Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Wheels & flowers

People asked if my wheels are shiny up here in Alaska. Well, they could use a little touch up as you can see. The Air Force Base asked me not to shine them anymore. They said we are too close to the airstrip and pilots would get too much of a glare off them.

I took a picture of this weed. I took the picture with the Whale lens (info below)standing about 25 feet away. If it was red it would be a fireweed. Since its blue I guess it’s a smoky weed. Ha ha…. People have said I could stand closer and not need a zoom lens. True with things that don’t bite or move. I have been trying to get a shot of these jets that fly over the campground (woods) but damn they are quick and I am slow.
Carol finished the inside cleaning of the RV early so I didn’t have to find out if the compartments were big enough to nap in.

Today, Tuesday, we moved to the other side of the RV Park hoping to get the Datastorm to work. No such luck. On 2 July we are going to try to get another nearby spot that is probably the best for Wi-Fi in the park. I guess its Starbucks everyday to get Wi-Fi. At
least til we move again. Too bad we don’t like their coffee, way too strong. We will be staying here in Anchorage until the 9th of July. We just made reservations at Seward (military campground) for a week. We got some things we want to do and see down there.

We are planning to visit Peggy & Larry Leonard SKPs #1426 about mid July along with Jan & Ken Tilton. Peggy & Larry have lived up here during spring – fall for many years. During the summer Larry goes looking for SKP’s. Yep, he visits the local RV parks looking for the SKP decals. When he finds them he invites them all to their place to have a cookout. They have several cookouts a year for SKPs. They also have a lot at Pahrump. They helped build the Pahrump park way back when. We have also met them again in Quartzsite, AZ when we worked the Escapee’s booth at the Big Tent a few years ago. If there are any SKP’s or wannbees reading this and would like to join in, let us know via email. We will get hold of Peggy & Larry. We are sure they would welcome all RVers.

We have named the new lens for the camera. We named it the “Whale.” We think the name fits especially here in Alaska. The camera itself uses very little battery. The Whale sucks it up because of the motor in it to focus the lens and whatever else it wants to do when it’s on automatic. I am glad we got two batteries for the camera. I got two 8 gig cards for pictures so that’s not a problem at all. I just set it on JPEG fine and don’t play with the RAW settings it has available. I no speakie RAW language. I think RAW has to do with editing programs at more of a professional level. I use Picasa and it’s OK for now, maybe forever. It has some limits but easy to learn. That’s where I’m at – “easy to learn.” I got a 90 minute video on my camera that I haven’t got past the first 10 minutes yet but I got at least 90 minutes into it. It’s called playback, again and again…. I have had the camera since late last year.
See Ya............
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Monday, June 29, 2009

Today was an uneventful day. Carol told me last night that she would be cleaning today. This means I am to get out of the rig and stay out until she finishes. It’s like a Navy ship firing a warning shot over the bow of a pirate ship. I know from 38 years of marriage and now 9 years of full timing – stay out of her way when she’s cleaning or I am dead meat. If during this time anything flies out of the RV, I am to make a decision and it better be a right decision as what to do with it. Rugs I shake, rags I put away and garbage bags are to be taken to the trash can. These are unspoken words but the command is there. During this time of remaining outside I hand washed the RV and dried it also. Nice soft water here. Previously I have only been able to use a pressure wash. I shined my wheels again. She was not done with the RV yet so I took this excess time and brought out the whale (150-500) lens for my camera. I figured now was a good time to pratice holding and shooting which is very different with a large lens.

A friendly squirrel was my target. As you can see my very first photo of him was a pretty good one if I say so myself.

Then a transport plane was in the distance and I took the opportunity to shoot it. It was pretty hard to find it and I lost it A few minutes later it came back and I was ready and got it. Not bad for a rookie. I think I better be careful of taking pictures of airplanes around here. After all, I can see Russia out my porch. I think someone else said that.

Oh, saw a T-shirt the other day and it had a picture of Alaska on the front with a Texas map in the middle of the Alaska map. The caption was, “Isn’t it cute! “ I thought that was cute.


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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Alaskan Native Heritage Center Anchorage

Well, we cracked the windshield of the Honda Element. We weren’t even towing and were on a nice road coming out of downtown Anchorage. A small rock hit the windshield about one inch form the side and immediately cracked and went to about a foot in length. Oh well. We will get it repaired down in the lower 48. Definitely not a good idea to get it replaced up here for sure. I do have bubble wrap over the RV headlights. I am thinking about doing painter’s blue tape around the edges of the RV windshield. I did get one very small chip so far in the RV windshield and its right in the driver’s view. It looks like a small bug.

We haven’t decided for sure when we want to leave Anchorage. We lose our site on 2 July due to an active duty person coming in on transfer of duty station orders. This military campground is full and no one is leaving at this point. Our next destination is Seward and it has several city parks that have dry camping. There are no pull over areas to park in the immediate area of Seward that we know of if the city parks are full. This is a busy season right now because the Salmon are running, 4th of July weekend and of course us professional tourists. Also, we are too cheap to pay $40 plus for a campground and it’s just unreasonable for a lot of these so called marginal campgrounds.

Heritage Center Building
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Saturday, June 27, 2009

50 years of Statehood

Saturday we went to the downtown Anchorage Market (fancy flea market) and it was pretty good. Highly recommend it if you are here on the weekends. It had a lot of things made by the locals which made it very interesting. Prices seemed to be appropriate since a lot of it was some form of art.

Then we continued our walk to a downtown celebration. Anchorage was celebrating 50 years of statehood. They closed about 8 city blocks to road traffic and each block had something going on. We watched the young dancers and the drum beaters. They were outstanding. The city had one block just for kids with bubbles, street chalk, Mickey Mouse shows, feely touch items, etc.. I had a hard time getting Carol out of this block.

I previously mentioned that I was looking at a 100-400mm telephoto lens at a camera shop here in Anchorage. Well, I didn’t get it. I got a 150-500mm lens today. My camera and all my lens have stabilizers in them. Now I need to lay off the coffee to get rid of the human shakes. Hooked up to the camera it measures 19 inches long and weighs about 500 lbs give or take a few pounds. Carol holds the front of the camera while I aim and shoot. It needs a car 12 volt battery to operate the lens……. Just kidding – seeing if you are paying attention. Photos on the blog with it are forth coming.
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Airplanes & Black Spruce Campground Anchorage

Friday, June 26, 2009

Road to Anchorage via Glen Allen

The trip from Valdez to Anchorage is 300 miles. It was a nice drive with a few frost heaves and construction that was about 5 miles. Then it was very slow and a pilot vehicle which is nice as far as I am concern. It slows down the traffic and only goes one way at a time.

We are now at Ft Richardson Army Base Black Spruce campground. We got the very last spot. It has FHU (30amp). The voltage is low but the Autoformer boots it up enough. While we were going thru security getting on base another RV came in behind us. He appeared to be in a hurry and was trying to rush thru ahead of us. Well, we left security and arrived at the campground. The lady checking us in asked if we were the ones that just called from the security gate. I said no he was behind us. She said he tried to reserve and there was only one sight left. Since there are no reservations we got it. That was a little uncalled for but such is life. It wasn’t meant to be for them. He has a SKP sticker on his RV with CA tags. Think I will go ask him about that club, ha, ha.. I heard their members are pretty good RVers normally. We went and got me a new military ID today (Friday). We had to cancel most of our credit & ATM cards also. Seems like my wallet disappeared somewhere between Skagway and Anchorage. I could have sworn I put it in my desk drawer where I almost always keep it. We went thru an unaccompanied Canadian Inspection leaving Skagway. The inspector was extra curious about my military career before the very thorough inspection without us watching (Canadian Law says it’s OK). No one else had been in our RV and it’s NEVER unlocked. We turned our RV upside down several times and even removed drawers and looked it all pockets of everything. It’s in that special place hopefully in our rig. No activity on the credit cards. My SSN and Golden Access Cards were in it also. My Passport, driver license, school credit card, money I keep on me. Oh well…. Maybe that’s why we got the last RV spot. We went to the commissary (military grocery store) and stocked up. Got the car washed. It’s having a hard time appearancewise. It’s been rough on it inside and out. We’re glad it’s 4 years old. I had to clean the RV tires again. The first time evidently only got the rough stuff off. I use that spray stuff. We got some tourist stuff to check on and will start that probably Monday. No WiFi at the rig due to trees. We have to drive over to the Starbucks (on base) twice a day. See Ya....
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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Valdez Cruise

The pictures say it all. I had 238 photos. This is only a few of course.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Favorite spot and route to Valdez - glacier

Well, I forgot to take off the RV magnets on our RV when we arrived at our favorite spot. We were in a corner of about a 1 acre area and three RVs came in about 2 to 6PM. They parked within 15 feet of our rear, 50 feet to our driver side and one even within 30 feet in front of us. The generators came on and longer than it would take to cook dinner. They ran for 3 plus hours. Why do they park so close to us with all this open space around us plus other spots every two miles or so? Security, ignorance, just don’t care of others privacy, hard to say. I was excited. Carol wouldn’t let me go ask them why and I really wanted to. So instead, I ran around in my see thru tiger striped Speedo’s drinking a beer but they still didn’t leave. They just put down their shades. Ha, ha, Everyday’s An Adventure…

The road to Valdez gets pretty. Here is Worthington Glacier. Look at the RVs and you can understand the size of this glacier.

Waterfalls of all sizes become very common for about 5 miles.

We are now (Tuesday) at Valdez at Bear Paw Park. It’s $35 FHU (30AMP), free WiFi and cable TV for two nights. We signed up for the Stan Stephens 7 hour glacier cruise tomorrow. We went on it before and it’s worth it again. We had a coupon out of the Safeway Tour Saver book (http://www.toursaver.com/) which we bought one ticket and got one ticket free. We had halibut and fries for lunch. We went in just about gift shop here. We did get gloves, hats and some warmer clothes for the cruise. That’s called experience. Carol calls it shopping.
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Monday, June 22, 2009

More Pics at 3AM

All pictures at 3AM

Oil pipline in the middle.

One of our favorite spots.

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Dips and 3AM in Alaska

This is frost eves and they are pretty common in certain areas. We did 180 miles yesterday from Tok and over 100 mles the road was mostly like these photos. Usually about 35MPH was tops without clothes coming off the hnager. Our holding tanks are very washed out like a washing machine. The road surface itself was smooth for the most part. It was dips that would get you.

This is part the Tok Cutoff and the Richardson Hwy south to Valdez.

This is 3AM on a cloudy day in Alaska. The Alaska oil pipeline can just be made out behind the RV running to the right. Yes, I do get up early sometimes. No Carol did not proof today's blog.

We are about 72 miles north of Valdez. Valdez should be on the otherside of these mountains.
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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Tok & down the road

Here is Tok, Alaska, the pivot point for roads going everywhere else. Folks this is it, not even a blinkie light or stop sign. You either continue straight to Fairbanks or hang a left towads Anchorage and points in between. It's a place to wash your vehicles, get fuel and maybe one or two meals. They have a couple of small RV repair shops. To say they are ma-pa type facilities would be an overstatement for sure. We like being in the wilderness and "hunting for animals" as we move along about 50-55 mph.

This is the Tok Cutoff route heading south from Tok towards Valdez. It will change names as we go south to Valdez. We are currently about 50 miles south, where we took a break for the view and to put up the datastorm.

As you can see the Datastorm appears to be shooting thru the hill I am standing on. It was just another nice stop.

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Friday, June 19, 2009

Top Of the World Highway - BAD Don't Do It

Dawson City - this picture does it more justice than the actual ones do. The city is not much to speak of. We did a drive by and that could have been missed also.

The ferry ride in the RV across the Yukon was outstanding. Did not even have to unhook the Honda. It was really neat.

This was only about 20 miles in one of the worst road I have ever been on. I won't even show pics of the rig. It's that bad.

It should be called the Road from Hell. Over one hundred miles and five hours of driving. Speeds got up to 25 MPH at times. Usually it was 10 -15 miles an hour and even had to lock the trans in 1st gear. It was gravel, pot holes, mud holes, windy, up/down hills hairpen turns plus RV renters (a few) coming the opposite way. Why in the hell anyone would want to come this way knowing how bad the roads are is dumb. Me first! THESE ROADS FROM DAWSON CITY TO TOK SHOULD BE CLOSED TO ALL RVS. If you want to beat your rig up, test your driving skills on mountain dirt one lane road and see if your toad can follow - come on up here. I think I might have made myself clear on this TOP OF THE ROAD HIGHWAY - poo - poo for sure.

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