Saturday, July 23, 2011

More catching up!

Here's more catching up. I hope you don't get bored with such a long blog post and please excuse the sentences that have some mistakes in them because I usually write late at night. :)  We are leaving for Jasper National Park now. See ya!

We got a little bit of house cleaning in before we picked Mo and Mrs. Healy up from the airport. We stayed in the Fred Meyer parking lot in Anchorage that night.  On Saturday, we went to the market down in Anchorage.  They had many vendors set up that were selling local crafts, food and had performers telling poems and singing songs. We had a dough ball filled with hamburger meat that was awesome!  It was some kind of Russian food. We ran into our pastor Earl and his wife Peggy at the market. We knew they were coming out and planned to meet up with them that day.  Their son and daughter in-law lived in Anchorage so we got to meet them also.  Everyone was so nice. We had a nice talk with everyone and then parted ways.  We walked around downtown for a little longer, to show our new guests the area.  When we finished with downtown, we drove up to Talkeetna and stayed at the creek where we caught the salmon, a couple of weeks before.  Mo and her mom really liked the area because it was alongside a creek and it was off the beaten path. The dogs were playing in the creek and everyone was having a great time.  At about 9:30pm, Holly started eating some grass and trying to make her self sick. We thought she had gotten into some of Jan's medicine and that was upsetting her stomach. She hacked all night and tried to eat grass until 5am, when I was fed up with babysitting her.  I had been up all night watching her and listening to her hack.  I found a vet clinic that was open all night so I drove an house and 15 min down to Wasila. They did a couple of x-rays and found something lodged in her throat.  It looked like a rock, which makes sense because she was lifting rocks out of the creek and could have accidentally swallowed one.  They used a scope to try and remove it but it fell down into her stomach.  The vet gave me some medicine and said watch her when she poops to see if I could see the object in her poop.  Yeah!  that sounds like fun.  I made it back to camp at 11:30am and everyone was happy to see that we didn't put her down, because she exceeded her amount of living funds. :) We drove to Dena and Johnny's (the people who own the real estate company in North Carolina that rent Joe and Jan's cabin out for them.) property just outside of Talkeetna to stay for a couple of days and check out the area. We took a drive into Talkeetna to let the ladies shop, stop for lunch and to see if we could get a flight around McKinley to see the sights. We booked a flight to see McKinley for the next day at 5pm.  It was supposed to be nice weather and the views were going to be great.  We walked down by a lake that night and watched the sunset light up the calm lake. It was beautiful.  

On July 4th, we went into Talkeenta for the town parade. The town is very small, but it has a lot of character. The streets were packed with tourists and locals, all watching the fire truck, kids on bicycles, the 4 person marching band, a motorcycle man that was riving around recklessly and a big junky monster truck.  It was quite a parade!  They also had about 15 moose that local business made out of wood and painted with all kinds of designs.  They auctioned them off at the end of the parade and gave the money to the historical society to maintain the buildings in the town.  The highest bid for one of the moose was $400.  the day prior, when we were in Talkeetna, we bought moose dropping tickets from the VFW. They were to sell over 1500 moose turds (all painted white) and drop them from an airplane in the middle of their parking lot, to see which turds get closest to the bullseye.  They had numbers on each of the turds and they made pins out of the numbers that you bought. Say, we paid $20 for 4 turds, numbers 1360-1364.  We wore the pins proudly. The day of the dropping, we went to the VFW to watch the dropping take place.  Unfortunately they weren't going to use an airplane to drop the turds from, but they had a cable rigged across the parking lot that a bag of turds was held from.  At 2:45, they pulled the string on the bag and let the turds fall.  There was one turd that made the bullseye and the rest remained outside of the target.  We didn't end up winning anything, but it was fun to watch.  We didn't end up going on the airplane tour of McKinley, but on the following days, we got to see some amazing views of the mountain. 
July 4th Parade in Talkeetna
Moose Drop target

We drove towards Denali on the next day. We stopped along the road to see the mountain from afar, but there were many clouds blocking the way.  They moved out of the way eventually, and we were able to see parts of the mountain.  It was beautiful!  We made it to Denali and picked up our bus ride tickets for the next day. We watched a video covering Mount McKinley.  We saw where the base camp was and the types of weather that climbers encounter on their way up.  It takes 2-3 weeks to hike the mountain, from 7500ft all the way to 20,320ft. How cool would that be!  I would like to do it someone else wanted to go.  It's not on my bucket list, but I could be persuaded. Laurie, Mo, Mrs Healy and me camped along the roadside that night, so we could be closer to the park entrance for our 6:15am bus departure. We didn't get too much sleep that night and we ended up waking up at 5am. That's not cool when we are used to getting up at 9:30 or 10 everyday. BUT, we were able to make it on time.  We boarded a school bus with about 30 other people for an 11hr day through Denali. The ride took us through mountains, over passes, near cliffs and down to a lake, about 20 miles from Mount McKinley.  We could see Mount McKinley with no clouds early that morning. I took a few great shots of the it. We were able to see grizzly bear sleeping on the mountain sides, doll sheep, moose running with her baby behind her, caribou, fox, elk and golden eagles.  The views were awe inspiring.  The scenery was gorgeous. It was such a vast land and it made you realize how big Alaska really is.  We were all ready for the end of the bus ride because it was such a long day…but a good one.  We camped outside of Denali, at a campground that had a microbrew pub right next to it.  I was excited because they had open mic nights on Wednesday…and guess what day it was!  I took my guitar up to the brewpub and Joe, Laurie and Mo joined me.  We had a drink outside on the picnic table while waiting for the open mic guy to show up and start the program.  Supposedly it started at 10pm or 11pm…that's what the waitress said. I guess it's whenever he felt like it.  We got to see the bus from the movie "Into the Wild," and we took pictures with it. It was a nice night, so I didn't mind waiting, but Laurie and Mo were tired so they went back to the motorhome. Joe and I stayed until the guy finally called me up on stage to sing a few songs.  I sang 4 songs and the last one I sang was Margaritaville.  I couldn't read the crowd on Margaritaville or Dixieland Delight, but they did like Knockin' on Heaven's Door and Let Her Cry.  It's a different type of crowd up here and I think they are into the Beatles or hippie type songs.  That's ok, I still got a standing ovation…ok, one lady stood up while she was still clapping and headed off towards the bathroom, only to trip over a bar stool and fall flat on her face. She was having a good time!  It was fun to get to play a few songs in front of my fans, but it was time to head to bed.  I called it a night after some autographs and caught some zzzzz's.   


McKinley from Denai at 6:15 in the morning.



One happy passenger in front of the "Into the Wild" bus.

Everybody on the bus? Good, Great, Grand!

We got up the next day and shook off the night before, and headed north towards Fairbanks. It was a nice drive with great weather.  We ended up finding this place to camp, about 20 miles North of Fairbanks, called Olmes Pond.  It was up the road that we would take to get to the Arctic Circle, the next day.  It was a campground at one time, but is no longer maintained by the state.  Basically, a bunch of rednecks that like riding 4 wheelers, dirt bikes and fishing, go up there to have fun. Just our style! After a stop at Sams, we called it a night…but Holly still didn't feel well. I tried to find an all-night clinic that would be able to see her, but there were none around the Fairbanks area.  We waited until the next morning to take her back to the vet to see if the rock (or whatever it was) was still in her throat.  Joe and I took Holly into the vet and the took some X-rays of her again.  They said they couldn't see anything so they thought that she had a throat infection. We got some antibiotics and some cough medicine, paid the tab and hoped for the best.  After we got back to camp, we started the drive to the Arctic Circle. The road was rough in some places, mostly gravel also.  It was a long drive to the Circle, but we finally made it in 5 hours.  We took a picture by the "You made it to the Arctic Circle" sign, saw a campground and then headed back. Funny though, there are a lot of people that do that.  It was a 4 hour drive back because there were fewer stops, but still long, none the less. We saw a moose and her baby and one owl on that entire drive.  We thought that we would see more because of the vast tundra that we drove through, but we saw almost diddle squat. (Who's diddly anyways?)  We toured Fairbanks on the following day.  Mo and Mrs. Healy had a plane to catch at 9pm that night, so we would use the day to see what Fairbanks has to offer.  It's a nice city, actually.  We went to a large, outdoor garage sale, ate a falafel at this famous place for making falafels, took a tour of the University of Fairbanks campus, visited the museum at the University, walked through downtown (saw drunk indians sitting on a park bench…while one threw his empty liquor bottle into the nice fountain), saw a nice visitor's center, ate at Miguel's Mexican restaurant and then dropped Mo and Mrs. Healy off at the airport.  I'd say we had a pretty packed day. It was sad to them leave because the week had gone by so fast…again!  Although we didn't get to see as many animals as we'd hoped, we still had a great time. We really enjoyed their company and I hope they had a great time also.  We made it back to camp and Holly was feeling better. We had to smash her soft food into little bites, feed her 5 pills a day and give her cough syrup twice a day, for a week! 

Olmes Pond

Serenity Now!

"Here's Your Sign" 

I asked him how many licks it takes to get to the tootsie roll center of a tootsie pop...but he just gave me this "You talkin' to me?" 

Last night at the pond. 

We heard about Chena Hot Springs, from some people that lived in Achorage and we had to go visit.  Chena is about 60 miles North of Fairbanks.  You drive on this 2 lane road and it dead ends into the Hot Springs resort.  Along the drive, we saw moose and babies in a pond, eating grass.  That was really cool to watch. We got to the Hotsprings around noon.  The complex wasn't anything special, but it was out in the middle of nowhere. It has an airstrip on it, a greenhouse and a hotel.  We grabbed our swimsuits and went swimming in the hotsprings!  The area that we went into was 104 degrees.  Just perfect for the rainy, cloudy day that it turned out to be.  The pool wasn't crowded but it wasn't empty either.  There were a bunch of other tourists in it, but there were plenty of other pools to go into also.  We ate some lunch after 20 minutes in the pool.  It relaxed all of us so well that I took a nap on the way home, until we pulled off of the road to check out a lake.  There was a moose standing on one side of the lake and there was a beaver lodge on the other.  There was a man fishing and two kayakers paddling around the lake.  It was fun to watch the moose eat the grass out of the lake while keeping a keen eye on the guy that was fishing…making sure that he didn't get too close.  We saw one more moose on the way home and he was eating the grass in the bottom of a pond also.  

We decided to go on a tour of a gold mine, the following day.  We had hoped to be able to do that while Mo and Mrs. Healy were here, but time wasn't on our side.  The mine was called El Dorado Gold Mine…where you will be able to pan for gold, yourself!  That caught our attention immediately!  We boarded a small train with 100 other tourists and listened to Earl Hughes play some Johnny Cash on our way to the next stop.  The ride took us into a tunnel where a narrator explained how they used to mine for gold underground. It was very interesting to watch…and I payed special attention so I could use some techniques in the future. The next stop had the narrator panning for gold in a creek, alongside a mock cabin that looked as old as dirt. He explained how the sourdough miners panned for gold, hoping to find riches…and many found poverty.  The train eventually led us to the gold panning explanation area where they showed us how they use a sluice box, track ho and a steady flow of water to find the gold.  They pour a lot of dirt that they dig up from the mines, into a box that has water flowing through it and the gold and dirt flow into a catch stream (sluice box), and you pan for the gold out of that box. Voila!  I just told you how to make millions! We each grabbed a bag of dirt after the show and were able to pan for gold that was in the bags.  Laurie found $22.50 worth of flakes, I found $27 worth of flakes, Jan found $12.50 and Joe found $37 worth of flakes.  Joe was the only one to actually cover the cost of the tour! :)  We got a plastic container to put the flakes in and had some fresh chocolate chip cookies and milk that the outfit provided.  It was a fun morning and enlightening also!  We did laundry for the remaining half of the day…yeah!   

Tim the Narrator, explaining the types of rock that gold prospectors look for.

Gabby Johnson. "There's gold in them there hills!" Not where we looked!

Water coming down through the box where the dirt is dropped.


Alright! We just made $50!

The next day we decided that we were going to try some gold panning by ourselves. We knew of a mine that was open for recreational panning (do-it-yourselfers) and we drove up to see what kind of treasures we could find…nada. We were able to dig through some old tailings of mining that had been done a long time ago. We found a lot of rocks, dirt, water and rain but no gold.  We stayed about an hour and half then we took off.  We stayed at the Walmart that night (civilization!) and made a few repairs to the vehicles. Nothing big, just the seal that blocks the smells from coming out of the toilet that went bad. Eeewww!  We also fixed the stairs to the motorhome. They were having trouble coming out when Mo and her mom were here. THey work great now! We traveled to the North Pole after we left Walmart. North Pole, Alaska. It's a small town that is always decorated with Christmas stuff.  We went to Santa's house.  A building full of Christmas ornaments, gifts from Alaska and other stuff that will probably never get used once it is bought. Santa showed up though!  He entered through a backdoor and sat on his chair.  There were kids lined up to see him.  It was fun to watch.  Santa had a cell phone from one of the customers and he was talking to kids o the other line.  You could hear them screaming from where I was standing.  Now we can say that we have been to the Arctic Circle and North Pole. What else is there to do?! My life is complete!  We stayed a night on a river bank on the way to Chicken, AK. 

He had a great Ho Ho Ho laugh!

Casa de Santa

 We arrived in Chicken at about 5pm and took a walk around town…which consisted of 3 buildings. We decided that we would camp out in the parking lot next to a cafe and bar. We met some really cool people from Denmark there.  They bought motorcycles on Craigslist and had them sent to Anchorage where they picked them up.  They went to the Northern most town in North America and are traveling to the Southern most part of the South America.  They plan to end their trip in January.  What an adventure!  Their blog address is: Check it out.  It makes ours look shabby!  Chicken had its own personality.  They actually wanted to name the town Ptarmigan (an Alaskan bird) but they couldn't spell it, so they named it Chicken.  Joe and I went into the bar for a game of pool and a glass of brew later on that evening. The beers were pretty expensive at $7.50 each! We had one and played a few games then headed back for some games in the RV.  I couldn't afford to have another beer in there!  We heard of a creek, about 20 miles up there road, where we could do some more gold panning. So, the next day we headed for the border and made a stop for gold panning. Still nothing.  So far, we are 0-2 for gold panning on our own.  We have one more try in Dawson City.  We made it to the border of Canada, then over the Yukon river on a ferry and into Dawson City.  The gold rush was there in the late 1800's and into the early 1900's.  The town was busy because of a music fest that they have each year.  There were a lot of hippies walking around.  I guess the music festival is a big thing for this area…partly because there is just wilderness everywhere else around the area. We found a campground about 12 miles outside of Dawson City, where we stayed overnight.  Supposedly there was a bear in the campground about 40 minutes before we arrived, but we didn't see it entire time.  I grilled steak over the wood burning fire and Joe, Jan and Laurie fixed sides.  What a meal we had!  In the morning, I rode my bike into town (12 miles…flat road too!). It took me 50 minutes.  I met everyone else in town and we toured Dawson City.  With the music fest going on, there was a lot of people-watching to do.  There were people passed out in alleys from the night before. There were hippies with no shoes on, walking around town. Literally, I thought, "this must be what the sixties were like."  A lot of guys had afros too. I ran into some guy from Montana that said he and his girlfriend had ridden a bus for 5 hours to Whitehorse (a town about 150 miles from Dawson City) and then hitchhiked the remainder of the way up to Dawson. They were staying for 2 nights, then making their way back to Montana.  I wondered, "is the music really that good?" I think it's more about the partying and hanging out with other hippies, than it is the music…which is cool too. After taking in the town, we drove up to Dome Rd.  It's a road that takes you up to the top of a lookout.  You can see the city and the surrounding areas.  There were great views of the Yukon river also. A guy with a seat strapped to a parachute took off from the top of the lookout when we had just arrived.  He parachuted down into the city after soaring the mountain side for 5-7 minutes. Later in the afternoon, we tried our hand at gold panning again.  This time we gave it our all.  Still no gold though.  I think I am done with gold panning.  It's a like a shot in the dark.  You dig out of the mountain and put the dirt into a pan and swirl it, and swirl it and swirl it, looking for gold.  We panned 3-4 hours with nothing but pebbles and flakes of mica in the pan.  Oh well, it was fun to hope though. Dawson was a good stop for us.  It was a cool little town that had come a long way from the tent city that it used to be.

He made it back to the homeland.

Freedom fighter for all of chicken-kind

Dredge used for gold mining

Caterpillar pic for Mo...she works at Caterpillar and loves looking at pictures of Cat products! haha!   

That is the ferry that we rode across the Yukon on.

Dirt covered the back of the rv.

Run chicken, run!

Ferry ride


Passed out bar was noon at this point. 

Casino in Dawson City

Name says it all

Dawson City Street

View of Dawson City & the Yukon from the Dome Rd.

I hope he tied his seat on tight!

We left our campsite at noon the next day, and made our way out of town. We were heading down the highway and saw this couple sitting off in the grass.  The guy had his thumb out. I drove by at 45mph and told Laurie "that was the guy that I met in the bathroom, from Montana." I turned around and went back to give them a ride. Well…when we got back to them, it wasn't the people from Montana, they were from the Czech Republic. They lived in Edmonton now though.  They seemed harmless and it looked like they were down on their luck with finding a ride.  I asked them where they were headed and they said, "Carmacks."  That is where we were heading also, so I said "jump in." The look on their face was funny when we pulled up in the RV. They didn't think that I was going to give them a ride in the motorhome.  Lucky them!  Their names were Stan and Eva and they were very nice. They had taken a canoe trip with 3 other people and left their car in Carmacks, loaded the canoes on the Yukon river and paddled down to Dawson City. It took them 6 days to get to Dawson…which they said, was about 3 days too long. The other 3 were waiting in Dawson for them to drive the car back to pick them up. They had actually started hitchhiking at 10pm the night before, then stayed in their tent overnight and woke up at 6am to start again. We picked them up at noon. No wonder they looked down in the dumps. We drove them to Carmacks, about a 5 hour ride.  We conversed a lot of the trip and they slept the rest. The couch proved to be a great place for them to catch up on a little sleep. We dropped them off at their car and took a few pictures, then said goodbye. I had to pull the fuel filter off of the rv and Joe sprayed it with cleaner, because the engine was hesitating when going uphill on the way to Carmacks. After we cleaned it out, she ran great. We found a camp spot alongside a river and called it a night. 

Our hitchhiking passengers

It rained all night and thankfully, when we woke up, we were still where we stopped the night before and not carried away by rising water. We drove down a two lane (one lane a lot of the time though) road on the way South, that started out pavement and then turned to gravel.  It was a slow go for much of the drive.  Laurie found us a nice spot to camp for the night.  Guess what it was next to?  That's right!  A river!  It was a beautiful spot though.  The sun was shining and there was a rainbow over the forest.  We tried our luck at gold panning again…and yes, that's right, we still didn't find anything.  It was fun to play in the mud and watch the dogs swim though.  I casted the line out a few times also, but I didn't catch any fish.  It started raining again that night and hadn't stopped yet. Actually it's been raining on and off for days.  I'm ready to see a little sunshine and warmth.  The drive on the following day was slow also.  The road was still gravel and it was bumpy at times. We made into the town of Watson Lake and stayed at a campground there.  Watson Lake has so many signs outside of their visitor's center. One guy from Indiana started the tradition back in 1942.  Now they have over 71k signs on posts throughout the property.  People bring their signs from all over.  There were many from Tampa also!  Watson Lake was nice.  We cleaned the rv's up a little bit because they were filthy from the drive down.  Dirt had covered our back window, the bikes and any compartment that was exposed.  We ate at Bee Jay's Cafe, a place where truckers like to eat. :)  You can't wrong there.  The food was decent.  You can't expect greatness up here in the middle of nowhere. I took a 3 mile jog around a lake and back that night.  

We went to Liard Hot Springs yesterday. It is $10 for a carload and you walk down this boardwalk to the hotsprings. It's out in the wilderness. I stepped into the crystal clear water and relaxed down in it.  It was hot!  It took Laurie a second to get used to it.  The bottom was gravel and there were benches that you could sit on, in the water.  Towards the top of the pool was a creek that flowed into it.  The water up there was the hottest.  You had to constantly wave water up from the bottom of the pool, where it was cooler, to keep from burning.  That was the hottest water I have ever been in.  We relaxed in it for about 30 minutes, then made our way back to the rv's.  Talk about not wanting to drive any longer!  We saw 6 bears and over 100 buffalo on our way to the hot springs. We stayed alongside a river again last night…seems to be our favorite places to camp.  Joe and Jan had a great view from their back window, of the river and bridge behind them.  We are camping alongside another river tonight. Hahah!  I made us stop a little earlier tonight because of a cappuccino poisoning that I have.  We stopped at this gas station (Indian owned) in Fort Nelson and filled up and Joe and I grabbed a cappuccino out of the little hot chocolate, french vanilla, cappuccino, etc…machine.  It tasted great!  About 4 miles out of town, we stopped at a fur store.  Joe said he didn't feel good and he thinks it was the cappuccino.  I thought, "mine was great and I feel good."  Well…about 4 more miles down the road, I feel like I am going to hurl, so I pull over.  I didn't hurl, but I walked around trying to feel better.  Joe got Jan a cappuccino too, but while we were stopped at the fur store, Mindy grabbed her cup and spilled it all over the floormat.  So, she was sparred the stomach ache.  It was a blessing in disguise. Joe said he felt better after he went to the bathroom.  I felt ok enough to drive so we kept going down the road.  I kept thinking, "I bet they cleaned the machine recently and there was still some cleaner in it." Or, "some whippersnappers put something in the machine as a joke, to make people sick." Either way, we had cappuccino poisoning and that's not cool.  We stopped at 6pm tonight because I didn't want to drive and then have to pull over somewhere where there wasn't a shoulder to stop on.  I feel better as I write this, though.  We are going to play some games and get to bed at a decent hour tonight.  We should be able to make Dawson Creek tomorrow, about 200 miles from where we are tonight.  Note to self…No more powder machine cappuccinos from the Indian stores!  Adios!

Watson Lake Signs

The end!

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful pics, Honey! You are so fortunate to be able to experience this.