Monday, July 13th, 2015

   
The excited Schraner’s saw us off at Anchorage Airport, where there was a train going directly to Seward, where our cruise awaited us. Now it’s time for us to relax and have time to reflect on our last six weeks of driving from Nova Scotia to Alaska…like the sound of that. Hope the S’s have a great time too. They all fit into Miss Daisy comfortably, which we had wondered about in advance…and she seemed delighted to have such eager companions.

   
The weather wasn’t the best, but you can’t stop those views from being impressive nevertheless.

   
See the kids on the rocks? This area has the world’s second highest tides, in Turnagain Bay just off Anchorage. N.S. of course has the highest tides. Speaking of…so many people know of Nova Scotia…they’ve either RV’d to it, or cruised, or want to. It has a worldwide reputation as a must see place. We always feel proud talking about it.

  

  
..and there we be, four hours later, a world away … The Norweigian Sun cruise to Vancouver. Frank’s a little giddy at the prospect of free food and free booze and time to veg. My thought is that we’ll turn into rotund vegetables!

   
..and such a cute stateroom. Don’t need to redecorate at all…I’m into it!

Sunday, July 12th, 2015

  
Frank drove Miss Daisy over to,the airport to pick up the weary Swiss family..

  
..who proved to us that there really is enough room in the camper van for all of them…boy, will they have fun..excited for them..

  
…but Frank was really excited to hand over the keys, the responsibility, the stress. A few hours later, though, talking to Matt about the plans he has, both Frank and I were slightly sorry we weren’t starting again, with more exploring…so, a camper van in our future? Amazing how looking back can give you a different perspective. Already adjusting our rose-coloured glasses.

  And for wildlife? Others at the campground said they walked the trail beside it and saw a moose and its babe …we saw Canada Geese, but they were cute. This walk was as wild as we got today, as our wheels are no longer for our use…but it was good to relax, as tomorrow we start our cruise to Vancouver….a completely different kettle of fish from this last journey. Still, feeling nostalgic for the old Miss D. already. 

Saturday, July 11th, 2013

  
It looks like a mirror image of Miss Cranky Pants coming towards us as we head for Anchorage and our last “sleep” in the camper.

  
The last photo being taken from the passenger seat…isn’t it a beautiful entrance to the city along the Seward Highway?  Once in Anchorage, Miss Cranky Pants went to Senior’s Garage to deal with the problem of the oil pressure Indicator being in the red so often and yet still driving. Problem solved in only a couple of hours..a record..and a new gauge ‘sending unit’ was installed…all fears of an oil pump replacement being neccessary are gone…so our hand off to Matt will be a well running vehicle….so nice for a family of five to not have engine issues in the remote places they’ll be taking the Miss to.

  
..so we had time to visit the Anchorage Museum…a wonderful intro to Alaska that we did at the end!..if you get this way, do it first.

  
..then we took Miss Cranky Pants to get a good scrub, and later cleaned her interior too, as Matt and family take her over tomorrow!!!!! And, to be fair, since Miss C.P. got us here in the end, we’re letting her be Miss Daisy again. We made the hike from N.S. to Alaska. We bought into someone else’s dream of a great time, and did our best to make it ours despite the obstacles. We have no regrets and a lot of experiences behind us that we would never have had, had Matt and Susan not had this dream for themselves and their children. In hindsight, what we have done, spending the same money on gas and campsites? Probably Europe or a warm Island somewhere, or rented a cottage….we can still do those things, but we can’t do what we just did without the generosity of Matt and family and letting us put all these kilometres and miles and wear and tear on their camper van. And for all that we didn’t get to see in Alaska, we might have to return! Possibly with our Miss Daisy.

Friday, July 10th, 2015

  
Our excellent campsite was by Portage Creek and a trail that lead along this creek to Portage Lake, which is surrounded by..yes..more glaciers. Made for a scenic walk..

  
..to the foot of Byron Glacier.

 

..then, having yet to see wild animals, we took ourselves to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Centre just a little further down the highway. So…in the end we did pay to see what all the signage warned us about..the moose, caribou, bears, and we loved it. They are all being released back to the wild when able, so we’ll just pretend that they are still wild upon our seeing them..

  Aww..

  ..a Grizzly waiting for cherries..

  ..and crazy antlered caribou..

  The day ended with a gift from the campsite owner (the same great spot as Thursday’s) of fresh caught, by him, Pacific Salmon, cleaned and ready to grill in the “cookhouse”‘ with the fire going and music playing. Good end to our last day of exploring.

 

Thursday, July 9th, 2015

  So here we were, on Skilak Lake loop road…about 20 miles long, in a desperate attempt to spy wild animals. The road is part of a huge Alaska Wildlife Refuge area, set up by FDR decades back. Here, surely, we’d come across at least a moose. No…but we did come across a big problem…the voltage indicator was heading to the red zone, indicating that the alternator was not charging the battery! We had a new alternator put in after we broke down on those 24 lanes in Toronto…we couldn’t have that happen here, with no cell signal, no help. Frank bombed us out of this long loop, over this horrid washboard road, no animals in sight the entire time, out onto the highway, where by then the signal indicator as no longer working, nor the wipers, and it was raining! There was no garage in sight…finally Frank left the camper running, ran into a store to enquire about a garage, and was told of a place to go.
    

 We reached Midnight Sun Garage, a place that was also a vehicles graveyard…even had a fire truck there! The minute the camper was shut off, it wouldn’t start again! We hoped it would just need a boost…but 7 hours later we limped out of there. We had visions of the camper meeting its end in this graveyard, and visions of being Flatbedded to Anchorage…from 1a.m. till past 8p.m….the poor garage owner working non stop, alone but with Frank’s help when needed, and a new alternator was sourced and delivered from 60 miles away..installed, then discovered to not be the problem and the old one reinstalled. The problem in the end was a corroded wire that restricted the flow of electricity from the alternator to the Battery. Basically it was Frank who noticed this as he was poking around the engine compartment. OMG…a horrid time! And so near the end so many fears..

  

We left at a magical time in terms of the light. The Summer Solstice is passed and the sun isn’t up as long…it now sets around 1:30 a.m…

  We had to find a place to stay as we had to cancel our prebooked spot, being now too far past it. Luckily our Alaska highway Mile Post book had an ad for a lovely spot near where we found ourselves. In Portage Valley. This proved to be the best spot we’ve stayed at!!! What a treat after all that stress. Music, fire, conversation, wine in our mugs…a little bit of heaven just when we needed it.

Wednesday, July 8th, 2015

  
We set out for the Kenai Peninsula, south west of Anchorage…starting off on the scenic ( not much isn’t) Seward Highway along the Turnagain arm, which is the top of Cook Inlet. Loved this camper van’s name…Nomad.

  
..also enjoyed this name, and of course, this scenery.    

Once in the originally Russian town of Kenai, we had to explore the “old town” …Frank doesn’t seem so impressed but he’s simply reading up on the church. The town is situated on Cook Inlet, which is between the Berring Sea and the Gulf of Alaska. Still shake our heads that we are HERE!

  Exploring led to an encounter with two 6 week old Chihuahua puppies.  Here’s one…sooo cute, and honestly the first “wildlife” we’ve come across, as I’ve alway ranted about. We tried to see two Wildlife Refuge centres today, but the highway signs didn’t connect with us somehow. At least a rehabilited moose is a moose, right?

  
Our campground, Beluga Lookout Lodge and Park, is on the top of a cliff, with this below….Lovely on this overcast day…but…no Beluga sightings for us!…nor glaciers, as they too were hiding..apparently we had mountain ranges on two sides…

  
Great viewing, though..

 
We had to walk down the cliff, past beautiful lush sea grasses. We both felt “at home” …with our warm clothing, the grasses, the sea, the mist, and…the sound of military aircraft..big Hercules…going by, as well as helicopters. I guess we’re preparing ourselves for N.S., and we did like it. We had thought of actually seeing Anchorage today, but we really have no feel for cities at present. Being on the road, you want to stay hanging out in nature..at least we do. Of course, when I’ve been home for awhile, I’ll  be saying “let’s go into Halifax”, but I won’t be sleeping inside the camper van anymore. It really is like camping, ( oh, it is camping) which just doesn’t mix with city lights.

  
Still looking for Belugas at 10 p.m., none, but we saw fishermen going out during the high tide for a salmon run. Check out how bright it still is..in..

  
“found art”, the best kind. 

Tuesday, July 7th, 2015

  
A misty morning…oh how I loved it! ( you can’t even make out the glaciers) in Valdez, along the tidal flats of Prince William Sound. Why?

  
…Miss Cranky Pants had some trouble holding onto her spare. It’s been sharing our interior space for a few weeks until we found a welder who had the time to help her. This guy was great! From California, but came up here for the space, the freedom. He explained and talked and smiled…as he welded the spare wheel mount back to the bumper, which had cracked during one of the more bumpier rides along our travels.

  
We made a really long day of driving to Anchorage, but enjoyed yet another glacier..this one the Matanuska glacier..along the way, and..

  
.a lovely lunch break along side a view of it..even had a glass of wine, but we spent a long time here, so no worries..

  
Then more beauty…yes…this is king Mountain, but it reminded us of Devil’s Tower, in Wyoming, which we saw in what seems a life time ago.

  
Arrived in Anchorage for the night, where Frank took out his tools, and..

  
..and put our house mate back where she belongs…All is right with Miss Cranky Pants…for today. A good day.

Monday, July 6th, 2015

  Leaving Tok, Alaska, to travel down to Valdez. Along the way…wow!
  
..and then more wow as we went through the Thompson Pass where the Worthington Glacier was one of so many…Valdez is surrounded by glaciers. This is what people come to see. I was excited by the hares that were running about, and a bald eagle and a sea otter, all in town and all too elusive for photographing, but much as the scenery is stunning, it feels good to see animals too. 

  
All of Valdez is about fishing…we saw a 127 pound Halibut in a wheel barrel, it was so huge. Dead…we hope to see some live Salmon before we head home. Valdez is also about sea kayaking, and getting tourists by plane or boat to see the Glaciers….and also about jobs in the oil industry..it’s the terminus of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline.

  
It was interesting to be in a small town, so different from anywhere we’ve been. The mind seeks variety I guess, but it also seeks stability and sameness. The mind clearly isn’t at peace with itself.

Sunday, July 5th, 2015

  
We drove away, along the Alaska Highway in the Yukon, passing areas devastated by previous  forest fires.

   

 
  
This section of the highway, from Kluane Lake to just past the Alaska border, was horrid! Blame Perma Frost melt and heave..can’t be helped..but this poor traveller completely lost his truck ‘s wheel. There was no cell phone service here, so Frank got his particulars and when we reached a visitors centre in Beaver Creek, near the Yukon/Alaska border, the staff there let Frank use a land line to get help sent out. Makes you realize how much we rely on all of our technology. I certainly do.

   

Don’t know if you can spot all the forest fires in the distance..look for smoke..but these are part of the 500 plus fires happening in Alaska now. The fire weed in front, so colourful and plentiful, is the first thing that fills in the barren forest floor after a fire, hence the name.

   These we did not see. I took a photo of a photo…every sign on the highway, every other comment in the Alaska Mile Post, that gives you a what’s up for each mile…keeps warning of bears, caribou, moose, and tells you that the lakes and streams are full of Trumpeter Swans. We’ve seen Nada. But we drive with eyes peeled and that’s exhausting! Still some days left, though.  

 we spent the night at Tok, a place everyone visiting Alaska needs to drive through, but at their peril…notice the wavy road –  Miss Cranky Pants actually did a wheelie. She’s pretty athletic for an old gal.

Saturday, July 4th, 2015


We’ve never been at a July 4th parade, but this one in Skagway was so delightful ..and since Alaska, B.C. and the Yukon are so close up here, and all have part of the Alaska Highway within them, this parade had bagpipers! from the Yukon, and..


…bikers from everywhere. We sat beside a biker who rode up from Florida! Fun time feeling the small town vibe here.


We took this ferry, a slight problem with getting the camper on board but all ended well, and arrived at Haines, Alaska, then drove to..


..just past Haines Junction, the Yukon, to spend the night at a lovely site right on beautiful Kluane Lake. I wanted to see the sun set..it had gone behind a mountain, but it is daytime for 21 hours, and finally I put on my newly acquired night shades, and slept to the sound of waves…heaven.