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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

SAUNTERING SLOWLY SOUTH - PHOTOS

Morning tea on the river bed

Lovely Moon Lake

A muskrat collecting grasses

Heading out on the lake

Watching beavers

Midnight Sunset

Chatting at sunset

Heading around Kluane Lake

I think he is posing - he sure is looking at us

The Indian fishing village


Old food storage & behind it a fish drying house. 
Million Dollar Falls

One of the roads from Haines goes out on Mud Bay Rd to this lovely campground

The Haines Fisheries - no fish in today unfortunately

Fort Sewards lovely old homes in Haines

Main street in Haines

From our campspot - view of Haines (you can tell we had great weather today!)

Out in the boat we watched the Sockeye Salmon spawning - they were silver, but are now red with green heads. Sadly no Grizzly Bears are hungry.

But the eagles are hungry - this fish was still flapping - sushi

SAUNTERING SLOWLY SOUTH


Decision made. John is not happy enough with GR2 to head up another long remote road (2400km round trip), so we will slowly wend our way south to Haines to pick up our ferry. We are also hoping to catch up with Ivan & Luda, who we travelled through Russia with a few years ago, who are also travelling to Haines.

We head back towards Delta Junction, stopping for the night at Quartz Lake Recreation Site. These parks are usually pretty cheap to camp at & you get a fire ring & wood. So we have a roaring fire to keep the mozzies at bay & warm us up. In the morning it is still drizzling so we give up on the walks & head on to Delta, this time stopping to explore all the museums & old roadhouses. (Last time we were on the back of a tow truck!!) In fact today we do a mere 93km, stopping to camp overnight in the massive river bed of the Nanama River at Delta. Another roaring fire using lots of driftwood.

The next day is still gray, but slowly improves. We find the lovely Moon Lake Recreation Site, & so stop early. Again another fire & lots of people to chat to. Off again towards Tok. We hunt down Wifi at the souvenir shops. We are hoping to hear from our friends as they should be reaching Tok by now too. Nothing. So we carry on to the Tetlin National Wildlife Reserve – a huge area of wetlands surrounded by mountains. Here we find Yargar Lake with a free campground, so decide to stop & put in our inflatable boat. Gorgeous water, but so much weed it looks as if we are floating over a forest. In the evening we sit & chat for hours beside the lake with 2 Swiss couples & an Alaskan guy. We watch beavers swimming past hauling sticks for their homes, & then a magic sunset at midnight.

The next day there are many more stops as we meander south. At the info centre we meet 3 Aussie couples in their US RV’s.  Then time to cross back into Canada where we stop at Beaver Creek for water & Wifi (still no news) Still slower going through lots of roadworks. When the rain starts we stop at another State Campground at Lake Creek. In the evening the weather clears & the next day is fine making the drive to Burwash Landing, Destruction Bay & Kluane Lake very pretty. Lots of stops later we reach Haines Junction. It is getting late so we start looking for a spot. No free spots at lovely Lake Kathleen, or nice spots up the Mush Lake side road, or at the native fishing village of Klukshua (it looks as if a Powwow is happening – or maybe they are waiting for the fish to come in) We do wander around & look at the old fish drying racks & storage houses, before finding a spot beside the river.

The next day starts gray & drizzly. A magic drive through the mountains & high country – we even see another big black bear. Eventually we cross over the border yet again into the USA and follow the Chilkat River down to Haines.  Here we pass through the Bald Eagle Preserve (although there are none here today). In town we head to the info centre & then the library for Wifi. News- our friends are due tonight or tomorrow morning. Then head off to explore the Old Seward Fort area & then the Chilkoot River where the salmon are running. No bears today (although we can see where they have been – plenty of telltale deposits on the road), but lots of Bald Eagles. We head back to the main road into town to camp for the night – that way our friends will not miss us.

We wake to a beautiful sunny morning. After waiting a few hours we decide to head off to explore. Beautiful days can be few and far between! This time we explore Mud Bay Rd, with great views of the glaciers before heading back to Chilkoot River. Canoes are been put in. A couple excitedly tells us that they saw a grizzly catching fish. Then a boat goes in, so we decide to put the inflatable in as well. We head over the lake to watch the bright red Sockeye Salmon spawning. No bears, but is awesome to see the fish in action.

The next day we are due on our ferry to Juneau & our friends have still not arrived. We stay near town, but eventually have to give up & head to the ferry port. Guess what – the next day we get a text…..”Where are you?” Murphy’s Law!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

THE HAUL ROAD - PHOTOS

The start of the Denali Highway - kettle lakes & the Alaskan Range

Female Moose & baby

Love these old huts

We stopped at this Roadhouse - not for pie, but their famous pie. Note all the dollars

More Dalton Highway Scenery

The start of The Haul Road

Haul Road

GR2 at the Artic Circle

Moose on Grayling Lake

An old cabin at Coldfoot

An old jome in Wisenan - was a gold rush town

Roadworks on the Haul Road - follow that lead car

Nearly at Prudhoe Bay

Snow still on the river banks

Some of the machinery up here

Prudhoe Bay - not a normal town

End of the road for us - from here you need a security clearance

Some serious machines

On our way back

At the Pow Wow

Release of the eagle- don't blink or you will miss it

THE HAUL ROAD


From McCarthy/Kennecott we return to the main road – The Richardson Highway. Our first detour is to the town of Copper Centre for a quick look at the tiny museum. We pop in to visit our friends, but as it is midday, they are out -probably at work, so we continue north to the Denali Highway. Third time lucky – it is fine, so we head off. It is a really lovely drive through high tundra with lots of kettle lakes. There are hundreds of great spots to stop & camp. We finally stop beside a small lake, tucked out of the chilly wind & light our fire. We see a few female moose with their calves, & loads of cute ground squirrels.

The next day dawns bright & sunny. Yay. Lots of snowy peaks today, but not a glimpse of the mighty Mt McKinley, the highest mountain in the USA. Eventually we reach the George Parks Highway & head north to Fairbanks. Here we have errands to do get done - food, water, fuel, washing, Wifi. Our favorite camp spot tonight is Camp Walmart.

We leave for The Haul Road (as in Ice Truckers fame – the service road put through beside the oil pipeline to Prudhoe Bay) by midday. Naturally it starts with seal with the usual frost heaves that create a rock & roll effect. Then the surface changes to dirt – wet slushy slippery dirt, made worse by blasts of rain. Surprisingly it is very hilly – in fact the hills are very steep, creating a roller coaster effect. Poor old GR2 struggles up these (she really is not going as well as usual – and John is a little concerned – maybe we will only go as far as Wiseman, which we have been told is good!) After crossing the enormous Yukon River we stop for a late coffee at the picnic/camping area & meet an Aussie couple from Weipa touring in a rental camper. What a small world. We could have stayed & chatted all evening, but decide to press on. Lots more miles to go. Eventually we stop at a lookout, high above the road & oil pipeline. Fortunately there are fewer mozzies here. We have never seen such large mozzies, and so many of them – they could nearly carry you away. Apparently they can kill a baby caribou by swarming around it & sucking its blood!

We get up early 4am– we have been told we will see more animals that way! But sadly not too many – mind you it is a ginormous area, & they do wander everywhere – not just on the road in front of us. But a great drive. The weather is superb. A quick stop at the Arctic Circle before we are engulfed in mozzies. Then on to the little mining town of Wiseman. We try to walk fast to avoid the mozzies! There are lots of old log cabins & lots of assorted stuff. Everywhere in Alaska “stuff” accumulates beside houses. It doesn’t look as if they can bear to get rid of it. It is here John decides to risk GR2’s problems & head on to Prudhoe Bay.

The Brooks Range is pretty amazing. Poor old GR2 crawled up the steep 15% grades. A lot of the road here is sealed. Now there are no longer any trees – we are looking down on a huge flat area of tundra. We follow the Sagavanirktik River to Deadhorse/ Prudhoe Bay. Not really a town at all, but a centre built purely for oil production. It has been built on raised/reclaimed land as the whole area is swamp over permafrost – not a good base to build on. We overnight on the river – the nearest we can get to the Arctic Sea without going on a $60 trip that takes you through a secure area to the sea (Actually we forgot to book it at Coldfoot where it has to be booked to allow 24hrs security clearance) We couldn’t be bothered waiting to organize the trip & instead started back the next day. A good decision as the weather deteriores as we go. By the time we reach the mountains it is raining. Finally we pull over just past Coldfoot for the night. The next day we make it back to Fairbanks, much to John’s relief. Next stop is a car wash….GR2 is filthy- and apparently the sodium chloride they put on the roads is best washed off asap. Then find where the Powwow is that we have heard about – it has stopped for dinner so we decide to spend the night at (you guessed it) Camp Walmart & go tomorrow.

Late morning we head off to “The Midnight Sun Intertribal Pow Wow”. John decides to do a few maintenance jobs on GR2 (he finds it all a tad boring) while I watch the parade & a few dances. The highlight was the release of a rehabilitated eagle. The blanket dance is the final straw for me – it consists of 4 ladies shuffling around the ring, each holding a corner of a blanket. Into the blanket you toss money! Back at Pioneer Park- which is a where all the all houses from downtown have been relocated to make a living museum, we bump into new friends Dot & Dale (who we met at Camp Walmart) & have dinner out. Again Walmart…..it really is time to leave this place. But wait – must do some exciting paperwork before we head off. MYOB done, Activity Statements done, bills paid, food & fuel topped up. Finally we leave. Our original plans had been to explore a few more back roads – right up to Inuvik on the Dempster Highway, but with GR2 out of sorts John is reluctant to risk it. Instead we will slowly head down to Haines to catch the first of our ferries, eventually reaching Bellingham in the USA.

 

 

 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

TRAVELLING THE ALASKA MARINE HIGHWAY - PHOTOS

Whittier Harbour

Leaving Whittier on the ferry

Our camp spot at Cordova - on the beach

Same spot - tide gone out

Why we can't drive to the million dollar bridge

Miles Glacier

The Million Dollar Bridge

The Air Boat ride

Camp Spot

Walking to Sheridan Glacier

Sheridan Glacier

The old cannery at Cordova

Salmon fishing at Valdez

Johns Bear!!

Sea Otter having dinner

Seal having dinner

Our bear having dinner - one of many!

Helicopter ride over Valdez

The glacier

Coming in to land - Valdez

Canoe Jousting - 4th July

It works!!!!

Daytime fireworks - 4th July

Glacier beside road - in rain

The old railway bridge - with improvements (I hope)

The old railway - without improvements

Township of McCarthy

McCarthy hotel

Kennecott Mine Buildings

Kennecott Mine Buildings