2019 Summary

Sunday 29th December, 2019

First of all Dean and I wish you a very Merry Holiday Season. May 2020 bring you happiness and the joy of good health.

We travelled quite a few miles this year. We drove the Beast over 10,600 miles from Mexico to Alaska with Canada and America in between. Beauty got driven another 11,500 miles after the 10,600 being towed. After 73 campground stops we have finally settled into a park in Indio California. We will be here until the end of March. I am sure we will be ready to pull in the slide outs and start some new explorations by then.

Beauty and the Beast.

A Few Highlights from 2019

Whale petting on the Baja coast of Mexico was definitely exciting.

These gentle mammals were so friendly.

Southern California had a beautiful spring flower display.

A layover in Zion National Park with our lads was definitely a major highlight.

They had a busy time paddle boarding, canyoneering…

rock climbing and bike riding.

We are still a Honda Element family.

Glacier National Park was a great stopover. There was plenty of snow to hike over…

and lots of gushing waterfalls.

Our drive through lovely Canada was a wildlife delight.

Even though the roadworks were plentiful in Alaska the scenery was spectacular.

I got to snack on icebergs.

And watched sea otters snack on salmon.

Valdez was so picturesque.

It was all going well until the wildfires started. The rest of our trip was a lot of this. Smoky skies blocking all the wonderful views. Breathing in the smoke was not good either.

We made a fast track back to Washington State which was free of summer wildfires.

We had some fabulous hiking in North Cascades National Park.

The mountains were gobstopping.

Goat rocks Wilderness area was covered in wildflowers. The Lupines had a lovely fragrance.

We love alpine hiking.

We had a leisurely trip down the California coastline. Monterey is very popular with budding artists.

It also has very nice benches.

We moved down to San Diego For Christmas expecting some lovely warm sunny weather. It was great for a quick second.

As soon as we had arranged for Dax to fly in and Jay drive down the weather went belly up. It was rain jackets and all the wintery clothing we could scrape up.

The lads were good sports. We spent most of the week in the camper. Monopoly and some good movies helped.

We had one sunny day and it seemed like a good idea to give surfing a go.

Jay’s dog Maya was all for it. However it was too cold and the waves too big for much enjoyment.

Thanks lads for hanging with Mom and Dad.

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Mount Rainier and Goat Rocks

Wednesday 4th September 2019

We managed to get a bit of good hiking on the back side of Mount Rainier National Park and were happy it was not crowded. A prior day trip to the main flower area on the other side of the park had been a dead loss. The flowers were mostly done and the trail was packed.

Mount Rainier still had quite a bit of snow.

Ahh! back to flowery goodness.

That’s more like it. The lupines were covering the hillsides and had such a delicate scent.

Another day we hiked in the Goat Rocks Wilderness. We never saw any goats but the flowers were prolific. That’s Mount Adams in the background.

As usual Dean found a comfy spot for his nap after the huge hike up the mountainside.

I love the Pasqueflower when it’s gone to seed.

We had just passed a fairly green area and thought the flowers were done but this lovely display was on the other side of the mountain.

The water was so pretty in this caldera.

My last view of the flower hillside. Such a great day.

Our campground had an abundance of blackberry bushes. They were delicious on our cereal and…

a few pounds made it into my jam jars.

Mount St. Helens is always a fun place to hike. Many parts are finally greening up after the massive volcano erupted and flattened the whole area in 1980.

The area around Spirit Lake still looks barren.

There was plenty of water flowing down the mountain from melting glaciers but the high pumice and ash content of the soil made it hard for any vegetation to get a foothold in this area.

Thank you Washington. We had a great time hiking in your lovely mountains. On to Oregon.

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North Cascades National Park, Washington

Saturday 17th August 2019

We had a lovely week in North Cascades National Park. We had wanted to visit here last year but wildfires in the area put the kibosh on that idea. Thank goodness we have not been near any fires since leaving Alaska.

Our first big hike was a ten miler with 3,000 foot elevation gain. The lovely scenery spurred me on. Our destination was Hidden Lake.

There were plenty of cool shrooms on the wooded area of the trail.

Once we reached higher elevations the flowers started showing their beauty.

From spotted lilies to….

Delicate columbines.

The bees were also enjoying the flowery goodness.

Getting closer to the top of the trail.

I can see why it’s called Hidden Lake, tucked away in the mountain tops. What a great place for lunch.

We needed a laid back day after our burly hike or least my old lady legs did. We wandered around some giant cedar trees. Dean likes to take a rest wherever he can find it.

Yes! I am a tree hugger.

Our campground had several plum trees.

We love free fruit for the picking.

Add a couple of frozen bananas and we had seriously good smoothies.

A bit of plum jam and more smoothie fixings. Score.

Our feet and legs were feeling good so on to lengthy hike number 2.

This beast was a 12 miler and also had serious elevation gain but the views were spectacular.

A couple of wild mountain goats bounded into view. They were so cute.

Dean found a smashing nap spot.

We enjoyed watching the gamboling goats.

I found a flowery bed for my rest.

Time to move on for the last stretch.

We made it to the fabulous top.

One of the goats was waiting for another pic on the way down.

I took a tumble on the last part of the trail and fell on my awesome hiking stick. I felt worse about the busted stick than my scrapes and bruises.

Dean had snagged me a great Agave stalk back in St. George, Utah a couple of years ago. With some wood burning and paint I had a nice blingy hiking stick.

Glue and clamps to the rescue. Thanks Dean for performing life saving surgery on my stick.

Onwards to Mount Rainier.

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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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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…


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


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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