Sunday, 31 July 2011
July 30 Day 29, Denali to Fairbanks, AK
We had rain and fog for almost the entire 132 miles to Fairbanks. We shopped and then spent the afternoon at very modern Museum of the North on the campus of UAF (University of Alaska at Fairbanks). The museum was packed with visitors from bus tours and motorhomes. We watched a movie on the Aurora Borealis which claimed that the Aurora makes no noise. This was much to Mavis disgust who heard the noise it makes all the time in her backyard in Athens, ON. The museum is extremely well done and combines art with history and even wooly mammoth bones. We saw a 3 scoop salmon wheel in the Chilkat River northwest of Haines and had wondered what it was. The little model explains it all.
In the post for Day 1 I mentioned the Japanese invasion on the islands of Attu and Kiska at the end of the Aleutian chain. The museum has an entire section devoted to this experience. In preparation for the war, all 126 Alaskan citizens of Japanese descent were rounded up and shipped to internment camps in Idaho. Another 94 Japanese born in Japan but resident in Alaska were separated from their families, locked up in Fort Richardson, and then shipped to New Mexico. In addition to the Japanese internments just about anyone living on all the Aleutian islands were evacuated for 3 years to an abandoned herring cannery on Admiralty Island as well as other locations in Southeast Alaska. Many of the Aleuts homes were burned due to fear of the potential Japanese invaders taking them over. Some 42 Aleuts were captured when the Japanese occupied Attu Island and spent the war in Japan as POWs. Tomorrow we will stay in Fairbanks, see a movie, tour a garden at UAF, and prepare for the long drive home.
Posted on 07/31/2011 3:51 AM by Bob Duthie
Saturday, 30 July 2011
July 29 Day 28, Denali National Park
Posted on 07/30/2011 4:07 AM by Bob Duthie
Friday, 29 July 2011
July 28 Day 27, Wasilla, AK to Denali National Park
The recommended dump site H&H CafÃ© had gone out of business, but we stopped for diesel at Trapper Creek and their dump was only $5. We set a record for 5 days with no dump. I also had breakfast at Trapper Creek. Mt. McKinley is the highest mountain in North America and due to cloud cover is only visible 30-40% of the time in summer. We lucked out and had a good view twice this morning. Then it clouded over and we didn't see the mountain again. We checked in to the Denali Riverside $38 RV Park at noon and did a $21 laundry using their 3 machines. They have to use a diesel generator to provide power to the campground so the high prices are excusable. The site is high above the Nenana River. With laundry out of the way we drove to the park and registered for a $11 campsite at the park tomorrow night. We also signed up for a 6 hour bus ride into the park starting at 9:30AM. We toured the Visitor Center which is very impressive and new in 2005. The movie they show, Heartbeats of Denali was so good I bought the DVD.
Posted on 07/29/2011 4:10 AM by Bob Duthie
Thursday, 28 July 2011
July 27 Day 26, Whittier, AK to Wasilla, AK
A trip to Alaska would not be complete without a visit to Sarah Palin's home town. I even got to the Wasilla Rotary Club. Not a word was spoken about Sarah by anyone we met today. Wasilla is a modern city looking just about like any other modern American city. The historic downtown is only a few buildings. Wasilla does have the largest Walmart Superstore we have ever seen. I saw a whole department devoted to selling cloth from bolts, sewing machines, etc. People here must make their own clothes as everything is so expensive.
Our next stop after Rotary was the Alaska Museum of Transportation and Industry. It looked just like our basement with lots of planes, trains, and automobiles scattered about. The car was a 1940's Nash Ambassador. The sign said it had been restored and donated to the museum. There was a 1917 wooden caboose built for the Alaska Railway. It held a crew of 5 with food for 5 days (see photo of interior). Tonight we are in a campground 50 miles north of Wasilla that has power, a single water hose, but no dump. The dump is 4 miles north and costs $15. Our Verizon Mifi provides email service but is times out on website access.
Posted on 07/28/2011 3:48 AM by Bob Duthie
Wednesday, 27 July 2011
July 26 Day 25, Seward to Whittier, AK
Night at 11:00PM in Seward looks like the photo taken from the View. In Fairbanks it will apparently be much lighter at night according to Al & Nancy from a View/Navion like ours who came to visit last evening.
Today we drove to the Williwaw Campsite in the Chugach National Forest along the Whittier highway. We arrived at noon and there were lots of empty sites. After lunch we hiked the "Trail of Blue Ice" 3 miles past 3 glaciers to the National Forest Service's Begich,Boggs visitor center. The exhibits and film shown on a huge screen were first class. At the end of the film the screen opens up and you view the glaciers through a large window wall. After walking back to the campsite I decided we should visit Whittier. This town was built during WWII as a port to bring military supplies into Alaska. This required a 2.5 mile railway tunnel through a mountain to get to the town.
Someone figured out you could share the track with a road, so in 1976 a road was built. The tunnel is one way and switches direction once an hour. It is the longest highway tunnel in North America and costs $12 for a round trip. It was the most exciting thing we did today. Whittier itself is just a large boat yard with little to write home about.
Posted on 07/27/2011 3:21 AM by Bob Duthie
Tuesday, 26 July 2011
July 25 Day 24, Anchorage to Seward, AK
Today we drove 130 miles in the rain and fog to arrive at our destination, Seward. Some 34 miles are right beside Cook Inlet with spectacular views we were unable to see. Tomorrow we start our return trip to Nashville. It will take longer, 36 days, because there are no ferries to ride and we will spend some time in St Paul with the grandkids. Seward is at the northern end of a large fjord carved by glaciers. The water is 960 ft deep. It appears quite prosperous and has a city owned campground on the beach with 300 campsites. Ours is right on the beach but has no services. First time this trip.
The Oceania cruise ship, Regatta, was in port. It carries 684 passengers. They didn't overrun the town because it has many stores and it's a long walk from the dock to the historical downtown and the Alaska Sea Life Center (aquarium). We had a much shorter walk to town and enjoyed the Sea Life Center, although there were very few mammals. I had hoped to see some sea otters.
We visited the 1916 restored hotel the Van Gilder which has its original bar in the sitting room on the front. There are 26 rooms. It looks like a fun place to stay. Mavis was impressed with the flowers here which all bloom at the same time since the season is so short.
Posted on 07/26/2011 3:22 AM by Bob Duthie
Monday, 25 July 2011
July 24 Day 23, Glacier View to Anchorage, AK
I checked the sky at 2:00AM this morning and it was light enough to walk around in the park. The plan for today was to take a jet boat tour up the Matanuska River to the face of its glacier. Unfortunately when we got to the tour office, they had to cancel the boat trip as the water level in the river was too low to navigate. We settled for a 3 hour, 1.9 mile walking tour instead. We had to get outfitted in hard hats and crampons. The crampons are ¾ inch spikes you strap to your boots to give traction on the ice. The tour company, Mica, supplies the gear. It's a good thing as a pair costs as much as the tour for the two of us. Tour guide, Elisa, was excellent and conducts 2 tours per day. She spends the summer in a tent behind the office and winters in New Zealand conducting tours there. Elisa taught us how to climb and descend wearing the crampons. The first part of the face is like a muddy bad lands. It is the area where the melting is almost complete. It is very dirty but you are actually walking on ice. As you proceed the ice has less dirt and is full of crevasses. The melting rivulets create "moulins" in the crevasses which are very dangerous if you should happen to fall into one. Basically you get stuck and gradually slide further down in a narrowing tube until you suffocate. Not a pleasant way to go. All in all it was great exercise, very spectacular to see, and something everyone should do once in their lifetime. Tonight we are in Anchorage, a city just like every other in America, except for the high cost of everything. Tomorrow we head for Seward.
Posted on 07/25/2011 2:13 AM by Bob Duthie
Sunday, 24 July 2011
July 23 Day 22, Tok to Glacier View
Last night the entertainment at the Sourdough RV Park was Danny Lee and Sue Jean from Texas. They sing "tribute" Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash songs for hours working for a free campsite and food. They were really quite good. We could hear them clearly from our campsite. There was also a sourdough pancake toss into a bucket for a free breakfast. I thought it was good marketing as they only made it easy for the kids to win. The kids would then take their parents who would pay $11.95 each for breakfast. However, after the contest they said winners could pick a grab box instead of the free breakfast. All the winners took that option and got trinkets such as t-shirts and then probably didn't bother with breakfast at all. Today the road to Anchorage was good except for two areas of road repair.
Tonight we are at the Grand View CafÃ© - RV Park. We had a magnificent pizza for dinner. It was half Italian (for me) and half Groovy Guy (for Mavis). Tomorrow we hope to take the jet boat tour up the Matanuska River to the Matanuska glacier. We took a short hike from our campsite to get the photo of the river and glacier.
Posted on 07/24/2011 3:49 AM by Bob Duthie
Saturday, 23 July 2011
July 22 Day 21, Destruction Bay, YT to Tok, AK
I learned all about repairing pot holes and frost heaves in roads today. Stone chips are laid down to fill the holes and dips. A roller packs the chips down, then a layer of oil is added. Finally a cover of more stone chips are added which stays in place for several days until that layer is brushed off. How did we learn all this? Flag men/women stop all the traffic in one direction and have lots of time to talk if you are first to get stopped. Then a pilot car arrives and guides the convoy the 5-10 miles that are being worked. The worst stretch of all was the last 5 miles in Canada that were not being repaired at all. Entering Alaska there was a beautiful brand new asphalt paved road. It was glorious until after 10 miles the US road was just as bad as the Canadian. We went 236 miles mostly at 40-50 mph. The hundreds of signs warning of each section being repaired warn of "gravel patches" or "loose gravel" rather than "stone chip patches". When the work is all finished, it starts over again next spring. It's job security for the road crews. Tonight we are at the Sourdough Campground in Tok. There is a flap jack throwing contest at 7:00PM with free breakfast as the prize. There is also some kind of entertainment later as well. Someone told me that Tok was originally Tokyo but was abreviated during WWII.
Posted on 07/23/2011 2:21 AM by Bob Duthie
Friday, 22 July 2011
July 21 Day 20, Haines, AK to Destruction Bay
Last evening I attended a lecture on glaciers. A glacier has to move and get at least 200 ft of snow annually. Glaciers cut the bays called "canals" as in Lynn Canal. They are not canals at all but rather fjords carved by long gone glaciers and have dead ends unlike canals. The sun finally came out last night and we got some spectacular photos.
One photo shows a group of Amish women/girls sitting on a storage box on the aft deck and playing harmonicas. Last night we had our second accident of the trip (first was losing 2 hubcaps). We had the View side door open touching a camping trailer close beside us on the vehicle deck of the ferry. It was the only way to get in. The driver of the camping trailer, without permission from the ferry crew,decided to move ahead and caught the door on his trailer bending our door hinge. The ferry took full responsibility for the damage because their deck hand wasn't doing his job, which is to make sure all is clear before allowing a vehicle to move ahead. Tonight I made a temporary fix by removing the hinge and hammering it out straight. Today we went through parts of Alaska, BC. The Yukon Territories (YT). We drove about 200 miles to a beautiful wild campsite, Cottonwood RV Park, beside Kluane Lake. It is so remote they have to use their own generator to provide electricity to the campsites. It runs from 4PM to 11AM. There is no trash collection. You have to carry your own trash with you. The owner is very nice, helped me with the bent hinge, and told me about the grizzly bear he talked to this morning. He said the bear was well behaved and went off up the mountain.
Posted on 07/22/2011 1:53 AM by Bob Duthie
Thursday, 21 July 2011
July 20 Day 19, Enroute to Haines, AK
A very interesting park in Prince Rupert is a memorial to a Japanese fisherman, Kazukio Sakamoto who was lost at sea in 1985 but whose boat, the Kazu Maru, drifted for 18 months across the ocean to the islands near Prince Rupert. A strange coincidence was the fisherman was from Owase, the sister city of Prince Rupert. The local Rotary Club funded and erected the memorial which was dedicated by Sakamoto's wife and serves to bring the two cities closer together.
Today was celebrated by seeing the sun for the first time since Bend, OR. The ferry stopped in Wrangell and Petersburg. At Wrangell another View came on board carrying a couple from Des Moines, IA. They farm corn and soy beans on 2,000 acres and while waiting for the crop to grow have travelled 3 times to Alaska. They got off at Petersburg.
I also had a chance to get more details today from the Dutch couple's 40,000 KM trip I wrote about yesterday. They had their unit shipped to Buenos Aires, drove to Ushuaia in the southern tip of South America and then headed north up the west coast to Columbia. They then took a ferry to Panama (since there is no road there) and drove up the west coast of Mexico to British Columbia.
Posted on 07/21/2011 3:33 AM by Bob Duthie
Tuesday, 19 July 2011
July 18 Day 17 Monday, Prince Rupert, BC
Did you know that Price Rupert is the closest port city to the Orient? It is 800 miles closer which means one less day sailing an important economic benefit to shippers. There is a road, the railroad is being twinned, and the harbor expanded. The only problem is on the return trip where ships are loaded to 25% of capacity. Canada is now shipping logs to saw mills in China for processing. Exports to China exceed those to the USA. The ferry arrived on time at 10:30PM. We were in our reserved site by 11:15 PM. I was impressed with the Prince Rupert RV Campground handling 20 RVs all arriving almost simultaneously. It happens every other day. Today we drove 12 miles to the North Pacific Cannery, National Historic Site for a tour and lunch. The site is near the mouth of the Skeena River. The cannery was started in 1889 and closed in 1972. Most of what remains was built in the 1950s. Our tour was guided by a First Nations man who had worked in the cannery since he was 6. He made $0.65 in his first day on the job and spent it on a pack of Export cigarettes. He took great pains throughout the tour to explain the jobs assigned to First Nations, Chinese, Japanese and European workers. The workers lived in segregated homes and barracks. It was great to see a cannery after reading the chapter in Michener's Alaska about the salmon cannery era. Canneries operated 6 months from April to late September and then closed down for the winter. They were integrated operations fishing, butchering, can making, canning, cooking, labeling and shipping. A stock of different labels was maintained and whichever one sold the best was put on the cans. A CN rail line ran beside the operation. Almost all buildings were on piles built over the river with a boardwalk connecting them together. After the tour we had salmon chowder for lunch in the mess hall. The rest of the afternoon we spent shopping in downtown Prince Rupert.
Posted on 07/19/2011 3:50 AM by Bob Duthie
Tuesday, 19 July 2011
July 19 Day 18 Tuesday, Prince Rupert, BC to Haines, AK
Posted on 07/19/2011 10:18 PM by Bob Duthie
Monday, 18 July 2011
July 17 Day 16 Sunday, Port Hardy to Prince Rupert, BC
BC Ferries took us today on the Northern Expedition 313 miles along the Inside Passage. BC Ferries are like the airlines now with extras at every turn. It cost $22 extra to spend the night in the parking lot. It costs $35 extra for a seat in the forward lounge.
But dinner was pretty reasonable at $29.95 for a really great buffet which included smoked salmon. The 494 ft. long ferry cruises at 22 mph, is just 2 years old and was built in Germany. It is very well designed and luxurious. Our cabin #230 was well located and on the outside. The most exciting event was a MOB practice. MOB is man-over-board. A dummy is thrown in the water. The ship made a fast 180 degree turn, a rescue boat was launched and the dummy retrieved. However, in ideal conditions, with no wind or waves, it took easily 15-20 minutes to get to the dummy and another 20 minutes to get the boat back on board. It seems the winch stuck part way down and some kind of repair had to be made. With water at 40 degrees or so, the dummy would have perished. The scenery is spectacular and the sunset takes your breath away. I took a lot of photos and video.
Posted on 07/18/2011 3:51 AM by Bob Duthie
Sunday, 17 July 2011
July 16 Day 15 Saturday, Qualicom Bay to Port Hardy, BC
Good news when we got to the Port Hardy ferry dock; we can camp earlier now starting at 9:30PM as soon as another ferry leaves. We will be in row 5 ready to go on board at 6:00AM for the 7:30 sailing. We started out at 9:00AM with fog along the coast. It rained almost the entire day and the closer we got to Port Hardy the harder it came down. Much of the road is hilly, winding, and with a few snow capped mountains. We stopped at Seymour Narrows a narrow channel that separates the mainland from Vancouver Island. Enormous amounts of water flow back and forth with the tides with currents as much as 15kts. In 1958 a man made explosion eliminated a large shoal in the middle of the channel.
Before 1958 the shoal claimed 119 vessels and 114 lives from the whirlpools that dragged the ships onto the shoal. Our next stop was at Telegraph Cove. It was the site of a telegraph line to the North Island that was moved to more secure position during WW II. It is a boardwalk community with a population of 20. Many buildings surrounding the cove are built out over the water. Whale watching tours and fishing expeditions leave from here. The whale museum displays the skeleton of a 72 ft Fin Whale (see photo) that was hit by a large cruise ship and trapped between the bulb and the bow stem. It was only discovered when the ship docked in Vancouver.
Posted on 07/17/2011 4:04 AM by Bob Duthie
Saturday, 16 July 2011
July 15 Day 14 Friday, Fair Winds to Qualicom Bay, BC
It was another rainy day but the morning view from Bob's deck over the Georgia Strait was beautiful. Farther to the north I could see the "Sunshine Coast" covered in fog. It was just a short drive to Qualicom Bay Resort where we got a site overlooking a small pond.
Our friends, Pauline and Jim, from Hornby Island arrived at 1:45PM and we went to the town of Qualicom for a late lunch at Leftys. The restaurant was named after it's 3 owners all of whom were left handed. I had the hamburger with clam chowder.
After lunch we spent the rest of the afternoon on the View showing photos of our days together in Brockville, ON. Tomorrow we will drive 200 miles to Port Hardy to catch the 7:30AM ferry Sunday morning for Prince Rupert, BC. We can dry camp overnight at the ferry dock as long as we arrive between 11:15 and 12:00 midnight.
Posted on 07/16/2011 2:15 AM by Bob Duthie
Friday, 15 July 2011
July 14 Day 13 Thursday, Ladysmith to Fair Winds, BC
We awoke to light rain and the view from the View in the photo.. After a walk on the beach we headed northwest for the Coombs Market on the highway to Tofino. This is a really neat place with restaurants, an amazing market, and lots of souvenir shops. Then we went to Fair Winds, a relatively new subdivision of Nanaimo. It is built on a high rocky hill overlooking the Strait of Georgia.
Queen's University friends, Bob and Heather, have lived here for 12 years. Their daughter, son-in-law and two small children were visiting from Toronto. It turns out they have bought a house and are renovating it just down the street I grew up on in Toronto. Their daughter will be starting kindergarten in the same public school I attended in the 50s. Tonight we had lamb for dinner. It was a nice change from salmon.
Posted on 07/15/2011 3:13 AM by Bob Duthie
Thursday, 14 July 2011
July 13 Day 12 Wednesday, Salt Spring Island to Ladysmith, BC
We started the day by spotting the deer across the road from Bob & Judiths. Breakfast for the second time this week, was fresh eggs from a neighbor's coop. They were really good. Then since it was low tide we walked down Bob's stairway 100 ft or so to the beach. The photo shows some of the dangerous shoals between the island and the shore. The tide is 7 ft high so at high tide these rocks are covered with 2-4 ft of water. Bob has seen 3 groundings already this year.
At noon I attended the Salt Spring Rotary Club. The speaker was a member of the club who described how she wound up on the Island and got a job with Saltspring Air. This company flies 4 deHavilland Beaver seaplanes to various destinations in the islands and is headquartered on Salt Spring Island. We took the Vesuvius Ferry to Crofton and then drove north along the coast stopping in Chemainus. This town was full of people and neat tourist style shops. The town is noted for its large murals on buildings.
There was a market going in a parking lot where we bought some lemon & raisin scones from the "well bred, well read, well fed" bakery.
At Lady Smith we parked the View in the driveway with a view of the ocean at the home or our friends Dave and Gwen. Along with neighbors Brian and Dale we had a feast of a 17lb Chinook Salmon Dave caught recently in Campbell River. He cooked it on cedar planks. The photo shows the salmon right out of the barbeque being inspected by Cordon Bleu trained chef, Gwen. It was easily the best tasting salmon we have ever eaten. Dale provided the desert of Swedish Cream with fresh raspberries. After dinner we watched Mama Mia in Dave's media room. The sound was fantastic.
Posted on 07/14/2011 3:43 AM by Bob Duthie
Tuesday, 12 July 2011
July 11 Day 10 Monday, Woodland, WA to Oak Harbor, WA
Posted on 07/12/2011 1:46 AM by Bob Duthie
Monday, 11 July 2011
July 10 Day 9 Sunday, Bend, OR to Woodland, WA
Liz cooked a fabulous breakfast this morning with fresh, free range chicken eggs from the hen house. The scrambled eggs were really yellow compared to the usual supermarket fare. After breakfast we toured the pond and saw its pair of nesting Canada Geese.
During our visit to Bend we learned all about irrigation, raising chickens, a cat that returns a tossed ball, and running the assisted living center for retired horses.
Andy advised us to take US126 around Mt Jefferson and along the Mackenzie River to Eugene and then head north to Washington State. The river is formed from snow melt from the volcano and runs swiftly for miles beside the road.
We left the high desert and entered the rain forest with its immense fir trees. Traffic on I-5 was heavy and slow through Portland. We stopped at Woodland, WA to do laundry and spend the night. The Woodland RV Park is one of the best ever. Our concrete paved site overlooks and is right beside the Lewis River. Tomorrow we visit my cousin on Whidbey Island.
Posted on 07/11/2011 3:50 AM by Bob Duthie
Sunday, 10 July 2011
July 9 Day 8 Saturday, Vale, OR to Bend, OR
Breakfast was at the Breathtaking Bakery in Vale. I had a ham & cheese croissant (middle shelf 2nd pastry from left) and coffee. It really wasn't a croissant but some kind of biscuit. We filled up with $4.10 diesel in Vale. It's a good thing we did because the price was $4.15 in Burns and and was $4.19 in Bend. It's 114 miles from Vale to Burns and there is not a single place to get diesel in between.
The scenery was beautiful with open ranges and canyons cut by the Malheur River. At a point 40 miles from Bend, we noticed 3 unusual bumps on the horizon. They looked like piles of dirt. A few miles later it became clear that these were snow capped volcanoes. The 10,000 ft Three Sisters were 60 miles away.
At Bend we are staying with friends Liz and Andy and their two young boys. They operate a 10 acre assisted living center for retired horses. They moved here from San Jose, CA about 10 years ago. The mountain view from their property is spectacular with some 6 snow capped peaks in the Cascades Range. Summers are glorious here with no humidity and no rainy or cloudy days. Temperatures are in the 70s in the day and 40s at night. It never rains in the summer and the total annual precipitation is about 12". People from Portland come here in the summer to get away from the rain and fog. Tomorrow we will go to Kelso, WA.
Posted on 07/10/2011 1:21 AM by Bob Duthie
Saturday, 9 July 2011
July 8 Day 7 Friday, Heyburn, ID to Vale, OR
This part of Idaho and Oregon is mostly desert. Boise is the most populated with 600,000 in the area. It even has a Costco, so we stopped and had the $1.50 lunches there. Vale is the county seat for Malheur County, the only county in Oregon on Mountain Time. The town is famous for its location on the Oregon Trail and its giant murals done by professional artists.
The murals illustrate life on the trail in the 1800s. We walked from the Vale Trails campground to town and saw perhaps half of the total 27 murals. There is no diesel for 114 miles to the next, Burns, so we will have to fill up here. The price at the only service station in town is $4.10 per gal. That sets a new record for us.
Posted on 07/09/2011 3:22 AM by Bob Duthie
Friday, 8 July 2011
July 7 Day 6 Thursday, Rawlins, WY to Heyburn, ID
Posted on 07/08/2011 12:32 AM by Bob Duthie
Thursday, 7 July 2011
July 7 Day 6 Thursday, Rawlins, WY to Heyburn, ID
Posted on 07/07/2011 11:37 PM by Bob Duthie
Thursday, 7 July 2011
July 6 Day 5 Wednesday, Ogallala, NE to Rawlins, WY
The campground in Ogallala, Open Corral Camp, was beside the interstate and easy to access. Only 3 campers spent the night in a campground with 48 sites at the height of the season. People must be staying at home. Tonight in Rawlins, WY a much larger park is perhaps 1/3 full. We had to mail a Netflix before our suspend account deadline so we drove into town early and spotted the Hokes CafÃ©.
It opened in June 1949 and hasn't changed a bit since. It was there on the Lincoln Highway when we went by in 1950. I had a great western breakfast. Sorry, the outside photo is blurry but the inside photo is pretty good. We stopped in Cheyenne to visit Walmart and again at the Lincoln Memorial just before Laramie. The memorial is at the highest point on the Lincoln Highway at 8,760 ft. It was downhill from there to Rawlins at 6,915 ft. Every jar Mavis opens up explodes with the higher air pressure inside the jar. As previously noted we lost 2 wheel covers on Missouri's lousy roads so I removed the remaining two. Last night I cleaned the wheels and they looked a lot better. Tonight I bought some aluminum enamel and painted them and they look even better.
Posted on 07/07/2011 1:21 AM by Bob Duthie
Tuesday, 5 July 2011
July 4 Day 3 Monday, Jonesburg, MO to Ashland, NE
We added two more states today, Iowa and Nebraska. The weather was good but the roads were lousy with potholes that came up unexpectedly. It cost us two wheel covers. I finally decided to remove the remaining two as there is no way they would stay on for Alaska. The Missouri River is flooding and is expected to be over the levies by Friday. We had to cross this river to continue our westbound route. I-29 was closed at Rockport and US2 was closed so there were no crossings below Omaha. The detour we had to take cost us 95 miles.
We finally got to our revised destination, Eugene Murphy State Park at 5:00PM after 10 hours of driving. The park is very nice but we were assigned to an occupied site. I called reservations and they said would I mind coming back to the office. I said I would mind, just assign another site. They assigned the next space to where we were and promised to bring me a new card. Tomorrow we will head for Ogallala, NE.
Posted on 07/05/2011 12:01 AM by Bob Duthie
Tuesday, 5 July 2011
July 5 Day 4 Tuesday, Ashland, NE to Ogallala, NE
We are now 1080 miles from Nashville and 2,400 ft higher elevation. We were climbing all day. It means we are getting close to the Rocky Mountains. No new state today but tomorrow we enter Wyoming. Setting out on I-80 after a couple of hours we switched to US30, the Lincoln Highway. This road is famous for a couple of reasons. First, it was the first transcontinental highway completed in 1913 going from New York to San Francisco. Secondly, it was the road my family and I took in our Studebaker, 61 years ago almost to the day. My father kept a log and wrote "During the day it was getting very hot in the car and at Wahoo we had persuaded the local cold storage plant to sell us some dry ice. Somewhere we'd heard that if wrapped up on the car floor it would keep the air cool. The attendant said quite frankly he was sure it wouldn't do any good and might be dangerous due to the gas it forms as it evaporates. He was right it didn't do any good, and the fumes it gives off are unpleasant. The remains were defrosted in our refrigerator as we had run out of ice. Here it froze everything solid including four cans of beer. Next day we still hadn't found ice but the frozen beer served us well and nothing spoiled. At Ogalla we bought one of the car coolers we were beginning to see in increasing numbers. A large cylinder mounted on the right hand door, they cool by evaporation of water. It turned out to be a good investment and we were much more comfortable." In the photo you can see the cooler hanging on the window of the car. After our trip it sat in our garage in Toronto for the next 35 years.
Posted on 07/05/2011 10:18 PM by Bob Duthie
Sunday, 3 July 2011
July 2 Day 1 Saturday, Nashville
Before anyone sets out for Alaska they should read James Michener's book, Alaska. It is a remarkable introduction to the State. The book covers various periods from the Ice Age to World War II and more. I haven t read the period after the war because Alaska is a very big book with 868 pages and I only made it to page 716 tonight. Why you might ask? I received a Kindle for Father's Day so I could download a copy of Alaska and read it on the way. Much to my surprise there is no ebook version of the book for any device. Some other Michener books are available but not this one. I'll read the rest when we return.
I'll summarize the 716 pages I did read. Alaska was originally populated by the Athabaskans, Aleuts, and Tlingits. Russians and Siberians then moved in and traded guns and liquor for otter and seal skins. Sitka was the major settlement where the Tlingits were forced to move out. In 1867 Russia sold Alaska to the US for $7.5M. This was not a very popular idea in Congress and no form of government was provided for the next 20 years or so. It was a lawless society with no police, no courts, and no lawyers. Gold was discovered in the Klondike around 1899 and thousands came north with dreams of becoming rich. Only a few got claims that produced gold. A few years later more gold was discovered in Nome laying on the beach. After the Gold Rush, the economy was fed by salmon fishing and large canneries. The investors were all in Seattle. , so the Alaska economy was controlled from there. In the early 40's it was determined that the Japanese were likely to invade Canada and America via Alaska. A road had to be built to move supplies and the 1,400 mile Alcan Highway was built in 6 months. In 1942 the Japanese did land on the islands of Attu and Kiska at the end of the Aleutian chain. A major battle was fought by 16,000 US troops against 2,600 Japanese on Attu in May 1943. The US suffered 550 dead and virtually all of the Japanese died there. Next 35,000 Americans and Canadian troops formed to fight 5,600 Japanese on Kiska Island. The scouts sent out found the Japanese had all left.
Read Alaska with your iPad beside you. The Maps application that comes with the iPad allows you to find the places you will read about and see satellite views as well as maps so long as you have Internet access.
Posted on 07/03/2011 3:13 AM by Bob Duthie
Sunday, 3 July 2011
July 3 Day 2 Sunday, Nashville to Jonesburg, MO
Today, we went through 4 states (Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, and Missouri) and crossed 4 major rivers, (Cumberland, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Missouri) to travel 377 miles to tiny Jonesburg. Crossing the Mississippi at St Louis we noticed the old McDonalds converted to a casino appeared to have had file. The water is still very high in that river as the ramps we under water on the shore side. All travel was on Interstates as we are trying to get to the mountains as soon as possible.
The big excitement today was the worst thunderstorm I have seen yet in our 48,000 miles of driving. The headwind must have been 50 mph with visibility only a few feet. For a while the entire right lane just stopped dead. However, the windblown horizontal rain created the illusion we were moving and I kept my foot on the brake and held on. Only the fence post on the right side proved we were standing still.
Posted on 07/03/2011 11:02 PM by Bob Duthie