My blog about knitting, teaching, and being a mother to two energetic young boys.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

More D.C. & Time with Family

We've made it back to our friend's house in Milwaukee, WI. After leaving D.C., we journeyed north to my Aunt's house in New Jersey, spend a day in the Big Apple, camped in Pennsylvania, and then drove and spent 2 nights in Chicago. We've covered a lot of ground. We've been so busy that I haven't had the energy to update the blog or to report on knitting progress. I'll do a quick recap of our remaining time in D.C. & happily report I've finished 2 knitting projects (TWO!!) with a third just a bind-off away. I hope to get some breathing room in the next day or so for a quick photo shoot & then some posts. Knitters, stay tuned!

Our last couple of days in D.C. were spent visiting the capitol and spending time with my sister. Since she lives so far away from Anchorage (which we hope she'll fix, soon!), it was a nice treat just to hang out with her. (Who knew I'd say such a thing - I can remember wicked arguments when we were growing up) :0)

After reading Dan Brown's book, The Lost Symbol, I really wanted to go & see the capitol rotunda. So our first stop was the capitol building. Both the House & Senate had adjourned for the day (flags were not flying over their respective buildings). The Capitol building is magnificent. When you enter you have an opportunity to visit a museum of types to understand the history of congress and learn more about the capitol itself. However, if you want to venture further into the building, you either have to wait in a very long line to obtain tickets, or have an "insider" (say, your congressman/woman) escort you. We were not prepared for either, so I had to be satisfied with the mock-up of the painting on the capitol's dome. Oh well - perhaps another time. FYI: The dome is made from iron and can expand/contract as much as 4 inches in extreme weather conditions. Wow!

Our next stop on our whirlwind tour was the National Botanical Gardens. Not a big hit with the kids, but very pretty. It was on the way to the focus of the days' visit: The Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum.

Again - the Smithsonian outdoes themselves with so much cool artifacts of our nation. I was overwhelmed. Highlights of the Air & Space Museum were the lunar module from Apollo 11 and the Wright Brothers first plane. I particularly liked their exhibit for Eastern Airlines (now defunct) requirements for being a flight attendant:

  • Female (check!)
  • At least 2 years of college or a nursing degree (check!)
  • Between 5' 2" and 5' 6" (check - barely!)
  • Single (oops...)
  • Weigh somewhere between 100 and 135 lbs (pushing it...)
  • Be of adequate proportions, somewhere below "Hollywood Standards" (their words, not mine)
So - looks like back in the60's and 70's I would not have been able to make a career as a flight attendant (an earlier aspiration of mine...) Wade figured that mostly businessmen were flying, so the airlines wanted to provide a little "eye candy" while they were on board.

Does this image look familiar?
After the air & space museum, we hightailed it over to the Natural History museum - setting for the "Night at the Museum, part II" movie. During the summer the Smithsonian museums stay open until 7:30, so we took advantage of the time. Of course, we didn't arrive here until 6:30 pm, so it was a true zip,zip,zip tour of the museum. The docents and security guards were great about ushering everyone out of the building so that we wouldn't have to spend the night with creatures such as:

Ahh!! What a tasty snack!

Okay - I'm actually posting from our campsite in Nebraska (The Good Life!) & Wade is anxious to get back on the road for another 600+ mile day. Our goal is to arrive in Sacramento the night of the 10th (happy birthday to me!) so that we'll be able to watch the final game of the World Cup (Go Netherlands!!) on Sunday morning. Hopefully I'll find some energy to really update this blog of our journey & adventures.

Until then.. Ciao & Happy Travels!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Washington D.C. - Day 2

For lack of any title creativity, I figured I'd just stick with description.

Day 2: June 24, 2010 - We venture into the city...

Since we had just visited an air & space museum, I convinced the boys to visit a different themed museum & then we'd go to the air & space on our 3rd day.

Highlights of Day 3:

  • Record heat for the D.C. area. It was well over 100°F with humidity. We greatly appreciated the air conditioning, but found the heat really drains you when you're walking between monuments.

The boys' first foray on the Metro. Since Springfield was the first stop on the blue line, we were able to get seats. This was not the case for our return trip as we boarded the Metro during peak rush hour & had to stand for most of the journey. This was not a big hit with an 8-year old who was hot, tired, and thirsty.

  • The National Museum of American History was the first stop of our day. We spent most of our day here, as the museums are so large it's difficult to see all that D.C. has to offer. Due to the enormity of the museum, we concentrated our visit on personal interests:
Julia Child's Kitchen: After seeing the movie Julie & Julia w/my BKFF, I just had to check this out. It was very impressive - the collection of pots & pans, cookbooks, & custom fitted counter tops to accommodate Julia's above average height.

We spent some time within the inventions area of the museum & had that chance to see Stanford's entry into the DARPA challenge. A fully autonomous vehicle - pretty cool!

Inventions - Including Thomas Edison's light bulb & lab notebooks. However - I was on information overload at the moment, so I opted to visit an exhibit I thought the boys' wouldn't be too interested in: the First Ladies' exhibit. Mary Todd Lincoln's dress was amazing - such a tiny waist. It is now tradition that the First Lady donates the dress she wore at the inauguration to the Smithsonian. Michelle Obama's dress and Jimmy Choo shoes are prominently on display as she is the current first lady. I didn't take photos - so enjoy via the aforementioned link.

After spending several hours at the museum we decided to brave the heat & humidity and walk along the Mall to visit some of the memorials:

The Alaska pillar at the World War II Monument

At the end of the Mall we visited The Lincoln Memorial. My BKFF says I was to rub Lincoln's left foot for good luck. Couldn't do that as his statue was way up high & behind ropes. So - I hope good luck comes nonetheless.

Near the Lincoln Memorial is the Vietnam Veterans' Memorial. This is a special place for me as my father was killed in Vietnam in December 1970. I have no memories of him as I was only an infant. Fortunately for me - my mother & step-father made sure I maintained a close relationship with my paternal grandparents & family. My father's sister is one of my favorite people in the world.

Grandchildren he never got to meet in person, although I'm sure he's smiling down on them. My oldest looks uncannily like his biological grandfather. I know he would be proud of these 2 boys.

Capt. James R. Heimbold, Dec. 4, 1970

By the time we'd finished walking the length of the Mall & visiting the Lincoln & Vietnam memorials, we were pooped & ready to head back to Virginia.

A good first day in our nation's capitol.


Houston, The Roaches Have Landed....

I thought it time to perhaps bring the blog up to "real-time" (or a close approximation) & then recount our days prior. After spending a few days with friends in Milwaukee & driving for a couple more days, we've finally reached our penultimate destination: our nation's capitol: Washington D.C.

My sister & her family live in northern Virginia & allowed us to use their home as a base for our trip. (Thanks Aurora, Brian, Sydney & Baby-to-come Bilbo Baggins) We would drive to the "nearby" Metro Station & take the blue line into the city.

I hadn't been to D.C. since my college roommate & I visited back in 1991. There are a few new memorials (Korean, World War II), but one thing certainly did not change - the oppressive heat & humidity. Oy-Vay! Fortunately our tax dollars are well at work providing "free" admission & adequate air conditioning in the major attractions & Metro.

Day 1: June 23

  • After breakfast & yummy coffee we watched the nail-biting U.S. vs Nigeria game. Wow - I think I aged 30 years during that 90 minute match & thought my heart was going to leap out of my chest! We were very excited that the U.S. team was able to win their group & make it to the elimination Round of 16.
  • Since we were getting a bit of a late start, rather than commute into the city which would take about an hour, we opted to visit the "nearby" Smithsonian Udvar-Hazy Air & Space museum. This is the 'hanger' of the Air & Space museum & houses tons of aircraft that couldn't fit in the regular Air & Space museum off the Mall in D.C. Big named aircrafts that were on display included the "SR-71A blackbird", A Concorde, The Enola Gay, and a test space shuttle "Enterprise". It was pretty impressive & a big hit with two young boys.
SR-71A Blackbird

The Enterprise

An Interactive Flight Simulator - the boys actually went upside down!

The visit to the Udvar-Hazy was a nice way to begin our trip to D.C.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Day 9: Welcome to Wisconsin!

On June 17 we finally arrived in Wisconsin. As we were still a few hours away from Milwaukee, we decided to stop in the Wisconsin Dells area. We camped at "Rocky Arbor" state campground - a welcome change from the "campground/RV parks" we encountered off the highway in Saskatchewan & ND. Lots of trees, the ability to have a campfire, & limited highway noise.

As usual - the evening was very pleasant - clear skies & nice temperatures. However, sometime in the night that changed. I woke up to wind & water blowing into the van (we sleep with the back up so as to have fresh air - similar to a tent atmosphere; the boys sleep up top). I told Wade that rain was blowing in, to which he replied "Oh - it can't be that bad" (basically "suck it up"). He soon realized the wind was picking up & the rain turned into a downpour - complete with *you guessed it* thunder & lightening. So - my knight in shining armor got out of the van to shut the back. This entails a bit more work as you have to first swing the bike rack out of the way. Add to the scenario the torrential downpour & lightening & you have a recipe for a very irritated hubby. We had to speedily shut windows & zip up the "upstairs" vents to keep the water out. It was pretty amazing how quickly the storm came through. We were very happy to be in a vehicle & not in a tent.

Being "south" in the summer is very different from Alaska. For example - it gets dark here!

We chose to spend most of Day 10 visiting a popular attraction of the Wisconsin Dells - the water parks! We went to "Noah's Ark" which is apparently the largest water park in the U.S. No photos from that outing: digital cameras & water don't mix. We had a great time riding the waves - a nice break from the car & fun way to spend the day in the warm temperatures. After fun at the park, we loaded up the van & headed to our first major destination: Casa de Sivils in Milwaukee, WI

Ciao & Happy Travels!

Mileage Begin:
Mileage End: 109,778
Total Miles Day 9: 533 (finally - a 500 mile day!!)
Miles from home: 3,145
Tunes du Jour: "Prey" by Michael Crichton audiobook (oy-vay: lot's of "f-bombs!")
Knitting Project: More of Kiama
Gas Total: 32.342 gallons
Total Cost: $88.41 US

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Day 7 - Day 8: Making Progress

I know - it's been a while since I've updated you on our cross-country journey, leaving many of you wondering "where are you"? Perhaps I really did decide to move to Edmonton & I'm now sitting inside the Muttart Conservatory sipping coffee.

Nah - it's just that once we left Edmonton, driving east through Canada didn't afford much blog fodder. Once we arrived in Wisconsin, we were busy enjoying the company of our friends & the luxury of unconfined space that I didn't update the blog. I'll remedy that now....

Day 7: Calgary to Regina, Saskatchewan

Highlights: Ummmm...... lots of flat, grassy, expanses of land. I think I saw a sign that said we were driving through the "Badlands" of Canada.

Our view for hundreds of miles...

Wildlife: (Besides the creatures in the backseat?) Prairie Dogs - lots of Prairie Dogs.

Mileage Begin: 108,256
Mileage End:
Total Miles Day 7: 493
Miles from home: 2,156
Tunes du Jour: "Enders Game" audio book
Knitting Project: More of Kiama & SeaLettuce Scarf
Gas Total: 31.74 gallons
mpg: 15.53 (??)
Total Cost:
$116.24 (Canadian)

Day 8: Saskatchewan to Grand Forks, ND USA!

Highlights: Being able to skirt Winnepeg & it's crazy traffic. Having a perimeter highway around major cities is a brilliant idea! Crossing back into the US. The border station guards in North Dakota were quite nice. Views along the highway - much of the same: flat!

We drove as far as Grand Forks, ND & found a campground within the city limits. The evening was clear & nice, so we opted to disembark the bicycles & go for a bike ride along a long, flat, dirt road located next to the campground. Good thing we rode in the evening, because when we woke up it was pouring rain w/thunder & lightening - so much for a morning ride to the Starbucks that was close by. :0)

Mileage Begin: 108,749
Mileage End: 109,245
Total Miles Day 8: 496 (the 500 mile day alludes us again...)
Miles from home: 2,649
Tunes du Jour: "Enders Game" on audiobook
Knitting Project: Sea Lettuce Scarf
Gas Total: 17.78 gallons
Total Cost:
$65.21 (Canadian)

Next stop: Wisconsin! Ciao & Happy Travels!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Day 6:Enjoying Edmonton

After blasting through most of the communities in the Yukon & northern BC, we decided to slow down a bit and enjoy Edmonton, the capital city of Alberta. Wade's always hesitant regarding big cities and being thrust into the masses of humanity, but I thought it'd be a shame to just blow on through this city. The Milepost had lots to say about Edmonton & vivid photos of some the major attractions, so we thought we'd stop.

Edmonton is home to the West Edmonton Mall - the largest mall in North America with over 800 stores. We had no desire to wander around stores that we can find in the U.S., so we decided to visit the Muttart Conservatory. This attraction piqued our interest because it's composed of four glass pyramids that reminded me of the glass pyramid entrance outside of the Louvre in Paris. Each of the glass pyramids showcase plants from different biomes of the world. Temperate, Arid, and Tropical plants are on display year round. The fourth pyramid was called the "Feature" pyramid whose display changes around five times each year. During our visit several species of geraniums were on display.

If I had a budget that would allow, I'd love to remodel my home so that part of it housed a glass pyramid with spectacular plant displays such as the ones we saw here. They were absolutely gorgeous. I think the temperate pyramid was my favorite as not only was it visually appealing, but pleased the olfactory senses as well. I told Orion that I was going to move to Edmonton & buy the house that was for sale across the street (the conservatory is located in a nice residential area with access to a large green park & the city's bike trails) & visit every morning while I drink my coffee. He was like "Are you serious, mom? You're going to move here?!?" I assured him I was not - it was just a statement on how peaceful and nifty the conservatory was.

Since Edmonton also has one of the largest series of Urban parks in North America (according to the Milepost it's 22 times larger than New York's Central Park) & we'd brought our bicycles, we thought a bike ride throughout the park would be a nice way to get some long sought after exercise. We only biked for about 30 minutes (hunger was taking hold), but it was great. Much of the trail reminded me of the Coastal Trail in Anchorage. What I really enjoyed was how dedicated the city was to pedestrians and cyclists - in addition to vehicular bridges, there were several bridges over the Saskatchewan river dedicated solely to pedestrians and bicycles.

We ended our visit by having a very late lunch/early dinner at an English pub located in the Strathmore historic district. It had great food & was dedicated to football. Flags, jerseys, and scarves from the English Premiere League decorated the wall. It was too late to watch any WC matches (they were over earlier in the day), so instead we watched a rugby match between the U.S. and England. Wade had played rugby while in high school, so was able to explain the convoluted rules. Did you know when you score in rugby it's called a "try". I find this hilarious - calling it a 'try" instead of a "do". :0)

A quick visit into a shop to stimulate Edmonton's economy (the boys each purchased a leather bound sketch book & I found a fun "Hello Kitty" metal lunch box proclaiming my love of Nerds) we hit the road to head south to Calgary. Since we'd spent some time in Calgary in 2007 & have visited the Calgary Tower, I think our plan will be to camp & then head out. We've decided to continue east through Canada on the TransCanada highway #1 rather than pop down into the U.S. in Montana. So - we'll be able to add a couple of more Canada provinces to our list!

Reporting to you from TransCanada Highway #1 - Ciao & Happy Travels....

Mileage Begin:
Mileage End: 108,276
Total Miles Day 6:
Miles from home:
Tunes du Jour: Pink Floyd, Richard Shindell
Knitting Project: More of Kiama
Gas Total:
mpg: Total Cost:

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Sunday, June 13, 2010

Day 5: Rolling into Edmonton, AB

We're just plugging away. We reached the official end/beginning (Milepost 0) of the Alaska Highway in Dawson Creek, BC. Of course, we didn't stop for a photo - Wade swears we've stopped before (we haven't), but oh well.

We turned east to head towards Edmonton, Alberta. We decided not to continue southwest into Prince George & then through Jasper/Banff since we had driven that route back in 2007. Now that we've arrived in Edmonton, I can say that the route through Jasper/Banff is much, much more scenic. The highway is a pretty standard highway connecting Dawson Creek & Edmonton. Edmonton is about 363 miles from Dawson Creek & in another time zone (Mountain Time), so we 'lost' another hour as we traveled east. We took a brief stop in Grand Prairie so Wade (not me!) could have a little "pick-me-up" at Starbucks (I told you - the VW just knows where these places are) & I took the opportunity to download 3 podcasts that were related to the 2010 World Cup.

The downer is that there are very, very few provincial park campgrounds near Edmonton, so we're "camping" (use that term very loosely) at another RV park called "Glowing Embers" (sounds like a retirement home, doesn't it) and the source of WiFi for this post. While there are tons of RV/motorhomes, there are trees & it is surprisingly quiet. I wonder where all the people who own these rigs are? Do they just sit inside? Did they take their extra vehicle (we've noticed many RVs tow an additional, smaller car behind) into the city? Just curious....

Not much in the way of scenery or wildlife along the way with the exception of this:

A 15-ft tall Beaver perched on a log outside the visitor center of Beaverlodge, AB.

The journey reminded me of traveling along I-80 or I-70 through the midwestern states -flat with lots of green farmland. We did encounter a substantial rainstorm - complete with thunder & lightening. That added a little excitement & caused us to consider a motel/hotel should we pull into Edmonton during the storm. Fortunately we were able to get ahead of the storm & set up "camp" - so far there's a fair amount of wind, but no rain.

  • Begin Mileage: 107, 634
  • Ending Mileage: 108,039
  • Total Miles Day 4: 405 miles
  • Miles from home: 1, 939 miles
  • Tunes du Jour: U2, Indigo Girls, RUSH, FIFA World Cup Today podcast (focus on US vs England match) , ESPN soccernet podcast, BBC News World Football podcast
  • Knitting du Jour: Kiama - only 1 more repeat & about 3 inches left.
  • Total Gas: 53.082 litres (14.02 gallons)
  • mpg: 20.36
  • Total Cost: $56.74 CD (gas is getting cheaper!!)
Tomorrow we hope to go & explore the city for a bit. No, we're not visiting the largest mall in the world. :0)

Ciao & Happy Travels!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Day 4: Liard Hot Springs to Fort St. John

After a morning dip in the hot springs, a breakfast of oatmeal & coffee, we were back on the road. We'd just pulled out of Liard when we spied our first signs of wildlife - a herd of buffalo.

We continued along the Alaska Highway, southeast through beautiful British Columbia. We drove through the northern Canadian Rockies - very awesome, scenic vistas. We took a short break for the 3 boys to hike up a small wash of a 'folded mountain'. Folded mountain refers to the geological process that formed the mountains of the area. According to the Milepost, these mountains were higher than the Himalayas millions of years ago & are now only a fraction of their previous massive heights. I opted to stay below to stretch my legs while the boys went exploring.

We stopped at the summit for a quick bite & run around time.
The plan for this day was to listen to a live broadcast of the US vs England match of the 2010 World Cup. However - this was foiled by the fact there are very, very few radio signals while driving through northern B.C. and that we were unable to obtain a satellite radio. Before we left Anchorage, I tried to buy a radio - no luck; you can't buy a satellite radio in Anchorage because XM and Sirius satellite don't broadcast in Alaska. Apparently our mountains get in the way of good reception. No worries - I was only concerned about having a radio while we were in Canada - that's when the games would be broadcast. So - when I called customer service of satellite radio, I was first told that if I subscribed via the US, their coverage would cease at the US/Canada border. Ohhhhh - is that so? Apparently there is some invisible shield that doesn't let those satellites up in space send a signal to your radio after you cross the border out of the US. Very interesting.... I was then told I had to subscribe to both the US & Canada satellite services (?!?). So when I tried calling the Canada customer service, I was told they did have coverage throughout Canada (I figured I'd purchase a radio online & have it shipped to me), but.... I couldn't subscribe because to do so would require my mailing address. Since I'm a US resident, I have a zip code, where Canadian addresses use postal codes. I see. So - to end this crazy saga, I decided it just wasn't worth the hassle...

So - to support the US, I wore my US jersey I purchased while I attended the 2006 World Cup in Germany. I think it may have worked just a little as the US ended up in a draw 1-1 with England. We only found this out when we pulled into Fort Nelson (about 194 miles from Liard) and were able to pick up a CBC station, which reported the results of the days' World Cup matches.

The highlights of today's drive were the numerous wildlife we encountered along the way:

  • 5 Black Bear
  • 3 Moose
  • 5 Stone Sheep
  • 1 Marmot
Campground #4: Rotary RV Park just north of Fort St. John. This was not our intended place to camp. We'd hope to stop at Charlie Lake Provincial Park (more of the nice, treed camping spots near a lake), but it was full. Apparently Canadians like to go camping! We tried another park near Fort St. John as well, but it was full. So - the RV "park" (Urban camping, - glorified parking lot).

Pros: Green grass & a playground for the kids, Free Wi-Fi (that's how I've been able to post, was able to find WC scores, & listen to part of the Ghana vs Serbia live webcast), and Showers!!
Cons: Barren area, no trees

Classic Shower Story: The showers at the RV park were not free. You had to pay $1 (a "Loonie") for about 3 minutes of "instant hot water". The plan is to get prepped for your shower, put in the coin, get into the water, soap up, rinse off & viola - you're fresh & clean. Take a moment now & determine how long 3 minutes is. (I'll wait...) Okay - seems like plenty of time to take care of business, yes? Ah... non. Yes, you guessed it. First - the water was not instantly warm. No worries - I didn't wait for fear I'd run out of water. Foreshadow you say? Yup - I'd just shampooed & rinsed, soaped up, put conditioner in my hair & was about to rinse of when THE BLOODY WATER SHUT OFF!! (Yes, I think my sentiments at the time makes that an appropriate use of all caps). Did I have another coin? Of course not - that would make for a lousy story. Were there other people in the shower room to help out? No. Would Wade or the boys hear my pleas for help? Nope. What did I do? Well - the only thing I could do - run out into the main bathroom area & use the sinks to rinse off. Geez....

  • Begin Mileage: 107, 208
  • Ending Mileage: 107, 634
  • Total Miles Day 4: 426 miles
  • Miles from home: 1, 534 miles
  • Tunes du Jour: Robert Plant, "Intro to Robotics" podcast (yawn...), "Complex Systems" podcast (less of a yawn..), U2
  • Knitting du Jour: "Sea Lettuce" scarf..
  • Total Gas: 64.512 litres (17.04 gallons)
  • mpg: 18.83
  • Total Cost: $78.00 CD
Ciao & Happy Travels....

Friday, June 11, 2010

Day 3: Haines Jct to Liard Hot Springs

According to our travel journal from 2007 & 2008, we were “behind” in mileage by day 3. We decided to remedy this situation. Our travels on day 3 took us from Haines Junction through Whitehorse (capital of the Yukon Territory), Watson Lake (home of signpost forest), and dipping in and out of British Columbia.

We made our requisite stop in Whitehorse for gas, lunch, & coffee. (I told you we’ve mapped out the location of all Starbucks along the Alcan) Our usual stop is at the park, which houses the Klondike paddlewheel ship. This ship used to ply the waters of the Yukon between Whitehorse & Dawson City carrying mail, passengers, silver lead ore, and other cargo necessary for northern living. Now it serves as a museum – we’ve yet to step foot on board, but enjoy it nonetheless. The expanse of green grass is ideal for 2 little boys (and 1 adult one) to run around & kick the soccer ball. My healing knee doesn’t allow in much of the way for running, so a leisurely stroll is my exercise du jour. We though we’d unload the bikes & ride along the river, however the winds were howling & we wanted to get some miles under our belt, so the stop wasn’t very long. Another plus – the visitor center offers restrooms with warm running water – very much appreciated after a couple of days on the road.

We finally saw some 4-legged critters – here’s the wildlife count for Day 3: 2 Black bears munching grass right off the highway; 11 Buffalo, 1 Fox, 1 Porcupine. Not too shabby!

Dandelions are yummy!!

Wood Bison/Buffalo

We saw mostly male buffalo – perhaps the females are somewhere in the forest giving birth? Buffalo has a soft undercoat very much like the Quiviut of Musk Oxen. I looked along the roadside for evidence of some of this fiber – no luck. Just as well anyway – it would require I learn to spin; not sure I need to take up another hobby that could substantially add to my fiber stash.

We rolled into Liard Hot Springs around 9:30pm. The gates were closed & the campsites were full. No worries – we parked in the overflow parking area & camped there – just as we did each time we passed through in 2007 & 2008. The advantage to camping in the overflow lot is that you’re very close to the boardwalk leading to the springs & to the toilets & playground.

While soaking in the hot springs doesn’t clean off all of the grime of travel, it sure feels nice on bodies stiff from sitting in the car most of the day. Along the boardwalk we observed this:

A moose browsing in the marsh. Previous visits I’d always thought that would be a perfect spot for a moose – guess I was right! It was a beautiful evening – nice alpine glow sunset.

Ending mileage
: 107,208
Start Mileage: 106,711
Total mileage: 497
Tunes Du Jour: RUSH, Duran Duran, Beatles, Coldplay

Total Gas: 75.902 litres (20.05 gallons)
Mpg: 24.79
Total Cost: $87.46 Canadian
Knitting Project:Sea Lettuce Scarf” by Lucy Neatby using “Twisted” by BMFA

Ciao & Safe Travels….

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Day 2: O, Canada!

Today we entered Canada via Port Alcan. As most of you know, you are required to carry passports when traveling the highway between Alaska & Canada. I had a brief scare when Wade went to retrieve the passports & asked, “Did you already take them out?” Gulp… They were right where they were supposed to be, he’d just overlooked them. The border guard asked all of the pertinent questions: “How many on board, all you all family, how much alcohol/tobacco are you carrying (he asked this twice – did he forget, or was he trying to trip us up?) & of course – “Do you have any firearm on board?” When we answered “No”, he was surprised. BPA: “You aren’t carrying any of your guns with you?” Us: “We don’t own any guns.” BPA: “?!?”. Perhaps it’s a perception that all Americans are packing heat.

The road conditions on this section of highway are a bit dicey. Permafrost makes having a smooth, frost-heave free road bed quite the challenge. There are orange flags dotted along the highway to warn travelers of the bumps – it’s a great idea to pay attention to these warnings. Since we’re traveling with our bikes this year (primarily for added exercise & therapy for my knee), it’s imperative we not hit any bump too hard.

Wade does most of the driving since he has a propensity towards carsickness. I usually knit, read, do crosswords, consult the Milepost (a publication that’s a must for Alcan travelers), or documenting our journey for blog posting. Occasionally I give Wade a little break…

The boys spend a good part of their afternoon doing this:

Campground #2: “Pine Lake Government Campground” ~4 miles north of Haines Junction. We decided to stop early while the weather was nice & have a chance to relax with a campfire. We unloaded the bikes for a ride & rode
down to the lake. A regional biologist and camp ranger were present & gave a talk about bears. The talk went on for around an hour (too long!) – especially since we, as Alaskans, were pretty familiar with the topic. Canadian campgrounds are really nice – wooded site with firepit, picnic tables, pit toilets & access to firewood is included in the $12 fee. I think we all appreciated the shorter day & exercise.

Mileage End: 106, 711

Mileage Begin: 106, 471

Miles Day 2: 240 (short day)

Tunes du jour: Dave Matthews Band, RUSH

Knitting Project: More Kiama

Wildlife Count: No 4-legged creatures, numerous birds (swans & eagles)

Gas 10.720 litres (10.76 gal) (fill up Haines Junction)

Mpg: 27.11

Cost: $52.08 Canadian

Ciao & Happy Travels!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

And We're Off!!

The Roach clan has left Alaska. We were able to leave on June 9th as planned, albeit a little later in the afternoon than anticipated. So far so good. We've followed our usual routine: drive to Palmer, fill up w/gas & get an iced coffee for the road. This is our 3rd trip along the Alcan & we've mapped out the Starbucks along the way. Too bad Kaladi Bros isn't international. My plan is to log our journey as we go & then post when I have access to the internet. I hope you enjoy our travels...

I love this sign. A reader of the blog in 2007 wondered if there is a similar sign w/in Canada that reads "US this way". This sign comes at the junction of the Glenn & Richardson highways in Glenallen. The highway was in rather nice shape & there was very little in the way of construction delays. The weather made for easy visibility with the exception of a significant downpour before reaching Glenallen.

When we travel we limit the amount of eating out we do. This is pretty easy since there aren't many commercial eating establishments along the way. We try to find a nice place to pull over when the weather is cooperating & it's near a mealtime. On day #1 we chose to make dinner (Hamburger Helper) at Mile 1 of the Tok cutoff. The Tok Cutoff takes you from the Richardson highway to Tok, AK. All vehicular traffic must pass through Tok when driving to & from Alaska. (Unless, I suppose you take the ferry across the Gulf of Alaska).

Camp #1: Lakeview Campground approximately 30 miles west of the Canadian Border, around 7 hours from Anchorage. We'd stayed here before during our 2007 trek. It's nice as it gets you close to the border & has NO FEE! The lots are secluded & the lake is beautiful & perfect for bird watching. Orion & I counted 2 Sand Hill cranes, 2 Loons, and 1 Swan. At night you can hear the birds calling which is a pretty neat way to drift off to sleep.

  • Mileage Begin: 106,100
  • Mileage End: 106,471
  • Miles Day 1: 371
  • Tunes Du Jour: Glee Soundtrack Shuffle
  • Knitting Project "Kiama" - working on the final 7 or so inches.
  • Gas Total: 19.625 gallons
  • Gas Cost: $70.46
  • mpg: 18.904 (although Wade & I debate on the correct way to calculate this....)
Ciao & Happy Travels!