Archive for the 'Alaska 2007' Category

Sep 10 2007

Back in the lower 48

Published by under Alaska 2007

They let us back in! We drove down the beautiful Fraser River Valley and got in line to cross the border at Sumas, WA. We waited in line for about 1 hour and 20 minutes until it was our turn. Once again it seemed like everyone else took a long time with the customs agent, but it seemed we were only there a minute. He asked where we lived (Texas), where we had been (Alaska), and when we left for Alaska (early June). Then he asked if we had purchased anything while in Canada (souvenirs for the grandkids) and if I used to be a truck driver (no, just a big trailer). What did you do before you retired, (Worked with computers for Ross Perot)? He then said “I voted for him. Welcome home.”

That was it. No questions about meat, produce or anything else. Of course, if we had not eaten it all up he would have wanted to inspect the trailer.

We found an RV park about 15 minutes from where our mail is supposed to come. It should be here tomorrow if we are lucky. The first thing I did was unload the scooter and ride to the nearest Wells Fargo Bank to get some cash. We used all but a couple dollars in Canada and I did not want to pay the $5 fee for using a non Wells Fargo ATM and have to deal with getting rid of Canadian cash so we waited until we were south of the border.

The park we are in is quite nice except they do not have any wireless internet. It seems strange that any park till does not since it is almost expected any more. But, there are plenty of Starbucks and every other kind of coffee shop up here to use for internet.

I’m not sure it feels any different to be back in the US. There is always a nagging feeling that you are not in your country when you are in Canada, but since everything we are doing is pretty superficial and touristy, noticing any big differences would be pretty hard to do. Other than not having to convert kilometers, liters and Celsius temperatures it is pretty much the same. So, I guess it is nice to be back in familiar places.

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Sep 09 2007

Minter Gardens

Published by under Alaska 2007

Today was our last full day in Canada, and what a beautiful day it was. Not a cloud in the sky and temperatures in the upper 70’s. It was another perfect day for a scooter ride.

We rode about 25 miles down the Trans Canada Highway toward Vancouver to the town of Chilliwack where Minter Gardens is located. It is 33 acres of beautiful flowers, gardens, cedar forests, fountains, statues, pools and waterfalls. We spent about three hours wandering around, looking and relaxing.

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Tomorrow we plan to enter the US at Sumas, WA and probably stay at a campground near Stanwood, WA for a few days. That is north of Seattle but relatively close to some of Dianna’s relatives that we have not seen for a few years.

After that we will continue down through Washington to just north of Portland where she wants to visit a high school friend she has not seen for years. Then through Oregon and into California as the temperatures allow. We don’t know what route we will take or when we will be where. The only place we have tentatively planned to visit is the Mt. Saint Helens area, and maybe the Boeing Plant tour while in the Seattle area.

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Sep 08 2007

The Othello Tunnels

Published by under Alaska 2007

It was a beautiful day so I unloaded the scooter. We rode back through town, about three miles away, and on to Othello Tunnels Provincial Park. It’s just a few miles out of town along the Coquihalla River. In the early 1900’s they built a railroad line down the canyon. It is a very narrow and deep canyon and they had to cut four tunnels through the rock in the tightest place. The railroad was washed out in the late 1950’s and it was turned into a park sometime after that. The scenery is beautiful and walking through the tunnels is fun. One of them is long enough that a flashlight would really help you see where to step.

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Then we decided to take a ride 35 miles back up the Fraser River the way we came from Prince George to Hell’s Gate. It is the narrowest place on the Fraser River. There is a tram that runs down into the gorge to the river and a suspension bridge you can walk across down close to the water. The water is forced through a canyon only 33 yards across, and that is not much space for twice the volume of Niagara Falls. We arrived at about 4:15. It closed at 4.

It was a beautiful day for a ride and the road was great for motorcycles. Seeing Hells Gate would have been fun, but the ride and the scenery was super too.

Tonight we ate more of our Canadian meat and produce for dinner. After dinner Dianna made a ton of scalloped potatoes with ham. It’s always better the second day so she now makes it the day before we plan to eat it. We don’t expect them to tell us we can’t take left over scalloped potatoes into the US!

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Sep 07 2007

Hope, BC

Published by under Alaska 2007

We left the Lac La Hache Provencial Park this morning and soon joined up with the Fraser River again. Then it was up and over the mountains and down into the Thompson River Valley where we followed it through a twisting canyon. The river had train tracks on both sides and as we sat in a pull out eating lunch we watched non-stop trains heading north on the eastern side.

The scenery had radically changed. I never knew British Columbia had a desert, but this area looked much like the area around Bakersfield, California. Everything was brown and low scrub covered except the farmers fields which were all irrigated. For the first time in a long time we had to turn on the air conditioner.

We joined the Trans Canada Highway at Cache Creek. I remember passing through here in 1967 when Bill Chapman and I drove from Vancouver to Montreal. The scenery down the Thompson River Canyon was quite stark as the sides of the canyon were steep and bare. When we rejoined the Fraser River at Lytton the sides of the canyon was still steep and the road winding, but the mountains were covered with trees and everything was green and lush again.

We stopped in Hope, BC at the Wild Rose RV Park. We have decided to stay here for three nights and cross back into the US on Monday. The RV park is very nice and does have free internet. It is not fast, and the connection is poor, but it is better than the connection we had in Prince George. This will give us time to eat up all our contraband food as well as keep us in place over the weekend. One of the rules full timers like to follow is to get somewhere on Thursday or early Friday and stay put until Monday. This lets the weekenders do their thing while we lay low.

Hope is where we broke down many years ago when we were pulling a trailer with our van. It developed an overheating problem and I had to have the radiator rebuilt. There is a lot to do in the area and it is a pretty place so we will find plenty to keep us busy.

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Sep 06 2007

Leaving Prince George

Published by under Alaska 2007

We finally had good internet performance last night so we caught up with postings and some work with the gallery. It was nice to finally get what we were promised when we first checked in. Unfortunately, this morning it was horrible again but we still managed to send Escapees the instructions on where to send our mail. Then we got ready to travel for the first time in a week.

The day was uneventful and the road was good. We were along side the Fraser River for much of the way, and also had to make several climbs and descents. We stopped for lunch at a rest area and again read the signs that are posted at all the rest areas in about the pine and spruce beetle invasion. It is rapidly destroying all the pine and spruce trees in central BC. The reasons for its spread include forests that are just the right age for the beetle, lack of natural fires to keep the beetle at bay and to clean the forests, several dry seasons that let them get a good foothold, and finally because it has not been cold enough long enough in the past several years to kill them off. The result is that millions of acres of trees are being killed. They are trying to harvest them as fast as they can, then replant new seedlings, but much will not get harvested before it rots.

We stopped for the night at a BC Provincial Park and took a nature hike through the woods. It was sad to see the amount of devastation to the trees. Almost all in this area are either already dead or are dying. As usual, it is a very nice park and not crowded at all, especially this late in the season. The camp host is already gone but there should be someone around later this evening to collect the fee.

We had forgotten about the restrictions on bringing meat and produce from Canada into the US. We had just bought a ham and stocked up on hamburger, lunch meats and fresh fruit and vegetables. The frustrating thing is that much of it was actually grown in the US. When we thought of it we immediately began eating ham for every meal so we can finish it before we cross the border. If necessary, we will stay a day or two so we don’t have to surrender any of it. After all, we are not in any hurry.

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Sep 05 2007

Galbraith Lake Panorama

Published by under Alaska 2007

This photo is a 360 degree panorama of our campsite at Galbraith Lake. We were about 3 miles off the Dalton Highway, north of Atigun Pass and the Brooks Range. We still had about 135 miles to go to Prudhoe Bay and Deadhorse.

I stood in one location and took pictures in each direction as I turned. The truck is directly east of where I was standing.

If your browser works like mine you can zoom into the photograph to get the full effect. There is some spherical distortion, but it’s not too bad. I am posting it now since I just obtained the software to stitch pictures together.

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Sep 04 2007

The Prince George Railroad Museum

Published by under Alaska 2007

I called the internet service company first thing this morning and got them to refund my money. The service here has been up and down, and slower than dial up even when it is connected. It has been frustrating to say the least. The promise of good, fast internet service was one of the big reasons we decided to stay here for a week.

Today we visited the Prince George Railroad Museum. It was one of the best we have been to. They had some very old stock as well as some I did not think were that old, including an electric locomotive that was built in 1960 and retired in 1997. Many of the trains, including that locomotive, were open so you could explore inside them. The also had displays of the telephone history of the area as well as a display of historic chain saws. This is timber country.

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The station managers house was equipped with this stove and washing machine. The stove probably looks similar to those stoves my Grandfather made.

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After the railroad museum we drove to the pulp mill we had visited last week. The truck dumping lifts were working and we watched as semis were backed onto the lifts and then tilted up to 80 degrees so the wood chips in them would fall out the back.

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Then, after another grocery shopping stop, I found a place where I could get rid of the bad tire we have been carrying since it was replaced in Anchorage. I kept it with us because our truck uses an unusual size. Most big trucks like ours do not carry a spare tire because it is impossible for someone to change tires without special equipment. You have to call a tire changing service, and they will bring a tire out with them if you need one. When I learned that the size we use was almost unheard of up here, I knew I would have a real problem if a tire was shredded somewhere in the wilds of Alaska and I did not have something to put on. So, I kept the old tire fastened on the bed. It had to stand upright against the motorcycle which rubbed on it and wore the paint in one spot. Now that we are back in civilization I figure we will be able to find a replacement tire somewhere if we need it, even if we have to wait a day or two. I was going to try to sell the tire since it has value for use on a trailer or even on the truck if it were trued, and the dealers were interested in buying it, but as soon as they saw the size they said it had no value to them at all. So I just junked it.

We had more halibut for dinner, fought with the horrible internet service, and watched a little TV.

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