Back on the Sea of Cortez

Heading back to the Sea of Cortez, we are awestruck every time we get a glimpse of its beautiful turquoise waters during our drive.

The sea’s glittering waters hide behind mountains for a bit and then captivate us again and again.

We drove to the lovely Playa Santispac, one of the first coves you come to as you head south in Bahia Concepción. Check out our review of the campground here.

Our campsite was by one of the palapas right on the beach. Hammocks set up, kayaks sitting at the shore, a dream scene.

Our plan had been to stay a few nights and hopscotch to a couple of other beaches that also allow camping, but we scouted them and decided we liked this one best and wound up staying.

The empanada lady and her dutiful husband

Vendors came by selling homemade empanadas, tamales, shrimp cocktail, ceviche, fresh fish for cooking, fresh produce and more. They even bring water to fill tanks. What could be better!

Well, there were also two little beach shack restaurants, one with rural wifi that actually worked at times and the other with live music some nights.

But the best part is the beautiful bay. Although also susceptible to high winds in winter, we were fortunate once again to have calm winds and seas on multiple days.

A big difference between Bahia Concepción and Bahia de los Angeles is that there are multiple islands much closer to shore, only one or two miles away.

And there are others further out as well. Many more accessible places to explore and we did.

Playa Santispac also has an estuary behind the south side of the beach that can be accessed easily during high tide, or by portaging across a sandbar during low tide. One day we paddled over to the estuary.

There was tons of birdlife back there, including blue heron, yellow-crowned night heron, white ibis, reddish egrets as well as lots of duckies (we’re terrible at identifying ducks). The mangroves always make me think of the Everglades, a national park that I love.


On another day of paddling, we crossed over to a little island just across from our beach where there were lots and lots of osprey, pelicans and gulls.


While Hector was taking photographs, I turned the corner heading across to the opposite edge of our beach and heard water splashing next to me – a dolphin! Then another and another.

I tried to paddle to them but they were moving pretty fast. They were jumping out of the water, sometimes even showing their tails as they submerged. So I just stopped and watched for awhile. Dolphins make me happy. Not many photos as Hector was not close enough, but the memory will remain.

Every morning we were greeted with a different light show as the colors changed and the light returned.  The still water reflecting the light.

On other paddling days we visited some more nearby islands. The marine  and bird life were wonderful.

One day Hector spotted a huge sea lion, obviously a male, who raised his head out of the water briefly and swam away. But we were able to see his body arching down into the water and he was like a little whale.

Another nearby feature was a reef that when not submerged was teeming with pelicans, cormorants and other birds. We paddled softly pretty close to them but they didn’t seem bothered at all. Very cool.


Back on another island, we saw lots of little fish in the water and small sting rays.  I love seeing them with their undulating “wings”, they look like they’re flying instead of swimming. The waters around that island also had many pretty sea stars scattered about.

The day of our last paddle was glorious! It was Valentine’s Day and the sea was calm and soft. Hector drew a Valentine’s card in the sand.

So we paddled lazily further out and for a much longer time, taking in all of the beauty of the sea and the life within it. Usually the breeze kicks up mid day but not today.  The water was like glass until well after noon.

We wound up visiting all four islands that day, while Hector attempted to get to a fifth but it was further than it looked. Distances on the water can be really hard to judge. So he bailed out and met me by a pretty little beach on one of the islets.

Hector hoped that by heading out further into the bay that we would see more wildlife. As we were heading back we looked over and saw a pod of dolphins with a motor boat nearby watching them along with some paddle boarders.

The dolphins were swimming in my direction and I followed them when they swam past me. They swam around me for a bit, then Hector joined me and they swam off.

Hector paddled after them this time and I tried to photograph but they got too far too fast. He was able to get up close to them and they swam all around his kayak.

After our spectacular paddle, we had a wonderful lunch of shrimp ceviche and shrimp cocktail. Then it was hammock time in our palapa!

That evening Hector prepared a marvelous dinner of steak, lobster and hash browns. He set up a table on the beach in front of our palapa with some borrowed candles from our neighbors who were spending Valentine’s at a nearby hotel. It was a lovely and romantic dinner.

A wonderful ending to our time at Bahia Concepción!

 

 

 

To the Arctic Circle and Back in 2015

What a year!  We travelled to the Arctic Circle and back in 2015.

cartoon529-2Be warned, this is a looooong post.  But we hope you enjoy a quick tour back through this most wonderful year with some of Hector’s favorite images.

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.

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The Chilkoot Bears

Chilkoot 25We spent a lot of our time visiting the Chilkoot River in Haines. This beautiful river is where the salmon run, and where we found the Chilkoot bears, as well as eagles, seagulls and others vying for the nutrient-rich fish.

Chilkoot 66The Chilkoot is surrounded by forest and and empties into a lovely lake, the Chilkoot Lake, which in turn empties into another section of river, where we visited frequently.

Chilkoot 30Chilkoot 35The rain was beginning to catch up with us and we had a couple of pretty dreary, rainy days, but most days we made at least one visit looking for the bears. No luck the first couple of times, but we finally spotted a sow and her cubs at the mouth of the Chilkoot River where it then dumps into the Lukat Inlet.

Chilkoot 53These two cubs were our first grizzly cubs of the year! We saw several black bear cubs back in Yellowstone and we saw quite a few grizzly bears in Yellowstone and Denali, but no grizzly cubs.Chilkoot 55Chilkoot 45Chilkoot 34

Grizzly bear cubs have an adorable feature, they have white fur around their necks. Since they are born early in the year, during the sow’s hibernation, the white fur is almost gone on one of the cubs, but the other still has an almost complete white collar.

We watched the sow and cubs fishing along the beach. Then we saw another bear on the other side of the river mouth, also feeding. The other bear was working his (we assumed he was a male) way towards the beach where the sow and cubs were.

Chilkoot 8All of a sudden, he got in the water and started swimming towards the beach.

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Paddling in Valdez

Paddle Valdez 6Paddle Valdez 1There are lots of great opportunities for paddling in Valdez, both on your own and as part of guided tour groups. We chose two lakes on two different days: the Valdez Glacier Lake and Robe Lake.

 

Paddle Valdez 27The Valdez Glacier was the main trail for prospectors headed into gold fields in the interior of Alaska, this trail was named the All-American route due to the fact that prospectors did not have to cross Canada into Alaska.

Paddle Valdez 3Due to Valdez being the northern most ice free port, this was as close as you could get to the interior during the spring months when travel was possible over the glaciers of the Chugach range.Paddle Valdez 13

Our new rubber boots

Our new rubber boots for the COLD water

Over many years, the Valdez glacier has retreated, mostly due to surface melt and thinning.Paddle Valdez 9

Paddle Valdez 12Paddle Valdez 16We drove over to check out the Valdez Glacier Lake, where the glacier located, and briefly spoke with one of the tour guides that was just heading out. The lake seemed like a fairly easy and very interesting paddle.

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On Beautiful Muncho Lake

Muncho041Muncho044We spent the next few days on beautiful Muncho Lake, combining relaxing and enjoying the view with some driving tours, some hiking, some kayaking, and, of course, photography.Muncho043

At 7 ½ miles long, Muncho Lake is one of the largest natural lakes in the Canadian Rockies. The Terminal Range west of the lake is the northernmost section of the Rocky Mountains. These and the mountains east of the lake, the Sentinel Range, climb to 7,000 feet. The views of the lake framed by these mountains are spectacular.Muncho045Muncho016

Since it was raining and we did not see any wildlife during our drive to the lake, we doubled back in the car once it cleared for another opportunity to spot some wildlife. We drove back as far as some spots that are known for wildlife and had much better luck.Muncho002Muncho009 Continue reading

Our first Canada Stop

calgary002calgary003We crossed the border into Canada at Piegan / Cardston, having driven from Glacier National Park in Montana (Piegan is on the Montana side in the Blackfoot Nation, Cardston is on the Alberta side). Our first Canada stop was Cochrane, located on the Northwest of Calgary, where we were planning to meet friends.

In preparation, we ate all of our produce, made sure dog food was in original bags, got our Canadian insurance cards (our regular insurance covers Canada but they provide special cards), got our passports and Angel’s rabies certificate out and took inventory of food and liquor in case of questions.calgary004

calgary005calgary006calgary007It was a fairly uneventful crossing. The officer asked these questions:

Was there anything we had with us that we intended to leave in Canada?

Where were we going?

How long did we plan to stay?

Did we have guns, or defensive weapons such as mace or pepper spray?

Did we have liquor on board – how much?

Had we been to Canada before?

We explained that we live in the motorhome and told him we had one and a half cases of wine plus open liquor bottles but were not charged duties. This is the third year we cross the border with liquor – the first we were charged duties – but even paying duties  was cheaper than buying liquor in Canada. The other years we were not charged any duties on our liquor although we were well over the small allowance.calgary001

I am going to include a few statistics on each post during our journey to Alaska, if there are any other ideas or items of particular interest, let us know.

Road Name: Highway 2 and secondary roads for our last thirty miles across Calgary

Road Type: Smooth two-lane for the first 50 miles (border to Fort McLeod), changing to four-lane divided highway all the way to Calgary.

Total Miles travelled today: 183 from Canadian border: 183

Driving Time: 3 hours, 15 minutes

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Embracing San Diego

San Diego 2015 97The transition from the peace and quiet of natural spaces to the hustle and bustle of big cities can be jarring. But we are embracing San Diego and much of what it has to offer. Including some beautiful natural spaces.San Diego 2015 6

San Diego 2015 95We’re in a prime location – one of the campgrounds we stayed in last year. Mission Bay RV Resort is a fairly average private RV park in an awesome location by the water.  Check out my review of the park here.

The location is great for Angel too. We’ve been taking her for lots of walks on the grass by the water.  One of our typical walks is about a mile long and she is walking that distance easily.

Hector continues to work on his photography portfolio and I’ve begun doing research on photography websites, so I think we can officially say we’re now both working on the road.

San Diego 2015 96San Diego 2015 52 Continue reading

An International Peace Park

waterton  016

waterton  001It’s fitting that our last stop in Canada, where we’ve met so many kind people, was at Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park. Waterton Lakes National Park was established in 1895 and Glacier National Park was established in 1910. The parks shared the International Boundary between Canada and the United States and in 1932 the two governments linked them as an International Peace Park, the world’s first.

waterton  024The peace park is a symbol of peace and goodwill between the United States and Canada.  And both parks were designated as Biosphere Reserves in the 1970s and as a World Heritage Site in 1995.waterton  019

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O’ the Lakes and the Flowers

Banff  129Banff  090The lakes around Banff National Park are irresistible. So one of our first destinations while in the Banff area was the famous Lake Louise.Banff  130

The lake is about an hour drive from Banff and many people visit both in the same trip.   But Lake Louise and the area around the lake is also a destination in and of itself.Banff  093

Banff  092Banff  091We set out late in the afternoon to see Lake Louise and another well-known lake, Moraine Lake. Our purpose was to scope out the possibility of kayaking the lakes, which are both located in absolutely stunning settings.

Lake Louise was jam packed with people although as it got a bit later the crowds thinned a bit. But it’s a beautiful jewel of a lake.

And we found out that we’d have to walk our kayaks down a short trail and put in by the walkway. Not ideal.   Probably an intentional way to avoid competition with their rental canoe outfit, where they charge $55 per hour (!!!).

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Campbell River

Campbell River  005 Campbell River  002We traveled south to our final destination on Vancouver Island, Campbell River, about halfway between Victoria and Telegraph Cove. We’d booked a waterfront campsite, a bit of a splurge, but it was to be our last campground near the ocean for a while.Campbell River  004Campbell River  003

Campbell River is a pretty large town with a population of over 31,000 people and is a supply point for Northern Vancouver Island and a couple of other islands. The river, which the town is named after, drains into Discovery Passage, a channel separating Vancouver Island and Quadra Island.Campbell River  008

The channel links Johnstone Strait with the Strait of Georgia. It is part of the Inside Passage to Alaska.

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