On The Road

Spokane and Pullman

Back at Mike and Jackie’s in Spokane.

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We relaxed for a couple of days and watched an entire season of “Game of Thrones” in the basement. Highly recommend it.

We visited a piece of property that Mike was interested in buying. Pretty, raw land and quite a walk for Steve-o’s legs.
We ended with a some tears, a prayer and a group hug.

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We also took a day trip to Pullman and visited Gail.
We watched the 1994 Apple Cup on a VHS tape when WSU beat UW. Its a huge rivalry for Washingtoners. Steve was a sophomore and had a good game and had a huge hit on a big guy named Cam Cleland that knocked them both out.
Gail showed us an old box of Steve’s stuff. This was my favorite picture/article of when Steve was a bit more of a meathead. I learn more and more that he was kind of a “big deal” here at WSU.

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We had lunch at one of Steve’s favorite college pizza places called Sellas. Really good salad with ranch dressing.

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Then drove to Lewiston to pick up the Halibut caught in Alaska from Brendan.
This shot is from a pullout overlooking Lewiston.

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We also got to have lunch with Grady at one of my favorite Spokane spots, Bruchees.

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Hayden Lake to Spokane: HOME!

Tuesday, August 15, 2011

Matt made us pancakes for breakfast and we ate them on the deck in the warm sunshine overlooking Hayden Lake.

We went for a morning swim.

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It’s hard for Steve to swim now, as his reflexes tell him to breathe in when he’s supposed to breathe out. It’s a huge disappointment, because he loves swimming in rivers and lakes and oceans and pools and it’s now really difficult. However, he said he wanted to swim to the dock in the picture above and as tough as it was, he made it.

Brendan unpacked all of his stuff from the van and we said our goodbyes. He’s surprising his wife Leslie by getting home a day early.

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The boys chatted and then Steve and I head to Riverside State Park.

We took pictures from the bridge of the “Bowl and Pitcher”

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We did some video recording for the baby. Steve talked about memories from “Malibu” youth group and traveling to south America and the Galapagos Islands.

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Summers in Spokane are absolutely beautiful. Warm and no humidity.

Ended the day at Mike and Jackie Gleasons. Felt good to be home. Not really at home yet, but a great place to stay and rest.

The Varisco parents are coming in soon to visit!

See comment below…

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Deadmans Creek CG, BC to Hayden Lake, ID

Monday, August 15, 2011

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We had a bath in the river this morning. The water was warmer than the glacier lakes we’ve bathed in but still nice and chilly.

We drove through the beautiful wine/orchard country of BC. I loved the drive. We stopped at an awesome stand.

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We got organic peach lemonade, some fresh all beef rolls, pickles, chicken and mushroom samosas, green peppers, pepperoni sticks, and fruit. Delicious, all of it.

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Steve spotted the “Inniskillin” vineyard so we stopped, very excited. We all tried this ice wine at a Varisco family dinner at Meson 923 and loved it.

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Then we crossed the border!

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Home sweet USA!

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Oh and it was the boys first day of school today!

We stopped at Dick’s for burgers then slept at our friend Matt Blaine’s beautiful cabin on Hayden Lake.

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Babine Lake Rd to Deadmans Creek CG

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Another big driving day today. I think all of us are a bit travel weary and being this close to Washington makes us all ready to get home.

We stopped at Mezzanine Lake and cleaned out the van.

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It was dumpy with a fusty smell.

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There was sunshine today! Halleluiah!

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We stopped at a pullout to stretch our legs and watch the sunset.

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Then drove into the night. We listened to Cyndi Lauper. Then a deer ran right in front of me. Luckily I remembered the boys instructions from Alaska and hit the brakes and didn’t swerve. We all thought we’d hit it but the deer just made it, thank the Lord.

We stopped at our last campsite of the trip! A cool one, but it was in between two train tracks so we listened to trains every 1/2 hour.

Oh and… We missed my dad at Rock-n-Bowl tonight:(

-MV


Prince Rupert to Babine Lake Rd: Stewart/Hyder

August 13, 2011

The Matanuska Ferry arrived on shore in Prince Rupert, Canada at 5:15am, which with the time change was really 4:15am, which means we really woke up at 3:45am to pack up and get through the jerky Canadian border patrol, which means that after a couple hours of riding in the front seat of i suppose scenic but cold and gloomy scenery, one of us turned into GrumpyPants, and after stopping at a gas station and standing in the rain and our credit cards declining and being asked if I had a status card (meaning = are you a first nation (Indian)?), I was ready to punch Canada in the face.

But, after a few hours of sleeping in the lethargy lounge in the back of the Ironhorse, I felt normal again, luckily for the two boys in the front, especially the one named Steve.

We decided to power drive back up to Stewart, BC / Hyder, Alaska since we missed it on the way up. (About 120 miles out the way).

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We head up 17 miles of winding (nerve wrecking) gravel road up a steep mountain to Salmon Glacier. It was pretty impressive.

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Even with unstable legs, Steve can’t resist standing on the edge to look at the view. Typical Steve with his nervous nelly wife standing nearby anxious and ready for him to come back to safety.

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As cool as this was, it was inundated with Mosquitos, which was really weird because of the altitude and cold weather. Anyway, we drove down the mountain to a place called “Fish Creek” to watch bears and more salmon running/spawning.

We only saw one bear here but I think I saw a record high (12-15) on the road today.

So all this happens in Hyder, Alaska, population 100. We had to go back through the border to get to Stewart, BC, which turned out to be a great stop.

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We got some groceries at a cute market with the best produce we’ve seen in a while.

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Then stumbled across a gourmet food truck and had rhubarb tea, salad with creme brûlée goat cheese, sautéed zucchini and onions, three very delicious burgers, along with fresh hot homemade bread. The owner was like the Chef Neal of Alaska. And his coworker has been to Nola and loves Bayona and Uglesich!

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We camped on Babine Lake Rd at a pullout tonight in the middle of a bunch of ranches because we couldn’t find the campground. Passed out after a long day.


Juneau, AK to Prince Rupert, BC

August 12 2011:
Happy Birthday Brendan!!
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We boarded the Matanuska around 12:30am.

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While checking in, Timothy, “The Purser”, noticed a mistake with our reservation and up graded us from a 2-berth room without a view to a 3-berth room with a view.

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And it’s awesome!!!!!
Our room last time felt like a prison cell and the bed Killed my already in pain lower back. This, this is like a luxury room – with our own bathroom and shower And some room to move around.

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The scenery of the Inside Passage is pretty impressive but we haven’t seen a whole lot of it as it has been pretty cloudy until now.

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We did some sun worshipping as the day ended. Still chilly!!

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The food has actually been pretty good on the ferries here in Alaska. Can you believe Michel ate all that food!!
She’s eating for two…

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We figured we had seen all the wildlife we would see for the trip. Well, we were wrong. When we were docked at Ketchikan, we decided to eat dinner in the cafeteria and Michel spotted ‘something out there’. It turns out they were Orcas! It’s rare to see them, in fact, I went to a ‘on board’ presentation this morning, and the whole presentation was about Orcas. The ranger giving the preso said he has only seen Orcas twice during his career.

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Anyway here is a lo-def video of the sighting. I’ll throw the hi-def version up when we get Wifi.
Good birthday present for Brendan.


Juneau

August 10, 2011: Juneau

Note:This morning we decided to adjust our Route on ferry. Initially, we intended to go to Sitka for a couple days. Instead we are going to Prince Rupert a bit earlier than planned. We want to go to Stewart, BC and Hyder, AK which are near Prince Rupert.

After leaving the camp ground this afternoon we went to the Mendenhall glacier. As amazing as it is…

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We saw black Bears, salmon, spawning, iceberg, and waterfalls all in one day. We were not all that impressed. We have seen a lot of this recently. Still very cool nature.
And I still love the Salmon.

Our ferry doesn’t leave until 1 AM tonight so we bummed around Juneau for the rest of the afternoon. The historic district is pretty cool in terms of architecture…

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but the place is completely overrun by Cruise ship tourists. And Ironhorses.

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We did find some sockeye Salmon sushi and a really cool trading post run by a native family. It’s a third-generation outfit. We got some goodies for the family.

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It was super foggy so we did not take the gondola to Mount Juneau. Sorry outlaw! You and I will have to do that together.

Speaking of bums there were a whole bunch of drunk locals in downtown area. We had one group trying to crawl around the van… “I just want to see the inside.” No thanks creepy stranger.

How about this for some Alaska love…

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Anchorage, AK to Juneau, AK (Mendenhall Glacier CG)

August 8-10 2011
We are officially on ‘the descent’ back to the lower 48 and eventually NOLA.
Technically, we are not ‘on the road’. They do call it a highway though. The Alaska Marine Highway.
It’s a day and a half journey from Anchorage to Juneau. The path, of course, leads back through the Whittier tunnel.

After getting the horse back on the ferry.
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We got our quarters…

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…a bit cramped.

We landed in Juneau after an overnight of watching movies and reading. Juneau is foggy and rainy.

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We made our way to a campground near Mendenhall Glacier. We spent an entire day here reading relaxing and recovering from a few long days fishing traveling. Very nice.

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To Anchorage and Back to Again

August 7 2011
Anchorage, AK/ San Francisco, CA

I flew to San Francisco and back in approximately 30 hours. I am an early enrollee for a clinical trial and I am required to check in every 2 months for ‘monitoring’. I’ll leave the details out for now but it’s mostly just a bunch of prodding and questioning to see how my muscles are holding up.

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The sniff test:

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Anyway, I had some fish and chips in the airport. Awful compared to Homer.

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Mic and Brendan did laundry and relaxed in Anchorage while I make this trip. They know Anchorage like the back of their hand by now. Well, they definitely know where Moose’sTooth is.

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I get back on a plane tonight and we will head to Juneau via ferry as soon as I land.


Katmai Bear Trip: Homer Spit to Jim’s Landing

August 5, 2011

Kyle and Brendan dropped Steve and I off at the Bald Mountain Tours air strip to go on a bear viewing trip.

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Here, we put on waders and boots and got on another 10 passenger plane similar to the one in Denali, but taking off from the water this time.
Similar rides, but the scenery wasn’t as cool and the pilot wasn’t as hot.

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Pretty cool rainbow

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And Volcano…

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When we landed we had to put on our puffy rain gear. It was cooold and rainy.

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Steve with short legs and oversized hips:

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We had to hike about a mile to get to a ledge to watch the Grizzly Bears. Steve was a trooper and kept up with everyone just fine.

We sat on this ledge in the freezing wind for about 3 hours and watched bear after bear show up and feed on big red salmon that were spawning. Completely amazing.

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We are about to work you over with pictures but… What choice do we have?

We then went down right next to the water and watched them hunt for fish even closer. The bears would literally walk right past us. The guide didn’t seem nervous so we remained calm.
This was definitely one of the coolest things we’ve ever encountered.

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This mangey one literally walked right by us…

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…450 lbs of mangey

This was our favorite bear. It was an old male. He had scars on his head and one of his ears was hanging off but he was an excellent fisherbear. The younger bears were jumping and pouncing around the river but rarely snagged fish. This bear was moving slowly and methodically along the shore and nearly every time he jumped in the river he emerged with a salmon.

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He posed for a picture with us.

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A cool sequence of his attack…

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notice the salmon…

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Slain…

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On the way back to the plane, we had to hike back up the muddy hills and traverse across streams and Steve got it done, whether he was sliding on this butt or on all fours, pulling himself up by bushes, or getting help from others in the group.

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He has to struggle with physical things that he used to do with complete ease, and he does it so gracefully. He’s the bravest, most amazing person I know. This was an awesome experience to share with him.

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We flew back and the boys picked us up and we went back to Homer to eat fish and chips for the 3rd day in a row to a place called “Homer Boardwalk”.

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We then left Homer Spit…

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… and drove to Cooper Landing to camp close to our fishing spot tomorrow. Lots of traffic on the road tonight.

Great day. Cold, but great.