Sunday, August 29, 2010

A couple more pictures....

Dick wanted me to post these two pictures.  The first is us as Eilson Visitor Center, 66 miles inside Denali Nat'l Park with Denali (Mt McKinley) in the background.  The 2nd is the gi-normous tractor that our Canadian friends have.  You really don't get a true perspective of just how really LARGE that tractor is! 

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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

We are home!

We finally made it home on Wednesday after driving just over 11,000 miles in the RV and around 2700 miles in the jeep! It took me two days to clean the RV as it was just coated in dust from the 6 weeks of camping at Denali where everything was dusty and dirty!

We had a great time in Wisconsin at Dick's family reunion.  That was his mother's father's side of the family.  Then on Sunday we visited with his cousin and some family from Dick's father's side.  Between the two gatherings I think I gained 4 lbs!!

We left the greater Chicago area and drove to Dayton, Ohio where we spent the night at Wright Patterson AFB at the family camp.  We also discovered that one of the best, if not the best, aviation museum was in that area so we delayed our trip home by a day to visit the museum.  In particular Dick wanted to see the plane there on display similar to the one his Dad flew in Korea.  Also they had retired presidential planes there that I wanted to see.  It was interesting but a bit much for me as I was overwhelmed with the sheer number of aircraft there on display!!  There were 3 large hangars full in addition to two smaller hangars with the presidential planes and experimental aircraft.

It was a truely spectacular summer and we had such a great time.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Wisconsin

We are near Kenosha, WS now for a family reunion today.  Tomorrow we'll drive a short distance into Illinois and stop at his cousin's house for the night and visit with family on his Dad's side.  Then we'll make the final leg of our trip to NC beginning on Monday.

Wednesday we drove across Montana and Thursday we drove thru North Dakota and Minnesota where we encountered really strong winds and that makes for tough driving.  Then we were awakened in the night by thunder, lightening and driving rain.  Yesterday it poured and poured as we drove through Wisconsin.  There were reports of flash flooding and tornado watches in effect.  Fortunately we only experienced driving rain and we did manage to drive out of the worst of it.  However, about the time we got parked in the campground and as Dick was hooking everything up outside, it started to rain and lightening again.  He got soaked!  Wish we could bring some of that rain with us to NC!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

On our way home

We are in Canada now slowly working our way home.  we will stop in Wisconsin for a family reunion of Dick's mother's family.

We are driving south on the Cassiar highway which is a drive through the mountains & wilderness.  It is really beautiful although our visibility is limited as it has been quite rainy.  we are camping in Stewart, Canada and will viisit Hyder, Alaska which is just a couple miles away.  Hyder is like a lost piece of Alaska as it is on the coast and bordered only by Canada.  It is a very small community with dirt roads and looks mostly like a coastal ghost town.  I think its population is 100.  It has one claim to fame and that is Fish Creek.  Black and grizzly bears gather at the creek this time of year to fish for the spawning salmon.  Yesterday we watched a grizzly sow and her cub fish for salmon.  She had to work at it but she did catch a nice size fish!  There are two kinds of salmon in the creek, pink and chum.  The chum are really large and can reach 50 lbs.  When she would get near the fish they would start flipping out of the water.  It was really fascinating to watch.


Her cub was a spring cub, meaning born this spring and just adorable!  he was so cute and small.  He couldn't yet catch fish so he would play with the dead ones - after they spawn they die.  The dead fish were nearly as big as the cub and he had fun wrestling with them!

There are numerous glaciers around here and we will visit some today.  Too bad it is raining again today but oh well.  That's pretty typical for this area.  However it is supposed to be sunny for the next several days after today.  Of course we have to leave tomorrow!

Monday, August 2, 2010

photos...

Here is the wolf that we saw today.  He looked small to me and lean.  We heard that only the alpha male and female are collared but I wonder if this is true, this guy doesn't look all that alpha to me!!  But then, what do I know...??

And this is a caribou, which, when domesticated, is called a reindeer.

Good-bye Denali!

Our little slice of heaven.....


We left our campground this morning with the new campground hosts that came in to take our place.  We are sad to leave as we loved our "summer home" there!  Currently we are at the park headquarters doing laundry and we'll leave for Anchorage tomorrow.

The weather during all of July was way less than stellar to say the least.  We had rain, and more rain, and more rain with the occasional view of sun.  But happily our last weekend in the park was bright, sunny and warm!  That was even more enjoyable as we had friends in the park that we know from Colorado so we were able to enjoy sitting out by the campfire with them!

Our last bus ride into the park was last Thursday and turned out to be quite a suprise!  That morning when we got on the bus, it was, as usual, quite cloudy, so we figured ho-hum, another not so nice weather day.  But what a suprise as it cleared up and Denali (Mt. McKinley) was out in all its spectacular glory!  It is such a sight to see as it rises around 18,000 feet above its base and is 20,320 feet high in its entirety.  Mt Everest, although higher than Denali, has a vertical rise of 12,000 feet above its base.  Unfortunately, I have not yet downloaded those pictures so I'll have to do that later.

My only disappointment at the park is that we haven't seen too many wolves, yet many of our campers have come back telling us about the pack of wolves they saw up close and personal.  The pack, according to the rangers, has 12  adults and 5 puppies and this pack has been seen quite frequently along and near the road by many of our campers.  We have tried, in vain, so many times to spot this pack!  I guess as a consolation "prize" we were treated to a lone wolf walking down the road this morning as we were driving to the park entrance so I did get some nice photos of him.

Yesterday a cargo plane crashed in the park near headquarters, unfortuantely killing the 3 people on board.  We will never know, but I like to think that the pilot in his last moments was able to steer the plane away from the employee camp, headquarters and visitor center before crashing.  Although a tragedy in itself, it could have been so much worse as the crash was very near several population centers.

We watched these two Dall sheep come down a very steep mountain side, go across the stream and then up a steep hill and bank onto the road.  I love this photo of the one in the stream.

We will be heading home soon and are looking forward to seeing everyone!  I'm glad to hear that it has finally rained on our homestead!!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Bus humor--

When you go into the Park, you ride on a bus that is essentially a school bus and if you go all the way into the park, you'll be on that bus for about 11 hours.  That's plenty of time to get to know your fellow passengers and bus driver!  Our bus driver told us that some one actually asked him "when do the caribou change into moose?"  Oh my, I know that people from afar are not well versed on the animals that live in Alaska, but really, do you think that animals change from one species to another??  Only in a Harry Potter movie does that happen!!

There's always alot of joking about people encountering animals and being eaten so here are the definitions:

A person on a bicycle - "meals on wheels"
Person walking on a trail -  "trail mix"
Person on a bus -  "canned meat"

Well that's humor, Denali style!