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Old 08-25-2012, 04:48 PM   #141
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Wow!!!! Sounds like an awesomely fantastic tour!!! I'm looking forward to the pics!!!
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Old 08-25-2012, 06:35 PM   #142
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Bear pics
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Old 08-25-2012, 06:52 PM   #143
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Wow.
Just Wow.

I've paid good money for books in which neither the writing nor the photos were as good as what you've given to us here.
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Old 08-25-2012, 07:27 PM   #144
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I just died a little bit
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Old 08-25-2012, 08:53 PM   #145
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yukon Don View Post
Wow.
Just Wow.

I've paid good money for books in which neither the writing nor the photos were as good as what you've given to us here.
Yukon Don - you've said it all.

Thank you Lee and Courtenay for sharing your vacation with us. You've expressed such passion in both your words and pictures! Wow (again).
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Old 08-29-2012, 06:46 PM   #146
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Hello from Jasper National Park in Alberta! Astute readers will note that this is the second time we've camped here, the first being about 7 weeks back. That's true, because we've changed our route home in order to get there faster, and going through Jasper to get to Calgary and thence into the States in western Montana seemed the fastest we could manage. A friend of ours back home whose cancer seemed to be in remission when we left home has had a relapse, so we want to get home to help out there.
Thanks for the kind words about this rather blabby blog. I figured folks'd be worn out on all that by now but maybe not. Anyway, I'll hit the highlights of what up to now has been a pretty good homeward trek.
In Ketchikan we visited a couple of parks dedicated to preservation of totem poles. One is called Totem Bight State Historical Park. It contains some 14 reproductions of totems, many of which were made as a CCC project in the 1930's to preserve the carving art. They were carved by native carvers as replacements for older totems, which only last about 70 years in that climate before rotting away. An explanatory trail guide tells a little of each totem's history and how to "read" them. It was more interesting to us to see totems standing in natural sites here than to see them in some museum. The other place we went was Saxman Totem Park, where we were lucky enough to see a totem being carved by an artist who had been making them since the age of 13. His father is a totem carver and he followed his father's artistic career. He now lives in New York but returns to the Saxman center in the summer to teach carving and to make totems on commission. We learned that totems can be worth upwards of $30,000 and more, so a life as a carver could be fulfilling.
We had camped at a USFS campground about 10 miles from the city center. It was a nice spot, right on Ward Lake (more of a pond, really) among the tall trees. It being a rainforest, everything was green and mossy. Beautiful to look at but all that humidity meant that nothing in the camper ever got dry.
Our last night there we planned to go to bed early in order to get up at 2:30 a.m. to check in at the ferry terminal by 3:30. Imagine our chagrin when we learned that a rock concert was scheduled to run from noon until 10 that day right there across the lake from us. We weren't in the mood for loud and inexpert music but we figured we'd just try to ignore it and see. About that time a crowd of people came into our campsite, walking by on both sides of the camper. I went out to see what was up and to let folks know that if they were there to watch the concert, we weren't having any of it. Turns out the crowd was three park rangers and several onlookers who had spotted a bear IN our campsite, down in the weeds at the edge of the pond. That did it. We talked to the rangers, got permission to move to the next campground up the road without extra fees, and we moved to Last Chance CG, another USFS CG. There we passed the night in a quiet slot and were out of there in 12 minutes the next morning.
The ferry to Prince Rupert passes through Dixon Entrance, a spot where the inside passage is open to the Gulf of Alaska. It's often rough there but we lucked out and had a smooth trip all the way. Alaska state ferries have lots of useful features, including free showers (even if you don't rent a stateroom). The meals were pretty good too, and reasonably priced. Each ferry had an espresso machine! Arriving in P.R. at 1 p.m., we stopped at the visitors center to get maps and headed west. Many miles of good road and beautiful sights later we stopped in Smithers, B.C. Overnighting in the municipal campground there, we left midmorning Monday and continued roughly east. Near the middle of the day we saw a mama bear and two cubs crossing the road. The mama bear went across right in front of us and the cubs after us. Thank goodness for good brakes.
Monday night was spent in a really grungy campground that had sounded OK in Milepost. Purden Lake Resort should be renamed Purgatory Lake of Last Resort. It wasn't as bad as the refugee camp in Dawson City, but almost. One would think that when charging $38 a night for partial hookups, they could clean the bathrooms once in a while. We were glad to get out of there. One compensation while there was a spectacular sunset, which Courty managed to capture and will upload when we find reliable wi-fi (many places restrict uploads, we're finding).
This morning we continued southeast along the Yellowhead Highway. Along the way we saw another bear crossing the road and later on, a fox. We stopped at a pullout with a trail leading to Rearguard Falls, which is the end of an epic 800 mile swim by Coho salmon back to their spawning grounds. If you decide to take the Yellowhead Hwy. to Prince Rupert and catch the ferry for Alaska there (and we think next time that's how we'll go), be sure to stop there if the salmon are running at that time and watch them valiantly struggle to leap the falls. You wonder how they can keep doing that. You know there had to be dozens of falls they've already leapt to get this far.
And now we're back at Whistler CG in Jasper National Park. There are huge crowds here, at least compared to the crowds when we were here last. Evidently this is everyone's last big expedition of the season. Whistler has some 700 campsites and I won't be surprised if it fills up tonight.
Maņana we'll make one last stop at the Bear's Paw Bakery in town, then head down the Icefields Parkway, through Banff National Park and the city of Banff itself, and finally on to Calgary for a night. That'll be some 246 miles.

Some new terminology invented on this trip:
APS. Others would call it swerving to avoid potholes on the Dempster and the Top of the World Highways, I prefer to call it Active Path Selection.
Differently Correct. I'm never wrong, but occasionally the world doesn't conform to my truth. In that case I may grudgingly admit that I'm "differently correct."
Differently Incorrect. When Courtenay's right.
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Old 08-29-2012, 06:59 PM   #147
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Here are more bear pics as promised. The first two show the boardwalk and the deck overlooking the waterfall. The last one is an evening shot from our free forest service campsite in Wrangell. A little story about our last night there. This spot was about 13 miles from town off a dirt road and was quite isolated. No one but us camping there and no local traffic as it eventually dead-ended. Lee fell asleep and I was reading with the lights blazing and our curtains open when I heard the sound of a loud engine approaching. It was late and I can tell you it got my attention! I turned off the lights, grabbed my bear spray and woke Lee up. We had a few tense minutes as the engine sounds receded, came back and disappeared down the road. Probably the local make-out site as these campsites overlook the bay, a lovely and romantic spot. We've had this experience before, camping in a remote site that attracts local teens. You trade off the security of having others nearby for the beauty of solitude.
Courtenay
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Old 08-29-2012, 07:19 PM   #148
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Clan house at Totem Bight.

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Oops. didn't mean to catch the dog in the act.

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The carving shop at Saxman.

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Interior of a clan house.

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Creek Street, Ketchikan, a former red-light district.
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Old 08-29-2012, 07:23 PM   #149
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Rocky in the car deck on the ferry Taku.

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About to exit the ferry at Prince Rupert.

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The only good thing at Purden Lake Resort.

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Rearguard Falls. There are salmon in there, trust me.

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A wider view of the falls.
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Old 08-30-2012, 07:54 PM   #150
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Oooh, that was a spectacular sunset photo. I'm glad that you posted a pic of Rocky's car deck hang out on the ferry. I wondered what that was like. So interesting!

Sorry if I missed the explanation, but is the "clan house" a meeting place for certain Alaskan tribes or families?

Deb
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Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where Nature may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul alike._ John Muir
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