July 19, 2011
The “vandaid” was a success! Protected us from mosquitos and rain.
Oh and Steve didn’t mention this yesterday, but there were no toilets at the last campsite and I had to #2. Lets just say, I’m officially an outdoors (wo)man.
We finally made it to Anchorage today.
We had to hang out a lot in the car dealership area – kind of like an Airline Hwy.
We found a GMC dealer to change out our fuel filters.
Steve had to fly to LA tonight for a doc appt.
(SG side note: In LA, JD & I had lunch at Jgelina, which was awesome, and the locals were friendly
All my surfing friends should enjoy that shot.)
Back to michel…
Brendan and I had a pretty good dinner downtown at “The Glacier Brewhouse” and then head to a local laundromat and got to study the Alaskan native people, who are very, very interesting. Some look Korean, some look Mongolian, some look Mexican. They all seem nice, a lot seem tipsy.
We slept in a campsite 14 miles outside of Anchorage. As we pulled up, we saw a sign: “Landfill and Campsite”. We thought that was interesting. What was even more interesting was the “correctional facility sign” in between the landfill and our campsite. We kept our doors locked tonight, though it ended up being a really nice site.
Next day – Brendan and I got the back window fixed and head to Flattop Mountain for what they call a “moderate” hike.
Well. For a girl like me, pregnant with no uphill exercise since 1994 when Julie and I climbed Longs Peak, it was a tad bit more than “moderate.” It was pretty much uphill the whole way and ended with a steep peak of rock climbing. I knew my mom would kill me if she saw what I was doing but you can’t just quit or you feel like a dump so I pushed forward, with Brendan being good and supportive (even though now he admits that towards the end he thought, holy shit if michel falls I think people may kill me).
The top was gorgeous. It was amazing and revitalizing, I felt a huge sense of accomplishment.
Only thing I wished was that Steve was there to see me.
Some pics below – im gonna add even cooler shots later to portray the “moderate” conditions.
To end the night, we stayed at the very quaint Susitna B&B…
…with a deck and a beautiful view of the water.
And we ate delicious burgers at the local joint, “Humpys”.
And later picked up steve from the airport at 2am. Very, very happy to have him back with us.<
July 17, 2011
It always feels like its the same time of day here… Weird.
We got on the road and then stopped for Breaky. We are planning to get close to Anchorage tonight. I have a flight to LA tomorrow. More sad forest today.
The rivers have all turned grey and brown.
It’s a rugged place.
We saw another moose today. This one just grazing a few feet off the road. We need to upload a pic from Brendans camera.
But the highlight occurred a bit later…
…We are rolling through Alaska today on approach to Anchorage, as we passed through Glen Allen minding the frost heaves I hear a crash like some one dropped a chandelier on a hardwood floor. Before I could figure out what happened Michel yells from the back of the van, “the back window just blew out!”.
We pulled off trying to figure out what happened. One of our top theories was that a local was having target practice.
Anyway, we did some first aid work and applied a ‘vandaid’. Garbage bags and duct tape – the foundation for any emergency kit. The setup seems to be working for now.
We found a campsite very near the Matsu Glacier.
And cooked outside…
July 16 2011
We woke up in a nice, huge king size bed. Scrubbed ourselves clean in a hot shower (the drain is located on the opposite side of the showerhead), and head out to face the day feeling refreshed.
First stop: Baked Cafe, a California-y place with blueberry “rhubarb” muffins and smoothies with “hemp” flower, etc.
We checked our emails, worked on schedules for Denali, etc.
We also learned that we were on tue wrong side of the dollar currency exchange. We thought the $ dollar was stronger than the canadian dollar. Our waitress at lunch set us straight.
After stopping at a pretty crappy grocery store where you have to pay for shopping carts, we were on the road again.
The terrain from here was rather depressing. We called miles of it “the sad forest”, bc it looked sad with puny trees and lots of gray water and bc it made us feel sad looking at it. But.. Then came the rainbow.
And it made even the ugliest scenery look amazing.
Apparently, due to ‘frost heaves’ the highway conditions have gotten worse. This is the worst section of highway thus far. We have heard it gets better after we cross the border.
The Canada/US border crossing was pretty uneventful compared to Jessie last week.
We found a cool place to camp that had a great view of the horizon.
At one point it sounded like a fighter jet was flying over. We looked outside and saw a bunch of ducks flying over. I’ve never heard birds that loud before.
And best of all… No Mosquitos!
Friday, July 15
Well. The “beautiful”, “listening to the river”, Cottonwood River experience turned out to be a total disaster.
We were infiltrated by Mosquitos in the Ironhorse. Steve and I battled with them for a couple of hours as it seemed like they were multiplying. Buzzing and biting turned us into psychpaths. Many were full of Steve’s blood so it turned into a complete blood bath.
There are hundreds of dead flys and battle scars all over Steve’s body and all over the van. But in the end, I’d say the victory went to the Mosquitos. We slept for a couple of hours, max, and woke up totally exhausted and pissed off, even contemplated going home.
After trying to diagnose the problem of how all those bastards got into the van, we left the campsite, defeated but not deflated.
Brendan drove for a while to let steve and I catch up on sleep (bc he slept through the war somehow), and after a couple of hours we started feeling better. The boys stopped at a jade market, where supposedly 90% of the jade (that nobody wants) is made.
We ended up in Whitehorse for the night and all enjoyed a well deserved night in the pretty quaint city. We had a quick bite at “Sam and Andy’s TexMex”
and then stood in line for the Harry Potter opening day movie behind some “First Nation” people (Canadian native Americans), and watched the very excellent 8th and final HP film.
Then ended the day with some Chinese food and a night in a less than average hotel that seemed like a 5 star hotel because of the king size bed, toilet, and shower.
Thursday, July 14
So rest stops are awesome in Canada.
They’re plentiful, they’re free, lots of them have pretty nice scenery, and there are pit toilets, even though we normally don’t use them bc they smell like crap.
And, unlike in Australia and New Zealand, I don’t get nervous every morning that we’ll get a tap on the window by a man in uniform saying we’re in trouble, which improves sleep.
Anyhow, we had another great drive on the beautiful Stewart-Cassier Hwy.
Mountains, hills, rivers, lakes, ponds, eddys, creeks, you name it, they’ve got it.
And they’re all clear as day. Beautiful blues and whites and greens.
We stopped for lunch and a bath at Kenaskan Lake.
For lunch: grilled corn crisps with peanut butter and honey.
The bath: f-ing cold, but necessary.
The lesbian couple sitting by the lake was not too happy about us bathing in the lake, even though I mentioned we were using “natural soap”.
And i sensed that they were even less excited when Brendan decided to clean his toiletry bag that was covered in DEET bug spray that had exploded.
We picked a really beautiful place to camp on the Cottonwood River.
I was re-reading the last Harry Potter book in the van when I heard some commotion by the river and looked out to see this..
Turns out that “fisherman” Steve was instructing old man Klaus from Germany how to catch the fish that
was rising right in front of them.
And low and behold.. He pulled the enormous Dolly Varden Trout that I already updated pics of, but here it is again, because it was that big.
Klaus’s wife Inga grabbed the fish and briskly walked to their camp. Klaus told Steve it was best not to mention that he was keeping the fish.
Good day overall, nice to fall asleep feeling clean, listening to the river.
Wednesday, July 13
Today we were hung over from our overdose of natural beauty from yesterday’s trip through Banff. We saw dozens of vistas that would have been impressive had we not seen what we saw yesterday.
Still beautiful though…
Last night the mosquitos were dormant bc the campground was at elevation and the temperatures were colder. We cooked a feast outside and this morning I went down by the lake and this fella was playing guitar to the mountains.
Our big decision today was wether to drive the northern ALCAN route to Watson Lake via Dawsons creek or to hit the Cassier-Stewart highway. We were a little concerned about being in
Anchorage by July 18 but chose to work west to the Cassier-Stewart. Its more scenic. And it’s highway 37!
As we move coastal the forests are getting thick and lush.
We made it all the way to the Cassier-Stewart junction by sunset…
…which is at 11pm in these parts.
Tuesday, July 12
Today was like mainlining nature. “Can I shotgun mother nature please?…”
The Banff National Park region. AWESOME.
We followed the Kootenai River to Kootenai National Park.
From there the scenery became overwhelming starting with the entrance to the park.
Elevation and Perspective. These adjectives kept popping into my mind. It was almost annoying to come around every corner. We took hundreds of pictures. They all blend together.
Mountains, rivers, bears, castles… I’ll stop writing and get to pictures.
You’ve seen pictures of wildlife but have you seen pictures of michel after a bear sighting?
My favorite spot in the park… Castle Mountain.
Banff Springs Lodge. A ‘Baronial Castle’.
In Lake Louise we met Ms Juneau from mid-city! Our neighbor!
A perfect day in creation wouldn’t be complete without a bath.
Swim At Numti Ja Lodge.
I am grateful to live in a world packed with this beauty.