Thursday, 31 May 2012

Denali NP to Anchorage

On my last night in Denali went out and had a lovely BBQ with Dave and Amy in their RV, followed by a quick trip into town to the Salmon Bake for some blueberry pie and coffee as Dave suddenly had a craving !!    Good way to spend my last evening in Denali !!   Back to the camp site, still VERY bear and moose alert !!, and to bed.
Woke up the next morning and packed up ready to get on the road to Anchorage, and then went round to the shop area to finish off blog and email, and have a hot shower.  They charge $4 for a hot shower in the park, but it is a good facilty, and they even provide towels so you don't have to find somewhere to put a wet towel in the car !! And a hint for anyone using the showers at the Mercantile at Riley Campground in Denali - Always ask for the key to cubicle number 4 - It is extra large to allow for wheel chairs, and makes getting changed without getting all your clothes wet SO much easier !!   While getting everything done there, met Don who was from Illinois and riding a BMW bike and doing all the rough roads, and had a good chat.  Hope you enjoyed the bus trip Don, and thank your ? cousin ? for the egg roll - it was excellent!   Safe travels and maybe see you in the Kenai.  
And so off I went towards Anchorage - Roof off, of course !!!

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Denali NP 2

Woke up at 5 am (no dawn !! You could read all night at the moment) and had breakfast - keeping a very wary eye out for upset moose and bears, especially while I was making my ham and cheese sandwiches !!  2 deg C, so back into a little bit of a cold spell, and I decided to put my thermals on for the trip into the park.  And thank goodness I did as it was not hot !!   (I have only had about 2 days when I have not worn my thermals since leaving Anacortes 4 weeks ago !!)  Drove the 5 minutes over to the bus pick up point at the Wilderness Centre, and found my green shuttle bus and climbed aboard.

Fairbanks to Denali 2

Sunday was a bit of a washout day in Fairbanks.  It rained most of Saturday night, and was still raining on Sunday morning, which made life pretty difficult in the tent.  As I was leaving the next day, I got my laundry done, and then did some catching up on the pooter.  Gradually the weather cleared up until by early afternoon it had stopped raining, so, as I had been chatting on email to Lucy Hayward who I had met on the ferry from Skagway to Haines a couple of weeks ago and not seen on the road, I decided to go over to her camp site and have a chat. The following day, Monday, I was off to Denali again for a couple of days as it was on my way south to Anchorage.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Friday & Saturday in Fairbanks

On Friday it rained.  And rained and rained and rained !!   In fact it was quite useful as at least it did start to wash some of the caked on mud from the Dalton Highway off the car ! But apart from that, it was a pain in the neck. The tent was dry, no problem, so I stayed in there as long as I could, recovering from my long day.  But getting up, trying to get things sorted, get showered, and so on meant that by about 9 or 10 am, everything was pretty wet.  So I ended up watching a movie off my hard drive, and then in the late afternoon I managed to contact Amy and Dave who I had met in Skagway, and went over to their RV Park for dinner and a great evening out of the rain over there, comparing notes on where each of us had been in the last 2 weeks ! A great evening, and after scurrying back to my tent in the rain, went to sleep.  But today, Saturday, despite a bad weather forecast, has been fine all day, so I have been out exploring Fairbanks !

Friday, 25 May 2012

First ever Lotus to cross Alaskan Arctic Circle

Right, have had a bit of sleep, so will try and remember what I did yesterday !

Oh, thats right, drove to the Arctic Circle !!

Woke up early at 4.30, and hit the road at 5.30 from campsite at North Pole (yes !!) outside Fairbanks.  Clear crisp morning, so roof off, and sandwiches and nibbles packed as I am expecting a LONG day in the saddle - The day before when I took the tour just to the Circle took 17 hours, and I intended to go a further 100 miles north of the Circle, to Coldfoot.  And while Elsie may be faster than the coach, a lot of the road is on dirt where 40 mph is an absolute max, often a lot less.  Beautiful morning, so roof off, and rugged up with my fur hat, and off I went.  Climbing up the first hills, the light was catching part of the clouds and made some eerie patterns and light which looked suspiciously like a daytime Aurora Borealis to me - Which I know is impossible, but.....  Tried to ttake some pics but of course they don't really show it, but I have put them in the folder and circled the bit I am talking about.  It certainly was VERY vivid, and moving around.

Wednesday in Fairbanks

After going all the way to the Arctic Circle on the coach for some 17 hours on Tuesday, I had a relatively slow Wednesday morning at the camp site.  Then I went down into Fairbanks to find a tire place to rotate a couple of my tires which were wearing unevenly.  Later I went to the Univeristy Of Alaska Fairbanks which I had heard had an excellent museum.  Lazy day !!!

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Fairbanks to Arctic Circle 1

After a very lazy day yesterday, today I went to the Arctic Circle !!!   However, I went on a tour bus, because I had heard so many people telling me that the condition of the Dalton Highway was impassible to anything but and SUV, and that Elsie wouldn;t make it past the first section of dirt road.  So I decided to go and have a look at the conditions first, and if they really were that bad, then I would not take Elsie.
Result ?   Had a fun day out, and am taking Elsie up the day after tomorrow, as long as the weather holds !!

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Denai back to Fairbanks

Nothing too special today. Done all I need to do in Denali for now, and the hoards of holiday makers were starting to roll in.  So I have run back to Fairbanks and will spend a few days here doing the the Dalton Highway and seeing what Fairbanks has to offer before I go down to Anchorage.  Not even many photos to post, because basically if you want to know what the drive was like, you just need to look at the photos I posted 3 days ago wen I drove to Denali - but start with the last one first and work your way backwards !!! Rofl.  But there were a couple of interesting / funny things happen !  As usual !!!

Saturday, 19 May 2012

A day in Denali NP

Today was a relatively quiet day in the park.  It was a little warmer overnight, which was a relief, but the weather is still bright and sunny although more cloudy weather is coming. And the crowds are also coming - this is offcially the start of the summer season, so the campers and motorhomes are rolling in.  The peace and quiet of the pre-season is over !!!

Friday, 18 May 2012

Mt McKinley Flight


I am not going to write a blog tonight, because words could not possibly start to even describe one millionth of the beauty and majesty of the scenes I have witnessed today.   We had a flight time of about two hours, plus half an hour on the Ruth Glacier. It was just the most breathtaking  trip.  There was not a cloud in the sky, and there was not a breath of wind or thermals from the mountains - conditions the pilot says he rarely ever sees.  So he was able to take us within a few feet of some of the mountan tops - we felt we could reach out and touch them.  Even he was in awe of what we saw and were able to do today !!!  

Enjoy the photos - There are a lot of them, but I think they will take your breath away.   And let me assure you, they do not even get close to showing you what it was REALLY like to be up there today.

This place is unbelievable.  I am in love.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Fairbanks to Denali NP

Well I said I would get up early to go to Denali – And I sure did – Thanks to my iPhone not auto- switching to Alaska time so it was an hour fast !!   So I got up at 6 am, and realised about 40 minutes later when I looked at my watch that it was still actually only 5.40 am !!!   Ha Ha.  No wonder it was so cold – Minus 1.2 deg C when I got up – Which was at least a (little) bit warmer than the day before – Maybe God was away looking after someone else who needed attention more, and forgot to turn the cold knob down far enough !!  I had rugged up well before going to bed, and actually survived pretty well, although you do wake up a number of times during the night – Usually when you get strangled in your sleeping bag cord when trying to roll over !!! Rofl.  Anyway, beautiful blue sky, so once I was all packed up and showered to thaw out a bit, had said goodbye to the 3 US Navy guys from Fresno on their Harleys/Gold Wing (Russ, Bob, and Ken) I hit the road to Denali, one of the prime targets of my trip.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Fairbanks 1

Well last night was FREEZING !!!   When I eventually got up at about 8.30 am, the temp was still -2.7 deg C, and someone was saying it was in the mid 20's Farenheit !!!  But I suffered because I had run out of instant hand warmer pads for my feet, and used a re-usable one, but it runs out of heat after a couple of hours, so by about 1 a.m. I was suffering !!  So not tonight Josephine - I have just bought a stock of the disposable hand warmers to make sure I don't run out again !!  The car was covered in frost, and even the condensation inside the tent had frozen !!  And they are saying that after the clear sky today, we are in for more of the same tomorrow.  Whoop-de-do !!!  I will be putting on ALL my clothes tonight !!  In advance !!
Other than that, it ws a kind of quiet day around Fairbanks.

Beaver Creek to Fairbanks Alaska

It started snowing last night about 9 o’clock.  By the time I woke up this morning, there was 1 ½ inches on the car, and it had settled on the ground.
My first thoughts were for the English cycling couple, Laurie and Edith, who were sleeping in a tent beside the road somewhere !!  So as soon as I had packed up and had my breakfast I headed off south, in the direction I had come last night, looking for them.  It was still snowing quite heavily as I drove and after 10 miles there was no sign of them – Perhaps they were hiding in a culvert, or maybe a hungry bear had got them !!!  Then I saw a car coming the other way, and jumped out and flagged them down – Yes they had seen them about 20 miles further back, and they were cycling south OK !!   So I could relax, and I turned round and headed north again.  Not soon after I had passed back through Beaver Creek, the snow stopped, and the sky started to clear up.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Haines Jct to Beaver Creek

IT WAS FREEZING LAST NIGHT !!!   I had to get up and go over to the car twice to get more clothes out to put on !!!!  I only slept fitfully until about 5 am, and then the next thing I knew it was 8 am !  And still only about zero !!  So I did get some sleep.  I had done laundry last night so am all squeaky clean again, and thought they had an internet conection at the camp site, but at about 9 pm it suddenly stopped working so I couldn't get blogs or anything done yet again !!!  But I packed up the tent etc this morning, had my breakfast, then had a LOVELY hot shower which helped warm me up, and then I headed into town to the Information Centre, and then the Bakery, in that order !! 

Haines AK to Hanes Jct YT

Woke up on Sunday morning in Haines – To a blue sky, with just a few clouds !!  (Still no internet or WIFI available anywhere that worked – This is about the first place in the world I have been to that doesn’t have a working system in place !!  Maybe that is how remote we are ?)  Anyway, I questioned the hotel people about tours, and they didn’t know of any except private charter fligts out to Glaciers etc.  I did call one of them and they said that even though it was sunny at the moment,  it would hardly be worth it as the cloud cover was going to come back down shortly and you wouldn’t see very much at all.  So I ran down to the Tourist Information centre, and they said much the same – Plus as it was Sunday, most things wouldn’t operate today anyway !!  But I had heard about a Bald Eagle reservation up at the end of the road in Haines, so I decided to run up there straight away, and then decide what to do after that.

Friday, 11 May 2012

REVISED WITH PHOTOS -A couple of days in Skagway

I arrived in Skagway on Wednesday and camped not 5 minutes walk from the centre of town. It is a beautiful old town, steeped in the history of the Klondike Gold Rush in 1898, which was in itself a vital part of Alaskan history.  Prior to coming to Alaska I had read extensively about it all, so to drive through the Chilkoot Pass on Wednesday, in a blizzard, imagining the would-be and ill-prepared miners slogging over the same mountains on foot, was very thought provoking for me.  Now to see the town that was the start of their trip, still with all the old buildings, wooden sidewalks, bars and saloons etc, was just fascinating.  Alaska’s history is amazing – from the days when it was occupied by Russia, to its sale to the US, to the Gold Rush of 1898, and then the building of the Alaska-Canada (Alcan) Highway in just 9 months during the war – Everything is so recent and its history so tangible.  If anyone is interested, one book that really paints a brilliant overall picture is James A Michenor’s book “Alaska” – I can strongly recommend it.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Whitehorse Yukon to Skagway Alaska

I AM HERE !!!!!   Not the port of entry I expected, but I am in Alaska, all the same.  Just have had no wifi to tell you about it !!

After a miserable 4 or 5 solid days of rain, I was getting more and more disconsolate because I could do nothing.  Even the driving wasn’t much fun because there were no views – I might as well have been driving up the Newell Highway, and it was starting to really get to me. Even many the tourist things are not operating, most of them because the weather has been so bad.  Anyway, a BIG thank you to those of you who have supported me through this period of melancholy !!  You know who you are, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.  After a night in an expensive motel in Whitehorse (it’s a bit like Dampier – many workers, little accommodation, so they can charge what they like) because all the camp sites were closed, I worked my way in writing through what I needed to do – and it worked.  As I wrote it all out, everything became clearer in my mind, and by the time I finished, I had a plan. And from on the day just got……….better !!!

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Dease Lake BC to Whitehorse Yukon

When I started loading the car this morning, I was happy because it wasn't raining.  By the time I drove away, it was snowing instead !!  The weather changes SO fast round here you have to be prepared for anything.  But everyone is saying that the weather this yer is really odd - Much colder and much wetter than usual for May, and as a result many of the tourist facilities, including camp sites and tours, are staying closed until it warms up and tourists start arriving.  But because I was working on the past 10 year average temps and rainfall which I had carefully looked up and planned my trip around, I have been caught short.  All the things I read said get up to Alaska in the first two weeks of May to avoid the crowds and the mosquitoes.  Well, I have avoided the crowds and the bugs, but now find myself unable to camp, and unable to do any tour because they are not yet running this year !!!  So unless the weather changes, I may as well keep heading North to Alaska !!

Monday, 7 May 2012

Stewart to Dease Lake

I SAW BEARS !!!!  Just as I was beginning to think it was all a con to get tourists into the area and that they really didn’t exist, I finally saw two black bears beside the road just outside Stewart this morning.  It was raining, and misty, but believe it or not I managed to get a photo of both of them !!  I hall probably see hundreds now my duck is broken !!  When I woke up this morning it was still pouring with rain in Stewart, and the forecast for the next week was rain every day, and as nothing is operating (bear tour wise) for another couple of weeks, I decided to head north to my main destination – Alaska !

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Smithers to Stewart-Hyder

Not so cold last night, so woke up early to toddle across the campsite (!), and then back to bed and dozed till about 7.30.  Lovely views of mountains on two sides, right outside of town, and a weak sunshine while I slowly packed up camping gear into the car, and had my breakfast. Linda, the camp host lady came over to look at the car and have a chat.  She gave me some good tips about Stewart and the road in, as well as recommending strongly that I try to get to Newfoundland on this trip as she reckons it is gorgeous.  She also remembered the electric Radical race car coming through here in 2010 on its way from Fairbanks to Tierra del Fuego, and said they also stayed at this camp site !! (See here   After a nice hot shower to warm everything up properly, I jumped into the car, roof off, and headed into town to find a bank and get some fuel before setting off to Stewart.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Prince George to Smithers

Well, when I woke up this morning at 4.30 am my feet were freezing. I dozed fitfully till about 7 am then got up, and found out why my feet were cold - The temp on the car thermometer was 0.6 deg C even at 7 am.  I found out later that it was minus 6 deg C during the night, but I think it might have been colder because there was an enormous icicle growing upwards from the grass beside my tent where a tap had been dripping overnight - And icicles don't just grow without it being bloody freezing !!! So I was rugged up in all my clothes and thermals while I had my breakfast and packed up the car.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Vavenby to Prince George

After a wonderful nights sleep, and breakfast with Ed and Sarah, I packed up the car and got ready to set out on my adventure proper.  No more friends or family to stay with - From here on out the real adventure starts, heading north into the wilds, with cold and unsettled weather still, and not quite sure what surprises await me !!   But for this morning, the sun is shining, and although it was only about 8 deg C, I quickly removed the roof, said farewell to Ed and Sarah, and, once the farm track was safely negotiated (despite the additioal rain overnight), I headed back down to Little Fort on Hwy 5 before turning west and north towards Prince George.  From here on I am on roads I have never been on before, although I have travelled them on the map many times over the past 2 years, and all the names on the route are now very familiar to me, which makes it all very odd.

Lillooet to Vavenby

Slept like a log beside the rushing Fraser River.  Maybe that was courtesy of the beers from Phil ?  !!  Anyway, packed up slowly in the morning, and managed to download all the photos onto the pooter while sitting there over looking the river, but once the sun was up it was very hard to see the computer screen (my excuse !).  So I shut it down and headed out south down Hwy 12 towards Lytton.

Vancouver to Lillooet (Where ??!!)

Woke up on Wednesday morning in Vancouver to POURING RAIN !!  But once underway, everything got progressively better as the day progressed, and ended up with a NEW BEST ROAD for the trip !!!  Or maybe it just seemed really good because I had not been on the road for a while and had forgotten how good it could be  !!   Who cares ? In the end it was a GREAT ROAD and it left me grinnng from ear to ear, as all good Elise drives should !  And at the end of the drive I found a fantastic campsite on the banks of the Fraser River in Lillooet.  (Enlarge the map in the Picassa photo section if you want to find out where Lillooet is).


Ater a leisurely breakfast in Anacortes with sister Janet, I set off to do a couple of errands on the way to crossing the Canadian Border and heading towards Vancouver.  I thought they might take half an hour at most, but as usual, how wrong can you be ?!!  Luckily I only had about 50 miles to cover today. Although the sky was dark, I didn't think it really looked like rain, so left the roof off.