A Travellerspoint blog

Destruction Bay Destroyed Our Tire

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

rain 0 °F

We wake up and it is still raining! Ugghhh. We have a big breakfast and pack up in the rain. We don't get very far down the road when we hit road construction. We stop in the line of traffic and a few minutes later the flaggirl starts walking towards us. We've been through enough road construction in the north to know that this is not a good sign. We roll down the window and she tells us that it will be at least another 30 minutes before we can go through. Jere smiles and says "We were hoping that you would take the day off since it was raining." She says that she was hoping that also, but they're blasting rock today so the rain doesn't matter. So we wait. We're all reading a book when we jump from a boom and the truck shakes--the blasting is over so hopefully we can go soon. After about 30 minutes we follow the line of traffic behind the pilot car. We have also learned that when a pilot car is used to guide us through construction that the road may be very bad. Today it is very bad. They've had a lot of rain and the road is muddy and in bad shape. We put it in 4-wheel drive going up the hill and make it through the construction.

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As we're driving out of the mess the tractor trailer that was driving behind us passes us, rolls down his window and yells to us that we have a blow out on one of our trailer tires. The road is so bad we never had a clue that our tire blew out.

We're on a narrow 2-lane road with no shoulders, so we drive til we find a section with a little bit of a shoulder. We're still on the road but thankfully there's not much traffic here. An hour later our tire is changed and we're on our way again.
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One good thing -- the rain stopped soon after we pulled over to fix the tire.

We drive up the road and stop at a rest stop with one last view of Kluane Lake. It's still very overcast, so the lake still isn't the shimmering blue-green lake that we were hoping to see.

We were planning an early stop today and are glad that we did. We only drive 60 miles to Haines Junction and stop at the Kluane RV Park. We have a late lunch and then drive over to the Kluane National Park Visitor Center. It's a nice visitors center with a movie, but the most interesting thing there is an antique car in the parking lot from Texas:
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As we're driving back to the campground, we see about a dozen antique cars parked at one of the motels in town. I didn't realize that there are antique car caravans to Alaska.

We spend the rest of the day doing chores except for a short hike behind the campground after dinner.
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Posted by jengelman 13:54 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Slow, Bumpy Drive to Destruction Bay, Yukon

Monday, July 16, 2007

rain 0 °F

We pack up and leave the Sourdough Campground in Tok, Alaska. Our first stop is at the gas station to fill up with diesel. A busdriver who is also filling his tank starts up a conversation with Jere and tells him that he's glad that he's not driving a large trailer to Destruction Bay -- the road is horrible! He came from that direction. He says to go slow and wishes us luck.

The road is terrible! There are many dips, bumps and potholes! They're due to the permafrost. Many are marked with flags, but many are not. We probably average 25 mph.
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The scenery is pretty boring for the first few hours except for the fireweed. There are sections where the fireweed covers the countryside for acres and acres. It is really pretty. There is no place to stop to take pictures, but I try to take one through the front windshield:
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We see several moose when we cross into Canada, but most are too far away for pictures. We see a large bull moose near the road but he turns away as I try to take a picture:
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Then it starts to rain. At first it just drizzles but eventually it is pouring rain. We decide to stop sooner than planned but the RV park is closed, so we keep going.

The drive near Kluane Lake/Destruction Bay is supposed to be very scenic, but it is raining too hard and too many clouds to see the mountains. We can tell that the Kluane Lake is a pretty blue-green glacial lake, but the rain makes it hard to see.

We finally make it to Destruction Bay, about 2 hours later than expected, but glad to be here. The first RV park is full with a caravan so we continue down the road and stop at a provincial park, Congdon Creek. It's on the shore of the Kluane Lake. We set up camp in the rain, have dinner, play monopoly and then around 8pm there is a break in the rain, so we take a short walk around the campground (before it starts raining again).
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Posted by jengelman 13:54 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Scenic Drive Out of Valdez

Sunday, July 15, 2007

sunny 0 °F

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We wake up to beautiful blue skies! I make some coffee and head outside to enjoy the great scenery here in Valdez. No church service on TV, so I spend some time talking with God while I'm enjoying His beautiful scenery.
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The tide is extremely low this morning and the water is far from the trailer, with millions of little black mussels on the shore. I see a few others walk out over the mussels, so I decide to do the same -- very different walking across tiny mussels and seaweed. After breakfast Joe and Jere decide to also walk out to the water.
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This has been an interesting stop. Before this I always associated Valdez with the Alaskan Pipeline and the oil spill, but after this visit I now associate Valdez with fishing. It seems like there are fisherman everywhere in Valdez: in boats, on the shore, on the pier. Nothing wrong with that, but not what I expected. However, I did feel guilty when someone would ask me how many fish I caught, and I'd have to admit that I wasn't a fisherman: They would look at me with the expression " Why not?" :-)

Anyway, after taking our time getting ready and packing up, we leave Valdez and start the scenic drive out of town. It was cloudy when we drove this road coming into Valdez, so this is a treat to have blue skies. Our first stop is a few miles outside of Valdez at Horsetail Falls.
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Beautiful scenery, but also an interesting "Alaskan Artist" has set up her van and artwork. What is interesting is that she appears to have a hunting knife and a pistol strapped to her belt.

Our next stop is at Thompson Pass.
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We make several more stops during the day, including a picnic by the creek, but the mountains are surrounded by clouds in the afternoon, so we don't get the wonderful view of the Wrangell Mountain range that we were hoping for.
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We stop at Tok, Alaska by dinnertime.

Posted by jengelman 13:02 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Pinks are Running in Valdez!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

overcast 0 °F

We wake up to the sound of rain again, but the steady rain stops by the time we’re having breakfast. There are very low clouds hanging around this morning, so we relax in the trailer and get some chores done.

After lunch we hop in the car for a drive over across the inlet to Allison Point. There are trailers parked there and we’re wondering if there’s a campground there. We find that the trailers belong to fisherman. There are lots and lots of fisherman by the edge of the water. We drive along behind them and see salmon jumping out of the water and a sea lion with a fish in its’ mouth, so we park and walk along the edge of the water. The salmon are jumping out of the water like crazy. We walk to the end of the inlet where the fish hatchery is and the salmon are swimming on top of each other to get to the hatchery.
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The fishermen are not allowed to fish within 300 feet of the hatchery.

We learn that the pink salmon are returning to the area to spawn and that there is a bumper crop this year. They had predicted 12 million salmon would return this year, but they are now predicting 21 million. There are a lot of salmon in this inlet! I try to take pictures of all the salmon jumping in the water, but the pictures really can't show the jumping. This first picture shows a few of the commercial fishing boats and the city of Valdez in the background (on the other side of the bay). The little circles in the water in front of the boats are from the salmon jumping:
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Many of the fishermen are tossing the salmon back in the water since they already have their limit or they don’t have any more room in their freezers. I tell Jere we should go buy a license and just take the salmon that the fisherman don’t want :-) We need to learn how to fish if we ever come to Alaska again.

As we’re watching the salmon, a bald eagle swoops down and grabs a salmon out of the water!
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We walk along the water and watch the salmon for a long time, but eventually we leave and return to the trailer for dinner – pork chops (we had Copper River red salmon yesterday). Then we go for a bike ride around town. Here's a picture of the Valdez Oil Terminal that is located across the bay from the town:
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After our ride Jere works on our bicycle rack; the one bike rail cracked on the bumpy McCarthy Road the other day. Then we build a campfire and enjoy the view.
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There are lots of birds, jumping salmon, a sea otter and a sea lion. While Jere and I are sitting there, a camper from 2 trailers down asks us if we want any salmon—they have extra. We say sure and enjoy freshly grilled, freshly caught pink salmon. Earlier today I had been hoping that one of the fishermen would give us one of the salmon that they didn’t want, but this is even better – filleted and grilled salmon, complete with lemon and pepper!

Posted by jengelman 13:43 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Our First Bear Encounter!

Friday, July 13, 2007

semi-overcast 0 °F

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We wake up to a beautiful morning – blue skies and 60 degrees. I walk outside enjoying the view of Mt Wrangell, drink my coffee and talk to a German tourist across from us. There are many German and Dutch tourists in Alaska with RV rentals. I'm not sure why German vs French or British, but there are. Later when we make our first stop this morning, there is a van full of German tourists and they seem more interested in our big rig than the scenery. I smile and say “ Yes, I know it’s big.” One of them smiles and says “So someone has already told you that?” I talk to them about our trip and rig.

The trip today on the Richardson Highway to Valdez is one of the most scenic drives in Alaska, so we enjoy the drive and take our time enjoying the scenery.
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We find an oceanfront campsite at the Sea Otter Campground in Valdez. It’s not the fanciest RV Park in town, but the scenery out our back and side windows is great.
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I’m making dinner and take a break to look out the window and there is a sea otter about 20 feet away in the water – so cute.

After dinner we walk around town, mainly along the harbor area. Then Jere decides he wants to take the trail up to the look-out next to the convention center in town. We turn the corner to walk up the hillside path and stop in our tracks. There’s a bear on the trail about 15 feet from us! The bear looks at us. We look at the bear (and forget anything that they’ve told us about bears in all the park warnings). We say, “whoa…that’s a bear”. The bear turns and continues up the path, so I grab my camera and try to snap a picture. It’s blurry – I was in a hurry.
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But then we walk down the street (away from the bear, as instructed) and take another picture of the bear walking up the path that we had planned to take. We thought we might have a bear encounter at some point in Alaska, but NOT in the middle of a town park!
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Jere wants to walk up the path and see if the bear is still up there, but Joe and I refuse. We walk back past the harbor and watch the fisherman again, before returning to our trailer for the night.

Posted by jengelman 13:41 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

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