SKAGWAY to ALASKA
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06/04 - Left Skagway after filling up with diesel at $3.68/gal. Better than Canadian price. Short day today as we want to visit Whitehorse. In the HI COUNTRY RV PARK just outside of town. Quick run into WallyWorld for a few things for the camper. It was basically deserted, not like the WalMarts I am used to. Back to the RV for dinner (and to be attacked by a roving band of mosquitoes). Starting to rain and the TV says sun on Wednesday.
06/05 - Rained off and on all day. Guess that is what keeps the trees growing up here. Taking a day of much needed rest. Filled up a propane tank (first on the trip) for $25 for 7 gallons. Instead of measuring the quantity in liters, they filled by weight. 30 lbs. Exactly. Went grocery shopping and got some fine local tomatoes at $1.18/lb. Good flavor. Must be greenhouse grown. Also some smoked salmon and fresh oysters. We eat well!! Spent several hours TRYING to get on the internet before they admitted that their access was broken and had been for 3 weeks with multiple attempts to fix it. *&!!%!! So watched a bit of TV and hit the sack early.
06/06 - Off to our next stop. Never sure where it may be, but looking for a bit more than 200 miles. Another day of trees, lakes, streams, and mountains covered with snow. Stopped at the Kulane National Park visitor center and watched some Dall Sheep through their telescope. Saw Kulane Lake and wished we had the boat with us. Finally hit the stretch of the Alaska Hwy that was built on permafrost. Don't understand exactly what it is, but it causes what is termed 'frost heaves'. Sort of like large speed bumps that can launch a vehicle into orbit at any speed above about 40MPH. Also, the trees along the road do not grow to more than 6- 8 feet. Their roots cannot penetrate the permanently frozen earth that is about 4 feet down. The road turned to gravel for about 50 miles complete with construction crews. Slow trip. The Milepost showed what looked like a good RV Park but unfortunately it was closed, so we drove on. Finally came to the town of Beaver Creek. Population of 112, but 2 RV Parks. The park we are in, the WESTMARK INN AND RV PARK, is behind the filling station and not bad. Pull through site long enough to leave the truck and trailer hitched. AND, they have DSL. FREE. AND it works! When I asked about the internet connection they said, Oh just bring your laptop in and we will give you an ethernet cable and just plug it in. Managed to upload everything I had and deal with email and bills. After a full day of sunshine, a thunder storm is now hitting us. Dropped from 73 degrees (a heat wave) to 61 in 20 minutes. We can get 2 TV channels, so planning an early bedtime and off to TOK Alaska (THE USA!) tomorrow.
06/07 - FINALLY we have arrived at the 'Last Frontier'. We crossed the border into Alaska about 10:30 today. Now it's 9:30 Alaska time. The trip to the border was pretty rough with lots of frost heave and quite a bit of gravel road. Stopped for customs to enter the US and had no problems. They were interested in explosives, alcohol and how much cash we carried. Gave us back our passports after scanning them and wished us a pleasant trip. Road got better, mostly blacktop, but still a lot of frost heaves. Arrived TOK and checked at the visitors center for RV Parks. Picked the SOURDOUGH CAMPGROUND. Got a nice parking space and washed the truck and camper AGAIN. Fourth time in 3 weeks. The truck doesn't know what hit it! That's more washing than in the past two years! Had dinner in the campground. Elena picked the beef stew and I had reindeer chili. Came in a very good sourdough bread bowl. Excellent pie for desert. They provided some fun entertainment, a local group doing Alaska music. Following was the REAL entertainment. The Pancake Toss. We each got two left over pancakes and had to toss them in the bucket. Get one in and you win a free pancake breakfast. I didn't do so well, but Elena got her first one in the bucket. Bought a couple of CD's of the music and crashed in bed about eleven. It was still light out. There were 20 hours and 6 minutes of daylight according to the weather website.
06/08 - Up bright and early to go flightseeing but could not get it set up so we left and proceeded on to VALDEZ. We are currently in the BEAR PAW RV PARK located in the small boat harbor within 100 feet of the boat we plan on taking to see more glaciers and wildlife. Inasmuch as it looks like Sunday may be a better day so we will see the town and relax Saturday and go cruising Sunday. Any direction we look from the campsite we see snow capped mountains, and to the south boats with mountains in the background. Wanted to see the Alaska Pipeline, but they do not allow visitors since 9/11.
06/09 - We spent the day touring around Valdez. The weather forecast had been for rain, but it turned out to be a nice day. Could have taken the cruise, but tomorrow is supposed to be sunny. May be (or may rain!). Wandered around the boat harbor and eventually went over to the Visitor Information Center. Things were not busy, and we spent an hour talking with the woman that ran the center. She was a wealth of information and gave us quite a number of very interesting things we need to see both in Valdez as well as on our trip north. This will add another couple of days to our trip. Had a fine lunch at the Halibut House. Fresh Alaskan Cod. YUMMY! Went to the location of Old Valdez, where the town used to be before the earthquake and Tsunami of 1964. After it was destroyed, they have completely rebuilt, but in another location. The old town was only several feet above sea level and exactly at the end of the body of water. With today's knowledge of tidal waves, this was a disaster waiting to happen. We heard the emergency siren test several times since we have been here. Drove out to the end of the spit where the Pipeline ends, but were not able to see anything. Guard at the end of the road explained that the last tour was on 9/10. The 9/11 event was cause for increasing security. The visitor center had sent us over to Peter Pan Seafood, a large commercial fishing company and we got some Alaskan King Crab, and Razor Clams. Feasted on seafood again. No meat this week! (maybe this month) Unless we can try some of the game. Bear anyone? Stopped at the hardware store and bought a soft brush for cleaning the trailer. Made the 5th attempt in 2 weeks to remove the Cassiar Hwy from the front. Got most of it off, but some seems to want to come home with us. This makes two pressure washings, two good hose downs, and a good scrubbing with soap and brush. Incidentally, lemons in Safeway are $1.69 EACH. WOW.
06/10 - THE SUN IS SHINING! Checked the weather radar and there is nothing for miles. Looks like an ideal day for a boat ride. Boarded the Glacier Spirit at 9:30 and we were on our way at 10:00. 100 ft, aluminum catamaran hull, powered by twin Kamatsu 800 HP diesel. Cruises about 20 KPH at 35-40 GPH. Max speed about 25 knots. Smooth and quiet. Better than most air liners with comfortable seating and great windows for viewing. The trip was about 125 miles with lunch and a snack. The vessel accommodates 86 passengers and there were only 32 on board so we had no problem getting a choice seat and space at the side for photos. Left the harbor and toured the bay with excellent viewing of the Old Valdez Town site and the pipeline terminal. Many opportunities to see wildlife with abundant seals, sea lions, sea otters, eagles and humpback whales. As we entered the main sound the Captain mentioned he had not see such a clear day for many weeks. Visibility was 75 miles. Went first to the Columbia Glacier and then to the Meares Glacier. Saw and HEARD the Meares Glacier 'calving', where a chunk breaks off and floats away. The sound of the ice cracking at times was like a cannon. Other times more like the crack of a small handgun, but always noticeable. We actually navigated slowly through the ice field to within 250 feet of the glacier wall. Some of the floating ice chunks were quite large and many occupied by sea otters sunning themselves. A fantastic sight to behold. Returned to the dock at 7:30.
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