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Old 07-29-2012, 09:39 PM   #81
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[QUOTE="Maranatha"]It sounds like your trailer has really been put through the ringer but overall has weathered the storm just fine. That gives me some degree of comfort as I get ready to purchase my A124 hardside.[QUOTE]

You'll do fine with the new camper. I probably shouldn't have tried to take it up the road, but left it at the junction where the Dempster starts. Evidently many do just that.

For those wanting to know the hinges I bought to replace the cheap cabinet door hinges, they're Amerock BP3429-G10. I bought two packs of two each for a total of about $8. They're a close enough replacement that I could put the same screws in the same holes, then I added a 3rd hinge centred between the other two.
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Old 07-29-2012, 10:31 PM   #82
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Lee, great reminders for things to have.

In addition to a flashlight, I also have a headlamp (helps keep my handsfree when on night time poop patrol with my dogs) - since you were under your trailer, this may have been a wonderful asset for you?

I always check my spare tire, but also carry 2 cans of "Fix A Flat" - one for large truck tires, one for the trailer. If I know I am traveling with service stations few and far between, I carry my portable Wegan battery charger/compressor (always in my vehicle in the winter)

Instead of extra charger cords for my cell, GPS or Nook, I carry a 12v AC adaptor that I just plug into the trailer to recharge. Extra bungees, alligator clips, tie downs and stakes. Tarps are great for having to lay down when the ground is wet when checking under the unit...I usually carry at least 3 tarps - they fold flat, take up little room and are heaven sent on rainy or sunny hot days...of course a hammer and mallet...and the first aid kit if you miss. haha Duct tape and awning repair tape...I keep spare keys in a weatherproof lockbox that i attach to the trailer (or onthe cable securing my generator to the trailer) I also carry locks for the hitch and coupler

Look forward to discovering others bring along as their neccesities for road s.afety, operation and and set up needs.
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Old 07-30-2012, 09:40 AM   #83
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I am learning so much from Ham's thread. Thank you. I hope the people at FR are reading it. I just posted a new thread in the Admin section, which said:

Pls forward this info to manager in charge of A Frames.
Is there any way that you can make sure that a FR manager, who deals with the A Frame campers, is made aware of this great "A128 to Alaska Thread." They should be very proud of their construction since the unit is performing very well. Also, there have been some structural problems that the FR should be aware of. It would be interesting if someone from FR posted in the thread, especially about the microwave oven cabinet pulling away from the wall. Thank you. Here's the thread:

Iowa to Alaska with our A128
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Old 07-30-2012, 12:46 PM   #84
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Pics from on top of the world...incredible! This earth and Mother Nature are just so amazing!

Thanks again for the descriptive posts and for taking time to share yours and Courtenay's trip of a lifetime with us. The whole read is so interesting. For us folks at home, it's also very informative about the aframe's construction, strengths and weaknesses.

Stay safe. I can't wait to hear more!

Deb
ps: In south central Illinois the heat has lessened somewhat (low to mid 90's) and some areas to the south and north have even had a little rain!
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Old 07-30-2012, 10:33 PM   #85
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Monday, July 30--The problem with the brakes was that the rear grease seals had become compromised as a result of there being too much grease in the hub. Grease escaped through the seals and got into the brake drum. A similar thing happened to Herk, I think.
I had been following the directions in the AL-KO manual for how to keep the hubs full of grease. You're to add it until you can just see it oozing toward you. According to the shop owner at my servicing this morning, that puts too much grease in there, causing enough pressure buildup that it blows through the seals. The mechanic commented that the magnets are fine, just a little wear showing, and the brake shoes (though they've had grease on them and it'll take some wear before they regain their full friction) still have over 60% of their linings left. So there's nothing wrong with the brakes mechanically. That was good news.
Note that I'm not suggesting to anyone that they stop following AL-KO's lubing instructions. Maybe I did it wrong, after all. I'm sure they'd say that. I'm just telling what one RV mechanic with 30 years' experience told me.
Anyway, this evening we're at a private RV park a mile outside the entrance to Denali. We didn't make reservations beforehand, partly because I didn't know how involved this morning's repair would be, and also because the agent at the BLM's Fairbanks office said they weren't necessary at this time of year. Wrongamundo. This place is wall-to-wall.
We CAN get in tomorrow to the campground just inside the gate, then we'll move on Wednesday to our preferred CG some 30 miles inside the park, where we'll stay through Friday night. We got the bus passes, called Tek passes, which will let us ride deeper into the park each day we're there. The first day we're guaranteed seats on the bus, but the other days' passage is on a space-available basis but otherwise without extra charge. It's amazingly beautiful, Courty says to add.
So, at the risk of tempting Fate, it appears that all is well this evening.
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Old 07-30-2012, 11:46 PM   #86
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Court's July 30 addendum: Mostly Fairbanks was a rest, restock and repair stop for us, but we did our share of sightseeing. Our favorite stop was the museum of the north at the university of Alaska. Wonderful art and very interesting cultural and historic displays. Also great films on the aurora and daily life in the north. The building itself is spectacular, sitting atop a hill overlooking the city. A surprising fact we learned--about twenty percent of Fairbanks' residents live in dry cabins or houses, meaning they have no running water. It doesn't take long in the north to remember that the things we take for granted are really luxuries we can do without, as one recent Arizona transplant told us.

This morning while Lee saw to the brake repair, I took one last trip above the Arctic circle. I have fallen in love with the Arctic--the land, the people and the vastness--so we arose at 5 AM and I caught the daily mail flight to the village of Anutuvak in Anutuvak pass. Airports and planes make up much of Alaska's "highway" system. About half of Alaskans live beyond the road system. To increase revenues Warbelow Air offers seats on mail flights to tourists and offers some tours in cooperation with the native villagers. The tour was more expensive than the ride, so I went up and back. How can I describe the awesomeness of this land. Within a few moments of leaving Fairbanks, all signs of man seem to disappear--all that is except for the Alaska pipeline and the Dalton highway which supports it. Water seems to run everywhere. Streams snake their way back and forth, small pools catch the sun, glistening like mirrors. We followed the pipeline for a while, crossed the mighty Yukon river, then made our way to the pass. What an experience! Our pilot took us low, banking and swerving to show us grizzlies and small herds of caribou (the males begin the migration and the females follow in a few weeks. Some 700,000 caribou will move through this pass in the next month). As we flew between the mountains dipping near the ground, then soaring to the peaks, I finally understood the sheer joy my father found in flying. A WW II navy pilot and the son of one our countries first WW I aviators, he tried to pass this passion on to me when I was young, but I was destined to remain a passenger. Dad, wherever you may be, I get it now.

Suddenly on the tundra, a small settlement came into view; several dozen houses, a landing strip and some community buildings make up the town of Anutuvuk (which means something like "the place of caribou leavings"). On the flight back, the pilot and I were joined by a young mother taking her baby to a doctor's appointment in Fairbanks. She would be back that evening on a return flight. A sign of the times, she immediately pulled out her iPhone and started texting. Turns out AT&T has signal beyond the Arctic circle.

What a thrill to have this experience. I will find my way back to the Arctic. It is a special place, filled with life. It has the same mystical feeling that I find now and then riding across the prairies, but more immediate, more palpable. There is a sense of the vastness of time and space and the brevity of our human lifetime. For tens of thousands of years and beyond, the earth has warmed and cooled, ice has come and gone, great seas have emerged, only to disappear again, animals have lived, died and gone extinct, people have come and gone. What a mystery is the earth we inhabit and what a privilege to experience it.
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Old 07-31-2012, 05:58 AM   #87
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I really enjoy your reports and photos, thanks for sharing with the rest of us.
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Old 07-31-2012, 11:53 AM   #88
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Man, This is the adventure of a lifetime!

This is the true definition of an "Adventure".

By the way, how is your wife faring through all of this?

1) Along for the ride?
2) Leading the charge?
3) Why don't they have any nail salons in this forsaken place?

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Old 07-31-2012, 12:43 PM   #89
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Definitely leading the charge. It was her idea to do the Dempster. When we used to sail, she'd be the one to take the boat out by herself when others were calling it quits because of too much wind. During our motorcycling years she was always enthusiastic for the open road. She was the first to take scuba lessons. As I've slowed down, she hasn't. She's the one who wants us to go deeper into Denali, where the Grizzlies are. But I guess I can't complain...it was that urge for adventure that got her to choose ME!

As were being tossed around like popcorn in the popper on the Dempster and I was growling about what it was doing to our equipment, she kept telling me to think of it as an adventure. Now when she's freezing here in the mornings (a balmy 42F this morning, cooler later in the week) I get to tell her what an adventure she's having. Revenge is best served cold.
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Old 07-31-2012, 04:44 PM   #90
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I understand your line of thinking. Yesterday, I ordered my wife a brand new generator. A while back she wanted an old raggedy Jeep. Well she got one. A year ago she wanted a husband, well she got one. She now wants a pop up trailer (A124). Now she has the responsibilty (or blame) if anything goes wrong.

Carry on...
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Old 08-01-2012, 10:24 AM   #91
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What brand/size generator did you order? I would like to get one for my wife too.
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Old 08-01-2012, 11:54 AM   #92
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I read once about a guy who decided to get a generator for his wife. He thought it would be a pretty good trade, but then she heard about it.

That's when the fight started......
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Old 08-01-2012, 09:22 PM   #93
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Lee & Court

I have enjoyed your exploits so much that I hope you dont mind my 5 star rating...it ought to be in a trailer magazine...enjoyable, informative and easy to read! Thanks for taking the time to share!

Tamara
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Old 08-02-2012, 12:49 AM   #94
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Tinsu,

I got a Yamaha 2,000 watt portable inverter generator. I don't want to hijack Hamguys thread so look in the "Dollar & Cents" forum under the thread Yamaha Generator Smoking Deal Available for the details.

I was thinking... Maybe I don't need to buy a trailer. I can just enjoy Hamguys posts and live vicariously through him.

Hamguy... I hope you are saving all of these photos and log entries on your computer. This will make one heck of an adventure log to look back on years from now. I truly am envious of your adventure but know that my adventures will start soon enough. I am still in the process of getting my tow vehicle ready (belts, hoses, hitch, brake controller etc.) along with related gear so I can go and pick up my A124. I'm convinced these Aframes are the way to go. You know the old saying... Sometimes less is more.
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Old 08-04-2012, 02:05 PM   #95
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Friday, August 3rd. A rainy day in the wilderness of Denali National Park and Preserve. Well, perhaps not an absolute wilderness. I can hear at least two generators running in the campground. They've been running all day, despite the rule against doing so. [rantlet: I'm a guy. As a guy I've devoted a fair chunk of my life and income to the acquisition of toys. I may own a genny again myself someday. So it's not the machines, nor even the folks who own them. What puzzles me greatly is why these people would seek out solitude, park their campers, step out and say, "Ah, wilderness! Start the genny!" A component of solitude, maybe the part that makes it so healing, is silence. I paid a lot to get some of that here, and these folks just HAVE to have power for their hair dryers. It's inconsiderate at least; in-your-face at worst.] Ah well. Maybe it keeps the bears away. The ranger at last night's program said it's not unusual for grizzlies to wander through the campground in their search for roots and berries. These are primarily vegetarian grizzlies, we're told. I hope they're Vegan as well!
A rainy day gives us a chance to sleep late, play Scrabble--she beats me again, update the log and take an afternoon hike along the banks of the Teklanika River, where we saw bear scat and moose tracks. Moose are apparently the real danger in the park, although human/animal encounters are rare. Moose are grumpy loners, and don't take kindly to folks wandering into their lunch area. They can run fast but aren't predators, so we're instructed to run from a moose encounter, zigzagging because it helps the moose get discouraged from the chase. Moose, you see, have the turning radius of a bus and since they really only want you out of their way, when you dodge and swerve they soon say to heck with it.
This is our last full day in Denali. The first day was at the campground just inside the entrance to the park, Riley Creek. There's a small store there with that most valuable of cultural artefacts, an espresso machine, as well as really nice showers and free wi-fi. Part of our initial scouting of the park entrance area included seeing a dog sledding demonstration. Dog teams are used in winter to patrol the park and there's a training program for them here. You could tell these high-energy dogs really wanted to pull the sled even though there was no snow. The dogs that didn't get chosen for the demo whined and howled in frustration. Once the handlers let them go, the five-dog team was off like a shot pulling a wheeled sled along the paths in the park. It was amazing to see how hard they worked and how happy they were to be pulling.
On Wednesday we pulled Rocky (I don't think I mentioned that's our camper's name) 29 miles into the interior of the park to Teklanika Campground. Nice new--and clean--vault toilets dot the two camping loops here, and there are Ranger programs nightly. To see other Park attractions one need only stroll out to the road and catch one of the many buses to destinations deeper in the interior with names like Otter Creek, Wonder Lake, etc. You have buy a bus ticket before coming deeper into the park but once here you can ride from your campground to any destination deeper in the park and back. You can't take your vehicle further in than where we are, in fact you need a permit to come in beyond the first 15 miles. Campgrounds deeper in than ours are pack-in only, though you can ride the bus to and from them. You can't travel back to the entrance area except when you're leaving. Once here, your vehicle is not to move again until you depart. You have to bring all your wood, water and food with you once you pass the checkpoint at the 15-mile mark. They make you sign a form to that effect. So we found a nice level spot and didn't even bother to unhitch before setting up.
Our second day at "Tek," yesterday, was grey and rainy like today. We had planned to hop the bus and ride it all the way to the end and back, a 10-hour trip. Along the way we hoped to catch lots of glimpses of Mount McKinley, which at 20,350 feet or thereabouts dwarfs all other mountains in the two ranges that run through the park. It was not to be. As we gained elevation we rode into a cloud and saw little but fog and rain the rest of the time. That's evidently the usual visitor's experience; the bus driver said that fewer than 20% of visitors actually get to see the mountain. In compensation for the missing views, the people on the bus were interesting--a retired military pilot and his wife who live on their boat in Central America most of the time, for example, and a couple from near Milwaukee who took to us like old friends. I jumped ship--er--bus after 3 hours and caught the next bus back to our camp but Courty went on to the bitter end and didn't get back until 6:30 p.m. Her reward for sticking to it was to get to see some animals and a former mining camp turned expensive lodging place. She caught glimpses of a few park denizens during breaks in the haze: bears, caribou, Dall sheep, moose, and the most unusual of all, a wolf. There are only about 70 wolves in the park, an area about the size of Delaware, so seeing one is rare even for those who travel the roads daily.
Denali seems to us to be a well-managed park, with trained staff and clear explanations of what visitors can and should do to have a good visit here. Even though we didn't get to see Mt. McKinley in its full glory, we did catch a glimpse of it through the clouds on Wednesday as we were headed to Teklanika, so we beat the odds at least a little.
Tomorrow we head for the park entrance, stop for a shower and coffee, then turn south toward Anchorage. We probably won't go the full 230 miles into Anchorage tomorrow, but will camp somewhere along the way. After a brief stop in Anchorage on Sunday we're headed for the Kenai Peninsula. We'll visit both Homer and Seward and somewhere in there we'll take a boat tour to see the Puffins and the glacier fiords.

Mt. McKinley is in the first pic. Can you see it?
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Old 08-05-2012, 05:40 PM   #96
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Amazing stuff! The shot of Mt McKinley is wonderful.
I hope you don't mind, I've added a link to a map of Alaska below. For me it's fun to follow the dialog of your trip, along with names of the towns along the route, with the map.

http://alaska.org/maps/images/alaska_enlarge.jpg

Deb
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Old 08-05-2012, 10:02 PM   #97
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There's no like button.... Where's the like button...... Oh, wrong app! Still loving your journey!
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Old 08-05-2012, 10:56 PM   #98
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gregory
Amazing stuff! The shot of Mt McKinley is wonderful.
I hope you don't mind, I've added a link to a map of Alaska below. For me it's fun to follow the dialog of your trip, along with names of the towns along the route, with the map.

http://alaska.org/maps/images/alaska_enlarge.jpg

Deb
Great idea, Deb. it'll be a while 'till the next update folks--having too much fun in Anchorage at the moment...and who knew Lowe's has free WI-fi in their parking lot!?!
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Old 08-06-2012, 07:47 AM   #99
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Does anyone know why the Rangers have this rule: "Once here, your vehicle is not to move again until you depart."
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Old 08-08-2012, 01:04 PM   #100
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Saturday, August 4 through Tuesday, Aug. 7
I'm surprised. I tried to look up a definition for "squalid" and it didn't include a description of Centennial Park, the rathole of a campground operated by the Municipality of Anchorage. We were lured there by the description of it in one of our camping guides as inexpensive, with free showers and nicely-spaced treed sites. Let's be clear here: the showers are free because NOBODY would pay for them.
In my long and tattered careen through life--calling it a career would imply a sense of order and coherence that it does not possess--I've spent time in several of my home state's penal institutions, and I can say those are the only other places one can get the sense of being an inmate in a desperate hole. How the city gets away with charging $25 a night for that place, I don't understand. If you have a copy of Milepost, go at once to the pages that describe Anchorage, turn to the paragraphs about camping places--P. 362 in the 2012 edition--and obliterate all mention of this place. You'll thank me for it if you ever come this way.
(Those who've known me long won't recall any mention of my time in Ft. Madison State Pennitentiary or any of the various reformatories I've been in. That's because I was just visiting, thank God, in the course of my employment.)
OK. That was theraputic. I feel better now. And before going on there's something else I've been meaning to tell about.
When we were in Inuvik visiting the art fair, one of the exhibitors was a man who made knives. I don't collect knives myself, but these knives were works of art in the true sense. I really coveted them. Not only were they beautifully made but they fit the hand as if tailored specifically for that hand only. Of course they were expensive, though I don't recall the exact cost of any of them. Well, a few days later--our last day in Canada, actually--we were having breakfast in a roadside cafe when we ran into a bicyclist we'd shared a campground with in Inuvik, and he has having breakfast with another guy. He introduced the other guy as George, and we recognized him from the art fair. Long story short, George is the fellow who makes those fabulous knives. He calls his studio "Bandit Knives", and I don't know if there's a website for his work but I thought I should let any knife collectors here know about him. Part of his art is not to go out and buy the steel or the bone or the other materials he makes his knives from, but to either find/hunt them himself, or trade something he's made for the raw materials. He feels that enhances the work, by having to struggle a bit to bring a new knife into being. Good luck finding something about his work, knife collectors! Post if you do. Now back to the road trip!
Saturday morning in Denali Park we woke to light rain and low clouds. That made it easier to leave, and we were rolling out of the campground and into the 29 mile crawl to the park entrance by 9:30. We had hoped to be able to see Mt. McKinley once more before leaving but it was not to be. We were surprised and fortunate to see another wolf as we journeyed out of the park. This one was right on the road and trotting toward our truck! It passed within 5 feet of us as we sat stopped there. I thought it was a dog at first until Courty spotted the yellow eyes. The poor creature looked bedraggled and had a slight limp. Life is hard for a predator who isn't in top condition. I wish it well. Considering how rare wolf sightings are in the park, it seemed a gift to have seen two of them.
There were some things we wanted to do in the little commercial zone outside the park, called Denali Park, and by the time we got them done, gassed up, and ate lunch, it was well after noon. We had decided to go all the way to Anchorage that day rather than stay somewhere along the way, so we had over 230 miles to go, all of it in rain and low clouds. Along the way there were several places where we could have stopped to see The Mountain, but we soon gave up on that issue.
It was almost 6:30 when we arrived at the campground of choice, per the positive recommendations in the camping guides. That was Centennial Park, of which you've already heard my rant. I'm happy to say that the campground was the only low point of our 2 days in Anchorage.
The weather was never superb, but there were moments of sun enough to brighten our spirits. We'd been in rain and clouds much of the time since the previous Sunday.
Our first stop was the Native American Cultural Heritage Center. This top-notch facility has demonstrations, exhibits, and guided walks through dwellings typical of each of several distinct native groups that have lived in the State of Alaska since prehistoric times. We were able to see how the weather and the resources available in a given area influenced how people made shelters, how they dressed, and whether or not they were nomadic. The day we were there a group of native Alaskan high school students who had studied traditional dancing and singing demonstrated songs and dances from different regions of the state. They were very skilled, and we got to talk to one of them--Derek, who is Athabaskan--afterward. His dancing style was energetic and forceful, and in person we could see he was an extraordinary kid. He played guitar and piano and his ambition is to get into Juliard School of Music.
In the afternoon we walked around downtown Anchorage, where there was a giant street fair going on. Parking was hard to find but we lucked out and found a spot a few inches longer than the truck. Courty said there was no way I could parallel park in a spot that small. That was just the challenge I needed. Didn't even touch the other cars! (Luckily by the time we left the other cars had moved out, or I'd probably still be stuck there.)
Anchorage has quite a few beautiful city parks and we spent some time strolling through them. One of them is a lagoon formed when a railroad embankment built years ago dammed up a stream. The place was a Mecca for hikers and bikers. A pair of radio controlled sailboat models was racing in the lake. I was interested in that, having made a couple of R/C boat models years ago. We met a couple who had ridden to the park on their folding bicycles and realized once again that something like that would be ideal for us. Maybe for Christmas this year... Meanwhile I thought I'd ask if any Forum members have good or bad things to say about various brands of folding bikes?
After a spin through a couple of other parks, we were ready to go back to the dismal swamp where we'd made our camp
Next morning we packed up and lit out for the Kenai Peninsula, specifically the town of Seward. On our way out of Anchorage we stopped for an hour to visit Potter's Marsh, another man-made wetland area where a lengthy series of boardwalks takes you out into the marsh to see birds, marsh plants and fish. This spot is a must-see for bird lovers. We saw what must have been hundreds of Pinky Salmon, which in August and September are making their way upstream to spawn. Even though the marsh was man-made, the original streams Salmon used for spawning had been preserved, so their reproductive cycles could go on undisturbed. We came away impressed with how Anchorage has taken care to see that urban growth doesn't completely destroy plant and animal habitat.
The drive from Anchorage into the Kenai is one of the most beautiful we've ever been on. You're traveling with an arm of Cook Inlet on one side and tall mountains on the other. Ahead and to the side you can see remnants of glaciers in the mountain valleys. Tiny hamlets dot the roadside and there are plenty of pullouts so you can stop and drink in the beauty. One roadside rest area even had an espresso vendor! Have I mentioned I like espresso? If you come to Alaska, don't go home without seeing the Kenai!
In Seward we camped for $30 a night with electricity and water in the large municipal campground right on Resurrection Bay. Our spot was in the second of 4 rows, so the shore was about four car lengths from where I sat happily typing this up for you all. Early in the mornings you can hear the fishing fleet setting out--this is a working port.
Yesterday we took the seven and a half-hour Kenai Fjords boat tour, operated by the locally-owned Major Marine Tours, which took us to two glacier calving sites and several rookeries where we saw thousands of birds including Puffins, Murres and Kittiwakes. The tour was narrated by a National Park Ranger and it seemed like an all-day science extravaganza. He knew a lot! I loved it, and evidently so did the other 150 or so folks aboard. One unsettling thing we learned as we set out for the trip: as we passed the municipal campground the ranger told about the destruction Seward suffered as a result of the 1964 (?) earthquake, the same one that devastated Anchorage. He pointed to the campground and said it was on the site of the former industrial area of the town. He said the locals refer to all the RVs lined up along the shore as the Seward Tsunami Barrier, referring to the 40-foot wall of water that swept up the bay after the earthquake.
The rest of the trip took us out of Resurrection Bay and into Aialik Bay, where the two glaciers we visited are located. There was no shortage of marine life; we saw Orcas, Humpbacks, Sea Otters, Sea Lions, Dahl Porpoise and Harbor Seals, among others. On shore a bewildering variety of birds and even a few Coastal Mountain Goats were pointed out. It was a great day, including the Salmon and Prime Rib buffet set out for us. I recommend this tour to anyone who comes to this area. It was expensive but well worth it.
We spent a second night here last night and we're off to Homer, on the other side of the peninsula, today. A big RV caravan will be coming in tomorrow so we'd have to leave even if we hadn't planned to. Before we go we'll stop at the Marine Life Center, another big attraction hereabouts.
I'm not sure why we're going to Homer next, it may be only to see if we can locate a woman we shared a house with in Cuernavaca in 2002 (we were all lodged with a Mexican family while taking an immersion course in Spanish). This woman had said she and her husband ran an ice cream shop in Homer, so we thought why not stop by since we're in the neighborhood? Quien Sabe?

Photos: the dancers at the Native heritage ctr., our guide there, potter's marsh, Seward harbor, our cruise ship.
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It's never too late to have a happy childhood!
Lee, WU0V, and Courtenay, N0ZDT
2011 Rockwood A128
2000 Silverado 1500 pickup
60W solar system
2000W inverter generator
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