Twists in the Road

While on our RV journeys across the U. S. and Canada in our fifth wheel we have come to many twists in the road.

Moose on the Alaska Highway
Moose on the Alaska Highway
Bridal Veil Falls Overlook on Icefields Parkway, Alberta, Canada
Bridal Veil Falls Overlook on Icefields Parkway, Alberta, Canada
Big Thompson Canyon Hwy 34 Colorado
Big Thompson Canyon Hwy 34 Colorado. This road flooded in September, 2013, about 2 weeks after this photo was taken
Twist in the Blue Ridge Parkway
Twist in the Blue Ridge Parkway

We’re not wandering at the moment. These are just a few of our favorite twists in the road.

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Twist

Three nights in Palmer, Alaska

I’m sure many of you are getting bored to tears with all my posts and photos so I will condense our three nights in Palmer into one post.

Day 60: Sunday, July 14, 2013. Talkeetna to Palmer, Alaska. Big Bear RV park, Site 56. 145 miles traveled. We are actually closer to Wasilla but the RV park has a Palmer address.

Moose cow and calf crossing the road
Moose cow and calf crossing the road

After all the excitement and fun we had in Talkeetna we hated to leave but there is still more of Alaska to see. The drive was uneventful except for seeing a moose cow and her calf cross the road in front of us.

Our first order of business after getting set up was to go to Walmart a mile down the road to get some much needed supplies. When we got back we met some fellow Titanium owners from Missouri who were parked in our row.

Day 61: Monday, July 15, 2013

Our plan for a drive on Hatcher Pass Road was shortened by fog but we enjoyed our drive as far as the Independence Mine

Day 62: Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A trip to the Iditarod Headquarters in Wasilla, Alaska and then a shopping trip to Fred Meyer for our final grocery shopping before heading to the Kenai Peninsula.

Day 55: Wildlife but no mountain view

Day 55: Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Our search for wildlife continued as we boarded our bus at 9:40 am. The 120 mile round trip to Kantishna and back took us all day. Our bus driver and tour guide Wayne kept us informed about each area we went through. The weather was overcast and rainy all day.

Our first two wildlife sightings were Grizzly bears. The first was close to the road, the second farther away.

Next, we saw two different herds of Caribou before stopping at the Toklat River rest area. There we saw Dall Sheep on two different mountains. The Dall Sheep look like white dots on the mountain without binoculars or a telephoto lens. The pictures aren’t too good but you can tell they are sheep.

There were Caribou grazing on top of a ridge before we stopped at the Eileson Visitor’s Center for a stroll in the rain on the Tundra Loop Trail.

And then there were moose.

The Denali Park Road ends in Kantishna where several gold mines once operated. One of the mines was owned by the Quigleys. When the couple got divorced, Fannie Quigley built a cabin and lived there alone. When the national park expanded its boundaries the several privately owned lodges located there were allowed to continue to stay open.

As we began our return trip we stopped at Wonder Lake where on a clear day there is a view of Mt. McKinley. In Denali National Park the chance of seeing Mt. McKinley is only 30% and the chance of seeing a bear is 90%.

Other than stopping to watch some Dall Sheep far off on the side of a mountain we didn’t make many stops to view wildlife on the return trip.

Total wildlife count for the day: 13 Caribou, 12 Dall Sheep, 2 Grizzly Bears, several Arctic Ground Squirrels, and a Ptarmigan (the state bird of Alaska) flying low to the ground by the bus. A great day!

Day 51: Denali at last

Day 51: Friday, July 5, 2013. North Pole, Alaska to Denali. Denali RV Park and Motel, Site 5. 194 miles traveled.

With all our chores and shopping in Fairbanks completed it was time to continue our Alaskan adventure. We left North Pole behind and traveled the Parks Highway to our RV park 8 miles outside the entrance of Denali National Park. Our reservations at Teklanika River Camp inside the national park aren’t until Monday so we will be exploring different areas of the park until then.

We made it!
Denali at last

As soon as we were set up in our campsite we drove to Denali National Park. A quick stop at the Visitor’s Center to get our National Park Passport stamped and to purchase my Senior Pass or Geezer Pass as it is often called. I officially became a senior when I turned 62 a couple of weeks ago. The National Park Service offers a Senior Pass to those of us who have reached that ripe old age. For $10 you receive a lifetime pass which gets you into any national park or monument for free and a discount for camping in many of the federal campgrounds.

With that chore completed, we stopped at the bookstore to search for a guide book to the plants and animals of Denali so we’ll know what we are looking at.

It was finally time to go explore the park. In Denali, private vehicles are only allowed on the first 15 miles of the Denali Park Road. To travel beyond that point everyone must travel on a shuttle or tour bus. The only exception is campers going to Teklanika River Camp where we will be going on Monday. More about that later.

As we traveled along the highway marveling at the beauty around us we had to stop a few times when a shuttle bus in front of us stopped. If the shuttle bus stops there must be something good to see.

At the 15 mile mark we stopped at the Savage River overlook to enjoy the view and then turned around to make our way back to the park entrance. We were hoping to get a glimpse of Mt. McKinley. Like most days, clouds were covering the peaks. At one of the overlooks we got out binoculars and searched along with a couple from Texas and a couple from Toronto. Henry spotted the peaks above the clouds first. As he pointed out where to look the excitement grew among the crowd. One by one we heard “I see it!”.

On our way back out of the park, we stopped again as the shuttle bus in front of us stopped. A moose was right beside the road not bothered by us at all.

Mt. McKinley and two moose on our first visit to Denali! What a great introduction to the park!

We stopped at the Wilderness Access Area to find out information about what to do when we check in on Monday. The lady helping us was from Georgia. She told us we could go ahead and check in so we did. With all the necessary parking and shuttle passes in hand we headed back to our campground.

I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to make some crab stew with some of our Dungeness Crab from Haines. The weather here is windy and cold and it was a perfect night for stew. Out of this world delicious if I do say so myself.

Day 47: Driving the Haul Road

Day 47: July 1, 2013

If you are a fan of the show Ice Road Truckers you have heard of the Dalton Highway. If not, the Dalton Highway is the road the truckers take to get to the industrial camp at Prudhoe Bay on the Arctic Ocean. The road begins 84 miles north of Fairbanks and ends 414 miles later in Deadhorse on Prudoe Bay. The road was originally called the Haul Road because all of the supplies for Prudhoe Bay were hauled by truck to get there. The Arctic Circle is about at about milepost 115 on the Dalton Highway.

The highway is mostly dirt and gravel with some paved sections. The road follows the Alaska pipeline and was built because of the pipeline. The scenery changes as you go along from birch and spruce forest to tundra. Purple wildflowers bloomed in many of the fields.

The Bureau of Land Managment manages a small campground and picnic area at the Arctic Circle. When we arrived two young women from the visitor’s center in Coldfoot were set up under a tent with mosquito netting. After having our pictures made, we received a certificate for crossing the Arctic Circle! We ate lunch there and decided to continue on to the Visitor’s Center at Coldfoot, another 60 miles north.

The visitor’s center had a lot of interesting displays including a display showing the location of the Arctic Circle all around the world. At the Arctic Circle we were farther north than Moscow, Helsinki, and Stockholm. For both of us we were farther north than we had ever been in our lives.

By the time we finished at the visitor’s center we had been gone from our campground for 7 1/2 hours and had to drive all the way back. With so many miles to go, we only stopped a couple of times on the way home.

It started raining on a dirt portion of the road when we were almost at the end of the Dalton Highway. Henry said driving on the wet dirt road was the worst driving he has had to do this whole trip. When we got back to Fairbanks, we had to stop for road construction at 9:00 at night. Fourteen hours after leaving the campground, we arrived home and collapsed into our chairs. A long day but well worth it.