Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Snag Junction SRA, Yukon

Snag Junction Campground Snag Junction Campground
Wednesday: (08/31) I spent some time in TOK updating the blog and checking email because we had a good cell signal. We topped the gas and continued on toward the border. We stopped for a while at the Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge before crossing into Canada again at Beaver Creek. We stopped for the night at the Snag Junction Campground a short ways East. Only a little over 100 miles today but enough.
(GPS:62.2399014, -140.68258474)
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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Eagle Trail SRA Campground, Tok, AK

Tuesday: (08/30) We were up at 6am. Lou fixed chorizo hash browned potatoes with eggs for breakfast. We hooked up and were on the road a little after 7am. We wanted to avoid any traffic backups on the way in to Plamer that the Fair seems to cause by 11am. We turned on to the old Glen Highway so may not have needed to worry about traffic anyway. The Old Highway was a nice new route. We stopped in Palmer at Fred Meyer's for milk and gas. We enjoyed a nice mostly sunny day. Not even a drop on us even though there were some clouds. We seemed to have driven out of the storm that was forcast for this afternoon and tomorrow.

Tok Cutoff Highway Tok Cutoff Highway
We stopped again for gas in Glenallen then headed North on The Richardson Highway to the Tok Cutoff.

Road Construction Delay
We had a couple of construction zones with pilot cars but no long delays. The road was mostly good with just a few areas with frost heaves.

Eagle Trail CG Eagle Trail CG
We stopped at the Eagle Trail CG about 15 miles before Tok. Lunch was olive loaf sandwiches. For dinner we had leftover BBQ ribs, baked beans, broccoli, and green beans. Since we're headed across the Canadian border tomorrow and since the weather is so nice, we had a nice campfire to burn all our firewood. Due to beetle infestations, firewood can't go either way across the border. In the evening I baked a bunch of sausage to freeze.

Overlook Trail At Eagle Trail CG Tok Alaska Overlook Trail At Eagle Trail CG Tok Alaska
Wednesday: (08/31) We walked down by the Clearwater Creek next to our camp and noticed that a moose had visited our camp earlier and climbed the river bank walked up to our camp and then returned to cross the river again. Too bad we missed him. Clearwater Creek lives up to its name because it is clear water, unlike all the glacier fed rivers. We walked the campground and noticed a trailhead for the Valdez-Eagle Trail outlook. This is part of the old trail from Valdez to Eagle.

Overlook Trail At Eagle Trail CG Tok Alaska Overlook Trail At Eagle Trail CG Tok Alaska
Cotton flowers by the creek and a nice mushroom on the lookout trail.

Overlook Trail At Eagle Trail CG Tok Alaska Overlook Trail At Eagle Trail CG Tok Alaska
The outlook provides a great view of the valley below. For breakfast we had leftover chorizo hash browns potatoes and eggs. We then hit the road about 10:30 toward Tok, 15 miles away.
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Monday, August 29, 2011

Another Fire, This Time Real Close

Monday: (08/29) Oatmeal for breakfast. One important task that needed to be completed was to get the oil changed in the Jeep and motorhome (MH). We had the MH oil changed in Grand Prairie, Alberta and we're just right on mileage to have it done here and not have to worry again until we get back home. The poor Jeep though has been ignored. I didn't realize we had so many miles on it but it was last changed down in Yuma more than 6000 miles ago. Naughty me! So I was off after breakfast to get the Jeep oil changed. I had located a nearby Jiffy Lube so I took it there. Even though Alaska is supposedly where much of our oil is coming from oil changes here aren't cheap. Even at Jiffy Lube which is one of the lower cost locations, it was still twice as much as at home. I gave them the keys and waited, and waited, and waited. Where was the jiffy? I looked outside and the Jeep had gone through the building and was parked outside but still no call to get it. Then finally I was called to the register and told that it passed the smog test nicely. That's good but I came for an oil change. I now have a nice Alaska vehicle inspection decal on my windshield and still no oil change. They rushed the oil change and gave me a little discount for the delay. One thing I like about Jiffy Lube is their thoroughness. They do check everything and explain all the test and check results. Before I left I checked to see if they could do the MH and they said no problem. I drove on back to the park to get the MH. It's about four miles back. When I'm driving down the park road another driver rudely cut me off and ordered me out of the car. What's going on, I wondered.

Oil Fire Under jeep
"Your cars on fire." he finally explained. I popped the hood latch and grabbed my fire extinguisher and looked under the car to see flames boiling on top of the skid plate around the exhaust pipe lapping the oil pan right by the oil drain plug. A short squirt was all it took to put out the fire. Fortunately, just after we started North I finally got a fire extinguisher into the Jeep, actually two, one below and to the outside of each front seat. Good thing! The one I pulled out broke when I tried to take the cap off and was not usable. I grabbed the other to do the job. It turns out an oil rag was left on the skid plate. Evidently these nice skid plates that protect the engine so well are a problem for oil changes. The last oil change also spilled some oil on the plate but fortunately there wasn't an oily rag left that time. I'm not sure what the best answer is but, at a minimum I'll check for spillage and oil rags in the future. With that excitement over, I cleaned up the skidplate after it cooled off and parked the Jeep in our new campsite. While I was off with the Jeep Lou re-registered us for another day here and mentioned we could use more sun. This campground is well covered with trees, all but two sites, both of which were empty so she registered us in the most sunny one. Now it was time to get the motorhome oil changed. Even with all the mixups this morning I still think Jiffy Lube did a good job, better than most oil and lube services. We put everything it it's place and rolled on over. They got me in right away. I think that they planned on doing the oil change in the lot. They seemed to be worried about my height. Me, I was more worried about my width. I usually fit through the doors by loosening my mirrors and rotating them to get a couple of more inches of clearance giving me about two inches of clearance on each side. Plenty of room. Their door was 12 feet high and I'm only 10.5 feet high so height wasn't a problem. I slipped in and slipped out with a nice oil change. I got to use a $5 coupon form this mornings oil change and I also mentioned the fire and they gave me another $10 off so I was even more pleased. That and I didn't even have to wait to get the smog test as well. While I was getting the oil changed Lou popped in to Costco, next door, for some V-8 juice which we forgot on the visit yesterday. She picked up lunch as well, a chicken wrap for me and Polish dog for herself. On our way back we stopped at a thrift store Lou hadn't been to yet. We settled in to our new campsite. Lou's been busy cleaning and packing and repacking. I ran the Jeep up on blocks and checked underneath to be sure there was no damage. Nothing damaged and not even much oil on the plate. The oil rag collected most of it like they probably thought it would. They just forgot the last step, remove the rag. I took the opportunity to clean off a bunch of gravel and cement like dust caked on the skid plate as well. We should be ready to leave tomorrow morning.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Anchorage Again

Saturday: (08/27) Granola and yogurt for breakfast. We then drove downtown and Parked at Fred meywer. While Lou did some grocery shopping, Dawn visited the Fireside Bookstore and I used the Free Palmer Wifi to upload some pictures and work on the blog. Some recent pictures didn't sucessfully upload yet.

Palmer Fair Parade Palmer Fair Parade
The Fair Parade started at 10am and went right by where Dawn and I were. Lou watched most of the parade but then went back to the RV and prepared lunch.

Palmer Fair Parade
Lunch as zucchini baked with garlic. Then tomatoes, green onions and Parmesean cheese were added until the cheese melted. The zucchini was served with baked halibut and brown rice. We then drove on down to Anchorage and parked the RV at Centenial park where we'll stay for a couple of nights. We took the Jeep downtown to the Alaska Museum so Dawn could visit the bookstore while Lou and i walked the 5th Avenue mall. When Dawn had finished with the Museum we headed out to the Title Wave Bookstore on Norther Lights Street. Dawn had hoped to trade in some books but we were moments too late. We browsed the excellent, and largest used bookstore in Alaska for a while. With that accomplished, and since it was after 7:30, we drove over to the Golden Corral Buffet for dinner. Interestinly, that was where we took Dawn the night she arrived here in Anchorage and this is her last dinner here in Anchorage. In the evening Dawn packed to leave tomorrow morning.

Sunday: (08/28) Granola and yogurt for breakfast. We took Dawn out to the airport by 08:30. Her plane didn't depart until 10:30 but you always want to be early, I assume. Security can be a hastle, I assume. I haven't flown since all this craziness started so I have to assume. Of course, there was no hasstle and Dawn whizzed through the check and got some extra time to wait. Lou and I were off and stopped by Lowe's for a missing bolt and washer i needed for our rock skirt arms. We also made a Costco run. Not much we need or want from there but it is where we get our bkue towels, batteries, plastic cutlery, Italian sausage and other odds and ends. We always find most things there are actually much more expensive and come in unusable large quantities for our needs. We had lunch at Costco, pizza for me and hot dog for Lou. With all our errands completed, and a visit to a thrift store we returned to camp. Next item on the agenda was to do our laundry. Before we leave Anchorage I need to get the RV and jeep oil changes. I checked on place this morning for the Jeep and they wanted $62, a bit steep, even for here so I'll do some more checking. We've been busy cleaning the RV and packing away Dawn's stuff. For dinner we went to Applebee's for their Two For $20 dinner. I had ribbs andLou had a steak.
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Friday, August 26, 2011

Alaska State Fair In Palmer

Friday: (08/26) No rain this morning. We decided to just drive on to Palmer. On the way we stopped to let Dawn look at the coal washing facility in Sutton/Alpine.

Palmer Alaska State Fair Palmer Alaska State Fair
We arrived in Palmer and found our way to the RV parking lot at the fair and were settled in by 09:20. It's a clear sky day and sunny here for the fair. How nice! Lou fixed biscuits and gravy for breakfast. There was no one to take our money to park ($15 for overnight) when we arrived. When they arrived about 10:30 we paid and then waited for the fair to open at noon. We've heard the traffic is terrible and this is a busy fair but by arriving early we seemed to have avoided the traffic. Should work tomorrow as well when we depart early.

We went in as soon as the fair opened and didn't leave until about 11pm. The Alaska State Fair In Palmer is the largest fair in Alaska and an excellent fair with lots of crafts, art, produce, animals, and etc.

Palmer Alaska State Fair  Palmer Alaska State Fair
Art works and vegetables.

Palmer Alaska State Fair  Palmer Alaska State Fair
There were over 200 quilts, hundreds of home brewed beers and wines, Preserves as far as you could see, huge baked goods section, photography, art, woodwork and carving, just about everything in abundance. While they had a nice huge agricultural barn there weren't too many animals but there was a nice selection. They did have a nice locally grown produce section, not just huge cabbages. We took a break from the fair about 3pm for lunch. Lou made grilled tuna and cheese sandwiches.

Palmer Alaska State Fair Palmer Alaska State Fair
Baked goods and a lumberjack show.

Palmer Alaska State Fair Palmer Alaska State Fair
Vegetable art and some huge vegetables.

Palmer Alaska State Fair
Just as most of the vendors and displays were closing we stopped at the St Francis' Slippery Gulch food stand for some excellent homemade apple pie for dinner, the best we've had in a long time. Much of the fair closed with a nice fireworks show at 10pm and it was even dark enough to see. Two months makes a big difference. The sun sets way before midnight now.
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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Kings Mountain State Recreation Area

Thursday: (08/25) Pancakes and ham for breakfast.

Valdez Alaska
It rained all night ant continued this morning as we hooked up and did tank duty. We headed off toward Anchorage. The waterfalls were looking good as we passed them. As started up Thompson pass our rain ended. We noticed that the trees had turned noticable more yellow. Trees that had a trace of yellow on the way to Valdez were now fully yellow. Another week and it may be great fall color viewing on some of the roads. We stopped in Glenallen for gas and lunch. Lou prepared hamburger tortolinni soup.

Kings Mountain campground Mantanuska Glacier
We continued on down the road to King Mountain SRA Campground for the night. Along the way we stopped to see the Mantanuska Glacier again.

On a walk around camp we saw the biggest mushroom we've ever seen. Lou looked it up and we think it is a Golden False Pholiota mushroom that was 12"+ in diameter. We don't eat wild mushrooms, especially if we are the ones identifying them, but it looked good. Dinner was leftovers.
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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Worthington Glacier and Valdez

Tuesday: (08/23) Oatmeal with diced apples for breakfast. We were off after breakfast toward Valdez.

Fireweed Along Highway 4 Worthington Glacier Near Valdez
Firewood along the road to Valdez. Highway 4, Richardson highway with Worthington glacier in the distance.

Worthington Glacier Near Valdez Worthington Glacier Near Valdez
We stopped at Worthington Glacier for  look and I took a hike out to the edge of the glacier. Not much of a hike since it's probably one of the easiest glaciers to get to. We also enjoyed all the waterfalls along the road.

Valdez Glacier Campground
We chose the Valdez Glacier Campground (above). It's about five miles from town close to the Valdez Glacier but is nice with fairly private campsites and most importantly, doesn't smell like rotten fish.

Salmon Alter Spawning In Valdez Prince William Sound In Valdez
Everywhere around the bay there are thousands of dead or dying salmon, the end product of spawning. Most of the other campgrounds are near those streams, the bay or were just parking lots so we opted for fresher air. Above right nice mountain views in Valdez.

We looked around where Old Valdez was before the 1964 earthquake and looked around the new town. We also explored the far side of the bay off Dayville Road. We got to watch sea gulls, seals, and bears dining on the salmon. We'll be staying here a couple of days before heading back toward Anchorage. We enjoyed a nice sunny morning but returned to drizzle in Valdez. Leftovers for lunch and dinner.

Wednesday: (08/24) Another day in Valdez. Rather overcast and foggy today. We had oatmeal and yogurt for breakfast. We dropped Dawn off at a museum at the college and took a walk down by the harbor. For lunch we stopped a local Mexican restaurant Ernesto's Taqueria. I had the super nachos, a real test for my recently ailing tummy. Dawn had tomales and Lou had a chilli relleno. All was quite good. Dawn continued her musem looking and Lou and I visited the Crooked Creek Visitor Center, watched some eagles across from it, and watched the fish spawning in the creeks. We also examined the local hardware stores. For dinner Lou made chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes and corn on the cob for dinner.

Monday, August 22, 2011

A Fire And A Fever

Monday: (08/22) We were in no hurry to leave this morning. Breakfast was sourdough toast. I didn't feel like eating much and was huffing and puffing so we decided to stay another day, at least that was our plan. Lou and Dawn drove over the bridge to Chitina to try and get some Pepto Bismal for me and some drinking water since we were almost out. They found the Pepto but couldn't find anyplace to fill our water bottles with drinkable water. It seems the town well was lost in a flood in 2006 and there wasn't any good water, just water from the river which was gray with silt. No thanks. She broke down and bought a couple of expensive water bottles at the market.

Chitina Fire Helicopter Chitina Fire Smoke
About noon we heard a helicopter buzzing around a lot and Lou and Dawn went out to see what was up. The helicopter was carrying a bucket and flying from the river below us to a mountain above Chitina. They could smell smoke. The two cement mixers were used to fill one of two buckets that were being used. Probably fire suppressant mix? Since our only way out was by the fire we decided to leave.

Chitina Narrows
The road into Chitina From Kennicott. On the way through town I chuckled when I saw the fire danger sign which said "Low Fire Hazard." We drove out most of the way on highway 10 to just before highway 4 and stopped in a wayside for lunch. Lou fixed a mild chicken and rice mix for lunch. While I relaxed in the RV, Lou and Dawn went out to a couple of nearby stores then returned. We stayed the night in our nice wayside. Dinner was leftovers. Mild rice and chicken for me and spaghetti for Dawn and Lou.
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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Kennecott, McCarthy And Wrangel-St Elias NP

Copper River SRA In Chitina
Our campsite in Chitina by the Copper River.

Sunday: (08/21) Granola and yogurt for breakfast. We were off by 0730 toward McCarthy. We stopped many times to look a wildlife and other interesting things like old railroad trestles but still arrived in McCarthy by 0930.

Swans In Wrangel NP Swans In Wrangel NP
Wrangel St Elias Park was nice. These swans didn't mind our visit. McCarthy Road is unpaved all the way and filled with potholes.

Old Tressle Along McCarthy Road
The McCarthy Road follows the old railroad grade and some of the trestles are interesting.

Old Railcar And The Kennecott Mill Kennecott Recreation Hall With The Glacier Behind It
We caught the shuttle to Kennecott where we had our lunch of olive loaf sandwiches. Kennecott is the end of the railroad from Cordova. The mill is seen in the back above left behind an old railcar that was used after the mine closed. The recreation hall is shown above right with the Kennicott Glacier behind it. The gravel behind is not mine tailings but is ice covered with gravel. It used to be 200 feet taller when the mine started operation 90 years ago.

Kennecott Mill Dawn And lou Entering The Kennecott Mill
We toured the mill building which is 14 stories high and explored the town before catching the shuttle back to McCarthy at 5:30pm.

View Of Kennecott From The Mill Kennecott Power House With Glacier Behind
From the top of the mill the view of town and the glacier is pretty good.

An Old Building In McCarthy McCarthy Road Pot Holes
McCarthy above left, the McCarthy Road above right. We looked around McCarthy and enjoyed the museum there before returning to our car. There are no roads to McCarthy. It stops on the opposite side of the Kennicott River. It's about a 1/2 mile walk back to the car from McCarthy. We returned home by 9pm. Spaghetti for dinner.

Note: Kennicott is spelled three ways. Kennicott (the Glacier and river below the mine), Kennecott (the mine) and Kennycott (the way the manager often spelled it)

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