Sunday, August 9, 2009

AK VACATION: Driving home

Well, we finally have wi-fi, if only for a night (and still no cell service at all) so I'll try to re-cap the last week as briefly as possible:

Mon. 8/3: We got packed up and ready to leave Valdez, after 9 full days there.
Problem #1: Nathan learns that the shark cage they had built is going to cost him over 2X's what was quoted. Not a good start to the day.
Problem #2: The sewer was completely clogged up. Not sure how, we were on full hook ups. Anyway, Nathan tried an experimental approach to fixing the problem that was either going to end really well or really, really bad. Fortunately, it went well!
Problem #3: The driver's side big slide wouldn't budge. Called home to the RV service center. Again, Nathan decided on another experimental approach before trying to manually pull it in and again, that worked.

Not a good start to a day of driving, but all ended well. We paid for the shark cage on the way out of town (talked them down $200--whooppee doo) and drove through the beautiful Keystone Canyon again and over Thompson Pass.

We stopped at Worthington Glacier b/c the kids really wanted to hike up to the glacier and since N8 was along, we did. We actually hiked up to the glacier cave that could've caved in at any moment. It was really nice and a good hike. We ate lunch and kept driving.

We ended up stopping in Copper Canyon, only about 100 miles from Valdez. It was HOT! I couldn't believe what a different 100 miles made!! I had to go fishing one more time....I learned how to fish for sockeye and spent the next several hours trying off of the campground's banks. I had one hooked, but it got away. (travelled 107 miles)

Tue. 8/4: I signed up for a fishing charter for Sockeye's (Red's) We left at 6am, drove about 20 minutes up river, got in a raft and floated down a bit to a fishing spot. It was the guide, 2 older guys from the Princess ship and me. Luckily I had learned how to properly fish, but it still takes lots of practice. I also learned it's more fun to search and hunt for the fish than to simply cast over and over, so that's what I did. I, again, was soooo close, but couldn't snag a salmon. If I had more time to try I know I would've gotten one. Luckily, the guide was an expert and snagged 3 fish, all of which are in my freezer! We hopped in our raft and rafted down category 3 & 4 rapids to get back to the campground. Made it home about noon and were back on the road by 12:45pm. We drove down the road and had to wait in line for gas, what a drag! Then got to experience the good ol' frost heaves again!! We stopped for gas in Tok and agreed if the Salmon Bake was open, we'd just stay there...but it wasn't, again. Not sure what's going on. So, we left town, crossed the border into Canada (they let us keep our bear spray!), lost an hour and camped in Beaver Creek, Yukon. We drove through terrible, smelly smoke thanks to a forest fire in Fairbanks. Today, I had a headache that got progressively worse, plus woke up with a sore throat, so the smoke didn't' help at all. (travelled 262 miles)

Wed. 8/5: Travelled from Beaver Creek, Yukon to Takhini Hot Springs, Yukon, just outside of Whitehorse. The air seemed better today which was nice, although the headache was a full blown migraine, so I slept most of the day. Nathan did spot a grizzly on the side of the road, but there was nowhere to turn around, so we drove to the next pull-out, unhooked the Jeep and drove back the 10miles looking for it, but it was gone, so we hooked back up and kept driving. Made it to the Hot Springs and went swimming! One section is pretty warm, the other is extremely hot. It felt good. (Headache got progressively better throughout the day) (travelled 280 miles)

Thu. 8/6: Got up and went swimming until about 1pm, ate lunch at the cafe right by the pool (Hot Springs) then drove into Whitehorse. That was a mistake. We love the quietness of woods and out-of-the way places..Whitehorse was a loud, congestion, like-any-other-town town. We pretty much got groceries, came back to the RV and swam some more. Jack swam til 9pm and Taylor til 10pm, stopping every few minutes to eat a bite at the cafe again. It was fabulous! They said to watch out for the bear that wanders around, but never saw it.

Fri. 8/7: Travelled from Takhini Hot Springs, Yukon to Dease Lake, BC. We had to put some miles behind us, so we planned a big day! We stopped for gas in Whitehorse and the guy at the gas station said there were 60 wildfires in the area...more smoke, but not as bad as before! We noticed the leaves are turning and falling and some of the fireweed is to the only 2 weeks!
We entered British Columbia, stopped for a black bear on the side of the rode, saw a moose (didn't stop) and got on the Cassiar Highway! We were told it was beautiful and worth the drive :) The first 5o miles were 100 times worse than any AlCan part, it was terrible. The last part before the campground was muddy and dangerous, but we made it alright.
We needed a full hook-up with laundry facilities, so we picked a campground at Dease lake. Little did I know that was just the name of a tiny town, not actually on a lake, but it worked, I did laundry until 10pm and again starting at 7am! We are learning that campgrounds around here like to cram motorhomes in as tight as possible with little/no room for anything like a picnic table, etc. So not what we like!!! (travelled 425 miles)

Sat. 8/8: Travelled from Dease Lake, BC to Stewart, BC. The Cassiar Highway greatly improved today except for one spot, it was a nice, needed change! The scenery is spectacular and the farther south we drive the landscape changes to more lush greenery, very neat. We drove through a 'Provincial Park' that was gorgeous. It only had electricity, but would've been so worth it to get out of these crammed RV parks!! We will start looking for those on our way home now! Anyway, I happened to notice a place where you could watch bears feeding on salmon at a stream, so we took a side road (37A) 40 miles off the Cassiar highway to Stewart, BC. Now this road has even more spectacular scenery. Waterfalls and glaciers everywhere, absolutely beautiful. We found a wonderful camprgound with full hookups and plenty of room!! We set up camp, unhooked the Jeep and headed into town...the town of Hyder, ALASKA! (just 3 miles down the road). We ate pizza and headed to see the bears. We waited 2 hours, but never saw bears. The kids were complaining so much (I didn't bring anything for them to do), so we got in the Jeep and headed down the road more to explore and on our way back towards the bears, we saw a black bear cross the road in the distance. That was it. Oh well. We drove home, got through customs okay (didn't have to go through U.S. customs) and made it home by 10pm. We all got ready for bed and played 4 rounds of WOLF, a dice game. Taylor won 2 and N8 won 2.
This campground has bears that wander through it, so kids are instructed not to run around without one of us! Also, we are not to walk around at night, bears and wolves might be out. Isn't this great?!? (We travelled 245 miles today)

Just to re-cap: We've driven 1319 miles in 6 days. For reference, on the way up, we travelled 3114 miles in 6 days (made it all the way in 8).

Jack: He saw somebody's RV sewer line and saw it up on little supports like the Pipeline in Alaska and he said, "instead of a pipeline, it's a poopline".


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