December 25th 2005 2:27 pm
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Tues Oct 11
Dad had our car repaired today at Chevrolet of Helena. Dad would just like to say that this is a wonderful dealership with really nice people. They took us right away even though we had no appointment and had a new clutch in the car in a matter of hours. One of their staff even drove Dad to a Mcdonalds for lunch! WE SALUTE THEM FOR THEIR COURTESY!
While waiting for the repairs to be done, Dad walked me over to the Lewis and Clark Humane society a few miles away. I was adopted from here in 2000 and the staff were glad to see me again.
With our car now running normally again, we resumed our journey and stopped for the night in Big Timber,Montana.
Wed Oct 12
We travelled over 500 miles today,leaving Montana and crossing Wyoming to stop for the night in Wall, South Dakota. Dad booked a room at the Motel 6 here for 2 nights so that we could spend the next day hiking in the Badlands.
Thurs Oct 13
Dad and I spent today hiking in Badlands National Park. There are many scenic rock formations here all in various hues. It`s sort of similar to the Painted Desert in Arizona. We hiked amongst these scenic rock formations for about 10 miles on the Castle Trail. As evening came on,the setting sun cast a magical glow over the spires here! We even saw the moon come up full and clear over the Badlands as we were leaving for the night. I`ll eventually post a few Badlands pix on my page as Dad edits them on his computer. He took hundreds of pix on the whole trip and is gradually working on them.
Fri Oct 14
Travelled to Clear Lake Iowa and stopped for our last night on the road here.
Sat Oct 15---Sun Oct 16
Dad drove one long stretch from Iowa to Philadelphia by driving thru the night thru Indiana and Ohio. We arrived back home in Phila around noon on Sunday.
It was an exciting trip to Alaska--my 3rd and Dad`s 9th. We plan on a return visit in August of 2007 as Dad really wants to drive all the way to the Arctic Ocean, something he`s only done once before in Aug of 1995. The Dalton Highway which runs alongside the Alaska Pipeline to Prudhoe Bay and the Arctic Ocean should be clear of deep snows in August.
Next fall, we`re going for another trip to the Grand Canyon and California!
December 22nd 2005 8:43 pm
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Mon Oct 10
We crossed back into the "Lower 48" today at the Montana border. The customs agent asked Dad for a passport or Birth Certificate as proof of citizenship. A simple drivers liscense used to suffice, but things are apparently tightening up as a result of terrorism. Dad had trouble finding where he had put it( a car gets a bit messy after a month on the road) so the customs agent asked him to pull into a parking spot and bring it inside when he located it. Dad did find it eventually and went inside to comply with the request. Apparently the customs people thought this a good opportunity to do a spot check so they had a drug sniffing dog go thru our car. I was not expecting this and ran up to the dog to greet him when the customs agent brought him out. The officer holding the dog didn`t seem amused by this and Dad quickly reeled me in on the flexi leash. All they found were a few dog biscuits that had fallen down between the seats which I graciously allowed the K-9 customs dog to scarf down. We were soon on our way and continued along to the town of Helena, where Dad was going to stop to visit a friend for the night. Just before Helena, we stopped at the I-15 rest area near Craig where the accident with Butch (Dad`s dog before he acquired me---Butch was hit by a car here in 2000 as Dad was comming home from Alaska that year) occurred. Dad payed his respects to Butch here. The marker that Dad put here in 2001 is still there although a little weather worn. We stayed at our friend`s place tonite. She has a nice horse farm in Helena.
December 15th 2005 1:40 pm
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Sat Oct 8
We exited the Alaska highway today at Dawson Creek and travelled on thru the province of Alberta. Dad stopped for lunch in the small town of Beaverlodge,Alberta and gave me a short walk in a park here. When he tried to restart the car, the engine wouldn`t turn over. He managed to contact a mechanic in town who was nice enough to send a somebody out on a holiday weekend ( the Canadian thanksgiving was on Mon Oct 10). After examining the engine, the mechanic took the clutch assembly apart and removed some debris from the damaged clutch that had fouled the starter mechanism. We got the car started again. Dad was relieved as he thought for sure we would be spending a few unplanned days here! We drove as far as Fox Creek,Alberta where we got a motel room for the night. OUR SINCERE THANKS TO THIS MECHANIC AND TO THE KIND RESIDENT OF BEAVERLODGE WHO OFFERED TO LET US STAY WITH HIM IF IT HAD PROVED NECESSARY!
Sun Oct 9
We travelled on thru Alberta today, passing thru Edmonton and Calgary before stopping for the night at Lethbridge. Dad stayed in the Quality Inn here ( he always uses motels for the last few nights of our trip each year as a break from all the tent camping). There is a nice park here--Indian Battle Park-- with lots of nice hiking trails as well as a scenic wooden railroad trestle that spans the Oldman River at well over 100 ft high! We enjoyed some nice hiking here this evening.
December 13th 2005 7:57 pm
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Thurs Oct 6
We awoke this morning at the Marsh Lake Campground in the Yukon. As today is the 5th anniversary of my adoption, Dad wished me a happy birthday! We drove the Alaska Highway as far as the Liard Hotsprings where we camped for the night. Just before the Hotsprings,Dad and I observed a most amazing sight. Several moose were walking single file along the shoulder of the Alaska Highway. Dad asked me to stop barking at them so that he could get some nice shots with his camera.
Later at the hotsprings , Dad gave me a nice birthday treat and enjoyed a nice swim in the hotsprings.
Fri Oct 7
We left the hotsprings at mid morning after Dad did some more swimming and proceeded to cross the Canadian Rockies. The scenery here was stunning as the sun was out and all the fall colors were glorious. Rushing mountain streams added to the grandeur.
Then without warning, a cloud eclipsed our little paradise. The clutch on Dad`s car "died". He couldn`t shift gears at all and had to grind the transmission from gear to gear. Dad said that it was really wierd to drive the car this way. He had to shove the transmission into neutral when comming to a stop. The only way to start the car again from a dead stop was to turn the engine off,put the transmission into 1st and turn the engine on whereupon the car would lurch to a start. As things turned out, we wound up driving all the way to Helena,Montana like this before getting the clutch replaced. Dad tried to be somewhat fatalistic about the experience. He told me that the clutch did last 212,ooo miles. It was the original clutch that came with our Geo Metro in 1994.
We camped at the Buckinghorse River Provincial Park tonite for our last night on the Alaska Highway. There was a musher camping here with us with his small team of 2 dogs. His sled was atop his truck. He was moving back to Fairbanks from Colorado.
December 8th 2005 9:25 pm
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Tues Oct 4
Dad and I awoke about 5:45 and resumed our journey up the Glenn Highway towards Tok. Alaska experienced a moderate earthquake in Nov 2002 (barely a month after Dad and I were there that year--close call!) and sections of the road were under repair. We had to drive over gravel breaks in the road surface.
Dad and I had breakfast in Tok and he mailed some postcards here using my personalized stamp ( a picture of it is in my dogster photos). We took a chilly walk here also as the temperature was only in the teens despite sunshine.
We drove the Alaska Highway to the Canadian Border thus leaving Alaska for the 2005 trip. We travelled as far as Haines Junction in the Yukon where we camped at Dzeadesh Lake in Kluane National Park. Dad and I had this campground all to ourselves tonite. It was a scenic camping spot with the snowcapped peaks of the St. Elias mountains rising over the windswept waters of the lake.
Wed Oct 5
We drove the Haines Highway (an offshoot of the Alaska Highway) to the summit regions in the Chilkat Pass area and did a bit of exploring here this morning. Dad stopped at a small cabin sitting all by itself on the windswept tundra. It was REALLY windy up here today and a bit rainy at times as well. The cabin was open since it was a public use cabin and Dad and I went inside. It felt good to stop in this warm cabin for a short visit. Dad signed the guest book here and told anybody who might read it about Dogster!.
At mid-day, we hiked the rock glacier trail in Kluane National Park. A rock glacier is like a traditional ice glacier in that the whole mass of rock slowly moves over the landscape. We ascended a good way up the rock glacier here via this trail and enjoyed spectacular views of Dzeadesh Lake and the St. Elias mountains.
At days end, we explored a dam across the Yukon River near Whitehorse. This dam was constructed by Yukon Energy and has tamed the once fearsome Whitehorse rapids although the waters of the Yukon were quite turbulent at the dam itself.
Dad and I stayed at the Marsh Lake Campground near Whitehorse tonite. The campground was closed, so Dad parked at the gate and backpacked our gear in to a site. Once again we had a campground all to ourselves!
November 29th 2005 1:45 pm
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Mon Oct 3
Dad and I left our friend`s homestead near Sterling this morning. We enjoyed the 3 nights that we stayed in that cozy cabin and would liked to have stayed longer, but Philadelphia is a LONG way from Alaska and Dad had to start the journey home lest he arrive back late for work ,get fired,and not be able to buy me any more biscuits. Perish the thought!
We stopped in at the Alaska Wildlife Sanctuary located just off of the Seward Highway. Dad let me get out of the car to view the grizzly bear cubs that were here. The bear cubs came right up to the fence when they spotted me. ( No doubt they know a handsome golden retriever when they see one!) Dad got a few closeup photos of them. We viewed some of the other animals here also such as a wolf and a moose. Mr Wolf and I exchanged a few polite howls.
Dad and I stopped for a short hike at Bird Point along the Cook Inlet. We enjoyed more superb views here of tall mountains rising over the choppy waters of Cook Inlet. It was very windy though and I was happy when we finally got back to the warm car.
We drove back thru Anchorage then up the Glenn Highway passing the Matanuska Glacier in late afternoon. Dad took me for another hike here and we enjoyed stunning views of this glacier at sunset.
Had to sleep in our car at a pullout on the Glenn Highway as it was 10 pm and Dad had yet to feed me and himself. The state campground near Glenallen was closed when we passed it earlier in the evening or we would have stayed there for the night. Dad and I wish that the state of Alaska would leave its campgrounds open year round as not all visitors tour the state in the summer months. It was kind of neat "camping" in a car though as the Glenn Highway was pretty much deserted and in the pitch black of night,many stars were visible. We were snug inside the car as chilly winds gusted outside.
November 28th 2005 3:42 pm
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Sun Oct 2
Dad and I day hiked a few trails in the Skilak lakes area today. This is a large wilderness area near Sterling,Alaska. There are many nice lakes here and we hiked past a few on the 7 lakes trail that starts near Engineer Lake. This trail was quite secluded and passed thru long stretches of silent woodland between the various lakes. I scented bear a few times and Dad saw a few bear prints, but the bruins kept out of sight. On the return to our start point in late afternoon, we observed nice reflections of clouds and autumn foliage in Engineer Lake`s placid waters.
In late afternoon, we hiked the Bear Mountain trail here and observed stunning views of snowcapped peaks above Skilak Lake.
Dad and I stayed at our friend`s cabin for one last night tonite and we observed the planet Mars in the dark night skies here. Our friend lives adjacent to the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, so the cabin sits in a secluded,quiet spot with dark night skies just great for stargazing.
November 27th 2005 2:22 pm
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Friday Sept 30
Dad and I started our hike on the Resurrection Pass trail today. We arrived at the trailhead about mid-morning and began the ascent on switchbacks. Partway up there were nice views of the swiftly flowing Russian River below us.
The switchbacks topped out near Juneau Creek falls where dad and I had our lunch. As we continued hiking,the trail gradually emerged from the forest into beautiful alpine country with many lovely mountain views. We noticed large grizzly tracks in many places on the trail and several droppings with berries in them so Dad and I knew that grizzlies were in the area. I even caught their scent a few times but we never actually saw any. Dad was keen on seeing at least 1 bear as he had his cameras along. We hiked as far as Juneau Lake and camped here for the night approximately 9 miles from the trailhead.
Sat Oct 1
There was some light rain on our tent overnite, but as we hiked back to the trailhead, the sun broke thru and the scenery was magnificent! Cloud bands would mask the mountains at times and the effect was dramatic! We visited an interesting A- frame cabin on Trout Lake as we hiked back and saw several swans take off from the lake. We had lunch again at Juneau Creek falls and observed the turbulent waters of Juneau Creek drop hundreds of feet over the brink of the falls. We arrived safely back at the trailhead on the Sterling Highway in mid afternoon. On our next Alaska trip in 2007, Dad plans on going all the way to Resurrection Pass summit and back. We returned to the cozy cabin on our friend`s homestead tonite.
November 25th 2005 8:44 pm
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Thurs Sept 29
Dad and I drove the Sterling Highway all the way to its end in Homer,Alaska today. Homer is a scenic little town nestled amongst the rugged mountains that tower over the choppy waters of the Cook Inlet. We drove out onto the Homer Spit. This is a 5 mile extension road that leads out of Homer into the Cook Inlet itself. It was very windy here and Dad and I walked the beach and marveled at the awesome scenery. It was neat to see snowcapped peaks rising sheer from the waters of Cook Inlet. We saw a tanker and a few other boats sailing in these rough waters. Dad took a photo of an unusual sign that he observed by the roadside here. It said TSUNAMI EVACUATION ROUTE. We both thought "there`s a sign you don`t see everyday!"
Driving back to our friend`s homestead near Sterling, we walked along another beach near Anchor Point. The sun was out and it wasn`t very windy this time. It actually felt quite warm and Dad remarked that it felt like a beach in California!
We`re staying in a cabin on our friend`s homestead tonite. It`s quite cozy here as the cabin is very quiet and lit only by a coleman lantern and candlelight. Dad and I plan a hike on the Resurrection Pass trail tommorrow.
November 24th 2005 2:14 pm
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Monday Sept 26
Dad and I awoke today to foggy conditions on the Plain of Monuments.
We soon broke camp and began the steep descent from the tundra on which the Tors are located. We were partway down the trail when skies cleared and glorious sunshine broke thru. Dad remarked that had he known that it was going to clear, he`d have stayed longer on the tundra and explored more of the Tors.
Dad took me on the Angel Rocks trail again this afternoon and this time it was sunny and pleasantly cool ,unlike a few days ago when we were first there. I enjoyed sniffing around the towering rock formations here.
We returned to the Chena Hotsprings this evening and Dad enjoyed a few hours swimming here then he took me to see the sled dogs in Chena`s dogyard. There must`ve been over 50 dogs here, each tethered outside his or her doghouse. I exchanged howls with a few of them! In winter, these dogs pull sleds for visitors to the Hotsprings.
We stayed in the Tors campground again tonite.
Tues Sept 27
Dad and I drove down the Parks Highway to Talkeetna today. It was rainy and Dad decided to treat us to a motel room tonite, so we stayed in the Swiss Alaska Inn in Talkeetna. Dad enjoyed the luxury of watching a DVD tonite in the motel room. The DVD was "October Skies" a movie about sputnik and its influence on some teens in a West Virginia coal town. Dad loves space exploration and he enjoyed the DVD.
Wed Sept 28
Dad enjoyed a flight over the Alaska Range today in an Otter airplane. I`m not too crazy about flying, so I stayed in the car. The plane held about 6 passengers and was flown by Tony of K-2 avaition. Tony let my dad be the co-pilot and sit beside him in the small cockpit. Dad loved this experience because he could observe the pilot flying the plane, look out the front window and see the snowcapped peaks of the Alaska Range approach,and even gaze out the side window at the trees,lakes and scenery below.
Tony flew the plane towards Denali,also known as Mt. Mckinley. At one point there was a cloud bank partially obscuring the mountains and the pilot remarked "I`m going to have to find my way around these clouds". Dad`s adreneline shot up a notch as we were getting rather close to some rocky mountain walls! Tony was a good bush pilot ,though and found his way thru the cloud bank safely. My Dad returned to me in one piece!
Dad said that he got lots of good views of Denali and other mountains of the Alaska Range on this flight. He enjoyed feeling the updrafts that would shake the plane from time to time as it flew amongst the mountains. Far below, on the Kahiltna glacier,Tony pointed out the tent of 2 Russian climbers. Dad could hear them talking thru his headphones as they were on the same frequency as his plane. These Russians had been tentbound for almost a month and were giving up their attempt to climb Mt Mckinley. They were in the process of requesting a pickup from another plane to fly them off the glacier.
After the flight, Dad and I continued down the Parks Highway. We both saw a moose with a full rack of antlers as we toured the Nancy Lake recreation area near Wasilla. We then drove thru Anchorage and along the Seward Highway which runs alongside the Cook Inlet. The scenery was impressive in this area as mountains towered over the Gulf of Alaska. Dad and I hiked on some rocky outcrops here alongside Cook Inlet and enjoyed the scenery. We`re headed for the homestead of a friend who lives near Sterling. Dad plans to hike the Resurrection Pass trail near Sterling and visit with his friend here for a few days.