Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Tracy Arm

On a whim we decided to take a tour of Tracy Arm, a fjord near Juneau with two tidewater glaciers. The boat trip took most of the day, and it was a bit cloudy and rainy, but we saw some really cool chunks of ice in the water. As we got closer to the glacier, nearly every large berg had a harbor seal with her pup.

Monday, June 29, 2009

First leg of the Alaska Marine Highway

We took our first trip on the Alaska ferry system, from Haines to Juneau. The total time on the water was about 4 1/2 hours, and we had good weather with a little rain all the way. Saw a pod of whales and some porpoise off in the distance, as well as a few pelagic birds (Sooty Shearwater and Black-legged Kittiwake) but mostly enjoyed the view of the passing scenery. We sat outside in the solarium for a while, and then moved inside when it started to rain and played some cribbage.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Chilkat Lake

We spent two nights at Chilkat Lake, just north of Haines. We spent most of a day kayaking around the lake, which was the most amazing jade green due to the fine glacial silt being carried into the lake. It was the first time on this trip we wore our dry suits as protection against the very chilly water, and when the wind picked up and it got a bit choppy, we were glad to have them on. This is the view from the top of the lake back toward camp.

We must be further south, because we saw an actual sunset the other night over the lake.

Internet Service

Internet service so far in Alaska has been spotty at best. Here in Haines we happened on a hotspot while doing laundry. Although we had to pay for the service we are balancing the computer on the back of the couch to keep the connection. We spent a day catching up on our computer downloads awhile back - downloading our video and photos. We couldn't figure out why we were draining the battery so quickly, until we figured out we forgot to turn the fridge over to propane. We haven't been doing much computer stuff since then - too busy kayaking and hiking. Kris is working on downloading a couple of pictures to add before we lose this connection. I have saved this post to send on Sunday - we will be on our first ferry ride on the Alaskan Marine Highway! I am so excited! We are trying to send a "Spot" signal from each location we stay in. We also try to send from interesting places along the way. Be sure to check the Spot Locator Tab on the upper left corner of the blog.

Friday, June 26, 2009

some pictures to share

We haven't had much time to play with the computers and go through all the pictures recently, but here's a few from the last week or so.

This mamma Scaup and her 10 ducklings hung out right in front of our campsite at Deadman Lake, where we had some nice paddling and saw Sandhill Cranes and Pacific Loons. Watching the ducklings try to dive was very amusing, they're so bouyant they pop right back up to the surface.

Another campground picture, this is Million Dollar Falls on the Haines Highway.

The road from Haines Junction to Haines was really spectacular. This is near the summit.

The town of Haines is surrounded by impossibly beautiful scenery.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Kayaking in Klamath Lake

Back in Dawson, we spent a rainy afternoon sitting in the camper and playing with the computers, finally looking and editing some of the video we've taken on the trip. This is one of my favorite clips, from the couple of days we were kayaking on the canoe trail in the upper Klamath Lake.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Entering Alaska

After several weeks, we're finally in Alaska!

We crossed the border on the Top of the World Highway, a gravel road from Dawson City to the Taylor highway. From Dawson, you have to take a ferry across the Yukon river to get to the highway.

The Top of the World highway is aptly named, as it seems to follow the ridge line of the mountains. We had great views all along the way. Kris stopped to do some birding in the tundra, looking for the elusive Smith's Longspur (no luck).

The border crossing is only open from 9am to 9pm, and is a pretty isolated affair.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

A few videos to share

We spent the last couple of days on the Top of the World highway...more about that later. Here's some videos from the last few days. First, even though we forgot to take any still photos of Tombstone park, we did take some video. This is from our hike up Goldensides mountain.

We also spent a night camped in the territorial campground across the Yukon river from Dawson, and Cheri took some video of a replica paddle wheel boat fighting the current. It's amazing that the only way to get to Dawson was by steam boat up the Yukon from Whitehorse until they completed the highway in the 1960's.

Fox and Her Kits

While we were traveling on the Dempster Highway we were lucky enough to see a fox and her kits playing outside their den just a few dozen feet from the highways edge. On our return to camp that evening we again stopped and watched the fox as she had her kits out to play in the sun. We must have spent 45 minutes photographing and video taping them using all four of our cameras, the big and little still camera and the big and little video camera. This is a short clip from the small video camera.

Friday, June 19, 2009


Well, it is confirmed - it does not get dark at night. I had a restless night and could not get to sleep. I was thinking about how quickly I lost my money at the poker table last night. Dawson City has a Saloon and Casino, Diamond Toothed Girties. The sun dipped below the horizon about midnight, but the light remained a light twilight until the sun peeked above the horizon about 3 am. We will heading to "The Top of The World Highway" and crossing the border back into Alaska. We will not be as far north during the Solstice, but I expect we will still get 20 plus hours of sunlight for several more weeks.


Tombstone park was beautiful, but we forgot to take pictures of the scenery we were so busy dodging potholes and stopping for birds. The picture above is looking back towards the campground and the ice still covering the Klondike river. We did see some great wildlife, as well as took some hikes across the tundra, which Cheri described as walking on the bottom of the sea because the ground was so spongy and covered with lichens that looked like corals.

Red fox near her den. Cheri got some great video of her playing with her kits.

Harlequin duck posing for us in the Blackstone river.

Willow Ptarmigan standing on the side of the road.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Engineer Creek

We spent a night camped along Engineer Creek north of Tombstone on the Dempster highway. I think this will be the farthest north we get on this trip, we were 240 kilometers south of the Arctic Circle. It's difficult adjusting to the long days, the sun sets well after we're in bed, but it never really gets dark. I took this photo at about 10:30 at night and the sun was still well above the horizon. The orange color of the rocks is due to minerals in the water.

The next morning we drove back over Windy Pass and the highway was lined with yellow daisies. The mountains here look like piles of gravel, which was rather ethereal in the mist.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Cribbage and lupines

When getting advice about how to deal with mosquitoes while camping - often I hear "Bring along someone the mosquitoes like better." Well, what do you do when YOU are that person? Cheri is a great mosquito attractor!

On our way north from Whitehorse we stopped at Moose Creek territorial campground. The lupines were in full bloom all around the campground, but the mosquitoes were out in force, and birds have been few and far between. Cheri even pulled out her bug hat. For those of you who play cribbage, she is displaying a wicked 28 point hand. She's skunked me twice in the last few weeks.

(Kris forgot to tell you - I didn't get to count that wicked 28 because she went out -won the game- before I got to count my hand ! ! )

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Best Commercial RV Park to Date

We made it through British Columbia, Canada and entered Yukon Territory We stopped in Whitehorse to replenish our supplies, get an oil change, and freshen up. We stayed at the Hi Country RV Park and have been impressed. Although the sites are spaced very close, great care has been taken to ensure several trees surround each site. (Unlike a gravel parking lot RV Park we saw a few miles down the road.) The laundry facilities are the best yet!! The front loading washers and the dryers were plentiful and efficient. The shower facilities were spotlessly clean. Not only was the WIFI up and working, but they even provided an area to sit and plug in your computer in the lodge. Little details make a big difference when you're living out of a tiny RV.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Putting on the Miles

Since we left Charlie Lake near the beginning of the Alaskan Highway, we have been putting on the miles. We drove to Stone Mountain Provincial Park and camped at Summit Lake. The picture below was taken from our campsite. Unfortunately Cheri's back has been hurting so we did not pull out the kayak.

Kris took a hike up the Microwave Tower Road past the treeline and into the tundra. Lots of wildflowers, but no ptarmigan. We both hiked up the stream across the highway from the campground.

The next day we drove to Liard River Provincial Park where our campground fee included a dip in the natural hot springs. There was a board walk across the marsh to two hot spring pools. What a relaxing way to unwind after a day on the road! Later in the evening several groups of fire fighters arrived to relax in the hot springs after fighting a local wild fire. We were able to get the most up to date report on the road conditions as there had been some concern they might close the road.

As we drove several hundred kilometers to Teslin, we saw some of the effects of the fire and the suppression efforts. Spaced along the roadside we saw large pool sized buckets of water that had been strategically placed by helicopters. Some of the buckets were to help the firefighters who were lighting backfires and some of the buckets were placed near the few buildings along the highway.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Signs of Spring

We spent the last couple nights at Charlie Lake near Fort St. John surrounded by aspen forest. The number of birds and the volume of their song, particularly at 4am when the sun rises is astounding. I've seen several typically eastern species, like Ovenbird, Bluebird and Baltimore Oriole that are at the limits of their range here. We knew this was going to be a great area when we pulled into our campsite and found a morel coming up out of the gravel. Cheri and I hiked a couple of local trails and were torn between looking up for the birds or down for the fungi. Morels and pasta for dinner!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Icefields Parkway

Highway 93, the Icefields Parkway, runs from Lake Louise in Banff National Park to Jasper townsite, and in between it passes 7 icefields and many smaller glaciers. When we bought our National park pass, and mentioned we were planning to drive north to Jasper, we were handed a little brochure that described the Icefields Parkway as the most beautiful road in the world. I didn't think much of it, and then we actually drove it. It seemed every few minutes there was another spectacular vista and Cheri and I were both saying "wow", until Cheri finally said her wow-meter was stuck at 12. I don't think the pictures we took do the place justice. If you like snow capped mountains, this drive is a "must see" trip!

Hector Lake, still covered in ice.

Peyto Lake, also ice covered, but showing an impossible turquoise blue around the edges.

Looking south from a pullout below Sunwapta pass.

The Athabasca glacier, which is one little tongue of the enormous Columbia icefield.

Saturday, June 6, 2009


One of the attractions of the Canadian mountain parks is all the wildlife. We saw big horn sheep and caribou in Banff, and saw a moose with her very young calf while we were kayaking in the aptly named Moose Lake in Mt. Robson provincial park. But up until a couple of days ago we hadn't seen any bears. Then we saw a total of 6 bears while driving to Prince George. We felt like complete tourists pulling over on the highway to take this picture. After spending days in the Rockies it was complete culture shock spending a day running errands and doing laundry in Prince George - so many people! So few trees! where are the mountains?

Friday, June 5, 2009

Ready to Kayak

As we were in the final planning stages for this Canada/Alaska adventure, we wanted to be able to go out on the water in the places we would be camping, particularly after looking at the map of British Columbia and seeing all those lakes! With our limited amount of space, we decided an inflatable kayak would best suit our needs. We settled on a convertible kayak from Advanced Elements. The kayak can be used as a single or a double kayak, depending on which deck is used. It's worked pretty well so far, although it takes some care making sure everything is aligned while inflating it if we want to track straight. What's even more amazing is how much equipment actually fits in our kayak box.
Be sure to check out the link to "Our Spot Locator Page" in the upper right hand corner of out blog. We have a Spot Satellite Messenger and have been using it to track our progress and stay in touch when we don't have internet service. The page shows the the last seven days of messages, and using Google Maps, you can see where we were at the time the message was sent. For the Spot links that seem to be in the middle of the lake - that is because we were kayaking at the time we sent the signal.

Monday, June 1, 2009


It is a bit of a challenge (for Kris - Cheri doesn't cook much) to cook a variety of meals on a two burner stove with a limited amount of cookware. We have a cook set with three pots that nestle together and their lids double as pans. We did dedicate the space to bring a fair sized frying pan whose handle folds into itself to conserve space. Kris choose her spices and we found stacking/attached containers that each hold a fair amount of spices.

The storage space in the fridge and freezer are a factor in our variety of available ingredients also. Kris' mother gave us a great recipe for homemade sherbet. We had been making it at home for months. We have found that by cutting the recipe in half we can make it in the available size containers we have and we can then transfer the liquid to small plastic containers to create single servings that fit nicely into the freezer.

Kris had been experimenting and researching one pot/pan meals for several months before we left. We definitely came up with some favorites. I just hope we can find more Orzo when our supply runs out! Just before we left we asked several of our friends if they had any one pot, stovetop meals they liked. Our friend Illana gave us several that we have now tried - the stuffed chicken was great.

I never cease to be amazed at my wonderful wife's abilities. We stopped for lunch at a picnic ground and the leftover southwest fish stew we were reheating were a bit spicy. Kris asked if I wanted some coleslaw with the meal. She chopped some cabbage, added some honey, apple, yogurt, mayonnaise, vinegar, and tossed. Yum Yum.

Anyone have a favorite one pot/pan stovetop meal for two they would like to share?

Second Weekend

From Revelstoke we passed through Glacier National Park. Entering the Canadian Rockies, we were surrounded by snow capped mountains all day. We camped at the city of Golden Municipal Campground Friday night. The campground was tucked into a corner of town with the Columbia River on one side and the city swimming pool and High School on the other. We had a nice walk along the river.

We then drove fifty some miles to our next camp site at Kicking Falls Campground in Yoho National Park. We found a campsite right next to the river again. There is something to be said for arriving early, claiming a campsite and then go off exploring. By the time we got back the campground was about 3/4 filled. We explored Wapto Falls and Emerald Lake. Kris called in several swarms of warblers as we walked around the lake, including MacGillivary's and Townsends warblers.

The next day we drove about sixty miles stopping at Lake Louise then on to Banff National Park. At the last minute Kris saw an entry for Two Jack Campground, so we are camping in the forest instead of next to town. We again arrived early and got (in our opinion) the best campsite in the campground. We are right next to the lake and we launched the kayak just from our own site. Follow the large snow patch on this mountain down into the trees and there is our camp. You can almost see us . . .

We saw our first large mammals today. While we were driving on the Highway we saw a black bear up on the railroad tracks and later a caribou grazing on the side of the road. While we were driving to our campsite we had to stop on the road as big horned sheep crossed in front of us. Later as we were kayaking we were able to get several pictures of the same herd from the lake.