Monday, August 15, 2011
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.
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.
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.
Then we crossed the border!
Home sweet USA!
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.
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.
It was dumpy with a fusty smell.
There was sunshine today! Halleluiah!
We stopped at a pullout to stretch our legs and watch the sunset.
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:(
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).
We head up 17 miles of winding (nerve wrecking) gravel road up a steep mountain to Salmon Glacier. It was pretty impressive.
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.
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.
We got some groceries at a cute market with the best produce we’ve seen in a while.
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!
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.
August 12 2011:
Happy Birthday Brendan!!
We boarded the Matanuska around 12:30am.
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.
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.
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.
We did some sun worshipping as the day ended. Still chilly!!
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…
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.
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.
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…
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…
but the place is completely overrun by Cruise ship tourists. And Ironhorses.
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.
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…
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.
We got our quarters…
…a bit cramped.
We landed in Juneau after an overnight of watching movies and reading. Juneau is foggy and rainy.
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.
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.
The sniff test:
Anyway, I had some fish and chips in the airport. Awful compared to Homer.
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.
I get back on a plane tonight and we will head to Juneau via ferry as soon as I land.
August 6 2011
We spent the day drifting down the Kenai River fishing for salmon with our guide Jason and his guide outfit “Angle 45”.
Kyle lined up the trip for the Kenai drift. As I said in an earlier post, thank goodness we had Kyle. He did a great job setting these up.
A little back story… I sent an email to some friends suggesting that if I am lucky on this trip I would catch a Sockeye salmon on my own and if I am REALLY lucky I would catch a rainbow trout.
I’ll be fishing the Kenai River tomorrow with my family. Currently, the Kenai is full of Sockeye Salmon. The Salmon, as their life cycle ends, are turning a deep scarlet red as they travel home towards their spawning grounds. If I’m lucky I’ll snag one of these salmon and release it back into the river so it can continue it’s journey. If I’m REALLY lucky I’ll catch a beautiful rainbow trout which should be getting fat by following the salmon up river and heisting their eggs.
We met Jason at 5:30 AM on the river.
Unfortunately, my hands were pretty cold and I couldn’t cast the flyrod with either of my hands. Frustrating. I chose to make the most of the situation and scout the river as the sockeye moved upstream. They really are amazing. The clear blue of the river with the scarlet of the fish hovering and continuously moving upstream is something like a peaceful alien encounter.
There wasn’t much action early on. Even our guide was missing fish. I was thinking that this might go down as an epic failure. We stayed persistent.
Brendan using the ‘snag’ technique.
A note here about Michels day. Well, some back story first…
I have fished with her dozens of times. From Venice in Louisiana to Greece to Australia and New Zealand. She is a great fisherwoman. She gets what I call fisheye. It’s like the eye of the tiger but eye of the fish. You can see that she loves hooking & landing fish. In all the times we’ve fished together she has caught more fish than I have.
For some reason today, she didn’t end up netting a fish. She hooked into several.
And man, her persistence and perseverance were amazing. She had the right technique in the right spots at the right time. Not to mention, she helped film video and take pictures.
We’ve been on the road for a long time and she has been amazing. Hosting my family, helping me, keeping a good attitude, all the above. The perfect mate for a trip like this. And she’s frickin 7.5 months pregnant! Amazing! I am already a lucky boy that she caught me in her net…
Finally, Kyle snagged a Sockeye and Brendan pulled in a nice “chrome” female.
Michel actually had a sockeye take her pole from her!
I decided I needed to take another shot at this… I propped myself up against the boat and found a way to toss the line into the current and attempted a ragged technique to snag something. More harlip prayers…
Jason was working with me and wouldn’t you know… I hooked one!!
Not sure if I’d be able to reel Brendan came to help if needed. Well I wore that salmon out with my jury rigged approach.
Very special for a boy like me. To come all the way up here and net a fish like that is so fun. Us. The river. The salmon. My kind of creation.
That was enough for me. Kyle kept snagging reds and finally hooked a freshy that we ended up keeping.
Later we continued the drift and used plugs to try for some rainbows and dolly varden.
They were hitting. This was much easier for me. Just trolling off the side of the drift boat.
and netted a trophy Rainbow!
I hooked and…
A nice rainbow.
Afterwards we went to Jasons house in Hope. Real Alaska. He filleted the salmon and made sockeye sushi. Epic.
We left Kyle to do more fishing as we made our way back to Anchorage. I fly to San Francisco tomorrow for a doc check up.