Friday, July 2, 2010

July 2, 2010

Haines, AK

Today was a layover type day.  We walked the town of Haines and historic Fort Seward. 

Haines is pretty small.  Easily walked in a couple of hours including browsing.  It has a post office, two groceries, a number of sightseeing type businesses, and lots of pricy restaurants and gift shops.  Cruise ships stop here every three or four days and passengers have several hours to spend in and around town. 

DSC05829 Fort Wm H Seward National Historic Landmark

The historic fort is located just uphill from the cruise ship dock and many of the buildings have tourism related businesses in them.

Here is a unique museum.

  DSC04773 DSC04772 

Hundreds of hammers and things made from them.





tallest Fireweed we have seen.  Some of it six feet tall.






Note how blossoms bloom from base up.  Alaskans say when blooms reach top of stalk summer is over.






This owl is not stuffed.  It is very much alive.  It was tethered in the lobby of the American Bald Eagle Foundation Museum.

July 1, 2010

Haines Highway


Gray and rainy this morning.  Too bad because this was one of the prettiest roads, mile for mile, that we have traveled.  High mountains (with fresh snow), arctic tundra, broad mountain valleys, rain forests, wide and fast moving rivers, eagle preserves, quaint harbor towns, cruise ships, quilt shop :), and more.  The rain stopped but sky remained cloudy all day.  Would have liked to have had sun but still very enjoyable trip.

DSC05732 Dezadeash (dez-dee-ash) Lake DSC05743 Hwy in British Columbia DSC05747 Mountains with fresh snow DSC05750 more mtns DSC05751 road in British columbia DSC05778 Chilkat River DSC05792 Ocean in front of us at Oceanside RV Park 


Lynn Canal




DSC05796 Haines


Fort Seward

Haines, AK

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

June 30, 2010

Haines Junction

Short drive today so we wouldn’t have to split the next section of the trip.  And, hopefully no (less) rain.



Haines Junction is at the intersection of the Haines Highway and the Alaska Highway.  Basically the connection between the ocean (outside world in 1890’s and later, 1940’s) and the interior.  Now it is just an intersection with a few services and some POI’s.

03 Village Bakery


Another excellent bakery.





“Monument” at intersection.  Locals call it ‘The Muffin’.

04 Muffin mountain top sculpture 05 Muffin mountain top sculpture 06 Muffin mountain top sculpture

10 Catholic Church


How’s this for recycling army surplus?




People in the US and especially the lower 48 have no reason to complain of high prices.

30-40 Kraft Mayo sign 30-42 Cottage Cheese sign

Tomorrow we head south

30-44 Haines Road sign

June 29, 2010

Worst Road Yet


Today we drove the Alaska Highway from Tok to Destruction Bay.  The first 50 miles were fine.  Then the road got BAD.  It made the Tok Cutoff look like a expressway.  Frost heaves in all directions. hundreds of pot holes, ‘repairs’, gravel, dust, hills, more frost heaves, on an on for 150 miles or more. 

07 gravel road entering Canada, 50 km 17 road

That ‘50’ is KPH.  Basically 30 mph or less.


Pretty country when one could look at it.

09 Swans and beaver lodge

18 Clouds over Kluane Range 22


Another way to travel the Alaska Highway

11 Another waya to travel

08 Drunken  forest


This is referred to as a ‘Drunken Forest’.  Sure sign of permafrost.




Hopefully the bad road is pretty much behind us now.

Monday, June 28, 2010

June 28, 2010

Back to Tok

Pretty short drive, about 120 miles.  The  distinction is that this was probably the worst road we have traveled in Alaska including the Taylor Highway which is all gravel.  The description in ‘The Milepost’ of the Tok Cutoff is “a combination of good road going bad, frost heaves, gravel, and quick repairs”.   In many places it was all things at once.  Max. speed for an RV in many places was 40 mph, sometimes less.  Remember the thrill you got when your dad would crest a hill on a road with some speed and you had a sudden drop?  Imagine a dip every twenty feet on and on and on.  Now stick in some four inch cracks, loose gravel, rough asphalt, and an occasional six inch or deeper pot hole.  Did I mention that it rained the whole way?  You can’t drive through puddles because you have no idea how deep they are and nearest service is over 100 miles away.

03 heaving road

Still, all in all, it was a beautiful stretch scenery wise.  Would have been more so in the sun.

01 Copper River and Wrangell Mtns 02 Fire Weed, Copper River

We are now in the same RV park we stayed in on our way up.  They are offering ‘water front’ sites.  Our spot is high and ‘dry’ but there are some huge puddles around.  Last time we were here the largest fire in Alaska was burning just west of here.  That problem is gone.  Fairbanks, 150 miles west of here is sunny today.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

June 27, 2010

Back to Glennallen


We left late this morning in the rain.  It rained all the way to Glennallen.  Still very pretty country.  Just would have been nice to see it in sunshine.  Did some minor repairs on the carbus and now we are just getting ready for a longer and probably bumpier ride to Tok tomorrow.

June 26, 2010

Prince William Sound Cruise

Today we took a long (nine and a half hours) Glacier and Wildlife Cruise out of Valdez.  Similar to cruise we took from Seward but different.

01 our boat

Prince William Sound is protected by islands from the Gulf of Alaska so quite calm actually especially today.  Most of trip was almost like glass.

We went to two different glaciers and got as close as we could to both.  Getting to them involved navigating water filled with mini ice bergs.



A number of these ice chunks had sea otters or sea lions hanging out on them.

 PIC_0395 PIC_0385

09 Meares Glacier panorama 11 Meares Glacier

12 Sue and Pete at Meares Glacier

Here we are holding some really old ice.

04 Sue and Iceberg 03 Pete and Iceberg


We saw several humpback whales including two who gave us quite a show for 15 – 20 minutes.


Porpoise played in front of our boat several times.

DSC04749 DSC04750

We saw one shark, briefly.

Sea birds were not as numerous as Seward trip but we did see a few Puffins and Eagles.



I know it doesn’t look too impressive but that is an eagle in flight.




23 tufted puffin


Tufted Puffin





Lots of pretty country and points of interest including spot where Exxon Valdez ran aground and epicenter of 1964 earthquake.



Tanker hit reef just beyond marker.







Epicenter of 1964 earthquake was just beyond those mountains.






Just hang’n’ in the harbor.






Long day but worthwhile.  We will head inland tomorrow.