Alaska Trip 2010
For the slideshow of near miss by tree that fell on my first day, click here.
For the beautiful sunset in Shell, Wyoming, click here.
It is now August 09, 2010... I am sitting on the ferry boat that I left Sitka, Alaska on at 0300. It is now 9:15 PM. We
are on the last leg of the trip to Ketchikan. I think we will arrive there at 0130 on the 10th.
July 18, 2010
Greetings from the very wet Alaskan Challenge!!! As I start this message it is 9 PM Alaska Time.. I think that is
midnight back in home state. I am going to change the name of the trip from the Alaskan Adventure to the Alaskan
Challenge. This has turned into the second hardest trip I have ever been on.. The hardest was my trip to old Mexico
back in the Mid 80s.. That was like the filming for the Indiana Jones movies.. This trip is wearing me down big time.. I
think I have arrived at the point of writing this whole thing off as a loss. It was one month ago today that I started this
trip, and it has been nothing short of a battle to get through to this point. The most of the stress comes from fighting the
rain issues all the time.. It just never dries out and being one who came to see and take photos, there is little to see and
less to take photos of...
If you have been following my updates then you know how much rain I have written about.. If you have been here and
experienced the rain, then you know what I am talking about. If you have been here and everything was as it we would
expect, you haven;t a clue.. Several of you have been here and have written me to tell me it was nothing like this when
you were here.. You must be the lucky ones.. Several of you have told me how awesome the plane ride was up to the
glaciers near Denali.. The photos I saw from one of those trips back in the early 80s is what got me interested in
coming here. I said that someday I would do that too. I thought that someday was here, but it wasn't. Yesterday, the
17th I stopped by the airport in Talkeetna to ask about the rides. Only two had gone that day, from the K2 office.. The
others should have been about the same. They suggested they would try again this morning.
I camped about 12 miles from the airport and had plans to go back to town, shower, get in better smelling clothes for
the ride with other people.. But, at 0600, I woke up to the sound of rain on my tent. Then a friend from back home
called to check on me.. I reported more rain!!!!!!!!! After the chat, I took a short nap, then decided that there was no
reason to go back into town and be told what I already knew, it is raining!!!!!!! No flying.. I skipped breakfast, opened
the trunk, gathered up my tent and contents, cramed them in the car and ddrove off, headed south towards Anchorage. I
was giving up on the hopes of getting the see the glaciers that had motivated me to be here. The reports I had gotten
earlier told me that the rain would most likely last for the rest of the week.
Once Wasilla, I stopped in McDonalds for a bite of breakfast at around 10:30 AM.. Got my order, went to a table, ate,
and left, but, as I approached my car, I noticed the driver side rear tire was low!! Now what!!!!!! I drive to a gas station,
as if they had an air pump thing for me to use. They handed me a air hose and told me to go hook it to a box in the lot
and pump the tire up there. I did. I returned the hose, and asked if there was a tire repair place open on this day,
Sunday!!!!!! The man suggested that there might be at a place called Mr Lube. I got the directions. I also called AAA,
of which I am a member. I told them my issue and asked if they could help.. I was asking if they could find a repair
place for me.. They could not find one in Wasilla that was open on Sunday. I asked them to try Anchorage which is
south of here. They came back and said, no. There were no places open in Anchorage either.. Am I screwed or what. I
asked what they would suggest. They said they would send someone out to change the tire, but that was all.. I would
have to wing it until tomorrow when the shops opened up.. I went to look for Mr Lube.. Could not find it.. Decided to
go south towards Anchorage and see what I could find. I found a Walmart.. Went in, asked if they had tire repair
people. No, they do not. The fellow I talked to suggested I go to Mr Lube.. I told him I could not find it earlier.. He
gave me new directions and off I went.. This time I found it and it was open!!!!!!!
I walk in, tell the lady behind the counter what the issue is and she tells me sure, she can help.. Sends me around back
to bay four where a fellow will be waiting for me.. And, he was.. Got right on it.. Just as soon as he jacked the car up,
he could see the issue.. something stuck in the time on the outside tread. He removes the tire, breaks it down, etc, and
sure enough, there is a screw sticking in the tire. I tis about 1.5 inches long.. I take a photo of it in the tire. He removes
it and I keep it for memory item. He patches the tire, and rebalances it.. I am sure this will be a 100 dollar repair.. It
was not, it was $14.28 cents!!! I had an extra 5 dollars in my pocket and gave that to him for a cup of coffee... Then,
back a the counter, I pay my bill.. Just so happened, the lady that I wrote up the work order was there and she was
cute, but when I went to pay my bill, there was an even better one there with her..
best things I have seen Alaska so far!! Two of them.. Might have been the owners wife and daughter... Lucky guy!!! I
paid, I left. I went back to Walmart for lunch food. Got a couple calls so I wondered the store and chatted on the
phone for a long time, as if that would help the rain issue...
Back at the call, I call a buddy in STL and ask him to get me a weather report.. He does. It is raining in all directions
and will be for the rest of the week. There is no place for me to run to get away from the rain.. I had thoughts of going
on to Homer, but there is rain there as well, now. I have friend of a friend there who was and still might be going to
help be my guide for the area, but when I called them today for a weather report, I could not reach them. I think they
are rather busy sometimes. Also, there is another strange twist that I may have mentioned to this story for this area. I
was here in the late 70s I think it was. One the last couple of days I was here, a young lady at the time offered to be
the guide for me and my friends on a road trip from Anchorage to Fairbanks. She was raised in Fairbanks. The long
ride gave us a chance to visit and become friends of sorts.. Her family owned the Sandbar resturant in Fairbanks and
where we went to eat. Her father gave me a couple of little paper puzzles that he gave out as promotion items. I
brought them home and put them in my brief case. I carried that brief case for the rest of my working career and still
have it, and still inside the brief case is those two puzzles, or at least one of them is.. For some reason this lady and I
stayed in touch for years, over 30 years I am thinking. We exchanged Christmas cards, birthday cards and a few phone
calls. My visit here then was in November and it was cold, plus the days were short.. In her cards and letters, etc, she
always encouraged me to come back when the weather was warm and the days were long, to enjoy the summer
version, and if she could, she would show me around, since she lived outside of Anchorage after she became an adult.
I assumed that one day I would come back, even if it was on a cruise ship, etc.. She said it did not matter, she would
meet me and have coffee and chat.. During this time, she got married, got divorced, and remarried. She was living a
very good life with her new mate. And for years we continued to be pen pals and share stories and Alaska and how
people lived up here. She was a very outdoor type person.. She fished, canned fish, smoked fish, killed and dressed,
moose, bear, caribou, and the list goes on. She was a true Alaskan.. The stories she shared should have been put in a
book. I loved getting her cards and reading the stories of her life.. Looked forward to meeting her and her husband
someday and seeing how they lived at this time.. They had built a new home and also a cabin on a lake somewhere
north of here.. Then, the story ended. About two years ago, she stopped sending cards, or letters, or calling. Oddly
enough, the cards I sent up here, were never returned or replied to. Was and still is a big mystery to me. For over 30
years we did the pen pal thing, then all of a sudden she was gone.. I susppected her husband might have demanded that
she stop the connection, but I never could find out. O sent several cards to ask if there was a reason I no longer heard
from her. There was no reply. I finally stopped sending cards up this way.. They never came back, but where did they
go? Today, at the local visitor center, where I was looking for campground info etc, I told this story to the lady who
worked there and grew up here.. She did not know this family, but grabbed the phone book and started looking for
their names. Nothing under Wasilla, which is the town I always thought she worked in.. Then I mentioned to the lady
that I thought the mailing address was actually a box number in Chugiak(sp?). She looked, and there they were.. Both
their names were listed.. So, they are alive and well I presume. But the mystery of why the connection was cut is a big
mystery.. I would thought she would have sent at least one card or letter to explain, but no.. In fact, when the fellow I
came up here to see, and was responsible for me meeting this lady, passed away about a year ago, I sent her a note to
tell her about his passing. Thought that might get a response. But no, that did not get a reply.. So, I guess I will just
have guess what happened..
While at the visitor center, the lady working there tried to find a cheap room for me to dry out in for a night.. And, get
caught up on my internet work.. The cheapest anywhere in the area was 125 dollars per night.. I said I would rather
camp. She recommended this campground, the Homestead RV.. I came and I took a site here.. Seventeen for a site,
and a dollar for the internet.. Sounds good, right. I move in set up my tent, and go up to the office to find a good place
to sit and do email. The office lady sent me to work bench just outside the office.. Internet is good there and there is a
plug in there.. I use it for awhile, then I want to go do the ice cream social they will be having in a few minutes.. When
I start to get off the stool, I learn that I am stuck to it.. I get unstuck, look at the stool and see what looks like the
effects of wet paint.. I'm right. There tan colored paint on the seat of my expensive rain pants!!! I go back in the office
and show them what happened. They are very sorry.. They had painted the bench and stools earlier and assumed it
was dry. They had taken down the wet paint sign.. Then we find out that the paint if oil base!!!!!!! And there is no paint
thinner in the shop.. Damn. What next!!!!!!! I mentioned mineral spirits.. The man working the office is an artist and has
some mineral spirits.. He runs and gets it for me.. I go to the bathroom and start working on the seat of the pants with
the mineral spirits.. I get pretty much all of the paint off. And I was the pants a couple times.. I think I did it, I think I
saved the pants, unless they delaminate later!!!!!!!! Really what else could happen?? Don't mention it, yes, it could be
worse, I know. But, vacations are supposed to go better than this!!!!!!!!!!
Are you tired reading? I think I am about out of something to say. I did go take a much needed shower before I started
this and I have been sitting in the car to write this and there is no place now to sit and work.. It is 10 minutes after 10
PM... I best wrap this up and get it out.. I do not have any photos to share.. There is supposed to be moutains all
around me, but I cannot see them.. There is a bit of an urge to hang around until this weather front moves on, but that
could be forever.. I will sleep on it tonight and see what I think of in the morning...
Stay tuned, surely there will more interesting stuff as I move along on this Alaskan Challenge!!!
July 14, 2010...
This day has almost been too long ago to remember. I did get packed and up and headed out of Fairbanks on this
day.. Not much to share except that there was rain!!! Have your hear that before.. The drive down to Denali was not
much to report on, but when I got the little town outside of the park, I stopped to watch the outfitters put their rafts in
the water.. You will have to see the photos later to appreciate it. They slide them down a BIG hill on slides!! After
watching this operation for awhile, I went back to the car, in the rain!!! Ended up falling asleep while waiting out the
rain!! Once awake I drove on into the park.. At the visitors center, I found fair help, but was sent to another place that
was not so good.. The place I was sent to is call the Widerness Access Center... There I was able to learn a little
about the bus ride options, etc.. This is Wednesday, there is supposed to be rain on Thrusday, and some sun on
Friday. I want to ride the bus that goes all the way to the end of the road in the park.. I can get on it for Friday. Also, I
want a tent site. It is a damn wonder I got anything done here. The people working here are so not trained for their
jobs.. It is a joke.. Let me say here that for all the neat stuff we have been shown and have heard about Denali, it is
nothing like that.. It is a joke. Whoever designed the system there had to be drunk and smoking weed when they
designed the layout of the park building.. Later I will try to explain, but it is so screwed up, it is beyond funny. It is
miserable.. If there was a way to put things in the wrong place and make it as ineffecient as possible, that is what they
have done.. The people, the bus routes, the schedules, the people doing the jobs, all are a mess.. Actually I think the
people could do better, but they seem to working in such a messed up place that little is working correctly.. When I
do the web version of this, I will try to explain. I did manage to get a ticket for the bus ride on Friday. This is will be
a 12 hour ride on a bus, on a dirt road. I was also able to get a tent site for that this night and the next, but the tent
sites do not have parking with them. You have to park at the visitor center and carry your stuff on the bus or walk and
carry it.. I was too late for the last bus, so, I had to put what I could in a backpack and start walking.. The girl in the
office said it was just over a mile down a trail from the visitor center.. I started looking for the trail.. I could not find
it, the people I talked to did not know.. On best guess I started out. Then I met a fellow who worked in the area. He
gave general directions.. No good.. Found a ranger fellow. He gave directions.. I tried again.. No luck.. Now it is late
enough for to be concerned about bears.. I try my GPS.. It does not have helpful info in it.. I doo not want to get out
in the woods this time of day by myself.. The brush is thick and the big animals are out.. I do not have the bear spray
with me.. I turn back. At the visitor center, I start walking the road, which is the long way to the campground. I make
it, but have walked about 2 miles to get there. I find a site and move in.. Home! I have paid for this night and the
July 15, 2010
As I recall, it is raining when I wake up.. In fact it has rained hard during the night. I will learn later that my tent has
leaked because I did not get it set up correctly and because the seals in the corners have gotten old and need to be
resealed. In the friggin rain, I get a bite to eat. I secure the tent for the day and start walking up the the trail that is
supposed to be the one I was to walk coming in last night.. With the GPS and the brighness that real daylight brings, I
found my way back to the visitors center.. what a hoot.. I would have NEVER make it to camp last night if I wanted
to. The trails were just too screwed up and poorly signed, etc.. This park is a mess of the biggest kind.. A real nut
designed it. Back at the visitor center, OH, and by the way, the trail I came up on, comes in the back door of the
visitor centers lower level. Most people would never know it exists... Bad.... I go it to ask how to go see the dog sled
demo.. Now remember, it is still raining.. The ranger, who is not too bright, gives me directions.. Bad... By asking
about three other people, I finally learn how to go see the dog sled demo. The people who work at this place really
are out of this world goofed up.. And their park info booklet is as nutty as they are.. It is little to no help either. My
biggest help may have come from a bus driver I got to ride with. Their bus system is so screwed up that is is hard to
believe, then, the drivers hardly slow down at the bus stops.. You almost have to jump in front of the bus to stop
it!!!!!! I missed the first bus because of this, but saw another and just jumped on, not caring which way it was going..
Turns out I got a real nice fellow. I told him about the issues I was having.. He explained enough of the basics that I
could go see the dog thing. What you need to know, is that the parks people do not want you driving your car
anywhere in the park, but still you have to get places and they are not worth a damn at getting you there.. As it turns
out, I have to go to a bus stop, 40 minutes before the dog sled demo. Thinking there will only be one bus, many,
including me trying to cram out way on.. Then the driver comes over says no, you do not have to do that, there will be
other buses coming.. And there was.. There were about four buses to take people to see the dog sled demo.. And
guess what, it was raining to beat hell when we arrived.. Rained all the way through the show, and was still raining
when we left.. I think it quit raining later.. The dog show was kinda neat, but nothing like what we all expected, given
the big talk about it.. It was nothing more than seeing a few of the dogs that work in the park in the winter, plus the
gear used, one of the sleds, and then got to watch five of the dogs pull the demo sled for about 15 seconds, if that
long. And most of the time the team was behind the brush from the viewing audience, so there was nothing to see... It
was kind of a joke. It could have been done soooo much better... At one point I gave up in doing my stuff for lunch
and went to the Marino Grill by the visitor center.. Burger there was $10.50 and fountain soda was $2.00... Sound
bad, but the burger turned out to be awesome... Later, after I had enough of the rain and the wet dogs, I went back to
this place for a bottle of beer, at $4.00.. Was good. Alaskan Ale.
I knew I had to get up early for my long bus ride tomorrow to Kantaskia?, the end of the dirt road in the park.. I had a
camp site for tonight, but not tomorrow night. I first thought I would leave the park after the bus ride, but decided
against it.. Went back to the Wilderness Access Center and paid for another night.. This way I did not have to do
anything but go to bed when I got back.. Then, off I went to get some rest..
July 16, 2010
I have my alarms, the cell phone and GPS set to wake me up.. The phone works, the GPS does not.. If you are
thinking of buying a Garmin 78S, forget it.. It might have been a good idea on the drawing board, but it did not turn
out be any good.. More on this later. I did get up, I did get myself fed and ready to do.. Now, I should say here, the
camping sites here do not come with showers.. If you want a shower, it is about 15 minute walk away and costs
several dollars.. Many of the campgrounds do not have showers.. Some have running water and flush toilets, but that
is the fancy ones.. Cost for my tent site in Denali was 14 dollars per night.
I caught the bus up to the Wilderness Access Center where I am to catch the bus to for the long ride. Then I lean there
were other options for guided tours that do the same trip, but nobody tells you this at the info counter.. You have to
figure it out some other way.. I learned about it when they started calling out the buses for people to leave. Really
poor communication in the park service people line up, or whatever it is called... I do manage to get a cup of coffee,
and I do manage to get on the right bus, and I do get a driver that should have only had 4 year old people as
customers.. Some of the crazy stuff she said just plain as nuts.. She had people whispering on the bus so as not to
scare the animals that were so far away that you had to have field glasses to see them!!!!! She wanted to keep the park
natural.. There were dozens of buses, brush hogs mowing the sides of the roads, graders grading the roads and she
was telling us to bery very quite so as not to bother the animals.. You probably would have had to be there to
appreciate the show... We left at near 0800, road 90 miles, with some stops, Got to see the Top of Denali for just a
minute or two, then arrived at the roads end at 1:45 PM.. After a 10 minute potty stop, we were gone again, headed
back.. We had a few more stops on the way, and arrived back at the visitor center near 7:30 PM.. I hurried up to the
grill to get another of those high priced burgers, but the place closed at 6 PM.. I grabbed a can of chili beans and a
can opener out of the car and headed towards the campground. I stopped off at the general store to see if there was
something cold to drink and Doritos. They had both. I chose the Big can of Fosters beer, and then went to check on
the Doritos.. They had them.. The regular bag of Doritos, not the family size, was 8 dollars.. I told the lady I would
just settle for the beer.. This cost about 4 dollars, which is a bargin up here.. On the cruise ship, the same beer sells
for near 8 dollars. !!!! So, with beer and beans, I head for the campground again.. But, 50 yards from the store I
encounter a mama moose and her baby eating along side the trail... Got a few photos, watched them awhile, went
around them and on to camp where I devoured the beans and beer! Was good. On the bus ride this day, we did see at
least 4 grizzly bears, and a bunch of caribou and dall sheep, but all were really far away.. We all took photos, but
they were so far away you will never find them in out pictures!!!!!!!! The most wildlife is right in town!!!!!!!!
July 17, 2010,
RAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Have I mentioned that it rains up here in Alaska??????? OK, you figured it out.. It rained again
today.. Actually it started raining last night, and was still raining when I woke up this morning... It did stop long
enough for me to fix one of my freeze dried Granola breakfast meals, and some coffee, the tea bag kind... Had a
banana, and then the rain!!!!!! I finally said to hell with it and started packing in the rain... Since my car was over a
mile away, I figured that if I could get all my stuff to the bus stop, about 5 minutes away, I could use the bus to finish
the trip.. It worked. I got to the bus stop at 10 after the hour. Three minutes later the bus was there to get me.. 8
minutes later I was back at my car... The rain had stopped for a few minutes.. But as soon as I started to put the stuff
from the pack in the car, down came the big rain again... Did I mention that it rains in Alaska? I managed to throw it
all in, and with a few choice words I started the car up and headed over to the place to get some coffee and think this
whole thing over... I got the coffee, returning a couple calls.. Got my sister on one of the calls.. Had a nice visit..
Then I noticed it was near lunch time... And I was not in the mood for more food bars!! So, back to the Marino Grill to
get the well priced burger... Today I had the cheese burger.. Eleven dollars for this little baby, and there was a two
two dollar add on for the fountain drink... Thirteen dollars in all... But, it was worth it.. The burger was great!!!!
Once I finished eating, I dropped off a couple of things at the post office and left the park!!!!!! Now I am headed south
for Talkeetna where a lot, if not most of the flights leave from to go see the Denali glaciers and side of the big
mountain... I forgot to check the mileage, but I'm guessing it to be about 170 miles from where I slept to the little town
of Talkeetna.. I stopped at two visitors centers to ask about the flying options.. The info was not all that good, but... I
found out where the airport was and went out to talk to the people... K2 was the first and only one I talked to. Went
over options and the prices... Could not make up my mind... The fellow helping me said to think about it tonight and
return in the morning to see what they could do and who the weather was doing.. This is important.. Read on.. They
had only taken two flights up this day because the weather was too bad to see the moutain.. I said I would return in
the morning. The rices range from near 200 dollars to over well over 300 dollars.. Some flights land on a glacier,
others do not. I will go back tomorrow. I leave, I go to find place to camp.. Not easy to do!!! I tried the tent only
place in town.. Nasty place!!!!!! And, full..... No showers. It is a pig pen.. I got the boat launch place that has sites..
Poor at beast for 20 dollars. I pass.. I go to the local RV place.. They do not have a place for me, but I have a nice
chat with the owner.. He will sell me a shower tomorrow for 4 dollars, and he has free highspeed internet if I want to
use it... I remembered this little place back about 12 miles from Talkeetna that might have a place.. I drive back here,
I'm here, and I ask about camping.. They got it.. About 5 sites and I am the only customer.. Cost 15 dollars, but, they
have some wifi.. It only works in one spot on their porch... I see that they sever food, so I asked what the deal is.. The
wife here is Thai?, and she cooks and sells this type food... I get a beef mean and a diet coke... 10 dollars for a little
Thai food, and one dollar for a the coke... There is no sales tax here!!!!!!!!! I visit with Ken, the owner while I eat... He
is retired Air Force!
After dinner, I go set up camp and try to dry out the wet tent, then I came back here to download some photos and try
to get out an update....
OK, it will be midnight here in a few minutes.. I did download my latest photos, but there is no time to to attach any
here, at least I don't think so.. I need to finsh getting my batteries and camera stuff ready for tomorrow, in case I get to
fly.. I will go back to the airport in the morning and see if the weather is going to be good enough to fly..
You ask what people here in Alaska do at midnight when it is light out!! For the last hour, cars have been going by at
70 miles per hour. Motorclyes at 75 miles per hour, four wheelers at the speed of sound, and the guys across the
highway have shot off over 200 rounds of ammo from an automatic weapon some kind.. Sounds like a war going on
over there at times...
Note... One person asked about the flat terrain.. Where are the mountains.. There are few mountains in this part of the
state. The area where Denali is, seems to be a freek ridge that comes up out of the ground for a short distance.. All
the area around it is flatter than Kansas... Down along the coast it is supposed to be more of a mountain type terrain..
Will see that in a few days.. If I can fly tomorrow, I will.. If not, I am headed on south where the weather is supposed
to be better.. Either way, I am headed south. So, I'll share that with you when I get to a place where I can send out a
note. In the morning, I get to go to the RV campground and pay them to use their shower.. There is not one at this
campground.. Also, there is no water at this campground. The water is unsafe to give to people who might drink it...
So, for legal reasons, they people here cannot give you water!!!!!!!!!!!!
Ok, stay tuned.. Hopefully I will get to share some photos later... It is now past midnight and looks like sunset back in
the lower 48... And, for what it is worth, the car started with just over 110,000 miles on it.. It now has well over
117,000 miles on it, I think... I may have to change the oil again before I get back to STL.
At around noon this day, I arrived in Radium Hot Springs, filled the car with gas, which is sold in litres here. One litre
goes for about $1.05, or $4.20 per gallon!!! I thought about eating lunch in the Subway, which was part of the gas
station, but there were no tables to sit at!!So, I ask the lady for the location of internet access. She directed me to the
library. Which was closed, but she had also told me about a coffee shop that offered internet access. It was called
Meet At The Top Of the World. At the coffee shop I got a great Turkey Sandwich and a huge mug of coffee, which
was a mix of regular coffee and the dark roast!! Cost, a little over 10 dollars. I charged it.. I charge everything as I go.
Saves carrying the local money. They do take US money here, and it has the same value as Canadian money.
At the shop I spent almost two hours catching up on a few emails and downloading more images from the camera.
Right now the big camera shows that I have shot 4477 images since I left home on the 18th.
The little camera has a few images on it, but not many.
After leaving the coffee shop around 3 PM, I headed for the park. The entrance was about a mile from the coffee
shop.. Costs $9.80, I think it was, for a 24 hour pass... If I stay longer, I have to pay for another day, etc.. You get
little stickers that you have to put in your window.
This may be a funny time to mention it, but driving here is still strange to me. Everything is in kilometers!! And you
are supposed to drive with your headlights on all the time. The issue here is that I have been trying to follow the
speed limits to a T... Not the locals, they just about run me over!! No matter, I will stay with the rules.. It is only a
few more days here, then I will be back in the US, but, Canada is absolutely awesome in this area.. Mountains, lakes,
cool temps, low humidity.. Really neat, and most everyone here is in great shape!!! I am about the most overweight
person here!!!!! These people are very active.. Hiking, biking, camping, and the list goes on... But, the temps are in
their favor... It is 69 degrees here. I would be closer to 100 back home.. Back home, people go eat, here, people go
After entering the park today, I started taking photos as usual, but I keep looking up, so all I see is mountains, but
other people are doing the animal thing.. They see the animal, they stop. I see them stop, I stop, then ask what they
see!!! Great system... Today I got photos of a bull moose, and later a grizzly bear. I saw neither until I saw other
people stopping to look...
I was planning to stop further south of where I am now, but due to the road construction and the rain, I could not find
the campgrounds I was driving by.. I eventually arrived at the Lake Louise campground and was able to get a tent
site. This one is a no-fire site, D4, and cost $27.40.
I found the site, and set up the tent.. Lucky I had a stake hammer, the ground is nearly solid rock here!!! Got the tent
set up, fixed dinner, and learned where the bathrooms etc were from one of the workers.. Its a darn good hike to the
john!!! The shower house is on the other end of the campground. Best I drive there, but walking is what most are
doing.. After dinner, I walked to the theater where a couple of ladies were doing a show about the park system.. It
was cute.. Stated at 8 PM.. Lasted an hour. I came back here and started this update. It is 9:50 PM and still daylight.
Strange about the long days as you get further north.. Can hardly wait to see the 24 hours of daylight!!!
I think this about ends the update as it relates to today, but I have to think about a plan for tomorrow. I am sure the
famous Lake Louise is on the list, but not sure what else I will do. I may visit a couple more lakes and scenic spots
as I go towards Jasper..
I'll mention this, then close, the Canadians must not be to0 much on internet type things and there is hardly any access
on this side of the border. Today I used an internet coffee shop, and may have to do the same in the future. Back
home, there are libraries, etc that have internet service, but not up here...
Ok, bed time..
July 05, 2010
Update from Skagway, Alaska..
It is now 11.20 PM, and has just gotten dark, if you can call it that.. There is not much battery power left in the
computer, so this may be short as I have been downloading images and that sort of thing, but just to give you some
idea of what is going on, I'll add a few bits of info from today.
I got up around 0700.. Now you need to know that the sun comes up here around 0415.. But, since I stay up late doing
this sort of thing, I sleep on til 0700.. By the time I get up, the rest of the world has their day half finished!!! Actually
this morning, there was a lot of activity in the campground as this seems to be the place were people camp before they
start to backpack the famous Chilkoot(sp?) Trail. I think I spelled that wrong, but you can look it up.. It is the one of
the two famous trails that these gold seekers used to head for Dawson City and the hope of getting rich..
Once I had finished breakfast, I elected to come back here for another night, so I paid my next 10 dollars for this site,
then headed to town.. Wasn't sure what I would do, but several places were suggested to me.. Two of the places in
town are owned and operated by a fellow from St. Louis.. A place called the SOS.. Later I would go there and get my
free wooden train whistle... More on that later.
In town, it was again cold and super windy!!! But, I headed for the visitor center.. There are two of them. The one run
by the town people is rather a waste of time.. The second is run by the park service and has a few more neat things to
see and do. First I went on a walking tour with a park ranger that was quite good!!! Hard to believe what these fellows
and women went through in hopes of getting rich!!!!! Few of them did, many died, others turned back. Many who made
it to the gold fields found all the claims taken.. They got nothing for their work.. They lived a miserable life. And, they
are not all good Christain people it would seem. In one season, they killed about 3000 horses, due to over working the
animals, etc... They were rotting in piles along the trail.
A park ranger took us in groups around the town and gave us about a 50 minute talk on the famous places that are still
standing.. Some really wild stories took place during this time. I took the tour, visited their museum, and watched the
video that they have, which gives an overview of how the Klondike Gold Rush came to be and how it died... For all
the fame, it was only a two year event..
I walked the streets and took photos for awhile, then went back to my car, which was parked in front of the food
market.. There is one food market and one gas station in town. I went in the food market just to browse. My favorite
treat is Doritos.. I looked for some in the store.. Found them.. The family size bag that sells for 3 dollars at Walmart
back home, was 7 dollars in this store.. Nice price jump.. More on prices later..
I went to the car, ate my food bar lunch, talked to a couple fo friends via cell phone since service is perfect in town..
Then went to the famous Red Onion Saloon to get warm and a bite to eat. The food bars were not enough. The Red
Onion Saloon was once a brothel in the gold rush days.. Tours of the business rooms upstairs was 5 dollars.. The sign
says 5 dollars for 15 minutes, just like in 1889,, I think that was the year..
I ordered a pizza and an Alaskan beer.. The pizza was 10.50 for a thin 7 inch size.. The beer was a draft and was 5
dollars.... The bill was 16 dollars, plus some cents.
When I was finishing up, I happened to see the Canadains I had met twice earlier on my trip.. Caught up with them and
toured a few more places in town, to include seeing the Gold Rush movie again. Then Dave, the Canadain and I went
to the SOS to get our free wooden railroad whistles!!! Only, we could not get them because we did not have the
coupon that was in the local paper.. So, off we went to our cars to get the papers and then back to the store to get our
whistles.. They are pretty nice.. I would not have known about the place, except that at the only gas station in town,
yesterday, I was talking to the lady who runs it and learned that a man and woman from St. Louis own the SOS and
some other businesses in town, mostly gift shops.... When I went in to get the whistle, I learned that the fellow working
behind the counter lives near Hawn State Park.. Actually St. Genevieve... Did I spell that correctly? He goes to school
in Springfield, but because it is his aunt that is one of the owners, he comes here each summer to work!! Leaves in
August to got back to college..
After all this, the group of us, me and the Canada folks went for coffee.. We went to Starbucks.. Coffee was cheaper
there than back home, I think. After the coffee, we headed for the brothel tour, but stopped to check the local liquor
prices.. They were not too bad.. Seven dollars for a 6 pack fo Miller Lite.. That is more than at home, but half the
price the Canada people have to pay for it... They pay double for booze in Canada....
For five dollars each, we all took the brothel tour.. Was not much to see, but the lady giving the tour was great. So it
was a good time. Now somewhere in the crowd, I got seperated from the Canada people and they were gone, as they
had to hurry and drive back to Whitehorse tonight.
I then went to the local gas station, the only place in town where I could fill up my water bottles!!! Used the laundry
sink in the bathroom to get drinking water.. Then headed for the local library.. It was closed, but the wifi had been left
on, so I was able to reply to a few messages.. Then, I headed out of town to see the Gold Rush Cemetery.. It was
okay, but not much to see.... If I knew more about the people in it, it might have been better, but,,,,, The part that was
great, was the Reid Waterfall behind the cemetery.. It was awesome.. I hope to share photos of it later...
Once done done with the cemetery thing, I headed back here, where I started downloading images and doing backups
etc... Most all of that is done now, and this is about done, cause the meter says the battery is about gone.. It is also a
few minutes after midnight.. So, guess I best shut this down and sleep..
In the morning, I plan to head back to town for a little more touring, then I will head back north into Canada. The goal
being to get to Haines, which is just on the other side of the mountain.. Might get there late tomorrow... Will see how it
goes... I will try to get this sent from the wifi in town before leave...
They say you feel warm just before you freeze to death, well, I might be on my last leg.. I seem to be a lot warmer
now than yesterday.. I might be getting use to this damn cold and wind!!!!!!! The locals can handle it, so it can be
More later.. This is being written in Dyea, but will be wifi-ed out in Skagway.
I am trying to add a few photos this morning.. 2010-07-06.. Included will be my 5 dollar comforter!!!!
Update written in Haines Thursday, July 08, 2010 0730
Since internet is hard to come by, I am not sure when this will be going out, but I think the last update I sent was on
Wednesday morning as I was leaving Skagway... Well, I am here to tell ya, the drive out of Skagway was a
challenge!!!! On the road was about the thickest fog I have ever seen, or seen in a long time!!! If you were to throw a
baseball in front of ya, it would have gone out of site before it hit the ground! I did take a few photos through the front
windshield, as I seem to be doing a lot here, just to get record shots of what things look like from behine the steering
wheel. When I arrived back at the Alaska sign I had taken photos at a couple days earlier, I could hardly see it in the
fog... I did stop and take a few images anyway, and met a nasty tour bus operator who wanted me to get out of the way
of the sign so his people could take a picture.. I was actually leaving at the time, but he must not have noticed.. When I
came into Canada on the June 27, they did a complete search of the car... When I came in this time, they just as if I
was carrying weapons, tobacco, etc, and where I was headed.. Then they waved me on....
On the Canada side of the mountains, the fog moe or less went away and I had a nice drive on in to Whitehorse. There
I went to the visitor center and asked how to find the Frantic Follies satage show that was in town.. The lady gave me
directions and off I went. Found it, got info, went to a Subway for dinner,, then went to the local campground to get a
tent site... Got it, showered and changed clothes, then headed for the show.. Was 24 dollars.. Sat on the front row with
some some neat people from Louisiana.. Did I spell that correctly? Was a great shwo, one of those vaudeville? acts, of
The show started at 8:30, ended at 10:30 PM.... Went outside and it was as daylight as 10:30 AM, well ealy morning
anyway... One of the people on this update list asked what it is like to be in total daylight all the time.. It is strange.. I
took photos of my car at 10:30 PM that looked as if they were taked at high noon... Now for the difference, at night it
is ghostly here... It is light, but there are no people, no cars, everything is locked at, just like at night.. It makes you
think the end of the world has finally arrived and all the people were taken away by some strange force!!! To be in a
town at midnight in full daylight and nobody walking or driving around is something to see.. Very strange... You have
to have a good clock and calendar to stay on top of thing...
Yesterday morning, I woke up, did my breakfast thing and headed out.. Was going to try to get an update out while I
was in town, but the library did not open until 10 AM... I would have to wait an hour, so I passed on that option and
headed for Haines.. The drive to Haines has been the best so far as I can remember... Had great weather, no rain, sunny
skies, and beautiful mountains and rivers... Hopefully the pictures will show this... I arrived in Haines, got my town
sign photos, went into town and down to where a cruise ship was parked... Made a few phone calls and then went off to
the see the town.. Neat place this town is.... Not a tourist town like Skagway, but neat... I got some info at the info
center, then went off to see the town.. First thing was the Hammer Museum.. It is awesome... Took the tour, and met
the man how started it.. There are over a thousand on disply, and thousands more in storage.... From there I went to the
micro beer brewing place, and had a Spruce Tips beer.. Was awesome... From there I came to the place where I am
now.. The little campground here near town... It is is dive, but was easy to get to... The bathroom is falling apart, and
the showers are pay-showers... I passed on them as I did not trust them to do the job!!! But, it was a place to sleep....
After paying for the tent site, in the hotel lobby, I stopped by the bar and had a few more pints of Red Ale from the
micro-brew place. It was good.. Also talked to a couple of the ladies sitting at the bar. The one next to me was a
retired school teacher from Michigan, and the other was a pharmacy person from the Anchorage area, I think,,, And the
bar maid, Sue, could fill a glass fuller than anyone I have ever seen, and not spell the contents of the glass!!!
OK, it is now after 0800, and the places I want to see are starting to open, so off I go to see the town again... Will send
this when I find wifi.....
WOW, what a day! I wake to the sounds of what seems like a whole military unit leaving for war! I hear this around
0700.. I listen to it for 30 minutes wondering what the heck is going on.. Finally I open the tent enough that I can look
out.. There are boo-coos of boats heading out to the open water or to their favorite fishing spots or something.. But it
seemed like every boat in Alaska was trying to leave Seward as if the darn place were on fire, or else there was
another gold rush somewhere out on the open sea!!! In a bit I decided to get up.. The noise was too much to sleep
anymore and who knows how long it would go on... Now if I have not told you, I am camped in the tent site closest to
the water.. This is site number 5 in the city campground... Nice enough place, but real close to the water... That is all
good until about ???? in the morning.. When I got out of my tent, I saw the man camped next to me. Mentioned to him
that this boat noise had been going on for awhile.. He said it woke him up around 0600, and had not slowed down..
Apparently it was the chartered fishing boats going out for the day..
As I recall, it was not raining this morning.. Foggy, but not raining.. I do not remember what sunshine looks like.. It
does stay light here for most of the night, but it is the light coming through the clouds, just like now. Decided to try
and get on a tour boat today instead of waiting for tomorrow, if I can.. I rush a bite to eat, renew my campsite, and
head down town. There are really only two tour companies in town as far as I know.. Kenai Fjord Tours and Marine
Tours. I go to both and ask for rates, discounts, etc.. Then I go next door to a coffee shop and get an opinion.. Seems
the Kenai group is the bets chose.. Food is included and free parking... I choose them and pay... Was 139 for the 5
hour tour, but then there was the AAA discount, and then the port tax and the other tax?, so the total came to 142.00..
I had a couple hours to kill, which I did, talking on the phone.. Got a call back from a friend that had been busy
earlier.. ( It is 9:30 PM and has just started raining... again).. Then I when to the free lot, parked the car and rode the
shuttle back.. Almost missed it cause I had to run back to the car and get a pair of socks.. Thought it might be cool on
the boat.. So far I have worn only the pair of Chaco sandals I was wearing when I left STL.. I have boots and tennies
in the car, but have not needed them yet...
I get to the dock where we are supposed to load up and get to talking cameras with people on the dock.. A man pulls
out a lens filter and asked if this will fit my camera gear.. We try it, but no, it is too big!! I say no, I cannot use it.. He
says do you want it anyway.. I do!!!!!! Sure, I'll take it.. It is at least an 80 dollar filter, if I'm guessing right, and I may
have a lens soon that can use it... I'm thinking it is time to invest in some bigger camera gear, given the things I am
getting involved in.... Thinking I will go with Canon.. Nikon treated me bad and on the tours, the big cameras people
are carrying are all from Canon. I would hate like heck to go back to Nikon, but there is one sad thing that makes a
difference, which camera matches the grip of your hand and is more comfortable to use.. That is a real issue... I'll
have to see if Canon fits my hand... The man gave me the filter!
Now for the tour cruise.. When it took off, I hurried and got on the bow of the boat, but I was not there long... This
boat moves fast and we were not far from the dock when we hit rain, fog, cold air, you name it... And it stayed that
way for the next 5 hours or so.. We were gone about 5.5 hours and hardly saw anything.. I heard there was beautiful
scenery in all that fog, but we barely saw any of it.. A couple of times the driver got us close to land so we could see
some seals and some puffins and ??? We even managed to see dolphins and whales at pretty close range.. However,
taking photos of them is like trying to photograph a ????, they are there and gone before anyone can get a shot.. About
1.5 seconds of viewing for these things.
The fog and rain finally got so thick we could see nothing.. Everyone was hiding inside the boat trying to dry
themselves and their cameras, etc... We did make it to a big glacier, but it was raining so hard and was soooooo cold
that few of us could stand to be outside for more than a few minutes.. The boat stayed there about 30 minutes.. Then,
we headed back.. We had left the dock, at about 11:30 AM, got to the glacier at 3:00 PM. Then we headed back, we
saw 99 percent fog on the way back, but did stop for a whale encounter on the way back.. All of it together was about
8 seconds of whale time. Then we headed back to the dock.. Got back at 5:30 PM, right on time.. I then went to
Subway for dinner, then went and watched the fishing boats come in.. WOW. These people bring in some really
strange fish.. Will talk about that later.. My computer battery is about to die... I finished the fish watching, headed to
the car, jumped in, ran to local hotel parking lot, looked at a few emails before the connection died.. Then I came here
to the campground.. I am in for the night, I think.. It is 10 til 10, PM.
Tomorrow, on the 21st, I think I will try for the aquarium or whatever it is called, then head over to Homer, which is
xxx miles away... Then, maybe I will get better weather.. Either way, I plan to go to Valdez before starting my journey
home.. Hopefully there will be some sun before I leave this area and I can run back to Talkeetna and do the flying
tour of Denali.. If not, it will just have to be a ???... Might not ever get back this way... I'll look at other peoples
photos... I do hear it is a fun thing to do, so I would love to get it done while I am here...
Bed time... Maybe.. I feel like a Dorito would be a good snack before I go to bed!!! :-)))
PS.. There are no ticks or chiggers here, none that I have heard of... Too darn cold!!!!!!!!
I woke up to more boats going out fishing, but this time fell back to sleep... Getting used to the life here I guess...
And, guess what, there is sunshine right now!!!!!!!! I should have gone on the boat tour today!!!!!!!!!! Am I being
punished for something????
Ok, here is the deal, I woke up, got up fixed a freeze dried breakfast, and took down the tent.. Time to move on.. Not
sure how soon I will get out of Seward, but I am trying... I first went to the Alaska Sealife center... 19 dollars with a
discount.!! Spent about 1.89 hours there, then headed to the library, where I am now.. Here I can download my photos
from the camera, clean up some email stuff and get back on track.. Not much left to do in this town, I don't think, but I
might find something.. I stumbled on the Mile 0 sign and starting post for the Iditarod race each year.. I was not aware
it was here.. Almost missed it. Kinda neat to be at the point where the famous race starts... I see on my map that there
is a glacier not far from here that I can drive to.. Will try to find that on the way out of town, provided I get out of here
today... My next stop is Homer, or so I think...
Have not sent photos in awhile, so will try to get a few together and share.. It is hard to separate the good ones from
all the junk ones...!!!!!!
Off to see a glacier, before the rain comes back.. I have checked the weather for here in Seward, Homer, and Valdez..
Rain is predicted for the next 10 days.... I am going to check the weather for southern California and see how fast I
can get there, unless it is raining there as well.!!!!!!!!!
Darn, wouldn't you know it, I took the tour boat rid yesterday, and got rained out.. Could hardly see the front of the
tour boat.. Could not stay outside on the viewing deck because of the hard rain, cold wind and my freezing fingers..
Not to mention all the wet camera gear that everyone was getting!!! What a mess, but, then today, it has been nice all
day.. We had SUN today!!!!!!! It did rain again today, but wasn't for long... Mostly it was a nice day... Would loved to
have been on the tour this day!!!!!!!!! Did someone say that if it were not for bad luck, I would have not luck at all!!!!!!!
Well that is not entirely true, I have had bad luck on this trip for sure, but some things have worked out, but I will have
to think what it was!!!!!!!
At around noon this day, I sent out an update from the Seward library.. As I recall, I had just gotten back from the
Sealife place and was planning to leave town.. I did.. On the way out, I stopped at Safeway, got some turkey, apples,
bananas, etc... Ate most of the stuff for lunch as I drove out to a place called Exit Glacier.. On a scale of one to 10, it
was about a 5. Was something to do to kill time, but not a real highlight of the trip.. To see the glacier, a person has to
walk just over a mile to the viewing area. At this point the wind is very strong and cold!!!!!! However, it was not
raining!!!!!! I took the usual memory shots and headed back to the car.. From there I headed for the next town on my
list, Soldonta I think it is called.. It is on the way to Homer.. On the way there is when I hit the rain.. In fact, as I left
the Seward highway to go towards Homer, it was raining, but I still got out and took a few photo of the lake at the
intersection. Then on the road again.. Mountain!! If you are like me, you have seen mountains a many in photos of
Alaska.. Well, a lot of Alaska is flatter than Kansas.. And much of the area I drove through today was just that, flat.
Nice for driving, but not no calendar photos in this area.!!! Again, I think the man that said that if you are not in a boat
or a plane, you will not see the better parts of Alaska.. There are just miles and miles of flat stuff!!!!!!!!!!
Sometime around 5 PM, I rolled into the town of Soldonta. Stopped at a place called Fred Meyer, I think, and got gas..
This person or family must me like Walmart to our part of the country.. They have some rather large stores here that
sell just about everything thing.. I got turkey, beer, Doritos, and apples.. What a combination!!!!!!! I left with the
thought that I would have much of this for dinner this night, provided I could find a campground. My AAA book listed
one RV place in town and two camping places on the way to Homer. About 15 miles out of town, I saw the sign for
Johnson Lake State Recreation Area. This is one of the places to get a camp site. I drive the back roads til I arrive. I
read the regulations board and go look for a site. All the sites are full... But, there was a note at the entry area that
mentioned overflow camping. Sounds good, but along with the overflow camping sign was a note that said NO
Camping where the overflow sites were located.. These were also listed as Day-Use area sites... Just so happened that
I found the campground host's trailer and knocked on the door.. I explained the problem I had. The lady at the door
laughed and said, don't worry about the signs, go ahead and pick a spot, pay my 10 dollars at the pay station and be
happy.. So, I did.. Since it is July 21, I picked site 21..!!!!!!! Nice spot right on the edge of the water here at the lake..
My tent is about 20 feet from the water... Much better than the other campsites around the lake!!!!! But, to use the
restroom, you gotta run up the road or drive up the road a ways to the potty!!!!!! Not too handy, but!!!
Speaking of being on the lake, the kids, and the people as a whole are a much hardier bunch of people than what we
see back home.. When I am about to freeze, these people are running around in a t-shirt and shorts!!!!! As I write this, I
am sitting at a picnic table facing the lake. Not too far in front of me is a couple of kids, boy and girl, paddling a
canoe around as if it were high summer back home.. They are having a ball... And, they are not the only ones, others
are out on this little lake in canoes and small paddle boats, just zooming away!!!!!!!! I have on a t-shirt, a shirt, a fleece
jacket, and a Goretex Parka, and I am thinking of going to bed to get warm, or warmer!!!!!!! This is a beautiful lake and
the effect of the sun setting is doing wonders for the visual effects.. I got some photos awhile ago, but should think
about getting more before the light gets too low.. I am just now seeing the moon come up.. This is the first time I can
remember seeing the moon since I started this trip!!!!!! Its almost a full moon, and is coming up in front of me on the
other side of the lake.. Perfect view!!!!!!
To those who have been here, this is no surprise, but to me it is.. The fishing!!!!!! I never seen so many people fishing,
they are in a fishing fever here!!!!!!! Everybody, except me, is doing it.. I gather the fishing is very good here and so
people are really getting after it. Also, this must be the time the big fish are coming in to do their reproduction thing..
Its 10:30 PM.. The is no rain, there is little wind, the lake is calm, the kids are out paddling around on it, and the moon
is coming up on the other side, but I am about to reach the chill level.. So, time for me to go lay down... But, before I
go, I have to mention something that was strange at the Exit Glacier today. The park people talk a lot about the
glaciers getting smaller. At Exit Glacier this day I found a series of signs, showing where the edge of the glacier had
been on a given year, starting back in the 1800s. Then oddly enough I found a sign that was for 1926, the year my dad
was born.. The sign was a long way from the glacier.. But, then further down the trail was a sign for 1951, the year I
was born. Is that odd or not??? But, it was still a long walk from the year I was born to the present edge of Exit
Glacier. The experts are not quiet sure why this glaciers are getting shorter.. Well the dumb butts should have asked
me. It is the friggin RAIN!!!!!!!!! You spray water on an ice cube long enough and it will disappear!!!!!!!!!! Darn, if it
rains every year like it has while I was here, then the answer is simple.. So, who is the teacher for these experts????? I
do believe it is the rain, but whatever it is, it is making the glaciers disappear.. The big I have been to several times in
the Canadian Rockies is really getting shorter... When I was here in the late 70s, in November to see a college buddy,
he took me to a place here outside Anchorage called Portage Glacier. Portage Glacier at that time came down to the
lake and into the water. In fact there were big blue chunks of ice out in the lake, frozen in place by the cold of winter..
We went on the frozen lake and walked around these huge blocks of blue ice. And by big, I mean big.. Like 10 or 12
feet tall, as I recall.. Huge, and blue!!!!!! Today, that is all gone. There is no longer big chunks of ice in the lake and
the edge of Portage Glacier has receded so far back up in the hills that there is no ice from it in the water.. They were
giving out a chart showing the recession of the glacier over the years, and one of the plotted years was 1974, the year I
came to STL.. It was late 70s when I was there.. I am truly amazed at how far the glacier has receded in just the 30 or
o years since I was here... The big question is this just a natural thing that is going on, or are we causing it?
You might like this.. You hear a lot about solar energy as a replacement for fossil fuel.. Well, it won't work here..
There is hardly ever any light!!!!!!!!! But, there is a lot of friggin wind.. There is enough wind to make electricity for
everyone in the world, I think.. !!!!!!! I think they could easily set up the wind generators here and supply everyone with
energy for lifetimes to come!!!!!!!!!
Another thing that is different here is number of small planes.. There are lots of them here, and they are not new!!!!!!!!
For those who know what a J-3 Cub is, well I think near all that were ever made now live in Alaska.. Cannot say I
have seen them flying, due to the crappy weather, but there are bunches of them at the airports that I pass.. It seems
everyone here flys, even the darn kids.. These kids do it all.. But, then you have to ask where does all the money
come from to do all the things these people do.. I have asked that a lot of times and still do not have the answer.. It
would seem a lot of the money is still coming from the oil work up here.. Then there is the question of why the heck
does gas cost so much if there is so much oil here.. This one I did get an answer to.. They do have a lot of crude oil
here, but almost no refining places... Seems that the refining places are not that big and and are pretty far south, so all
the gas in the state has to be trucked out from this, or these southern refining stations.. Now, as I understand it, we too
have our refining stations in the southern areas of the lower 48, but, we have huge pipelines that carry this refined gas
out across the country.. Up here, there is no supply pipeline to carry the finished product to the small towns... So, it is
hauled to its end point. I am guessing some of it goes by train, but there are few train lines in the state. So, I am not
sure how important trains are to the delivery of gas to the other parts of the state.. You might find this interesting..
When we took the tour to the Arctic Circle, the guide told us that when the pipeline first opened, it was flowing at full
capacity, or about 2,000,000 barrels a day.. Now, it is carrying about 40,000 barrels a day.. I did not catch the reason
for this, but she implied that the design was for about 40,000 per day, but in order to recover the money spent on the
pipeline, the owners pushed it for all it was worth to get fast money to pay for it... Once paid for, they backed off.
Here is another tidbit of info. When we were on the tour boat yesterday, the tour guide told us about the history of
Seward and what a great shipping place it had been at one time.. Then, in a matter of about 5 minutes, back in 1964 I
think it was, Seward and some other parts of Alaska, like Anchorage, were near destroyed by an earthquake. Some of
the other places, like Anchorage, revised the town plan and started over, but Seward did not.. I missed the reason why,
but it seemed there was a fear of reinvesting in a place with such a potential loss.. There are lots of old post in the
water that were from the early days of docks and shipping areas. It did seem strange that the Sealife building was put
there and right on the edge of the water.. The cost of this operation, 67 million, which was part of other Valdez oil spill
Where are your recovery dollars going? I have found a bunch of them up here. There are bunches of park projects
taking place up here, and each has a sign on it saying the recovery dollars are paying for it... Don't know any more
than that, but that is how it is....
Its near midnight, one person is still out paddling on the lake, and I am ready to call it a day... Been taking photos of
the moon that is now reflecting in the lake.. Pretty neat.. It felt strange to come here and find it daylight at midnight.. I
think I am going to be in for a shock when I get back to STL and it is dark at Midnight.. I have not used a flashlight for
anything in ????? ages... This extra daylight thing sort of grows on ya...
2010-07-22, from Homer Alaska at about 6:30 PM, local time.. Am in the library.. Will send this update, plus a few
photos, then have to go find a place on the beach to stay the night.. It is 8 dollars and open camping!!!!! I'll give it a
try.. But, there is the tide thing here, so I have to keep that in mind...
I left the campsite I had last night, and drove here today.. Not much to see.. Kinda like driving across Kansas, again..
Now here on the coast, there is more hills.. Stopped at one of the overlooks.. Took a few memory shots, then noticed
smoke.. A boat had just caught on fire... Others came to the rescue, got the people off, I heard.. About an hour later
the Coast Guard showed up and sprayed some water on it.. Then, they left.. When I got into town, I noticed the boat
was burning again, or it was another one.... Nobody cares..
In town I did the visitor center thing, then headed out to the spit!! Saw and eagle nesting right in town.. Eagles are
everywhere up here!!!!!!! Went to the end of the road.. No more road.. Took photos etc, then made a few calls, now
doing this.. Will go get campground and settle in for the night.. May have more to tell later, but will get this out now...
There is not much to see in this area.. You can fly from here to where the famous bear eating fish place is, but that is a
600 dollar plane ride!!!! :-)))
More later. Click HERE for image for this update
OK, time for another update.. My laptop is fully charged, but I do not type very fast, so lets see how long the battery
holds up... It is now 9:40 PM... And, I am not sure where I am. I do know that I on the highway that goes from Palmer
to Valdez... I am sitting in my car watching a bunch of people people fishing in the lake out in front of me... These
people play in all kinds of weather, to include all temperatures.. Bikinis, not in Alaska.. These people wear winter
clothes year around.. I think they live in them.. Just how they reproduce is still a bit of a mystery.
Yesterday, when I sent my last update, I was getting ready to leave Homer.. I had pretty much run out of the things to
explore.. Or so I thought. But, as some point, I decided a shower was order.. I don't think I shared this story with ya.. I
had actually intended to leave Homer as soon as I finished the last update, but it did not happen that way. I got the
feeling that I needed a shower real bad, and a change of clothes.. Maybe I got a whiff of myself as I got in the car or
something, but a good shower seemed to be in order... So, I drove back to a laundry mat that is a do all place.. You
can take a shower, wash your clothes, drink expresso, and ??? I am not sure what all else you can do there, but you
can get a shower, or so the sign says.. I park in front, go in and inquire about the process of getting a shower.. I would
seem that for a shower, you give the lady 6 dollars, she gives you a room key that gets you into the assigned shower
room.. The 6 dollar shower also comes with a towel and wash clothe... So, I hurry out to the car, get my shower
bucket, and a change of clothes and go back in side. Pay my 6 dollars, and get a key to room number 8.. About three
hallways later, I find room 8. I go in and find it a really neat and clean shower room with a chair, a towel, hand towel,
and wash clothe. I have 30 minutes to take my shower and get out... So, I set my watch timer and get in the shower..
I am learning about what it is like to have long hair!! Takes a lot longer to shampoo and dry!! I shampoo this long hair
twice, rinse twice, shave in the shower, then get down to the real business of getting the smell off of me.. I get it done..
But, I have brought my own scrubber. I carry the nylon scrubber on a stick with me.. Much better than a clothe
thingie.. And, I use liquid soak, which goes great with the scrubber.... Once clean, dried, and in clean clothes, I am
ready to leave again, but just by chance I looked at the local tour book one more time before taking off.. They said
you have not been to Homer unless you have been in the Salty Dawg Saloon.. No problem.. I know where it is. I go
find a place to park, which is not easy!!!!!!!!! I go in the the saloon, which is a sight to see!!!!!! Very old building, full
of people drinking beer.. ALL of the walls and ceiling are covered in one dollar bills.. They have STUFF written on
them, then thumb tacked to the inside surface of the building.. Photos of this at a later date.
So, what to order? I see that some of the people are drinking a large bottle of something that looks like beer, but could
be anything! Maybe even fish-water, whatever that is... I decide to ask the drinking people what they were having
instead of talking to the bar-maid.. It would seem these big bottles of liquid were local beers, and that they were out
of the weaker stuff, so I would have to get stronger version.. I ask a fellow who had one, and he was not to crazy
about it.. Said that if he had it to do over again, he would get a weaker beer... So, I will go for the weaker beer.. I
finally get to talk to the bar-maid and learn that they are out of just about everything except the strong stuff and one
called the Alaskan Amber.. So, I go for the bottle of Amber.. Cost for 12 oz. Is 5.25 dollars, but then of course you
give the lady the three left over quarters, so now it is 6.00 dollars for the beer.. I pay, I wander around looking at all
the STUFF on the walls, etc... I go in the room that has one pool table.. Also in this room is a cigarette machine.. The
price for one pack of smokes is 8.5 dollars.. There are two signs on the machine. The first says that this is a small
price for a living a relaxed life, or something to that effect, and the other sign says Shit Happens.. I finish my beer,
take photos or the walls and the empty beer bottle and head back out on the street for a few more photos.. Now that I
am clean and can be around people, I visit a few gift shops, and get a few more local photos... But, there is little to do,
and the wind is blowing at high speeds.. I finally decide my visit to the spit should end.. I get in my car and leave..
Something speaks to me from time to time.. This time the voice says to drive up town, I do, I find a Subway. And, I
get a footlong very of the darn thing.. Of course to make it healthy, I get Chicken breast and veggies, but I do include
the Doritos and soda!!! WAS GOOD.. Ate the whole thing.. Now it is time to leave.. The voice speaks again.. Says to
drive the road out that goes out of town towards?? I follow the road.. WOW, this is a great drive! This is where the
people with money live.. No shacks up here!!!!!!! Was a great sight-seeing drive of about 12 miles.. Went to the end,
or as far as my car could go.. Beyond that it was 4x4.... Met a man at the end of the road from Kansas City!!!!! Small
world.. He retired from Ford three years ago.. He and his wife live in an RV and travel all the time now.. OH, and they
are “birders”, so they have all the big camera stuff to do the bird thing.. Very Impressive.. The equipment was Canon..
Nikon has more or less gone to the dogs!!!!!!! All the big kids on this trip are using Canon.. Very few Nikons on the
road, but of course I have one!!!!!! I hope to switch to Canon before long.. However, it might be worth telling that these
people has invested thousands of dollars in these Canons.. Thousands!!! What they do with the photos is a mystery,
but they are shooting a lot of images... The road got too difficult for my car, so I walked for a ways down the harder
road.. WOW, it was steep!!!!!! And, if you missed the second turn, there was about a 200 foot drop, straight into the
ocean.. I walked back, got my car and returned to town. But, then on the map, I see where there are two or three other
Skyline roads that are supposed to be good.. So, I drive, them as well and they were awesome.. The last road I was on
just happened to have the local funeral home on it.. And what a view.. I do believe this is the only funeral home in the
world with a million dollar view of the valley below.. See photos later... With the drives completed, I finally get
headed towards Anchorage.
As I drive north from Homer, I am thinking I should have sent some postcards from this place, but somethings just
don't get done.. Had the weather been better, I might have stayed another day, but the cold, the wind, and the amount
of people packed into the little tourist area was too much for me.. I needed to get going north.. But as I drove north, I
started to wonder where I would camp and then it dawned on me, this was the weekend coming up.. Camping is big
stuff here!!!!!! OOPs.. Now I know I should have kept my site in Homer and left this morning instead of last night!!!!
As I drive north, I try to drive to Kenai, but I drove and drove and ended up in Soldotna!! Don't know how that
happened, but I was back at the Fred Meyer store again. I went in to us the restroom, came out, got a phone call, sit
and talked to a friend back home for a long time, then got back on the road...
It is just a short drive away when I start seeing LOTS of people driving towards Homer.. After a while it become
bumper to bumper traffic, all headed in the Homer direction!! I start stopping at campgrounds and find them all full..
Now what!!! Finally at around 9:30 PM, I am tired.. I find a pull-out and viewing area that has some RV rigs parked
there. It is a sure thing they are set up to stay the night, so I joined them. Had to run to the bushes to get rid of some
body fluid, but then I was set for the night!!!!!! Within minutes I was in my bag and asleep. Woke up later, cold.. Got
my 5 dollars comforter out and put that over me and around me.. Then back to sleep.. Did not wake up again until
0800.... But, I still amazed when I thought back to all the autos headed in the Homer direction.. The traffic was still
heavy when I fell asleep!!!!!!! I cannot image where these people will stay when they get there, but I will assume they
are going there to fish.. Almost everything here is somehow connected to fishing...
Now awake, I pass on trying to eat in the parking area and just drive on up the highway. I finally come to the exit for
Hope, Alaska. I go that direction.. What I find is a place, not a town. There are old builds there that date back to the
1800s I think. They are now used for tourist shopping. I drive around taking photos, stop and an expresso shop, wait
my turn and get a 20 oz of regular coffee.. The cost is 3 dollars.
With my coffee secured in my car, I start to leave Hope, but see a cafe, so I stop and go in.. Figured I needed some
food, it is now around 0900??? Looks old on the outside, but is very modern on the inside. I seat myself and the
waitress brings me the menu.. How about this, reindeer sausage!! There were other things on there, but you will not
find this on the menus back home.. Most everything is priced as if it were for the gold rush days.. I guess there are
some rich people here.. I finally chose to have two pancakes for 5 dollars, one scrambled one at 2 dollars and coffee
for 1.5 dollars.. Two pancakes, good ones, one egg and one coffee, 8.5 dollars.. Of course it is 10 with a tip. Now
fed, I pay, go to the boys room to get rid of more body fluid.. The toilet is stopped up.. I get business done, hands are
washed, but now go back to tell the waitress that the potty is stopped up!!!!!! Someone ahead of me overloaded the
I leave the cafe and decide to drive the highway to the end of the road.. Turns out it is only one mile to the end and
near the end is the only gas pump in town. It has one grade, regular.. I do not need gas, but I do take the photos!!!!
Then I head back out.. But, just before I get back to town, I see a lot of people doing something that looks like
fishing.. So, I go park the car, ask a fellow who has a fishing pole about what is going on and how do I get down to the
water to take photos of the action.. He sends me to the bridge that has trails off the ends of it. I make it as far as the
bridge, and just watch from there, as there are lots of people under the bridge fishing.. Both men and women.. And,
kids.. Everyone is into this fishing thing. While I am watching some kids catch a few, big ones, I take a few photos.. In
a bit a young man is standing beside me and asks if I can see the fish in the water near the bank of the river. At first I
could not, but then I could start to make them out, once I knew what I was looking for.. Turns out this young man has
been here fishing since 0500. He is a West Point Cadet who is in Alaska for a school project for a few weeks and is
out for the day to fish, cause the military offered it as a day trip. As it turns out, he stays there with me for nearly and
hour and explains the who fishing thing to me.. These people are not really fishing, they are snagging, there is no bait
on the hook!!!!!!!! But, there are some serious rules to the game.. Heavy fines are in order if you do not play by the
rules.. After he tells me what is happening, I catch on and see what people are doing. They cast their line and jerk it
back, then cast and jerk, repeating this action many times.. But just snagging one is not enough. You have snag it in
the mouth, or some call it flossing... Many of the fish we saw caught were snagged in the back and belly.. These had
to be turned lose.. And there was a limit of three fish person, etc.. During the course of chatting, I learned that this
young man was from Michigan, his dad is a broker/investor, he and his dad are big on fishing and make annual fly-in
trips to the Northwest Territories for serious fishing each year with a commercial company. This fellow has a pilot's
license and has about 100 hours of flying time. He is going for more ratings with time and hope to get a helicopter
rating as well. He is studying to be an engineer, he plays a guitar and has written about 100 songs, He builds RC
planes in his spare time!!!!! He was an amazing person.. I finally had to say goodbye, so I could get on the road, but
then just after I walked away, I thought I should get his photo and put it on my site for this trip, but when I returned, he
was gone and I could not find him..
Back on the road again, stopped for gas and discovered I was near the turn off for Alyeska? Ski area, so I decide to go
there after getting gas and doing the bathroom.. Now check this out.. I have to wait for a couple motorcycles to fill up
and leave, then I fill up. This is a busy place, and because I want to record my gallons, miles, etc. I pull out into the
empty parking area to write this all down. Just after I park, a big female comes zooming into the lot, heading towards
me. She parks so close to me that she can hardly get out of her car, and in doing so, she bangs here door into my car..
Her car was about 18 inches from mine.. Only two of us int eh lot and she has to park this close to me!!!!!!! Go figure..
I moved my car so that when she came back out of the station, she would not have to hit my car again.. This one was
missing its brain!!!!!
I did go up and drive around the ski area for a few minutes.. Not much to see.. I was there in November over 30 years
ago.. I looked pretty good with the snow on the hills...
Its raining again and I am headed for Anchorage. I do stop for photos once or twice, but mostly I am headed towards
STL.. Before I get to Palmer, I call back home and get a weather report for Talkeetna, just to see if there was any
chance I could get to tour Denali in a plane before I left. The home report says rain. Further down the road I pull over
and double check, by calling one of the air service companies.. They said they did not fly this day due to the
mountain socked in.. I asked about the prediction for tomorrow. I did tell the lady I had to make a choice of going
Talkeetna or east to Valdez, depending on the flying tomorrow. She checked the radar and asked the pilots what they
thought. They said go for Valdez. The weather report for tomorrow was not good!! So, I headed east... Stopped along
the way for photos, ran on to an RV that was broke down, but help was on its way. The driver had been here 4 times
before and he never saw it this cold or wet.. He was 77 years old and still doing the RV thing, with his girlfriend..
Both lived in Arizona.. He comes up here to get away from the heat!!!!! :-))) But, he was not liking this stuff... Said he
had plenty of beer and food, so he was okay!!!!!!!!
Not too long after leaving him, I found the place where I am now. I pulled in here, saw people camped here on the side
of the road by this little lake.. There are plastic bathrooms here.. I used the bathroom, then headed down the road..
Then, I pulled over again and checked my sources for a campplace tonight. Not much coming up.. So, I come back
here, asked the people if this was open camping and could I join in.. The answer to all was yes.. So, I moved in.. Set
up my tent and ate a bit of food.. Ate out of a can tonight.. No picnic tables.. Had chili beans and pineapple!!!! :-)))
Just after eating, the neighbor fellow comes over to talk.. This turned out to be great fun. He has lived and worked all
over the state.. He says this is near normal weather and the locals think nothing of it.. He works for a company that
sells and services snowmobiles and 4x4 equipment.. We talked a long time. He lives in Wasilla and claims to be
friends with Sara Palin and her husband, but only because they are customers of his at his job.. The place he manages
is the place they come to get their service work done.. He says they are great people. The husband never speaks of
his wife's job.. Leaves that all up to her. He stays out of it. But, yes, she is competitive, so do the political thing
works for her. He fishes.
The fellow I had been talking to is named John and was great to chat with.. Wish we had more time. He and his friends
play outside year around and 60 below zero does not not slow them down.. He thinks 40 below is just a nice weekend
to go play. He and his buddies take their snow machines and ice fishing gear and travel about 100 miles off the
highway, set up camp, drill holes in the lake ice, and start fishing. They have heaters in the their popup fishing sled
that will keep them at about 50 degrees at night so they can sleep on the lake, then, 100 miles of snowmobiling back
to the car, etc... He hates bugs and wonders how we can put up with them down in the lower 48!!!!!!!!! :-))
OK, my battery is about gone.. Guess it is time to stop. It is now 11:31 PM.. Not real light out, but but now dark
either.. Will not need a flashlight to go get in my tent... Am headed to Valdez in the morning.. If the weather is fair, I
should have a good day, there are several things I hope to do there.. We will see.
Have I ever mentioned in my updates that it rains in Alaska? Just thought I would ask... I am sitting outside the
Valdez, Alaska library, in my car, using the library internet, via the wifi.. This one is unprotected so I and use it even
though the library is closed.. I is raining as I write this.. It is 9:11 PM, local time..
It is a good thing this car can serve as a mobile office.. I have two power converters running to keep this computer and
all my other toys powered up and running!!! At near four dollars a gallon, I am running this power plant near all the
time.. All my toys eat up a lot of power!!!!!!!
OK, here is the deal... I had a good sleep last night, after writing that long update.. Go up around 0800, slept late!!!
Had a freeze dried granola breakfast and a can of pineapple, along with a real apple!!!! NO place to set up the stove to
make coffee and tea, so I skipped that today... But, it was not raining when I got up... After I ate, I took down the tent,
then went over to talk to John that I met last night.. He was already out drinking coffee by the campfire.. He told me
more about how to survive an Alaskan winter.. It is wild the things people have to do here to survive at -40 to -60
degrees.. How about a styrofoam toilet seat with you are dry camping in a cabin, to keep your butt from freezing to
resting place!! Then there is the Sterno for heating up the engine block on the snowmobile so it will start. And carrying
carbide lantern stuff to make a fire.. Pour it on a solid place, pee on it, then light it.. Gets a fire going fast!!!!!!!!!!!
There were more tricks of the trade, but that is just a few... I had to say good-bye and get on the road.. Not much to
say about the drive over to Valdez, except that it rained about 4 times.. I stopped a few times along the way and took
photos.. There were some beautiful waterfalls as I got closer to town... Hope I go a few good shots of those.. I think I
am up to near 10,000 images taken to this point...
I arrived in town and stopped by the site of the original Valdez, the one that the earthquake destroyed in 1964 I think it
was.. Then I went to the local RV place looking for a tent site... They got them for 28 dollars.. Told the lady I was
looking for a better deal.. She sent me to the Glacier Campground just outside town.. At the campground I meet
Warren, who is a federal employee who takes military and DOD people out on fishing trips for about 170 dollars per
day.. This service is provided by the US government!!!! And there are other things in the area.. Not sure what all they
are, but they are here... May find them later. WOW.. what a deal. Because I am retired DOD, I get a site for 10
dollars and I get free showers and the whole works.. Nice surprise... I pick site 25, set up my tent and come to town to
see what is here.. I find a SUBWAY and have dinner.. The prices here were good, but, I stopped by Safeway to check
food prices.. My favorite, Doritos are over 6 dollars here. Apples, 3.30 per pound.. How many do you want!!!!!!!!
Finally got a couple of bananas, the went by the beer area and got a 40 oz bottle Bud Light for later.. This was 1.06
for the two bananas, and 4 dollars for the beer...
OK, I have a tent site set up, I have eaten, I have gone online and paid most of my bills for the month, I have
refreshment for later, and I have read your emails.. Thanks for staying in touch!!!! You would not like the rain here,
but the 56 degree days would feel nice!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am going to try and find a few images to share with ya, then head
back to camp to settle in for the night.. Maybe a shower first.. Will think about that one.. Also, I picked up some
tourist material.. Will look through that and see what I can do tomorrow to entertain me, or be entertained.. There are
tour boats here also, but if it is nasty here like it was at Seward, I will just skip the ride!!!!!! I think tours cost 150
dollars for the day here..
OK, I think that does it... Will see if I can find the images to share... OH, and yes, it is raining as I write this at 9:35
Click HERE for images for images for this update
2010-07-28, Alaskan Challenge Update
This little update is coming to you from the front porch of the Chicken Gift Shop!! Believe it or not, this place is about
70 miles from civilization. The mail is flown in twice a week.. But, they do have wifi here!!!!!!!! I'm on it!!!!!!! :-)))))
IT IS NOT RAINING HERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It has been, before I got here, but lucky for me it is not now.. In fact it has
rained so much here that the road past this point is closed because it is washed out.. I thought about driving over to
Dawson City from here, but the road is washed out. I think the one guy here, Rick, said it yesterday was only the 14th
day of sun here this year, or at least this spring....
I left Valdez in a heavy rain... Rained ALL the time I was there... I took the tent down in the rain, stuffed in a garbage
bag and left town... I started seeing sun off and on once I got near Tok.. I arrived in Tok around 5:00 PM... Got fuel,
went to the visitor center, sent out an email or two, then started towards Skagway, but remembered Chicken.. I asked
at the visitor center about the road out this way.. It was paved to here, but dirt beyond, and right now it is closed due
to wash outs... This area got hit hard with rain the last two weeks.. Did a lot of damage via the washouts...
I arrived here in Chicken around 7 PM... Found out I could camp free for the night if I filled up with gas... I did, at
4.14 dollars per gallon... It will be closer to 6 dollars when I get back into Canada.. I found out from the girl in the gift
shop that I could do some gold panning here.. So, I bought a gold pan and went to get rich, in the creek out front.. I
actually found one little flake of gold!!!! A friendly lady who was watching took some photos for me, of me doing my
panning and finding my gold... The gold story here is a long one.. I do not think there is enough gold left here to even
bother with the stuff, but many do. I think they do it for fun.. The dredges go all the good stuff many years ago....
I camped here last night, then go up early this morning for a tour of the old townsite, by Nate, who is a trapper and tour
guide in these parts... Traps in the winter, does tours and odd jobs in the summer. As I type this, he is building another
log building off to my right.. If you have not guessed, everything here is generator powered... Even this computer is
being powered by their generator...
There is probably a lot more I could add to this update, but since the sun is shining, I best get out and see the country..
Truth is, there is nothing to see on the drive to Chicken.. More or less like the drive across Kansas... I have checked
some of the places where I have been, and according to weather.com, it is still raining in the places I have left behind...
Sitting here and seeing the sun is starting to make me feel human again..
In the photos this time are a photo of the Glacier outside of Valdez, then there is my new little Dorito Buddy... A new
member or the Dorito Club.. I was eating at the local Subway in Valdez when this this little girl started smiling at me
and showing me her Doritos that she was eating, cause she saw me eating them... I had to tell her that these were my
favorite snack food!! She liked that.. Very pretty, very friendly, and loved Doritos.. As I was getting ready to leave, I
asked her mom if I could get my photo taken with my new Dorito Buddy, she said sure and so now I have the proof
that I am not the only Dorito person in the world!!!!!!!! Also, there is a photo of the road into Chicken, a photo of me at
one of the Chicken signs, and one of me panning for gold out in front of this place....
With that, I think I have covered most everything up to now... I plan to drive on to Skagway, catch the ferry and head
south... I think it is just over 500 miles from here to Skagway...
So, from Chicken, Alaska,,,,, Greetings from Tommy.. The rain soaked traveler......
....................PS.. I have noticed that there is little to no visitors here, so how does this place survive???? I just
learned that there is normally lots of tour buses here, along with the usual collection of RVs etc, but because the road
to Dawson City is out, the tour companies are not bringing people through here.. It is killing business in this gift
shop... Life will return when the road is repaired.....
|A window in Tom's universe.
This is more than a website of photos, it is a place to
share photos, adventures, stories, opinions, and
This page will be a work in process, as I have time to add to it....On June 16, 2010, I got in my car and headed
for Alaska. I thought I was just going to drive up, do a little sightseeing, take some photos, and head back. That
is how is started, but it grew into something much larger than I could have ever imagined. You will have to read
what I have to share to understand what happened.. The trip that was supposed to be less than 10,000 miles,
grew into more like a 25,000 mile trip!! I expected to take a few thousand photos. I took closer to 50,000 before
it was all over. Before it was over, I had visited the Arctic Circle, drove to the Mexico border, rode a mule to
the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Somewhere in all this, I chose to continue on to the tip of Maine and the tip of
Nova Scotia, before returning home and ending the adventure.. The year is not over yet, so there is still time for
more adventure, so..........!!!!!After I started my trip, I started sending back emails and sample photos to some of
my friends. They in turn sent them on to their friends. And, before long the list of people grew beyond anything I
could have guessed... When the adventure was over, I think some people had withdrawal from not have a daily
update of my adventure!! Now I am back home and hope to start putting the photos and stories into one package,
then sharing it here. Knowing that some people who wanted in on the fun, asked that I put my info on my site..
Well, I did, sort of.. As much as I could, I took copies of the emails I was sending to friends, and posted them
here on my site. So, for now, all I have to offer is copies of the emails that were shared with friends as I
traveled.. I guess you could call it a diary. Sometimes there are just a few samples, other times there is a share
file that plays as a slide-show. So, grab something to drink and start the process of following my trip, much the
way my friends did while I was traveling.. The whole process will start with the two slide-shows. One in Kansas
City, the next in Shell, Wyoming.. Below the dotted line below will be the info shared with family and friends..
Hope you enjoy it.. I am leaving it the way I shared it.. So..... It is not edited for corrections, it is just the way it
was shared.. Have fun!!!!! Then come back later for the full story and the full set of photos.
The 2010 Alaska Trip is now complete. What started out to be a trip to Florida ended up being the biggest
adventure in my life!!! In Florida, I decided to go on the Buffalo River in Arkansas. On the Buffalo I decided to
go to Alaska. In California I decided to go to the Mexico border, and, in Arizona, I decided to go on to
Madawaska, ME., to complete a criss-cross of the USA in one calendar year, and, somewhere in Missouri, I
decided to continue on to the northern most points of Nova Scotia, before returning... The trip to Florida started
in February. The trip to Alaska started June 16... It was to be an adventure, but soon became a challenge. As I
traveled, I sent emails and sample photos back to friends and family.. Many of those emails and photos are
being shared here now.. I will add more as I have time. But, on September 22, 2010, I returned from the western
part of this adventure to the local gas station where I started the trip.. I think the records show that between
June 16, and Sept. 22, I traveled 17,026 miles, was gone 99 days, and brought home 38,062 photos. It was fun,
but had some challenges as well... Check out the Alaska pages to get a glimpse of what all went on.
Tom Ballard Photography