Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Alaska 2013, Day 76, WI to Port Clinton OH

Friday Aug 16, 2013

Got going early today and made it into Port Clinton by 4:30.

405 miles today.

 11398 miles so far.

Alaska 2013, Day 75, Wall SD to WI

Thursday Aug 15, 2013

Nothing but lots of driving  today, Wall to WI

776 miles today.

10993 miles so far.

Alaska 2013, Day 74, Black Hills SD to Wall SD

Wednesday Aug 14, 2013

Not far to go today so let the kids swim in the morning and got going around 12:00.  Drove to Wall, went through Wall Drug and decided to stay at Sleepy Hollow Campground and drive the Badlands at sunset. The dids got in a swim after Wall Drug then we drove the Badlands.  Saw lots of critters in the badlands; herd of antelope at the gate, bighorns and turkeys at the first pull off, deer, night hawks and horned larks.


87 miles today.

10217 miles so far.

Alaska 2013, Day 73, Black Hills SD

Tuesday Aug 13, 2013

We stayed 2 nights in the Black Hills so we could drive the Needles Highway.  The first place we stopped was Sylan Lake, it was closest to our campground. We walked the trail that goes all around the  lake.  Lots of large granite bolders on the far end of the lake and a small dam.  Lots of flood damage below the dam.  We hiked around and climbed the bolders.  On top of one of the bolders the kids spotted 2 mink below us along the lake shore.

We drove the Needles Highway. Lots of dead pines due to spruce beetle. In some places it looks like they have lost the majority of their pines in some spots.

Ended the day at the Custer State Park Wildlife Loop Drive.  Saw a coyote, a big herd of buffalo and antelope.

Alaska 2013, Day 72, Bozeman MT to Black Hills SD

Monday Aug 12, 2013

West of Spearfish there was a 1/4 mi of I-90 that had remains of snow.  Too low of elevation to have leftover winter snow, to hot for fresh snow.  I thought maybe is was fake snow from a Sturgis Bike Week event of maybe a TV commercial. Later found out it was hail, they have had a string of bad storms moving through.

Stopped at Vore Buffalo Jump between Spearfish and Sundance WY. Pretty interesting, there are lots of buffalo bones being excavated from a sinkhole along I-90.  They figure that the site was used for 20 or so hunts from 1500 to 1800 AD by many different tribes.

Saw lots antelope in the alphalpha fields in Wyoming.

Stopped in Sturgis at the Conoco to buy some bike week junk.

Tried a new campground, Horsethief Campground 2 mi up route 87. The start of 87 is all switchbacks and there was a 1 mi stretch where all the trees were knocked down.  You could see where the road had been cleared; trees cut and bulldozed off the edge.  We found out at the campground that they had a tornado just the night before.  The campground had heavy flood damage; lots of their road gravel had been washed away.

Drove up to Mount Rushmore after dark to see it lit up.  Had the place to ourselves, only a couple of other people there.

560 miles today.

10130 miles so far.

Alaska 2013, Day 71, Seattle WA to Bozeman MT

Sunday Aug 11, 2013

We got up early and hit the road by 7 AM.  We wanted to get at least to Butte MT.  Made Butte around 6PM so drove on to Bozeman.  The Flying J west of Bozeman (Buffalo?) was pretty packed so we drove on to the Walmart in Bozeman where we stayed at in '96. We got to Bozeman by 11:00 PM.  There must have been 30 campers in the lot plus a couple dozen cars staying overnight.  It gets packed because its right on the way into West Yellowstone.  Took a while to find room but eventually we found space.

726 miles today.

9570 miles so far.

Alaska 2013, Day 70, Seattle WA

Saturday Aug 10, 2013

We headed in to town around 11:00. It was clear and sunny again but downtown Seattle was all fogged in until after lunch. We hit Pile Place Market for produce.

We loaded up on fruit; peaches, nectarines, Rainier cherries, also got a cantelope, cucumber, tomato and lettuce for salad. Cheryl got more flowers ($10). 

We got fish tacos, grilled salmon and gyros for lunch at the stalls across the street.  Really crowded today, could barely walk the main market. Rainier cherries must be ending, they were $10/lb.  Found 1 stand that had Rainiers for $5/lb and bought 1.5 lbs which we ate by the time we got home.  The seafood vendors had dungeness crabs $9/lb (not bad compared to $7/lb in Haines), king crab $40/lb., halibut $28/lb., local mussells $6/lb. Caught a good blue grass band performing at the market, the Tallboys.

After the market we went to the Experience Music Project which is Seattle's version of the Rock an Roll Hall of Fame. The kids enjoyed this. There was a room to try your hand at playing instruments.  You could try to play a guitar, keyboard or drums.  Really crowded, kind of pricey ($20/person). They had an exhibit on Nirvana and the Seattle grunge seen that was interesting. There was also an exhibit on women in rock and one on Hendrix in London.

By the time we left at 5:30 it had got really hot downtown.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Alaska 2013, Day 69, Vancouver BC to Seattle

Friday Aug 9, 2013

Left at noon. Crossed the border at "Golden Ears Bridge", route 1 exit 53 (route 15?).  The wait to get through customs turned out to be almost 2 hours. We had trouble getting campground reservations in Seattle, everybody was full.  We got lucky and found a small campground in Everett (Harbor Point) that had room.  Turns out it was a campground of about 50 seasonal sights that had 1 empty. We needed to be there by 5 PM but with the border delay and traffic we didn't make it until 6, had to call ahead a make for a late arrival but we got in.

118 miles today.

8844 miles so far.

Alaska 2013, Day 68, Vancouver BC

Thursday Aug 8, 2013

We drove into town this morning.  Drove through Chinatown and walked Gastown.  Not much to Chinatown, lots of Chinese businesses, not particularly pretty where we went. Gastown reminds me of Seattle's Pioneer Square;  art galleries, tourist shops and restaurants.

We read that Granville Island was touristy, there is a market there and some art galleries.  We couldn't find it at first, it is under the Granville Rd. bridge. Its only a couple miles across. Really congested, overflowing with
tourists.  It reminds me of the Cleveland flats in that it is a couple of blocks under the bridge in an old industrial area.  Unlike the flats this has been all renovated.  There is a large public market and all the warehouses have been converted to shops or parking.

After Granville Island we drove around Stanley Park. Stanley Park is finger on the north western end of Vancouver that sticks out into Vancouver Harbor. It is a pretty big green space and is all coastal rainforest.  It took us a couple attempts to find a way in (follow the Aquarium signs). Driving in Vancouver is a trip; really congested, lots of traffic, lots of one way streets and intersections with traffic lights only facing one of the streets.

Coming back from the park we followed Hastings all the way back to route 1.  There was a stretch of about 5 blocks between Gastown and Chinatown where Hastings was lined with bums.  I wouldn't have thought that Canada, with a more socialist government than the US would have a homeless problem.  Another thing I noticed was that downtown we saw a Ferrari Daytona and 2 Maseratis.  So there is also a lot of wealth here as well. Not as egalitarian as I thought.

Alaska 2013, Day 67, Vanderhof BC to Vancouver BC

Wednesday Aug 7, 2013

Clear and sunny again today so we could see the mountain tops south of Hells Gate. There are mountains just south of Prince George all the way down to Vancouver.

Left at 9 AM, got into Vancouver at 10 PM.  Slow going for 90 minutes, from Lilloet to Hope, that is the Thompson and Fraser Canyons. Lots of curves and hills through the canyon.

We have a few extra days on our schedule and we have never been into Vancouver so we decided to stay 2 nights and drive in.  There are only a few campgrounds around Vancouver, urban campgrounds. We stayed at Barnaby Cariboo RV Park.  It is an urban resort park.  Its huge, maybe 300 sights.  All narrow lots with 8 foot high hedge rows, kind of crazy looking.

543 miles today.

8726 miles so far.

Alaska 2013, Day 66, Prince Rupert BC to Vanderhof BC

Tuesday Aug 6, 2013

Traveled all night on the ferry.  At daylight there was fog and couldn't see much more than 1/2 mi. Lots
of seabirds, maybe murres. Changed time at the US/Canada boarder so we got in an hour earlier than I expected.

We got into Prince Rupert around 10 AM.  Took us an hour to clear customs.  Made it to Vanderhof BC, about an hour west of Prince George.  We stayed in a private campground, Dave's, really clean. Clear and sunny today, all the mountains were clear, made for a pretty drive.

367 miles today.

8183 miles so far.

Alaska 2013, Day 65, Ketchikan Day 3

Monday Aug 5, 2013

Last day in Ketchikan, last day in Alaska.

Today we did the Aleutian Ballad tour boat. We went on this in 2008 and it is really interesting.  The Aleutian Ballad is a Bering Sea crab boat from season 1 of Deadliest Catch.  They converted it into a tour boat and take people out and show them the various ways they commercially fish in Alaska.  They pull a long line, shrimp pots and crab pots.  Everything they bring in the hand around to everyone.  40 people on the afternoon boat today, had free run of the place.

After supper we drove out the other end of the road to Settlers Cove Park.  A couple miles down from Clover Pass. Lots of rocks and sculpins but very few sea stars.

Tonight we catch the  3AM ferry to Prince Rupert BC.

Alaskan2013, Day 64, Ketchikan Day 2

Sunday Aug 4, 2013

This morning we drove up to Saxman Village to see the totems. Lots of tour buses there. All the totems here had a new coat of paint, they must refinish them every spring.

On the way back through town we walked Creek Street, an are of shops in old warehouses over a small creek.  There was pink salmon in the creek but no seals. Got some fish and chips for lunch.

From Creek Street we walked downtown.  Tongass Trading Co. at the docks has an upstairs with outdoor gear; raingear, xtra tufs, sweaters, jackets, fishing gear, camping gear, you name it.

The rain gauge, Ketchikan gets between 170 and 200 inches of rain a year.

The cruise ships pulled out at 6 PM and by then all the downtown stores were closed. The downtown area around the cruise docks lives and dies by the cruise ship schedules.

Alaska 2013, Day 63, Ketchikan Day 1

Saturday Aug 3, 2013

Last summer we went to a zipline in Hocking Hills Ohio and the kids had a blast.  I heard  about a zipline in Ketchikan, Canopy Zipline, that has zips that are pretty high and pretty long so we have been waiting to give it a try. There aren't as many zips as the one we did in Ohio but the zips were much higher and twice as long. The zips are over rainforest so it's a pretty view.

We had a great time but it was really expensive, more expensive than some of the sight seeing trips we did.

Below the zipline is a stream with a fish hatchery on it.  When we were walking across one of the zipline suspension bridges we saw a black bear down in the stream.

On the way back from the zipline we stopped at Rotary Beach to do some tidepooling. Tons of purple sea stars, limpets, sculpins and tiny sea urchins.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Alaska 2013, Day 62, Wrangell to Ketchikan

Friday Aug 2, 2013

Ferry to Ketchikan

Ferry left at 5 AM, we got up at 3 AM, early morning!

Clear sky most of the trip.  We saw 5 humpbacks, 2 Dall's Porpoise from the ferry. We got in to Ketchikan around 11 AM. 30 minutes south the ferry ran into fog/low cloud ceiling.  The clouds cleared by the time we hit Clover Pass.  Sunny, clear and 70 at Clover Pass.

Stayed at Clover Pass again.  It is the only commercial campground/ full hookup campground in Ketchikan.  Best wifi yet.

Totem Bite

After we setup and grabbed some lunch we went down to Totem Bite to see the totems and do some tide pooling at the 4 PM low tide. They are starting to redo or copy some of the older totems at the park. They already have redone 3. Sun was out and there were quite a few people at the park today. 


After the totems we walked the beach/rocks at low tide.  Best tide pooling yet.  We saw over 2 dozen sea stars,  a half dozen sea cucumbers, some tube worms, urchins, lots of hermit crabs, sculpins, and rock crabs.


Sunday, August 4, 2013

Alaska 2013, Day 61, Wrangell Day 2

Thursday Aug 1, 2013


We had a 9 AM trip to Anan (pronounced "Ann-Ann"). The forestry service puts out 60 permits per day for Anan from July 1 to end of August.  The outfitters share 45 daily permits through a lottery in February.  This alots the whole summer. The remaining 15 daily permits are realeased 3 days prior.  I have been trying to get a  permit through a couple outfitters since April and was not having  any luck.  Cheryl tried 2 more and one said no problem.  When I  talked with them today they said they booked us expecting to get the 3 day prior releases because they have been so successfull getting them. Evidently the other outfitters only book for the permits they have on hand from the Feb lottery. Anan is on another island just off the far side of Wrangell island.  They use large jet boats to get  over there and it takes a little over an hour at 40 mph.

They  stopped on the way over for an eagle nest by the airport and a couple of groups of seals hauled out.

Just before we landed we stopped and had lunch since you can't bring food of any kind onto shore.  There is a 1/2 mile walk; boardwalk with steps. We walked back with a USFS guide and our guide.  Our guide carried a pump shotgun loaded with slugs (later found out their company insurance requires they carry a gun eventhough the USFS guides don't have any).  Anan has a large pink run, that is what brings the bears. The run here is large because there is a "salt chuck", a brackish pond estuary where the pinks can rest before running up the  creek.  Because the fish can rest up and run strong they go further upstream and are more successful at reproducing.  There were signs of  bears right from the point we got on shore.  They have been digging roots and clay all along the boardwalk, there are game trails all through the grass, there is scat everywhere. The guides were sure to move slow and noisly around blind corners.  We saw 2 brown bears at the edge of the salt chuck and another further up stream.  I heard that they only get black bears here, I was not expecting brown bears.  At the end of the trail  is an observation platform, with a railing and gate, above the falls and a photography blind down at the base of the  falls.  The falls are short but in a tight gorge.  There were no bears at the falls when we first got there.  We saw another black bear at the bend way up stream (turns out it was a  black brown bear!). The guides told us just to wait and be patient.  After about 10 minutes a black bear came out of  a hole in the gorge right beneath us and went into the falls and caught a fish.  He proceded to do this like every 15 minutes the whole time we were there. Then we saw a black bear with a cub and another black bear just above the falls on the other  side.  The cub was up a tree. The guide told us the mom sent  the cub up the tree while she chased the other black bear away. The black bear and cub came across the stream to fish right under us.  The caught fish then climbed a tree right at the deck to eat it.  They repeated this about 3 times.  While they were up in the tree bear after bear came down to the near shore  out of the woods or from up stream.  One big one was fishing and saw the mom and cub and ran right up next to the railing  by us (boars fear sows with cubs).  We had a couple bears walk up and around the deck,  right against the railing. 2 bears were fishing just below the falls at one point while the earlier bear was in the  falls.  From the blind you could watch them about 10' to 30' away but the lighting in the gorge wasn't good enough for photos, even with bright sun today. We got some great pictures, the bear cub, bears in trees, bears real close. There were bears on the boardwalk a couple times. Emmy says she counted 18 bears today. We got to the deck maybe around 11 and left at 2.  We didn't see any bears walking out.  We ran into a chop on the water coming home so it took like an hour and a half to get back, it was after 4 when we finally hit the dock.