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Fasten your seatbelts it's going to be a fun ride

Monday, July 8, 2013

The journey home....and kissing a moose.

This Alaska trip budded from a good friend Edie and remembering my trip here with my parents when I was a kid. So it was with some nostalgia perhaps that I finally saw the impressive pipeline.
My father came to work in Alaska for nearly 5 years.

Throughout the whole trip, I kept seeing signs that said "end avalanche area" but never did see the sign that said "begin avalanche area" but I didn't need a sign for this scary section of road. 
To the right, a still frozen lake. 

The boys sure do love their guns in Alaska. Sometimes the signs are so shot up you can barely guess at what they say.

We turned off on the Denali Highway. This is the 100 mile dirt "short cut" that avoids going through Fairbanks or Anchorage to get to the Denali park. And like I alluded to in my previous post, it was a bit more challenging. 

But we did stop for pie at the sluice box.  
At the 50 mile mark. 
Halfway through hell.

One of the prettier stretches of gravel. 
Fortunately for us, the weather held and it didn't rain.

I slept the night in a cute hostel just outside of the park. 

And the next day met up with some nice folks, Jade and Kelly, that I met in Dawson City who invited me to stay the night.

Got to clean off the caked mud and dust.

They have a border collie named Stella that is an absolute sweetheart.

She even fetches her bowl for dinner.

Had excellent stir fry by Peggy and homemade dumplings.
Nice change from the meat and potatoes I always get.

Meet Peggy and Don (the in-laws). 
Very fun people with lots of stories.

This is Kelly's truck.

And this is Jade's baby.

Russ and I were  now en-route to catch the ferry home.
I found out about a special place called Kroschels.
This is Steve and Isis the wolf.

What a pretty face. 

We got what Steve called a $2 howl out of her. 
Next was the hawk. Pretty cool to see one up close like this.

Then there was a parade of little weasels like the mink and stoat.
Some were human friendly, others completely wild. 

Next was the Lynx. 
It only hunts the snowshoe rabbit.
Look at those hind legs!

Next was "Kitty" the grizzly.

And this cute little critter that contrary to popular belief cannot project it's quills in defense. 

Hiding behind the leaf.

And this big, handsome one is the moose I kissed. 
Notice it's legs come up to my shoulders.

Did you know that the polar bear has a companion?
It's the arctic fox. 

And this is when it got really fun.
A real, live wolverine!
No, he's not attacking Steve. 
He's actually hugging him. 

Yep, that's right folks.
Killer, on a leash. 

Made it to Haines shortly after and found our cabins.

Ate some crappy wings. 

Got on the ferry home.
Unfortunately Captain Rudini was not there.
My bed in the solarium outside. 

Arrived in Prince Rupert on time without any drama.
A bit rainy start the next morning but camped dry and hot in 
Prince George. 

Finally said goodbye to Russ and took the highway 99 to Whistler. 
Devil road.
Extremely steep grades.
Idiots following too closely.
Thick forests on each side hiding skittish deer.
100 degree weather.
Sun in my eyes.
Like I said, hell road.

But made it OK and had a comfortable stay at the hostel there.

Hip little cafe inside.

I could even keep an eye on my bike from the window.

Then visited with some friends in Issaquah WA. 
Tyson and Jenn.

Had an amazing steak dinner. 

Hands down, one of the juiciest steaks ever. 

And a super comfortable king size bed!

We won't talk about the steep, gravelly road up to his house.
Nope. We won't discuss that. 

Next it was time to see some other friends in Portland,
but not before this lady that blew her top!

Meet Danny. 
We caused a ruckus together in Phoenix back in the day.

He took me to a cool truck food court.

Where I had great fried chicken...
instead of Greek food because Ms. Greek lady was flustered and not taking any more orders because so-and-so complained it's taking too long. yada yada yada 

And boy was it great chicken!

Now Ben is a collector of curious. 
Bizarre things.
Curious things.
Very neat things.

All of the following photos were of my room alone!

The next morning after a great night of sleep in a virtually pitch black room on a soft pillowcase that had Morrissey's quote "Last night I dreamed someone loved me", it was off to Arleta Library Cafe for breakfast, complete with Portland attitude of I'm too cool for school....

Well the eggs were delicious.

And the gravy was yummy.
Could not resist bacon either. 

My last night on the road was quite possibly the worst yet.
As I crossed the border into California and drove towards Mt. Shasta, an ominous, dark sheet of clouds loomed in the horizon.
After a couple days of intense heat, I almost welcomed it. Until, that is, I saw the lightening start.

So I stopped in Weed CA, and a friendly local convinced me to camp at the KOA nearby. 
What they didn't tell me is that not 50 yards from my campsite was a train track. Every 40 minutes like clockwork a train rattled and blared by. No sleep. None whatsoever.

By 5 a.m. I'd had enough of the circus and fired up the jetboil and made myself a very strong triple french pressed coffee and hit the road. Another day of sizzling heat but made it home on the 4th of July in time to see the fireworks. 

Alaska....if you've not been. It truly is the last frontier.
The place can swallow you up whole.
It will surprise you and you may also learn the 'unspoken code'.
And, hey who knows,  you might also get to kiss a moose!