Lights movie. Really interesting, I never actually knew what they were (and it's too complicated to explain here). We will be able to see them tonight, here in Fairbanks. All we have to do is wait until 3:00am when it's dusk enough for them to show up in the sky! I think not.

Starting the trip back to the lower 48. Will take 6-7 days to get to Billings, MT then a couple more to Baldwin (unless we take a tour through Estes Parks, CO).

Checkout the pictures:

Friday, July 31, 2009

07/31/09 Denali - Rafting

Got up early again - around 10:00. We had a 2hr rafting trip planned for 12:30 so no sense wasting good sleep time, eh? We ate a hardy breakfast at the Salmon Bake.

What a ride in the Nenana River. They put us in full body wetsuits with rubber booties. We had to wear two pairs of socks and anything else we had to keep warm. Man that water was cold, they said it was 36 degrees and I believe them. Alex and I were up front with another guy and his 11yr old son. They were from St. Louis. The two boys got the brunt of the water as we hit some pretty big swells. Lucky we had those wetsuits, water was gushing all over us many times. My fingers were frozen.

As soon as we got out Alex and I went to the showers in our RV park (about 50 feet away) and decided to stay another night. We had a great meal at King Salmon across the road from our RV park.

Checkout the pictures:

Thursday, July 30, 2009

07/30/09 Denali - Bus Ride

Alex and I are going for a 6hr bus ride up into the park. Should be fun, if he doesn't get eaten by a bear. Well, if he does that’s why I brought my own bear bait!

Wow, what a ride - most of it on a very dangerous road. One wrong move and off the mountainside you go. Our driver/interpreter told us that they had railings on the road at one time but the buses kept bending them, so they took them out! We saw brown bear (grizzly), caribou, fox, mountain sheep, rabbits, eagle, ptarmigan and a moose. Lots of caribou, we rode all the way back to the Toklat rest stop.

It was kind of hazy and smokey from the various forest fires that are raging around here. One fire has consumed about 630,000 acres. You've got to understand though that the Denali National Park and Preserve only has 6 million acres (and occupies 9,400 sq miles) and it is only one of the 17 National Park systems in Alaska (Wrangell has 24 million acres).

Reminded me of when Jane and I took the 11hr bus ride back to Wonder Lake in the early 1980s. Wish she was here, brought back a lot of memories. The old visitor's center has been replaced by a series of new buildings. The Pullman Sleeper cars have been moved to a resting place between Denalia and Heally,AK.

It was so light we couldn't believe it was midnight when we went in for bed. Watched Casino Royale on the computer last night – we’re really roughing it. It's hard to sleep when its so light outside.

Checkout the pictures:

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

07/29/09 Anchorage to Denali (Talkeetna)

Okay, okay, so I'm going native. I haven't shaved since leaving Baldwin.

Began by rushing out of Anchorage promptly around 12:30pm, ha! We got up and Char took us to Village Inn for breakfast. I think she was trying to impress us by showing how civilized Anchorage can be.

I tried to send my firearms by UPS to me personally just like I did when I came up here but the Anchorage UPS office would not let me do that. I had to use Bill's FFL and send it down to him. What a crock! I even showed her the website printout of their own rules and she wouldn't believe me. One of my guns is prohibited by those hillbillies in Canada so I HAD to ship them to the lower 48.

While driving around up here Alex and I noticed that almost everyone drives off-road vehicles on the main roads. That should tell you something about how much snow they have and the terrible driving conditions. All the way up here there is a 4' wide trail running along side the highway. It's for snow machines and four runners. We see all kinds of kids driving four runners and dirt bkies up here, they use them to get around in all the towns and villages.

Speaking of villages, we stopped in Talkeetna. It's a really nice quaint little town with lots of little shops. People were real friendly and it was a nice place for a snooze (I needed it badly). They have a really cool park in the center of town where everyone hangs out.

We're in a great RV park in Denali (Rainbow RV), has all the services - like water and electricity! Hey, what do you expect - we're RVing? I tried to give Alex nightmares by watching Terminator on my computer. It didn't work. We watched Watchman with Char & Soup in their RV at the cabin (Joe & Inge watched for a little bit, until they couldn't stand it anymore). When we got back to the RV Alex said that was the stupidest, dumbest movie he'd ever seen. I agreed.

Time to sleep, got to plan for tomorrow's adventures.

Check out the pictures:

Monday, July 27, 2009

07/27-28/09 Anchorage - Provisioning RV

Doing the normal stuff for getting the Minnie-Winnie ready for another long road trip. Our plan is to go to Denali and Fairbanks and then head for Billings, MT to meet Jane & Sarah. The direct trip from Fairbanks to Billings is 2,550mi.

Alex and I went to the Dimon Center mall. He didn't believe me when I told him about the ice rink inside.

I've been having trouble sleeping up here. It's light until midnight and then only dusk. Alex and I both tend to stay up until midnight so we don't get going in the morning until 10:00am.

You wouldn't believe the number of motor homes up here. They are literally everywhere. For the most part the locals put up with them but I've had two instances when the drivers showed a little "Fish Fever".

Sunday, July 26, 2009

07/26/09 Soldotna, AK (Inge’s Cabin) to Anchorage

Early this morning (10:00am) Soup had three bites but I guess they weren't big enough, he let them mature for next year. What a sport, eh?

We drove back to Anchorage this afternoon. If you think the boat traffic from the Ozarks to KC is bad imagine the RV traffic from Seward, Homer and the Kenai River area when the Red's are running. The road is a two lane highway with three or four places under construction. There are no back ways, no cut-offs, no alternative roads - just highway number 9 and number 1.

We stopped at Summit Lake for lunch. Great big log cabin restaurant with good food and view of the lake.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

07/25/09 Soldotna, AK (Inge’s Cabin) Day2

Now this is a fisherman (Joe).
Notice how well prepared he is for doing battle with the great Alaskan Salmon!

It’s following us – raining, windy and cold. It began sunny but by noon it was nasty again. The Kenai River was up about a foot because of the recent rains and warm glacial temperatures melted the ice. Lots of stuff floating down the river – logs, other people’s docks….

We got skunked, not even a bite.

Checkout the pictures:

Friday, July 24, 2009

07/24/09 Soldotna, AK (Inge’s Cabin)

Alex caught his first Salmon. In fact, just to show it wasn’t luck, he even caught another one. He brought one more back but it was so small (<15”) we made him throw it back.

I learned an important fishing lesson. Before anyone got up and around I went down and began fishing. I didn’t bring the net or the stringers with me. I had a big fish hooked and was playing with him while hollering for someone to get me the net and stuff so I could bring him in. He finally wiggled free before I could get him on land for some much deserved Shore Leave! Rats…

Soup caught his limit of three. Joe and I each ended the day by catching one. Alex was so excited, he’s now a fishing maniac! We ate one of his for dinner. Eight of us could only eat about ¾ of this fish! It was huge, good and tasty. Nothing like eating your own fish just caught. Can’t get a fresher meal. Soup did the cleaning and cooking, Char did the marinade.

Check out the pictures:

Thursday, July 23, 2009

07/23/09 Homer to Soldotna

Alex having fun learning to fishing at Inge's cabin in Soldotna, AK. Soup taught Alex how to fish and what to do. He even showed us how to catch a fish by bringing one in the first night.

Got up early again (that means 10:00am!) in Homer and started a fire. It’s raining a little, windy and cold. We hung around for a while enjoying the view. Finally took showers, packed up and left for Soldotna. We drove up the big hill going out of Homer and stopped at the top for breakfast.

Had a lot of time before we would meet Char and family so we drove through Kenai. Stopped at a visitor center and bought some presents for Jane and Sarah.

Met Char and family and drove a long way back on Sterling Highway to Inge’s cabin. Really nice place, right on Kenai River. What a place, boat dock and a bunch of fishing places.

Checkout the pictures:

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

07/22/09 Seward to Homer

This is Alex talking to mom while we watch the eagles fly in Homer. A few times they flew within 30' of us as they buzzed the RV campers.

In Seward it rained all night again, it still cold and it’s still windy. What a miserable few days. Even though the weather was awful we had a good time watching movies, playing cards and every so often venturing out into the Seward wild unknown.

Broke camp with the RV and headed for Homer. On the way we took a detour and stopped at Exit Glacier. We went on a 5mi round trip hike to see the glacier. It was raining harder, colder and even more windy up there. The glacier sure had retreated a lot. It was interesting to see how far back it had gone over the years. Last time I was here it was with Sarah in 2000.

We stopped at a wood carving place on Sterling Highway (I found out later that it wasn't too far from Inge’s cabin). Had a nice chat with the lady who runs it.

Went though Soldotna and down to Homer. Found an RV site and set up camp. Made a fire and was just vegging out when we noticed the tide was going out. It left huge sandy beaches that you could walk on. So Alex and I went collecting sea shells. He went a lot further than I did and he got quite a collection. But then the sea began coming back in. The water moved really fast.

Enjoyed the quiet evening. Had a call from one of my shooter friends asking me if we were eating yet. Ha! He had no idea I was sitting on the beach in Homer, Alaska.

Checkout the pictures:

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

07/21/09 Seward, AK

Did I mention it was raining, cold and windy? It never stopped. We had reservations to go on a cruise at noon. We walked down to the Kenai Fjord Tour office and I cancelled our trip. It would have been great seeing the animals, birds, whales and all the other creatures but it was really nasty outside. Later on in the day we overheard someone say that their fishing trip was cancelled because there were 14’ swells and a 40mph wind just outside the bay. We think we made the right decision.

We walked around Seward, again, bought presents and ate dinner. Then I showed Alex how to play blackjack. Oh boy, he sure ate this up. I think he cleaned my clock again. It was still raining, it was still cold and it was still windy when we headed out for diner at Apollos.

Checkout the pictures:

Monday, July 20, 2009

07/20/09 Anchorage to Seward

Alex and I left Anchorage at the crack of dawn again – yes, 10:00am! After breakfast at Fred Meyers (Starbuck’s) we drove to Seward. It was raining, it was cold and it was windy all the way down there. We got to our RV site and decided to walk 1mi to SeaLife. We went through it and saw a lot of exhibits.

We then decided to walk back to the RV and then on to Kenai Fjords Tour office on the boat dock (~2mi). You should see all the boats, hundreds and hundreds of every kind of fishing boats imaginable. Did I mention that it was raining, cold and windy? We then walked back to the RV got warmer clothes and walked to SeaLife again. We saw some insulated rain jacks for $32 so each bought one.

We ended up eating at Apollos and then walking back to the RV. We played poker and Alex cleaned my clock.

Yesterday both gas and propane in Anchorage for 'New' RV - 20.9g Diesel, 6g propane

Checkout the pictures:

Saturday, July 18, 2009

07/18/09 Portage, Alyeska, Crow Creek Mine

Went to Portage Glacier. It was very cold (~59f), windy and wet. We couldn't see it due to the clouds but it has receded up the mountain quite a bit. Watched a movie that was pretty good about glaciers.

Went on to Alyeska Resort. Took Alex's first tram ride up to the Roundhouse Cafe. Lots of good views on top, saw seven glaciers.

Next stop was Crow Creek Mine. An abandoned mine, well sort of. They were setting up for a wedding. Alex went panning for gold and he found a few tiny pieces. With gold at $930oz he probably made $5!

We then had dinner at the Bear Tooth. On the way we saw a moose, the Alaska train, fishermen at Bird Creek and Belugas in Turnagain Arm. The Bear tooth is a second run theater where you order food (pizza in our case) and watch a movie. We saw Night at the Museum 2 with the kids. I think they liked it.

Friday, July 17, 2009

07/17/09 Independence Mine Hatcher Pass

Went to Hatcher's Pass today to see the old abandoned Independence Mine. This was a big mine in its day. Just about falling down around us now though. Life was rough. I read where a family went to town (Palmer) twice a year and a one-way trip took all day. They got supplies, mail and placed mail-orders for other things they wanted (who knows how long that took to get way the heck up here!).

I'm standing next to a flat head eight cylinder engine with a GE electrical power generator attached.

Hiked about 3-4 miles of the Coastal Trail in Anchorage. After we ate Italian food we had to do something to work it all off. Went with the two girls, Alex and Char (of course). Went for a little drive around the airports.

Checkout the pictures:

Thursday, July 16, 2009

07/16/09 Flattop Mountain

Today we climbed Flattop Mountain. This was the first mountain I climbed back in the 1980s and it is now Alex's first. He even wore his Boy Scout t-shirt so he might get some credit for the climb. Flattop is the most climbed mountain in Alaska and is 3,550ft (the last 300ft is very treacherous). Rocks straight up and maybe more importantly, straight down. It was a major gruelling hike up to the top and I don't think he even gave one thought about quitting. Very determined, especially after we got up a ways. Really pretty views of Anchorage, the ocean, other mountains and the surrounding area. We even saw a black bear eating berries a few hundred feet below us.

This is the third time I've climbed it.

Ate a great meal at a Japanese steak house. We needed it really bad.

Take a look at the pictures:

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

07/15/09 Anchorage

Getting the Winnebago Minnie-Winnie ready for the road in a few days. Went to Wal-Mart and Lowe's for supplies and parts. Spent a lot of money on creature comforts for the Alcan rode back home. That's going to be a long drive (again!).

We had to take Soup to the airport, he was flying standby on a corporate (Nabors) flight. So we took the RV for a drive. Got diesel ($3.45) and propane ($3.35). Went by where Joe and my mom lived.They're tearing up Old Seward Highway. Bad road for an RV, but we made it. The neighborhood sure looks different - all over grown and a lot more houses.

Against my better judgement I joined the AARP. That really just frustrated the heck out of me, it's such a liberal, gun-hating, whining organization. But, since I'm travelling and need the discounts, the $16 didn't seem so bad. I've put it off for years, well now I can be a real rebel and make all kinds of wild and crazy comments to those morons.

Soup didn't make his flight and I had noticed a water leak in the RV so Soup did most of the work fixing it. Soup's handy to have around, knows his mechanical stuff.

Joe and Inge stopped by. They were pretty amazed at the travelling hotel. I think Joe got a little tired of all the commotion - Alex & Joccy where riding bikes and Natilie was just playing around. These kids are really well behaved.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

07/14/09 Mostly Anchorage

Got up at 8:00am (after getting to bed at 3:30am). Still zoomy from the drive, it really takes it out of you. Began exchanging camper supplies. You wouldn't believe all the stuff Alex and I had in that big RV. I hope most of it fits in the smaller RV.

We kind of just hung around, cleaning, napping, moving stuff, napping and more napping.

Monday, July 13, 2009

07/13/09 Watson Lake, Yukon to Anchorage, AK

Got up and left by 7:00am. The idea was to highball it to Anchorage because Soup had to get to work by Wed. It looked like we might not make it considering road conditions and our travel time way out of whack. We got to Anchorage at 3:30am. Soup and I traded driving/sleeping about every four hours.

Alex was still asleep in the morning so we got him out of bed long enough to move the sides of the RV back in and ready for travel. He sleeps till 11:00am but I don't really blame him. We've been through so many time zones and all of our schedules are so off it isn't funny.

The US side of the Alcan was a lot better but still there was a lot of road constructions and gravel. They have something called Frost Heave up here. The roads shift up and down so you have these 12" dips and rises. You can only go about 45mph over these things. In fact, during one 30min stretch it made me really sick and Alex didn't feel too great. It goes on for miles and miles and it's all over the place. It sneaks up on you too. You'll think you're driving on some pretty smooth road and, usually too late, you see the dip. I think I had the 10ton RV air born more than a few times (and it's not very aerodynamic).

I was laughing about those signs in Canada warning about buffalo on the road. I thought they should have warnings about giraffes and elephants too. Guess what, we actually saw wild buffalo on the road! I saw five but they saw a whole heard while I was sleeping. We also saw many horses (wild, I think), a fox, a few coyotes (they're skinny up here), a porcupine (honest) and quite a few moose.

Driving at night finding that frost heave is really fun. It was 3:30am when we arrived, whew! What a long drive. Almost 4,000 miles from Baldwin City, KS! I'm avoiding adding up our fuel costs.

Check out the pictures:

07/12/09 Dawson Creek, BC to Watson Lake, Yukon

This road was treacherous. There are many areas where they are working on the road – even on Sunday. I saw five black bear, five buffalo and a fox. They were all just off the road. It was very slow going, lots of hills, very few vehicles. Lots of places for sale and when I talked to the store clerk in Watson Lake she said far fewer customers than normal.

Dawson Creek, BC 97N, Fort St. John, Fort Nelson, Watson Lake, Yukon
Downtown RV Park $24

Check out the pictures:

07/11/09 Claresholm, Alberta to Dawson Creek, BC

Nice easy highway driving right up to the beginning of the Alaskan Highway.

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07/10/09 Billings, MT to Claresholm, Alberta

I had to show Soup some of the more intricate things about this RV. Like don't drink from the blue hose! Went to Wal-Mart in Billings again - not enough stuff for Soup.

Went through Can/US border with no real problems. We did have to go in because of my shotgun. I had to pay $25 for some reason. Lots of stupid gun laws up here. They even have a neighborhood crime watch area where they can watch the crimes occur. When seconds count the RCMP is only hours away. Good for them, they don’t trust their subjects (no citizenship in Canada).

Edmonton was a blast to drive through. They don’t have Interstate system like we do, no 235, 435, 635 just highways splaying through town all over the place.

Billings KOA $44.00

07/09/09 Bar Nunn, WY to Billings, MT

We're in the remote wilderness. There is no wireless Internet service. Most of the time there is no cellular phone service either. Besides we don't get the RV set up and get diner going until midnight or so. So, I haven't been able to update the blog every night.

Left at our usual 10:00am and took our time going to Billings. Stopped at Fort Phil Kearney (Banner, WY). This is where the second worst battle with the Indians occurred. US lost all of its solders to 8,000 Indians. Bought a raffle ticket for a custom Yellow Boy 44-40 lever action rifle – sweet.

Alex counts 90+ Elk just to keep himself busy.

In Billings, Alex & I had a great meal at the Montana Rib & Chop House, mmmm. Went to Wal-Mart to re-supply. Got a spot at the KOA and went to airport to pick-up Soup. Airport is on a bluff and there was lots of construction. Dirt roads, you should have seen me maneuvering this big rig through it all – no cone fatalities this time!

When we came back to camp someone had our spot so we parked next to them lucky for them.

Casper, WY I-25N to Buffalo (picked up I-90N), Sheridan, Crow Indian Reservation, Hardin, Billings
Casper KOA $31.10
Gas - 57ga $150 & 27gal $70

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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

07/08/09 Limon, CO to Bar Nunn, WY

We're at another KOA near Casper, WY this time.

We started from Limon, CO and began just as soon as Alex got up - and made me breakfast! We got going at the crack of dawn - 10:00am!

Spent $113 on 50gal of gas. I'm not going to fill up until we leave from Billings, MT (tomorrow). This thing will go about 600mi before it needs more gas, even at 8mpg. I've been driving 65mph, I'm in no hurry to get to Billings. Soup's plane doesn't get in until 11:30pm Thu night. Soup is my brother-in-law and he is flying in from Anchorage to take delivery of the RV and help with the driving. I guess I'll have to show him all the driving tricks I've learned, like driving around corners on two wheels, dodging around those pesky orange cones (they are targets aren't they?) and how to out run those little rascal cops driving those Dodge Chargers (sometimes I like to hide from them too!).

All through northern CO and WY Alex has been amazed at how far we can see, how few ranches there are and the size of our country. We had a discussion about global over population - a laugh actually. You miss so much travelling by air. This has really been awesome.

We went swimming tonight. The hot tub sure felt good on my shoulder. My right shoulder is still not quite up to 100% after my car wreck (that's another story). This KOA site cost $32.00.

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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

07/07/09 Baldwin, KS to Limon, CO

We didn't get started until 10:00am (it's a big job provisioning an RV for a month in one night!) and got to Limon, CO around 8:00pm. We took a lot of breaks, filled up with gas (half full costs $110 and used 50gal!) and generally had a relaxing drive.

I bet we saw about a 100 big RVs just like this one along the way. Amazing so many people can afford these things. Driving this thing is like being the pilot on a C-130 - it's huge! Boy this is sure travelling in class.

I bought a membership to KOA for $24 because we get a 10% discount and can make reservations along the way. In Limon, CO the site costs $36 and I sure am glad I read the fine print. Their water pressure is 95psi, most tanks can only handle 45psi. I bought a 45psi regulator for $12 so we didn't find out what a 75gal water balloon looks like!

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Monday, July 6, 2009

07/06/09 The Alaska Adventures Begin

So anyhow, once upon a time a long, long, long time ago......

In 2009, Alex and I (Craig) had an Alaskan vacation trip planned for sometime in July. After talking with my sister (Char) during our Disney World vacation, she mentioned that they were going to sell the 1983 Winnebago Minnie-Winnie that they bought from our stepdad Joe. So, wouldn't it be great if we came up and drove it back? The deal fell apart with the Alaskan dealer so they looked at the Olathe KS Ford RV dealer - and found the RV they wanted.

Alex, Jane and I drove this great big school bus of an RV (it's 35ft long). What a great house. Based on our drive and their research they decided to buy it. So Alex and I will drive the new RV up to Alaska (meeting Soup in Billings, MT) and drive the Minnie-Winnie back. We plan on spending at least two weeks in Alaska site seeing.

The bank screwed up and sent the check in the US Mail not overnight. We can't pick up the RV, pack or get it set-up until they get that check. This is really messing with our plans.

So here we sit, waiting.... Guess what, just got the call - they got the check! We brought it home.

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