Our Schedule

Saturday, July 26, 2014


Chugiak, Alaska

Another week completed of volunteering.  Two down, one to go.    Yesterday it rained the entire day.  Today perfect weather - mid 60's.    So, our crew had plans!

First thing, the OX

Over 70 musk ox call this farm home.     I never knew much about these animals until today.   Here at the farm they live to about 20.   They grow a type of very soft under fur that is harvested and used for scarves, hats, etc.    At a cost of $95.00 an ounce I didn't buy any.    The bulls are kept in one pasture.

Some of the cows were more friendly.

But especially friendly were the young.   This one is over a year old.   She followed us as we walked by her fence.   They love dandelions.

Then there are the babies born in April this year.

Now the BIRDS:

An air show featuring the Air Force Thunderbirds.

And as we pulled into the campground, this greeted us.

Great day, indeed!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

To Alaska Day 42 - Eagle River Nature Center

Chugiak,  Alaska

Having the day off yesterday, we first did our laundry and grocery shopping.    After putting the groceries away it was time for lunch.   As Len says when I ask what he wants it's "make it easy on yourself".   Okay, Subway it is.

Many times we get the $5.00 foot long and split it.  No such thing as a $5.00 sub in Alaska.  Should have known!

I then suggested we visit the Eagle River Nature Center.  

The Nature Center is at the end of a road in the process of being repaired.   Once again, glad we are not fussy about our truck getting dirty.  I still don't understand why we've bothered to wash it twice while up here.

The nature center has a very small visitor center with just a few things to see.

It's main focus is the various walking trails behind the center.   The young man at the desk suggested the 3/4 mile path.  He told us it is an easy walk with a small incline.   We took his word for it.  Sure!  An easy incline for a 20 year old native Alaskan used to climbing mountains.   Not such an easy incline for this old woman and a husband with back issues.  But we did it.   Taking advantage of a few of the benches along the way.

Worth the walk and we need the exercise.

Today the temps are in the mid 50's and a light rain.  We have ribs cooking low in the oven.  Leonard just said, let's do something.  So, I will close now and see what we can do on a dreary day.   Good to have three days off volunteering to check out the area.  And rest our backs.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Birchwood Camp Week One

Chugiak, Alaska

With sore muscles we have completed our first week of volunteering at

The lake:

The campers are invited to swim in the lake.  Not all accept.   High temps have been mid 60's.  I can only guess what the water temperature might be.  Those who want to swim don't seem to stay in the water long.

Whatever the temperature is, it does not seem to bother a family of Loons living on the lake.

One of our projects was to apply wood preservative on the "boat house" and then organize it.   Done!

Another is to build a swimming area storage facility with a shelter for firewood.   In progress.

In between we've repaired window screens, log oiled one cabin, sorted a tub of work gloves and  started the painting of directional signs

Now we are "off duty" for three days.   Tomorrow grocery shopping, cleaning the RV and laundry.   And probably a little sight-seeing of the area added in.

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Iditarod

Wasilla,   AK

Since the weather improved today from the rain and cold of yesterday, we decided to get out and see something.   I requested info from our on board GPS of tourist sites.    We choose this only 4 miles from the campground.

The visitor center:

Inside is a gift shop, displays and the chance to watch a 30 minute movie mostly about the dogs.

We learned a lot watching the video.   As most people know, the Iditarod race is over 1,000 miles long.  The mushers (people) take special care of the sled dogs.   Each dog is given an EKG, blood tests before each race and has an implanted chip that keeps all information pertaining to the dogs health, race history, etc.

These dogs love to run.

During the race over 20 vets are on hand.  Every 20 to 90 miles the dogs are throughly checked by a vet.   Should there be a problem detected or the dog does not appear that it wants to continue, they are flown back to Anchorage for better examination.  

They are given a special high calorie diet consisting of lots fish, meat and "kibbles" that include vitamins, protein, pro-biotics and omega 3 supplements.    It is the equivalent of a human eating 50 Big Macs a day.  

Once the dog stops racing, usually when it's about 10, they are either kept by their owner or a suitable home is found.   They make excellent family pets.  These dogs love and require lots of affection.

Outside there were three 6 week old puppies that people were encouraged to go out and love on.   We accepted that invitation.

The girl I was holding wanted desperately to get down and back with her brothers.

While there we picked up a few more Christmas gifts.    It's July.   Our Christmas shopping is just about done.   Problem is we keep seeing more stuff!

Being ready for lucnh we ate at a Red Robin.   We'd never been to one before.   What great burgers.  Looking at the menu I saw they served some special milkshakes.   Could not help but order the Hawaiian Special.  Consisted of Kahlua, amaretto, Grand Mariner and vanilla ice cream.  Oh my!  

Tomorrow we move to Camp Birchwood where we will start volunteering on Monday.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Valdez to Palmer

Palmer, Alaska

July 8
Miles:      112
Diesel:    $4.79
Weather:     64 and mild

We left Valdez around 9:30 am.    The one route out is the same as the one in.   We noticed this in Keystone Canyon on the way to Valdez so made sure we took a shot on the way out.

A snow cave with rapidly moving water in front and inside.

Also on the way to Valdez we wanted  to see Worthington Glacier which is right off the Richardson Highway.  However, it was extremely foggy and nothing could be seen.   On the way out the skies were clear so we attempted again.  Success!

We had noticed a turnout about 8 miles south of Glennallen and there were many RV's clearly boondocking there.   We decided that when we returned we would spend the night at that location with other boondockers.  When we got there only one RV was there and there were ropes and signs all around warning it was private property and no trespassing.   As we had pulled in, we had to get turned around.  As we did a man came running out of door of the RV.  Not to worry, we were moving on down the road.

Only about 3 miles further up was a rest area with two covered picnic tables, restrooms and lots of space next to Tazlina River.   We decided this looked like a great spot to stay even though it was only a little after noon.   That is the river on the other side of the shelter.

Next to the rest area is a Native Alaskan community center.   We watched two men at work on a fish wheel.

A completed one.    They really do the job for which they are intended.

July 9
Miles:      151
Diesel:      $4.12   !!!!  Yippee!
Weather:   Turned cooler and rained part of the day.
Big Bear Campground:     3 nights/ $32.00 a night with the Good Sam Discount

We had a pleasant drive on the Glenn Highway to our current location.   We stopped a couple of times to admire the scenery.

We stopped  by a really fast river.   This picture does not do it justice as the water bounced and splashed going over the rocks.

After we settled in to our site we took a ride to Birchwood Camp where we will be volunteering as NOMADS starting on Monday for three weeks.   We will move to the campground on Saturday.

July 10
Weather:      Dreary, rainy, damp and cold

Today was a get-done day.  Some laundry, propane tanks filled, Len took truck to Ford dealer first thing this morning and had the oil changed.  

Palmer is a small community right next to the much larger town of Wasilla.   Surprised to find that Wasilla has a Sears, many restaurants, and along with the Ford dealership most any other car dealership one could think of.   What was really nice it has a reasonably priced

We got stocked up well on groceries.   Don't want to pay those prices we came across earlier in our travels.

One thing that we find interesting.  All over Alaska are these little buildings indicating Espresso.  There is ALWAYS a line up of cars at the window.   We see some also have signs saying ice cream and soup.  They sure are popular up here.  Over in Wasilla we saw two of them within 1/4 mile.  Both had customers in cars waiting to be served.  Must be something to it!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Washing, history and Eagles, lots of Eagles.

Valdez,  Alaska

58 degrees at 8:30 am.
65 at 12:55 pm
Diesel:       $ 4.79

Yesterday, our last full day in Valdez was a busy one.   First things first.   Trucks and rigs get dirty up here.  Really dirty.   Can you tell the clean from the dirty?

Both truck and rig got a good scrubbing.   We well remember a couple of weeks ago while in Whitehorse we washed the truck.   It was just as dirty the next day.   Thinking not to expect either the truck or fiver to look as good as it does now for long.

Then it was off to visit two museums in town.   Senior cost was $6.00 each and got us into both museums.

A 1960 model home-made clothes washer:

The Old Valdez museum shows a great video of how the town came to be from the gold rush days til now.  Of special interest were interviews of townspeople remembering March 27, 1964 at 5:36 pm.  The largest earthquake in north America.    Most homes and businesses were destroyed.  Over 100 people lost their lives.

As the old town sat on unstable soft ground, in 1966 the town was moved 4 miles west.  Those buildings that could be moved, were moved.   New homes and businesses were built.

We took a ride out to the site of the original town.

Not much there.  Dirt roads and a few signs telling what used to be there.  (Yea, already the truck is getting dirty.)

This is what remains of the dock which collapsed killing the 32 people who were on it.

The very best part of the day was our drive to the Solomon Gulch Fishing Hatchery.

The stream next to the hatchery is a popular location for salmon fishing.  Not only people, but lots of bears are reported to do their fishing here.  None were there when we were but there was lots of signs warning of them.  One mans catch:

As we walked toward the river a man and woman with their two young boys were walking out.  The first boy (looked about 10) said to us "We got our LIMIT of 8 fish".  The other little boy who looked about 5 said "No, we got TEN".    Not to worry, as far as we know, no game warden was within ear shot.

The BEST part is this is an area with abundant Bald Eagles.

And FOUR in one shot.

So, today we get back on the road.    We will only go about 90 miles back up toward Glennallen (the road we came down here on is the only road back).   We saw a turnout site near a river that looks good for a boon dock night.   Then on Wednesday off to the town of Wasilla for three nights.

We did make some changes to our plans when leaving Alaska.  One road we thought of driving (Top of the World Highway)  we decided against.  One person told us they had four flat tires on it.  There was another that got a broken axle.  So looks like we will be doing some retracing our steps.   Regardless we still have the entire rest of the month of July and well into August before we head back into the lower 48.

12:55 pm.  We left the campground and went only about 110 miles.  We are boondocking about 8 miles south of Glennallen at a roadside turnout right by a river.   Had lunch and now thrilled that I have excellent cell and Internet connections.   Verizon coverage has been very good here in Alaska.

One thing - the truck does not look like it did went we left Valdez this morning.   We had to go through about 2 miles of road construction.  About 1/4 mile was dirt, wet dirt.    The passenger side of the truck is covered with mud. We knew the shiny, clean truck would not look like it did for long.  But good grief, it should have lasted longer than 60 miles!