DAY 1-June 11 Monday
Got of about 1:00 pm, weighed at Cenex scale and was a little heavy but not to bad. Got a couple of caps from Jack D. As I thought I had left all but one good cap but it later turned out I had a work cap. Anyway I now have plenty of caps
Got to Redfield about 5 p;m. And Mike WG0F was on .46 and talked us in. Mike and Linda were great fun to visit with. We talked about all sorts of things and we looked at our travel rig and then at theirs which was very nice. Their truck is just like ours except a gas engine and crew cab. They need to be back home by August 18th for a class reunion at Zell.
We left Mike and Linda about 7:00 pm. and got ahold of Arliss W7XU on .125 on 6 meters and moved to .157. I realized I had left my grid square map at his place after the contest. Randy
KA0ZEE from Aberdeen broke in and offered to bring me an extra one he had. He directed us around the detour for hwy 281 to Walmart where he met us with the map;.
The repeater is on 146.910 with no tone. We had a nice visit with Randy. He is very VHF orientated so we can count on him in a lot of contests.
We spend a nice quiet night and just used the two coach batteries and had plenty of power.
We got some liquid paper for fixing mistakes in the log and a gallon of milk at Walmart
DAY 2 - June 12 Tuesday
We left about 6:30.
We contacted Arliss and Holly in EN06, EN07 EN08 with the halo. EN08 was pretty tough for them. We set the beam for EN09 and Arliss was really loud. Some meteors but mostly tropo. He was not hearing me real well.
We then contacted them at EN98 and EN99 at the Peace Gardens. It was all meteors but went well. Holly did a great job of operating. We were able to operate in the park right on the US/Canadian border.
They were just putting out the flowers. Lots of changes since we were there in 1972.
The first 20 meter sked was S-9 with N6RL and N5PZ. Arliss also came up and I told him I would E-mail if possible and also got his full designator EN13LM
The customs was a breeze, where we were headed, where we were from, did we have any tobbaco or alcohol. Any firearms and was anybody else with us in the trailers. That was it. I answered the questions and that was it. Probably took about 1 minute.
We put on about 362 miles from Aberdeen SD to Brandon, MB. We could not park in the Walmart lot which was right on HWY 10 but went across the street to Canadian tire where some trucks were parked. It appears it will be OK. Used WinGrid to get W7XU/N0QJM lat/long
for doing a goto with the GPS. The heading from Brandon was 161 degrees and 455 miles.
We pulled in about 8:00 pm.
DAY 3 June 13 Wednesday
We worked Holly and Arliss from every grid. Riding Mountain national park had real mountains and some nice lakes. Sign got me in the wrong lane to enter the park and has a hard time getting the trailer so it would go thru a real narrow lane with curbs. Lesson when you think you can not make it stop right away and back up while you have room.
Mixed trees and small grain farming until north of Cowan then got more wooded. We put air in a trailer tire that had a slow leak at The Pas.. We made the 20 meter sked and conditions were good with N5PZ and W7LFB. We made a meteor sked with Arliss and Holly abot 20 km out from Flin Flon. Edith got directions to the tourist information and camping area from a conservation officer how stopped at the park we were in. We found the park right away and parked in a pull thru but after taking a walk we seen where the unserviced area was so we moved. It turned out no one was around and no box to pay so we just left. The Flin Flon area is a lot like the Black Hills except there are hills and not mountains. There is a lake in the center of town and a very, very tall smoke stack at a big mine in town.
DAY 4 June 14 Thursday
The visitors center in Creighton was closed and would not open until 9 a.m so we headed out and missed our road but the GPS showed us so we found out about it after only a couple of blocks so we got right back on course. Rocks and trees and we headed for Jan Lake and again hills, not mountains. I got some information from the store at Jan Lake on canoeing and license information. We spent all day going north to Pelican Narrows and Sandy Bay which are Indian communities. It is long drive, lot of wash boards, curves and steep hills. We made a great meteor scatter contact with Holly and Arliss just south of Sandy Bay. Probably the loudest of the trip. When we were near Jan Lake we got a rock in the disk brake and it made a horrible scretching sound. We picked up the trailer at Jan Lake and headed west. We found diesel and had a nice conversation with a couple from southern SK, north of Minot. We then took the gravel to La Ronge which was good except they had put new gravel on soft spots so it really pulled when you hit those spots so it was absolutely critical to not go to fast. We seen very, very little traffic.
We stopped at the tourist information center in La Ronge just as they were closing and got a little idea on camping areas north toward Missinipee. It turned to gravel and started raining and the gravel was loose with lots of rocks. Edith was tired and we could not find a camp ground. We ended up going a lot farther north than planned and finally came to McVay Lake. It was not set up for 30 foot trailers. I managed to get turned aroiund in the parking lot and we set up for the night. Again we left early and did not pay since we just stayed in the parking lot. We talked to Ole and Floyd at 6 pm and they had decent signals. No one else was on.
DAY 5 June 15 Friday
We were up early and pulled out and headed north to Missinippe which was about 20 km away. We soon found a spot on a pull off and dropped of the trailer and headed on. We checked out Missinippe, got diesel fuel aad talked to Leo local store owner and got great info for a future fishing trip with my sons. We then crossed the Church Hill River and Otter Rapids and checked out Otter Rapids camp ground and Devil Lake. We then went back to Missinippe and found the Church River Canoe Outfitter Rick and got lots of good fishing spots and route info and islands to camp on. We then headed south back to La Ronge. We stopped where we dropped the trailer and I spent a couple of hours working on arranging things in the back of the pickup based on our experience so far. Made a shorter cable for six meters and changed the low tire. The contact on meteors was a little tough as I was shooting into a hill. We then headed south and got by well. Lots of fisherman traveling the road. It is about 32 miles gravel and 16 miles oil. BTW there was a dump station and Missinippe and the prices in the store for lures was not that bad.
At La Ronge we got the tire fixed. It was quick but did cost $16.95 Canadian. We then headed south on Hwy 2 with the wind at our backs and the mileage was looking good. We took the gravel cut across above P:rince Albert Park. It was tough. First new loss gavel, then soft spots, then good for aways and then muddy, bad soft spots and for 11 miles also very narrow. The last part had huge sink holes. One had to go slow as it would really pull. I suppose I average 35 mph. We talked to Ole at 5 pm with good results, especially when he put on the amp. We talked to Floyd and Roger and Al at 6 pm. Just before the oil to Green Lake we used a pull off for the meteor sked. We decided to spend the night. We leveled the trailer on 2 blocks and Edith discovered a dragging wire. It turned out to be an electric brake wire that Jayco had not lashed up adequately. I tried to solder the one broken wire but it would not take solder so we used a wire nut and then rubber taped and black taped and then taped it up and used wire ties. We added some wire tires on the wires right at the brake drums and checked for any other possible problems. The misquitoes chewed on me pretty good under the trailer. We set up for the night and found some dust the came in the slide out. We had to start the generator for the vaccum as it did not like the inverter. It gets dark about 10:45 local. Seemed to be some light all night long.
DAY 6-JUNE 16 Saturday
It rained a lot of the way today. From Green Lake, SK on we got out of solid trees and got into cattle county and some farming in open areas. Meadow Lake is a nice town with lots cattle, horses and farming and logging. We seen a large pulp mill. West of here into AB was similiar with heavy trees from time to time but most of the way open areas. In AB we started to see oil wells. We operated six meters from the border between SK and AB with good success with Arliss and Holly. Cold Lake, AB is a very nice town with lots of stores. One could see to the north as we traveled that it appeared to be all trees. The soil looked very good and a town in Ab is called Good Soil. We dump;ed at Ababisca, AB and talked to a nice lady in the tourism office who said Lawrence Lake was right along hwy 2. There was a motor cycle rally just south and we thought the campground might be full but it was not. It was a hard place to back in but we were up on the hill and by ourselves. I put up the 20 meter dipole and made the sked with Roger, Floyd and Al and finally on the third night of trying I got E-mail to send. Apparently I was not posting the messages correctly and therefore they would not automatically send. I also learned again that one has to put a different subject for each e-mail. I sent out a lot of e-mails and found about about 4 stations that had good signals on 20 meters to connect with. The contact with Arliss and Holly was the toughest yet but we are out over 1000 miles. We p;ut on about 330 miles today.
DAY 7 - June 17 Sunday
We went about 280 miles today and had good roads and wx across AB. We seen a helicoptor air lifting forest fire fighters from a staging area to fight a fire. We drove thru a huge burned area that happened a couple of weeks ago before we got to Slave Lake, AB After that we hit what is called the high plains area which had lots of open areas that were farmed growing small grain and canola. We also seen a lot of forest product related plants.
We seen a kids school bus shed that was a small grain elevator and the slogan on it was Elevate Your Knowledge. It was neat! Today we tried an hour at noon with Arliss and Holly and I got calls but Arliss could not copy me. After that we had a good chat with Arliss and Holly and also Curt K7BI called in from Dave cabin. We were about 1275 miles so it is just getting out to far. We will try tomorrow and is likely our last meteor scatter sked until the way home Hopefully we can get some sporadic E or Auroral E.
When I got gas in Peace River I had trouble with the curb and had to back up so need to be more observant in watching for curbs and not turning to quickly.
We spent the night at Twin Lakes Provincial CG north of Manning on the Mackenzie HWY. We met some locals and visited with them about 90 minutes and they answered a lot of our questions and pointed out things to be sure and see in the NWT. They had spent quite a bit of time stateside. It was a Mom and Dad and their son and wife who were in their 40.s. We found a good camp site and I made the 6 pm sked OK. We takjed to WB0MZB and K7B I and they said Chris had been on. We heard N6RL. Floyd had a great signal. We were using the BUGCATCHER and amp. We had great success using W9GSS for WL2K and got several E mails and sent several Some people are using reply and I have to get them to erase the text they received if they are going to do this.
I got the dipole up and it seemed to do a great job. I have a sked with Arliss and Holly at 5:30 am local. It likely will be our last MS sked until the way home. The satellite system would not work and we assume we were looking at 22 degrees thru the trees and the signal must be blocked. The mosquitoes were pretty bad. It cost $16 Canadian for the camping spot. It was $11 at Lawrence Lake. We did have a nice high location and got backed in quite quickly. The key seems to be to pull ahead plenty before backing so there is time for the trailer to come around. The tough part is to have room for the front of the truck.
Day 8 Monday June 18
We seen Keg River where the people we met the previous day taught school.
We put on 600 miles today. High Level was a fuel stop and we seen the northern most grain elevator. From there on the farm ground was gone and it was trees. We filled up at Indian Cabins in AB just before NWT to get the last cheaper fuel. Diesel is in the 90 cent range in the NWT so far. We then seen Alexander Falls and Louise Falls on the Hay River. They were very
impressive and had excellent viewing platforms and tails. We then turned on Hwy 5 to Hay River at Enterprise and headed for Wood Buffalo National Park. We dropped the trailer of at Polar Bear Lake at what appears to be the Polar Bear Recreation park. Nobody is around so apparently it is a week end thing or just certain times. They charge $5 a night when someone is around to collect. We then headed for Wood Buffalo park a;nd Fort Smith which is about 140 miles. We seen a sink hole, where the Whooping Crane and sandhill crane nest and Buffalo River Falls and the Salt Plains. We went on to Fort Smith and bought our highest diesel fuel of the trip at 92.9 cents per liter. On the way back we seen buffalo and a bear and some Sandhill Crane.
It is 10:54 and the sun is still up. It should be light until close to Midnight tonight, maybe later. A few sprinkles today but mostly sunny with a slight breeze. The misquitoes were definitely the worst of the trip today.
Day 9 Tuesday June 19
We spent a terrible night at Polar Bear Lake with misquitoes getting into the camper. We slept very little. They seemed to be getting in the AC ducts which we taped and also in the slides. We finally gave up after only a couple of hours sleep and headed out. We drove to Enterprise and had to wait for a place to open for diesel so we slept in the pickup. The bugs were terrible outside. Once we got fuel we continued on the Mackenzie and seen the Macnally Creek falls and helped a couple from Alberta with a jump as their battery was dead. We then went to the Hart Fire Tower and seen a large area that had sank and from there to Lady Evelyn Falls which was quite large. We then headed up the Yellow Knife road and crossed the Mackenzie River on the ferry. It is neat how you pull on one end and drive of the other end when you get across. The ferry's only need about 5 foot of water and have 4 screws, two on each end and have seven diesel motors available. We seen the winter road to the ice bridge. The first part to Yellow Knife is oiled but does get real up and down the last 40 miles. The last 60 miles is gravel with construction and a lot of breakujps. We got in about 5:30 pm local and found Walmart and loaded up on bug stuff. We had a nice visit with Rodd the Manager who said they were the northern most Walmart and drew us a map of the town and suggested things to do. We talked about prices and winter delivery problems and that there are now Super Walmarts in Canada.We then toured Yellow Knife and the Ingmann Trail. It is a nice town, we went to Igloo hill, the docks, the Wildcat Café and was impressed with the multi-stored buildings and rich history. There are 600.000 people who fly in and out a year. We had a great nights sleep and no bug problems. Future reference is to always carry house hold bug spray in case the camper fills up with misquitoes! There were a couple of campers from AZ in the lot. At 5 pm we talked to W0UD and WB0MZB with great signals. We also had good luck at 6 with Roger being nice and loud.
Day 10 Wednesday June 20
We headed out of Yellow Knife and took our time on the gravel and noted the markers pretty well showed the bad spots on the gravel. On the oil we went slower and had less trouble with the up and down spots. We got by OK with the road repair and chip rock. So far no cracks but we are getting the trailer dirtier all the time from the roads and the dust control water making it almost muddy some times. We made it back to the Mackenzie Hwy turn off about noon and had dinner at a turn off by a winter survivor cabin. There were a lot of big flies just like yesterday on the way up to Yellow Knife. We then seen Sambaa Deh falls which were very nice. A person got to close and fell of in recent years so they really stressed staying back. The road was not to bad for a gravel road. We contacted Floyd at 5 pm and had a good go on the 6 pm talking to Chris and Jack, Tom, Bob and Roger.
We then to the Laird Hwy and got to Blackstone Provincial park and got water, dumped and washed the camper and pickup. The manager let us use the hose with the water pressure. Fancy bathrooms, all stainless steel. I tried to download my E Mail but only got some of the messages as the band was about closed. We did our best at misquito proofing the 5th wheel. We got the slides as tight as we could. The out position is the most bug proof. We found we needed to put in foam at the bottom corners as it is open to the outside. We then put clothes, etc over these spots so the can't get in. We did the same in the bedroom. About the only place they could get in is along the top of the slide and if this starts to happen we will have to seal those places with rags or tape. We also have citranella we can burn and household insect spray. The misquitoes don't seem real thick so we should be OK. We will check the E-mail again in the morning and also view the Laird River for the observation point and head for the Alaskan Hwy. Since it will be crowed and I want to do FD we will likely go to Watson Lake tomorrow(Thurs. June 21) and then Friday, June 22) head up Campbell HWY and find a spot for FD and get set up on Friday afernoon and Saturday morning June 23 and operate Saturday afternoon and Sunday. On Monday June 25 we will head for the Dempster Hwy. That will give us 6 days left in June and definitely should be in AK by our target of July 1-4th and can head south to Anchorage.
DAY 11 JUNE 21 THURSDAY
We have paid three nights so far, Lawrence Lake in Ab, Twin Lakes in AB, and Blackstone in NWT. Stayed free, Walmart-Aberdeen, Canadian Tire, Brandon, MB, Flin Flon Tourist Park, McKay Lake, south of La Ronge, SK, pull off by Green Lakes, SK, Walmart at Yellow Knife, Laird Hot Springs, BC at Laird Lodge, tonight free.
Started the day with a nice view of the Laird River from the BlackStone Provincial CG in NWT. The misquitoes were bad but our plans for keeping them out of the 5th seems to be working. The gravel road deteriated rapidly and it was muddy, chuck holes, soft spots and rocky all day long. It was real rocky and rough in BC but got beOtter as we got closer to the Alaska HWY. We talked to Ole and Chi and Bob. Had great results at 6 pm with Roger, now good with Bob, talked to Jack and Ozzie and Al and heard N5PZ.
The scenery on the Alaska HWY was great with huge mountains. Mucho Lake was very pretty! Took lots of nice pictures. I had good success with KB6YNO, W9GSS. At noon used KF6NPC.
I sent one message to Ole to relay. I worked on e-mail addresses and will have to check my brief case for a few I am missing! I talked to KL7HF this morning again so keeping him posted.
Day 12 JUNE 22 FRIDAY
L;aird Hot Springs was even better than advertised. It has a long board walk out to the two developed springs. It is free and we got there early so we got in the lot rather than the overflow lot across the road which was full when we left. They have changing rooms and lockers which no body used. We had a nice visit with a couple from BC who just retired from a pulp mill. The upper part of the spring is very hot in the Alpha pool. The top of the water is hot than down below. They have under water benches to sit on. Farther on is the beta pool which is nice an warm but not so hot. It is deep and you have to swim as it is over your head. I also got pictures of two moose. One was very close. We then headed down the the road and the AK net was on. I had Del move up when he checked in and we had a great qso with loud signals. The best yet! We then pushed on to Watson Lake and seen lots of nice scenery. We did see Smith Falls which was nice. The road was narrow and if we would of met another RV it would not of been good. We got to Watson Lake about noon and stopped at the tourist info building and got plenty of info and picked up 2 YT camping permits. We also went to the bank and exachanged US for Canadian at 1.497 so apparently the C dollar is a little stronger. They said there was no sur charge. We seen the sign post forest in passing and will spend more time on the way home.
We then headed up the Campbell Hwy which was not so bad for gravel but it was narrow, many curves and steep in places. There were spots that were rough. About 60% of the way I found out I had lost a tire. It had been awhile as the tire was gone and the rim ruined and the brake wires to that wheel were broke. It started to rain while making the repairs but fortunately not very much. It rained hard off and on today. I had some question as to which was the positive wire but looked at the other wheel and put this one the same. It seems to be OK. We then pushed on looking for a FD spot to operate and trying to get into a Yukon RPT which we never did get into. We went to Ross River but everything was closed for fuel. We seen the walkover bridge and small ferry overthe Pelly River. We then headed on and decided to skep Farro as it was getting late. We were getting low on fuel. We finally found a YT CG called Drurey at Salmon Lake and parked. It turned out to be a good choice.
Day 13 June 23 Saturday
My birthday and I needed to get set up for FD. Things actually fell into place quite well despite running out of time before leaving. I did have to make some jumpers and longer runs of coax. I had a dipole on 40, the rotary dipole on 20 and the Bugcatcher on the back of the trailer, for 15 the BugCatcher on the pickup and made a 10 meter dipole and put up the 6 meter beam. Writelog worked real well. I did have to program the RTTY messages which with the browse feature was not bad. I started out calling CQ but found I was not strong enough being so far away from everyione so I had to search and pounce. I made over 200 contacts. The toughest area was the northeast by far. On Saturday 15 was pretty good and I probably would of done better if I would of had the other mast up and a 15 meter dipole. I made a few RTTY contacts on 20 meters but the activity on rtty was very low. I could really hear well but would call stations that had good strength and they did not have a clue I was calling. It seemed like toward evening and Sunday I was being heard better, maybe the qrm level had dropped some stateside so they could hear better. The inverter puts out quite a bit of noise so I need to get that situation fixed for operating and also using Winlink. It did not hurt much in FD here as the stations seemed to have to be pretty strong for me to work. The old adage if you can hear them you can work them is garbage!
Day 14 June 24 Sunday
I did get my E mail and sent one out via Ole to the gang. I connect with a new station at SDG.
It was a neat experience but would be better in a contest where the operators were more experienced and VY1 was chased for a multiplier. I quite at about 2000z as the activity had dropped to nil. It took about one hour to tear down the FD stuff and another 30 minutes to get the 5th ready to go I had to put in 5 gal of diesel from our emergency container in the back of the pickup. I did get the mast arranged better in the back of the pickup and need to make some notes on how they are so I have the system documented.
We then headed off along Salmon Lake which is about 8 miles long. On the 20 sked we talked to Roger, Jack and Floyd.. Roger had a good signal for the first 30 minutes. We seen the site of a steam boat disaster on the Yukon River at Eagles Nest. It was our first look at the Yukon and it is impressive and looks fairly muddy. We got to the Klondike HWY and went south a little to Carmack and got fuel and 5 camping permits and headed north. We missed the 5 finger rapids as we did not realize that was what the turn out was for until a bit later when we found it in the Milepost. We stopped at Pelly Crossing where we found a free campground just south of the bridge over the Pelly River. This is the same river we were by at Ross City. We met a couple Peter and Shirley from BC. He retired from Shell. They showed us how to make Mountain Pies which are made with special holders made of cast iron with long handles. The holders are just the correct size to put two slices of bread in and you can put what ever you want on the bread for meat, onions, salsa, vegges, eggs, etc. also pie mix and other sweet things. They come out so you can hold them and eat like a sandwich or put on a plate and eat like a pie. We had strawberries for dessert and the talked about their AK trip, the Top of the World HWY was the best they said.
They said the people at the store here at Pelly Crossing said you could stay here for free. All along the Yukon and Pelly we seen lots of canoe activity. At Carmack we seen an RV with a canoe on. The had anchored wood to the roof and then put racks on the wood and the canoe on the racks.
DAY 15 June 25 Monday
We changed oil on the pickup as we have came 5000 miles. We are going to bypass Keno as we are not into museums that much and it is partly gravel and are anxious to get started up the Dempster Hwy and get above the Arctic Circle shortly after the summer solice. We got on the road about 9:30 a.m. local. We were able to buy a tire at the Dempster turnoff but not rim. They would not take our used oil. We put a little air in a couple of tires and headed off. We parked for a while on a pull off before the 5 pm sked and set up the dipole. It was a beautiful spot, one of the highest on the Dempster, looking down the valley to stateside with mountains at the end of the valley. There was wide shallow run off looking a foot or two deep and 100 years wide with snow in part of it which was caving of into the water. When the breeze blew a sweater felt good but it was very nice out of the wind. I had great skeds with Ole, Chris and Floyd and also great at the 6 pm sked. I also had good success with E Mail with KA6IQA connection. We then drove on to the continental divide overlooking the Olgivie River and stayed the night at the pull off.
Day 16 June 26 Tuesday
We got started about 8:30 and soon the road got real rough and rocky. I stopped to check things after we had went about 70 miles and found we had a broken leaf spring on the passenger side rear wheel of the 5th wheel which let the two wheels come together and they were rujbbing. The tires were warm but not hot! I drove a little farther to see if they would shift apart but they did not and they were starting to get much warmer! I thing got the inspiration to jack it up and wedge a big block we had between what was left of the leaf spring and the frame. I hooked a rope to it so if it came out we would not lose it. I also noted the front of the spring was bent but not broken. However it cause the tires to be closer together also. We tried it and it worked but the weight cut into the wood block and the tires got real close but did not touch. We calculated it was about 33 miles to Eagle Plains so we drove slowly and checked things often. We made it OK and what a blessing they could get right on it and the had leaf springs. The question was did they have the right one. It was quite a job to get off but the did and they had a replacement. I was also quite a job getting it back together. Definitely not a roadside job!!! They treated us very well only charging $50 Canadian for the spring and $65 labor and they had two fellows working on it most of the time.. We headed on for Inuvik and stopped at the Arctic Circle sign where we met some people from WI and we took their picture and the took ours! We were visiting and he noticed my trailer tire was going flat. We had a tough time changing it as we could not get the trailer high enough to get the spare on. A couple stopped and had some blocks and helped us and by using their blocks and the stabilizer jacks we managed to get it. We need to have more blocks in the pickup in the future and we need a stand jack to support the trailer so one can reset the jack. We also need a piece of metal to lay on the frame to jack against rather than the wood as the jack cuts into the wood to much. We then headed off again and decided to stay at Rock River CG YT and then just drive the pickup to Inuvik tomorrow and then come back tomorrow afternoon and stay the second night and then head back down the Dempster. We will try and get the tires fixed and get a rim at Arctic Tires in Inuvik for a safety margin heading back down the Dempster. There is about 100 miles of bad road we have to go back over from the Arctic Circle to where we camped last night.
Day 17 June 27 Wednesday:30
We left for Inuvik with the pickup about 6:30 am and found the road got much better at the NWT border. We were surprised at the trees and found out at Inuvik that this is the fartherest North the tree line goes in Canada. It apparently goes farther north because of moderation from the McKenzie Delta. We crossed the Peel River on a ferry and the road go better. We stopped for to see if we could help a couple who lost the drivers side window from a rock when they met a truck. I apparently hit the side mirror and richoched into the window. We then crossed the McKenzie on the ferry. It was 150 feet deep in the middle. We had a nice chat with the barge worker. From here on the road was excellent. We got to Inuvik about 11:00 am and went up the lookout tower. Next the did the western Arctic Visitors center and got our certificate for being above the Arctic Circle. Then we found a couple of ham stations and one, VE7EV wife was home and she got it lined up so we could see him at work. He is in communications and their office is a dewline radar dome they moved and sits on a hill in the middle of town. We had a nice visit with him, he is not very active as the qsl thing go to him. He said they are right under the aurora so it is tough. He called the not being heard but hearing the deaf ear syndrome. He said there Internet connection is via satellite. We then went to the tire shop and got a tire mounted on a flat and bought a used rim, cash deal so the underground market worked here.
We toured the harbor, Igloo church, got some Canadian money after a long wait in the bank. Interesting to see mosquitoes flying around in the bank. I went to the library and got on the Internet with a Gateway computer, checked my E mail and sent one but apparently screwed something up as it did not go. We did get some tourist stuff like post cards and a bumper sticker. We then got a Coke and some Ice Cream and headed back, checking out the airport. It is a nice, modern town. The plumbing is in heated ducts above ground and the housed and building are on pilings due to the perma frost. There were a lot of radio towers with monopoles and dipoles for commercial communication.
We had a good trip back to the camp site, took a picture of Carmichael Lake and had a good visit with the barge worker. He told us you should never kill a mosquito because millions come to their funeral. We talked to a couple who were bicyleing down to Dawson City, quite a challenge. We hooked up the 5th wheel, mosquitoes were terrible and headed for Eagle Plains. We got to Eagle Plains and finally just parked by the garage and left the slides in. We needed diesel to make it the rest of the way and wanted to check for a tire since they did not have one in Inuvik.
Day 18, June 28, Thursday
We had to wait until 8 am for them to open and was setting at the pump waiting. We got diesel but only had one tire which I let a fellow from PEI have and he had also lost a spring and had ruined to tires and had changed it out himself last night. We then headed back down the Dempster very slowly. There were lots and lots of rock on the road, embedded and lose. We hit one spot where they were blading and there was a huge windrow in the middle and really narrow on our side and there were places where is was such that my drivers side wheels were hitting rocks on the windrow and the other side was right on the edge. It lasted about 5 miles and was not fun. The rest of the road was not good until we got by the Eagle Plains section where it gets better. It never gets real good and we hit a place where they were putting on gavel and it was not spread by the grader yet, he was setting there waiting to do it. Again it was narrow between the windrow and the edge. We got back to the Dempster Corner and get a new tire and had the old one which was wore off on the side mounted on the spare rim. We spent $6 and washed the rig at the car wash. We then came to the Klondike CG outside of Dawson. It did talk to Ole, Chris, Bob and Floyd with the BugCatcher by Tombstone Mt. CG on the way down but it was pretty tough. I talked to N6RL with loud signal at 6 pm. We got settled in at the CG where the mosquitoes were annot bad. Edith boiled some water for drinking and we cleaned up thing and I eventually got connected with KB6YNO/1 but lost it so tried VElXZ and succeeded.
Day 19 June 29 Friday
We spent our first kickback day today since we left on our journey. We got up about 7:45 am, had breakfast and done some chores around the 5th. I did some things with the computer. We then checked out Bananza Creek, the gold dredging, dredge # 4 and the original claim called Discoverys. We then went up on Dome Hill overlooking the Yukon, Bananze Creek and Dawson City. It is a nice view. We then toured around Dawson City and watched videos on Dawson, the gold mining and river boats at the visitor center. We then did laundry, mailed my Mom a card that was hand postmarked and get diesel the highed priced of the trip at $2.33 a gallon. We also found a place to dump and get drinking water for $1.00 at a RV Park we found out about at the Visitors Center. The line up for the ferry crossing the Yukon was about 1 mile long. We also looked at the KENO a rverboat they we restoring and toured the water front. We then headed back to the CG and I put up the dipole, made the 5 pm sked with Chris and found out by going to the pickup with the 400 watt and dipole really was a lot better than the 100 watts. At 6 pm I talked to Tom, Ozzie and Roger. Signals were down! I sent my e-mail and got most of it connecting with VE1XZ and KB6YNO/1. We then tore down and headed west. The line to the ferry was way down and took about an hour. It would of taken 4 or 5 hours this morning. Before getting in line we dumped and got fresh water and also seen the fellow from WI who Pheasant hunts in SD again. We then headed west toward the Top of the World Road(here it is called Klondike Loop) and are stopped for the night on a pull off. There is a van here also. Tomorrow we will be in Alaska on the Top of the World Highway which we have heard fantastic things about the scenery but will need to take it easy as the road is not the best we are told. We will park and take the pickup to Eagle, AK.
Day 20, June 30 Saturday
We took the Top of the World Hwy this morning. Actually we thought the first part of the drive to Inuvik was prettier but this was nice and you sure are up high on what I would call a "HOG BACK". It used to be called the Ridge Road. The first 60% of the road is just full of potholes! A lot of it is patched with gravel spots. The border cross was very easy, just asked a few of the normal questions. Did not take much more than 1 minute. The road to Chicken is very wash board like and it is a long, long way down to the bottom of a lot of canyons. It gave Edith quite a thrill looking down 1000's of feet when I had to pull way over for an on coming car. One big motor home got over on the soft shoulder and put the wheels in the ditch but fortunately against a bank. We stayed in a RV camp which has no hook ups but it is roomy and we are off at the end. It only costs $5.00 and Edith paid $5.00 and she can pan gold as long as she wants in the pay dirt they provide from the mining they are doing on their 50 acres here. There is an old dredge near by. In talking to the kids they know a couple who are ham operators. She is the Postmaster! The girl is going to ride her bike down and see if they can give us a call. We also visited Chicken, AK and got some swest shirts and wooden blocks for Gunner. We ate at a Salmon Bake tonight at the Chicken Café. No one was on at 5 pm but at 6 pm is talked to Arliss and Holly who were leaving for a family get together in Ore. They will be mobile and be back to SD on July 10th. I also talked to Roger, Bob and Jack. I had up the dipole and used the SGC 500. I had good success with E mail and used KA6IQA and W9GSS. Tomorrow we will go to Eagle, AK and depending on when we get back we may stay another night here as we are all set up.
Day 21, July 1st, Sunday
Got up about 7 am and got ready for a day trip with just the F-350 to Eagle. Started the moring off talking to Mike AL7OB on 14.292 and found out we could stay in their yard. We can use 147.210 when we get within 50 miles and we can also call 271-3836 to get voice mail. The home phone is 345-6999. He is going to check one more time on the fishing thing on the ocean charter.
I talked to Josea the daughter and she apologized for not getting to the hams place on her bike last night. She said there little girl broke her arm so she was not sure where they were at. When we got back from Eagle I talked to her again and she said the xyl was Robin and sh e was in Fairbanks with the daughter getting pins put in the breaks. Her husband Dick was home and she would ride her bike down tonight. Robin is Postmaster and her call is WL7VP and his is WL7VO.
Josea said her brothers name was Wes. He told me a lot about their gold mining operation and helped Edith pan gold. Their last name is Busby
The road to Eagle is narrower and I think over-all a little worse than to Chicken. We did not see any 5th wheels or big Class A motor homes. We did see some small Class A and C. The road is very high above the canyons in places and very sharp corners and impossible to see if someone is coming. We met an AK car on one of these and he was on the wrong side. It was plenty close, he shot over to his side and I piled on the brakes. He was NOT TENDING TO BUSINESS. On the way back we seen a van on its side in the shallow creek about 15 feet down. It looked like it just drove off by the tracks. Don't know what happened. The road to Eagle is very pretty and does have some turn outs. There is a gravel pile just up the road which likely would work to leave a trailer if we had it to do over. One goes thru a deep valley, then out on top, then thru a lot of deep valleys, turns then out on top again and then the decent to the Yukon. Eagle looks to be very poor and seems to depend mainly on the short months of tourist trade and maybe some things to do with the Yukon River. We talked to a girl and here mother. They came from CA 21 years ago and don't even have a car. They can not get in and out in the winter other than fly or take the dog sled down the Yukon to Dawson City. Some people use snow machines. They catch a ride to Fairbanks for dentist, doctor or shop until you drop days sometimes in the summer. They order things via mail and can get stuff from SAMS, FRY'S, K-MART and FRED MEYER in Fairmbanks via mail. The mail comes by plane and we thing other things via boat on the Yukon. We seen the Fort Egbert, the court house, the BLM campground, public dock, Yukon Queen tour boat, 4 Holland Alaska tour buses and the hotel on the water front and a great laundry mat. Also a number of planes parked along the north edge of town. We seen live video of two young falcons in a nest on a cliff at the BLM office.
We headed home and I heard W0UD calling but could not get back to him at 5 pm. At 6:00 pm I talked to Roger and stopped the vehicle asnd talked to Chris and Ole. It is about 3.5 hour 100 mile trip. After we got back I talked to Josea and there is still hope in contacting Dick WL7VP. I had great luck sending and getting E-mail with the dipole and KA6IQA. Had a great supper and paid for another night. Tomorrow we will head for TOK. I gave a call on .52 and Dick, WL7VO came back and we had about a 45 minute chat. There daughter broke her arm at a horse show in Palmer and his wife Robin drove her to Fairbanks so they could take her back to the same doctor when it came time to take the pin out. He has a 60 foot tower and 5 band quad and the same radios I have and likes digital and does DX and gets on the nets. The Bush Net which he is NCS on Tuesday nights is on 7.093z at 0400z which is 8 pm AK time 7 days a week.
Also on 3.920 at 0200z, 6 pm AK time AK Snipers net which is a roll call first. Also 3.933 Motley Group at 0500z 9 pm AK time. I can get SE AK and Canada info for the way out on the Bush Net on Road condtions. Dick is often around 3.866 in the evenings and does slow scan and msk 16 which handles the AU better. His e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org and I need to send him pictures. His repeater is on 147.09/69 + with no tone and covers to about mile 9 on the Taylor HWY. I need to talk to him from home next winter on meters. Send him an e-mail. Their last name should be Hammond.
Day 22, July 2 Monday
Had a nice visit with Mrs. Busby and asked her to thank Josea! She once lived in SD when she was very young. We Talked to K7FQA on .52 at TOK and got fuel for 1.88 which was the cheapest in a long time. We headed south of Tok on the TOK Cutoff and soon were in the mountains which were very pretty and had snow on. We got some good photo's. We set u at 5 pm and talked to Chris and XCOle and at 6 talked to Bob, Roger and Dave. I also got my e-mail real strong from VE1XZ. We then traveled on and seen Mt Drum and Mt Sanford which were huge. We then turned south toward Valdez at Glennallen on the Richardson Hwy where the roads were all busted up! We seen the pipe line for the first time. We then turned on the McCarthy road and stopped at Terry and Tammy Van Weyh but a neighbor said she was gone and he was not around. We headed on torward McCarthy and ended up along the river just north across the bridge over the Copper River from Chitina. We parked where all the people are that are running fish wheels and doing dip neting. I spent most of the night with a fellow we met watching him dip net. He gave us a lot of info on fishing charters and other fishing info. It was an interesting night. We seen them cut a King and a number of Reds. Above the bridge Ak residents can do subsistance fishing and cut 500 per family or 250 per person. I got some pictures but a number did not turn out because it was to dark. I went to bed about 3 am as it does not get dark but it does get pretty dusk! Below the bridge AK residents can catch 25 fish for personal use. The Game and Fsih of AK watch the runs and if the number is low they shut the fishing down. They run the best from 11 pm to about 7 am. They do not spawn or can not see in this water but find a clear stream coming in and spawn in it. It is the one they are born in, called imprinting. He said netting or fish wheel are the only practical way in a silty river like this.
Day 23, July 3, Tuesday
We got up after a windy night, as it really blows hard here. Also streams of water are running into the Copper River from the north so I had to dig out my overshoes and learned to wade up s tream along a gavel bank so it did not get so deep. We headed off for McCarthy. The road was terrible. I let some air out of the tires which helped some. The railroad bridge was impressive and there was some excellent mountain scenery and a great shot of the Copper River. The foot bridge at McCarthy was impressive as the water was really moving! McCarthy was interesting and the old Kennicott building and glacier was very interesting. There were miles and miles of gravel shoved up by the glacier. The trip back went a little better but the last 18 miles are absolutely terrible. It took 4 hours going up and we had to wait 45 minutes for them to put in a culvert. It took about 3 hours and 15 minutes coming back. Edith read me a lot of the history out of a guide book we got. After we got back we hooked up and then I went and got some great shots of the fish wheels and of them dip netting. I also visited with a number of the locals. No radio today as it just did not fit our sked with the road, crowed parking lot and time constraints. We are going to stay the night along the Copper River just up from the bridge north of Chitina.
Day 24 July 4, Wednesday
Edith got all nervous because it started to rain a little and she was afraid we would wash away and could not sleep so we packed up and moved across the road to a campground and pulled in along the edge of the road and left the slides in and slept. We headed out a little after 7 am and got a picture of Liberty Falls and then stopped and seen Terry Van Wyne and got some air in our tires and had a good visit. He is moving about 20 miles in the next year or so to a half section of land he bought. His wife Tammy teaches school. He sells a lot of barbeque pigs about 40 pounds and sells feeder pigs. He sell privately and has a waiting list so gets good value added. He gave us some info on Valdez. We then headed south toward Valdez and decided to pull into Blueberry State Park just past Thompson Pass. We found a nice high spot and parked and I talked with W0UD and AC0M at 5pm and at 6 pm with N6RL and N5PZ all with good success with the dipole. The amplifier attenuator was activated and I did not realize it right away and I was wondering why the band died!
We decided to stay and paid the $12 fee with a check out time of 3 pm tomorrow. One can use the area up until 6 pm but have to pay between 6 pm and 9 am. We then headed to Valdez with just the F-350. We got diesel fuel for 1.78 which was the cheapest in a long time. We check out the AK Ferry, Fishing from the Valdez Dock, the look out, the harbor where all the boats were, the beach area, the Sea Otter RV which was $25 to park along the sea with all electricity, dump, fresh water fill. They had some for tomorrow which she said we likely could get up until noon. We then checked out Miracle Creek Road buy it required a hike and we did not have time plus it keep getting more cloudy. We then got water for 75 cents a gallon and a loaf of bread for $1.49 with no sales tax. We then watched a wildlife and pipeline video at Valdez Tours for the pipeline. We then went on the 2 hour pipeline tour. It cost $17.50 cents each and was well worth it. We seen the floating and fixed loading berths, the ballast water clean up, vapor fumes removal and adding, the control building which used microwave towers up the line, the tanks, the pig scrubber that takes out the parafin, and had a great view for a covered deck overlooking the facility and then where they direct the oil to the berths or tanks and the statue of the workers on the way out.. We then headed back for Blueberry CG in the rain and clouds. We seen Bridal Vale and Horsetail falls. The Valdez area has high mountains that are green and lush with narrow streams of water coming down the sides and a falls like fashion. We also seen where the fish at Ellis Point on the way to the pipeline terminal. It appears they are waiting for the Pink Salmon to run. There is also a fish hatchery there which the salmon return to. This CG is in an Alpine setting but so far we have had to much rain and clouds to see them much.
Day 25, July 5th, Thursday
We spent the day at Blueberry CG, slept in and did some computer things and decided since it was raining quite hard and very foggy we could not see anything if we headed for Anchorage. I checked the Milepost, got my e-mail and sent some e-mails. I made the 5 pm sked and talked with Arliss mobile in Ore and he said they would be home Wednesday July 11th and I talked to Bob Wood, W0UD and noticed the mobile amplifier was not working. I tore into that and discovered the keying lead was broken so I fixed that and put the plug back in and it still did not work and the switch was off a band. I finally tipped it up where I could see it better and discovered I had not put the plug on correctly and it was off one slot. Something to watch as I assumed it would have to fit right but that is not the case. The amp then worked for which I am very thankful as it would not of been nice to go the whole rest of the trip without the mobile amplifier. We ran the furnace for the first time as it was about 48 degrees. Fortunately the mosquitoes were not bad. Edith and I got a bunch of water as it appeared to be drinking water. I then noticed the voltage was lower than I thought it should be given how little it had been used. I checked the input fuses and discovered they were blown. I tried putting in another and it immediately blew! I then thought I would see if I could switch it back to the original configuration to see if the alternator was OK and that the diodes in the alternator, etc. were not blown. WRONG THING TO DO! I noticed smoke was coming out from under the hood and out of the battery box. I quickly moved the knife switch back to the center position and that seemed to remove the short but the smoke still kept coming out of the far end of the box. I yelled at Edith to get the fire extingusher as I was concerned the battery box had caught fire. Apparently the smoke was just being drafted out the other end as the smoke started to decrease. That was more excitement than I cared for. I decided that the charging line from the alternator or the diodes in the alternator were shorted to ground so when I switched to go to the original configuration that put the truck batteries to ground. I then tried to see if the pickup would start and fortunately it started no problem and seemed to have charging voltage so I decided at least the one alternator hooked ot the truck batteries was still OK! It was raining and it was not a good place to work on things so I decided I would just wait until I got to AL7OB at Anchorage and check it out. It seemed like either the diodes were shorted or the cable shorted to ground or it might of broke at the terminal lug to the alternator and dropped down and was touching ground. We had enough left in the battery bank for the night with a little to spare. We then took the antenna down and in general prepared for departure in the morning with the minimum things left in case it was raining hard.
Day 26 July 6, Friday
When we got up it was fairly clear so we got some good pictures of the surrounding mountains with the snow on. We then prepared to depart and we were blessed in that the pickup started fine so our battery problem had not ruined anything on the pickup. We headed for Anchorage and as we got by Glennallen it got quite foggy again and we missed seeing some good scenery. We got to Anchorage at rush hour and twice I had trouble turning getting into the other lane so I need to watch this more closely. I could not get Mike even though I heard him as the 147.210 machine had a tone which I learned was 103.5 from a fellow on 147.300. Fortunately Clyde KL7IBY was on the 6 pm sked and I talked to Bob and Roger. I moved to the rpt with Clyde and thanked him and promised to get together and then qsy back to 147.210 with the right tone and got Mike to respond and he talked us in, although I missed on corner. We got backed in and then they took of and we finally got level by backing up farther. We got set up and finally got the dish network going on 119 degrees but it was a real battle finding the satellite. I finally walked with the GPS to get the bearing correct for sure. We could only get about a 50 on the signal and then it said not enough signal when I finally figured you just cancel out of everything rather than trying the switch or dish 500 set up. One does have to have the right satellite checked. I finally stumbled into the fact that just some of the transponders are strong enough to be seen up here. Apparently at about 8 degrees at 109 degrees for the Canadian satellite was just into to much stuff for me to get it.
The next project was to check out the battery bank problem and I found that indeed the charging wire to the battery bank we shorted to ground so now to determine where? I found that the lug was indeed broke where the charging wire had hooked to the alternator and it had dropped down and was touching the frame. I was pretty happy to see that was the problem and that very likely meant the alternator was fine. The down side was it was going to be a lot of work to fix. We got all our stuff out and managed with the small creasant from the top to get the nut off the alternator. We tried everything else we could think of but this is the only thing that worked. We then took the short piece of short, big flexable wire I had and soldered on a terminal lug and drilled them out to fit the stud on the generator. Again after trying a lot of things I discovered I could turn the nut a long ways by had and then again used the small creasant. WOW WHAT A JOB! We did tape some other wires that were there to protect them some and keep them away from the charging wire. I should try and work on that at McCormicks when I get home. I then put lugs on the original wire and on the other end of the new wire and used a stainless steel nut and rubber taped and black taped and used some wire tires and got it going. I checked for short and it was gone so then I put in new input fuses and they did not spark. I then tried the knife switch and it did not spark so apparently no draw of current. I watched for smoke and there was none so it was time to start the truck and see it it would charge the battery bank. It was charging as I could see the voltage rising. I went and checked the truck batteries and they were higher which would be normal since they were charged up and the battery bank was down to about 12.2 volts. The voltage climbed steadily on the battery bank so all was well. I then but anti-battery corrosion grease on a couple of terminals that were green and then started the truck and let it run about 45 minutes to charge the battery bank some. I then hooked the battery bank to the radios but left the 5th batteries hooked up for the 5th. I then put up the antenna and set up the station and worked at the computer on Quicken, the dairy, etc.
Day 27, July 7th Saturday
Today was a fun day. Parking here at Mike and Lana Melum is working great! We also met Del and Jan Seay KL7HF. We are in constant communication on 147.57 which is crossed banded to 447.570 which has fantastic coverage. It is on Mt Hunter by Wasalia! We also met Randy AL7PJ and he said he would keep me posted in regards to 6 meters. We got an appointment for Wednesday at 9 am for the Jayco dealer to work on the 5th. It is amazing how bear and moose are right in town and are a real nusiance. Del directed us to Walmart, K-mart, Sam's, etc. We were impressed by prices very similiar to SF. We also find all the common stores and will check out Home Depot and Lowes as I need some fuses to replace the ones I blew on the input to the battery bank. I got 12 Zip disks at Sam's which I really need. I have it lined up with Del to work on the web page on Monday and I need to do some on line banking. We spent the afternoon with Edith visiting and helping Lana with some wood chips and plastic. Mike showed me his ham shack and we really looked at and talked about the big dish. He rotated it and elevated it. A very nice job indeed. I sent and got my E-mail and checked in for a short while on th 6 pm sked and talked to Bob and Jack and Roger. I heard Tom but he and Roger were weak but Jack and Bob were strong. We skipped dinner but had a great supper! Tonight I worked on the travelog and will work on the web page.
Day 28, July 8, Sunday
Worked on the Travelogue and the web page. I am finding the web page a lot of work find the pictures is want to put in a specific place in the travelogue and it is tough not to misspell something and then it does not work. It also takes time to load and save the pictures to the web page files. On Sunday night I had a lot of excitement after getting back from having eating out a a Mexican Food place with Del and Mike and our wives. I was going to work on the web page and there was an announcement that 6 meters was open to Japan. Edith and up put up our 3 element 6 meter beam and aimed it west to JA. I did not hear anything and called CQ and was thinking it was over but then a copied a very weak CW signal and it was a JA. Then I heard a few more and they got a little louder. The KL9A worked a couple on CW and then I heard a loud CW signal from JA so I called again on SSB as my CW key was packed under the trailer. Anyway a Japan station replied to my call and from 11:20 local until 12:05 local I worked 41 stations in Japan. It was quite a thrill. I thought I was just going to work one or two at best so I was logging on a map. When I started worked a bunch I had to scramble to find some paper. I operated out of the pickup using the battery bank and had the 300 watt solid state amp. I had to turn the light on as it started raining pretty hard and by midnight it was getting a little dusk with all the clouds and rain. I did talk to AL7FS, Jim who was WA0LPK from IA who I worked for Worked All States for two meters for AK. It was an earth moon earth contact.
Day 20, July 9, Monday
We took the beam down and went over to Del's KL7HF and I worked on the web page most of the day. I had more left than I realized even though I was up at 6 am and worked on it until we left about 9 am for his place. There was a bad accident with 4 people killed in a high speed chase between Anchorage and Eagle River and the traffic was stopped for a long time. KL7Y and other hams coming in were stopped.
I basically spent all day on it and got part of it uploaded and seen how big it was so just did part of it as it was getting supper time and I could see we was going to go over my 10 MB limit with my ISP. Edith did our laundry there which was very, very nice of them.
We ordered out Pizza and I treated since I had taken so long. I also made the skeds with Del's station which really worked well! We went back to the trailer via the lookout up the mountain from us. We had bright sun shining in our eyes so one could not see real well but it sure is a high view looking over Anchorage and out over Cook Inlet. At the trailer I decided for the Web Page I had no choice but to delete a whole bunch of pictures so for the two files left I put them on separate ZIP disks and got the size down and attempted to have about 10 of the best pictures for each file. I did that and then loaded them in my browser and fixed my mistakes and then gave Mike a call and he said I could upload them. It took about 1 hour to upload and then I had problems but fairly quickly figured out I did not have the link to the correct page. It is pretty confushing as I am uses two different web sites addresses to load things so I have to line between the two depending on which file I am using. It would be a whole lot simpler is it was just one!
Anyway I got it working and got back to the trailer at about midnight. It was still very light out!
Day 30 Tuesday, July 10th
I tried to send an e-mail that the WEB PAGE was done but could not connect and could hardly hear anybody on 20 meters so we took off for the day. We checked out the ZOO and headed for the ham get together on Tuesday noon at the Royal Fork. I met AL7FS-Jim who I mentioned earlier, KL7D-Bruce who is on the honor roll and chases counties, KL7GN Gordon who chases counties and grew up in White Lake, SD. Randy, AL7PJ was there and Del KL7HF. Clyde KL7IBY was not there.
We then went down town to the museum. It cost $5 to park and we just are not cultured enough for the art. It cost $8.50 each but fortunately the Alaskan History Exhibits upstairs saved the day and were very worthwhile and well done. The rest you can forget about unless you are into looking at paintings which is great for those that are. When we came out it was raining so we aborted our plans for a downtown walking tour. Anchorage is tough for me to drive in as the streets are narrow and lots of one ways so it is hard to know where you can turn and not turn and a lot of streets do not go thru. Also a lot of streets are apart, then combine and then separate again so the names change. Also streets go part way with one name and then change to another name.
We then checked out Cook Inlet and Earthquake Park and then took Northern Lights across town to the east and the traffic was terrible. We went to KL7CC place to look at how they made a small Cushcraft tri-bander very portable and also they had a couple of portable trailers with a crank up US Steel tubular tower. One tilted forward and one backward. They rotate with a rope and have a diesel generator on thems. It goes up to 40 feet. He had a great shop and station and had a 40 Hygain beam, TH7, and a WARC beam on another tower along with 6 meters and two meters. He also had satellite stuff. They had a new Class A motor home for the KL7AA Club. They have a gaming license because they are a public service organization. They contract out their license for Bingo. They clear about $100,000 a year so the club has lots of money. We tried to go to a Fred Meyer but the traffic was terrible and we could not get in the correct lane. We got back to the trailer, got my e-mail and had some neat e-mails for Janet D and Chris and Carol so that was neat and sent out a couple of e-mails announcing the web page. I have to remember to send a QSL card to PJ5JP.
Day 31 Wednesday, July 11th
We got up early and did the preparations to move the trailer to the Jayco Dealer along the Glenn Hwy about 10 miles to the north of Mike's AL7OB where we are parked. We were getting pretty comfortable and really had a lot of our stuff out and about so it took quite awhile to get ready to go. We were ahead of the traffic and got up on the Glenn Hwy in good shape and stopped at a station and Dumped and filled with water. We tried to get propane but they did not have anyone available to do it. We got to the Jayco dealer and it started off pretty shakey but I had the faith. He said he doubted if they had the leaf spring and he doubted if they had the thermostat for the bedroom fan and was not sure if they could get either. He also said they were to busy to do anything but the absolute essentials. It is the biggest RV place in Anchorage. They had a huge crew typically working on about 10 RV's at once inside or parked by the building. It was the typical RV ZOO that we have become accustomed to. We did all the paper work and I showed proof of purchase to qualify for warrenty service. The said it easily could be more than one day and said they would plug us in and we could stay in the trailer that night. Fortunately Del KL7HF had told us right away after getting to Anchorage they had an extra bedroom and we could stay there. We then spent the day there, Del is retired but his wife Jan works. I got my E-Mail for my dial in ISP and was please to have less than 100 messages after about 1 month. I replied to the ones that needed a response and then did my Internet banking which is the real deal. I confirmed that my state and federal pension checks had been direct deposited and what my auto pay VISA bill was. The auto pay VISA card makes it very easy to be able to buy things while on the road and not have a bill arrive in the mail. So far it looks like all our planning is paying off and we are getting zero bills in the mail. Anyway we have not heard of any from our son Jack who we are forwarding our first class mail to. I went thru my checking account using Quicken and came out to the penny as to what the Internet Banking statement said so I am very pleased about that. We converted U.S to Canadian before leaving and paid for absolutely everything with Canadian cash so we could keep our bank balance correct. The credit card gives you the best exchange rate but it varies from day to day so there is no way of getting the amount correct if you use the credit card until you get the statement so just using cash worked great. We are going to do that on the way home and also next summer when we go to eastern Canada. The banks in Canada give and my local bank give a very fair exchange on the money.
The next project at Del's was to get my Field Day log from the operation in the Yukon completed and submitted electronically. We then went to check on the 5th wheel. I have been around these RV places a lot so rather than check in at the service department I go back to the work area and see if I can spot our 5th. Sure enough it is setting by one of the big doors and much to my joy it has a new, heavy duty spring on it and a complete brand new hub and brake assembly. About that time the tech who fixed the 5th spotted me and said he would like us to back up to the trailer and hook up the trailer cord to be sure the brakes worked and they did not. It turned out we had a busted wire that goes thru the axle tube to the other side! I helped him check it with the ohm meter and pull new wires thru. I could see we were going to run out of time and I wanted him to check all the brakes so he said he would finish it in the morning. We got back to Del's just in time for some great steaks. We had a nice evening and Del and I took a drive and looked at some property. I forgot we checked out a Fred Meyer store earlier in the day. They are nice! Again in these main name stores the p
Day 32 July 12, Thursday
We got up about 5:30 a.m. and had some tea and headed to Walmart to get all our point and shoot pictures we left to be developed the first day we got to Anchorage. They were done and only cost $2.12 for each roll so for 7 rolls it was less than $15.00. It is not hard at all to get used to no sales tax. Anchorage in my opinion in the main part is very hard to drive in. First there is lots of construction, second there are a lot of one way streets and third on the west side of town a street has one name and on the east side another. Lastly people drive like crazy so it is tough! One more thing, if you are not in the correct lane you can not get turned so you try to be clear over and things are going good and all the sudden your lane becomes a turn lane and you are forced to turn before you want. It is not a simple matter typcially to correct this situation because of all the one way streets and streets that don't go thru. I am not going to miss driving in Anchorage. It is laid out pretty decent it is just that the streets are to narrow to handle the traffic so they had to go to all these one way streets. We also got two 12 ton stand jacks to assist if we have to change another tire, forbid! We also got our fishing licenses and King Salmon tags. We then headed for the Jayco dealer and spotted a place that had diesel for $1.52 WOW! The best of the trip and cheaper than at home when we left! We made a mental note to fill up there on the way back. Again when I got to the Jayco dealer I went back where the 5th was and crawled under neath to check things out and was very, very pleased to see a very neat job, rubber grommets where the wire came out of the axle tubes, all connections capped with insulated caps and all the wiring neatly lashed with adequate slack. I found Greg and told him I was pleased and also picked up the old leaf spring and the U bolds and nute(they are pretty tough looking) but the spring would work if one had to use it. The new spring is as good as the other three and still has some bow up.
I then went to the front office and they had to do a bunch of paper work and I had to sign about 5 sheets but it was all No Charge, under warrenty! We hooked up and were on our way after I thanked Gregg again! We then found the station and filled up the F-350 and also our two empty 5 gallon containers as we were down to our last 5 gallon container having ran short before getting to a station a couple of times. Propane runs $2.40-$2.50 which is outrageous. I got along good with the guy filling me and he told me if we would go to Suburban Propane we could get it for $1.32 a gallon. Supposedly the fuel stations really have to pay thru the noise for insurance for having propane in a residential area Anyway the secret is to try and find a coop out in the country or a propane dealer. We got the trailer back to Mikes and then toured the ZOO. It was very good and had a lot of northern animals. We then came back and got set up, did our book work and had dinner. Hopefully we will hike up Flattop Mt. Yet today if Mike can get this schedule to work out OK! IT IS NICE TO HAVE OUR HOME BACK AGAIN BUT SURE DID WORK OUT NICE STAYING WITH DEL and JAN. We thanked them profusely as we really appreciated it. We plan to leave the 5th here and do day trips out of here for awhile.
Day 33 July 13 Friday
We went to the Hatcher Pass road today so we got to see Wasaila and went north on the Parkes Road and then across the Hatcher Pass road and into Palmer. It was a pretty road with high mountians, old mines and summit lake. Snow was on the mountains, a lot was above the trees and there were streams of water coming down the sides of the moutains We did have about an hour wait for detour.. We tried to call Bob in Eagle River but could not find him in the phone book. We then took pictures at KL7CC of the KL7AA Club trailer and RV station. Edith took us out to MacDonalds. We were fortunate that it was not that cloudy today and we could see things good on the Hatcher Pass road. By the time we got back to Anchorage it was raining and cloudy. I did not hear anyone at 5 pm but did talk to Bob and Roger at 6pm mobile. The signals were up and down.
Day 34, July 14th, Saturday
The weather forecast called for temporary clearing in the morning before the next low pressure and rain moves in so we decided to get headed out early and go south on the Seward Hwy and go to the Alyeska Ski resort to take the ski lift up. The Seward Hwy goes south of Anchorage along the Cook Inlet and the tide was low so we seen lots of mud flats. It has the second highest tide in the world only surpassed by the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia where were are going next year. We got to Alyeska about 8:30 am and found out the ski lift closes for the summer but the tram out of the hotel runs but does not start for the day until 10:30 am so we decided to just wait since the it was clearing up some. They had a pretty good deal of $18 (15+3) for the tram ride and lunch combo so we took that. It turned out to be a great deal because food was very expensive at the lodge up top and we had a great view! We got a lot of good photo's as the clouds lifed quite a bit! After that we headed south for Portage Glacier and hopefully to take the train or car to Whittier where our friend Dave Carmichael was stationed when he was in the army. We took some pictures of Portage Glacier and decided to bypass the visitors center and get right to Whittier while we still had some time left. It turned out that the car was the way to go and we only had to wait about 3 minutes and the train cleared the tunnel and we were off. The tunnel is one way only and the train and vehicles share the tunnel. It is about 13,200 feet long or 2.5 miles long so it was quite a tunnel. Whittier is a small town with very little private land. Nearly all of it is owned by the U.S. Government or Alaska Railroad. We got a picture of the large building Dave was stationed in. The building had lots of things in it such as a bowling alley and rifle range as well as rooms to stay. We decided to check into a charter but found they only go once a day at 1:00 pm but then we spotted a small shop that had tours for six. The big charters have from 80 to 200 people in the big boats. He said he was going out yet today for about 5 hours but was full but some might cancel as they were leery about getting sea sick. We ended up getting on and met a nice couple that were working at Denali. I continue to be amazed at people. This is about the 4th couple we have met that have quit their jobs (good jobs) and are traveling and working part time and seeing the county and over-seas and after a few years will settle in a place and get back into the work force full time. We are talking about good, solid people, college education and not drifters. They were great to visit with and we are going to see them when we visit Denali Park. This boat was a 40 foot boat and we got to sit up top with the Captain and found out lots of things. We went to Blackstone glacier and seen it calving, we seen many other glaciers, sea otters, beautiful mountain ranges and other scenery. We did not see any whales. It was totally sunny and no clouds and by far the clearest sunny day since we have been in Alaska so we are glad we got on the tour. We left about 9 pm and again got right thru the tunnel without waiting which was really a miracle as you usually have to sit and wait for up to 30 minutes but we just hit it right. The traffic back in Anchorage on the Seward highway was really heavy. Apparently a lot of Anchorage people go down to Seward to boat and fish all summer long!
Day 35, July 15, Sunday
We are taking it easy today. This afternoon I helped Mike AL7OB pull out the roots of a few bushes with his suburban and Edith is watching some satellite TV and I am doing some things on the computer. Mike got it lined up so Mike-WG0F from Redfield, who is visiting in Eagle River, AK is coming over tomorrow evening about 7 pm. I checked the pictures I took yesterday and have some good ones so they will be nice on the web page. I discovered it works best to use the Word Perfect HTML conversion on the travelogue and then save it and edit it for picture links and added text using Word Pad. I talked to Roger-W7LFB and Doug WA6YYY tonight at 6 pm and talked to Curt K7BI for the 3rd week in a row. There is now doubt the 400 watt amplifier really helps so I will need to go out to the truck and patch in the alum rotary dipole for the schedule.
Day 36 July 16 Monday
We spent the morning planning for the fishing trip on Tuesday and looking over the travel guides and deciding what we want to do when we get to Seward, where we might park the 5th and then also looked at the same thing for Soldotna and Homer. We plan on going fishing tomorrow and if we have success can them here at the 5th wheel on Wednesday and then heading south with the Jayco to a USFS campground north of Seward and driving and checking out some of the things we want to do such as the Sea Life Center, boat tour of the Fjords and Ocean Fishing trip and seeing the Exit Glacier. By Sunday we need to be at Clam Gulch to dig salmons so that gives us Thursday, Friday and Saturday to get down to Homer and do all this and get moved over to Soldotna to dig clams on Sunday. An alternative is to wait and do ocean fishing out of Homer and if we don't like that we can always drive down to Seward on the way back out for an ocean fishing trip or try a second one.
We then went to down town Anchorage as Edith wanted to do some gift shopping for the grandkids and wanted to see the Alaskan Adventure a IMAX type of movie. Mission accomplished and I would recommend it. We then went to Walmart and Sam's for things we needed for the 5th and for the fishing trip and got some more jars for canning fish. We stopped at KL7HF and got a picture for the web page and asked some fishing questions and where suburban propane is so we can fill on the way back north for $1.33 rather then $2.50 at the fuel stations. We met Mike WG0F and Linda who are up here from Redfield which was neat as we visited them at Redfield on Day 1 of this journey! We discussed the salmon fishing trip for tomorrow with Mike AL7OB. We also finsihed up the Anchorage and Whittier section for the next web upload. The next section will be the Kenai Peninsula
Day 37 July 17 Tuesday
We rode down to Soldotna to the Kenai River King Salmon charter with Mike Turner KL7X. We arrived a little early and stopped at Fred Meyer and then had a quick dinner out of the car that we brought along and then followed directions to a spot Northwest of town where a lot of charters go out and met Mike there. It was a sunny, clear day and I had a couple of hits but missed. King Salmon fishing is really different as they really don't hit the salmon eggs very hard at all so you have to feed the fish line and then when you get another tug try and set the hook. That way really hard for me to do with all the years of setting the hook. Mike got a 35 lb. King Salmon about 45 minutes in and we thought we were really cooking but that was it as it really cooled off after that as other boats were not catching anything either. We used a big gob of salmon eggs and a large spinner with about a 1 lb. Weight and tried to "baby bounce it along the bottom where they run., When salmon enter from the ocean they already quit eating.
We got a chance to visit Mikes guide shack and trailer and also touring a fishing cabin his ham friend Bob had. We got to eat some salmon tid bits and they cleaned Mikes King. We then had supper in Kenai and Edith had King Salmon and I had Halibut which was excellent and we shared so we got a chance to try both. We then headed back to Anchorage and got in about 11:30 and got the clam tubes from Mike.
Day 38 July 18 Wednesday
We got up about 8 a.m as we were tired from the day before and late nights. We got everything packed up in about 1 hours as we had been there for several days and had the dish up, etc. We then went to Walmart and got a few things and left 3 rolls of film to be developed and we got water from Mike and Lana to drink which really worked out well. We then decided to head for the Kenai since the Red Salmon had started running good the day before and Mike showed me where we could fish and helped me with the tackle. We arrived at Sodoltna about 2 pm and talked to some of the local hams on two meters and found out where we could dump and get fresh water af Fred Meyers and where Funny River Road was where I had read about a boon docking place. Sure enough we found it and we could park there free. The only rules were no generators after 9 pm until 7 am, stay off the run way and clean up before leaving. We then checked out Red Salmon fishing places and decided the one Mike showed us was the best one so we got our gear . It took us quite awhile to get rigged up as I had ran short of time getting ready to leave and did not get any tackle put together. We apparently left my rod and reel home but had plenty of others but the trouble was I could not figure out the drag on one and the other had way to light of line. Anyway it was crowed but it did manage to catch one and lost one and had a couple of others on for a monment.
It is tough fishing as the current is really moving and you don't have a lot of room and they run close to shore. I stood about hip deep with chest waders and you throw your line up stream with about 3/4 ot ½ oz of weight and a fly type hook about 18" to 36" below the weight. It works best to pull slack in with one hand so you have about 5 foot of line and throw it up stream while letting the slack loop go tight, move it down stream so the weight just ticks the bottom once in awhile but try and keep it moving smoothly so the hook is out stretched from the weight so as the salmon come upstream to spawn they move along the bottom fairly close to shore and their mouth goes open and closed. The idea is to get the hook placed so they run into it with their mouth as it is not legal to snag them. Sometimes you can get the line in their mouth close to the hook and jerk it and the hook will set in the mouth.
I learned from others that a 10-15 degree offset to the hook really helps. Having the right amount of weight to be on the bottom but not catch is the big secret and also the flies I had were small hooks and that makes it hard ot hook the salmon so I am going to change to 3 0 hooks. I think the first one I caught weighed about 8 pounds. Boy when you hook into them they have lots and lots of fight. The jump out of the water and just go flying many times. It is a wild run. They will make several runs a lot of times. When you get on on you yell fish on and everybody is good about pulling in their lines and letting you get it in. We got back to the tailer about midnight and got the fish cleaned and in bed about 1 am.
Day 39, July 19 Thursday
Today went better and by night fall I had learned a lot. Actually most of the things I mentioned yesterday I learned today as I am writing about 3 days travelogue at this sitting. Today I caught two Reds one of which was about 10 lbs. WOW what a fight, it come out of the water and went about 20 feet I swear before it went under. There were four big runs. It took me about 5 minutes to land it. I had about 6 other that I know were fish and I lost one right by shore.
Hopefully with my gained knowledge I can do a little better tomorrow. Anyway it is tougher than I expected and it is close to "COMBAT FISHING". Edith had a couple on but busted her line so we put 40 lb. Test on so hopefully she can catch one tomorrow. It rained like mad today and so we came back to the t railer about 4 pm as Edith was soaked as her hip boots got flooded by passing boat wakes. I tried in the river here by the camp ground but that is full blown combat fishing. We have the big negative tides coming up this week end so we are going razor clam hunting. After that I thing we will move to Homer and do an ocean charter and hopefully see Joe WL7M and see about salmon fishing in the spit. We are going to give the King Salmon one more try on Saturday, July 28th. After that we are going to leave for Seward and do a scenic boat tour and also see the sea life center and possibly an ocean fishing charter. The money seems to be holding out very well as our only expense seems to be a little diesel fuel and some fishing tackle so it looks like we can easily do some more tours budget wise.which is great. Around August 3rd we should be headed for Anchorage and then head north to Fairbanks.
Day 40 July 20 Friday
Today was the big fishing day. We have spent about 1 and ½ day learning what I wrote about the past two days. We did our tackle over last night with 3 0 hooks and reduced the weight to ½ oz. We were tired as we have been up a lot and got to bed about 11:30pm so we got up about 8 am and headed for our fishing spot. There were only a couple there so we started fishing. Edith caught her first Red Salmon and had a second one on which was a big one that broke her 40# test line. She got wet as the water went over her hip boots from the wake of the passing boats which are many. I caught 4 fairly quickly and lost on close to shore and one took off and ran about 40 feet on top of the water and got off. I caught one that was the largest I seen come out the past 3 days. It weighed about 10# and took me a long time to land. It took of and ran 4 times. They are a powerful fish. I have never caught anything like it. They have the power to go upstream for miles in very fast current and even up rapids and small falls so you know they have great power. I first thought I was maybe wrong about running 40 feet on top of the water as it could seem like it when you are trying to keep one on your line but I seen a couple of others that different people than me had on that definitely ran 40 feet on top of the water. They often come out of the water a couple of feet. You better have your brake set right or it is all over. The current is about 6 mph so that is added in to the force as they nearly always run downstream.
Edith decided to take the fish and go back to the 5th and get dry clothes on and clean the fish. I stayed but things really slowed down. I caught one more and want to catch a sixth one to get my limit but at about 9 pm after over 11 hours of fishing I gave up as Edith wanted to get back and start canning the salmon. We are canning salmon as I am writing this and it is 11:40 pm and we have to keep these 7 quarts at 10# pressure until nearly 1:00 am. We have another 7 quarts ready in the refrigerator which we will try and do in the morning. We also have 4 gallon size freezer bags full and in the freezing compartment and one fish and some tidbits for having some fresh salmon in a day or two. I would say we have ended up with about 35 lbs. Of salmon that are fillets with very, very little bone if any! I see Red Salmon is about $10.00 a lb. So that would be $350 worth of Salmon. We each have a $100.00 license and have gotten about $75 worth of fishing tackle for the Red Salmon. So actually that being $275.00 we are a little ahead. However we are totally behind on the King Salmon having $225 in charter and $20 worth of King Tags but than who said this was about being even. Almost always hunting and fishing never is! Hopefully we can each catch a King Salmon on our second charter on July 28th Saturday. With the week end coming up tomorrow and the high negative tide being this week end we are going clam hunting the next couple of days. Also the fishing place will likely really be busy since it is the week end. The Red Salmon are supposed to run pretty good for another week so hopefully we can get one or two more days trying for them. Next week we will go down to Homer after we get the clams processed and likely try an ocean fishing charter for Halibut and visit WL7M. I will have to say catching the Red Salmon is a lot tougher than I expected.. A lot of people don't catch any. I will have to get some good pictures of the people lining the shore. WOW! What a sight and one needs to really be good with the technique so some one does not get hooked.
Day 41, July 21 Saturday
We got up about 7:15 am and headed for Clam Gulch which is about 20 miles south of Soldona on the way to Homer. We took buckets, our Clam Guns we have borrowed from Mike-AL7OB, waders to knee in the mud and long rubber gloves and some water and food and our trash. We finally figured out that fairly often there are solid waste disposal sites where you can dump your trash. There are no trash barrels anywhere in Alaska but they have signs up all over to not "TRASH ALASKA". Apparently they don't have trash barrels because of barrels although NWT had bear proof trash barrels. Anyway on the way down we found a solid waste site and dumped our trash. We will dump our clam cleaning tomorrow on the way down. It was interesting as you pull into the site it says to honk your horn to scare away any bears and then to check carefully before getting out of your vehicle.
We got to Clam Gulch about 8:45 with low tide at 11:07 am at a -4.8 feet. We had good directions from Mike and also our neighbor here where we are parked and got it right the first time. As you come in there is Clam Gulch CG and it is just full of trailers and there are cars parked and trailers with quads that they ride down to get clams. You don't want to go on the beach unless you have 4 wheel drive. We pulled on in two wheel drive and barely made it so I got out and put it in 4 wheel drive which was a good thing as there are some bad spots. Most of it is OK but there are bad spots. We seen a guy walking so we picked him up and he said he was a commercial fisherman and needed to get his boats out on low tide to check his far out nets and set them. He gave us some ideas on where to look for clams and that we could buy fresh salmon when they came in at a very reasonable price. It is just like farming, when you sell wholesale you take a beating. The prices he gets vs. what they sell for in the store is about like wheat in bread!
It is quite a sight seeing all the people parked and walking out following the tide out to dig clams. I expected the air holes to be much bigger so for quite awhile there was nothing and I thought this is going to be tough but as we got out a little farther we really found them. Their air holes is about 1/8 inch to 1/4 inch at the biggest. We had clam guns which are 4 inch pvc tubes with handles on it that you shove down and life up with a handle on the top cap. There is an air hole you leave open when shoving down and put your thumb on when lifting for suction. It is a lot of work and you hit some clams and break them put we were doing a lot better than people with shovels! On has to twist them to work them down and also up. The clams go down when disturbed so ideally you need to go down into the sand which is sometimes also dirt and it just does not go down well. Anyway I broke the handle on mine so we were down to the one Edith had but it did the trick. We took turns running the tube and the other would quickly stick your hand down the hole as quite often the clam would not come out with the core but would drop out the bottom but you could grab it before it got clear down the hold.
I noticed the fellow we talked to was having trouble getting his boat in as the tide was going out to fast so I ran over to help along with a couple of others but we could not move it. I then ran the truck down which was about ½ mile run when it was all said and done. They have the boat on a trailer a lot like they carry propane tanks with and they swing the 4 wheel drive which is an old army truck out into the water and get it straight and back it in some and drop it in the water and quickly push it back so the tide does not leave it high and drive. After they get out a ways they use the motor and go check there nets and put them out again. They were netting Red Salmon.
We got our clams in good shape as the clam guns seemed to be way, way faster than what people could do with clam shovels. Most people just found a few but we got our 90 in good shape and got them washed and headed back for the pickup only about 15 minutes after low tide so we had lots of time to spare. When there is a big low tide there is also a big high tide.
While we were getting clams the fellow with the boats came by and set a net and he thanked me for running the truck down for him and getting him out and he said he would give us a special deal on the fish when his two sons got back in. After we got back to the F-350 and got cleaned up as it was raining hard but fortunately we have good rain gear but we got some sand and mud on the rain gear so we cleaned that off and headed to where the fellow said we could get some fish. We seen him headed to a little coffee stand on the beach and he waved. We parked and pretty quick he came up to the pickup. Now you find out the benefits of being kind and talking to the locals. He visited with us about 20 minutes. He is a MD from California named Teddy and has a clinic but during the summer fishing season we comes up here and him and his boys do the commercial fishing. They have some long term plans of doing a resort on the cliff above clam gulch and having a tram running down to the beach. He told us how to clean the clams and about fishing and where to find some butter clams and we are going to get some smoked pink salmon from him tonight where he stays by a cannery. We then headed north and found the plant so we know where to find him tonight and then along Cook Inlet to Kenai and where the river runs into the ocean and again talked to a bunch of locals at a park over looking the mouth of the Kenai and seen a mob of people dip netting Reds. They had a QUAD stuck in the mud and the tide was coming in fast. I watch thru my glasses were they in a panic. They managed to get another QUAD down there and get a rope on it and tow it out. The water was pretty high on it. One of the locals told us a place to go on the beach on Monday and you can watch them put in nets and buy fish also. I think we pretty well have that figured out after talking to Teddy the MD but it was nice. He told us about the sonar station where they count the salmon going upstrat and control the netting, etc. We then went north of Kenai and see the oil platforms, refinery, fertilizer plant and tankers they apparently drill from. It was rainy so if we get a sunny day we may go back. Tonight we are canning salmon, cleaning salmon and getting the clams ready to clean and probably get more clams tomorrow. I managed to fix Mikes busted handle on his clam gun. Quite a feat when you have to rely on what you have along pretty much. I did buy a wood dowl at Fred Meyers and we also bought 12 more quarts to can. I don't know what we are going to do if we get some big Halibuts. We had our first salmon tonight cooking up some tid bits. WOW! It is fantastic. They say Reds are the best and I believe them.
Day 42 Sunday July 22
We changed our plans as it rained all night so we decide to not go claming later today. We put the last quarts of salmon in the canner and started clean the clams. It turned out to not be nearly as bad as everybody had made out. I am sure all my cleaning of game and skinning skills from t rapping helped and all of Edith's experience of working with meat over the years helped a bunch. I did nearly all the cleaning and based on what the neighbors showed me yesterday it feel right into place right away. After about one hour I really had it down pat with very little waste and an excellent job. I was pleased with how well it went. We ended up with 10 pints so based on our experience we plan on moving the 5th wheel down by clam gulch and part and go claming tomorrow and move on down to Homer and check into a halibut fishing charter. We had some Red Salmon on the grill and it is just awesome!!! While the 10 pints of clam are canning we are getting ready to move. We have to go to Fred Meyers and dump and also get fresh water and we should be set. We also need to see if they have any canning jars in as they were out yesterday and we need some for clams and hopefully Halibut in a few days. We plan to be back here and parked in the same place on Friday night and possible Saturday night and then head for Seward. We want to see a little more of Kenai hopefully with sunshine and on Saturday July 28th we are going to give it one more shot to catch a King Salmon. VE6HN Ed a local is supposed to call me shortly and send an E-mail for me to N0ABE for the list as I have been out of touch for several days as we are really packed in here with other campers and we have been more than busy with fishing, canning the fish, claming and canning the clams plus we did some touring yesterday as I mentioned. With the canned Red Salmon and the frozen Red Salmon we should have about 150 pounds of Red Salmon to bring home. I picked up some smoked salmon from my MD friend Teddy last night and had a great visit with him. Quite a character! We can park at his place in Palm Springs CA for a few days anytime we want. It is time to get the newly canned Red Salmon packed away and get things ready to go. The people in this fishing camp have been very friendly. We have met Fred and Walt from Phoenix. It is their 5th year up here fishing. The neighbors to the west showed us how to clean the clams. They are smoking their salmon using an electric smoker and generator. They are from TN. The neighbors to the south told us how to get to Clam Gulch and we visited about his batteries and solar panels. They are from Washington and toured SD last year. It is not a good place for radio as all the bat wings are up and there is lots of radio interference from the generators, converters, etc but it quiets down great at night and the price is right, FREE and we sure have learned a lot. Walt really was the main one getting me squared away on the fishing for Red Salmon so I finally started catching a decent amount.
Got headed south and had a great visit with Bob KL7UR and his wife Dolly! Just delightful people! They are at Kasilof. We headed south and was going to turn in to a solid waste site that we used on Saturday when we went claming and just as we were turning in we noticed the gate was locked so I was concerned as to getting back out and the traffic was on my rear end and with all the distractions I did not swing as wide as I should. What happened was the wheels were just a little on the side and would of been fine but it turns out it was a whole bunch of fill gravel and the trailer wheels sank way in and tilted to the passenger side and I only have about 8 inches clearance between the 5th and the pickup box so it was touching by the time I got stopped. Another fellow stopped as I was trying to back and I could see that was not going to work so he and Edith watched while I put it in 4 x 4 low range and low gear and eased it ahead knowing it might push against the box harder but there really was nothing else to do! The truck has enormous power so it effortlessly moved ahead and fortunately the trailer wheels climbed up out of the deep ruts rather than continuing to skid along the edge of the loose gravel and up it came. About that time it slipped out of low range 4x4 which really gave me a start as apparently I did not get it meshed in good being stopped but nothing hurt as I had good clearance when it happened. I will have to check it again while things are still under warranty but am quite sure it just did not get meshed in good. We then had to do some fancy backing to get turned around but that went OK. Put a mark in the plastic that protects the top of the box and looks like it bent the steel in just a little bit. Makes me sick but then it could of been a lot worse. We could of tipped the trailer over or certainly twisted it or caved in the overhang on the 5th and really crunched the pickup box and also not be able to get out and have to be pulled out and really messed thing up! Anyway when ever turning one has to be aware that things are working and if one is not going to make it to stop and Edith will have to get out and direct traffic while I back up! I can tell you that there are a lot of things to think about and it is so easy to get distracted like I did and not catch it in time! I will just have to get over it!
We are at a nice pull of and got a good E-mail connection and got 13 messages. I feel guilty being out of touch so long but had a couple of days when the only time we were able to try were the mornings and I could not connect to anybody. Then we had about 5 days of straight fishing and claming and canning and missed the skeds and just did not want to transmit from the camp ground with 100 RV most with their bat wings up. I don't have a good option of sending E-mail from the truck and it has rained almost constantly for the last 5 days so can't set up on the tail gate, etc. I will have to look into setting up on the passengers seat along with the laptop.
BTW the Laptop has been working out great and thanks Joe-W0DB for getting my USB mouse to work. It would of been impossible to do FD without it. The regular keyboard worked great. I am going to have to get an USB Read/Write CD ROM! I am going to have to get a self built so I can leave the equipment up all the time and wired up all the time. Also in the battery box I need some small quick tach plugs that handle 30 amps that I can get at by just opening the battery box door and not have to pull out the battery tray and move the leads for one stud to another. I also find if I stay parked for awhile and travel around with the pickup then the two 5th batteries can get down below 50%. I can either abuse them occasionally and replace more often, get set up with a battery charger or fun the generator to charge them but hate to do that because of the noise in a lot of situations or could use and inverter off the battery bank to run a battery charger to charge them or get a couple of solar panels. The latter might really work while so that when we are going down the road we are charging from the truck and also the solar panels so the battery would be fully charged when we unhooked and the solar would charge when we left the 5th set as long as there was some sun. The other thing I need to do is get an inverter that does not give me radio noise so I can charge my laptop while doing E-mail. The laptop is working great so will need to get a second one for backup and then leave the desktop home. The printer has really come in handy and has not been bad to carry and store and set up and seems to run fine on the inverter so I need to take a printer along. If it dies I can survive or in most places just buy another as they are not that expensive.
I did get an E-mail off to Chris, Arliss on the trip to Ghana and to Joe-WL7M at Fritz Creek! The big battery bank is just WORKING OUT GREAT! IT WAS THE WAY TO GO! For higher power an amplifier on the 5th is a problem as I have to run the generator which makes noise and it also throws out some ignition noise and it takes up room so I am either going to have to use the amplifier in the pickup and patch it to what ever antenna I want or put a second ampliifer in the trailer but then there is the voltage drop to contend with. It seems like the most feasible is the 400 watts from the truck which makes a big difference from the 100 watts and for back up just get another SGC 500 so the wiring is the same and if I have amp trouble I can just put the backup one in its place in the pickup. It would not take up a lot of room.
Day 43 July 23 Monday
We dug clams for the second time at Clam Gulch, it took us a little longer this time but we finally found a bed of them and finished getting our 90 in a hurry. We then met Teddy again and had a great visit with him by a spring coming out of the bluff they he had converted into a fish cleaning stat ion. He gave us a great lesson on processing a salmon and how he does the bellies and cheeks fot smoking. He again said when we get to Palm Springs we have to park our trailer their a couple of days! We watched the tide come in and then headed to Homer. We stopped at Ninilchik and seen the Russian Orthodox church and some beautiful mountain scenery across cook inliet from some of the turn offs and RV parks. We got into Homer and called Joe WL7M and he was most helptul on RV parking spots. We ended up on the Homer Spit right on the ocean and then took the F-350 down the spit and got a Halibut charter with Silver Fox Charters for Wednesday for all day leaving at 5:30 am. They said we should see some whales and that the success rate with the Halibut had been real good. We had a nice evening, what a scenic spot, got and sent E-mail and had a great visit with a couple who teaches school. They are from Chicago and came up the inside passage with their car and are tenting it. They left their pop up camper in Prince Rupert! She loaned me a book called "INSIDE PASSAGE". Edith and I are going to do that same thing summer after next but leave from Bellingham, WA and not take the vehicle but just be passengers. We might take bicycles to go into some of the towns. We checked out the laundry mats for tomorrow and took long showers and had a great nights sleep.
Day 44 July 24 Tueday
We headed out for Joe WL7M and his wife on east road in Fritz Creek. It is truly at the end of the road. They have a fantastic view of the mountains and bay and the Homer Spit in the background. He has a great ham station and they have a nice house. Joe is an Air Force retired Coronel. GOSH I can't spell Coronel for sure, embarrassing! It was one of those once in a life time experience and we will always remember it. The time just flew by. We then headed back to Homer and Edith did laundry, I shopped for a belt as my buckle had broken and my pants kept falling down! I found a place up on the bluff on what is called Skyline Rd with a great camera view point and then down the road to the east I found a great spot for my evening skeds at 6 pm and 9 pm SD time. We then went to the trailer and started processing the 90 clams. I did have another great visit with the couple from Chicago and made the schedule at 6 with strong signals and got some great pictures of the Homer Spit and the town of Homer. I then came back and did more clams. After about 160 of them over the past few days it is starting to get to be work! At 9 pm Edith went along for the second schedule and again signals were great and I showed Edith the view and she took some pictures. We came back and I gave the couple from Chicago a Homer map so they could go up the view point and we finished the clams, ate a great supper and got our gear ready for the 5:30 am departure time for the Halibut Charter.
Joe-WL7M was telling us about Tom Barnett and his book "END OF THE ROAD" and how it was about actual people in Homer and how he was a great guy. Tom does the "WE WILL LEAVE THE LIGHT ON FOR YOU FOR MOTEL 6. Joe also showed and told us about a forest fire that could easily burned their house down and all the networks were there. WOW! What an experience. Some guy just up the hill was doing some slash cutting and decided to burn the trimming and it caught the forest on fire and in just minutes it was a blazing inferno! He called the fire in and they were there in minutes and told them to leave immediately so they jumped in their car with the fire shooting over them as they raced down the road leaving everything behind. The networks had their house as an example of clearing an area around your house for fire protection. Like most people in AK they have a metal roof so the snow will slide off and for fire protection.. They had a number of burned spots in their deck. Several houses did burn.
Joe said it usually snow in October and stays until May or early June. He said they are enough higher than Homer that they have snow about 6 weeks longer than Homer!
Day 45 July 25 Wednesday
We were up at 4:30 am to be at the Silver Fox Charter boat the Ultimate by 5:30 am for check in for our Halibut charter. Wed were underway by 6 am. We had rain gear, plenty of warm clothing, field glasses, cameras and food and water. It was about a 50 foot boat however it could travel at about 25 mph. There were 16 people that were fishing and two deck hands Ken and Adam and Captain Dave. It turns out we were the only new ones as all the rest had also been out yesterday. Edith was the only gal. It is about a two hour ride out to where they fish so we were out about 50 miles and could look out at the open ocean. I was surprised by the number of boats out there; and how small some of them were! We seen Soldavia, Port Graham and English Bay. These communities are progressively isolated and in fact English Bay prides itself on being an isolated place where the pace of life slows to a crawl! It was a beautiful ride out and as you looked out toward the Aleutian Islands it was misty, cloudy stormy looking with the tops of the mountains in the clouds. Just like I pictured the Aleutian Islands.
As we were going out I think more than anytime since I retired I thought about my friends still working and really felt bad for you! I felt kind of guilty as this was absolutely so grand to be relaxed, seeing wonderful scenery, having great visits with others on the boat and the excitement of catching some Halibut! I can see how sailing/boating can be addicting. We pulled up and the captain was using GPS , had a display of the ocean floor and a fish finder. We fished in about 100 foot of water. We tried it about and hour, moved a little and caught one but that was it so in about 30 more minutes we left for where they had fished yesterday. There were all kinds of boats there so the Captain chose a spot about ½ mile away and we started catching them right away. A couple of the fellows caught big ones which were weighed on the official derby scale when we got back and weighted 141 pounds! Edith did great and caught her two Halibut before I caught any and she also caught an Orange Rock Bass. Others in the group caught an octopus and a Link Cod as well. They were really only catching them off the back of the boat as there was a ledge there where they were really feeding. We all rotated the same way to cut down on getting tangled but with the current it unfortunately still happens a lot. It seemed like I always got tangled before getting to the back and then had to start up front again. Finally toward the end when most had caught there two I got to the back and caught my two right in a row. I think my biggest one weighted about 30 pounds based on the weight of the dressed out filets. The rest were around 20 pounds. The average Halibut caught is 30-40 pounds and that is about what they did the day before. Today the group as a whole did much better. It is really a matter of luck as once you set the hook it seemed that no one lost one. It is hard work reeling them up! My arm really ached after cranking up two in a row. Jigging with a 2 lb. Weight and sometimes catching on rocks also gives you sore muscles after awhile. We got some pictures and headed back about 1:30pm.
We seen 3 whales, sea otters and Sea Lions so it was a good wild life trip as well. They did the fileting on the boat which was fun to watch and the Sea Gulls just went nuts following right over us and diving for the cleanings which is all thrown over-board. We got in a little before 4 pm. Dressed out we ended up with over 40 pounds of Halibut, not as much as I had hoped but it was great the Edith got her two and that I also did. Side note(Janet Edith is really getting hooked on this fishing!) The things you find out in retirement you never knew is amazing! We packed up and are back in Sodotna and will can Halibut tomorrow, go to the hospital here to see the pictures of their worst hooks in the face and do some touring. On Friday we are eating dinner with the local ham radio operators and doing more touring and Saturday we give it one last shot the catch a King Salmon with our guide Mike. I expected this fishing camp to be about empty but the Reds are still running well and Walt and Alice are still here. This is good as it vastly improves our chance to catch a KING SALMON on Saturday as they run about the same time as the REDS! We put our awning down for the first time of the trip as it is never hot and it rains so much but Edith wants to dry a few clothes. I was very pleased today with my high tech, unfortunately expensive Gortex rain gear and hiking shoes. That Gortex really works! I tried the E-mail before leaving Homer and got part of it and lost my connection. I don't know if I can get it from here or not? The park is really noisy f rom battery chargers, invertors, generators, etc. I will drive to a quiet location for the schedules on Thursday and Friday. Since we will be pretty kicked back the next two days I may try E-Mail from the F-350 to see how that works! The only thing I don't have is another inverter for the laptop and I don't want to tear the one out that is mounted in the 5th so I will just charge up the battery on the laptop and assume it will stay up long enough. If this works out well I can get another inverter for the truck or better yet get a sine wave inverter for the 5th and take the one in the 5th and put it in the F-350
Day 46 July 26 Thursday
We slept in after being up early and going to bed late for several days. Since the sun was shining brightly which does not happen very often in July and August as it is the rainy season on the Kenai we decided to change our plans and go touring. We went to Soldotan and fueled up as it was good to see some reasonably priced diesel since it was quite a bit higher at Homer. We stopped at Joanna's Fabrics in Soldotna which had a llot of fabric and crafts at reasonable prices. We then headed for Kenai about 12 miles away and went north. We checked on the fishing spot on the Cook Inlet and found they had already sold their morning catch and would have more toward evening. They can fish from 7 am to 7 pm. on Monday and Thursdays only. They told us about a minature display of the oil platform and setup that is in the Kenai Airport so we will take a look at it tomorrow. We than went to Nikiski Beach road and seen the oil platforms out in Cook Inlet and the oil tankers. I tried the telephoto but it was still hazy toward the oil platforms and a long way out so really could not get any good shots. I am going to have to spend some time reading the Coolpix 990 Nikkon Manual. We then returned to Ikenai and seen the Russian Orthodox church and got a tour inside. We also called Mariah Tours in Seward from the visitors center and made reservations for Monday for a wildlife and glacier tour. We then to the bridge road and got on the westerly side of the Kenai River and the took Kalonoski Road which turns into Funny River Road right west of Soldotna which is the road we are camped on so that is much quicker and we will take it tomorrow when we go to the ham dinner at the airport in Kenai.and also look at the oil platform display. Kenai is a very busy airport as this is a popular tourist destination for fishing and also the major jumping off point for flying to the Aleutian Islands. When we got back to the trailer we started processing the Halibut. It sure was easy already being fileted. We just took the skin of and cut it up and put it in the quart canning jars. We finished 14 quarts and got the rest ready to be canned Friday. We just kept the jars in the refrigerator over night. We will end up with 16 quarts and one pint of Halibut and 1 quart of Orange Rock Bass and 18 pints of Razor Clams. We also have two big meals of frozen Halibut and one meal of fresh Halibut. I then took the radio equipment from the 5th and the laptop and took the 600 watt inverter out of the 5th since we never use it and headed out to find a place to make the schedule and try doing E-Mail from the F-350 for the first time. There are some many trailers and so much electronic noise it it tough to operate from the park here. I found a good site on a pull of on Funny River road that was up out of the valley and set up. I set the equipment on the passenger's side seat as well as the laptop. I had the inverter in case the laptop battery would need charging but it did not. I plugged the TNC into the accessory 12 VDC plug in the F-350 and hooked the 12 VDC cord(which I had prepared in advance for just such an occurance) from the radio to the battery bank cable that normally goes to the 5th. Since I did not have another 12 vdc connector to match this I lashed it together with a vise grips. I need to get the correct connect and that will work good except if it was pouring down rain. It would also work great for hooking up the equipment on a picnic table or in the screen porch we have so one could operate outside if it was hot but wanted to keep the bugs away. I need a second plug inside to hook to if it is raining hard. I made the 9 pm sked with AC0M and N0ABE and after that sent and got my E-mail. Signals were quite good so the 9 pm central and 6 pm Alaska time seems to be a good time. Once I got back to the trailer park I visited with Walt and Alice from Phoenix quite awhile and then we had chicken for supper. We were tired and went to bed about 10 pm. It is very, very light yet at 10 pm but it really don't bother us any sleeping.
Day 47, July 27 Friday
We finished canning the Halibut, Orange Rock Bass and one pint of Razor Clams this morning, took our showers and it worked on the computer and got out the Nikkon Digital Camera manual and we be studying the when I get a chance the next few days. We headed off for the ham radio luncheon about 11:00 am. Fortunately the canning time finished about 10:40 am so it worked out! We had a great dinner with the hams and met two fellows KL7J Les and Jim who knew who we were right away having been their South Dakota in the Amateur Radio Sweepstakes contest many times. After dinner KL7J invited us to his place to try an inverter out and we had a great visit, got pictures, operated his station for the 6 pm schedule. It and AL7R Brent have the two best stations in all of Kenai. The had 20 meter monobanders, 10-15 trap antennas and 12-17 meter antennas so very impressive. Les gave us some good ideas on traveling and things to do and see while in AK that are going to be very helpful. He also used Winlink 2000 so that was neat and he had the same trouble we did with being able to send messages as the software is not very clear about that! He also showed us how to get to AL7R and where some Carbou hang out. Les also let Edith pick some strawberries and rhubarb so we had rubarb tonight along with some ice cream. Very, very good! We then headed to the Soldotna hospital in they let us in the emergency room where they have a padded, flannel man and women with hooks in them everyplace they have taken them out of people this year. Last year they had a total of 76 and so far this year 56 with on in the waiting room that just got one in her hand today. They even let us take pictures and wondered how in the world we knew about it! It was of course through our amateur radio friends. BTW we seen the scale oil platform and lots of pictures of the platforms at the airport and checked on airfare to Kodiak but it was outrageous! After we got back I headed for my same spot down Funny River road but no one was one the 9 pm schedule but I did get and send some E-mail with good, strong signals from KA6IQA. I spent the rest of the evening thinking how I could put a switch in the 5th batery box to make switching more convenient and quick and figured the best would be to just unlock the door to it and have a knife switch to go from the battery bank to the 5th batteries! I also figured on how to get 12 VDC to the radio I borrow from the 5th wheel to do E-mail from the F-350. Tomorrow I sure hope we get our King Salmon.
Day 48, July 28 Saturday
I spent a restless night in anticipation for my second try at catching a King Salmon. Mike Turner KL7X from Anchorage was our guide. This is his sixth year on the Kenai River I kept rehearsing in my mind what I had to do as you see catching a King Salmon is quite a different type of fishing. First of all King Salmon do not bit that hard but if the have red salmon eggs in front of them as they come upstream the will "NIP" at them. We mainly back bottom bounce which means you bounce a onel pound weight of the bottom. You will feel a tug a tug a tug and you feed it slack by standing up and poking(shoving ahead) your rod toward the fish. Then to set the hook you snap the rod upward. By this I mean you snap the bottom of the rod handler down while snapping the grip ahead of the reel backwards. This is really tough for me as all the fishing I have ever did you get a tug, tug and you jerk the rod back to set the hook. All night I am rehearsing this as I had a couple of tug a tugs on July 17th our first time out and came up empty handed, ie never got the hook set in a King Salmon. We are out on the water by 6 am and it is about 50 degrees, a little wind and foggy. Basically it was real chilly! We were fishing with a couple of friends of Mike Turner our guide and it was not long and Steve had one which weighed about 30 # and he had Mike release it as he was trying for a bigger one! Based on what I had seen I sure would of kept it and in fact that was it he never got another bite. Edith hooked a King and it was off to the races! WOW! I thought here we go. After about 10 minutes she was shot and I took over. It was tough and it took about 20 more minutes and we got it up by the boat and seen it was :FOUL HOOKED" which meant it was not hooked in the mouth which rarely happen with King Salmon. Unfortunately that is an illegal hook and we had to get the hook out while it was still in the water and let it go. Mike said when they are hooked that way the resistance from the 5 mph current with the fish going every which way is like landing an 80 pound King. My arms were aching so bad I did not thing I was going to be able to do it. By the way we ended up 2 miles down the river before it was over with. Next Mike wife hooked on and did a nice job with it other than she did a terrible job setting the hook but Mike our guide grabbed the rod and got it set for her and after that she did a super job. She was very, very thrilled and it likely weighed 30 lbs. Or so. She kept it which was smart on her part and there also was not a lot of time left until 12 noon when they had to quit! I had one bite and did not get the hook set. I did OK feeding it line but jerked it up and back to set the hook rather than the snap action with the wrists and arms, standing up. Let me tell you after you have literally bottom bounced a couple of thousand times and all of a sudden there is a tug a tug you have all you can do to feed it line by moving the rod toward it while standing up. When you try and set the hook the guide always guns the motor to help set the hoork. Well there was a boat right in front of us som he really could not do that and apparently me upward jerk did not get the hook set as I basically landed on my butt back on the seat! Pretty disgusting when the gal does a terrible job of setting the hook and gets her fish and I get thin air. OH WELL I am a big boy no use crying over spilled milk just get back at it and work, work, work, work! I am rehearsing this in my mind, tug a tug feed it line, tug a tug, I am feeding line at I get up, tug a tug i snap the rod with a quick jerk of the wrists and arms. Edith has one on for about 20 seconds and it gets off. The hook just did not get set. It was noon hour and Steve decided to pack it in and of course his wife has caught hers for the day so she is done. I could tell Steve was kicking himself for not keeping the 30 lb. One he caught. Early one Edith caught about a 10 pound Red Salmon which was a very nice fish and since she caught it before catching a King she could keep it.
I forgot to mention about mid morning we went down river in the fog to Beaver Crossing were there is really fast water in a small area and it is just full of boats. WOW you take about close quarters and lines close together if some one catches one everybody has to reel up quick and let that boat out of the pack to try and land the fish. The gals got snagged together and when we came they were catching a couple but it soon cooled off so that was enough we left for BIG EDDY and back to bottom bouncing.
Mike cleaned Steve's wife's King and we had a little lunch and Mike's daughter and Edith and I were going to go out. We had it set up so both Edith and I would go in the morning and if only one of us got a King Salmon in the morning the other would go in the afternoon. At noon we found out the other two that were schedules wanted to get back to Anchorage and so Edith could go if she wanted so it was going to be Mike;s daughter Emily and Edith and I. This King Salmon fishing is not inexpensive but the money has been holding out really well so we both decided to go. Edith was getting discouraged. I was not discouraged but I was trying so hard and just could not seem to get the hook set and these others were getting Kings with basically Mike gunning the motor! Man no justice!!! After dinner is get another tug a tug a tug and I do a great job of feeding it line and I rip the rod back and up and miss him. Mike says you have to snap it in one quick movement ast the big jerk up and back is to slow. We do a different type of fishing called back planing where and airplane looking device takes the hook down and you don't have to set the hook. Would you know it Edith gets a heck of a hit and Mike guns it and it is one for a little bit and then gone. Mike could not believe it. Edith reels in and all the salmon eggs are there and what had happened is the King hit the airplane like device and when she started to reel it in the King just spit it out since it does not have any hooks on it. The pressure is starting to mount. BTW it was just Edith and I as Emily decided to go as it was really getting cold and windy and looked like rain.
Things really cool of and we try some more back planeing but no luck, nothing so we decide to try bottom bouncing at Big Eddy again and they were catching one or two. By now it is down to less than an hour and I get my third tug a tug of the day and I feed it line by standing up and moving the rod toward the fish and I try and snap the rod to set the hook and Mike guns the motor and I fall on my butt on the seat and NOTHING! I am beside myself! 17 hours of hard, hard fishing constantly staying on the bottom! Mike never got on me about being on the bottom but always was getting on everybody else and the same for my "BABY BOUNCES and said I did a good job of feeding it line and standing up but just was not snapping the rod like I should to set the hook. We are now down to 30 minutes to fish and Mike is talking about me flying up sometime and the future and block out a couple of days. I am saying to myself to keep the faith I am not going to give up. With 25 minutes to go I make a decision. If I can be blessed with my 4th tug a tug for the day I am calmly going to stand up and feed the King line and I am going to wait a long time before I try and set the hook. I decide I have missed them three times by trying to jerk it back hard and probably to quick. It is 20 minutes to go and it is looked desperate!!! I need a miracle and I GOT IT! Tug a tug and I calmly stand up and feed the fish line, tag a tug, tug a tug tug a tug and it seems like I have been waiting and for a long time and then I snap the rod as hard and fast as I can and Mike guns it and WOW! DOUBLE WOW! TRIPLE WOW! You talk about having to hook set. I felt like a had a 100 pounds on the line and off the KING goes. I mean there is nothing, I mean nothing I can do as the brake is screaming and he heads right under the boat toward the prop! My heart is pound but Mike does wonders, he spins the boat around and keeps the King away. I YELL at Mike NICE JOB! and the King is off. I am not bragging here but at least I do have some experience to draw on here! Keep the rod tip up, keep the line tight with a bow in the rod and crank like mad. Mike gets us ou of the pack and we head down stream After about 10 minutes I get the edge off the King and can do a little with it! Mike says when he is not pulling real hard to crank down and lift the rod tip, crank down and lift the rod tip. I am thinking to myself Mike good idea but you try it . This guy is pulling like crazy but finally it tires some and I can crank down. It makes some more runs and I am thiniking concentrate, concentrate, concentrate it is not in the bag until it is in the net. I remember Mike telling Steves wife in the morning not to get over confident as she was celebrating and it was not in the net!
Finally I get it up be the boat and we get a look at it!!! GUYS AND GALS IT LOOKED LIKE A WHALE! HONEST TO GOD A WHALE! I had been beating on myself since July 17th when I missed to tug a tugs and now today I miss three but I don't panic. I caught a 9 # 4 oz. Walleye and did not panic so I am not going to panic now but this fish is bigger than any I had seen in the two days I had fished watching other boats land them. Of course when it seen us and the boat it was off to the races again but by now we have the drag set up some and Mike got my sun glasses off and we work it up by the boat and Mike tries to net it and it slips away. I see the hook and I does not look like it is hooked that well and Mike says CAREFULLY work it over toward the net and I am thinking this is an opportunity to panic but I CAREFULLY work it over toward the net and Mike has it in the net. I have to help Mike lift it in the boat. Mike says it is 50 to 55 pounds and it was huge!!! It in fact weighed 54.25 lbs. on the official scale at one of the dock places!
We get tons of pictures and then Mike fillets it for us. It looks like we can freeze a couple of big steaks and get at least 14 quarts of King Salmon. King Salmon costs about $11.00 a pound up here dressed or $7 a pound live so my 54 pound fish is worth about $378.00. The Halibut is also expensive but this was about pride not money!!! If you want a challenge try and catch a King Salmon on the Kenai! As I go to bed with the pressure cooker just being shut off after jiggling away at 10 pounds for about 2.5 hours I count myself blessed and definitely got a miracle to get one more chance with 20 minutes to go to get my KING SALMON!
People come from all over the world to the Kenai River to fish for the elusive King Salmon. You can only catch two a year as an AK resident or out of state license.
BTW the 54.25 lb. fish was easy in comparison to the one Edith had a :FOUL HOOK on!
I looked at the digital pictures and printed some out of the the King Salmon and also backed them up to a zip disk as I sure don't want to lose them!!!
Day 49 July 29 Sunday
I got up about 6:30 am as I am still on cloud nine from the KING SALMON catch. I had printed out some pictures as I wanted to show Walt and Alice the couple from Phoenix as they are obviously dedicated fishereman. We decided to pack up the trailer, dump, take on fresh water, get a few groceries if we needed them for the boat tour out of Seward, find a ham friend to E mail my KING SALMON picture and go to church. We ended up in Kenai at Bill KL7IHJ to send the picture and then went to church at Kenai. We had a great time, I think the nicest church we have been to on our travels. They invited us to their pot luck dinner and they wanted to see my King Salmon picture which was printed out and the same one I had just sent on the Internet. We had some smoked Salmon and some Blue berries and lots of dessert which we have had very little of traveling so we could not resist eating some of them! We then headed for Seward and go in around 4 pm and got parked right along the ocean above the beach in the city Water Front Park and then found where our tour leaves from in the morning. We watched them clean fish on the dock, mostly "REDS" and then went out to Exit Glacier and walked out and stood on the Glacier and got lots of good pictures. Back at the trailer we set up and I got and sent some E-mail in great shape and also talked to Curt K7BI in Glendale, AZ and had a great supper and visited with the people from Alberta next to us and watched the Holland America Tour boat pull out! Edith is canning the last 7 quarts of KING SALMON and I am working on the travelogue.
Day 50 July 30, Monday
Today we took the wildlife boat tour by Mariah to Kenai Fjords. It was a 44 foot boat, rode real nice and we could get inside out of the rain and we got dinner and snacks and the sea was not very rought However it was a cloudy, foggy, rainy day so it was fortunate that we dressed warmly and had good rain gear as it was wet and cold!. We could not see the the scenery very well because of this but we did see the Aialik Glacier which was calving a lot. I think it is the prettiest glacier we have seen. It would of been even nicer in sunlight I think. For wild life we seen sea otters, harbor seals, dall's porpoise, grey whale, sea lions, Puffins, bald eagle's and a number of other birds. We got some decent pictures given the weather. I think the high point were the dall's porpoise running along side the bow of the boat. Fortunately I got some decent pictures. The rain really made it tough to keep the water of the lens and it was horrible to use the telephoto with the rain and swell moving the boat around. We left at 8:30 am and got back at 5:30 pm. I got and sent E-mail and checked out the Alaska Sea Life Center and found the hours to be 8 am to 8 pm so it is to late for today so we will do it in the morning and then head for Anchorage and do the WEB Page, hopefully see Dan KL7Y station and then head toward Denali! We are ready for some sunshine.
I did get it straight today positively that Red Salmon are Sockeye, Silver are Coho, King are Chinook and Pink are Hump. I also found out that Red and Silver look almost identical. The Reds have slightly redder meat and the silver have some black spots on the top of their tail and look a little more silvery in the tail.
Day 51 July 31, Tuesday
We toured the Alaska Sea Life Center and seen Harbor Seals, Sea Lions, Puffins, and a lot of other sea life. We definitely thought it was worthwhile. We then headed for Anchorage and checked out a float plane to try and see the Harding Ice field but the pilot thought it would be to cloudy and the first price was $129 and then they said they made a mistake and it would be $189 so we decided not to go. We bought diesel south of Anchorage for $1.49 which is the cheapest since we left home. We are parked at Mike and Lana's. We got our pictures from Walmart, some groceries from Sam's and we talked to Chris and Floyd tonight and was able to send and get the e-mail with great signals tonight. Hopefully I can get the second edition uploaded to the web page and see Dan KL7Y station and get headed for Denali National Park. Mike AL6M got home late as he had visitors but there was still time to upload the web page on his connection which was greatly appreciated. Mike sent my KING SALMON picture to AL7FS who will upload it on Mike Turner KL7X Web page.
Day 52, August 1, Wednesday We worked around the trailer cleaning and Edith cleaned the pickup. I did some computer work, we did some grocery shopping and KL7CY called Clyde KL7IBY and were able to talk to him and he invited us over which was very nice. We filled our two tanks of propane for $1.89 a gallon and headed for Clyde's place. We had a great visit, made the 6 pm sked and used his WEB TV to get the info on bus tickets for going into Denali Park as they don't allow cars to go in very far. Clyde also showed us a parking spot at China Springs up by Fairbanks. We then stopped at the Alaska Wild Berry shop and got some gifts and see the largest chocolate waterfall in the world. When we got back I talked to Dan KL7Y and found out it would work to see his station tomorrow night so I told him we would head out for Denali and come by as he was getting home. Frank KL7FH came over and we had a nice visit with him and Mike and Lana as it would be our last night in Anchorage which we have come to know well. We said our good byes and were going to bed and Mike called on two meters and said we should be able to see Denali Mt. If we went up the hill so we jumped at the chance and sure enough there it was the first time since we got to Anchorage on July 6th other than on July 17th we seen it dimly in the clouds and haze so it is tough to see in the summer time.
Day 53, August 2, Thursday
I was very happy to hear Del KL7HF on as he had been gone to Sourdough, AK and I was concerned we were going to miss him. We were able to contact him and come over to visit and do some computer work and say good bye. We had a great time and I was able to do my Internet Banking, get my regular E-mail, send some E-mails. I found out a former class mate had open heart surgery and they also found out he had cancer so that shocked me and I sent him a get well message. We then said good byes and got some groceries, and finished getting ready to move and headed for Wassila, AK to meet Dan-KL7Y. We stopped at Walmart and I made the 6 pm sked and Edith did some shopping. Dan showed up and we followed him out and had a great tour of his station which is definitely the biggest ham station in Alaska. He has 4 antennas stacked on 10 and also 15 which is better than I have, I like my 20 a little better. He has a shortened 40 at 160 foot where I have the full size at 70 foot and the full size quad. He has antennas for 12 and 17 and high dipoles for 80 and 160. I have the verticals. He has a hill top location in three directions ans is especially good to the west with better siting than I have but my ground conductivity is a lot better. I would call the two stations different but over all similiar. Dan has a position for each band so way, way more inside! We then headed north and parked for the night by Talkeetna and I sent and got E-mail about 10 pm and it appeared to be fading so right now between 6-10 pm local seems to be the time frame.
Day 54, August 3, Friday
Unfortunately it is raining so we are shot down for a flight seeing trip to Mt Denali but are going to check it out. We ended up taking the Geeting Aviation rainy day flight for $75 pp and it was nice. The amazing thing were cabins way up high in the middle of nowhere. Apparently they hike in or in some cases use a quad. We did see one fly in by a lake. We seen absolutely no wild life. Our pilot said they seen quite a bit last year but it is just gone this year. We also seen some cleared areas near Talkeetna where they had cleared the forest by pushing it into long windrows. We see a huge garden. We also seen the Barnett Earth station where there are two big dishes. We toured Talkeetna and on the way out found the Barnett Earth Station which has been decommissoned.. Mike had showed me pictures on the Internet. We then headed north for Denali and arrived mid afternoon, raining like made a very low cloud cover so as per typically we seen ZERO of Mt. Denali. We looked for places to park and spotted on in a gravel pit as an alternative if the Denali Park campgrounds were full. We then went to park headquarters and got our tickets for the bus tour in the morning which we need to be ready by 5:50 for the 6:15 departure to Wonder Lake. We watched a movie on Denali and checked out the bulletin boards, weather forecast etc. We then left and checked a private camp ground and they wanted $18 for dry camping so we decided to use the gravel pit alternative especially since the trailer park did not have pickup service for the Denali bus tour. We have another camper here in the gravel pit that has apparently been here a day or two as they have things set up. They took off with their car and left the trailer. We are going to stay hooked up but run the slides out and put up the 20 meter dipole for the sked and E-mail and then take down the antenna and in the morning run the slides in and move the 5th and F-350 to the RV day parking while we go on the bus tour. We will check the weather forecast when we get back in to see if it is worth waiting around to try and see Denali. If it does not look promising we will head for Fairbanks, tour that area and the Haul Road to the Dead Horse on the north slope where the pipeline starts in the sea north of Alaska and then on our way out of Alaska we will travel the Old Denali highwas and look for berries and wait for awhile to try and see Denali. Hopefully we see lots of wildlife tomorrow. It will have to be close as I will only be able to use 3 X as it will be to dark for the telephoto.
Day 55, August 4th, Saturday
We got up at 4:30 am, had our battery clock alarm set and my Timex wristwatch so we did not over sleep but as usual we did not sleep real well and were awake before the alarm went off. We had a quick breakfast of oatmeal and raisons and headed off for the park headquarters about 8 miles away. We pulled the 5th wheel. The lot which was nearly full the day before was empty so we parked and headed for the bus departure area in front of the building and got in line behind one other couple for the Wonder Lake tour whick is about 86 miles into the park. There is one about 6 miles farther to Kantishna. Our bus drives name was Tom Crane who narrated the trip. There were about 18 people on the bus. Edith and I sat on opposite sides next to the window. They wanted to steam over a lot so we had to keep whipping them off with paper towels the bus driver provided. The public can drive the first approximately 13 miles and then it is restricted to permit only which is mainly buses.
There is an exception which is a very good deal it seems to us. You can take your camper into Teklanika River campgrounds which is 29.1 miles in if you are willing to stay 3 days. It costs
$12 a night. Then for I believe $23 each you can get what is called a "TEK" pass which allows you to ride the bus on a space available basis for the three days you are camped. I believe the first day you have to specify your trip. You just flag down a "GREEN" bus at the bus stop by the camp. There are about 90 camp sites and the road is nice and wide but does have potholes and is of course gravel from the 13 miles on. to get to the camp ground. One would need to arrange this ahead of time to be sure of pulling it off. However we checked that night and they did have some slots still open. One can reserve starting in Feb or one can wait and try for the next two days each day at 7 am via an 800 number for a certain number they hold back. The 800 number is on the web site. There is also an Anchorage number. You do not have to stay with your bus but can get off and come back on a later bus. They get very crowed however we discovered you can come back on the Camper bus where they carry back packs, bikes, etc and we found them to not be crowed at all and they follow almost the same schedule. They don't stop for wildlife quite as much but they sure are a lot less crowed and if it got late one could almost be assured of getting on a camper bus. I would suggest leaving on either the 5:15 or 6:15 am bus to see more wildlife and then stay out and come back on a later bus to see the evening wildlife. Remember to bring mosquito screen clothing and 100 % deet repellant as they can be bad at certain spots. There is a nice hike at Wonder Lake. Another trick that I think would work is to check what it would cost to stay at the Teklanika River Lodge which runs their own shuttle bus thru Denali to their hotel and then takes you back when your stay is over. There are also tour buses which are "BROWN" buses. I am not sure how you get on them but one could check the Internet for tours. I know some of them are like Princess, etc. which are the tour bus company but I think there are others thru the hotels, etc.
If one wants to dry camp one can go on north about 8 miles up on the hill and there is a pull off. There is one gavel on previous that one can also stay. The rest are posted no camping. Dry camping at a commercial camp ground is $18.00. Denali also has Riley Campground right by the entrance but again one better get it set up ahead of time as it is generally full. If I had it over to do again I would go for 3 days at Teklanika River CG and get the "TEK" passes. Considering the Wonder Lake trip cost us $30 each the $36 + $23 + $23 is not bad for 3 days in Denali. One could have a lot of fun. If you are the Back country, tenting type that is very economical and I think one is almost assured of getting a spot and can ride the camper bus. It does cost for a back county hiking permit but it is reasonable. Bears are definitely a concern and you want to come very prepared. I think you have to rent their bear containers or certainly have approved ones for food. You would want to check this out. I normally don't worry about bears BUT these are Grizzley and they are pretty unperdictable so there is some small danger.
Back to our tip to Wonder Lake. Edith spotted the first wildlife of the trip a Carabou of which ultimately we seen probably 50. She also spotted a grizzly bear down in the river bottom. See seen 3 grizzly's and I seen two of the three. We seen 2 fox, one moose and about 20 Dall Sheep. I got pictures of all them. As usually it was very cloudy and overcast so not even a glimpse at the bottom of Denali let alone up a ways. The road gets very, very narrow after the Teklanika River CG. It is straight down for 1000's of feet and when two buses meet there is just barely room. In fact many places there is not so one bus has to pick a wider spot to get over. The parks system has it all worked out with the traffic as to who is supposed to stop and who has the right away. There are some real colorful rocks on the mountains in a number of places and lots of glacial rivers. There are rest stops about every hour. A the Elison Visitors center you can try and upgrade your ticket to go farther. The point here is if all that is available is and Elison trip which is about 54 miles in you could take it and then stay and keep trying for an upgrade. My thinking is you would almost be sure of getting to Wonder Lake anyway. For many the trip to Elison and back would be good enough but if you really want to maximize your chance of seeing the greatest amount of wildlife you should go at least to Wonder Lake. I am sure we would not of seen the moose or Dall Sheep if we would of just went to Elison and went right back. BTW I got some great Telephoto shots. A few there was just not enough light but given no tripod and you can not get out of the bus to take wildlife pictures not bad. We did see one bear up on the hill side that got in a fight with another bear a couple of days before and killed it as people in the bus watched. There were signs all over to not enter this area, restricted! The bear was still there eating the other bear. It had a huge area tore up. It was a huge grizzly. Like I said earlier I don't worry much about bears but these grizzly's are not perdictable! Far different than a black bear. Polar bears are also very dangerous but few people get close to them based on where they live.
Once we got back we checked the weather but it said cloudy for several days so figured there was no use staying and trying to see Denali. I was tempted to do the Taklanika River Camp ground and "TEK" passes as they were available starting that night but due to the cloudiness decided not to. We then headed north and as we went north it cleared up but we could not see Denali as it was cloudy back to the south We ended up deciding to go to Fairbanks which was about 120 miles. About 20 miles west of Fairbanks we looked back for Denali and THERE SHE WAS! The locals say the MOUNTIAN IS OUT! It is rare in the summer time. In the park we seen where it was really only clear twice in July and had not been clear in August yet. We pulled off the road and ran back to where another car was parked. There was a couple visiting one of their parents in Fairbanks. The couple was from Fargo, ND. She was so excited about seeing Denali see could hardly talk. I was not much better. We were snapping photo like crazy and I set up the tri-pod and telephoto lens.
It was starting to get dusk and the sun was shining on Denali and it was AWESOME! You just can not believe how big this thing is. You can see it at Anchorage and you can see it a Fairbanks. Look at your map and you will see how far apart these towns are. It is like having a Mt. Between Sioux Falls and Rapid City and being able to see it easily from both towns way, way above the horizon as clear as can be IF it is a clear day. I was really getting excited as I could not see it in my telephoto so I just went with the 3 X in the digital and Edith snap some with her zoom. I decided to run and get my other filter lense to try and get rid of some of the diffusion from the haze. It did help but by then it had gotten dark. I am happy to report I got some real decent pictures. The one telephoto actually was not bad but I did not get the mountain centered! I should of tried a couple of more but anyway it was a sight I will never forget and most people go to Alaska never see Denali so we were blessed! The sight to the naked eye and then through my Steiner Field Glasses was fabulous. You just can not believe how much snow is on the mountain and how BIG it is!
I was surprised at Fairbanks, expecting it to be flat. Instead it is very hilly and lots of trees . You come in on a skyline type drive road going east. It lies down in the valley. It was nearly 11 pm so we found the SAM's Store and a bunch or RV and pulled in and just ran out the bedroom slide to keep the noise down and fell into bed. What a wonderful day. I WILL NEVER FORGET THE VIEW OF DENALI. I JUST HOPE WE GET TO SEE IT AGAIN!
Day 56 August 5th Sunday
It was a cloudy to partly cloudy day but no rain. We went to the visitors center toward noon and checked out road conditions on the Dalton Hwy (Haul Road) to Prudhoe Bay as well as sight flying services up north and called some as well as the Arctic Inn at Prudhoe Bay. It was nice as the visitors center had public telephones right on the desk where you could call local numbers and 800 numbers or use a calling card. We made a reservation for the Discovery River Boat on the Chena River that has a 4 .5 to 5 hour cruise along with a couple of stops at what I would call living learning centers . More on that after the tour! We then went to the UAF Musk OX and Caribou farm and got some good pictures of the Musk Ox. The tours have been cancelled due to Hoof and Mouth precautions. We then went to the museum at UAF which had a section for each region of Alaska and for $5.00 pp it was definitely worth it. We then found the spot on campus where you can view Denali if it is clear. It is reportedly the best spot in Fairbanks since UAF is up on the hill on the north side of town where Fairbanks it down in a bowl along the Chena River. Fairbanks is laid out well and have about 3 roads going thru town that are 4 lane. Like Anchorage it has some one way streets downtown and at certain points they change the names of some streets but from my standpoint much easier to get around than Anchorage but then it is smaller. We then went to Alaskaland which you can get into free but virtually everything in it costs money other than kids can play on a lot of play equipment free. The big attraction is their Salmon bake and a theatre show but it is not cheap! I was about $25.00 each for the Salmon bake. Since we have our own Salmon we did not do this. Alaskaland is basically a tourist trap in my opinion. They do have a big old paddle wheel boat that costs $2.00 pp to look around on and they have tours which would be OK. They also have a Pioneer Airplane museam for $2.00 pp. After that we tried the Royal Fork and found out they had closed so settled for Pizza at Pizza Hut. We did find prices about 30% higher than Sioux Falls here. We then drove about 20 miles north and checked out a couple of camp grounds a fellow parked by us said were not bad. He also gave us a great map showing the Fairbanks attractions and a place where you can buy Musk OX hair from a shop a lady runs and net your own as Musk Ox pieces cost like $200 but is is some of the nicest, softest material in the world and very, very warm. He also showed us where a close by laundry mat and where the RV dump and water places were. I showed him my battery bank. He had just retired and they have been on the road since June 1st. They are from MN. We find everyone is so helpful and willing to share info and visit every where we go as most are in there early 60's and are from what I call the old school and a lot are from west of the Missisippi.
We decided the campground was to far out so for now we are just going to stay at the SAMS lot as they have a huge lot and we are clear off on the back side next in the far northwest corner and the customer parking does not come back here as it is a long walk to the front doors. We seen lots of campers loading two carts plumb full into there campers so SAMS and WALMART know what they are doing! They get some very loyal customers from Rvers. It is really a lot quieter here than the parks we have stayed in. Everyone is good about not running generators. BTW is is chilly here in the mornings getting down close to 40 degrees at night. It gets to 65 to 70 during the day so far. We will do day trips out of hear to Chena Springs, Circle and Manley Hot Springs and then decide if we will move to the CG we looked at to leave the 5th when we go to Prudhoe Bay or just leave it here. I called Hollis Hall who was my boss years ago at SDSU and now is retired and lives here in Fairbanks but they were not in so I left a message I would try again tomorrow. We then looked for a place on the ridge north of Fairbanks where I could get E-mail from and make skeds and we found what is called Skyline Dr. and Edith spotted some ham antennas way up on top as we were turning around. We drove in and found a huge, beautiful log type house. It had a walk in bottom level built in the ground and two stories above that! He turned out to be KL7AF and his name was Len. We had a great visit and found out he is flies a plane as a hobby and he wants to take us up on Tuesday so we need to call him Tuesday morning. I showed him my pictures and he also told us about the contest station KL7RA has put together out on Chena Road. We can operate from his yard for the schedules which has a great shot toward stateside out over Fairbanks. We are working on our list of what to have in the F-350 for the Prudhoe Bay trip. We will see if we can get a room but they are pretty booked up and want $125 a night so we may have to sleep in the pickup if they are full. We figure a day up, a day for the tour and possibly a sight seeing charter and a day back so they would mean two nights out. I am working on the computer know and it is about 12 midnight so got to get to bed and get some sleep to get up and get going for the Discovery Boat cruise.
Day 57 August 6th Monday
Today we took the Discovery paddle wheel cruise boat down the Chena into the Tenana river. I has 4 decks and carries about 500 people and is very nice. It only needs about 4.5 feet of water to float. They had programs along the bank. They had a brush plane take off and land right along the bank as we went by I was amazed how short of a run way a brush plane needs. We seen Susan Butchers dog kennel, see the dogs pull, seen a fish wheel and fish camp and an Athebasca Indian village showing their heritage with demonstrations. It was a worthwhile trip. After that I called Hollis Hall who was my boss for awhile at SDSU and we had a nice visit and we are going to get together in the morning. We then had dinner and decided to drive out to Chena Hot Springs. It was a good road, very wooded and hilly. Fairly similar to the Fairbanks area but a little more rocky. We made the sked and talked to Floyd WB0MZB and found out the hot weather was still very miserable back home. We then talked to our son Curt K7BI and had a great visit. After that we sent and got our E-mail. It is nice to get the E-mail addresses and catch up on the news. It was especially good to get one from Delores, Edith's sister. We than headed back to Fairbanks. We stopped at KL7RA who has 6 towers and took pictures but no one was around. We also stopped at KL7FAL Rudy but no one was around.. It is about 9 pm and we will have some supper and it looks like tomorrow will be a pretty quiet day seeing Hollis and checking out the airplane ride with Len KL7AF mid morning.
Day 58, August 7th Tuesday
We got up about 6 am and Edith got our laundry ready and I dropped her off to do that at a place we found out about from Jim and Sharon from MN that are next to us and I headed for the Alaska Railroad Depot where the model trains club has their display. I met Hollis there my old boss and we had a great visit. At 8 am I followed him over to the visitors center where we had been before but he works their a couple of days a week. He found some more tour info for us, maps, etc and we had a great visit. I then went to the Public Lands Information Center a couple of blocks south and got some excellent information on the Dalton Hwy and also on the Circle and Manley Hot Springs Road and the springs. These people are extremely knowledgeable and will help you plan trips and have personal experience to draw from. I would highly recommend people visiting Fairbanks to take advantage of these tow places as they are top notch. The visitors center has several telephones you can use on the desk that you can call local numbers, 800 numbers or use your phone card. It is really nice as you have a desk to write on and can be looking at any literature or maps that might be appropriate. The place to park is the public parking place and then walk across the river on the bridge. It really is only a block and the Public Land Information center is just two blocks south and across the street to the west on the corner so very handy.
I called Len AL7AF from the Visitors Center and we are set to meet him at the airport tomorrow at 9 am to go flying. I then picked up Edith at the Laundry Mat and we went to the 5th and got ready for a day trip to Manley Hot Springs which is a little over a 300 mile round trip of which about 220 miles of it are gravel. It is very nice scenery and the gravel was quite good. We visited with the trading post owner drinking a bottle of pop and the people at the Manley Srpings Road House eating Pecan pie and found out the town has access to a river and it got started about 1900 because of the gold exploration. The river drains a large area and on the way in we could see miles and miles of water and lakes. Apparently dog sleds would of worked well to get there in the winter. Now there is fishing in the summer and in the fall hunting and winter snow machines and sking and of course some tourists in the summer. Locals told us a lot of PHD and other professionals who have dropped out of society live around Manley. It is known in AK for weird people buy we really did not pick that up at all. We also seen the hot springs which are very primative and actually in a green house. It was 3 nice size cement tanks and each one is slightly cooler. You can rent it all for yourself at $5 per person. The lady was very nice and let us look. We then headed back and stopped around mile marker 100 where some locals were picking Blueberries when we went out. There were a lot of them and we picked a gallon of them and then drove to a ridge and made contact with WB0MZB and then headed on into Fairbanks. We could see Denali faintly but it was quite hazy. I took a walk and visited with Jim and Sharon from MN and Edith is over there now helping her with knitting the Musk Ox wool called qiviute (KIVEEUTE) which is 8 times warmer than sheep wool. They told us about the Trading Post on the way to the Arctic Circle and a fellow who sells furs and beads at Wiseman north of the Arctic Circle they had a good time at when the took there trip a few days ago about half way to Prudhoe Bay. The said that part of the road was not to bad.
Tomorrow we hope to fly if the weather is OK and then go to the Farmers Market and Cramer field where some migratory crane and geese are and then I need to change oil on the F-350 and get ready for a day trip to Circle on the Yukon for Thursday and then Friday to head for Prudhoe Bay. I wan to make some contacts north of the Arctic Circle on SSB and RTTY.
Day 59 August 8th Wednesday
We went over plans for the Prudhoe Bay trip and then headed to the airport to meet Len AL7AF for the airplane ride. He met us at the pre-arranged spot and he told us to meet him again where they fueled up the airplanes. We parked where he suggested and meet him. He checked us out on safety items and we had a nice visit as he was doing the pre-flight checks and fueling up. We then loaded. and found it was very interesting as we all had headphones and a mike so we could talk to each other and hear all the radio traffic. If he wanted to transmit he held a red button on the stick. It was a Cesna 173 as I remember, single engine 3 passenger or if you reduce cargo a 4 passenger. He got clearance and they had us take of on the main runway that the commercial planes use which he said had never happened all the times he had taken off. We took off and went by his house on the hill and then out the the east, northeast into the bush and then went north and seen from the air where we had been yesterday. We seen the BLM winter snow machine and ski trails, White Mts., pipe line. It was hazy out in the distance but we could see a long way and it was very smooth. He had a GPS for aircraft that he could look at ground features as well as personal experience. We then headed west into the lake/river country I talked about yesterday called Minto Lakes and then ended up west of Fairbanks and approached from the west. We were directed to land on the ski runway which in the summer is a gravel runway. Len said that was a first also. He landed perfectly, very smooth and realized we had been in the air two hours. The lakes had all different color algae in them so they were very pretty from the air. I tried to pay for his fuel but he would not hear of it! A very, very nice fellow! His wife has relatives in Aberdeen so I hope they visit us at Salem sometime! He really enjoys flying and has a company called Mr Electric that does electrical contracting.
Next we went to the Farmers Market and got some Fairbanks grown lettuce, cucumbers and tomatoes. We then went to Cramer Field which is a bird area which was full of wild geese and cranes. I got some great pictures with the telephoto lens.
We then went to the 5ths and I changed the oil in the F-350 and worked on putting a Bug Catcher on the front and fixed up the 12 vdc wiring to do E-mail from the pickup. I checked at the auto store for knife switches but they did not have any. I then asked at SAM's and found out a place that would take used oil so took it there, dumped some garbage at the public site we found and got some diesel for tomorrow. It then went up on Skyline Drive for the sked but no one was there but did get and send E-mail and had a message from Arliss W7XU on our Ghana trip leaving October 24th. Spent the evening going of Prudhoe Bay details and working on the computer. We need to get to bed early as we have really been short of sleep for a long, long time and we need to get up and get going in the morning to go to Circle which is on the Yukon.
Day 60 August 9th Thursday
Today we went to North and East of Fairbanks about 170 miles to Circle, AK which is on the Yukon. I suppose that is about 150 miles from the AK/Canadian border but of course it is just "BUSH" between. It is about 100 miles north of Eagle, AK where we were when we first entered AK so we have almost come full circle. Eagle has a lot of native population and appear to use the Yukon to got up and down to rivers that enter it to fish. We did get a nice boat picture of a group of natives on the river coming up to dock at Circle. We then headed back and at Central went south about 8 miles to Arctic Circle Hot Springs. There is an old lodge, lots of cabins and camping spots. The pool is huge and the water was nice and warm but not burning hot. They said about 103 degrees. It ranged from 4 ft to 12 ft deep. We met a young couple that was also at Manly Hot Springs when we were there. It was $5.00 pp to swim all day and $10.00 pp for 3 days. She said she had a lot of hunters coming in tonight as the season starts tomorrow. We must of seen 50 rigs with trailers and 4 wheeler on our way back to Fairbanks. We swam about an hour which is enough in warm water. If one would stay you could go say 3 times a day but only stay in about 30 minutes each time. She invited us to check out the lodge so we did. It is definitely rustic but nice with lots of history. Of the three springs this was our favorite. Chena is a lot more commericialized but has an oil road to it where Circle has 90 miles of gravel but it is good gravel and quite scenic. We then went to Central and toured the museum for $1 each and watched a good video on ALASKA GOLD. The fellow running it was from Ohio and they have spent their last 6 summers at Cental. Last summer they bought a cabin behind the Circle Hot Springs and this year they are fixing it up. They have power lines in the area but am not sure if they have a local generator or if the lines come in from Fairbanks. My thinking is a local generator as we could not see any lines on the way out or back. We did make the sked with N0ABE and WB0MZB but had some SWR problems. The insert in my stainless steel mast for the coil is lose as the weld is partly broken and I think that is changing the loading and then the input attenuator to the amplifier kicks in and that changes the loading again. Not sure what I am going to do abou t that. If I come to a complete stop so it is not moving around things seem to be OK. I may have to try and find a welding shop and see if I can get it welded.
We got back to Fairbanks about 8 pm so it turned into a 12 hour trip. We had about 30 minutes waiting for road construction. The road from Central to Circle is definitely not as good as the rest. There are some pot holes after Central and then about 12 miles of washboard conditons. The last 10 miles has some real sharp curves. Still all in all for what we have been on in the past not bad and the rest is about as good as it gets for gravel so no complaints. Edith called the Caribou Lodge at Prudhoe Bay to be sure they had oil field tours on the week ends which they do so we will head of in the morning with the pickup, food, water, 10 gallons of diesel and two extra tires and plenty of blankets. We will sleep in the pickup if we don't make it all the way in one day and we see what room prices are at Prudhoe Bay as far as a room is concerned. Hopefully we can do some operating from up there to see how the DX is into Europe as that is as far north as you can drive in North America. It should not be a problem as long as a rock does not take out a window completely. We will believe it will not be a problem.
Day 61 August 10, Friday
We were off to Prudhoe Bay by 8 am and the weather started out nice but as we went north it started to cloud over. The Dalton Hwy which is gravel started out being a good road with some pot holes but mostly quite good as gravel roads go in the north country. We stopped at the Arctic Circle Trading Post which I would recommend as they are nice folks and the prices are decent and they have free coffee and tea. We bought sweat shirts and found out they issue Arctic Circle certificates to those coming back for there. We then headed north and to our surprise there were about 20 miles of oil south of the Arctic Circle but the last 25 miles is road construction and the road was bad being muddy as it was now raining and it was very rough. It was about 25 mph and we took a lot of rock peppering from trucks but none cracked the windshield. At the Arctic Circle we notice we had a tire about half flat and it was muddy from the rain and there were plenty of mosquitoes so it was not fun but it was better there in the parking area than out on the rode and for the moment it was not raining much. We then headed north for Cold Foot and found that was about 20 miles on oil which was again a complete surprise so all told we got about 50 miles of oil but that was it! At Cold Foot we got the tire fixed for $25.00 and found it had a self penitrating type screw in it. He suggested carrying about 50# in the tires. He said they took the rocks better if they had more flex.
The road was worse north of Cold Foot but as we got into the Brooks Mountain Range the scenery was fantastic with large montains, trees, lots of color on the rocks and tundra like plant life. Soon we seen our last spruce tree and the mountains were rock and tundra plant life. The rocks had lots of colors as well. It was the first day of hunting season so people were camped all along the road on pull outs. Eventually we got high enough we started seeing some snow patches. The pipe line is right along the road a lot of time. A few times it is just a few feet away. About half the time it is buried and what really surprised me was that for a long ways it is buried right in the river gravel and in one place the water was running over where the pipe was buried!
We went over the Atwan pass and the rain and cloudy spoiled the view so we were thankful we seen most of the Brooks and the prettiest parts very clearly with partly cloudy and good sunlight. We came down of the Brooks range and got into some rolling hills and definitely getting into the Tundra. At Oil Spill Hill we had supper. The Mosquitoes were quite bad so we put on the bug gear. At Happy Valley we hit construction and it had and was raining. The road was horrible. All kinds of rocks like a creek bed and very soft and muddy. I was concerned about getting stuck was how bad it was. One just could not believe the beating the tires were taking even driving 5-15 mph most of the way.in the construction area so we made very, very slow time., The last 50 miles is pretty good and one can go 40 or 50 mph which is just flying after have a couple of hundred miles were it is hard to avery 25 mph. We saw Franklin Bluffs which were not very high off to the east and to the west some Pingos which are hills formed by underground lake frost heaves in the tundra. The permfrost goes down about 2000 feet in this area and it is very flat as one approaches the Arctic Ocean and Prudhoe Bay. It looks very wet as water is standing all over and we seen lots of waterfowl but really it is the arctic desert but being cool the water does not evaporate and because of the permafrost can not get away. They have about 20 inches of precipitation a year but only 5 inches as rain and the rest as snow. As you can tell it really does not snow that much because it is so cold. It is typically about 35 below but often gets to -80 degrees F. so it is very cold. Most of the oil field work takes place in the winter as they can go anyplace on the ice and snow and not hurt the enviroment and do it very cheaply in comparison to building roads.
Day 62 August 11 Saturday
We saw the sun set about midnight as it had cleared off. We seen a beautiful sunset. At Prudhoe Bay we drove around but nothing was open so could not find a restroom which made for an uncomfortable night. The hotel was full. We eventually found out there was a port a potty at the Tesoro Station that is self service for fuel. We also could of went into the hotel and used the restroom there. We eventually parked off the road and got some sleep. We had lots of blankets which was good as it got down in the low 40's. We got over to the Arctic Caribou Inn about 6:30 a.m and found the café open and seen an Arctic Fox running around looking for food. They get what they call garbage bears and foxes even though you get fined for feeding them they find food dropped, etc. The garbage is all in bear proof dumpsters, etc. but they still find it. We found out the bears were around during the night and had broke into a vehicle thay had some food in it. At the Inn we found the restrooms which was a big relief, had a buffet breakfast and got our tour tickets. We lounged around waiting for the tour and then suddenly I remembered I had lots of pictures in my digital camera so I fired it up on the tailgate and downloaded them while Edith was getting a the food in the cooler to put in the car so we did not have bear problems. We are fortunate that we did not have a bear in our pickup box right behind the cab waking us up a few hours before.
The tour took us to the Arctic Ocean which is a far north as you can get with a vehicle in North America on the contiguous road system adding to our most westerly point with the F-350 down in the Kenai Peninsula at Anchor Point a few weeks ago. We got plenty of pictures and I found out a lot of people take a quick dip in the ocean.. I had never thought of that or I would of come prepared to do that. I was pleased to stick my foot in as that has been a goal for a long time and it was accomplished not with out difficulty. We got lots of information on the oil production, future oil production and life in the area. About 25 people live there and the rest come and go in shifts. In the summer about 2500 and 6000 to 7000 in the winter when much more is happening as I explained earlier. The companies have airplanes that fly people up and back. We they are there they have what I would call dormatories to stay in with exercise and game rooms and satallite TV. Basically when there people work and sleep as they put in long hours. Once we were done with the tour we seen the northern most mini-mall in North America and then went to the Tesoro station which is the northern most fuel station in North America. We then found a spot along the water and set up the dipole and I worked some DX in England and some Russian stations. At 6 pm SD time I worked W7LFB, N6RL K7DZE and WA6YYY. The conditions for DX are excellent from Prudhoe Bay. Before going to sleep last night is checked and the band was great to JA and VK/ZL in the pacific. After the sked we headed back as there is nothing to do in Prudhoe once you take the tour and drove the few miles you are allowed to drive on as the rest is restricted to the public. We got lots of pictures around town and on the tour. After one last bathroom stop at the port a potty we headed off as it is 265 miles without an outhouse and there are no trees or rocks to hide behind for many miles south of Prudhoe Bay. We got some nice pictures as we headed south as the sun was shining some. As we left the good 50 miles it started to cloud up and we did get through the bad stretch to Happy Valley before the rain set in although it was still very muddy from the previous rain. I will say this is the worst road I have ever driven on. I though I was going to get stuck in the mud and was wishing I had put it in 4 X 4 because if I got stuck I would be walking in a foot of mud outside the rut and then I was not sure I could get moving again but made it without gettting stuck. There seemed to be a bottom below the muck which was from all the rock in the road. There are all sizes of rocks you are driving on in the mudd. I have never seen anything like it before this road. The Dempster to Inuvik is very bad and had lots of rocks but this was worse! There is no way you could of pulled a 5th through this. What made it even more interesting is 18 wheelers trying to fly by you and other pickup. These people drive like they ar nuts! I do not see how there tires hold up. I would never, ever, buy a used vehicle from Alaska. I tell you what you don't see any old pickups and they don't last long up here the way they drive. So far I just had one small rock chip down real low in the corner on the drivers side. The headlight covers have a star chip in then that saved a headlight. The F-350 is muck all over! It looks like a mud baha truck!
After Happy Vally the road gets better but it still is only 5-25 mph so travel is real slow but traffic is way down. On the way up we met 134 vehicles of which 66 were trucks, 58 cars and SUV and pickups, 3 pickup campers, 3 class C and 2 Class A and one motor cycle and one bicycle. We only seen one Class C and no Class A north or the Arctic Circle but we did see the bicycle and motor cycle. The motor cycle guy went swimming in the ocean according to our tour guide.
On the way back we met 91 vehicles of which 42 were trucks, 44 cars/SUVs/pickups and 3 class C and one pickup camper and one bus.
On the way up and down we don't remember seeing a car that made it to Prudhoe Bay and certainly no 5th wheels. I think a few Class C and small Class A have made it but it would be tough!!!
Back to the story, Edith said I think we have a flat tire and sure enough the tire I had fixed on the way up at Cold Foot was flat. It was muddy but the road was fairly solid down a little so with the practice the day before things were rolling along good and we had our bug mesh hood shirts on and we were putting the new tire on and the F-350 slid ahead on the mud but the hub caught on the new tire so there it is with the jack half tipped over just caught on the tire by about 1/8 of an inch. NOT A GOOD DEAL AT ALL! I am trying to kneel on boards as the mud is about 1 inch deep everyplace. I got some blocks under the axle of the pickup by shoving them under with some of my antenna poles because the whole pickup could come down so the brake drum rested on the ground if the tire slips off the jack the F-350 is going to finish tipping over. I then carefully let the jack down "STAYING OUT FROM UNDER THE TRUCK as it could crash down hopefully on my blocks if the tire pops off. I manage to get the jack out but have a horrible time trying to get it back under the axle. I finally figure out there are loose, but embedded pointed rocks coming out of the ground where I am trying to put the jack so this is just not going to work and I have to stay out from under the truch as it could come crashing down. Two fellows stropped who were on our tour of 6, small world up here, comes up behind and stop and they find a 2 x 4 in the ditch that is about 6 foot long so I put the jack on it and slide it under the pickup.
Well actually after several tries at getting the jack height just righ I get it under the pickup. Not and easy task in the mud and rocks sticking up and keeping the jack upright while trying to crank it up to get tight against the jack it tips over about 5 times and the mosquito's are bitting me just above the belt on my back as the mesh shirt did not stay down when bent over and mud all over my shirt and pants and the mesh is in your face and if you take the hood of the mosquitoes are in your face. Finally I get the jack tight and slowly start raising the truck as the 2 x 4 pops and snaps as the rocks gouge into the bottom of it as it presses down on the road. Actually it is a good thing as the rocks dug into the wood help keep it from slipping. Now the concern is if the jack will not slip on top of the 2 x 4 but it does not and slowly I get it up and get the weight of the tire that has just barely caught and is holding u the pickup. Carefully I maneuver the tire on the studs and quickly put on a couple of lug nuts. WOW! Finally safe at last!
The road was still pretty poor and 30 mph very occasionally was top speed. The good news were we were meeting hardly any trucks. Meeting a truck is a concern because of flying rocks breaking windows. The Dalton is a high grade above the Tundra and most places is wide enough to comfortably meet a truck but when this is muddy the shoulders are treacherous and one screw up and you are over a very steep embankment down 7 to 20 feet depending on where you are at. If you went over you would likely roll the vehicle in most places so when the trucks you meet are coming at 30 or 40 mph is it pretty exciting. I tried to pull over and stop when ever I could but some times you would meet on a hill. There are no curve signs, no reflectors, no red flags. About the only marking is once in a while a red pillon where the grade has caved away along the edge, that is about it! It started to rain more and as we got into the Brooks it got foggy. All the hunters were still along the road. We DID GET A REAL TREAT AND SPOTTED TWO WILD MUSK OX and then LATER ANOTHER LONE ONE ALL OF WHICH WERE ABOUT 200 yards from the road. BTW on the way up we seen a wolf. Toward dark we seen an Arctic Hare. Edith got pretty tense as se came down of Atwan Pass is pea soup fog. These down grades are often 10-12% so they are exciting expecially when it is muddy.
About midnight is was starting to get dark and we came on a mid size compact and a Japanese couple were out and he was changing a tire. She was standing by the side of the car rubbing her hands and had some hot coffee on the hood and definitely looked cold. I asked him if he has a good spare and if everything was OK. He walked over toward me and smiling said I'M ALRIGHT, I'M OK! I should of said something but I was so amused I just said GREAT! And rolled up the window and headed down the road and burst out laughing! THEY DON"T HAVE A CLUE! They are not OK and they are not alright! It would be a miracle if that car would get through the mud with out getting stuck let along not losing another tire if they had a second spare.. They are looking at 180 miles of the worst road I have ever driven in my life in the dark and rain and I have lost two tires now on an F-350 that are "E" load rated and they are going to take car tires on them, likely 13 or 14" tires. I came very close to getting stuck three times! I should of gave them some fatherly advice but it struck me so funny I did not do it!
For the rest of my life I will see that picture in my mind and here that broken, happy, upbeat broken English with a japanese accent saying I'm OK, I'm alright and I will start laughing until tears run down my face.. JOHN WAYNE ALWAYS TALKED ABOUT PILGRAMS OUT WEST WELL I MET ONE UP NORTH AT MIDNIGHT ON THE DALTON /HAUL ROAD!
Day 63 August 12, Sunday
Edith is getting very tired buy I am wide awake after the tire encounter and the Japanese encounter so I am super charged so we keep forging ahead and slowly the road gets better but the rain and fog gets worse. We make Coldfoot and I have enough diesel to make the Yuckon for sure and likely Fairbanks on one tank. WOW! A lot different than pulling the 5th we are getting 16 or 17 mpg here! We pick up the 30 miles of oil past Coldfoot and fly along. It is great! Then we hit the muck and 25 miles of construction. We are starting to meet some trucks but for once they are not a problem as THEY ARE GOING SLOW! YOU KNOW IT IS TOUGH WHEN THEY ARE GOING SLOW AND SLOW UP AND MOVE OVER FOR YOU! I MEAN YOU KNOW THEY ARE STRUGGLING ALSO! I decide I am going to make the Arctic Circle sign where there is a toilet! Edith about goes into orbit going down the 12 per cent grade, fog like pea soup, no reflectors, are markings and mud and steep shoulders. It did not bother me much but then I was driving and thngs felt stable. One time I came to the top of what is called Gobblers Knob and was not sure what was the road and what was a turn oujt. It took awhile to figure out which was which. We finally made the rest area and as we pulled in a Lynx took off for around the picnic area. We parked and got the blankets out and it was not long before I fell asleep. It got a little chilly in Prudhoe Bay but it was OK here although it did get down in the 40's. I woke up once just as it was getting light but went right back to sleep. The next time it was a little after 6 am so I got out to go to the bathroom and about fell down. It was like getting off a boat after being on waves all day. I finally got my balance back after walking around awhile. We headed off and had about 2 miles of muck and we hit the second stretch of oil which is about 20 miles long. Then the 25 miles that are very bad and then it gets real decent. I think I commented about 5 times how great it was to have a good road. Man you could roll along at 50 mph. It was great. We stopped at the Yukon and took a picture of the bridge, WOW! And a bathroom stop and off again. We hit the end of the Dalton and on to the Elliot which is gravel. This was our 4th time over this road. We stopped at the Arctic Circle Trading Post and got our Arctic Certificates, visited about the road with the people there and also with a tour group in a van going up. It is about $900 each to go up and a van and back. We got back to Fairbanks on one tank of diesel with a little to spare and about 52 hours after we had left. We spent the rest of the day cleaning up, washing the truck at the city RV dump where we found they had a faucet of to the side one could use. We took our RV brushes, pails and rags and still it took about an hour. You can not believe the mud on everything!
We then went out for supper after stopping at the visitors center and finding out where we can buy a tire tomorrow as I had a service station check the flat and it appeared to be cut enough by a rock that it is not worth the risk to try and patch it. I met Curt on the radio and as always up here I can hear everybody but he could not hear me well. I could hear a lot of AURORA on the signals Time to go to bed, getting very blurry eyed!
Tomorrow get a tire, check out welding my stainless steel mobile mast where the insert is very lose after the Dalton trip , dump and get water and head South of Fairbanks on the Richardson toward Delta Junction and I guess you would say officially headed south toward South Dakota but still much to see. I am now confident we will make our goal of driving every highway in ALASKA that is shown in the front of the Milepost of which several are very poor, grave; roads such as the Macarthy Road and Dalton HWY.
Day 64 August 13 Monday
Got up about 7 a.m. to get down to American Tire to try and get a new tire for the flat on the way back from Prudhoe Bay. They said the old one looked like it could be fixed but if not they had a new one, installed for $129 which for Alaska was a good price, ie better than stateside. He said it would be about 1 hour so I asked about a welding shop and the suggested Fairbanks Welding and gave me directions. I found them easily and took the antenna apart so he could see my mast problem. The five foot stainless steel masts for the HAM RADIO Bugcatcher antenna has an insert spot welded in each end for a 3/8 inch NF stud and the spot welds break and the insert gets loose and flops all over. I was concerned it might rip out of the tube and I would lose it along the road. He said he could weld it but it would be about an hour. Apparently the standard put off in FAIRBANKS. I went back to the tire place and they fixed the tire so I got by for $14.00 and then headed back to the welding shop and they had it done. They welded all the way around rather than spot welding so it will hold now. A definite design problem I have to call to the Bugcatcher company. I then headed for the trailer and we started loading up to move. A neighbor came over and asked me about my cable to the trailer and 2 hours later of a great visit I learned a lot and he learned a lot. They had a nice trailer that Edith and I looked at. I had a double slide in the living area but no bedroom slide. It was nice. He had a solar panel, inverter wired in and a good switch and was very knowledgeable. Besides supply places on the INTERNET and catalogs and best prices he gave me the following ideas:
1. How to mount the solar panel and get the wiring in
2. How to charge my coach batteries using my battery bank
3. How to put a tank in so the demand pump does not run all the time.
4. How to wire up an inverter so one has some outlets readily available for 110 VAC things
5. Another fellow stopped by and we discussed just leaving one tire on if one loses a leaf spring and the tires come together to limp into a garage.
6. Charger off an inverter or off the generator to charge the coach batteries or for emergency the battery bank.
He really liked my high amperage DC connection on the line from the battery bank
I was able to give them some information on places we had been in AK they were going and we exchanged E Mail addresses.
We then ate and packed up and left. We dumped and filled up at the public RV site the Fairbanks has and headed south on the Richardson. As we went south it was sunny and clear and we could see three high mountains in the Alaska range. We first though it was Denali but it was not. We got lots of pictures and eventually found a beautiful view from a pull out over the Taranna River valley where we took more pictures and eat supper outside the trailer sitting on our chairs, no bugs and the weather was perfect. It was wonderful! We had some nice visits with people that stopped.
We then headed south for Delta Junction and went south to Pump station # 9 and found out tours are at 9 11, 1 and 3 so we are parked at a pull out a few miles south and we will run back in the morning and see if we can get on the tour. It is limited to 10 at a time so we might have to wait awhile.
Day 65 August 14, Tuesday
We got up about 7 am and got ready to try and see if we could get on the tour of Pump #9 station on the pipeline. The only take ten people per tour. There were two other couples when we arrived so it looked pretty good but as time went on more showed and it looked like we might have to wait. The tour guides came in about 5 minutes late all flustered because one of them had over-slept! I think they were in a generous mood since they were late, anyway they took us which made 12 people which turned out not to be a problem at all for anybody as we still were a small group. We had to go through a metal detector and watch a safety film but we went in all the buildings except where the main pumps are because it is to noisy but we seen the engine and how it was set up in another room which was one that was out of service. This was our third pipe line tour, first at Valdez, second at Prudhoe Bay and now pump station # 9 south of Delta Junction and that is all there is and I will say this was by far the best one for information. The terminal at Valdez is of course a lot larger and they have more things with the loading docks. We have enjoyed them all. It was about 1.5 hours in length and we were in the control room and the operator answered questions. After that we headed south on the Richardson for Paxton and the Old Denali highway. We seen some pretty scenery in the Alaskan range and got fuel at Paxton and headed west for BLM Tangle Lakes CG which I had read about in travelogues. It is high country here, basically no trees but lots of berry bushes and August is berry month so we should get some. We find this to be a NO FEE campground so that is nice. We will leave the trailer here and do two or three days of day trips to finish traveling on all the roads in the MILEPOST in Alaska. We need to take this road to Denali and hopefully see Denali on last time so we will look for a clear day to do that. One day will be down to Glennallen to the TOK cutoff corner where we were over a month ago and possibly another day for berry picking a processing. I had a great contact with the fellows at 6 pm and then at 9 pm I had about an hour chat with Curt K7BI with great signals both ways. For some reason I can not connect with any station for E-Mail tonight so will just have to keep trying from time to time. I thought maybe a cable got broke but it works on RTTY so that should not be the problem.
Our tire that has been patched twice was low and so we changed it for the third time and that is it. I am done with it. I am just going to get a new tire! With hindsight I should of just done that at Fairbanks, oh well live and learn!
Day 66 August 15 Wednesday
We tried to get the weather on Glennallen but missed Caribou Clatters and the weather and since it looked cloudy toward the Alaskan Range we decided to go to Glennallen and try toward Denali tomorrow for a clear day. Other than three road construction sections and two pilot cars the trip went smoothly. New scenery was the Gulkana River and Sourdough, AK where KL7HF Del has a cabin. It is a nice area. We seem some large high country lakes in Summit and Paxson Lakes and some other smaller ones as we went south on the Richardson. While still on the Old Denali we noted where some Alaska license plate cars were picking berries for future reference. We stopped at the Copper Valley visitors center and asked about a place to get a tire. She said it was a small town but gave us some places to try. On there weather sign they mentioned the smoke we had been seeing and this is the first time we found out it was coming from Siberia, RUSSIA! Appearently they are having some huge fires. The locals said a few days ago you could smell it even. We found a garage that sold tires and was able to get one for $112.00 balanced and mounted so I went for it immediately as I have changed this other one 3 times already. Come to find out the fellow grew up in Brookings and moved up here a few years ago. He missed the SD summers and swimming and water skiing! He said it just does not get warm here during the summer. We then had dinner at the local drive in and Edith said it was the best hamburger she had in a long time! We then got gas, Edith bought some gifts and I got a couple of knife switches for their Radio Shack section that will speed up switching between battery banks. We then headed back for the 5th but went up the TOK Cutoff a little to get a picture of Mt Sanford and Mt. Hood which had a lot of clouds when we came by about 5 weeks ago. We got some great pictures.
We talked to the flag girl at a pilot car wait north of Glennallen and found out she makes $33.00 and hour and it was her first summer flagging. She is leaving for college in BC as a Jr. in nursing. She said Tangle Lake where we are at is a good area for berries and said there are very low growing berries that are called Black Berries or Crow Berries. We know what Low Cranberries and High Cranberries are and Blueberries.
When we got back to Old Denali Highway we pulled up a turnout where we had spotted berry pickers in the morning ant found lots of them. We did find a larger black berry we don't know what it is. After picking a few pints we headed for the 5th but spotted some local berry pickers so I talked to them. They did not know the name of the larger black berries but said the locals usually ignored them as they were pretty watery. BTW there are huge mushrooms all over up here so I asked her about them but she did not like them and did not know which were safe. We should of done more research on the INTERNET in regards to the types of berries and mushrooms! Hopefully we can find a local who can really fill us in!
Checked the 9 pm sked but no one we there so I decided to follow the trail up the hill and on to a long ridge to the north over looking the CG and Tangle Lakes. It was a huff and puff up the steep hill but the ridge was easy. It was about 2 miles and lots and lots of berries on the ridge. Mainly Low Crarnberry and Blueberries and a few Blackberry.
Got back to the 5th and spent the rest of the night working on the computer.
Day 67 Thursday August 16th
The forecast calls for rain along the Alaskan Range which is where we are at so we are going to get some projects done today in the hopes it will be clearer tomorrow for the trip west on the old Denali Highway. I got upload number 3 all done, boy it never ceases to amaze me how easy it is for mistakes to creep in and the page has lots of mistakes when they load. I am getting it down to a much faster procedure. One big key is to use the option in Word Perfect to convert the travelogue to HTML that works great and got rid of a host of problems I was having with upload nunber 1 and my beginning tires at creating upload number 2. I spent a long time trying to find some software to make a bigger thumbnail and a smaller picture when you click on the thumbnail but after a couple of hours I gave up as I could not find anything. It sure would be nice as it would speed the upload for me and help people looking at the web page to load the pictures faster. I got upload 4 and 5 pretty well laid out. Now to find a place to upload number 3. A ham AL7PQ stopped by, they were here for the day berry picking and the whole family are hams and they live at Delta Jct. He suggested the library or I can call him on .76 ham repeater and if he is around at the hanger I can upload from there. I need to get a R/W CD ROM then I could upload from most computers as they are likely to have a CD ROM but no ZIP drive and the 8 MB or so I need to upload means I have to upload from my laptop unless they have a ZIP drive which the chances are very slim.
I then mounted a knife switch in the battery compartment to switch from the 5th batteries to the battery bank. This is the way to go. The knife switch does not mesh as good as I would like for going down the road on the 5th batteries so for now I will put a twisty around it to hold it in place. When I get home I need to put in a beefy knife switch but this is certainly the way to go. Just open the battery compartment door and move the switch! I like it. I then put my second Bug Catcher back together using the mast that I had welded at Fairbanks. It looks like the Bug Catcher are pretty bullet proof other than these mast inserts. I will have to talk to K5BUG about it and see if he will stand behind them otherwise I will just take them all to the welding shop and get them welded when I get home.
I connected on E-mail on 20 and 30 meters. There is no doubt about it that KA6IQA is about it in ALASKA. As I get farther south then some other stations work. I could connect weakly with about 4 tonight so you can tell we are getting farther south. I also note that conditions are above average. It looks like W7BO is reliable on 30 meters as this is 3 nights in a row. Noticed I am getting very little E-mail so sent some direct.
Day 68 August 17, Friday
We made the Denali Highway trip. It started out being very cloudy and rainy, much worse than yesterday. So much for the forecast! It did not turn out to bad as it cleared up pretty well and we could see all but the far mountain peaks. It is high country with no trees and definitely Tundra like for the first 25 miles. Then we picked up some spruce and had some glaciers off to the north in the Alaska Range and some glacier rivers. Lots of lakes and streams and high, steep rocky mountains. Lots of people camped of on side roads and lots and lots of QUAD activity. That is getting to be a major recreation activity for people. The first 30 miles is terrible for chuck holes but then slowly gets better. Not bad for rocks or washboard and decently wide. Of all the gravel roads or any road really no one came up fast behind me and wanted to pass. I did let about 3 cars pass. Everybody was really taking it easy. We only met 4 out of state one the 115 miles to the Parks Hwy and only 3 on the way back. I suppose we met about 50 other cars each way, all Alaska licenses. We did not see any bear but did see a bald eagle and some swans but not much wildlife. It seems that wildlife is really down bad in AK this year. We spent about 3 hours picking berries at mile post 100 up on top of the ridge. I picked a gallon of low bush cranberries and Edith and I picked about a gallon of Blueberries. Edith got 10 pounds of sugar at Cantwell. From what Joel, AL7PQ told us the Low Bush Cranberries last a long time and they eat them for snacks most of the winter just keeping them cool. Tomorrrow we will head for Delta Junction and see what happens in regards to upload 3 to the web page.
Day 69 August 18, Saturday
Looked at a pickup that had a topper with a pop up roof on it so you could stand up and also sleep. The fellow said they had it for 9 years and had little trouble. He did not think they made it any longer. His wife was born in Leola, SD and they now live in Anchorage. They needed a coat hanger as they left the keys in one of the vehicles. We had blue berry pancakes and I took some pictures of the Tangle Lake Campgrounds and then we packed up and headed out. We stopped at Delta Jct. And I went to the library and got my regular E-mail. I could not do Internet Banking as their browser did not have 128 bit encryption. I talked to Joel AL7PQ but he was not at the hanger but home so I could not do the upload. A girl at the visitors center was a ham and she noticed my cap.
OWe then headed for TOK and got some literature for SE Alaska and learned about Black Diamond Willow. We got a card for 5 cent discount at Young's Chevron where we got fuel on the way in. They had a free RV Dump and drinking water with a fill. To the south are picnic tables and you can stay there free. It is common courtesy to get fuel and eat at their café but apparently not a requirement from what we can find out. Nothing much is said I suppose not to upset the commercial parks.. We did ate at their café which has excellent burgers and pies and cakes. Not cheap but large serving. . I got E-mail with the Bug Catcher and am doing some computer work. We also researched and discussed what we wanted to do at Haines and Skagway AK.
Day 70 August 19, Sunday
It was a beautiful day today. Finally lots of sunshine and warmer, in the low 70's with a few puffy clouds floating around. I think the Yukon is prettier than the drive from Tok to the AK border. We stopped at a very clean station called Scottie Creek Services just inside AK which also has the cheapest prices we have seen for quite awhile. We came on Kluane Lake and it is so beautiful when we found the congdon Yuckon Provincial Park we just had to stop even if it was only 1:30 pm in the afternoon. I sure am glad we did. I had great contacts on the dipole at 6 pm SD time. Sat by the lake for quite awhile. It is a deep turquoise color from copper being leached out of the rocks making copper sulfate which makes the water such a pretty color. It is a large lake about 20 miles long and a miler or more wide all the way. There are beautiful mountains around it. The Yukon parks provide firewood so we have a fire and grilled hamburgers over the fire and the bugs are not a problem and there is a little breeze. It was nice and warm in the sun so great to relax in the chair. Earlier at Burwell Landing we stopped at a shopped the had burl spruce and also black diamond willows which we find are common willows that have a bacterial infection that produces diamond shape leasions on the willow. We found some more here at the camp grounds. Edith and I agree it is great to have some sunshine, a great day and great to eat outside; actually our first picnic of the trip. Tomorrow we will go to Haines and spend a while there checking things out a possibly take the ferry to Juneau.
Day 71, August 20, Monday
Took one last, long look at Kluane Lake today. Boy! What a beautiful place. Edith really enjoyed stopping right after dinner yesterday and soaking up the sunshine and having a great picnic. I had a good sked a 6 pm SD time and and 8 pm local had a great contact with Curt K7BI. We headed of about 8:30 am and hit two stretches of road construction. One had some real sink holes so had to take it easy as we sure did not want to break a leaf spring on the 5th. We had to scrape together all the Canadian money we could at Haines Jct. As it was Discovery Day so could not change US to Canadian at the bank as it was closed. I could us the credit card as one gets the best exchange but you don't know what it is exactly so the check book gets off. However since we will be home in about a month I may start doing that and just make the small correction when we get the statement. I am almost sure the banks take a slight sir charge. It is not bad but it is not free either!
The road south to Haines, AK is the best road we have been on since SD or ND. We caught up with a trailer caravan so took a long time to get by all 20 of them. The F-350 really seems to be getting more power as we sure seemed to be rolling along with the best of them. It is very pretty coming down to Haines. It would of been even better if we would of had less clouds. We went to the State Park south of Haines but it was not suited for a 5th as big as ours so we went to Cthilkoot which was better but still tricky. Once unhooked we checked out what we wanted to do and ended up going to take a fast water taxi to Juneau tomorrow along with a bus tour and some free time in Juneau. One Wednesday we are going to take a Fish Cannery tour, look over Haines, try and get some pictures of Bald Eagles as this is really a big gathering area especially in late October and November when the get late spawning salmon due to springs keeping the river open. We also are going to take the Alaska Marine Ferry to Skagway on Thursday as it is $162.00 so it is a good deal as it is 329 miles around by road and that would be at least $100 diesel and we won't have to take the water taxi trip between Haines and Skagway to see the scenery as the ferry takes the same route and we will get a chance to check out the ferry to help us decide if we want to do the whole inland passage a couple of years from now as passengers with no vehicle up and back. E mail is working good so we will stay set up here until Thursday when we get ready to load on the ferry.
Day 72, Tuesday, August 21th
We went on the Fjord Express to Juneau today. It is the best charter trip we have taken of any during our 72 days on the road.and the cheapest. For $109 pp we had a 11 hour charter to Juneau and back to Haines. We seen at least 12 whales and some of the 12 we seen surface several times. We had one very close. THEY ARE HUGE HUMPBACK WHALES. We seen the spout, seen them float and seen them come up out of the water and go back down with their tail the last to disappear. Pictures just do not do justice to the sighting. These are huge animals weighing many, many ton! We seen beautiful scenery of glaciers, mountains, falls dropping down the mountain sides, scores of bald eagles, sea otter, dall porpoises, sea lions and harbor seals. The boat was a catamaran that traveled at 28 knots and handled the waves very well for a nice smooth ride. It was all glass enclosed so you could see well in comfort. I sat out on the back open, air deck as it was more comfortable. The boat had two 600 HP engines for a total of 1200 hp which were of course diesel. The dual screw props where 30 inches each in diameter. It was 65 feet long. We traveled the famous Lynn Canal the deepest and longest Fjord in the North American continent. It is over 2000 feet deep in places. We seen Eldred Rock and the first light house in Alaska.. At Juneau we toured Mendenhall Glacier, seen sockeye salmon spawning in a nearby stream and toured Juneau via bus. We then had 3 hours on our own in downtown Juneau. It was quite a sight with 5 huge tour boats docked. We docked in the small boat harbor about 15 miles north of Juneau in Auke Bay and the Alaska Marine Ferry docks about 2 miles north of their. The tour boats dock in the harbor right at Juneau. The tour boats bring thousands of people to town. There were people everywhere! The return trip went well and we traveled faster but did stop for some wildlife again. We definitely recommend this tour. We seen lots of tour boats on the way coming and going as well as fishing boats and freight boats all which were very interesting. We seen glacier after glacier on the tirip. You can take this trip from Skagway for $119.00 rather than Haines. A good option would be to do it from Skagway and not do the water taxi between Skagway and Haines as there is not that much to do in Haines other than the cannery tour, a bus tour of Haines and the Fort which you can see from the boat real well. I will say the scenery from Haines Jct. To Haines is very nice and the Marine Ferry over to Skagway is reasonable so doing it the way we are doing it is a good option and again we won't take the water taxi for $35 each as we will take the same route with the Ferry.
Anyway you get the most bang for your buck with this tour of any we have been on and you are virtually guaranteed to see whales which is not true of any other charter we took. The captain said he has yet to make the trip without seeing a whale. The Internet address is www.alaskafjordlines.com
Tomorrow if there is decent light we will try and get some telephoto pictures of Bald Eagles and we will take the cannery tour and look around Haines. Thursday we are going to get in the boarding lane very early and try and be up for an early loading so we have more time to look over the boat as the trip to Skagway is like 20 miles so it won't take very long. We want to check it out very thoroughly as we are seriously thinking of being passengers the year after next up to Alaska and back without taking our vehicle. The passenger rates are very reasonable and we would leave from Bellingham, WA and could got to Skagway or since we have been to Juneau we could end it at Juneau and turn around and come back from their.
Day 73, August 22 Wednesday
While eating breakfast I noticed and add in the Haines tourist paper that Radio Shack had an Internet Lounge and I remember seeing Radio Shack on the way in so we decided to check it out. It turned out to be a good deal! It is $2.00 for 15 minutes or $8.00 and hour so not bad. The price was the same if I used my Laptop or their computer. Obviously I wanted to use my computer so I could use my zip drive and upload from it or I could of done it from the hard drive for upload 3. This however meant I needed to use a phone card as they charged 25 cents a minute to use their line. If I would of had my files on CD ROM I think things would of flown fine using thier computers as they said they had an FTP program on some of their computers.
I re-did my dial up information for my sprint card since it had 480 minutes and I sure did not want to get part way thru an upload on run out of phone time. I put in the telephone number and pin number as previously I was using ATT phone cards and tried it and it "Bombed". I could not hear it well but figured out how to get the volume up and heard it say I did not have a proper pin number which really concerned me but tried it again and realized I was likely not pausing long enough. It still bombed and then found out I needed 1 to choose between English and Spanish and then a second 1 to choose between U.S and Internationsl! Fortunately the pause was long enough. I really breathed a sigh of relief when I connected to Rapidnet. I will need to practice and make a dialer for the sprint card and document the procedure. It took me 15 minutes to get ready to upload and the upload took one hour and 15 minutes for a total of 1.5 hours so that was $12.00 so I was pleased. I also got my E-mail and sent Ole a message to announce the new upload was up. I was disappointed that the dial up modification was gone when I brought it up again even though I had not rebooted. Again emphasizing I need to make a dial up connection for the Sprint card and also document it.
We then had a snack and got the salmon cannery tickets for 1 pm. It was an historic, running salmon line and was very informative! It took about 1 hour and 10 minutes. We then found out where we could pick rasberries by the mission trail by the Presbyterian chuch so we picked about 3 quarts and headed for the 5th and got some Bald Eagle pictures. I checked them on the computer and they were a little dark so I went back out and took some more. Given no sun I think they are pretty good. It sure is tough taking really good pictures with so little sun all the time here in Alaska and especially here in Southeast Alaska. I guess it rains about 90 inches a year here and they get lots of snow but not real cold as the harbor stays open.
I spent the evening working on the computer and Edith did the Rasberries and made jam. I am going to do some reading about the digital zoom on the Nikkon digital camera tonight. The camp host stopped and warned us about bears! Still fisherman on the way out fishing for Pink Salmon. We seen no one in line for the ferry at 10 am this morning so we will try and get there about 9:30 am to get on first so we have time to look around. I now need to continue work on upload 4.
Day 74 Thursday, August 23
We tore down our campsite and was waiting in line for the Alaska Marine Ferry to go to Skagway about 9:50 am. There was one fellow ahead of us in lane 11 and that was it in the whole lot. I took off the antennas which in the end I would not of had to as there was lots of clearance in the vehicle portion and the slight difference in length would not of mattered. I measured at 47 feet 8 inches so basically hitched I am 48 feet long. We ate dinner in the 5th and read about Skagway and the parks by Whitehorse and about Atlin, BC. Our plan worked and we were one of the first ones on the ferry. We got a good chance to check things out before we got underway. We spent most of our time on the top deck where you can sleep in the chairs in what is called the solarium which is heated and covered except it is open toward the back. One way of doing it is to sleep in your sleeping bag on the lounge chairs which will lay clear flat or incline a little or up to a normal lounge chair position. You can also get completely inside and sleep in padded chairs or there are some padded benches down one deck from the top. The food was expensive but not outrageous for Ak prices. It rides nice and smooth so it would be great for taking pictures and would handle rough water like nothing. We watched them do a lifeboat drill and I got a chance to peak in the top cabin where they control the boat.
It was about a one hour to Skagway and we were one of the first off the boat. In Skagway we got me general delivery letter from the post office from Arliss and then went to the visitors center and watched some narrated slides on the gold rush to Dawson City and a video on the Chilkoot trail and went to the trail center and got tickets for the 8:30 am White Pass train ride for the morning. We then went out to the trailhead by Dyrea and hiked down it a little ways and checked out the remains of the town and the slide cemetery. We then went back to town and found a dry site at a campground. I put things together again that I took apart for the ferry ride. Tonight I will have to work on my application for the Ghana Amateur Radio License.
Day 75, August 24 Friday
Today was the day for the train ride on the White Pass & Yukon Railroad up to White Pass. It is a very historic railroad being built about 1899 and being in use since. It hauled people and freight over the pass and was also used to haul in things for the Alcan Hwy and for other military things during the war. It did shut down for awhile in the 1980's but reopened in a few years with the advent of the cruise ships and has been doing great as a tourist train. They gave the history of many spots along the line, construction information and lots of gold rush information. You could see where the White Pass road was and toward the top you could see the actual path still imprinted in the ground after over 100 years! It was a thrilling view and I would recommend it. They highway goes on the other side of the canyon for aways but then they separate. Doing both is the best. We then dumped, filled up with water and headed out as I wanted to operate PSK and RTTY from Alaska and contact some of my friends on PSK. We got right up on top at White Pass on a turn off just before you go into Canada and set up the antenna and sent an e-mail the we would be operational until 0500z. I had send an e-mail out a couple of days ago telling everyone to be on the look out and said I would update but I could not connect from Skagway. We had some disturbed conditions an Skagway to stateside is shooting right into mile high mountains so it is a tough path and also I did not have room to put up the dipole and was using the bug catcher so anyway I could not connect. The boys were on looking the previous night but of course I could not get on. Anyway it worked out they got the message and got the word out and I worked N0ABE, AC0M, and WA0ORN and a number of other stations so I was pleased.! The longer we stayed the more foggy it got so we decided to just sleep right there. We had shut the refrigerator off right away as we were setting a quite and angle. It was weird walking around the 5th all the time at such a weird angle and also we did not have the slides out. We were sleeping down hill in bed!
Day 76 August 25, Saturday
We got up to some sunshine poking thru the fog and could see some of the surrounding mountains on White Pass. It it all rock, no trees and just a few low bushes. There are rocks of all sizes laying everywhere. It is quite a barren, rocky landscape. We tore down the radio gear. The 5th was a quite and angle so it was like walking around a rocking boat. We shut the refrigerator off right away yesterday when we parked. We did not run the slides out and I can tell you that I would not care to live in here very long without the slides being out. It just makes all the difference in the world for roominess and being relaxed. Based on our 75 days of experience of continuous living in the 5th we will leave some of our chairs home which we have stored on the couch. If we don't leave them home then we will figure out how to tie them on someplace outside.
We cleared the Canadian customs no problem, we had a nice visit with him. Down the road we found where the White Pass & Yukon Railroad crossed the Klondike Hwy and headed for Lake Bennett. There were lots of vehicles parked here who followed the tracks into Lake Bennett and we doing the Chilkoot Trail. My guess is they caught a shuttle to Skagway and out to Dreay and then will hike the Chilkoot to Bennett Lake and then hike out to this spot along the railroad bed. They could be doing it in reverse but most prefer the former as that is the way the stampeders mainly went. The scenery is very nice thru here and we went to Carcross and seen the far end of Lake Bennett that the stampeders sailed across and got into theYukon. We seen the Carcross desert which is an area of all sand and spruce and then Emerald Lake which was very pretty and then on to the ALCAN and Wolf Creek Provincial park and on into Whitehorse. I got passport pictures for my Ghana Amateur Radio license application, photo copies made at the library and used the Internet to check my regular E mail and we got $100 changed into Canadian. We did some touring and found the fish ladder around the dam, miles canyon and what is left of Whitehorse Rapids after the dam is constructed. I hiked to the site of Canyon City. This is where the stampeders stopped and had their goods trammed around Miles Canyon and the Whitehorse Rapids as they could not take their boats through in most cases. Some did and lost everything and were killed . The RCMP put a stop to that and only approved pilots could go through. The stampeders took one of these through or walked around the obstacles. I am not sure what they did about their boats. I think the smaller ones could be hauled on the tram. The rest must of abandoned them and took the steamers the had to stop at the Rapids on to Dawson City. Seeing these things in my opinion is well worth the time. Whitehorse is laid out nice and is along the Yukon. Not many trees in town but definitely a modern, nice capital city for the Yukon but not very large. I think about 30,000 people live there. We headed for the trailer and had supper as we were hungry having skipped dinner. I made all the skeds and got and sent E-mail. We did met a N5AP in the CG and had a nice visit with him and his wife. He showed me his portable stuff. He uses a whip and also a pushup mast and runs it to his whip and clips it on and loads it all with the tuner if he wants a better antenna than the whip. He was very interested in how I did Winlink 2000 for E-mail. I did put up the six meter beam as there had been a flare but heard nothing and found I had high SWR. I don't know what that was about so will have to check it out. We had a good night sleep. We were concerned as our spot is pretty close to the highway but it turned out to not be bad.
Day 77 August 26 Sunday
We messed around until about 2 pm until we got underway doing various chores. Before we took off we got some groceries, did some laundry, filled up with diesel and got a tank of propane as our only time of any size for quite sometime is Prince Rupert, BC. We headed east and dropped the 5th of at Jakes Corner and took a trip to Atlin, BC which is called little alps. We seen Mt. Birch which is reportedly the highest mountain in a fresh water lake. It is an interesting town and is at the end of Atlin Lake which is about 60 miles long. Mt. Atlin is west of town and it has a long history as a gold town where gold was discovered about the same time as in Dawson City so some people changed plans and went there instead. It tuned out to be a good gold area and gold is still mined there today. In the early 1900's it turned into a big tourist town with boat rides on the lake, fishing and hunting. It dropped with the crash. People came via boat from Carcross, etc as there was no road until the U.S. Military built a road in the late 40's. Why I am not exactly sure. We then headed east again and are camped at Teslin Lake Provincial Camp ground after having a good schedule with Ole and Chris. I will try to talk to Curt tonight and also resent the gold rush travelogue as Ole has computer problems so this will give me a chance to fix some mistakes I made and send it over. Edith has a fire going. The bugs don't seem bad and we have a nice level spot. My directions are still messed up so hopefully tomorrow morning at sunrise I can get them straight or if that does not work at Watson Lake where they were correct when we went through in June.
Day 78 August 27th Monday
Rained a lot and kept Edith awake quite a bit but I slept good. We got up in good time and have adjusted to the hour time change now just two hours earlier than South Dakota where we have been 3 hours for nearly two months. I got my E-mail and had some huge messages and I could not get them all downloaded as the signal did not stay good long enough and they were not text so I was getting garbage I need to remind everyone that Winlink does not take attachments and is TEXT ONLY and should be reasonable in length. I need to let some of my friends know how to go in on the internet and delete these messages so I can get them cleared out so I can get my E-mail. This is essential or I could be out of commission for getting E-mail until I got to someplace where I could get on the Internet and do it. The only other way would be for one of the Winlink system ops to delete it for me and I don't know how to get this done and hope I don't need to trouble them. I called Arliss on the phone and he is going to send the information I need for the Ghana amateur radio license application on my normal Internet E-Mail address so that means I had to find an Internet connection at Watson Lake as that is the last decent size town before we get to Hyder, AK where I want to us the U.S. mail to send everything off for my license application. I was mixed up in direction again today so this is the 3rd day and very frustrating. I just can not get straightened out. I have a strong sense of direction so I watched the sun rise in the west today.
I came up with a plan. Before we got to the Cassier Hwy I let Edith drive and I shut my eyes so I could not see anything and had her drive to Watson Lake where we had been two months ago and where my directions were correct. She got to Watson Lake and pulled into a lot and turned around a couple of times and then went out on a street and back to the visitors center and parked just where we had two months ago. She did not tell me what she was doing. She said go ahead and open your eyes and WOW! My directions were perfectly correct. The sun was to the southwest as it was late afternoon. It is great to have my directions back. We went in the visitors center, they are great and told them we were back after 2 months. We asked about an Internet connection and they said the library was closed on Mondays. My heart dropped but then they told me about two CG that had pay phones with jacks so we went to the 5th and started charging the laptop battery. We then walked to the bank and got some Canadian money and checked out the phone and it looked great as it was out on the porch with a big roof over everything as it was raining and a wide railing to put the laptop on. I called my Mom from there and found the phone cards did work. We have had trouble someplaces. There was also two phones. We then brought the 5th over there and I went to hook up but had to walk back to the 5th as I forgot the telephone cord. I took me awhile to get the information in the dial up connection right. One problem was I missed a number in the pin the rest was to get a little more pause in a couple of places. I got connected and got my E-mail and the stuff from Arliss for the Ghana license application and then used the web and went in and deleted the messages that were clogging up my radio e-mail on winlink 2000. We then fueled up and headed for the Cassiar and south. We are at Boya Lake which is a beautiful site with the Cassiar Mt. around us. It is a turquoise lake and very, very neat and we have firewood.. These spots are all tricky to back a 30 foot camper but with Edith on the hand held on 440 we are getting pretty good. The radio is definitely the way to go with her on the handheld and me on the radio in the F-350. We put up the dipole and had a wonderful qso with Chris and earlier good results on the 6 pm sked. I cleaned the dirt out of the scissors jacks and greased them and also the slides and bolts on the antenna mast. Edith did the low cranberries into jam. It is tart but I like it and we will use it on pancakes in the morning. I did a lot of E-mail, worked on the travelogue and made notes about using the Internet on the road. We fixed Edith's frames for her glasses by soldering them. It was definitely an emergency road repair. We have one trailer tire that is about shot so we need to put a new one on in the morning. I also checked out the camp ground and talked to some people. The lady who collected the fees showed us some high bush cranberries, said the water was fine for drinking from the well and that along the Cassiar we could stay in the rest areas for free no problem.
Day 79 August 28 Tuesday
We got up about 7 am and Edith cooked some raspberry pancakes with Low Cranberry bush jam which was mostg excellent. I then changed a tire that was worn badly on one side and put on the new spare, sent and received E-mail and then took down the antenna and put the equipment and computer away whcih on Day 78 is getting a little old so am going to have to get the equipment on some shelves so it can be left set up all the time and travel OK. Edith got water and we dumped our garbage and were ready to go. The Cassiar is very good and the Cassiar Mountains are very pretty. We stopped at Jade City and had the neatest time. There is the original Jade City store on the east side and lots of people were stopping but there was a store under construction across the road to the west so we went over there which turned out to be the greatest. Thy had lots of raw jade cut in various sizes and shapes and huge rocks of jade weighing tons setting around. The couple there were probably in their upper 20's and helped the people who owned the place. They were off getting building materials. Over the course of a long conversation we found out that the original owner of the Princess Jade Mine and the store across the street were the parents of the couple starting this new store. The original owner started with $5,000 and some Jade rocks from the Mine and started building it up. He needed a roof on the building and the bank would not loan him the $10,000 he needed but a friend from close by on the last day came with a sack of money so he could pay for the materials that were being delivered that day. He made a lot of money selling things and about one year later the bank wanted to borrow a large sum of money from him as they needed money for a loan to the Cassiar Asbestos mine who needed to make payroll and he loaned it to them. They said his friends said he should not of since they treated him badly but he did not see it that way. They started in 1982. and sold it in around the mid- 90's. His daughter and her husband are now starting this new store and are making great progress. The couple were very nice and explained what was good and bad, showed us pictures of the mine which is way back in the mountains, explained how the raw jade is sent out to Vancouver or Japan or China and they typically set up a deal where they get back carved jade pieces of all sorts. Some of the big ones were worth $800.00. We have looked at a lot of Jade and their prices were very reasonable. He said there are about 6 Jade mines in BC and as far as he knew that was it in Canada. There might be a mine in Washington but he was not aware of others in the states. He said there is also a different type of Jade in Burma that is a little better. They also had hemitite and rosesite rock. I am not quite sure on the spelling. They live in the old town of Cassiar which is where the asbestos mine closed and the town is now pretty well deserted. He showed us pictures of that. They gave us coffee and she had made some great cookies that had chocolate and nuts in them and they were so good we asked for the recipe and she wrote it out on a card I had. We bought some jewelry and a piece of Jade with a picture painted on it. I got a rock that had two cuts on it and looked great. The showed us if you wipe them with a damp cloth, just let them dry and lacquer them they retain the deep jade look. The did this for us and helped us pick out some good Jade. They were so accommodating! While the lacquer was drying we went across the street and checked thing out and they had some nice jade but not a cheap. We then came back and bought some more raw cut jade so I could have one to set my tea cup on as a coaster. We left and when we got to the trailer I told Edith she should get a coaster so back we went for the third time and found out things close down in the winter and they go to Prince George. He is part owner in the mine and he told us some about the road and loading and hauling the Jade rocks. She was gone and pretty soon she came back and she had went to there camper they use in the day time and wrote the recipe for the cookies out on a sack as she had missed a couple of things. She also got us the web site and he gave Edith a special deal on a really nice slab of Jade for a coaster and I got a really nice rock to display very reasonable. It sells for $10 a pound raw and we got whole rocks for $10.00. It was a neat experience! We watched them cut some Jade and they showed us around the store under construction and what was going where. There is going to be a museum, café and store and they also sell fuel so it will be a great stop so by all means if you ever take the Cassiar stop at Jade City and go to the store on the west side.
We continued on and got some great scenery pictures. We heard some activity on .52 FM and made contact with KA4 from SC who was part of an Airstream caravan. There was also a second caravan that was coordinating on .52 but not sure who they were. Apparently there was a mix up and both groups were to go to the same campground which could not hold both so the one was frantically directing people to another camp site. The gravel part of the Cassiar is really great. It is the second best gravel road we have been on with the best being the road to Atlin. There is one stretch of road construction that had some smaller rocks on it. We have had a low tire since yesterday but after the construction section it was a little lower so when we got to the next services which are 70 to 100 miles apart we needed to fix it. We caught them at supper but they eventually showed up and fixed it. It cost a little over $46.00 Canadian which is just under $30.00 which is what I paid at Coldfoot so it is spendy to fix a tire in the boondocks! Oh well it is an adventure and the money is holding out way better than I ever dreamed so not to complain. At least I did not have to change it. I guess we have changed four trailer tires and two truck tires on the trip so far which sounds pretty bad but when you consider the kind and amount of terrible, gravel roads we have been on it really is not that bad. We do need two new trailer tires to replace our two spares as they both show some wire. Hopefully we can get them at Prince Rupert or Prince George at a reasonable price or at least get one. We had about another 9 miles of gravel and we are on oil and likely the last gravel other than construction that we will have to pull the 5th on this trip. Between the 5th and the F-350 we have traveled over 3000 miles of gravel!
We are at a rest area by Bell I about 80 miles from Hyder, AK where I need to get my Ghana license application of the Arliss and hopefully see some bear fishing for Salmon and also some great scenery. Then on to the seaport town of Prince Rupert and then west across BC to the Canadian Rockies. We seen 3 bear the last hour so we are now seen a total of 13 bears. Today we only met 70 cars on the Cassiar and most were BC or Yukon so most of the tourists are gone.
BTW if I did not mention it we discovered this morning that the little knife switch in the 5th battery slide had go hot. I have a 30 amp fuse on the 5th lead and also a 30 amp fuse in the lead to the radio equipment 12 vdc bus so theoretically I could be drawing 60 amp through the knife switch. I know we did not draw that much but it was enough to melt the plastic and it was mis-shapened so it did not make a real good connection. When we went to run the slide out the lights would go dim and there was not enough power to run the slide motor so I decided the best idea was to put it back to the original lug position until I get home and then put in a heavy duty knife switch that can handle 60 amps. It worked fine after the modification back to the original so I am sure it will get us home in good shape.
Day 80 August 29th Wednesday
Got on the road by a little after 8 am and it was foggy the first few miles but when we got up out of the river valley it cleared up. We ended up counting around 80 vehicles that we met for the Cassiar when we turned off to go to Stewart, BC/Hyder, Ak. The drive to Hyder is a steep downgrade and follows creeks and river pretty much west and southwest with very high mountains on all sides and a number of hanging glaciers. We stopped at the visitors center in Stewart, BC and found the Lions Campground was taken over either by the city or a private company and it was $14 a night to dry camp. Somehow I have problem paying somebody $14.00 to camp on a piece of gravel and that is it, no fire grate, no picnic table. The provincial parks are $8-$12 canadian and you get a fire grate, wood, picnic table and in both cases you would have use of toilets which for us is no benefit as we have ours in the 5th as well as a shower. I found out about the bear viewing and places to stay in Hyder also and the gal told me the mail went out of Hyder only on Thursday and Monday. WOW! I am blessed as that will give me today to get things finished and to the post office by tonight Wednesday and it will go out priority mail in the morning. This will get the Ghana application off about 1 month and 3 weeks ahead of when we arrive.
In Ghana to operate amateur radio.
We took the trailer into Hyder, AK, no U.S. customs going into Hyder, AK as there is no place to go other than leave by boat. Anyway there is none which kind of surprises me but I guess you have to go into the US someplace and clear customs elsewhere or enter another country. We spotted a sign in Hyder, AK offering free RV parking and sure enough right behind this store was a lot and the had benches you could use for tables or set stuff on and you could have fires in fire rings, no wood. Anyway the price was right so we parked the trailer which was easy as the lot was pretty level. I then went to the post office and confirmed what I was told and went back to the trailer and finished all the work on the application. It took about 1.5 hours as I triple checked everything. We then took the F-350 and went to the post office and mailed everything priority mail. Hyder is one long road about 1 mile long starting out running east west and then turning northwest/southeast. There are businesses hit and miss along with some houses along this 1 miles stretch. The town is surrounded by high moutains with some snow on them yet here in late August. I stopped at the Forest Service office and got more information on the bear viewing and they told me about Salmon glaceir and gave me some literature. In looking at it I could see the road went out about 20 miles to the north and crossed the AK border into Canada but there are no customs, you just have to report to customs at Steward/Hyder when you leave as there are Canadian customs. I wanted to check this out for Arliss W7XU who is looking for a place to operate meteors from AK back to the lower 48 from AK and needs to be as far south as possible to make it possilby work.
We went to the bear viewing platforms at Fish creek which is about 6 miles north of Hyder. Basically you take the main street road which is the ONLY road thru town and just keep going north, northwest on it and you come to the viewing area. The chum salmon were by the 100's spawning in the creek at it the viewing platform is high up along the creek and runs about 200 yards and the bears are used to it and people and they don't pay any attention to it or the people. It was not long and a small black bear comes meandering up the creek. It is young and inexperienced and just can not catch a fish but finally it does catch one. We seen 4 different bears and we seen 3 fish caught. Edith thinks see got a good picture of one of them coming out with the salmon in his mouth.. I sure hope so as I missed it with my digital. I did get one of the bear diving in the water after it. Most of the time they dive after them and catch them in there mouth. One time on sort of trapped one with its foot and mouth at the same time. Then something that really got the camera crew excited, two wolves showed up and I got some great pictures of them. It is quite a site. I suppose there were 200 people on the viewing platform and I suppose there were at least 25 cameras with huge lens on tripods. I seen the fellow I had met a Kluane Lake about a week ago. The huge lens are not so much for magnification as to let in light. You seen every camera, video camera known to man trying to get pictures. Anyway I still am amazed that the wolves came up stream in front of the people; although they did not come up by much more than the first couple 100 feet of the walk way but I was in the right place. You could hear some of the rapid fire cameras clicking away taking a frame a second picture.
After that things really slowed down so we decided to check out the road to Salmon Glacier for Arliss as a possible operating spot. The road was an Alaska road. Man the potholes were terrible, I mean terrible! Remember we have been on over 3000 miles of gravel so terrible is terrible. We climb north and I am looking at the GPS and I am thinking we may get on top and have a good shot to the lower 48 while still in Alaska but it did not happen. When we got to the border which just has a little marker along side the road and a cut strip in the trees we are looking into the side of a mountain about 10 feet away that goes straight up for at least another 1000 feet so you can forget this spot. Well we decide to go on to Salmon Glacier which turns out to be a great decision. It is a cliff hanging road but in BC it does not have many pot holes, just a few rocks but it it a cliff hanger! You have this mining road blasted out of the cliff on the side and many places it is caving off and falling into the canyon below. There of course is no guard rails, nothing and it is 1000's of feet straight down. Edith is getting much, much better. Two month ago she would of closed her eyes the whole way. Now she even looks right down the chute and can of puckers a little! Major progress! Anyway I tell you it even made an old tower climber like me take notice. Anyway as we climb we start to see Salmon Glacier and to tell you the truth after you have seen 100's of glaciers like we have it is nice but it is like seeing the mountains it is nice but until you see something different you don't get real excited. Well this Salmon glacier is terribly under publicized! I don't remember reading about it in any travelogue anyplace but it is by far the most fantastic glacier we have seen! WOW! It is HUGE! It just goes and goes and goes and you are up high so you can look down on part of it and look up at part of it at the same time as you are along side of it. When we finally got to the top it makes a turn and it goes way back that way and is even wider. It has great blue colors and not to much dirt showing. We got some fantastic pictures! We met our 7th vehicles of the 80 day trip from South Dakota on top in a jeep that they towed. They have a house in Sioux Falls and get their license plates there but are living in Wisconsin. We had a nice visit. We then came down and took more pictures. Not to far from the fish platform we found the SD vehicle stopped by a pickup that had the hood up and he wondered if we had a tow rope. I said I had one in the 5th and then he mentioned we were parked next to them in the campground. I said I would go get the tow rope and be back. Just as we were going to leave he yelled and said he had a nylon strap holding the fuel cans in back and we could try it. It was a nylon strap about 1.25" wide and 3/16" thick with hooks on both ends. I said we could try it but I don't think it will work. Would you believe it I slowly towed him for 8 miles back to the camp site with this strap. I will say it was not uphill but it was pot holes some places and when we went down hill he had to put on the brakes a few times and you could feel the nylon stretch. That is pulling a ½ ton chev. Diesel pickup. Amazing. Apparently he got some diesel with gas in it.
They gave us a bear book on the area to read which is very interesting and we headed back to the bear viewing area. As it was getting evening. We seen one grizzly catch a salmon and 3 black bears catch two and the inexperienced one did not get any so we now have seen a total of 6 chum salmon caught. The more experience bears walk real slow and then stand still and watch and when one gets to close they literally dive for it and catch it with their mouth and you can hear the crunch of the bones as they bite down. The sometimes hold it with their paw and eat it in the steam but most of the time walk of with it in the trees and eat it. We also seen some bald eagles flying and setting in the trees as they eat what the
bears don't. We seen quite a sight! An eagle dived on a black bear and actually spooked the bear. It made a pass at it with its claws out and buzzed the bear coming within about 1 foot of it. This was right below us, across the creek which is about 20 foot wide right here. The creek is about 1 foot to 3 foot deep, mostly a couple of foot deep. It is just loaded with spawning chum salmon right now. We then headed home and had some supper and fell into bed after a long day.
Day 81, Thursday, August 30th
It rained on and off all night so we slept in as we knew we would not be able to have enough light to get any good pictures of the bears. I talked to Rick next to us when some one dropped him of at their trailer as he had his pickup towed off early this morning over to Stewart. He had bad news! The mechanic said the injectors did not get diesel fuel and were ruined and to replace them would cost $2,000.00 and it was going to cost $600.00 to have it towed back home to Terrace which is on the way to Prince Rupert! His parents were going to come with their motor home to tow the trailer home. It was his parent pickup that he borrowed so he was really bummed! You know how it is when you borrow something and it breaks, bad news!
We decided to go down to the harbor and see what it would cost to take a charter down the Portland Canal to the Pacific Ocean and if there was anyplace one could set up a two meter station to try and work the lower 48 since it would not be possible from Hyder. I found a retired sailor that was basically passing time and had a great visit and he suggested a charter place and said it was about 90 miles down the Portland Canal (fjord) to the Pacific. He was very interested in the idea of a two meter radio operation from Alaska back to the lower 48 states. He suggested the Prince of Edward Is. which is close to the AK and BC boundary and should be an open shot to stateside. He has been told there are logging roads on the island and should be good places to land. There is along worn bridge out to an island and the docks for Hyder and boat ramp are on this island. He said things are really depressed in Hyder as fishing and logging just are not doing well. About all there is is tourism in the summer to see the bears at Fish Creek.
We then went into town and checked on the charter but he did not do it anymore but they suggested a couple of places in Stewart so we will check on that tomorrow. We then went to Fish Creek and the bear platform but it was rainy and over cast so not good light. There were some black bears so we got some pictures and it got a bit lighter so I decided to get my telephoto just in case it got brighter. When I got back a grizzly bear and her cub showed up so I took a bunch of shots knowing it was darker than it should. I later found a couple turned out real good. They could of used a bit more light but not bad. The rest were dark. A few without the telephoto taken first are OK also. We then came back to the 5th and our friends Rick and Carmin Snider were there and we had a great visit. Awhile later his parents showed up and the hitch was to low on the back of the motor home so I helped them with a pipe for an extension handle with a pipe wrench and some other tools. They ended up having to take the hitch to a shop in Steward and having a bolt pressed out. It turned out real reasonable as they charged him $10 Canadian for the labor and two hardened 3/4 inch bolts about 5 inches long. I told Rick his luck was changing to the better. I got a picture of all of them and gave the three kids a printed picture of my best bear picture. We are going to call them when we get to Terrace and they are going to show us around and get us lined up with her dad to buy a trailer tire. We may do some fishing as he has some holiday time left. He works in logging and things are slow right now with low prices. His parents thanked us profusely for all the help we had given there kids which made us feel good. Edith and I have a policy that we stop for everybody that is along the road and see what we can do to help and we absolutely refuse to take any money from anybody. It is a good policy.
They took off and I worked on my pictures, redid the mobile antenna that we had taken off the front in the morning as it was lose and flopping all over and I was concerned that the welding I had done at Fairbanks had broken but it had not but rather the threaded stud had worked lose. We got the pipe wrench out and vice grips and tightened as tight as we could and it is as good as new. I will check it on a regular basis and if it feels lose at all we will tighten it right away. Given we have the bad roads behind us and how tight we got it I think it will be OK! We had to caulk it and let it dry and will install it again in the morning. I could not get the E-mail with the vertical as again we are in a huge hole with high mountains all around, close by so we put up the dipole and was able to get and send a lot of E-mail at a good speed and made good contacts with AC0M, N0ABE and WB0MZB. Edith is baking bread and we had a great supper with a baked roast we got out of the freezer, potatoes baked with the meat and green beans and split and orange. We will have ice cream a bit later. The food is holding out great. We do still want to pick some high bush Cranberries! I am spending the evening working on the computer.
We noticed last night it did not get nearly as cold as it has been and even today with all the rain it is not to bad for temperature. BTW the sailor said last winter was great they only had 12 foot of snow so it really snows here. It is a great place in the summer the locals say; although for me to much rain! If it is sunshine in the morning we will stay and try and get some more bear pictures. According to Ricks Dad the forecast was cloudy and more rain for tomorrow. We will see! If it is rainy and cloudy we will take off for Terrace, BC and give Rich and Carmin a call as they insisted and it sounds like fun!
Day 82 August 31, Friday
It rained most of the night and all together it has rained more each day we have been here so there is getting to be a lot of water around. It looks like there will not be any sunshine today so there will be no chance for good lighting to try and get more bear pictures so we decided to pack up and be ready to go but to get some high bush cranberries first. We picked about 3 quarts and called it good. One of the residents walking by warned us about bears. We went through Canadian customs and as usually about the same questions. Jack's K7DZE advice as a retired customs official certainly has been working as the custom stops have been very routine and short.
We had an interesting visit with the fellow pumping our diesel in Stewart about the economy and the government. Apparently they had ten years of a very socialist party in control and they destroyed the economy. They have lost power but it is going to take awhile to get things turned around because in addition logging, fishing and mining is depressed now also. Fuel was pretty reasonable here about $1.75 a gallon for diesel. We headed out and did not meet many campers coming into Hyder so the tourist season is definitely wrapping up. We got back to the Cassiar and headed south to Kitwanga where we hit the Yellowhead Transcontinental highway but instead of going east we deadheaded west to Terrace to meet our new friends Rich and Carmin and we will park there and do day trips to Prince Rupert and the lava fields and check out things they might suggest.
We definitely noticed we were back in civilization when we got on the Yellowhead highway. It was a very pretty drive. We stopped at the visitors center and got some literature on Prince Rupert and also Prince George.and called Rick and Carmen. Rick said he would come and meet us and lead us in. Meanwhile we dumped our tanks there at the visitors center.
Rick lead us in and they have 10 acres in the bush out of town and have horses and a quad and a nice modular home and shop. They have been here about 3 years so you sure can see they have done a lot of work. We got parked, did some visiting, went and picked some rasberries and huckleberries on some.trails and then got back and got the three tires ready to be replaced in the morning. We had some tea and snacks and then Rick showed me what he uses for fishing tackle and then we went to the fishing spot on the Lakeaeska River flowing into the Skeena River. Earlier Chinook run and then Sockeye and now Humpie and the Coho are starting. He showed me a special lure he uses and it is just dynamite with the Humpie. He jigs with it and they just swarm after it! The females taste a lot better than the males as the male fish start to get a hump on their back as soon as they hit fresh water but the female does not. He also showed me what he uses for Coho. It is tricky to catch Coho and not have a Humpie hit your lure instead. He likes to smoke the Humpie salmon. You can catch two Humpie and one Coho. We cleaned the fish when we got back and looked at some great wildlife pictures he had taken. They have it lined up to go to his folks Sunday night and have some seafood and Edith is going to get some clam chouder recipies. I got my E-mail and demonstrated the radio for Rick. Lots of stateside and Russia was coming in like gangbusters!
It was raining like mad most of the time during the evening.
Day 83, September 1, Saturday
We got up about 7 am and went into Terrace with Rick and left my three trailer tires off to be replaced with new ones, got propane, got the smoker from his parents, found the banks that were normally open on Saturday morning were closed because of the three day week end as they celebrate Labor Day in Canada just like the U.S. We got back and got the tire back on the 5th and the other two are now our brand new spares so we have a lot better tires than we have had for a long time. Carmin's Dad gave us wholesale price on the tires so I got them very reasonable and they are a high quality tire, 8 ply. We also got our fishing tackle and BC fishing license for 8 days. The license fee was not so bad for out of BC resident but they have a $10 a day fee for many of the waterways. That is per waterway so if you were going to fish in more than one water way in a day it would be more than outrageous. As far as I am concerned $10 per on waterway per day is outrageous so I jut got 3 days worth. They are really losing a lot of business with these unreasonable prices. I guess the new party elected is talking about trying to get it changed for next year.
We then decided to go to the lava site up north of Terrace. It is the most recent lava flow in Canada occuring about 250 years ago. It is very nice scenery and an oil road all the way except for about a nine mile stretch under construction. We walked on a hiking trail thru some of the lava and drove through the park which is about 12 miles long. I have never seen anything like it! We also seen Vetter Falls. We visited an Indian village and took pictures of their totem poles, fish wheels and suspension foot bridge which was the only way into the town for a long time. The weather was much clearer there with some sunshine but as we headed back the rain set in again and the sun was gone. Back here in Terrace it is raining like mad. Rick and I worked on the fishing tackle. I worked on the computer and later hopefully the rain will let up a little and we can go fishing.
The rain did let up and we headed for the Lakelse River that flows into the Skeena and jigged for Humpie Salmon. Edith did all the fishing and hooked about 20 fish. As I mentioned earlier way over half of them caught are males because they are more aggressive. They are about 50/50 in the river but you catch a lot more of the males because of this. Everybody turns them loose because they just are not as good eating because of the humpe back they develop as soon as they enter fresh water. We also have to have the barb on the hook flattened so that makes it a lot more difficult to keep them hooked. With the licenses we had we could catch 8 fish. Edith ended up landing 4 females in the 4 to 5 pound area so these are excellent fish and we ended up with our 8 fish. We seen some bald eagles and normally they see bear but we did not see any tonight and we did not last night. We could not see the fish chasing the lure like last night as the water was muddy from all the rain. We filleted the fish and took the rib bones out and will freeze them with the skin on. When we get home and get a smoker we will unthaw them and marinate them is a salt brine, spice mixture for 24 hours and then smoke them using alder wood.
The Cohol are just starting but no one was having any success; probably because of all the mud in the water from the rain. Rick is smoking about six Humpie Salmon for us. He will have them soaking from about 18 hours as of tomorrow and then will smoke them about 12 hours in the hot smoker he borrowed from his dad. He has a wool c blanket to wrap around it.
Carmin cooked Chinese for use so we had a great supper and after dinner a great visit. We were able to show the boys the ham radio and got Russia and a number of states so they got a good idea of the range possible with ham radio. I got my E-mail and was glad to hear from our son Jack and about his hiking trip. The wind comes up from timp to time but the rain has tappered off for the time being.
Day 84 September 2, Sunday
We got up about 7:30 am and decided that toward noon we would go to Prince Rupert. It was a nice drive and we checked out Port Edward and the Historic Pacific Cannery and then on into Prince Rupert and checked out Cow Bay, the Ferry, the boat harbor and the town. We had a neat experience stopping at Java.cafe which was an Internet Café. We ordered cokes and paid for 30 minutes of Internet time. It is a 'YUPPIE' type place but nice tables to sit at with a terminal and printer on top and the CPU underneath and you can eat right there and Edith could sit at the table or right behind on a padded chair. They had Internet Explorer so we got our E-mail, did Internet Banking, printed out our account transacttions and checked out the Canadian dollar value. We acturally got more than a half hour and it cost $1.75 Canadian so pretty reasonable. The only think I could not figure out would be how to FTP unless there is a way to do with the browser so I need to check into that or have the browser on the CD ROM. The compu ter had a CD ROM and 3.5 inch floppy.
We then headed back for Terrace. The road is along the Skeena River is very pretty as it cuts thru the valley to the Pacific. The is a Fjord that comes right up to the highway quite aways east of Port Edward. There are many watefalls coming down the sides of the mountains and the tide shows up in the Skeena about 30 miles from the mouth. There was a lake called Rainbow Lake from a dam up in the mountains outside of Prince Rupert that was very nice. There are seals in the Skeena but we could not spot them. When we got back to Terrace we got some groceries at a discount store which is laid out a lot like Praire Market or Sam's and we found prices very reasonable. Diesel and propane are also reasonable here. We got a gift for Rick and Carmin and headed for the trailer where I worked on the computer and bringing our bank account up to date with the information from the printout from the Internet Bankings which works so good when one is one the road!
Rick came over and said it was time to go to supper to his parents place. WOW! WHAT AN EVENING! We had seafood, seafood, seafood, seafood. We had Red Snapper, Lobster, and a type of large shrimp and both styles of clam chouder soup. These were all seafood they had caught and processed themselves out of the ocean. The had two huge bowls of lobster and two huge bowls of the large shrimp and a large bowl of Red Snapper. I have never eaten so much seafood in my life. There was also an Octopus appetizer that was great. There were potatoes, salads, vegetables, spaggetti apple pie, pumpkin bars and I am sure other things. I just eat sea food and had apple pie for dessert. We also had some great tea. We met Ricks sister, Debbie and her husband Jeff and their boys. Ron and Mrs. Snider and eveyone were so interesting to visit with and we exchanged information about all kinds of topics in regards to Canada and the U.S. and BC and South Dakota. The evening just flew. They sent home some large shrimp with us and some pineapple. We gave Richard, Rick and Carmin's son a ride home with us as they had to pick up a friend of Richards for his birthday tomorrow as they did not have enough room in their pickup. We had a great visit with Richard on the way home and while getting fuel. When we got back Rick brought over the smoked salmon that was done and it smells wonderful. We put it in zip lock bags and in the refrigerator. Earlier we had put the fresh Pink Salmon in freezer bags and in the freezing compartment of the 5th refrigerator and we will smoke it when we get back to SD. Edith and I are just amazed at how wonderful these new friends have been to us! To them stopping and helping them was such a big deal and to us it was just one of those things you do when someone is having trouble along the road! These days in Terrace have definitely been a highlight of the trip and we have learned so much about life in Canada and met so many wonderful people in Rick and Carmins family! WOW! IT IS SO NEAT AND MAKES US FEEL SO HUMBLE TO HAVE SUCH FRIENDS. WE WISH THEM GOD"S BLESSING AS THEY CERTAINLY DESIRE IT! WHAT NICE PEOPLE!
Tomorrow it is time to start moving East as we were at the Pacific Ocean today at Prince Ruppert so now we are moving East on the Yellowhead Trans-continental highway across BC to the Canadian Rockies and then in to the state either thru Id or MT and on to Rapid City to see Jack and Gunner and get our mail and head for Salem and get our pole building built, work on the last two additions of the web page from our trip and get ready for the trip to Ghana and the fall contests. THIS RETIREMENT IS JUST UNBELIEVABLE HOW MUCH FUN WE ARE HAVING!
Day 85, September 3, Monday (LABOR DAY)
We got packed up to go about 10:00 a.m. I sent and got E-mail before tearing down. We gave Richard $10 for his birthday which he really appreciated and we gave a gift to Rick and Carmin and got a picture of all them on their door step and said good bye. It was a somber feeling to leave such wonderful people who were so wonderful to us for the short time we have known them. We have each others E-mail and mailing addresses so we can keep in touch. It has been such and interesting journey we have made and the wonderful friends we have made, the great conversations and the great times! There are some fantastic, wonderful people in this country and all this happened because we stopped to help them along the road and was able to do so! We headed off and as we went east the rain slowly lessened and from time to time we seen a little sunhine. We dumped at New Hazelton and headed on. We were surprised at the size of Smithers , BC about 30,000 people in the area. We started seeing some haying and cattle and a little small grain. This is the first farming we have seen in a long, long time!!! We went south of Burns Lake down to Lake Francois and Sandy Resort where Jack K7DZE stays and had a nice visit with Sheila who runs the resort with her husband. It is a great looking place to stay. We took some pictures of the resort, the lake and the BC ferry that crosses it. It was real rough so I can see what Jack meant about getting off the lake if the wind came up. We talked to the fellows on the 6 pm schedule, got diesel in Burns Lake and headed for Prince George. It was 9 pm schedule time when we were just west of town so we pulled of on a side road and had a great visit with Floyd and Curt and then headed into town. It was getting dark and we tried a campground for a no hook up site but the one they had was gone and they wanted $18 which is to much. We headed north and was going to a provincial park but it is 50 miles north and we are coming back so that is an extra 100 miles so at 10 mpg rather than 17 or 18 so that extra 7 or 8 mpg would amount to over 4 gallons more fuel or about $6.80 so we ended up finding a place for $16 and the Provincial Park is $12 so we saved about $2.80 but more importantly it is a lot easier to drive without the 5th wheel and it will be very secure here in the campground as the owner said he would watch it for us. We backed into the site in the dark with the radios and it took a couple of tries as one has to be almost perfect for it to still fit when the slides go out. Of course se were not level and it looked like it needed two blocks so we did that and I would of swore it was level. Anyway we unhooked and was starting to set up and seen we were not even close to level. I do not know what happened other than possibly I saw a shadow rather than the real bubble. Anyway we had to back under again, hook up again and back of the blocks and then pull up on just one set of blocks and now we were level Then unhook and start setting up all over. Not much fun in the dark and Edith was tired! I don't let it upset me and the lesson to be learned is to get the flashlight out. Hopefully it will be sunshine and no rain for our day trip up to Dawson Creek tomorrow. I was amazed to find Prince George is about 80,000 people. I had no idea it was this big!
Day 86, September 4th Tuesday
We got up about 7:30 am and Edith got things organized for our day trip to Fort St. James and Dawson Creek I changed the oil so that makes 15,000 miles since we left home as that is the 3rd oil change so we likley will be near 20,000 miles for the trip when we get back to Salem. We put on nearly 600 miles today so it was a long day. The scenery from here to about 100 miles south of Chitwynd, BC is pretty similiar to a lot we have seen. It would be like the Black Hills but with the mountains about ½ size. At that point we got into bigger mountains but they had what I would call folded rock patterns and were nearly barren. They were like those we seen in the first part of the trip on the ALCAN in BC but these were not nearly as high or massive. These are the tail end of the Rocky Mt. chain. One area on the pass reportedly gets about 40 feet of snow a year. It apparently is warm enough that is melts at various times as they don't have 40 foot setting on the ground at one time based on the way the buildings were constructed and the signs along the road, etc but that is a lot of snow. ChitWynd was a nice town and is the chain saw carving capital of the world and we seen some beautiful ones and Edith got a picture. We got some Canadian money at 1.534 exchange rate at the bank which was the best of the trip. We then went on to Fort St. James and crossed the Peace River right below a large dam and traveled up the river and found cows, hay, alfalfa and small grain on the bottom and a ways up the side of the river bottom which was a half mile to a couple of miles long. One spot was especially large and was called Bear Bottom which reminded me of the Missouri in its natural state and still like it is below Ft. Randall with Sunshine Bottom, etc. Ft. St. John is on the ALCAN and had lots of agriculture going on as well as logging and oil/gas. It looked very progressive. We then traveled down the ALCAN about 50 miles to Dawson Creek where the ALCAN begins and I was shocked that there were section lines, large open areas, lots of cattle, hay, small grain and some logging and oil/gas but definitely the most agriculture activity we have seen since the first part of our trip in Manitoba and Alberta. We met another ham in Dawson Creek and took each others pictures at the Mile ZERO marker for the ALCAN and also took one of what I think is the official marker downtown. We then headed toward Chitwynd on the other toad and it changed from some agriculture back to completely forest. We then headed back on the road we were on in the morning for Prince George. We had a wonderful contact with Chris, AC0M at 9 pm central and made it back to Prince George just as it got dark. We seen a bear number 28 and a moose number 19 of the trip. Tomorrow we head for the Canadian Rockies.
Day 87 September 5th Wednesday
We left Prince George and as we headed east on the Yellowhead Hwy 16 is got into more and bigger mountains and more trees. There was some haying, horses and cattle in small open areas before McBride. We got to McBride and got some Jasper and Baniff Park literature at the visitors center. We had some great crab sandwiches. We got some bread and lettuce at a store there for our crab sandwiches. Prices were very reasonable. We headed on and started into the rockies. We went into Mt. Robson Park which is very nice and as we rounded the corner there was Terry Fox Mountain with fresh snow sprinkled on it, makes you know fall is here. It gets down in the 40's every night and up to the low 60's during the day. Terry Fox who the mountain is named for in 1981 got cancer in his leg and had to have it amputated at 18 years of age. He seen all the suffering and was motivated to try and raise money for cancer research so he decided to run across Canada from the Atlantic back to BC his home with his artificial leg. He was in training for several months and raised money during that time. He then began his marathon running a marathon distance each day and made it about half way across Canada and the cancer had spread to his lungs and he died shortly thereafter at 22 years of age but he raised $25 million dollars for cancer research. He asked each Canadian to donate $1.00 for cancer research but before it was over Terry was being watched and admired for his courage all across the world. It was again to Edith and I a tribute to the wonderful people there are in this world. This is just two short days after our wonderful experience with our new friends Rich and Carmin and the children Richie and Shelby! The media would think we have lots of bad people. The truth is we have lots of wonderful people with a few bad ones. We are in Lucerne Provincial CG just ready to go into Alberta on the Yellowhead Hwy. 16. We again find the BC parks to be very, very nice. We got and sent E-mail and had good, loud reception at the 6 pm and 9 pm central time skeds. We had Crab for supper which was excellent. Tomorrow we will head for Jasper and tour the park. Likely parking the 5th and looking around with the F-350
Day 88 September 6th, Thursday
With the time change and packing up it got later than expected so we got to the Jasper National Park Entrance about 10:30 a.m. It seems hard to get a detailed map of Jasper and Baniff. I would suggest doing some research on the Internet and see if one could come up with a detailed map. The one in the tourist information places outside the parks are very helpful but not detailed enough for my liking. Even the one they give you at the gate is good on Camp Grounds BUT THE MAP IS LACKING IN DETAIL to get to the lakes and other sites! We ended up buying a map, they are in the gas stations and tourist shops and cost $5.95 Canadian. We got one that covered both Jasper and Baniff. The individual ones are a bit better in detail but of course you need to buy two maps then. LET ME WARN YOU THAT THE TOWNSITE OF JASPER was crowded in September way after the peak season so I can not imagine what it would be like during peak season. It is difficult to get around in with a 5th wheel and parking is a REAL PROBLEM. Corners are sharp and would give Class A's with a tote a terrible time as well. Class C's got by OK as well as pickup campers. My suggestion if you can pull it off is to go directly to a campground if you have a 5th or Class A and use just your pickup or toad. The Whistles CG is huge and right by Jasper so that would work well. You can then go to the information center. If you don't need hookups then Snaring River CG is where we stayed and is only about 6-8 miles north. You want to walk it as the paths and height is none to much for a big rig in spots but it is do able if you check it out first. It was $10,00 where Whistles is quite a bit more. There are others in the park but are quite aways from Jasper which is a good center point to work out of. We were going north first but were low on diesel so had to go to Jasper as that is about the only place to get fuel in the park. We decided to change plans and checked out Patrica and Pyramid Lakes which are right west of town and right below Pyramid Mt. They are very nice. There is a beach on the Southwest side of Pyramid that is sand and great picnic areas along that side. There is also an island on the lake you can take a bridge and go to. We then went south of Jasper and took the tram up Jasper Mountain. It was $38 for both of us and we both agreed worth the money. It is a good long ride and you can see the lakes around Jasper and the roads going all three ways so it really helps you get your feet on the ground as to what is what for roads and lakes in the immediate area. It spit some snow while we were up and it is totally barren on top! We then headed for Maligne Canyon and lake. The is what is called I believe Face Mountain that looks like a face and it is a beautiful drive in and out and on an oil road. I had a good contact with Roger at 6 pm in the canyon. We got some great shots of a bull moose and the lake is very nice. If one wanted to you could take a boat on the lake to an island. The clouds were rolling in and it was to late but if it is not to expensive I would recommend it or if you were spending lots of time in the park one could hike down along the lake. BTW if you plan to ge in the parks awhile be sure and investigate an annual pass!
From there we looked at Edith and Annette Lake which were a beautiful turquoise color and one had a sandy beach. We then headed back for camp and got our E-mail and no one was one the 9 pm sked. We decided to go to bed early so we could get up about 6:30 a.m. to see the rest of Jasper and then head south for Baniff since our park sticker for Jasper ran out at 4 pm and we had to be out of the camp site by 11 a.m. We plan to get near Lake Louise and spend at least a couple of days in Baniff and do day trips out of a campground. I did a bunch of research and we will try for Mosquito Creek CG right north of Lake Louise and from there we can go to Baniff, out eat to Yoho Natl. park and when we get ready to head south just take the 5th a few more miles and turn on the road that heads south. Great plan if it works.
Day 89 September 7th Friday
We head north and get some GREAT PICTURES OF THE MOUNTAINS REFLECTING in the LAKE. We have been trying for the whole trip and this is by far the best. I checked them out and they are great and one definitely will go up on the web page. The scenery going north is just as spectacuar. BTW Jasper is it for FUEL that we have seen! We went to Miette Hot Springs which is quite away's back on an oil road which is narrow and has some switch backs. The spring has been developed by the park and the hot water piped into three pools.. It cost $5.00 to swim so it would be a good deal. Since we have been in a couple of hot springs we passed but sure looked as neat and clean as any we have seen.
We then went back to the 5th and packed up and headed south. We took the tailer to the Edith Cavell trailer drop of lot band headed up to view the mountain. It has some severe switch backs andi is bumpy oil and narrow but in comparison to all we have been on pretty tame. We got some great photo's on the way up and Edith Cavell is a very pretty mountain and there is a glacier that hangs that is very nice and you can get some great pictures. If you have the time allow an hour to hike a circle path up along a mountainside trail and then down and on the flat going back to the parking lot. The path is paved for as far as we went so very nice. We then went back down and picked up the 5th and went on to Athabasca Falls and Sunwapta Falls. Athabasca was definitely the nicest one and it would even be nicer if the river would of had more water in it, but both are definitely worthwhile seeing! We then headed south toward Baniff and the scenery is great. Toward the south end of Jasper getting ready to go into Baniff you start picking up more glaciers and more snow on the mountains. The Columbia Ice field center is a place where you can drive down to and walk on the glacier or you can take a bus out on the glacier that has big rubber tires on it. We have been on other glaciers so we passed but if you had not this would BE A GOOD SAFE PLACE TO DO IT. Nearly all glaciers are very, very dangerous to be around and you should not go on them!
As we got into the Baniff I believe the scenery got even prettier. It may just looked that way because of more snow on the mountains. Anyway it continued to be breath taking. Shortly after going into Baniff
we had the longest, steepest pull of the trip. We drive nearly all the time out of over-drive so that leave 3, 2 and 1 for the ranges in the automatic transmission. We shift to 2 at about 44 mph and it will stay in 2 until about 49 mph. We don't shift to 1 until about 20 mph so at that point you are really crawling with no power until you shift. If you get above about 24 mph you shift bact to 2 and it starts all over again if you are pulling hard. I found the secret is to just shift to 1 and watch the tach and keep it under 3000 rpm and one can manually shift between 1 and 2 if need be. Works much better than waiting for it to do automatically in a lot of situations. We also found it works a lot better on a really steep downgrade, and there were a couple of them, to just shift to 2. If it would be really steep I would use 1 so I have learned a lot about using the pickup today in the mountains with the 5th on the back.
About 4 pm we got to Mosquito Creek CG and found a nice spot and got set up. We then just took the truck and went back to Peyto Lake! WOW! IT IS BEAUTIFUL! It is not far off the road on a oil road to a parking area and then about 1/4 mile walk on a paved trail. It is quite a large lake and a beautiful turquoise color with Peyto Glacier up above it. Definitely I would rate a must see if you can hike. The trail in from the upper parking lot is much more level but you may not be able to leave your car there so someone might need to drop you off and pick you up from the lower lot. Back at CG we did our E-mail and made the 9 pm sked and worked on the travelogue and downloaded digital pictures. We had good sun today so some of the best pictures of the trip. You can't beat a little sun for good digital pictures. We then worked on tomorrows plans and a little on the web page.
Day 90, Sept 8th Saturday
We were up at 6:30 am and on the road to Lake Louise by 7:30 am We arrived at the parking lot a little after 8 am and it only had about 5 cars in it and there were no buses! We did not exactly know where the lake is but we seen Lake Louise Chateau on the way in and I was sure it was right on the lake so I knew the general direction. We headed down a trail and after about 100 years we could see the turquoise water thru the trees. There were not many people there. Those that were seem to be staying at the Chateau. I would say about half were Japanese. We have been amazed by the number of foreign tourists from Europe and Japan. At many locations here in Jasper and Banaff we estimate that only 40% are US and Canada and the rest foreign. We are told Banaff is almost all Japanese owned. Anyway the lake was calm and we could see beautiful reflections so we snapped pictures like mad! The sun would go behind the cloud or mountain from time to time. We walked along the north side of the lake and then went in the Chateau for a few minutes and got some more pictures. A slight breeze was coming up which rippled the water and spoiled the reflections. About 8:30 am the buses started arriving and we were invaded with foreign visitors of the buses. Mostly Japanese. We decided to leave but definitely if you go to Lake Louise get there early. If it is mid summer then earlier than us as it will get light a lot earlier. You need to be there in the morning so the sun is to your back and you get the reflection on the lake from the mountains on the three sides. We got the best reflections from the west and north end and not much from the south. The Chateau is on the east end and no mountains. Lake Louise is not real large. I'd say less than half mile wide and about 1.5 miles long. It is bigger than it looks due to the size of the mountains. Considering all the visits over the years they have done a wonderful job of maintaining it. BTW a little later in the day they take canoes out on the water which in my opinion spoils it also SO BE THERE EARLY!!!! WE WERE IMPRESSED!
We then went to Moraine Lake which is a turn of on the road to Lake Louise. It is about 9 miles in and a decent oil road. It is also a nice lake but the mountains don't reflect as well but definitely worth the trip!
We then headed south to Banaff and went to the south park entrance on HWY # 1 and then took Tunnel Mt. Road in Banaff and seen the Hoodoos which are some unusual shaped rocks We then went to downtown Banaff and it is one tourist shop after another, worse than Jasper and very tough to get around. Not for us and we were out of there! We took the Bow Valley Parkway back Lake Louise. It is a scenic route with a speed limit of 60 KM/Hr or about 40 mph. A lot of places the trees block the view but is is nice. We then went just north of Lake Louise and went west on Hwy 1 over into BC and went to Takakkaw Falls which is a very, very high falls It is worth the trip BUT BE CAREFUL!. It is about 10 miles north of Hwy 1 but not that far into BC. We almost got sideswiped by a huge bus. I just could not believe tour buses were taking the road as it said absolutely no travel trailers. He was talking and got over the center line and it had to quickly get over and I was on the cliff side so I really got close to the edge. Not a good deal. We came to a switch back that TOPS ANYTHING OF THE TRIP. I COULD NOT MAKE IT WITH THE F-350. I had to back up and reposition and then I could make it. I COULD NOT FIGURE OUT HOW THE BUSES MADE IT HERE. ON THE WAY BACK WE SEEN HOW THEY DO IT. THEY PULL AHEAD AT THE BOTTOM IN A LITTLE EXTRA SPACE AND THEN BACK UP THE HILL, AGAIN INTO A LITTLE EXTRA SPACE AT THE HEAD OF THE SWITCH BACK AND THEN GO AHEAD. GOING DOWN IS JUST THE REVERSE, THEY PULL AHEAD INTO THE LITTLE SPACE AND BACK DOWN THE HILL! I NEVER SEEN ANYTHING LIKE IT. THE HILL MUST BE AT LEAST 100 YARDS LONG THEY BACK UP/DOWN DEPENDING ON THE DIRECTION!
There are lots of good hikes all over all the Parks. The difficulty would be in determining which to take unless you want to spend weeks in the area as there are literally hundreds of trails. We certainly have been disappointed by the amount of wildlife we see. In the Black Hills and in the old days in the Yellowstone we seen lots of wildlife. We have seen very, very, very little in ALASKA or CANADA!
By and large the bears are little to fear if you use common sense but a few have gotten used to humans and try to live on human garbage and they are dangerous. A wild bear that has not got used to humans wants to get away from humans. A bear that does not seem alarmed by humans is one to be very careful of.
We got back to Lake Louise about 4:00 pm so we decide to go to Lake Louise one last time. All the parking lots were full, people were everyway, there were dozens of buses and the lake was very choppy and full of canoes and no way would there be any reflections and the sun shown right in your eyes from the west so even if it was smooth I doubt if the reflections would be much. SO AGAIN A VERY VALUABLE TIP IS SEE LAKE LOUISE AS EARLY IN THE DAY AS YOU CAN STAND TO GET UP AS LONG AS THE SUN IS UP!
We then headed for the 5th and spend and enjoyable evening looking at the map for the trip home and got the e-mail and got things set up and checked out for six meter grid square contacts.
Day 91 September 8th Sunday
We had a travel day going south out of Banaff into Kootenay National parks. The road is nice and scenic and has quite a few passing lanes. The downgrade into Radium Hot Springs is quite long and steep. Radium Hot Springs is a nice town with lots going on and the Hot Springs is right along the road and has a nice pool. Going south of there we immediately noticed it was very dry and much warmer. We must be hitting dry country. In talking to the locals they did not have much snow last winter or much rain this summer and temperatures have gotten to 100 degrees which is hot for here but we are west of the mountains so the climate is much drier. The Columbia Lake and the start of the Columbia River is a nice area and trees and mountains continue all the way to the US border and I am sure beyond. They just are not as rugged. A little less than the Black Hills but similiar. We eat steak at Cranbrook which is a good size town. I'd guess 30,000 or more. I got and sent E-mail in good shape. The six meter sked with Arliss W7XU was not a success. I could hear him but with my lower power he just could not get me.
Day 92 September 9th Monday
I got up at 5:30 am and ran the sked with Arliss and it was tough going again for him to hear me but we finally got a big meteor that went for a long time and complete with him and Holly and Nolan which was neat. We packed up quickly as we wanted to do the next grid square in 90 minutes. It was only about 12 miles to the US border and the stop only took about 1 minutes and we were on our way. All this area is wooded and mountainous. I was hard to figure how people made a living as it looked to only be forest products and not much else. As we go into the US we picked up some haying, irrigation and raising of landscape trees and some truck farming. There is a lot of population, resort areas and lakes south of Bonners Ferry. Again hard to know where the money comes from? I think retired income may be a major player. At Court D Alene (spelling) we found a stand that had great prices on sweet corn and fruit and garden produce. This is a very pretty area and the lake by the same name is very large. We got on I-90 and headed east. Again mountainous and basically mining and forestry both of which are suffering so it looked like the local economy's were really struggling. We arrived at K7CAI about mid afternoon but could not get ahold of him so we did some things in the 5th with the computer and checkedt the 10,000 Silver Dollar tourist place. We got ahold of Ozzie at 5 pm and he came down and had us follow him to his house and we parked across the street on a neighbors lot all set up for trailers. We don't need anything but will fill with water in the morning. IT WAS A GREAT SPOT. We had a great visit, used the INTERNET, coordinated our grid squares with Arliss and Holly on 20 meters and talked to Curt K7BI and seen their house, ham shack and garage and showed them our set up. We are going out to breakfast in the morning. We talked about coming back on our trip to the northwest summer after next and parking here for several days and doing day trips out of here. This is a nice area. The economy is struggling here because of the slump in timber and mining. It is mainly tourism!
Day 93, September 10th, Tuesday
We had a great breakfast with Ozzie and Kathy and a great visit, we thank them very much! We put on some grid squares on six meters for Arliss, Holly and Nolan. Montana like South Dakota is a very big state! It varies from mountains to intermittent mountains to sage brush and no hills We spent the night at Big Timber.
Day 94, September 11, Wednesday
We traveled the rest away Montana and ended at Belle Fouche, SD. Highway 212 was very varied and we enjoyed it. The road keeps getting better it appears to us so we sure would recommend it. We ended up in Rapid City at noon and met Jack and spent the afternoon at his place going thru our first class mail. We had a good time with our grandson Gunner when he got home from pre school.