Saturday, June 30, 2012

Travel day Taklanika to Healy

Today we left Taklanika Trading Company for Healy. We made a stop to go to the end of Stampede Trail. We were checking it out to see if we wanted to boondock down there. Before we got to the end of the road, I said, I'll not be bringing Suite Pea down this road. When we got to the end of the road Eight Mile Lake was there. It was, of course, wet and and loaded with 'skeeters'. They decided it wasn't suitable for boondocking. So we drove back out and headed to Healy.

Filled up with gas at $4.399 per gallon. That's a lot cheaper than at Nenana which was $4.699. We drove out west of town and found a 'rugged' RV/tent campground near the Lions Club Park. It is really a nice setting. It isn't really well kept, but has to do die for view for us. They also have bikes, canoes, kayaks for rent. It backs up to the lake which has Scaup and Horned Grebes, mallards, Wigeons.

We are off to Denali National Park tomorrow. May see you at the NPS visitor center if you happen to be looking at it most of the day. This is what I got from my SIL. So I'll be doing it.

"If you go to the kiosk in front of the visitor's center and look up on the visitors center roof. You'll see a white box. That's the go.nps/youarehere web cam. Face it and call us. We'll be able to see you. Wear something bright. You can't see a lot of details but you can make out colors people are wearing."
Walked around the campground and have observed White-Crowned Sparrow, Fox Sparrow, Yellow-Rumped Warbler, Cassins Finch, Juncos.

Birding the Grebes

Did some birding today south of Nenana down south of Tatlanika and back. Saw some really nice birds. Most of the birds were on 'float plane' ponds.

Horned Grebe - same bird several shots!

Red-Necked Grebe with baby.

Grebe Nest

Mom on the nest.

Mom Wigeon and babies.

Nenana City Pond reflections.

Big cabbage

Did I mention that there are a lot of mosquitos up here. They really like to take a bite out of you. They have even got on my head back where the opening for the hat is and they left little bumps on my head!!!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Travel Day–Fairbanks south to Nenana

Today was the day to leave Fairbanks. So I got up dumped, put some crappy water in the fresh water and decided to top off the gas. I and filled up prior to go into the campground, but I had been running the generator a lot. Decided to go to Safeway for the gas. I had been doing my grocery shopping over there and they still had all my information from my shopping days in Tucson. So when I pulled up to the pump and entered my information it said, you are eligible for 20 cent a gallon discount – do you want to use it? Wow, sure I do. So the top off was only $3.86 a gallon. What a deal for me.

Got back to the campground and hooked up Herbie. He didn’t want to wink and blink on the right side this time. Out with the computer duster, cotton swab and rag, but that didn’t work this time. So I got the ‘electric grease’, you know the ‘sure connect’ and swab a tiny bit in each of the holes of the cable, should have probably put it on the other end of the connector – to late Nathan! That made it work okay. So I was ready to hit the road.

Liz went to Fred Meyer to fill up and get some fresh fruits and veggies. We met up at the town of Ester. It was a thriving gold camp for quite some time. In recent years they did try to enliven the town with tourist, but it doesn’t look like it is working very well. So much of the area depends on the tourist trade and made this was just one too many.

The current and operating Golden Eagle Saloon.
Take a look at the blue sky in this shot. It doesn’t last all that long.

In the Heart of Ester – a Blacksmith shop with the accoutrements around it.

 What is in the building now, she asks?

It looks like the Malamute Saloon may do some entertaining as the outside area had some beer bottles and other trash in the barrel. Interesting history.

They love the flowers in hanging pots.

The Ester Gold Camp and as you can see the buses would lead you to believe that they were bring folks in at some time or other.

It says closed but looks like they took Mastercard and Visa.

The old bunkhouses.

The RV park that it looks like isn’t being used anymore.

Local flowers. 

Moose stopped here! 

Sign of the past.

Take a look at the clouds now.

On the road we pull over for a ‘scenic look’. Wow, if the sun were shining what a shot. Not bad without the sun.

It started raining just as we were leaving. It stayed that way most of the way. Sometimes we were driving thru the bottoms of the clouds, makes it just like fog. We pulled over at about 1:30 at a scenic over view to await the other travelers. No cell signal so we knew that the other places that we saw and even stopped at for lunch would not be a place where they could see us. I told them I felt like a nap. I never nap!!! Got the blankie out, moved the pillows off the sofa and fell asleep. The next thing I heard was someone knocking on my door. It was 3 p.m. and I was rudely awakened! The girls didn’t want to stay on the side of the road. So we drove on into Nenana and to the RV Park. It is a nice park with showers, laundry and we have electric and water for $25 a night – normally it is $29, but she discounted for us 4 ladies. Several rigs have followed us in tonight.
Laundry is finished and ready to be put away.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Late Blogging - I apologize

I apologize to my followers about the posts being put up late. It is just so very hard for me to land at night do the photo thing and write a blog and get it ready to post if there is no connectivity or post if there is.

Personally, I have to sit down and recreate the trip. I normally write way too much stuff, but it is what makes the trip memorable for me.

So today I managed to get the Arctic Circle posted and because of the photos I made it two posts. The photos are really crappy, but it is what we were able to shoot. I still need to post the trip from Tetsa to Lake Camp with the photos. I have the words up but I need to do the photos and some more words. I am going to try to get that finished this evening. I may not make it tonight, but I'll try.

We are headed out tomorrow toward Denali National park. We will have connectivity at least two and maybe three times before we become silent as we get into the park. We won't be out until the 7th of July and we will meander to Anchorage and then points south.

While in Denali there are several nature tours that I want to sign up for. Need to check the coupon book soon and decided which ones.

Still excited here! I am in Alaska!!

Tips on coming North - to this point

Anyone out there thinking about coming up North, here are a few things that I offer.

Make it as early as you can. We had planned a Memorial day crossing at the latest/earliest. We were caught in a late storm in Montana and delayed by 5 days. It was still quite cold moving north. We were delayed again with a storm west of Calgary that closed the highway going thru Lake Louise and Banff to Jasper. We had to re-route thru Calgary and up toward Edmonton and west from there.

Please know that the gas in Canada is outrageous in price. The best thing you can do is use a credit card that gives you money back on gas purchases anywhere. Food is cheaper in Canada than in Alaska.

The Canadian roads are really hard on your vehicles, both the motorhome or tow vehicle and the trailer or toad. They are the real pits. You cross the border into Alaska and it is just heavenly to drive.

Make sure you have a full-size spare tire. They are pricey and you are at the mercy of whomever has what you need. Try to travel so that your service will be done in Anchorage. The other town don't really have the ability to help with service and warranty items are out of the question for Winnebago until you get to Anchorage.

Contact your credit card companies before you leave home and tell them you will be traveling into and through Canada. Check to see if there will be charges for 'international usage' (or whatever they call it).

None of us had a cell phone or data card that we could use in Canada. I would never do that again. I would have International calling on a phone. Wouldn't turn it on or use it except in an emergency. If we had been involved in any kind of rig mishap and needed ERS we could not have contacted them ourselves. We would have had to rely on someone else to help. I wouldn't do that again.

I'd do something about a data card for internet. Not sure what, but I'd do something. There is WiFi, but you never know where, when or how good. There is no security in using WiFi. If you have the ability to 'secure tunnel' you are okay, but if you don't know what that is, or have the ability you are open to the world.

Check to see if there is still the "Alaska Tour Saver" booklet available for purchase. We bought ours at Safeway. If you want to do any sightseeing or tours you need this booklet. It is basically a buy one and get one free. The buy one is normally only slightly discounted from the normal price - $2 - $3. The fare for the paddle stern wheeler was $56.95 and with the ticket $54.95 plus one free. We have already paid for one booklet and started the savings on the second booklet. The gold panning was $34.95 with one free or $35.95 each. Be sure to read the instructions - don't tear the coupon out of the booklet - that voids it!!!

The Provincal Parks of Canada and the State Parks (Recreation Area) of Alaska do not take reservations. It is a 1st in 5 day or 15 day maximum stay unless other wise noted. We mostly did one nighters thru Canada. Here in AK we have stayed at one park for 5 days, except for me and I stayed a week.

Travel early, it is daylight just about all the time. Get off the road early and you will have a place to spend the night. There are many places here in AK that you can dry camp. Not as much in Canada. Alaska encourages you to utilize the pull outs and open spaces. Canada does not so much.

Bring clothing that can be layered. I used my long johns in Canada most of the way across. Know that T-shirts are dirt cheap here. You can get them for $7 at Safeway, $10 - 15 for nice ones at the 'tourist' spots and if they are having a clearance you can get them for $2. So don't worry about running out - just get some different ones.

Make sure you have really good walking shoes. Break them in before you get here. You don't want to get here and find out that you new shoes hurt your feet. T-shirts are cheap - shoes aren't.

Be ready for light all the time. Provide room darkening material for the windows, the vents and the shower bubble. I was in bed last night on the iPad from 10:30 p.m. until about 11:15 with the shade up 6 " for light. Was still able to read a book without a light on. After a bit, you will be so tired that it doesn't just turn over, close your eyes and go to sleep.

Okay....those are my tips for a trip.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Creamers Dairy Birding

Today the caravan is splitting up. Liz, Nan and Tina will go to Chena Hot Spring Road for a few days. I’ll stay here in Fairbanks. We took off and went to Creamers for birding before they left to go on the road.

Still trying to figure out what this means.

I took Herbie out and of course I got there before they did. I was standing out looking at birds and watching the road for them, when I saw Nan and Tina drive past. I called Nan but she didn’t answer so I called Tina and told her they went past and how to come back into the parking lot. They made it back. The dogs can go into the fields but must be on leash. So Nan took Spring and Bear and went down the path. Tina got Herschel. Liz came in with Jennifer and Ashley and we took off down the paths, too.

First on the agenda were the ducks and a lone shorebird in the first pond. Then there were geese walking around. Further down near the second pond were loafing Sandhill cranes. 

They were more cranes in the fields. We walked toward the wetland areas and our first bird was singing in the top of a pine tree. 

After much discussion, we decided it must be a Savannah Sparrow. 

In a nest box beneath that tree was a nesting Tree Swallow. 

Lots of nest boxes out for those guys. We heard and saw a Yellow Warbler down in the wetlands. Not many birds moving out in the open for us. More ducks on the water and mosquitos got steadily worse. Got a Off Towlette out of the back pack for reinforcement. It helped but they were getting really bad. 

It was still quiet as we meandered on back to the visitor center. It was enjoyable though not real birdy. Any day you see birds is a good day!

Nice flowers on the property.
 I think it was birders 5 species, skeeters 4 species. It's a great place to bird.


Panning at Gold Drege No. 8

Today we broke up into two groups. One group of Nan, Tina, Liz, Jennifer and Ashley, left for the Museum at the University and then on two Gold Drege No. 8. I left for the Creamer's Field and then on to the Gold Drege to meet up with them.

So off we go on the little train. You can see the enthusiasm here!

 What's with you two? Ah, looking for wildlife!
She is known as "Yukon" and has been golding here since the 70's

I think they are swapping yarns about how much they found!

This is where Tina says "A college scholarship is a good thing!"

Ashley really wanted this much!

Such fierce concentration must net a lot of gold! Ya Think?

A good time was had by all. We all walked away with more than we had when we went in there. But only Liz paid for her ticket with her takings. The rest of us went wanting more.

Would I do it again? With an Alaska Tour Saver booklet, I'd do it in a heart beat! It was fun. A couple of folks, actually 4 nuggets were found in our group. That's anywhere from $140 to $440 bucks! Dreaming, dreaming, dreaming!