ROF's Canada & Alaska 2017

August 10 Bears!
IMG_7830.jpg IMG_7833.jpg IMG_7842.JPG We made it to Hyder, AK today! We were on the road today for about 5 hours passing by some gorgeous land. Big green trees, huge mountains, waterfalls and glaciers. We even saw a black bear cross the road! (Number 21) The only negative was that there is smoke in the air due to the forest fires.
Smoky or not, bears have to eat and we went to fish creek to watch! We showed up a little after 6:30 and the boardwalk was already getting crowded. We waited for a little while and eventually a really big black bear lumbered out of the forest and into the creek! He chased down a fish and had a lovely salmon dinner in no time. He dragged it back into the bushes to devour it. Debbie got some excellent shots of it. (Number 22) A short while after that little show, a gigantic grizzly came out of the bushes. (Number 23) They really are huge! This one had been eating really well too because he was looking really plump! He ought to make it through hibernation really well! He ran up and down a few paces and caught a fish pretty quickly as well and also took his catch to the bushes to eat. He had two more catches that we got to witness. Jason was watching with the binoculars and he said that when someone's phone rang, the bear turned his head to look and had nothing but the tail hanging out!
Bear number 24 was a small one. It did not feel like fishing, poor thing. It pawed out an already dead fish and ate it and then came back for another dead one. At least it won't go hungry.
The other neat thing we got to see was a bald eagle swooping overhead. I thought it was really going to give us a show but apparently they can be quite the scavenger as well. It munched on a couple of fish carcasses. We had a great time watching nature at work! I think we are going to go back tomorrow to see if the show gets any better!

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August 11 Salmon Glacier, Salmon Run! IMG_7894.jpg IMG_7881.jpg IMG_7895.jpg IMG_7901.jpg Today we drove to Salmon Glacier. It's the biggest glacier we have seen. On our way up we saw a black bear (number 25) scampering up the side of the hill.
Across from the glacier was a mountainside meadow with pools of water, streams, flowers and evergreens. There were all kinds of paths either from people or from snow melt. We explored that area for a while. It was one of the most perfect places I have ever been to. I couldn't have dreamt it up.
When we made it back down the road from Salmon Glacier, we decided to stop at the bear viewing platform even though we all knew it wasn't the best time of day. There was that same black bear that was there last night, eating dead fish and leftovers. I decided to call it Scrappy because it's just getting the scraps. It tried to catch a live fish and failed. It was rather small so maybe when it gets older with a little more experience, it will do better.
Instead of staying one more night in the area, we started our drive towards Prince George. We saw a sign that said to watch out for bears, so we did. We say one crossing the road (number 26) and then, right there on the side of the Cassiar Highway, we saw a black bear and her two cubs (numbers 27, 28 and 29) munching on grass or clover. She was so close that we were able to get a photo and then Debbie pulled up after us and got several photos. I think she was used to people stopping and making her picture because she just kept right on eating. A few minutes later we saw yet another bear having dinner on the side of the road! Now we are up to 30!

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August 12th Litter Bugs!
Last night we found a great campsite right on Little Tut Lake. It was perfect for our two rigs. The only negative was the trash! Some very trashy people had been there. Campers have not taken very good care of the place in the past.
You're supposed to leave a campsite better than you found it and so I decided to pour myself a glass of wine and get to work. We picked up beer cans, soda cans, flip flops, paper, plastic, straws. There was also a dirty diaper and toilet paper everywhere but we couldn't quite stomach gathering those up. It was absolutely ridiculous how much trash was there. Especially since BC and Canada in general is very good about putting litter bins at most of their turnouts. Rednecks really are everywhere.
We drove about 5-6 hours today day and ended up at Swan Lake Campground about an hour and a half outside of Prince George. It has free camping right on the lake. It's got several sites for big rigs and a clean bathroom. It's not off of the beaten path like we prefer but it's free so that's good! We should have known there was a catch. There's a band playing country music really loud about 100 yards from us. They're really not bad but we've decided that we need to get up and leave early so hopefully they won't play late into the night. IMG_7910.jpg IMG_7912.jpg IMG_7914.JPG

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Sunny day in Homer. We had a good hot breakfast at camp and rigged up the bikes for exploring around town. We covered 25 miles with a ride out east road, a stop at the local museum, lunch at a diner, and a quick stop at two sisters bakery to get something for dessert tonight. Back at camp Bill tried his luck at the fishing hole. Lots of people trying but not many catching. No fish for dinner tonight. We are wrapping up the day with a walk along the spit. The sattelites must be low on the horizon here, the dishes are mounted pretty much horizontal. Stopped near the visitor center to snag some Wi-Fi. Off to the north tomorrow. Had to throw in one shot of our rock stacking to level the truck at camp. No bears up here. We choked on $700. Per person price to go down to Katmai and decided to find our bears elsewhere.

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August 13th Boondocking
I IMG_7977.jpg IMG_7992.JPG love it when Garmin says "In one kilometer, navigate off road." We get GPS coordinates from iOverlander and plug them into the Garmin and we are always rewarded with a site better than anything we've paid for at a campground. I love being off the beaten path and away from the crowds. It reminds me of a line from one of my favorite songs by Over The Rhine "Baby if this is nowhere, how sweet it is to find!" It seems like every time we stay at a campground, it wears us down a little. I have noticed that the only time we seem to talk about going home, is when we are staying at a campground. When we are boondocking, we are discussing how we can make our time out longer in the future.
We met up with Alex, from Alberta and he ONLY boondocks. He never pays for camping. He bathes in whatever water source is nearby and does laundry at a laundromat. We talked to him awhile before we left Hyder. I think I forgot to mention him in this journal or if I did, it wasn't very much. We met up with him in Alberta or BC, on the first half of our trip and had a lot of the same route but we kept missing each other. Finally in Hyder we met up with him again. He's been down the Dempster and the Dalton this trip!
Today we drove all day and made it back to the very first campsite that we shared with Frenchie and Debbie. It's even more beautiful than I remember. It's bittersweet though because tomorrow we will be parting ways with Debbie. I'm probably going to cry. Damn it.

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Ace Brown

Adventurer, Overland Certified OC0019
All those bears! I think I saw two in Alaska, but did see several more in Canada. More wildlife in general seen in BC and Alberta. Debbie is a good traveling companion and I know you all will miss her, and she will surely feel the same way.
Day 30 for us. Our quiet spot on the bay was transformed into a wind whipped angry sea overnight. We woke with winds near 30mph and gusts higher than that and temps in the upper 40's. Not many tents were left standing, the REI one down from us was holding its own. The EZ up on the other side of us was long gone. It was our day for animals. We stopped at the old Russian church in Ninilski and saw a moose and calf on the way in. Further up the road we saw three caribou just along the road heading into Kenai. Our destination for the day was Capt. Cook State Rec. area at the end of the road. We set up camp on the bluff looking out over Cook Inlet and took off on the mountain bikes to explore. On one muddy trail we came upon a moose blocking our way back to camp. They are bigger when you are on a bike instead of inside a car. It was happy eating and slowly moved off tfhe trail for us. After dinner we wandered along the beach collecting agates and watching the tide come in. With a 28' tidal range you can see it coming in pretty fast. We called it a day just about when the sun set a little after 10.

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August 14th Crocodile Tears Down The Icefields Parkway
Yep. I cried. A LOT! We had coffee together one last time and in my mind I was going to give Debbie a quick hug, say goodbye and jump in the car without blubbering. That didn't happen. One hug turned on the waterworks which then required two more hugs and reassurances that we will stay in touch and plan another trip soon!
I was still crying as we made our way down the Icefields Parkway but finally managed to get myself under control. Then we caught up to her and chatted on the radios. More goodbyes and blubbering. Oh man am I gonna miss her! I have learned so much from her and she has inspired me so much. Because of her, I will strive to be more independent, adventuresome, brave, patient and kind. To me she is all of these things and more. Meeting and hanging out with her has been my favorite part of this trip.
I look forward to more adventures with her in the future. Love her SO much!

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The bugs were not not bad at all. A couple of times they bother – but the majority of the time we didn't have bugs. Must've been the great company I was keeping. Today I left Jason and Melissa and as you can tell we are had our tears. Melissa said a lot of great things about me but she has no idea how much I admire both her and Jason for everything they are and they have done. We will surely have many more adventures together and I can't wait. This trip has been fantastic and these two people made it that much more special. I traveled the Bighorn Highway and Kananaskis Trail in Kananaskis Country and made it to Waterton Lakes provincial park today. The Bighorn Highway was beautiful with lots of hiking trails but I Hit a lot of rain some hail and lightning. But this part of southern Alberta is beautiful. I'm going to explore the park tomorrow and cross over the border on the east side of Glacier NP on my way down to Red Lodge Montana and exploring the Beartooth Pass area. This trip to Alaska has been fantastic and I know we will all go back again.

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Day 31 for us . We enjoyed our brief time with the pioneering ROF's who started this journey. We'll carry on and continue our clockwise loop for a few more weeks. Today we backtracked up through Anchorage and stopped in Wallisa for showers, laundry, groceries and Wi-Fi, and we threw in dinner at a restaurant to make it a fully relaxing day. Not too much exciting today. We have noticed at several boat launches, some out in the middle of nowhere, that they have life jackets for kids that you can borrow. Seems like almost everyone up here has a boat, seems like life jackets would be common equipment.

No good pics today so I'll toss in two stories of lucky gear.

Lucky boot- I keep a pair of hightop slide on boots between the bed and cab of the truck. On our way back to the main road from a campsite 30 miles back in on a dirt road I saw a boot in the road ahead. I stopped and checked and it was mine. Sure enough one had jumped out the previous day on our way in. It was rejoined with its mate and has behaved since.

Lucky camera - At the end of the Nabesna Rd., a long bumpy, muddy mess with several small river crossings, we stopped for photos at the end of the road. The camera was placed on the trailer after being used and was left there. We started back the way we came and after 5 miles and 2 river crossings we stopped at the third to take some more photos. Pam noticed the camera on the side of the trailer. Don't know how it managed to stay on through all that. Jason can attest to the fact that the trailer moves around quite a bit on the bumps. I know on one section going in to McCarthy he noted he could see air under the tires on a few of the bigger frost heaves.

On to the the north tomorrow to get set up for Denali.

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Ace Brown

Adventurer, Overland Certified OC0019
My service here is terrible but I just finally got to view all recent photos y'all have posted and one struck me as exceptional among so many great ones. Mellisa you second photo of Aug 11 could win awards!