Our Lazy Daze Motorhome

Our Lazy Daze Motorhome
2009 Lake Louise

Friday, June 18, 2010

Alaska 2010 - Part IV - Valdez, AK to Cooper Landing, AK - June 14-16, 2010

Day 17, Monday, June 14 – Valdez, AK to Chickaloon, AK (Glenn Highway at MP 76)

We were up at 7:30 this morning. We uploaded pictures. It was “cloudy with a chance of rain” in Valdez. We got quite a few recommendations for Peter Pan’s Seafood so we stopped in and bought fresh halibut and shrimp. We left Valdez on the Richardson Highway. At Glennallen, we turned SW onto Route 1 (Glenn Highway) toward Palmer. It was a better road, but still a few killer frost heaves. One thing we noticed is that there was a huge ATT tower and station at Glennallen so quickly we checked our phones. Yep, we had service so we called home to find that everything was fine. We drove through Copper Center, an old mining town with a roadhouse dating back to the turn of the century. We then stopped at Wrangle - St. Elias National Park to get our NP book stamped. They have a beautiful Visitor’s Center (log buildings built in 2002) with a theater and exhibit hall. We stopped frequently to take pictures along the way of the Wrangle and Chugach Mountain Ranges and the Nelchina and Matanuska Glaciers. The views were spectacular. We are pretty sure our pictures won’t do it justice. We arrived at King Mountain State Recreation Site (no services for $15) at 7:00 pm AK. It is about 40 miles from Palmer. For dinner, we had fresh halibut and wild rice. Ed is really getting the hang of “grilling to perfection!” We visited with folks from North Carolina staying in the campground, and headed to bed at 11:00 pm AT. Today, we have driven 243 miles for a total of 5,016. We called Ron and Carol McNaughton (hosts at Quartz Creek) tonight to let them know that we will be arriving tomorrow afternoon. We can’t wait to see our friends again.

Day 18, Tuesday, June 15 – Chickaloon, AK to Cooper Landing, AK

We got a call first thing from home. This week Tracy’s family moved into a larger apartment. We weren’t there to help and Amy was out of town as well. But everything went fine. It is comforting to know that our parents are fine and our adult children can actually do without us…who knew?? We also got a call from Ron, the camp host, who told us he was saving site 38 for us. We left King Mountain State Recreation Site at 11:30 am and drove to Palmer where we got groceries. We drove through Anchorage and down around Turnagain Arm where we did not see even one eagle. Last year we say many!! We arrived at Quartz Creek at 4:00 pm and found that site 38 was right on Kenai Lake. We watched the loons playing and eating dinner. Ed was happy and kept repeating “life is good”…and “this is what I am talking about”!! Today we drove 157 miles. Since leaving home, our GPS said we had driven 5,111 miles in 95.5 driving hours with an average moving speed of 53.8…not too shabby. We were relieved that we had finally arrived. Had soup and grilled cheese for dinner, watched the DVD “Up in the Air,” and sacked out.

Day 19, Wednesday, June 16 – Cooper Landing to Soldotna and back to Cooper Landing, AK

When we got up this morning, the temp outside was 50 degrees and inside was 51…chilly. It rained all night. We haven’t seen the sunshine now in about five days. We drove to Soldotna, 97 miles round trip, to do a few housekeeping chores. We got a few groceries, got gas, did laundry, got an oil change, got propane, back to Cooper’s Landing to get a fishing license for Ed at Gwin’s Store. Fishing licenses are pretty hefty up here...two weeks for $85 and $145 for the season. The Gwin Roadhouse hasn’t been opened since the owner killed himself several years ago, but opened again for business on Memorial Day. It is an old time bar and restaurant in a log cabin, very quaint. Back at the campground, Ed grilled tenderloin with asparagus...yummy.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Alaska 2010 - Part III - Dawson Creek, BC to Valdez, AK- June 8-13, 2010

Day 11, Tuesday, June 8 – Dawson Creek, BC to Fort Nelson, BC

We awakened to a chilly 54 degrees at 8:00 am PT. We left the Mile 0 Campground at 10:30, took pictures of the Mile 0 signpost and then drove toward Ft. Nelson. We got gas in Farmington. Gas prices are high here in Canada. We stopped and had lunch at Pink Mountain. We had very steep grades up and down the mountains, some 10% grades. We saw 3 black bears, 3 moose, 3 deer, and an elk today. We got gas again in Ft. Nelson, checked out both campgrounds (ick) and moved on to Tetsa River Campground Regional Park for $15.75 Canadian. The West End Campground in Ft. Nelson is the one we stayed at last year and vowed to never stay there again. The only other campground there was Bluebell RV Park. It was a gravel parking lot with full hook-up where the RVs were sitting 5 feet from one another. Now we are not anti-social, but give me a break, we are here in BC to enjoy nature and that is not it. So that is why we decided to travel on one more hour to The Tetsa River Campground. Our campsite was on the Tetsa River. It was wonderful. They have 25 sites and there was only one other RV there, other than the camp host. Ed grilled barbeque chicken for dinner. We made a campfire and took a walk along the river’s edge with the camp host and her dogs…now that’s what I’m talking about!! The days are getting longer. It gets daylight before 5 am and doesn’t get dark until after 11:00 pm. Good thing we have the black-out shades for the motor home!!! Today we drove 347.6 miles in 7-1/2 hours. (The maximum speed limit here in BC is 62 mph/ 100 km.) We have now driven 3,479.4 miles.

Day 12, Wednesday, June 9 – Fort Nelson, BC to Watson Lake, YT

We awakened at 8:00 with 52 degrees inside the RV. Right away we got on the road (Alaska Highway). We stopped 12 miles along at the Tetsa River Campground Services for the biggest and best cinnamon buns in the world (we stopped there last year too). Not long after we left there saw a herd of stone sheep and a big bull moose. Just before reaching Toad River, a gravel truck passed us going too fast and showered our motor home with gravel. We stopped at Toad River to assess the damage and get gas. The gravel cracked the windshield in 4 places and there are too many pits/dents in the paint to count. We were angry and sick for about one minute and then decided that is the risk you take when you come up here!! After leaving Toad River we saw two small brown bears and several large buffalo with babies. We arrived in Watson Lake at 3:30 and stayed at Tags RV Park. It was a gravel lot with limited TV and Wifi for $23.10. We cannot recommend it, even though we met some very nice people there from Louisiana. We drove 263 miles so the total trip miles are 3,743.

Day 13, Thursday, June 10 – Watson Lake, YT to Whitehorse, YT

We can’t seem to get used to the time change so we awakened at 4:00, up at 6:30. We stopped at Rancheria Falls Recreation Site and walked the boardwalk with folks from Washington and Colorado about 1.3 miles to the Rancheria River Falls. We parked for lunch at the Teslin Village Welcome Center at noon. We saw no animals along the way. We arrived at the Hi Country RV Park at 3:00. We had driven 292 miles. The first thing we did was wash our RV before we even pulled into the site. The wash was 4 minutes of wash time for $1. We did it for $4!! We did laundry and met folks from Montana, Vermont and Alberta. This is a very nice park with trees!! We stayed here last year. At our site (73) this year, the water, cable and dump were too far from our connections. Good thing we brought extra TV cable and water hose. We waited to dump our tanks until we were leaving the next morning. We were worn out and went to bed around 10:00 in bright daylight!! We drove 292 miles today for a total of 4,035.

Day 14, Friday, June 11 – Whitehorse, YT to Tok, AK

How exciting!! We made it to Alaska in 14 days…woohoo!! We awakened this morning about 8:00, shopped for groceries at the Super Store, got gas, propane, stopped at the Canadian Tire for steering fluid. We learned something new today. Our RV uses automatic transmission fluid for steering fluid!! We decided that we don’t particularly like the Yukon. The people do not seem to be happy…some are even grouchy. At the grocery store, the carts are chained together and you must pay a $1 coin to use the cart. Ed thought it was funny that everyone bringing their carts back chained their cart back up as if to say, “If I had to pay, you should too.” As we were checking out the cashier asked if we need bags. We said yes, so she gave us 5 plastic bags and charged us 5 cents a bag. We think this is crazy! And we really feel “out of place”. After only 7 days in Canada, we are really missing our country. We finally left Whitehorse at noon on a beautiful sunny day. Little did we know how horrible the drive would be!! The road from Whitehorse to the AK border was worse than last year. There were more frost heaves and deep ruts in the pavement. This section of the Alaska Highway takes you through several snow-covered mountain ranges, pristine lakes, as well as bird sanctuaries. As we approached the AK border (getting through US customs was a breeze), at 6:00 YT time (time changed to 5:00 AK at the border) we saw our first AMERICAN Bald Eagle welcoming us back into the US. It was exciting! We saw a huge white swan sitting on her nest. We arrived at the Tok RV Village at 7:30 AK. We drove 379 miles today in 8-1/2 hours. Every day we share the driving so neither of us gets too tired. We have now driven 4, 414 since we left Alabama.

Maxine was spotted with her new beau on the streets of Whitehorse, Yukon!!

Day 15, Saturday, June 12 – Tok, AK to Valdez, AK

We were out of bed at 7:30 am and everyone had left the campground. It was 54 degrees. We updated the journal before leaving at 11:45 and got gas. It was a bumpy but beautiful drive toward Valdez on the Richardson Highway (Rt 4). The views are spectacular. While taking pictures, we met a photographer from Valdez, Lee Revis, the editor of the Valdez Star Newspaper (editor@valdezstar.net). She was taking pictures for the update of Frommer’s Alaska Travel Book. She asked us to be in the pictures so we signed a release and we were off again. We stopped at the Worthington Glacier to take pictures. We drove on to Thompson Pass and Jeanne walked up the side of a mountain to the summit to take pictures. The view was awesome and the wildflowers were spectacular up there. We arrived at the Eagle’s Rest Campground in Valdez at 7:30. We decided to eat out for the first time on the trip at Mikes Palace down by the harbor. Jeanne had Halibut Olympia and Ed had a mixed seafood grill. Both were wonderful. We drove back to the RV park at 10:00. Today we drove 350 miles, our total was 4,773 miles since leaving Alabama.

Day 16, Sunday, June 13 – Valdez, AK

We awakened at 6:30 to rain. Valdez is in the rain forest. Who knew?? They say the forecast in Valdez is always “partly cloudy with a chance of rain.” We had intended to take the ferry out for a church service on the sound, but the loading dock was ½ mile away from our campground and it was low 50s so we didn’t make it. The Eagles Rest Campground had great cable TV, but we couldn’t get on the internet the whole time we were there, even though we tried very hard with the help of the owners. It cleared up somewhat so we decided to take the 1:00 cruise of the Columbia Glacier with Captain Fred Rodolf and the crew of the Lu-Lu Belle ($100 pp). She is a beautiful older vessel with lots of beautiful teak wood and Persian rugs. It was a real treat to see this small ship in vintage condition. He and his wife came to Valdez in 1979 and started the business of touring folks out to the glacier. He had about 40-50 passengers. We departed at 1:00 and returned at 9:00 pm. Captain Fred was great. We saw porpoises, horned puffin, humpback whales, sea otters, sea lions, eagles, loons and one seal. It was very important to Captain Fred that the passengers see as much marine wildlife as possible so he took the boat into a cove where we could reach out and touch the rock wall to see two puffins that were nesting in a crevice. All 40 passengers onboard converged on the front of the boat and were fighting to get a picture. We maneuvered through the icebergs to get as far into the Columbia Glacier as we could. Captain Fred hasn’t been able to get close to the glacier in three years because of the icebergs. This is the most active glacier known. With the help of the crew, we got pictures holding a Merry Christmas sign with the glacier and icebergs in the background. That may be our Christmas picture this year!! We had a great day and would recommend the trip to everyone. Captain Fred is very informative and funny and quite a character; he is known to embellish a story now and then. We received a great education on the Good Friday Earthquake, the Valdez oil spill, the Prince William Sound marine life, the history of Federal dollars not well spent, etc. He was great. We highly recommend it to anyone visiting Valdez. We ran into two elderly brothers taking the cruise, neither in the best of health. One did all the driving from Florida since the other was going blind. They may have been in their early 80s, still traveling in their RV, one a war veteran, and the other a retired highway patrol. It was so sweet to watch the one brother taking such good care of the other. In addition, we spent time visiting with a couple from Pasadena. We got back to the RV at 9:30, had a Lean Cuisine, did our journaling, and read, and got into bed after midnight. It was a long day and we were tired, but with daylight for 20 hours a day, it never seems “time” for bed!!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Alaska 2010 - Part II - Great Falls, MT to Dawson Creek, BC June 5-7, 2010

Day 8 - Saturday, June 5, Great Falls, MT to Bow River Campground, Canmore, AB

We got up at 6:30, did laundry, emptied tanks and took on fresh water. We left the campground at 11:00 am MT headed to the border. We are in the plains. The grasses are dancing in the wind. We can see forever. The ranches up I-15 are huge. The cattle are brown dots on green grass under puffy white clouds and blue sky. We saw three rainstorms in the distance. We got gas in Shelby where the Hi-Line crosses I-15. We crossed the border at Sweetgrass, MT at 1:30 pm MT. We drove from Sweetgrass into Calgary following a truck camper with Alaska plates thinking they would know the best way through Calgary. We got gas at a Flying J in Calgary and conversed with them about their route. They were headed to Edmondton and since we were on our way to Banff, we parted ways. We arrived at the Bow River Campground in Canmore about 6:30 pm and grilled steaks. The Bow River Campground was right on the rivers edge. It was dry camping. It was beautiful! We could have stayed there for days. We turned in at 8:30 pm to read.

Olympic Park in Calgary and the Bow River CG, Canmore

Day 9, Sunday, June 6 – Bow River CG, Canmore, AB to Snaring River CG, Jasper National Park, AB

We awaked at 8:00 am freezing to death. It was 51 degrees in the motorhome. Thank goodness for the propane heater!! We left the campground about 10:15 am and traveled through Lake Louise and Jasper. We took pictures of 2 black bears and a grizzly along the way. Along the Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park, there are huge jagged mountains jutting out from the earth. They are still snow coved. The park service is in the process of building bridges for animals to cross from one side of the highway to the other. Over the top of these bridges they have created fenced natural areas where the animals can cross without endangering them. Lots of trees and grass. It is so beautiful up here. Jeanne drove, Ed took pictures as we traveled. We arrived at the Snaring River CG at 4:30 pm. This is still in the Jasper National Park and is 5 km off the Yellowhead Highway (route 16). We sat outside along the river and had a glass of wine and read our books. It was so peaceful. Today, it took 6 hours to go 211 miles because the speed limit goes down to 35 MPH (50 KPH) in some areas due to animal crossings. It was a long day but so, so beautiful. We are planning our day for tomorrow to go up to Dawson City, the beginning (Mile 0) of the Alaska Highway. As of today, we have traveled 2,806 miles in 9 day, average 311 miles per day.

Day 10 - Monday, June 7, Snaring River CG, Jasper NP, AB to Dawson Creek, Alaskan Highway Mile O, BC

We awoke to a chilly 55 degrees inside the motorhome. We dressed quickly and left the campground at 8:00 am MT. It was drizzling rain. We got back on the Yellowhead Highway (route 16) and only about 30 minutes after we left the campground we encountered a huge caribou along the roadside. We took lots of pictures. We decided to take a different route up to Dawson Creek. Route 40 to route 43 via Grande Cashe and Grand Prairie…and did not go through Prince George this time. We cut off about 180 miles using the back roads. It was mountainous, and reminded us of Montana with lots of pine trees with hardwoods and Aspens mixed in. We crossed over into British Columbia before reaching Dawson Creek and did a hip-hip-hurray that we made it to the Alaskan Highway. Our mileage is 40,701.4 which means we traveled 325 miles today. We reached the Mile 0 Campground at 4:00 after a short shopping trip to Walmart. We’re pooped!!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Alaska 2010 - Part I - Birmingham, AL to Great Falls, MT

May 29 to June 4, 2010

Day 1, Saturday, May 29 – Hoover, AL to Marion, IL

We left Hoover, AL on May 29th in the rain at 7:30 am. Our mileage was 37,569.6. We took I-65 N toward Nashville. The rain stopped about Huntsville. The sun came out and it was beautiful. Today we drove through four states (AL, TN, KY, IL) and drove 382.3 miles. We arrived at the Marion Campground and RV Park in Marion, IL at 3:00 pm. It was just off I-57 at ext 53. We had full hook-ups, pull through, WiFi, cable. It was a good campground with nice clean bath and laundry facilities.

Day 2, Sunday, May 30 – Marion, IL to St. Joseph, MO

We departed our campground at 7:20 am. We didn’t realize that there are oil wells in Illinois. Lots of farming in IL. This is Memorial Day week-end and there are lots of police pulling cars over so we are not exceeding the speed limit!! As we drove through St. Louis we crossed the Mississippi River and then one the other side we crossed the Missouri River. Missouri has lots of rolling hills. The funniest thing we saw today was the gas station/grocery store/fireworks stand/adult book store… one stop shopping!! After driving 442 miles in 8 hours, we camped at the Beacon RV Park, ext 46b off I-29 in St. Joseph, MO. The campground had WiFi and cable and nice clean showers. We heard from friends that the Jesse James museum would be good to tour. After checking, we found that the Pony Express started here in St. Joseph in 1861. So we decided to tour the downtown historic area tomorrow, at least for the morning.

Day 3, Monday, May 31 – St. Joseph, MO to Tea, SD

We found out that our cable splitter wasn’t working, so we made an early purchase at Lowe’s to replace the old one. Then we made some calls to see if the museums would be open on Memorial Day and we hit the jackpot. We spent the morning visiting the Pony Express stables, the headquarters at the Patee House Museum, and reliving the life and death of Jesse James in 1882. We toured the house where he died and got a lot of info about how it happened from the docent there. It was very interesting. Who knew his own gang member shot and killed him for the $10,000 ransom!! But didn’t get it because he was an outlaw as well!! Someone ended up shooting and killing Jesse’s killer!! Hmm. I think I like being raised in the 20th century!! We left St. Joe around noon, thankful for the opportunity to visit such an interesting little town. (Obviously MO did not receive enough funding to correct the potholes in I-29 just north of St. Joe. It was some of the roughest road we have traveled.)

Two things happened today that was really cool! As we drove through Souix City, IA., we stopped at a rest stop and found three Veterans offering refreshments as they were fund raising for their VFW. We heard some of their stories and got a little better understanding of what they went through in the armed forces. One guy was in WWII and also Korea. The other two were in Vietnam. I shared with them the story of my dad. He was in the Navy on an ammunition ship in the Pacific and was asked to attend the signing of the peace treaty on the USS Missouri at the end of the war. Funny, he doesn’t talk about it at all. He's 82 and I only found this out about three years ago.

Secondly, we drove through a variety of terrains in MO and IA and into SD. As we drove through the small towns in the heartland, past acres and acres of freshly plowed farmland, that this is really what it’s all about, what America is all about. Farms have been pasted down from forever ago, sometimes three generations working one farm, working from dawn to dusk just to supply this country with the food we eat! God and Country…what a memorable Memorial Day!

By 5:30 pm, and after driving 316 miles, we stopped in at the Red Barn RV Park in Tea, SD at ext 71 off I-29. We did not have WiFi, cable, nor did the digital cable box pick up any channels, and it there were too many trees for our satellite to get a signal. So we probably will not stay here again, but one can’t be choosey on Memorial Day!! Scarlet, our GPS, tells us we have driven 1147 miles in three days.

Day 4, Tuesday, June 1 – Tea, SD to Black Hills (Near Keystone), SD

We left the Red Barn RV Park about 8:15 am headed across the state of South Dakota on I-90W. We stopped in Mitchell at the Cabella’s, Ed’s second favorite store (#1 is Costco)!! From the eastern side of the state, we experienced lots of farmland, but as we drove west, we encountered prairie and lots of cattle. There was a huge hail storm this morning. It was expected to hang in all day, which is unusual for SD. As we continued west the terrain began changing, not so much farmland. There were knolls jutting up that turned larger with vegetation, still some farming with piles and piles of hay rolls. We got all excited that we spotted several antelope, which is our favorite four-legged friend. We saw the exit to Wall Drugs and the Badlands, which we did last year, and didn’t want to do again. As we approached Rapid City, it became very hilly. We turned south toward Mt. Rushmore. That is where we got into the mountains. We drove about 45 minutes from I-90 to get to Black Hills National Forrest. We camped in the Hell Canyon district at the Horsethief Lake Campground (no services, including no cell service), but does include concrete pad, firepit and picnic table. No facilities, no flush toilets. We love the Golden Age Passport. In National Parks the old timers (us) get 50% off camping fees so we only paid $11.50 for our site. One more good thing about getting old!! We drove 388 miles today from Tea, SD to Black Hills National Forest, near Keystone, SD. (We split the driving so no one gets overly tired.)

Day 5, Wednesday, June 2 – Mt. Rushmore, SD to Devil’s Tower, WY

We got up early and hiked around the lake at the campground, took pictures and left the campground around 10:00 headed to Mt. Rushmore. Since we just came off Memorial Day, it was a pleasure to visit Mt. Rushmore. It was very patriotic to see our forefathers carved into the granite of Mt Rushmore. We left Mt. Rushmore at 1:30 pm. John and Linda from Prescott AZ left a note on our Lazy Daze telling us that they also had a Lazy Daze and told us where they were staying. We then drove on to Devil’s Tower in Wyoming to the Devil’s Tower Belle Fourche Campground. The site next to us was taken by the American Conservation Experience out of Flagstaff, AZ. These are young people from Europe that come here to volunteer at our National Parks. We thanked them for their service to our country.

Day 6, Thursday, June 3 – Devil’s Tower to Billings, MT

The Devil’s Tower is the first National Historic Monument in the US. We left our campground around 9:15 am and drove to the Visitor’s Center. We took the Park Tour around the base of Devil’s Tower, 1,267 ft above the river. The Tower Hike is 1.3 miles around. It was 1-1/2 hours and very informative. We saw climbers, free climbing and climbing with ropes. We thought they were nuts!!! The Native Americans consider the tower holy and hand “prayer bundles” on trees. We think these are herbs wrapped in pieces of cloth. We left at 12:00 and arrived in Billings, MT at 5:30 pm. Not before we visited the Little Big Horn to have our National Parks book stamped!! We stopped in at the Cummins Onan dealer to pick up an air filter for our generator. We stayed the night at the Travel Village RV Park in downtown Billings. It had full hook-ups,Wifi, and cable. The bathrooms and laundry were clean and updated.

Day 7, Friday, June 4 – Billings, MT to Great Falls, MT

We left the campground at around 8:00 am MT, went to AAA to get maps. We went to LP Anderson’s Tires on Montana Avenue to have our brakes checked and get the tires rotated. We bought tires last year before we left for Alaska, but the tech noticed that there was wear on some of the tires, more than others so he rotated the front tires to the right rear and moved those to the front. Who knew the right rear tires got the most wear?? We drove to Albertsons/Osco for groceries and left Billings at 11:30 am. We drove to Sam’s in Great Falls for beef tenderloin. From experience we know we will NOT get any in Canada. We paid ours and parent’s bills from the Sam’s parking lot and drove on to the Dick’s RV Park and arrived at 6:30 pm MT. Dick’s has full hook-ups, WiFi and cable. We are blessed!! Tomorrow we will cross over into Canada where we will be staying at the provincial parks, no hook up and no discounts!!
So far, we have driven 2,225 miles!! ...no marital disputes yet!!!