Friday, September 25, 2009

Back In The US of A

There are some days when if you didn't have bad luck you wouldn't have any luck at all. I suppose a day or two like that every once in a while wouldn't be too bad, but it seems like the last half of our cross Canada trek was one day like that after another. I mean: my eyeglasses broke down the middle , my windshield is cracked, my door awning quit working and had to be pulled off the coach, floor tiles cracked when the coach twisted from an excess slope at a campground in a province that is otherwise flat, went to bed one night in a wooded camp site and woke up to find the coach sitting in 8 or so inches of water from overnight heavy rain...and then had the rear axle sink into the soft sand thereby leaning the back slide awning up against a nearby tree that should have been removed a long time ago and damaging it way too much trying to extricate the coach from the heavily wooded campground, which in turn made the slide impossible to open now. Did I mention that the pots and pans are in the closet which cannot now be accessed behind the closed slide? So shopping trips are limited to buying supplies that can be grilled (we can still get at the grill) or eaten raw. Mmmmm. Celery and lunch meat. The Magic Fan ceiling fan crapped out too. Bummer! There's more, but what the heck....

So it feels like "limping home" at the moment even though we are still rolling. At least at this point! All these concerns made the drive by Lake Superior seem less than superior to me. Lake Huron and Ontario much the same.

Our first look at Lake Superior:

There were literally thousands of small lakes in addition to the "Great" lakes too. Below is a look at the GPS passing through Ontario- more water than land or so it seemed.

Back in the USA, nothing had really changed as far as the conditions I just told you about- BUT, it felt a little better to be in the homeland. Help is much closer here, or so it seems, than it is in rural Canada. Right now- that's a good thing. We crossed the border at Niagara Falls, put the concerns behind us for the time being and headed off to see the falls. Parked on the US side, walked across the Rainbow Bridge ( you'll see from the slide show why it's called that) and strolled along the Niagara River to the Canadian or Horseshoe Falls as well. Then down the canyon wall to the river to ride the Maid of the Mist into the spray, the fury of the base of the falls. What a ride!

I'll close today with a slide show of the stroll by the falls....

Friday, September 18, 2009

Amber Waves of Grain

Saskatchewan and Manitoba are one big wheat field- at least from what we saw crossing Canada on Rt 1 and flying right along. Flat. That is except for the place we parked in a couple nights back, which was a downhill slope just steep enough that the coach couldn't level out properly and we did some damage to tile and trim when the slide outs wrenched putting them out...and then immediately right back in. Too late, but nothing to stop us or put us at risk, so on we go.

If you check out the Provinces Visited map you will see we have now added Manitoba and also Ontario where we landed tonight at Anicinabe Park on Lake of the Woods. In contrast to the recent provinces we have visited, Ontario is more like the Canada I know from the past. Big trees, lakes everywhere, rich greens and dark blues under a pastel blue sky- very beautiful. Below is the view out the front window of the rig at our first stop in Ontario. Had a nice walk down to the lake- boating, fishing, snorkeling, swimming all going on down at the lake...

The rest of our journey through Canada will be around the area of the Great Lakes and we are really looking forward to that.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


We had hoped to visit the Royal Tyrrell Dinosaur Museum on our last day in Alberta and Drumheller, but the museum had just moved to its winter schedule (closed Monday) and since it turned out to be a little further from our campground near the HooDoos than we realized, we decided we could not fit it in Tuesday morning before continuing on. Instead we walked around town, which is loaded with dinosaur replicas of all shapes and sizes. There are plenty of fossil shops, other museums of a lesser stature that the Tyrrell, and other attractions. They have a neat suspension bridge nearby so we took a walk across that and the Red Deer River. Neato. A couple stills and a slide show to mark the occasion.

I told Marilyn to get out of the way of the T-Rex, but would she listen???

Then on to Saskatchewan today. Another province added to our Canada map. Looks a lot like the prairie states so far- hot and seemingly very dry as well. Nothing in particular to write about yet....

Sunday, September 13, 2009

HOO DOO: You Think I'm Fooling?

There are some days when, if it weren't for bad luck, you wouldn't have any luck at all. Yesterday was pretty much one of those days. An RVers nightmare, the electronic door awning left open over night refused steadfastly to retract in the morning as we prepared for departure on a day that called for a run of about 6 hours. Now running down the road with an awning out is not the best of ideas. In fact, it's about the worst. Passing trucks, crossing bridges, passing close to telephone poles just doesn't work with the awning out. It'd be like an eagle with a 6 foot wing span trying to fly full speed into a pigeon coop. Not good for the eagle or the pigeon coop. It was a Saturday. Four hours of trying everything to get that awning back rolled up failed to produce a solution. And even though we found two RV repair services within a possible emergency commute- one had another job he could not leave, and the other guy had, get this, a sick horse, and wouldn't come out. What are the odds? So with little else to do, we got out the installation manual for the awning and DE-INSTALLED it- cut the wires, removed the mounting screws and slid that baby right off the track. Tied it all up, threw it in the car and off we went. We had started to get ready to depart at 6:30 AM. By 12:30PM we were on the road. Stress went along for the ride! Got in late, so the pull through we had reserved was gone, the power was 30 when we had pretty much planned on 50 amp. I know there are gonna be days like this, but I've had my quota for the year now, so.....

Which brings us to the destination for today. Drumheller, Alberta. Home of the Hoo Doos. An early and different form of VooDoo - where the evil spirits were believed to have turned into rocks. They call this the Badlands of Canada and for obvious reason. But the hard hat, soft sandstone rock pillars are everywhere and in every size and stage of development. Was it the Hoo Doos that gave us trouble with the awning? Who do, I say Hoo Doo you think you're fooling?

And since it was close, we opted to drive just a bit further down the road and visit the famed Atlas Coal Mine. There was a very interesting outdoor museum walk of old coal mining equipment, something on the order of what I think is planned for the new museum in the works for Chicken Gold Camp. It was great. We had a trip planned to the dinosaur museum on Monday, but the brochure says it will be closed that day, so we'll just have to see if we can still fit that in...or if the Hoo Doos have their way with us one more time!

Friday, September 11, 2009

A Bad Day For Glass...

It seems like our gigantic windshield luck done run out! For three years now we have been roaming the hemisphere with only a few repairable dings and chips- all fixable with today's glass technology. We've repeated stories on Glass Magnum out of Whitehorse, Yukon Territory who has a technology unrivaled in this day and age for repairing chips and even large cracks in windshields. But on a clear and dry day, and on a clean and dry road, a small car threw a rock at us that first chipped the windshield, then, as we watched in absolute horror, send a crack across our left side windshield at the rate of about an inch every 10 minutes or so. It was kinda neat to watch at the same time it was an ohhhhh nooooo momen. What shall we do? Rural BC, Canada- not likely o find help here! But then Marilyn saw the sign.
"Stop" she yelled.
"What, is there an emergency?"
No, just a sign for windshield repair in a small town on the side of a building reading "Space For Rent."
What were the odds? Who cares, frankly?Good fortune is good fortune... and that is what we MAYBE had. The cell phone worked. What are the odds of that here? Poor. But it did.
"Are you in business? We are on Rt 16 by your sign....."
"Yes, I can see you..."
Within minutes Cory Jackson CiCi Auto Glass Repair, Vanderhoof, BC, CA was at our service. All we had to do was pull around the corner and we were there..... He did not have the advanced technology of Glass Magnum, but at this moment that did not matter in the slightest and he was hot on the job within a minute or two. The crack was stopped from progressing to the point where it could become dangerous. We breathed a sigh of relief. Whewwwwwww. Even his wife and baby came out to supervise the job on the grand windshield. Then with less that an hour of delay, we were once again on our way.


Now if this was the only thing to report about glass, I would not have selected this topic for today. But you see, shortly after we pulled out of there, we noticed another crack working its way across the other side of the windshield. Where this one came from we have not a clue! But there it was...and here it is. End game for the both windshields in the long run- but hopefully they hold up til we are back where replacement is a more than reasonable option.

And even a second crack in the windshield may not have prompted me to write about this, excepting my eye glasses decided to break right down the middle as well...and this for the second time, their having been laser welded in California a while back. Backup pair? Sure. Laser welded also. Uh- oh! Notice the trend here. Pretty much all down hill?

Nope. We are crossing the Canadian Rockies. Past Jasper, and the scenery is a-ok whether your windshield has some cracks, or your eye glasses are falling apart or not. Mt. Robson is the highest point in the Canadian Rockies at over 12,000 feet...and here we are cruising on by. Is it any wonder the glass can't cut it, so to speak?

There were lots of pictures that we could have stopped to take along the way. But this was a long day anyhow and we are bookin' it back to PA once again.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Gun & Run

Now that our visit to Hyder is accomplished, we are in gun and run mode as we travel, for the next four days or so. So sleep, eat, and drive - make up pretty much the entire day's itinerary, although today we pulled over by the Skeena River for lunch and took the time to pick another dehydrator full of rose hips for this winter's vitamin C tea drinks. It was rainy all day, heavy at times, but when we find such a nice crop by the roadside, we try to take advantage of the discovery. Luckily for us, the bushes are almost always untouched when we find them. Apparently there aren't a lot of people who pick and save them. Boiled for a short time and then steeped overnight, they make a delightfully earthy beverage which is excellent hot or cold. I love the "tea" they produce, but the whole process is nice as the drying and dehydrating produces a sweet and very pleasant aroma that wafts through the coach for the several days it takes to dry each batch. The hips, or berries, can be sun dried as well, so we move the dehydrator to the shower stall, and under the skylight, right next to our traveling herb garden while we travel for the day, and then plug them back in at the end of the day's travel. Each night the coach fills with the warm scent of the drying berries, and oh how sweet it is!

The hips come in all shapes and sizes, and even the color can vary from species to species of wild rose, but the basic color is red when they are ripe and ready for picking, although pink and orange are to be found at places as well. When we have our crop stored for the season, we will have collected hips from Chicken Alaska all the way back through New England. We actually still have a few giant hips from the Canadian Maritimes left over from last season. Think of it as an International blend or an All States blend. Delicious no matter what you call it....

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Alaska Fix

We dropped down in British Columbia and then headed west back into Alaska, crossing at Stewart, headed into Hyder. We were looking for a final "fix" on all things Alaska- bears, glaciers, salmon. This time we are here at bit late- at the very end of the chum salmon run in Fish Creek, so the bears are few and far between. The area is a coastal rain forest, so you can pretty much guess what the weather has been like. A hoped for return visit to the magnificent Salmon Glacier will have to wait for another time. The visibility is not adequate to make the venture up the mountain. But damp weather does not necessarily dampen spirits. If you were to visit this place, and decide to stay in whenever it rained, you would pretty much be "in" all the time. So here's a couple stills from our visit and then a slide show to follow.

I salute everyone who has taken great photographs of bears. If there is anything harder to photograph I for one do not know what it would be. They are just plain difficult! Mine always seem to blur a bit, even when shooting at my fastest speed. Light always seems a bit wrong. Contrast poor. I'll keep trying; meanwhile here's what we have for now....

Bear Glacier

Salmon in the turquoise side water at Fish Creek spawning grounds

Old "Griz" looking for a salmon dinner
We look for a "yesterday caught" halibut lunch at THE eatery of choice in Hyder- The Bus

Slide Show:

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Final "That Was Then"

We left Chicken via the Taylor Highway and back down the Alcan this year, headed for Hyder and the real deal Bearville. But two years ago we ventured off across the Top of the World Highway and crossed the mighty Yukon at Dawson City after wrapping up a marvelous and very thorough tour of Alaska- the part you can see "On Wheels." Here then are the posts that wrapped up the journey in 07....That Was Then:

Behind The Blog: Circumstances are different to some degree but it struck me head on how the last in the season feelings of leaving Alaska came around one more time...

I'm tempted to say we were a one trick pony this year in Alaska, staying only in Chicken, prospecting only in Chicken, sightseeing only around Chicken. But in actuality, we spent the entire summer revisiting our past trip to Alaska...around the campfires, at the panning troughs, over dinner or a beer on the deck at the Outpost. We could compare notes with guests, make suggestions to hesitant travelers, assure those who feared to venture where they needed not to fear. We had been there, had done that, and hopefully helped a lot more people to be able to say the same after their trip this year. Alaska In Review

Gold That Tastes Like Chicken
: If you never read another one of my posts from Alaska and Chicken in particular, please read this one. Things were very well in focus when i put those words to press...and nothing has changed.

Travel By Top of the World: There's a reason they call it the Top of the World. The view seems to go on and on for ever. Why they call it a highway? That might be a different story. The Jack Wade historic Dredge pictured has not regrettably been dismantled, but here's one last look at the the way things were on Top of the World.

Down At Dawson: A look at the end of the top of the World and the high kicking Diamond Tooth Gertie

Cruising The Cassiar: A look at what's just a head for this year's trip

West To Alaska? Just grin and "bear" it...

Well, that's about it for this final install on the series from two years ago. Thanks for riding down memory lane with us. Nice to have you along!

Flapped Those Wings and Flew The Coop

The cold moon over Alaska has come full four times since we came to the great state for the second time. Another season comes to a close and it is time to fly (flew) the Chicken coop. It was a busy three plus months and sad to see it come to an end but this here coach was not built with the idea of spending the winter in Alaska - so off we go back towards the south and the lower 48, but not without a final wrap up from Chicken, and some interesting stops on the way back "down."

We all shared a couple final salads from the greenhouse. No cold snap claimed anything other than a cucumber plant or two that were growing with scant protection under the plastic but outside the greenhouse proper...

As for the fabled Gundy Mountain - not much remains of the mountain itself, it having been torn down by miners the likes of us intent on finding what was hiding under those layers of overburden but on top of that black diamond basalt. For our part, I suppose we have become the "man who would move a mountain for an ounce of gold" as we took only slightly more than that from our "claim" but every flake, every nugget, no matter how small, holds a special place in our hearts and our "collection." There is always value to what you work hard for and no exception here! So here's a final look at "The Great Wall of Chicken" as Gene named our diggings. We will surely miss "the wall," and Gene as well. We logged a lot of time looking through our good looking material....

A Great Horned Owl stopped by on his way back south as well to see what was going on in camp- oh, and maybe munch a bunch on some snowshoe rabbits and a few squirrels.

The sides went up on the log cabin for the museum, but we didn't get to the point of putting the ridge poll up, so no sod roof to show you for now, maybe another day and another time, who knows?

And the Boys To Men saga of the Tok Boys I started earlier took a short and sweet twist as their day jobs kept them busier than their "golding" and I never did get to shoot the rest of the story I was working on; so for now, all I have is this abbreviated slide show. Tok Guys: You're the best. We loved every minute of your contagious enthusiasm around camp. You rock, dudes!

So for now, I guess that is "The End" of the story from Chicken. (oh, she's probably gonna kill me for this!!!)

As you read this, we are headed a bit further south on the Alcan and then south on 37, the Cassiar Highway enroute to (hopefully) see the bears feasting on salmon in Hyder. As communications are not so hot in this next leg of the journey, you can use the live Google Map to approximate where we are and what we're up to. I'll update it as best I can. I only took the route so far on that map for now, but the intention is to drop south in Canada, then head east, crossing Canada and visiting at least three more provinces along the way. Then drop down into the USA at NY, taking in Niagara Falls (slowly I turned, step by step) before heading back to PA from whence this mammoth venture launched. We will have added nearly 10,000 miles to the odometer since May by the time we get back there. That's a whole lot of driving, a whole lot of adventure, a whole lot of life!

I'll leave you with this sign we photographed in Haines Junction, Yukon Territory as we left Alaska and ask you this question: Do you think those "Block Ice" Souvenirs will all be melted by the time people get them home????

Tonight from Teslin Lakes, Yukon Territiry, adieu.

To be continued....