Seward, Alaska with Joyce

seward 6We camped in Seward, Alaska with Joyce, our friend who was visiting from Denver, for the first four days of our stay. During that time the weather alternated between mostly sunny and beautiful and cloudy and rainy – a good representation of Alaska in the summer.seward 12

seward 18On one of the nicer weather days, we explored the (little) town pretty thoroughly. Seward is a fairly touristy town and has a good number of shops and restaurants for its small size. There are also quite a few lovely murals throughout the downtown area.seward 8seward 7seward 3seward 9 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

The Kennecott Mines

Kennecott 19On Sunday, we took a tour up to the town of McCarthy in a 12-passenger van, on our way to the Kennecott Mines in Wrangell St. Elias National Park. To the surprise of a couple of passengers, Angel went with us. But she quickly settled in, and sometime into the ride, one passenger commented that they forgot she was there because she was so quiet. She is such a good girl!Kennecott 56

The road up to McCarthy and Kennecott has a very bad reputation. One person even told us that if we were to drive up there we would need two spare tires. But the Wrangell St. Elias National Park ranger told Hector that the road was in the best shape it has ever been. Which did not matter much since our car was not working.

Kennecott 1Kennecott 2The ride up on the van did confirm that the road was not as terrible as some people were saying. Yes, it is sixty miles of gravel road that gets progressively worse as you get nearer to McCarthy. And, yes there is a very long stretch of road that has a washboard. But our van made it through just fine. Well, sort of.

The road is a 2-lane road, but just barely accommodates two cars in places. The driver of a rental class C was coming down the opposite lane at a pretty fast speed and never slowed down. He popped Kevin’s (our van driver) side mirror to the point that the glass shattered. After talking to the driver of the Class C, Kevin told us that his mirror flew off and hit him in the head. He was ok, but the damage was going to cost him.Kennecott 3Kennecott 50 Continue reading

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.

Paddle Valdez 10 Continue reading

Day 10 on the Alaska Highway

Haines to Cottonwood001We spent part of this day on a hunt for a mouse. Yes, we seem to have another mouse. Yikes! We found a nest and have put out “humane” traps. And we are heading out on day 10 on the Alaska Highway.

Haines to Cottonwood003Haines to Cottonwood010Day 10 driving recap:

Road Name (s): Yukon Highway 1

Road Type: 2-lane

Road Conditions: Starts out pretty smooth with some dips, bumps and patches.  Overall not bad.

Miles Today: 84

Miles driven from Canadian border: 1838

Miles on the Alaska Highway: 1034

Driving Time: 2:15

Haines to Cottonwood015The above includes an extra 30 miles from our campground back to Haines Junction. The Haines Highway is an excellent road. Back on the Alaska Highway there are more views of the spectacular Kluane Range. Haines to Cottonwood004

Haines to Cottonwood014

Continue reading

Day 7 on the Alaska Highway

Teslin001Teslin003We returned to the Rancheria Restaurant for breakfast. When we arrived, we heard that “we had gotten up too late and missed two moose in the pond”. Shucks. But we had a good breakfast and used their WiFi again. We had an ambitious plan on driving day 7 on the Alaska Highway, with a couple of town and museum stops along the way.Teslin022Teslin002

We took a quick walk over to the pond behind the restaurant after breakfast and after a few minutes, a cow moose came out on the opposite shore. She was a bit far but we got a nice long look at her as she walked around feeding by the shore. A great start to our morning.

Teslin004Teslin007Next, we did more doubling back in the car to take one last look at the road we saw just before reaching Rancheria as it was quite pretty.

This led us to a detour and across an old wooden bridge, but the road was impassable after that point.Teslin006 Continue reading

The Signpost Forest

Signposts010Our campground in Watson Lake had an area to wash cars and RVs so we washed the car in the morning. Then we blogged some more and headed to the visitor center museum and the signpost forest.Signposts013

Signposts012The signpost forest is pretty amazing. Thousands of signs from all over the United States, Canada and many other countries on countless posts. Continue reading

Day 5 on the Alaska Highway

Road to Watson008Day 5 on the Alaska Highway for us was also our seventh driving day since we entered Canada two weeks ago. It has already been an amazing trip and we were headed for another well-known place, Watson Lake, home of the World Famous Signpost Forest.Road to Watson031

Road to Watson034Day 5 driving recap:

Road Name (s): B.C. Highway 97 to Yukon Highway 1

Road Type: 2-lane

Road Conditions: Excellent

Miles Today: 135

Miles driven from Canadian border: 1341

Miles on the Alaska Highway: 613

Driving Time: 2:45

Road to Watson001This continues to be a very scenic area of the highway. The Liard River flows alongside the road for a long ways, at times visible, others hidden behind forest. There are also views of wetland areas and tributaries of the river. The forest and the mountains complete the views.Road to Watson020 Continue reading

The Liard Hot Springs

Liard004This was a very short driving day because we planned to stop at Liard River to visit the hot springs. The Liard River Hot Springs are apparently a must stop on the Alaska Highway. And, of course, it was still my birthday week.Liard003

It was pretty chilly the last couple of days at Muncho Lake, so the thought of a soak in some hot springs was quite appealing.

Liard002 Continue reading

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