Driving back to Lower 48.

Sunday 4th August 2019

We drove into Haines for a couple of days and had a pretty nice view of the bay from our front window.

Cruise ships would pull in for a few hours. Tiny Haines would be swamped with the “boat people” looking to spend some money.

Haines has quite a bit of rain which keeps the area very green. We had a nice hike through the woods/rainforest.

We kept a lookout for bears since the bunchberry and…

devils club were displaying their fruity bear snacks. No bears on this hike.

We did see a couple of youngsters patrolling the beach looking for some grub.

We carried on to British Columbia. A day trip to Hyder was interesting We crossed the border from Stewart in Canada to Hyder in Alaska. There was no US border customs so we drove right in the town of Hyder. It looked pretty dilapidated with most stuff closed down.

I don’t think that boat has been on the water in a while.

I guess no one rents videos any more.

Next door Stewart looked like a booming metropolis.

The produce section was pretty scant at the single grocery store. It’s a long way to ship fresh food.

There are definitely snowy mountain peaks hiding under the clouds.

We were able stop on the side of the road for a while to watch this cuddly grizzly snacking on the shrubbery.

After a scenic drive through British Columbia we crossed the border into Washington. Time to find some pickleball locations.

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Homer and Portage Alaska

Friday 26th July 2019

We drove down to Homer hoping to escape the smoke from the wildfires attacking Alaska. The wind was kind to us for one day and kept the area clear. It sure was nice to see some blue sky.

Homer has cute tiny houses. If our camper conks out maybe we should find a spot to park it and put the bling on.

This house is sitting on a trailer bed.

These houses have their own shipping container basements.

A sea otter was hanging around the dock.

Why bother catching your own when the fisher people chuck you a nice salmon snack.

Agghh! The smoke was back. We wanted to do a hike across the bay anyway. 30 minutes on the boat got us to the drop off point.

These little water taxis are great for pulling up to just about any beach area.

A two person tram was the way to cross a pretty gnarly river.

Those are some serious knots holding the tram together.

As usual I supervised while Dean hand cranked us across the river.

Cotton plants were showing off their fluffy cuteness.

Fireweed has been the predominant flower blooming across the state. Appropriate name I guess since there are so many wildfires.

We could not really see the glacier at end of Grewingk Lake because of the smoky haze.

There were some nice looking icebergs floating about though.

Dean snagged us a mini berg.

This is the closest we got to a glacier.

We moved up to Portage and had a little hike to Portage Glacier. The rain had moved in so not much to see.

Nobody was cruising on the lake due to the weather.

This little guy stayed nice and still for close up pic.

At least we had the purple goodness.

We had planned on going up to Denali National Park and surrounding area for the next few weeks but after I checked the Park website and found the wildfires were creating smoke problems including hiding the mountain in a smoky haze we decided to forgo the trip. Our lungs were complaining quite a bit so we started heading eastwards to Canada.

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Wrangell and Seward

Friday July 12th 2019

After being crammed in at our last campsite this campground was a nice relief. We were the only ones there for a couple of days.

We took a long day trip into Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. It was a 60 mile gravel road to Kennecott Mill Town. The road ended at Kennecott river. Most people then walk across the pedestrian bridge and get a paid shuttle for the 5 miles to Kennecott. After the grueling road trip we decided to ride our bikes for a little exercise and also save $30. It was 5 miles uphill a gravel road, although I must admit it was a gradual climb. The ride back was a cinch!!

Kennecott was a thriving copper mining town in the early 1900’s

After the copper petered out in the 1930’s the whole place was pretty much abandoned. The National Park Service acquired most of the town and surrounding area to make Wrangell-St. Elias the largest National Park in the United States. With massive mountains and glaciers this park is over 20,000 square miles and 25% larger than Switzerland.

The National Park is slowly restoring some of the old buildings.

The best part of the day was lunch and beverages at the lodge.

We were really looking forward to Seward since we had such a good time visiting 5 years ago. However a huge wildfire in the area has created a very smokey environment. The smoke did not deter the Halibut fishing. Every day we watched the charter boats come back the with the days catch to be filleted, frozen and shipped off to the lower 48.

Seward is a busy port in the summer. Cruise ships sailed in most nights and stayed a day or so. Cargo barges haul everything from vehicles to food. This day we could see a bit of the snowy mountains 2 miles across the bay.

The next few days we had this view.

We had a nice hike in Kenai Fjords National Park even though there was quite a bit of snow to slip slide along. We finally hiked above the smoke! Time to take a few deep breaths.

There were so many glaciers.

Finally after 5 miles and 3000 feet elevation gain we made it to the top. We had a nice long rest on that bit of grass before heading down.

11 pm and the path in front of our camper is still bustling. Everyone is waiting for the July 4th firework display at 12.01 am. Since it was still pretty light at midnight the fireworks were not very bright.

We enjoyed watching the annual Seward Marathon race. It is a 5k run to the top of Mount Marathon and back down with a vertical gain of 3022 feet.

Nearly 20,000 people come to Seward for race day.

Since we still consider ourselves Oregonians we were happy to see a young man from Bend Oregon win the mens race in just over 43 minutes.

All the runners got a hose down to wash away the mud and blood.

These seagulls were feasting on salmon fingerlings making their way to the ocean.

Moving on to Homer.

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Valdez

Thursday 27th June, 2019

Our first stop across the border and into Alaska was the Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge. I really like the grass roof on the visitor center. How do they mow that????

The Refuge had a very nice free campground and canoe use.

I was the Captain and the crew sat behind.

Take me to the waterlilies.

There were lots in bloom.

They have very intricate stamens.

Moving on to Valdez we passed through some major road construction. Due to permafrost most of the roads buckle up and have potholes and frost heaves. The work crews are on the job 24/7 through the short summer months to try and keep the roads driveable.

This was a pretty smooth section and the snowy mountains beckoned us on.

Valdez was loaded with lupines.

We were crammed in like sardines at the campground.

However the view were spectacular.

Dean made me do this.

Snowy mountains surround this pretty port.

This is a popular halibut fishing area.

There were many big catches.

We chatted with a couple who had taken a fishing trip and were having their 100+ pounds of halibut vacuum sealed and frozen and then shipped to Georgia.

We had a nice hike in the mountains.

This guy demonstrated his skill on his onewheel skateboard. He can travel quite a few miles on one charge.

I needed a little cool down and a patch of snow worked nicely.

The mountain lakes had crystal clear water.

I have never seen so many waterfalls. This one is called bridal veil.

Moving on to Seward.

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Heading to Alaska via Beautiful Canada

Friday 21st June 2019

The poor beast started making funny noises on the journey from southern Utah to Montana. We had to have a week layover in Butte Montana waiting for a new clutch fan to be shipped from Alabama. Dean had hoped to put the beast in a garage to get it fixed but they were either too busy or just didn’t want to deal with an RV. Dean put on his mechanical hat and said he would tackle it.

He pretzelized himself under the engine…

and over the engine. Yippee! The beast appreciated the tender loving care and started purring nicely. I did my part gofering and keeping the worker fed and watered. Time to move on.

We needed some goodness to get our brains back on track. What better place to spend a few days than at Glacier National Park. The weather was our friend with sunny days.

There was quite a bit of snowpack to hike over but my intrepid husband in his trusty Chacos busted out the trail for me.

This awesome icebergy lake was our final destination.

There were plenty of waterfalls.

Also the glacier lilies were bursting out.

Dean didn’t like it when I jumped up and down on the bridge. I got that baby really swinging.

We had the bear spray and saw plenty of scat but the scariest animals we saw were lots of giant frogs.

Moving on to Alberta Canada we stayed a couple of days with our good friends Donna and Tom. Thanks guys for a great visit! We always love hanging around with your lovely smiley personalities.

Now we are officially on the Alaska Highway. This road was built in just a few months in 1942 by the military. The first 613 miles are in British Columbia, the second 577 miles are through the Yukon and the third 296 miles are through Alaska to Fairbanks. After the war it was open to the public and since then has been under constant improvements.

We saw a lot of wildlife along the upper part of British Columbia. There were plenty of bison lounging along the grassy verges.

A group of Stone sheep strolled by us.

They like to lick the salt from the roadsides.

We had to stop at Liard Hot Springs.

Nothing like a good sulphery soak after a long driving day.

We saw quite a few bears along the highway. One dashed across the road just as we came around a bend. It’s a relief to know our brakes are in good working order. I was very careful opening the cupboards that evening. This big guy just kept munching on dandelions and giving us the “eye”.

We had a big gravel day. Lots of frost heaves and long stretches of gravel road. The car is starting to get a bit grubby.

Watson Lake in the Yukon is a popular stop to check out the signpost forest.

There are supposed to be at least 88,000 signs from across the planet.

Alaska is just up the road a spell. The journey continues.

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St. George and Zion National Park

Sunday May 19th, 2019

Crikey! It seems like an age since I last posted. We have had a fun time in southern Utah. We sure love those red rocks. There has been quite a bit of rain in the area over the last month which makes for lovely pictures and some very red stained socks.

We hiked some of our favorite trails in the area including the bowl trail.

There are plenty of Mariposa lilies in bloom. The purple are so pretty and..

the yellow are lovely too.

Hedgehog Cactus are bursting forth in pink and…

orange.

The Prickly Pear is also busting out all over in pink goodness. The desert in spring is a spiky, thorny flowery paradise.

The views after a climb are a great reward.

Dean decided to harvest another Agave stalk to supplement our walking sticks.

We took the car for a wash and I saw the attached dog wash.

What a great idea. You can wash and blow dry the pooch and your car together.

We moved from St. George to Zion National park. It was packed with visitors but we managed a hike or two.

We had planned on a hike that started on the high part of the National Park but found the whole area snowed in. I don’t mind nipping over a few patches of the white stuff but not when its up past my ankles for as far as I can see.

Our two nippers came to stay with us for a few days. What a treat! It was all action with the lads around. They did all the action and we shuttled and fixed the grub. They found a great mountain biking trail with plenty of rocks to bounce over. Maya enjoyed following them.

A bit of bouldering was on the menu.

It’s always good if a brothers got your back when you try to wedge your fingers into tiny cracks.

I am all stretched out. Now what?

They even bought their paddle boards.

Jay has quite a balancing technique.

The Virgin River was flowing well due to all the rain.

The lads even got in some canyoneering. Many of the canyons were closed due to all the rain but thank goodness a couple were open. Those dry suits are handy for the cold snowmelt water in the canyons.

Some of the canyons are quite deep so the lads had to haul plenty of rope.

Maya was spoiled rotten the whole time.

Naughty dog! She was looking for Grandmas biscuits.

This picture is from 2011.

And here we are in 2019. We have had the green mini beast since 2004 and it’s still chugging along. It’s an elementary fact that we all love our Elements.

Thank you Dax and Jay for spending time with your old mum and dad.

We are back in St. George. The plan was to move north towards Canada but snow fall in Montana and Idaho have put a hold on that. It’s not very nice driving in rain but snow is really yucky. Been there, done that back in the day when working for a living and on a tight timetable.

Good job we are retired and have no set schedule. We are heading up to Alaska this summer. Flowers and wildlife here we come!

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Southern California and Nevada

Friday April 11th, 2019

It had rained quite a bit over the winter in Southern California so I was anxious to check out the wildflower blooms. Anza-Borrego State Park was our first stop. The flowers were nice but rather patchy.

There were pops of purple and pink but most of the blooms had finished. We had planned on visiting some other areas but it seemed a gazillion other people had the same idea and traffic jams and crowds were horrid.

We did find a nice little slot canyon to explore.

It was time to move on to Indio. We had a really great visit with our good friends Deb and Bill.

They gave us a boat ride around their RV Park on the mile long canal. I thought the Guiness boat was cute.

Our campsite had some citrus trees. It was lovely being able to smell the orange blossoms and pick the fruit.

We had a quick trip to see Jay and check out his new place. This tree in his garden was loaded with lemons. Time for some lemonade.

Moving up northeast of Bakersfield we started to see some flowery goodness.

What a comfy bed of flowers.

The foothills were covered in pink and

yellow.

We stopped in Las Vegas for a few days to get caught up on some shopping. Now this is what I call close quarters. The campground was in a convenient spot so we made do.

We have visited Las Vegas many time so didn’t bother with the glitz and glam thing of Casino city. However we never get tired of hiking in nature. Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is just outside Las Vegas and is well known for rock climbing, bouldering and hiking.

We had a great hike up through a stream bed.

There was lots of clambering and Dean having to pull me up over huge boulders. I just love all the colors and striations in the rocks of this area.

The sky was blue, the rocks were red, the hike was lovely and we picked up a pizza for dinner. What a day!

Moving up to Utah and a whole lot more red rock.

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Mexico

Saturday March 16th 2019

We have arrived back into the United States after a 6 week trip into Baja Mexico. Thankfully our southern neighbors made us very welcome. As you can see there is plenty of wall at the border of Calexico and Mexicali.

A little barbed wire for extra decoration.

Our campsite was very spacious and the views were smashing.

El Dorado Ranch covered a huge area. The swimming pools were spotless.

There were many different type of sites. Some people bought a lot and just attached a cover for their RV.

And some started to build a house and never finished it.

And others built pretty big spreads.

The Ranch almost went belly up in the recession. Many condos are just empty shells. These have windows but no walls.

The closest town of San Felipe was also was hit hard by the recession in the USA. Several hotels and condos that were being built for the visiting Americans and Canadians never got finished.

The desert was blooming nicely in our area when we first arrived

We tried some churros from a vendor at the local market. They were not as good as the ones in my memory from my time in Spain in 1974.

These cactus are sporting a nice hairy topknot.

We took a car trip down the Baja coast. There were many collapsed bridges and washed out roads from a hurricane a couple of years ago.

Sometimes we thought we had lost our way. This is definitely not roadworthy for the beast.

Finally after nearly 800 miles and three long days we arrived in Los Barriles. It was cocktail time several times over.

We had a couple of days pickle balling at the local resort.

We have never played on purple courts before.

Sharing the road is always interesting.

The highlight of the trip was a whale watching tour in Guerro Negro. These grey whales have travelled 7,000 miles from the Arctic down to Baja. The warm waters are home to mothers and babies during the winter.

The adults can reach lengths of 50 feet.

We were so happy that some of the mothers brought their babies up to the boat for us to pet.

Surprisingly their skin was rubbery soft, except for the barnacles that had attached themselves all over.

These huge mammals could have easily toppled the boat as they swam all around us. At one time we had a couple next to us and one under us. When you look over the side of the boat all you see is a whale body. Their massive size is awe inspiring, and their gentle nature which allowed us to stroke and scratch them was amazing. Thank you Grey Whales.

There has been a lot of Spring rain in southern California so we are hoping to check some good wildflower hikes.

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Yuma, Arizona

Thursday 31st January 2019

Our month stay in Yuma has gone by pretty fast. It was a project month. We recovered both our sofas.

After 11 years the old beasts interior was getting a bit bashed up. So we ordered new “skins” for our sofas. This was a lot cheaper than replacing both sofas, especially since the guts were still in good nick. We removed about 10 million staples and hog ties. Please, please someone invent an electric staple remover!

When finally done, we had a few cuts and bruises and plenty of blisters from the pitiful staple removing tool.

Then it was time to redo the slide out floor.

Another few cuts and bruises and we got the floor done, or should I say Dean got the floor done. I was the gofer on this project. I think the refinished floor and sofa look quite nice.

We were thrilled to see our good friends from Canada. A whole day of non stop laughs. Thanks you lovely Canuksters.

Dean, Donna, Tom, Tom, Jan, Rose

Another couple of good visits with our Oregonian friends.

Dean, Leroy, Rose, CarolAnne

We were happy to squeeze in a hike around Muggins Mountain.

We had a nice day out in Quartzsite. This area is dead as a doornail in the summer, but come winter it is a busy town. Thousands of campers pitch up out in the nearby desert.

The RV show was finishing up but it was interesting looking at all the stalls. There were plenty of people enjoying adult beverages.

We are moving on to San Felipe in Mexico tomorrow. This will be the first time we have taken the beast across the southern border. Mama Mia!!!

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Indio, California

Tuesday January 1st 2019

Dean and I wish you all a very happy holiday season. May 2019 bring goodwill, good health and happiness to us all.

We racked up nearly 9 ,000 miles this year in the Beast.  It was time to renew our South Dakota drivers licenses which we have to do in person once every five years. It was a good opportunity to visit Deans brother Monty and his lovely spouse Kathy in Chicago and also check out old family homesteads in Iowa. We even made a quick trip into Canada to visit good friends Tom and Jan.

Of course we managed to seek out three National Parks that we had never visited in the Northeast. Only two left in the lower 48 States and those are in Colorado. There are 60 National Parks altogether and we have managed to explore 50 so far, and many of them multiple times.  We plan on driving back to Alaska this year so hope to snag a couple more on that trip.

Dean and I  finally deleted our Facebook accounts. With the breaches, hacks and unwanted advertising it got to be a hassle.  Sorry to miss any news and pictures you may post.  However you can always catch up us with through this blog or email. I have a new email address: rosekirkwood@me.com

I always enjoy seeing the huge windmill farms as we come through the Pass into the Palm Springs area. The Gorgonia Pass is one of the windiest places in California. 

Jay and Maya  popped down for a one day visit. We went on a pretty neat hike that had some ladders and twisty bits. Maya was in her element.

I was surprised how calm she was being hauled up ladders….

…and belayed down cliffs.

This hike was like a moonscape.

On another hike we found this bubbling stream which is unusual for the desert.

It flowed into a small oasis of California Fan Palms.

We were very happy Jay and Maya managed to spend a few days with us over Christmas. It was so much fun hiking the slots with them both.

Lots of scrambling through the narrow bits.

Of course we had Jay carry all the water and food on the hikes. Deans back appreciated the rest.

There have been many beautiful winter sunsets lately.  This is the pretty view from our campsite.  We are facing a nice little golf course.

Jay got to practice his short game. The Beast is in the background.

I made pumpkin and peanut butter dog biscuits for Maya and she enjoyed every one.

We had a tiny rainfall a couple of weeks back and now some lovely color is popping up in the desert.

Goodbye California, moving on to Yuma in Arizona. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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