What a year! We travelled to the Arctic Circle and back in 2015.
Island Girl traveled a total of 12,345 miles.
We stayed in 88 campsites (29 of them were overnights and 61 were dry camping).
Visited 10 States, 2 Canadian Provinces and 1 Canadian Territory. And 6 veterinarians in 5 states and 1 Canadian Territory.
We began the year in Yuma with friends Doug and Trish and Tim and Becky. And a day trip to Mexico for a root canal.
Then headed to Anza Borrego for the “Pachanga” in the desert.
On to Quartzite and more friends: Mike and Linda, Todd and Russ, Mike and Kelly and Vince and Spencer.
After the desert we headed to the ocean.
February / March
We made a second winter stop in San Diego and met more friends.
Took a day trip to Mexico with Michael and Gloria.
While on a follow-up visit to the veterinarian we discovered that Angel needed to have surgery. She gave us quite a scare when she had to spend nine days in the hospital due to post-surgery complications. But she made it and is doing great.
We met friends Dennis and Jeanette in Encinitas and went to the Love Fest.
And we continued to have fun with friends in San Diego.
We had an alien encounter in the desert near Dulzura. And more fun with friends at the Sweet Oasis.
Then drove up US Highway 395 to the Alabama Hills.
And took a quick day trip to Death Valley National Park. It was a bit late in the season to visit and very, very hot.
Then a moving visit to the Manzanar Japanese internment camp.
Followed by a few days by the amazing Mono Lake with Paul, Nina, Todd, and Russ.
And a day trip to Bodie, a ghost town.
Then we explored beautiful Lake Tahoe from our base in Carson City, Nevada.
And drove across the Loneliest Highway in Nevada. A fitting warm up for the remote roads ahead.
And ended the month with an all too quick visit to remote Great Basin National Park.
We started heading north with purpose and covered a lot of ground.
Across Utah with a stop at the Golden Spike where the transcontinental railroad was completed.
Then a short but entertaining stop in Idaho.
Then an astounding springtime visit to Yellowstone National Park, which we planned early in the year. Spring is a great time to see wildlife in the park.
To Alberta to start the long journey across Canada. First a stop in Calgary to see friends Doug and Trish and Jim and Barb and meet new friends, Fernando and Diana and their daughter Elena.
A long drive just to get to mile zero of the Alaska Highway. Then miles and miles of interesting stops.
We enjoyed soaking at the Liard Hot Springs.
As we entered the Yukon Territory the wildlife became more abundant.
We added our homemade sign to the >70,000 others at the Signpost Forest.
And stopped in Whitehorse, Capital of the Yukon Territory.
Then another stop at Kluane National Park to enjoy its spectacular scenery.
And a joyous and colorful First Nations gathering in Haines Junction.
1700+ interesting scenic miles after entering Canada we arrive at the 49th U.S. state.
First stop … Tok.
Then down the Richardson Highway towards Valdez on the Gulf of AlaskaWhere we had unseasonably dry weather and enjoyed the abundant marine life.
Saw the amazing Columbia Glacier.
Admired our national bird, there were lots of them around.
After Valdez we visited the Kennecott Mine ruins in Wrangell St. Elias National Park.
We made an early detour to Anchorage for a new clutch on the Subaru. From there we went to the Turnagain Arm of Cooke Inlet.You never know who you might run into. We first met Chris and Cherie in Southern California, and here they were camping next to us by total coincidence.
Our good friend Joyce joined us in Anchorage for a fun visit.
We continued with Joyce to Seward, the gateway to the Kenai Fjords National Park.A boat cruise to the Kenai Fjords is an absolute must. The wildlife and scenery were just incredible. We were lucky to see a large group of humpback whales bubble net feeding.
We toured the beautiful area around Seward.And saw even more of nature’s show.
Homer is on the other side of the Kenai Peninsula. We camped right by the ocean and were treated to bald eagles on the beach. Friends Jack and Karen camped nearby. Dan and Amanda, who were our neighbors in San Diego were working in Alaska for the summer and joined us along with their friends Lauren and Chad.
A fun day cruise to Seldovia on the Rainbow Connection treated us to the perhaps once in a lifetime sight of a whale spouting a rainbow. You can’t make this stuff up!
We headed inland towards Denali National Park.
Stopped in Funky Talkeetna, where the mayor is an old cat named Stubbs. Definitely a worthwhile side trip just south of Denali.
Then on to an almost overwhelming twelve nights in Denali National Park, seven of which we enjoyed the privilege of a pro photographer’s special access pass. MAGIC.
Denali left us pretty pooped … but many miles were ahead. We blew thru Fairbanks and Tok and headed east toward the Yukon. For the return we decided to take the northern route back up the scary Taylor Highway to the Top of the World Highway.
Island Girl rode a little ferry boat across the mighty Yukon River to reach Dawson City, site of the Klondike Gold Rush.
Before heading south we made an unplanned turn to the north along the Dempster Highway to visit Yukon’s Tombstone Territorial Park. We heard it was beautiful and being late August we hoped the tundra would be turning autumn colors. Our most magical sunrise of the entire year happened on the day we struck out early to explore the Dempster Highway up to the Arctic Circle. Watercolor pastels over Two Moose Lake (alas … no moose).Followed by a looooong drive across the most remote wilderness to the Arctic Circle. Stunning and desolate terrain. We spotted three Peregrine Falcons on the road with a fresh kill. They weren’t amused when we interrupted their meal.
And made a quick day trip via ferry to Juneau. Not a very nice weather day but we saw some cool stuff nonetheless.
A very special treat while in Haines was our first ever sighting of the Aurora Borealis. Nature’s bounty in overdrive.
The Chilkoot River nearby was home to many bald eagles and coastal grizzlies. A momma bear and her two cubs provided hours of entertainment over the multiple times we spotted them.
We started this month with the urge to see more Northern Lights. And doubled back a bit to Kluane Lake to see them for a second time. One of the most beautiful campsites of the year was a bonus.We had one more chance of viewing the Aurora lights at Squanga Lake.
Then we turned south again, this time along the Cassiar Highway.Where we once again entered Alaska at the tiny village of Hyder. Hyder is known for great bear viewing but we missed the bears. And had to settle for some incredible scenery and a wonderful glacier.After the Cassiar we joined the Yellowhead Highway where the roads were once again fairly improved.When we reached Telkwa we saw a routine traffic light. Yet it seemed so foreign. Later we checked and it had been 1518 miles since the last traffic light in Whitehorse!
We made one more attempt to see the aurora but we had travelled too far south so we saw them faintly on the northern horizon. As if the far north was waving a goodbye.We sampled some wines and scenery in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia.
And of course … poutine!!!
After 70 days in Alaska and 54 days in Canada, we reentered the good ol US of A into Washington State. A total of 7284 miles since entering Canada back in May. The ultimate North America road trip. We were POOPED.October
Now we slowed down a bit. We stayed in a remote forest site for a few days of rest where we saw the red moon and brilliant stars.
Drove over to picturesque Port Townsend on the Olympic PeninsulaThen headed to Portland where we would spend almost a month exploring this great city and meeting friends Tim and Becky, Dan and Kay and Nanci.
After spending the early part of the month in Portland, we headed to wonderful Astoria, Oregon at the mouth of the Columbia River and where the Lewis and Clark Expedition finally reached the Pacific Ocean.
Then we started straight south down the length of the gorgeous Oregon Coast. First near Cannon Beach.
The month got off to a roaring start with a week of storms at Winchester Bay with its stunning lighthouse guarding the treacherous entrance at the mouth of the Umpqua River.
When the storms died down we left Oregon and blasted the length of California to LA. Met a friend, Suzanne and her husband Frank, in Fresno. Island Girl issues caused us to spend several nights at a couple of Freightliner shops. One more blog post to come about that part… but here are a couple of pics.
2015 was a whirlwind as anyone who has read this far in this huge blog post can see. We are so fortunate and thankful for this spectacular year full of experiences and friendship.
Wishing you all the best in the New Year.
~ Brenda, Hector & Angel