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Old 07-09-2010, 12:00 AM   #141
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totally enjoying your trip and pictures.Thanks
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Old 07-09-2010, 02:34 AM   #142
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Thursday. Maestro, play “Unchained Melody” and follow with “Chain of Fools”. This morning one truck tire was flat. I filled it to see what would happen and saw a suspicious object—was it a staple (the largest one I’ve ever seen if so—1/4” in diameter) or a piece of sharp stone? Stone would be really bad because it can cut a long slit and be hard to repair and impossible with my tire plug kit. A staple would mean 2 holes, but repairable.

We had breakfast. After, the tire was holding air, but leaking a little. That meant I could drive it a 1/2 mile to get it fixed, but at breakfast I had found out the tire guy there had retired.

So I pulled the tire and manipulating the suspicious object proved it was the culprit. Now to get it out. A screwdriver to lever it out could hardly move it, but 2 screwdrivers got it moved enough to get a vise grip on it. This took about an hour. I could not pull it out. with the vise grip. It was wedged in and the steel cords tend to hold objects in a tire. Finally I decided to try some sort of lever—wedging the claw end of a hammer into the side of a visegrip finally pulled it out.

It was a chain link, or actually half of it, probably broken off tire chains. Road grading pulls up things that have been buried in the dirt and some lucky driver gets to take one home. I had hit it just right, but the tire had held air 'til we got back to Chicken, so that was good. After that, it was easy to put the plug in, but the compressor wasn’t compressing right—the end that fits on the valve stem was leaking. Another thing to fix and that took some time. But it got done, and we left at 11:30 for a 350 mile drive to Haines Junction. The plug held. Our record of driving on Arctic and subArctic roads without a flat has been broken.

Another bumpy ride down the Taylor Hwy, then the smoother Alaska Hwy until a 20 minute wait before the border for construction. A quick ride through Canadian Customs, then a bumpy ride to Destruction Bay, Yukon, and a smooth ride to Haines Jct. We arrived here at Kluane RV Park 8 hours after we left. Wifi works well here; it didn’t last year. No place for trash and they say they have nowhere to dispose of it. Where do they put their own?

We kept on schedule and feel ok after a difficult start to the day and a long ride. It got up to 77˚—so hot to us we had to run the A/C for a while. It rained on and off, so that felt kind of normal. Tomorrow we got back to Haines in SE Alaska, rain and cool temps. Lousy weather is beginning to feel normal. We fear when we get back to Colorado where the temps are in the mid 80’s, we will die.

Gene
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Old 07-09-2010, 05:26 AM   #143
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You've had a grand trip, Gene, and thanks for sharing.

Have a safe and uneventful drive home.

Maggie
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Old 07-09-2010, 11:54 PM   #144
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Friday. The sun was shining again as we left Haines Jct. and a smooth ride to Haines. These smooth roads could spoil us. Many mountains, fewer rivers and pretty meadows. As we got closer to the coast range, the clouds got thicker, the mountains got higher and there was more snow on them. After the Haines Hwy Summit, more than 3,000’, we began a long descent to the wet side of the mountains, the Chilkat River and Haines.

But first we had to deal with the Fruit Police. Obviously we are now on a US Customs list as fruit criminals. We expect to be pulled over and inspected every time we come back to the US. Last time we went through this they let us keep fruit we brought in the US, but not this time. Barb and I both got out of the truck at the same time to open the trailer door, but we were sternly told “only one needs to get out”. What was she going to do to them in front of the inspection station with two Fruit Police standing there? They won’t let you go in your trailer with them to make sure they don’t break anything either. They seem to be afraid of citizens. They stole nectarines we bought in Palmer, Alaska. One agreed with me it was a dumb rule, but she doesn’t make the laws.

They never asked about what we bought in Canada. Customs used to be concerned with that, but now it’s fruit that is America’s enemy. Next time we go to re-enter the US I’m sure we’ll be inspected for fruit as we are probably on the computer as fruit eaters.

Thousands of bald eagles congregate along the Chilkat River in the Fall when the salmon are running there. Despite having to come to Haines 3 times now, we’ve never been here at the right time.

The Hammer Museum was open and was interesting to me, less so to Barb. They have a bicycle made of hammers outside and they claim 1,400 hammers on display, though I am not so sure about that. The woman there told me where the good restaurants were and we went to the Mexican one, Mosey’s Cantina. Last time we were here it was a natural foods place and we were seated and then ignored; we left. This was different. The new owners are from New Mexico and the food was very good. They got too busy for the one waitress though. There’s a good natural foods store, Mountain Market, and an IGA, so we stocked up with American fruit and other supplies.

We are at Port Chilkoot Camper Park behind the Hotel Halsingland. The hotel is part of a fort that was here long ago and is a funky, but well kept old building. We stayed there in 2006. The RV park is in the trees, has full hookups, and looks kind of seedy, but has lots of trees. We like trees rather than gravel parking lot campgrounds. It is better for us than other campgrounds here, though hard to park in. Not everyone would like it, but is was cheaper than others. The old fort buildings are being slowly restored and turned into businesses. The Chamber of Commerce very actively promotes the town. The setting is marvelous on the Lynn Canal, not a canal, but a very long estuary stretching upstream to Skagway. It is a real town, though spread out and with a confusing street system.

Gene

Photos:

#1 Just west of the Haines Highway Summit.
#2 The Hammer Museum.
#3 The hammer bicycle.
#4 The Museum is in an old house and hammers, mallets, nail guns, axes and such are all considered hammers. People mail them hammers or leave them on the steps when they aren't open.
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Old 07-10-2010, 12:42 AM   #145
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Hi, the hammer museum looks interesting. Are you going to be able to go back to the toaster museum or have you already passed it or on different route?
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Old 07-10-2010, 03:49 PM   #146
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Alas, we are going back by a different route. The toaster museum is in Stewart, BC, and off the Cassiar Hwy. We are going back via the Alaska all the way to the beginning (or end) at Dawson Creek, BC. But, someday, we must return. We have been told there's another toaster museum somewhere in the midwest US, so maybe we have to do both. I will certainly keep toaster fans alerted to our search. Those old toasters would last decades, now the new ones last a few years.

Gene
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Old 07-10-2010, 07:34 PM   #147
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Hi Gene
I am really enjoying your travel log and hope to someday make the trip to Alaska.

Well today we blew out one of the Goodyear Marithons on our Airstream. How are your Michelens holding up. I am planning to replace all four tires with new ones and know that the Michelen brand is extremely reliable since I had 88,000 miles on my Ford F150 before replacing them.

Thanks in advance and keep the travel log coming.

Dennis
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Old 07-11-2010, 10:58 PM   #148
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Dennis, the Michelins are fine. They don't lose air like Marathons and are wearing well. We are happy with them.

Gene
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Old 07-11-2010, 11:08 PM   #149
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Sunday. Saturday in Haines was buying more food for the next week, looking around the former Fort William Seward, spending time at a jewelry store talking to the town’s several times former mayor and taking it a bit easy for the long drive home. Former mayor Fred Shields is an iconoclast which meant I got along fine with him. We went to the place up the Chilcoot River where bears congregate when the salmon are running, but it was a bit too early in the year. We did see a cool rainbow over the Lynn Canal on the way.

The Fort was built early in the 1900’s after the gold rush was over, but it was felt Alaska needed an army presence. They imported wood and carpenters from the the lower 48 and built some really nice buildings—and a lot of them—in an area that is still somewhat rustic today. After WW II they decommissioned the Fort and it was bought by a group of vets who wanted to make a community out of it. They started some businesses as a co-op. The co-op didn’t work out but 5 of the 6 original families stuck it out and some still live there.

More people are moving to Haines because it’s still mellow, has a community interested in thre arts, there are lots of recreational opportunities, the setting is beautiful and the weather isn‘t as bad as further south in SE Alaska. But you still have to go pretty far for some things. So far as driving goes, the border is 40 miles away and sometimes crossing can be a hassle.

We crossed the border withoiut incident, but the young Canadian border guy was distracted by repeated mosquito attacks. He looked like he’d had a rough night or was hungover. And, despite his troubles, he was a lot nicer than the US people.

The road is mostly smooth from here on. We stopped in Whitehorse for more food and made it to Dawson Peaks Resort well before they close. We’re in the same site we were 6+ weeks ago and the wifi is better. We’ve had a good meal and are parked next to another Airstream. Suddenly we are seeing a lot more of them. Carolyn and Dave are getting tired of running a restaurant—it’s been since the ‘90’s—and this is the last year for the restaurant. That’s sad because the food’s good, but running a restaurant is a tough business.

Tomorrow we go to Liard Hot Springs, a perfect break in a long drive. If we keep driving a lot each day, we get home a week from tomorrow, just as planned. If we slow down a little, a day late, which is ok. Now I have to get the screen door open—as we left the trailer, the latch broke in half and I’ll have to pry it open with a screwdriver. Another example of what happens when a company starts to cheapen it’s product and starts damaging it’s reputation.

Gene

Photos:

#1 The officer's houses at the Fort.
#2 The present day hotel which was the captains quarters and the CO's quarters.
#3 In the parade ground there has been built a replica Klingit lodge. It was closed when we were there. The building in the background is place where people learn and do wood carving and there is a shop with some very nice prints. It was also closed. Four years ago we bought 2 prints there.
#4 The rainbow over the Lynn Canal.
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Old 07-12-2010, 12:10 AM   #150
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Hi Gene,

Just noticed your posting on Alaska trip. Great photos. My brother-in-law is the harbor master in Homer and nephew is a captain of a halibut charter boat. It's a pretty nice town I think with many things to see and do. They love Alaska and would never move back to the lower 48. Certainly a different lifestyle, slow paced and much natural beauty. Looks like you had a great road trip.
Julie B
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Old 07-13-2010, 11:06 PM   #151
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Monday. Since we want to get home in a week, we got off to an early start at 11 am. Since we are still on Alaska time instead of Pacific time, it was a really 10 to us though to no one else. We had our last meal at Dawson Peaks. I asked Dave whether they would still sell pies once they close the restaurant since they are well known for rhubarb pie, but he said “Pies die!”. Carolyn gets worn to a frazzle by the restaurant, so this is the best thing for them.

The forecast was for temps dropping during the day to 9˚C. (“C” for Canadian; even when it’s warm they like to feel cold)) which in US terms is 48˚ (sounds warmer doesn’t it?) and rain. We were looking forward to the hot springs, and cool temps are ok, but rain is not. After a couple of hours on the road, the rains came as we were stopped for one of those “20” minute construction stops that stretch out longer somehow. The temp has stayed in the lower 50’s.

By this time we realized we would have to can the hot springs and travel on to Muncho Lake. This makes tomorrow’s drive a little shorter. About this time in a trip, Barb is itching to get home and I’m not. I think, “why not take it a little slower, enjoy the wilderness, not beat ourselves to death and who cares if we get home a day late? We’re retired, aren’t we?” This seems quite reasonable to me and I express my feelings and logic clearly and convincingly to my very smart spouse knowing she will see the wisdom. Then she tells me what to do and we drive farther trying to get home faster. The honeymoon never ends.

We’ve seen a few black bears in the past week, but by now they are nothing to us. But today we saw wood buffalo. I know they are supposed to be called bison now, but I don’t care (and Pluto is still a planet too!). Wood buffalo are different than plains buffalo, but they look pretty much the same to me. I think they have darker fur.

We stopped at Muncho Lake Lodge & RV Park, a work in progress. It had been called J&H and before that Muncho Lake Lodge, but closed down 4 years ago. The Lodge is still closed, but the RV park is now reopened. The new owners are fixing it up and there’s a long way to go, but you can see the lake from here. It has full hookups and costs $45 for 30 amp. This is expensive, but the fancy place a mile down the road is $58. It's muddy, people don't clean up after their dogs and the sewer adapter doesn't fit. Next time I'll keep driving.

Muncho Lake seems to have copper oxide leaching into the water and is a deep green and blue. So is the river that comes from it. I don’t know whether it is also glacier fed, but this water is not so grey as glacial lakes. It’s a strange looking lake, especially when the sun is shining. The sun, of course, has been mostly absent from our lives for quite a while. But it could be worse—I checked the weather forecast for home and it says temps will be around 100˚ later this week. I think that is far higher than normal—most we’ve seen there is around 90-92˚.

We are having night again. It does get dark. We liike that. I also experiencing no-see-ums. These are little guys that (obviously, are hard to see) and they bite or sting or something. The welts are smaller than mosquitos, but itch ar least as much and seem to last longer. At least you have chance with mosquitos—you can usually see or hear them and they are pretty easy to kill. It’s best to not be in the north country in July or August unless you like this, or are like Barb (who insisted we travel well into July) who has not gotten any mosquito or no-see-ums bites. None. I repeat, None. While I am supposed to be happy for her, I am not. I confess to bad thoughts about her not sharing this Alaska/Yukon experience.

We have been in Indian territory a lot of the time. You would hardly know it as a tourist except for the Indian crafts sold everywhere. Sometimes you see them working in stores. They appear to own some of them. Mostly what you see is white culture and whites running lodging and restaurants and tourist attractions. Yet, in many small towns, the majority is Indian, or, in Canada, First Nations. In Canada the highways are constantly rebuilt and straightened, and are routed around the Indian towns. This reduces opportunities for them to make money off highway traffic. Perhaps this is just insensitivity, or maybe the Indians want to keep their villages off the tourist routes. It does act to keep them invisible to us.

Tomorrow we travel 386 miles to Ft. St. John, just 45 miles short of the end of the Alaska Hwy. Most of this stretch, and many miles before, is barely populated and at times becomes a blur of trees and more trees. It’s 414 miles to Edmonton from there and it becomes more like a job to get home.

Gene

Photos: I'm having trouble sending them. I'll try to send them separately.
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Old 07-14-2010, 05:54 AM   #152
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No-see-ums are the WORST! Evil little critters. There may be something in the soap you use that they particularly like. Herbaria anti-bug products do keep them away.

Travel safe,

Maggie
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Old 07-14-2010, 08:20 AM   #153
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#1 Wood buffalo.
#2 Herd of same.
#3 Baby wood buffalo.
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Old 07-14-2010, 09:54 AM   #154
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Thanks again for your documentary, Gene, always an interesting read. The baby Buffalo reminded me that baby anythings are cute.

As for "Indians", here's what they are called, according to an article on the City of Toront website:
Aboriginal Peoples

Aboriginal Identity refers to those persons who reported identifying with at least one Aboriginal group (North American Indian, Métis or Inuit), or those who reported being a Treaty Indian or a Registered Indian as defined by the Indian Act of Canada, or those who reported they were members of an Indian band or First Nation.
In the US and Canada, they are only called "Indians" because Chris Columbus called them that, mistakenly thinking that he had found India, when it was just Florida.
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