September 26 2005, Catching up.
Home at last.
We left Coos Bay August 25th and drove home in four days, Klamath Falls OR, Winnemucca, NV. , Ely NV. and home, August the 28th. This was kind of a rushed trip for us. Usually, we would have lingered an extra day somewhere along the route. But I was coming down with a cold, Johnna’s cold wasn’t going away, and our enthusiasm was at a low ebb. Rather than make ourselves miserable, we decided to come on home.
We arrived home Sunday 28th and got caught up in the drama of Katrina for the next three weeks and then Rita. We’re more or less back to normal around here now, so I want to get this last vacation post done. And also post one more photo album, for the Butchart Gardens.
We met many people that make repeated trips to Alaska; I don’t think we’ll ever do it again. It’s a long way up there and back, over 12,000 miles – the route we took anyway. But we’re glad we made the trip, it was enjoyable, and we’ll always be able to reminisce.
Monday, August 22, 2005
The Roamer's Rest RV Park, located right next to the Tualatin River was a nice quite place to stay over the weekend. Continued to take it easy. Sat outside most of the day to enjoy the nice summer day. Pick up spent most of the day at Landmark Ford. The Gold Team there says it is fixed for sure this time.
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
The drive on SR-99W/18 through orchards, vineyards and live stock farms to the coast was uneventful. The pick up hummed along without any unusual racket or black smoke. We continued south on US-101 to Coos Bay and arrived at Alder Acres RV Park about noon time. After getting set up, went exploring to find some place to eat a late lunch. Drove south on SR-42 to the pretty little town of Coquille. Stopped to check out a mural of an early 1900 street scene painted on the side of the old movie theater. Did not see a restaurant there that appealed to us, so returned to Coos Bay for what was by the time we got there, an early dinner rather than a late lunch.
Wednesday, August 24
After breakfast, drove the Cape Arago Hwy. to visit Sunset Bay State
Park, Shore Acres State Park, and Cape Arago State Park. Sunset Bay has
toilets and picnic tables. It was still foggy while we were there which
gave this small picturesque bay a dreamy like ambiance. It was still
foggy when we got to Shore Acres, so passed it by thinking it was just
another recreational facility. Later learned that we missed the
opportunity to visit the grand estate of pioneer timber baron Louis
Simpson. The mansion no longer exists, but the gardens are the
highlight of this park. The fog was gone by the time we got to Cape
Arago. There were hundreds of sea lions hauled out on the reefs. Their
barks made a cacophony that could be heard all over the park. We
stopped at Soups and Scoops deli in Charleston for lunch. We then drove
on Beaver Hill-Seven Devils Road to Hwy 101 on our way to Bullards
Beach State Park and the Coquille River Lighthouse. After checking out
the lighthouse, took a walk on the beach. Shiela was in seventh heaven
chasing the surf as it came in and out. The drift wood on this headland
included some of the largest logs and stumps I have ever seen on a
beach. By this time, I was running out of energy. The cold was still
Thursday, August 25, 2005
We had planned to stay on the coast a few more days to explore the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, but Stan was beginning to show symptoms of catching a cold and I had not recovered from mine either. So decided it was best to head on home.
The drive on SR-42 up the Coquille River valley to Myrtle Point and over the coastal range to I-5 was a pleasant ride thru by and large ranching country. The stretch of I-5 south from Roseburg to Medford is quite scenic. We noted that the vegetation along this corridor was very stressed. The leaves on the oak, ash, and sycamore trees were withering up, turning brown and beginning to fall. Looks like a wild fire waiting to happen. SR-140 over the Cascades from Medford to Klamath Falls is a nice scenic drive. Good road, but narrow at times. The pickup kept on humming along. The vegetation on the east side of the Cascades does not seem as stressed as on the west side. The Klamath Falls KOA was a welcome sight when we got there. We got a nice all grass site under a large cottonwood tree. Very pleasant. Had dinner at Red’s Backwoods BBQ where we had eaten when we were in this area in 2001. The food was as good as our memories recalled. The sweet potato fries were especially good.
Friday, August 26, 2005
Continued east on SR-140 on our way to Winnemucca, NV. The drive from Klamath Falls to Lakeview takes you over three mountain passes and drops into valleys containing large cattle ranches. Thousands of cattle in pastures with grass up to their bellies. Some of largest herds I have ever seen. We were now back in sagebrush country. Stopped at the crossroads village of Adel to top off the fuel tank. The store had a sign that the owner was away, attending a wedding. However, a local rancher was kind enough to fill up our tank from a card activated fuel pump located there for agricultural customers. After going over three more summits got to US-95 for the last leg of the 300 mile plus drive to Winnemucca. With the exception of 10 miles of road construction, the road surface was good all the way.
Saturday, August 27, 2005
After filling up the fuel tank, the plan was to take I-80 east to Battle Mountain and south on SR-305 to US-50 then east to Ely. Stopped at the rest stop at Velmy to stretch our legs. Stan noticed that the trailer was listing to the right side. One of the bolt holes on a spring shackle link had completely worn through. Drove on to Battle Mountain to see if we could find someone to fix it. The people at the truck stop directed us to the tire shop down the street. A young man there offered to help because he thought he had a part that would fit. He directed us to his brother's shop while he went to pick up the part. His part did fit and after an hour's delay we were back on the road. To show our appreciation for his willingness to help strangers, we gave him a hundred dollars. The rest of our drive to Ely went without incident. I always enjoy the drive on US-50 through high desert between Austin and Ely with its wide open spaces and six mountain summits.
Sunday, August 28, 2005
Got started for home at about 8:00 AM. Plan to be home by noon. The drive over Connors Pass and down Lake Valley was a pleasant morning drive. Noted that the vegetation was not as dry and dusty as we expected it to be in late August. Going over the summit from Panaca, NV to Modena, UT, noted that there had been a lot of precipitation as ditches and road cuts had recently been washed out. There was also road cut washouts between Enterprise and Central.
We certainly have had an extraordinary three month trip. We had few disappointments and many pleasant surprises.
Did not get to go over the Going to the Sun Highway at Glacier National Park due to inclement weather. However, the drive up the Icefields Parkway in Jasper National Park more than lived up to its billing.
Dawson City, Yukon was well worth the side trip. It is still a gold mining town. Not the large industrial operations of the early 20th century, but smaller claims worked by small outfits or individuals. It was a true adventure to take the rig on the ferry across the Yukon River and then over the Top of World Hwy. to Tok, Alaska. This was the first time we had ever hauled the rig over a dirt road.
Disappointed that wild fire smoke in northern Alaska kept us from exploring that area as much as we might have liked and that we never really got a good look at Mt. McKinley.
One of the most pleasing surprises was the drive over the Denali Hwy. from Cantwell to Paxson. This highway is 135 miles of mostly dirt road with a few miles of pavement at each end. It took us six hours to negotiate. However, the scenery was remarkable. This road was the main route to the Mt. McKinley area until the George Parks Hwy. was built in the early 1970s.
Valdez, Alaska was another big surprise. Knowing that it was the terminus of the oil pipe line, I had assumed it would be mostly an industrial port. Not so. It is largely a tourist destination and fishing community. We talked with many people from the lower 48 who return year after year to spend their summer months in this beautiful spot.
After driving the most difficult and exasperating bad stretch of the Alaska Hwy. from Tok to Destruction Bay, we were pleasantly surprised to find ourselves on beautiful Kluane Lake surrounded by scenic mountains. The drive from there to Whitehorse was on a good road surface and more interesting than we had expected.
The drive from Whitehorse, Yukon to Skagway, Alaska was also another noteworthy adventure. I think that a house boat trip on the lakes that the Klondike Gold Rush stampeders used to reach the Yukon River and thus on to the Klondike would be an adventure. Really outstanding country. So much to see and explore!
The Alaska-Stewart (Cassiar) Hwy. was worth taking as an alternate route south. The northern part of the highway is rather boring, but more interesting south from Jade to Kitwanga. I was especially taken with the Bell II Lodge about 150 miles north of Kitwanga. I think I would like to revisit this area, but Stan was not as much impressed as I was. Enjoyed the Prince Rupert, Terrace, Kitimat area.
Disappointed that our drive down the Thompson/Fraser River canyons was obscured by smoke. We will definitely have to revisit the middle part of BC when we have more time and there are no wild fires. Must also get back to the Washington/Oregon coast when we are feeling well and up to exploring.
The trip on the ferry to Vancouver Island and tour of the Butchart Gardens was truly outstanding.