Hyder, Alaska

Hyder 12Our main reason for visiting Hyder, Alaska was to see more bears. There are two salmon runs in Hyder, which is at the head of the Portland Canal, a 90-mile fjord. Salmon come up the ocean to the fjord and up the Salmon River to Fish Creek to spawn. And the bears frequent the creek to feed on the salmon.

Hyder 13Hyder 63The U.S. Forest Service and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game manage a viewing platform that was built over the creek, the Fish Creek Wildlife Viewing Area, that allows visitors to watch the bears safely (for both visitors and bears) as the bears feed on the salmon.

We had initially planned to be in Hyder earlier in the season to catch the end of the salmon run but we took our time further north and got there quite late. But we also wanted to visit Hyder to see the Salmon Glacier, the world’s largest road accessible glacier.

Hyder 9Hyder 3We spent the morning walking around Stewart with Angel. It is quite a charming little town, with restored as well as rustic old buildings, and a number of shops and restaurants. The little grocery store there, Harbor Lights, offers great free Wi-Fi which we of course took advantage of.

We walked Angel over a boardwalk that was built over a large wetlands area, a very nice little walk.

Continue reading

More of Kenai Fjords National Park

Viewfinder 5The rain that began on the afternoon of our last cruise intensified and continued for two more days. During those days, we moved from our inland campground to the water. The ocean is my favorite place in the whole world and with a view framed by snow-capped mountains, it is beautiful rain or shine. And we extended our stay in Seward so we could see more of Kenai Fjords National Park.Viewfinder 7

We stayed in the Resurrection South RV Parking section of the Waterfront Campground (City of Seward). Read my review of the campground here.Viewfinder 4Viewfinder 6

Viewfinder 8

Continue reading

In Search of Wildlife

NW Fjord 98One of the reasons we are here in Alaska is because we love animals, and we especially love seeing them in the wild. We feel a special connection to and are often in search of wildlife.  And our second cruise to the Kenai Fjords was an extra special one.NW Fjord 83

There is something about the whales that especially captivates us, perhaps their intelligence, the way they form social structures, the sounds they make to communicate, or maybe all of those things and others that we just cannot put into words.NW Fjord 78

So each summer when we have been by the northern seas on our walkabout, we have devoted quality time to whale watching. Going out looking for the whales in kayaks, zodiacs, and small to large motorboats. And we have seen lots of whales; blue, fin, humpback, minke, beluga, gray, pilot and orcas (although technically pilot whales and orcas are part of the dolphin family).

NW Fjord 109Our goal in Seward was to go on several wildlife cruises. We were interested in some of the longer cruises, but not sure we would be able to go because of Angel. But we found a pet-sitter to walk Angel during the day. So after our six-hour cruise earlier in the week, we booked two other full day wildlife/glacier cruises, one with each of the two major companies in town.

Continue reading

Turnagain Arm and the Portage Valley

turn again arm 1turn again arm 4We have reservations in Anchorage at the end of the week so once our car was ready we headed out of the city. On Wednesday afternoon, we drove out to Turnagain Arm and the Portage Valley just outside of Anchorage to look for a scenic spot to boondock. Turnagain Arm is a narrow branch of the Cook Inlet that extends from the northwestern part of the Gulf of Alaska.turn again arm 3

Turnagain Arn got its name from William Bligh (later of HMS Bounty fame) when he was the navigator on a James Cook expedition seeking a Northwest Passage.  When they discovered it dead ended, they had to “turn again”.  Cute.

turn again arm 6Since this was a short little side trip outside of Anchorage, I am not going to count it as a driving day. After a little driving back and forth we found a nice spot by the highway that had room for Island Girl with sweeping views. It was a bit late because we had run a few errands earlier that day in Anchorage so we settled in and Hector began to cook dinner.

turn again arm 8As I walked Angel I noticed a Class C had just parked on the opposite end of the rest stop, so I made sure to steer clear and give them their space. A few minutes after Angel and I returned to Island Girl there was a knock on our door. Chris (@chris_technomadia) and Cherie (@cherie_Technomadia) were the people who had just parked on the other side of the rest stop.

turn again arm 7A few months earlier when we compared notes on our Alaska plans we decided that we were not going to be anywhere near each other. And yet here they were. Serendipity.

The four of us had drinks at our Tiki Bar that evening and breakfast together the next morning. It was great to get to know them a little better, since we had only spent a short time with them last winter in Anza Borrego, California.

turn again arm 12turn again arm 13After they left, Hector and I drove over to scout Portage Lake, where Portage Glacier is located. We really wanted to kayak to the glacier, and after checking it out decided it was doable and we would check weather the next few days to find a good day for a paddle.turn again arm 10 Continue reading

More of the Beautiful Valdez

Valdeez 4There always seems to be more of the beautiful Valdez surroundings to see and explore. We only touched the tip of the iceberg. But it was still spectacular.

Valdeez 21Valdeez 27Many of the structures of the town itself, mostly rebuilt in the late 1960’s after a huge earthquake devastated the original town, are pretty plain. In fact, the little office of the Lu-Lu Belle is one of the prettiest buildings in town. But the harbor and the surroundings more than make up for that. And that is what we focused on.Valdeez 2

One day we drove back out over the road we came in on and stopped once again at some of the beautiful waterfalls right near town. There are not many places that have this much beauty right next to the road.

Valdeez 15 Continue reading

Haines Junction

Haines Junction010The morning was really windy, no chance of taking the kayaks out on Dezadeash Lake. And so we hung out inside the RV in the morning.

Haines Junction007Then we headed for a very short hike out by Kathleen Lake with Angel. It really is quite a beautiful lake, but there are lots of warnings about the wind picking up rather quickly. The hike is just a ½ mile mostly on a boardwalk but you can continue around the lake at the end of the boardwalk.Haines Junction008

Haines Junction005We were hoping to publish a blog post, so we had a plan A and a plan B. Plan A was to stop at the nearby Kathleen Lake Lodge and ask if we could use their WiFi, plan B was to continue another fifteen miles to the Visitor Center in Haines Junction and use theirs.Haines Junction001 Continue reading

More Yellowstone Wildlife

mammoth003

“For the Benefit and Enjoyment of the People”

mammoth004On our move day at Yellowstone National Park, we drove through seven miles of construction, which turned to mud due to recent rains. This was one of the reasons we chose to relocate, to avoid driving through construction zones more than once. And we wanted to be closer to the Lamar Valley in order to see more Yellowstone wildlife.mammoth002

We stayed at the Mammoth Campground, near the North entrance to the park, which is the original entrance to the park. Read my review of the campground here.mammoth007

mammoth006mammoth008Just after we got settled in and as I was finishing a walk with Angel, it began to hail. So far, we had rain, wind, cold, a bit of snow, and now hail. Ah, Spring!

In the morning, there was a herd of elk cows running through the campground. Mammoth Hot Springs is home to many elk, and they hang out around the town and nearby areas.

We had seen more wildlife than ever, but some of the best was yet to come. Our campground was a great jumping off point to visit the Tower-Roosevelt area and the Lamar Valley, both east of us.mammoth093mammoth025 Continue reading

Inside the Volcano – Yellowstone National Park

yellowstone  001This was our second trip to Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone is the national park I always wanted to visit when I was a kid. Old Faithful and other geysers.  Hot springs.  Fumaroles.  Bears. Buffalo. Wolves. Elk. Lakes. Canyons. Rivers. Mountains.yellowstone  002

yellowstone  141 (1)yellowstone  033Yellowstone has its critics. Yes, there is horrible traffic and mobs of people in the park during peak season. Yes, there are people who drive through the park and don’t get out of their cars. But this is the first national park.  THE Yellowstone.  All American and unique.

The central part of the park is a 30 by 45 mile caldera (basin) formed after three huge volcanic eruptions during the past 2.1 million years (the most recent was 640,000 years ago). The heat powering those eruptions still powers the park’s more than 10,000 thermal features, evidence that the volcano is still active.  But scientists do not foresee another eruption for thousands of years.   We hope.

yellowstone  030 Continue reading

Glacier (less) National Park

glacier  115glacier  001After visiting Waterton Lakes National Park in Canada, we of course had to visit the U.S. side of the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park. And perhaps using the title Glacier (less) National Park is too harsh, but it reflects some astonishing facts we learned about the park.glacier  003

In 1850, there were 150 glaciers on the mountains in Glacier National Park, today only 25 of those remain. But even more concerning is this: it’s estimated that the remaining glaciers will be gone sometime between 2020 and 2030.glacier  002glacier  005

Those are chilling facts (pun intended). So to those that would like to see some of the glaciers, I say – visit the park sooner rather than later. As for what impact the disappearance of all glaciers will have on this ecosystem, I don’t know but I do know that researchers are trying to answer that question.

One thing that’s been decided is that the name will remain. These mountains were formed by glaciers, so the name Glacier National Park will always be appropriate.glacier  077

glacier  078And it is yet another absolutely stunning place. Towering mountains, wildlife, lakes, waterfalls… We are huge fans of the national parks (U.S. and Canada), and the ones we’ve visited recently are some of the most magnificent. I feel like I’ve been living in a postcard.

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

Continue reading