Thursday, July 28, 2011

We Sold Our Scamp

Last September we bought our very nice 16 foot Scamp travel trailer. Since that purchase, we have spent over 100 nights in it and have covered over 15,000 miles. The only thing that we did not like about it was that in order to use the dinette/bed, we had to spend time and effort converting. Plus, the bed is actually smaller than a double. At home we sleep in a King and the double was just too small. When we started planning this trip, we tried to sell that Scamp and wanted to buy the 19 foot 5th wheel which has a queen bed in the loft and we would be able to keep the dinette in place. We were not able to sell before we left for this trip so we decided to try to sell it here in Alaska and then go to Backus, MN to pick up the 5th wheel and then head home. We had quite a few people look at the Scamp and on Tuesday we made the sale, getting just a little less than what we had paid for it in September. So, we will be getting the 5th wheel next week.

Then---the real adventure began. We now had $15,000 in cash that we wanted to get into our bank account. There was one bank in Tok where we had made the sell. They would not help is in any way in transferring funds into our credit union account. They said we had to have an account with them. We said we would open an account. They said we could not do that since we were not residents. We really needed to get to Haines, AK so that on Thursday we could catch the ferry to Prince Rupert. We were hoping we could "get rid" of the cash in Haines.

To get to Haines, we had to take a road that left Alaska and entered the Yukon Territory, CA and then reentered Alaska. That meant that we had to go through or past 4 border stations. When we drove past the US station South of Tok, we did not stop because we didn't know we were supposed to declare that we were leaving the US with more than $10,000. We did know that entering Canada, we needed to declare the cash. Not only did we have to declare it, but we had to count it out for the agent and complete some paperwork, as well as giving them a verbal explanation as to why we had that much cash. After we had finished all that, the Canada agent called the US border people who were located 20 miles back from where we had driven. They told him to send us back because we were supposed to declare the money and we would have to complete some documents. So, off we went. At the US Customs, we did not have to count the money or even show it to them. We completed the documents and headed off on the 400 plus mile drive. All this had taken nearly 2 hours and we really wanted to get to Haines so we could try to get rid of the cash.

Since Hollie had driven the entire time when we were pulling the trailer, he let me do most of the driving to Haines. Along the way we saw dozens of trumpeter swans and several bears. About half way between Haines Junction and Haines, we saw a grizzly bear and a black bear within a mile of each other. The grizzly was on the road and as we approached, it moved just the the side and down an embankment. We were able to watch it for several minutes.

When we got to the Canada border, we stopped at customs because that was what the previous customs guy had told us we would need to do. They just looked at our papers and sent us on. We then stopped at the US customs and showed them our papers and answered some questions and were sent on our way.

It was after 11:00 pm when we got to Haines. The first rather nice looking motel that we saw had a no vacancy sign. We then drove into the main part of town and saw a couple more motels. What a shock to have to pay over $130 for an absolute dump, especially considering we haven't been paying *anything* for our lodging. Oh---I know we have been paying in that we had to pay for the travel trailer, but it still was very odd to pay for such a pitiful room.

That was Tuesday night. Yesterday we found a room back at the nicer looking motel that had previously had none. It was fine, but still not worth the $100 we had to pay. I'm missing my Scamp!

Yesterday, as soon as the one bank opened, we were there! They allowed up to open an account and we were able to get the money in a safe place. We then spent the rest of the day checking out the town. There was a cruise ship in port so there were a lot of people in this small town. I got to see it from a good perspective as I did a 5 mile run and 1 mile walk.

This morning I ran 3 miles and now I'll be getting things ready for the ferry trip. When we sold the Scamp, we had quite a bit of "stuff" in it that we now have the bed of our truck. Since it rains quite often, we just put everything in trash bags and we'll deal with it when we get the new Scamp. We do have our clothes and personal items somewhat organized and in the cab of the truck, so we should be OK for the 36 hour ferry ride and the 2000 mile drive to MN.

This is a rather large ferry, but once we get on it with the truck, the only time we can go to the truck is when we are in port or at other designated times. This ferry has sleeping cabins, but we decided to just rough it with a pillow and blanket and sleep in deck chairs, on the floor or any other place we can find. The ferry has showers and food/drink can be purchased. We will be on it for over 36 hours during which we will go through some of the the most beautiful scenery in the world.

I'm not sure how many more blogs I will be able to post. This computer is acting like the hard drive is getting ready to crash. I'm just trying to keep it going long enough to make it home and it it checked out.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Tok, AK

Yesterday we drove from Valdez to Tok and are staying at the Sourdough Campground. We will also be here tonight.

I have realized that I have not mentioned much about the trumpeter swans that we have seen. While we were in Valdez, we saw two. Yesterday we saw two adults and 5 young. This was about 40 miles before Tok. They were pretty far away, but with binnoculars we were able to watch them as they moved around their nest.

As far as my running goes, I have done 30 miles in the past 7 days. Where we are now located as an extensive network of bike paths. This is really strange because Tok has a very small population. I guess somebody is good at grant writing. I'm not complaining as I ran 4.5 miles and walked 1 mile.

This campground has nightly entertainment with a "Johnny Cash Tribute Artist" who has a good speaker system with good back up CDs. He entertains and in return gets meals, RV hookup, tips and can sell his CDs. In addition, there is a nightly sourdough pancake toss. You are given two chances to toss a pancake into a bucket from a distance of about 10 feet. If successful, you get a free pancake breakfast. I came close with a ringer.

Tomorrow we are to meet a couple who have told us they will have the cash to purchase our 16 foot Scamp. If the deal works out, we will then drive to Haines, AK and take a ferry (36 hours) to Prince Rupert. This goes through the inside passage which is a very beautiful area. I did this ferry trip from Bellingham, WA to Juneau many years a go, but Hollie wants to see the inside passage and it will cut off quite a bit of our driving distance. We have already made arrangements with the Scamp people in Backus, MN so that we will continue on there to pick up a 19 foot 5th wheel Scamp. I've spent most of today getting the trailer clean and everything packed so that we can hit the road tomorrow as soon as the deal is complete. Cross your fingers for us. We really do like our Scamp, but the larger 5th wheel will better meet our needs.

Time to go for a run. I need to get in some miles since I probably won't be able to run for 4-5 days.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Lots of Bears, Eagles and Sea Lions

On Thursday, after I posted my blog, I went for a run around town. While on the street where the high school is located, I heard a loud boom, followed by crashing of tree limbs. As I neared the sound, I saw a "public safety officer" with a very large gun. He told me there had been a young bear in a tree and he had frightened it out and it was headed behind the HS. Needless to say, I kept my eyes open for it and I stayed away from the HS. After my run, we drove back out to the Solomon Fish Hatchery area. Just as we pulled into the parking lot we saw all these people running in one direction. Of course, we followed them and that's when I saw the brown bear frolicking in the water. That's the best way to describe his/her actions. It was a fairly young bear and it was jumping up and down and looking at us like it was there to entertain us. After awhile it got down to the business of catching fish. In a short time it was successful and then, with fish in mouth, it walked across the road into the woods. What a treat to see this animal in action.

In the same location we saw numerous eagles, including the largest juvenile that I have ever seen. In addition, there were quite a few sea lions in the area. The fisher people were not even using bait; they were just throwing out their lure and snagging the fish.

Yesterday was another beautiful day in Valdez. The Valdez glacier is located just down the road from our campground and we drove back there to watch the kayakers. We also returned to Robe Lake to see if there was any wildlife action there.While Hollie was doing his bike ride, I went to the Valdez Museum which helped me to get a better understanding of the history of Valdez, including how the earthquak, pipeline terminal, oil tanker spill have impacted the Prince William Sound area.

I did another run around town, managing 5.5 miles plus 1.5 miles walking. There are quite a few runners in the area. I just imagine most of them are visitors, although I'm sure the locals are enjoying what they tell me is the best weather that they have had in years.

Last night when I was waiting for an available shower I was talking with a guy who is in a campsite near us. He asked me if I had seen the bear last night. He then told me that a small black bear had walked right through our sight. We were not at the site at that time, so I did not see it, although I have been hearing noises at night that I think are bear.

This morning we went back out to the Solomon Hatchery area where we ran along the bike/pedestrain path. There were quite a few eagles and sea lions, but we did not see bear. We are now in town where I will probably go to another museum.

We will be leaving tomorrow to meet some people in Tok on Tuesday. They are supposed to buy our trailer and if it happens, we will then drive to Haines and take the ferry to Prince Rupert where we will then make our way to Backus, MN to pick up a 5th wheel Scamp.

I hope that my blog is not totally confusing as far as my timelines. I do not have regular internet access and by the time I get around to posting, I may not have thing in exactly the right time frame.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Tuesday morning while in Anchorage, I ran on a really beautiful trail where I had been warned to be on the lookout for a moose. I never did see the moose, but I did have a very enjoyable run with the temperature being in the low 60s and full sun. The flowers and other plants, along the creek side were wonderful. After the run, I went to a YMCA to shower and then we headed out for Valdez.

It took us two days to make the drive, mostly because we kept stopping for wildlife or scenic attractions/views. We spent the night at a very rustic campground about 10 miles West of Glennallen. Our site was next to a creek and we enjoyed walking through the campgrouds and seeing evidence of moose and other wildlife. The mosquitos were unreal. They weren't as large as some in other arts of Alaska, but there were so many of them. They are really slow, so we could usually swat them before they did any damage. Just before going to bed, I walked down to the restroom and on my way back I kept thinking that it was really cold. When we woke up yesterday morning, our thermometer read 36 degrees. No wonder I thought it was cold!

We then drove the rest of the way into Valdez, but that 120 miles took all day as we stopped to visit Wrangell-St Elias National Park which is the largest park in the US. On down the road we stopped to walk up to the foot of a glacier. Then, we had to make several stops to view and take pictures of some really tall waterfalls. This was probably the best weather and most scenic day that we have had in Alaska. Where we stopped for our roadside lunch was overlooking a huge lake with some very tall mountains in the background. Also, we stopped once to get an up close view of an above ground portion of the Alaska pipeline. What an amazing project! And, it is certainly not something that interfered with our enjoyment of the scenery. Also, by the evidence of lots of scat, the moose are not offended by the location of the line.

We arrived in Valdez early enough to drive around town. We quickly decided that we did not want to be at an in town campground with the "tourists" since we don't consider ourselves to be such and don't enjoy all the noise, etc. On the way into town, we had seen a sign for a camp ground on the road to the Valdez glacier. When we got there, we drove around and picked a nice quiet site with a waterfall view just out our door. When I turned in our money, the host told us to stay away from certain areas as a bear had killed a dog the previous day. The dog belonged to a guy who was out for a run. According to him, had he not had the dog, the bear would have attacked him. I did not get a more complete story, but that was enough for me to drive back into town for my run.

This morning we drove back to the Valdez glacier and then to Robe lake where we talked to a couple of people who were at the lake giving their dogs a swim. They told us that there seemed to be many more bear this year than usual and suggested some areas that we should avoid. We followed those suggestions.

After that we drove to the Solomon Fish Hatchery which is located on the road to the Alaska Pipe Line terminus. At the Hatchery, the salmon where running and I got pictures of them where there were so many it looked like the water was boiling. Due to high security, we could not get anywhere near the pipeline terminus.

We are now in the Valdez library and in a bit we will go for our run/walk and then we plan to eat at a fish restaurant, where they serve only local product. Hopefully, it will be to our expectations.

Since the weather here has been so great and there is so much to see, we have decided to stay a bit longer in Valdez, taking it day by day. We need to be in Skagway/Haines by next Thursday if we are going to take the ferry through the inside passage.

Monday, July 18, 2011

5K Age Group Wins in Alaska

Before I post about our 5K race, I want to tell you that the fish finally arrived at the mouth of the Kenai river and the whole town, along with the town of Soldotna and much of this part of Alaska was out there netting the salmon. It was constant action and many people had elaborate systems worked out where some people would be in the water netting, some others would meet them on the beach and bop the fish and then take it to someone else who would fillet. I'm sure that everyone go their limit. By the way, this netting is only open to residents of Alaska and must be within the first 3 miles of the mouth of the river.

On Friday Hollie and I went to the HS to enter Saturday's 5K race. I had previously called the race director to make sure we would get the pre-register fee rather than the late fee. Not only did we get the reduced rate, but we also got the family rate and were able to enter our grandchildren (even though they were not with us). For the $50, we got 5 long-sleeved shirts and 5 pair of running socks. Since these were the brand socks that I like, I traded for my size so now I have 5 new pair of running socks.

The race was a point to point and was nearly entirely downhill. Since I like to do a 30-45 minute warmup, I had Hollie take me out to the start. He went back and parked at the finish and took the shuttle bus to the start. I have not been doing much training. I have been running; just not training so I really thought I'd run about 28 minutes. In hindsight, I should have just blown it out and gone for a sub 26. My time was 27:29 and with it being so much downhill, I really should have run faster. I did win my AG, but instead of the usual trophy/plaque awards that we are used to, they gave out ribbons. I'm not complaining since in addition to all the above mentioned race goodies, they also had post-race hotdogs, hamburgers chips, bananas, soft drinks and coffee. They also had doorprize drawing for round trip air from Soldotna to Anchorage.

The real race highlight for us was that Hollie ran the first mile continuously, in a time of about 9 minutes. As many of you know, three years ago he had a severe ankle injury where he had to have surgery and now has 10 screws and several metal plates in his ankle. He has not been running until a couple of months ago, although he alternates a 4-5 mile racewalks and 15-25 mile bike rides every other day.

After he ran that first mile, he alternated running and walking and was able to win his AG. He says the ankle feels fine and he thinks he will be able to start training. He'll probably just slowly increase his running and do less walking and continue to bike on alternate days. I think he can do quite well in his AG. I do know he had really missed running and he is really hoping this will work.

After the race we drove to Whittier, AK which is famous for having a 2.5 mile tunnel that until a couple of years ago was only used by trains. It is now used for auto traffic. Traffic is one way so they have an elaborate schedule for timing which direction will be using the tunnel. Train traffic has priority. The weather was cold and rainly, but that did not stop us from walking aroung the "town" which has about 300 year round residents, but several thousand during the Summer. We parked at a campground that was more like a rock field with three porta potties. Needless to say, we only stayed one night. The interesting thing was that when we left yesterday morning, it was rain and cold in Whittier. When we drove the 2.5 miles through the tunnel and exited, it was sunny and warm. We then stopped several places along the way to Anchorage so that we could see wildlife and glaciers and we took a couple of short hikes.

We are now in Anchorage and will probably stay another night or two. This is a beautiful city with flowers everywhere. The hanging baskets are the size of a washtub. I guess this is due to all the sun (18-22 hours a day) and all the rain. Today we toured the ULU knife factory where they were serving free reindeer hot dogs. I better not tell the grandkids.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Cook State Recreation Area

We have spent the past two nights parked at the North Kenia Peninsula Recreation Area. This place has a little bit of everything, including a huge domed swimming facility with a 132 foot slide. They allow free overnight RV parking and for $2 we can use their shower facility.

Yesterday we decided to drive out to the Cook State Recreation Area. Our intention was that we would stay in the campground, but after driving around the campground, we decided to just use the day use area which had beautiful views of the Cook inlet, beach and the mountains with four "active" volcanoes. We had previously bought a load of firewood from a roadside vendor and we really wanted to have a fire and watch the sunset. We arrived at the area at about 3:00 pm and took off for our daily run. I ran out a couple of miles and on my return trip I saw a moose about a hundred yards off the road. It was near river and was quietly watching me. I watched it for awhile an then headed back to my starting area. On our drive into the area, I saw what I thought were three fox.

Hollie and I then started about building our fire. I'm sure you Mississippi people have a difficult time relating to building a campfrie in July. But, you have to realize that the temperature was in the 50s and would be in the 40s at night. Just after we got the fire going a Native American family of grandma, adult son, adult daughter and granddaughter pulled into the parking lot. They kept looking at our fire and finally the young man came over and asked if we would like to share our fire with them. He said they wanted to teach the granddaughter how to make Smores and they would share them with us. How could we refuse? It turned out to be a good decision as we thoroughly enjoyed talking with them---especially the grandmother who shared some interesting stories about growing up on an island and living in Alaska.

Eventually, they left and we cooked our hotdogs, green peppers/onions and chili. We also had some deviled egg potato salad that we had purchased from Walmart. We topped the meal off with Smores that they had left for us. We then sat around the fire until sunset (sometime between 11-12 pm) and eventually drove back to the rec center to park for the night. Since it was closed, we had to go to sleep smelling like the campfire. After this morning's run, I was very happy to get a hot shower and put those stinkly clothes away.

We then drove into Kenai to watch the dip net fishing. We had never seen nor heard of this, but it was interesting to watch. The people use these huge nets attached to a long aluminum pole. They get in the water (wearing chest-high waders) and as the fish swim by they get caught in the nets. They then haul the net onto the beach and take the fish out of the nets and hit them with a small bat (like a miniature baseball bat). According to the locals, the run has not really started, but it should at any moment. How do they know this?

We are planning to stay in the Kenai Walmart parking lot tonight and in the Soldotna Fred Meyer lot tomorrow. We probably would leave the area tomorrow, but there is a 5K and 10 mile race on Saturday. I always like to do a race when we are on our travels and I especially want to do one in Alaska. Hollie and I will both do the 5K.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Still in Soldotna

Last night was our 3rd night in Soldotna, AK. We had to stay through today because we needed to replace the tires on the trailer. We have about 15,000 miles on them and on Saturday I noticed that one of them had something imbeded in the tread. All the tire places were closed until today and we decided to also get the bearings packed or greased or whatever is recommended.

Yesterday we went on a 3- mile hike in the Wildlife Refuge. Before we did that we watched a really good film on the wildlife of Denali. The day before we had seen another one of the guy who decided at age 52 that he wanted to build a cabin in the wilderness of Alaska and then spend a year there. This area was accessible only by airplane. He ended up staying over 30 years. The film was a documentation of his first year while building the cabin. He was a Master carpenter and it was very interesting to see how he made his own tools and build the log cabin. He also kept a journal and his experiences have been included in a book, the title of which I cannot recall.

Today we drove out to the Cook State park. Along the way we passed through a small community that had an amazing domed swimming pool/recreation center. I imagine this facility was funded by the oil and gas operations that are abundant in the area. The pool had a 132 water slide, along with many other outstanding features. They also had a small fitness center and we found that they allow overnight RV parking. Depending upon tomorrow's weather (rain is forecast) we may stay there one night and take advantage of the fitness facility and the showers. Then, we weill go to the state park for at least a couple of nights. The campsights are in a very lush setting and overlook the Cook inlet and offer beautiful views. We are really looking forward to a campfire so we can use some of that wood that we purchased from a roadside vendor the other day. For $10 we got a huge amount. This was on the honor system where they had various amounts of wood stacked with price signs and a box into which you were to place the money.

This area is home to the guy who grows world champion gourds, melons, etc. I may try to find him and see his garden. I'm sure some of my Hattiesburg gardeners would like pictures. I still cannot get pictures to load at any of the wi-fi places I am using. Maybe I will eventually get that done. I have taken quite a few and they really would make this blog come alive.

I want to stay in this area at least until Saturday. I have always wanted to do a race in Alaska and we learned that there is a fairly large 5K/10 miler on Saturday. Of course, I will do the 5K since I am in no way prepared for a 10 miler.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

In Soldotna

We are now in Soldotna, AK which is famous for the abundant fish action. Although we don't fish, we certainly like watching those who do and we certainly enjoy the beautiful scenery.

I really didn't get to see as much of Homer as I wanted to see because for about 36 hours I had some sort of "throwing up" illness. I was down for the court for about 24 hours and just now am beginning to feel normal.

We are now boondocking in a Fred Meyer parking lot. There are about 20 other RV units here. We'll be here for until Monday for sure. Just when I was getting in the trailer, I noticed that there was a split in one of the tires. It will be Monday before we can get it replaced. Lucky for us, the Fred Meyer allows us to unhook from the Tundra so we are able to get around and see the area without worrying about the trailer tire.

We have already discovered a wonderful bakery, "Moose in on the Loose" which I'm sure we will return to each day. I had a pecan caramel something and Hollie had an apple fritter. We also found a place that had one of the best burger platters that I've ever tasted. It might have something to do with not having eaten anything in a couple of days.

Between Homer and Soldatna we visited a Russian Orthodox chuch which was very unusual and had a beautiful and very interesting cemetery.

I'm not sure how much more I'll be able to post to my blog as I have about to run out of battery. I will attempt to post pictures on some of my previous blog posts.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

In Homer, AK

We are now in Homer, AK and I am in awe of all the eagles we have been seeing. Just before we left Seward, we walked down to the salmon ladder area that was about 800 meters from our campground. At one point, we counted 18 eagles perched in nearby trees, including quite a few juveniles. Here in Homer, we have seen two nests with juveniles. These are located very close to busy roads/tourists areas.

I've been running so slow that I wanted to do some speed work. I asked the young woman at the campground office about local tracks. She told me not to use the HS track because "it is so bad, they don't even have meets on it" She advised me to use the MS track. All I can say is that if the MS track is better than the HS, I don't want to go anywhere near it. The MS track was so bad that I had to use the outside lanes. Since my Garmin was messed up and I didn't want to take the time to fool with it, I just wore a regular watch. Running the the outside lanes, I didn't want to have to tax my brain by trying to make conversions, so I just decided to do a timed speed session, consisting of 1:00, 1:15, 1:30, 1:45, 2:00, 1:45, 1:30, 1:15, 1:00 with double time recovery jog between each speed segment. With warm-up and cool-down, I figure I ran about 5 miles.

The temperature when I ran was about 50 degrees with a brisk wind. Being from hot/humid climate, I was cold so I wore long tights, a long-sleeved shirt, windbreaker and gloves. I never did get overheated and had a nice workout.

I'm still having trouble posting pictures to this blog, but if you are on Facebook, I have been posting some there.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Seward, AK

We have seen so much and been so busy, I really don't know where to start. I guess I'll just have to wing it from memory as the days just seem to fly past and I'm having so much fun that I don't seem to have time to get this blog done in a timely manner. I so want everyone to read my blog and at least get a feel for this very beautiful state.

We left Wasilla on Sunday morning and drove through Anchorage, without spending any time there. Our plan is to see more when we go back there on our return. Between Anchorage and Seward was the most beautiful coastline I have ever seen. Again, we did not stop very oftern because we want to plan for more time to really appreciate it. We arrived in Seward to find the entire town packed with people. Susan Davidson had told me that if we were anywhere near Seward on July 4, we had to include it on our trip. So, we timed it that way and she was absolutely correct. The people of Seward and all the visitors really do know how to have fun and to celebrate. This *is* small town America at its best.

We attempted to drive around and find a place to park our trailer in or close to town, but finally realized that would be impossible. Seward has a population of about 4000 and it is estimated there are about 40,000 in town for the 4th. We had passed several private RV parks on the way into town so we drove back and stopped at a couple of them. At the 3rd or 4th stop, we found one that had a space. It is the Bear Creek Lake Campground and although it is a bit old, it is fine for us. It is about 7-8 miles from town and has everything we need, so we will be here for 3 nights, leaving tomorrow.

The morning of the 4th, we got into town early enough to get a good parking spot so that we could walk to various areas to view the start/finish and parts (mostly through binoculars) of the Mountain Marathon race. This is not a marathon distance, but it certainly is a mountain race. I really cannot do it justice by trying to give a description. Briefly, it is a 3.5 mile race up and down a mountain without the benefit of maintained trails. The shortest distance that one could do is 3.5 miles, with an elevation gain of over 3000 feet. Some people choose routes that make the distance longer. There are three races, one for ages 7-17 that goes halfway up, and one each for male and female 18 and over. If you are interested, there are several youtube videos of the event. The one I like best is The Mountain Marathon Experience mp4

In all my years of running, coaching and watching races, I have never seen anything like this. The first section is asphalt street, followed by gravel road and then up the mountain. I would have had trouble running the asphalt part.

When I was watching the age 7-17 race, I got rather emotional. In today's society, it is so unusual to see kids who would even think about doing something like this. IT IS VERY DIFFICULT!!! To see young boys and girls pushing themselves so much both physically and emotionally gave me chills. As they were approaching the finish area, some of them were muddy, scraped and bleeding but nearly all of them looked so pleased and happy. The crowds were so supportive and appreciative of their effort.

That race was followed by the women which turned out to be a duel between two young women who were teammates on the US Olympic Cross Country Ski Team. They ran/crawled/slid together for much of the race, with one turning it on within the last 200 meters to take the victory.

By the time the men ran, I was exhausted. All together, I took about 700 pictures. I have a new camera and it lets me take multiple shots in a matter of a second. Of course I don't know any of these people, but it was still fun to take pictures and view them on computer where I could really see their expressions and how physically spent they were.

Today we did a hike to Exit Glacier. That was really beautiful and interesting to see how much it has changed over the years. On the way back to the campground, we spotted an eagle and a nest and I took quite a few pictures. When we got to the campground, we walked about 500 yards toward the lake and I spotted another eagle. I was so busy taking its pictures and even though I saw that it was getting ready to take off, I was so in awe of it that I couldn't react quickly enough to get pictures of it in flight. We then walked down a bit more and saw a juvenile eagle.

Running-wise, I hve been using the wide shoulder/bike path of the Seward Highway. The drivers seems to be used to runners and bikers and give me a wide berth when I am on the highway. With all the walking I did yesterday, I had a hard time running, although I did manage 3 miles. The day before I had done 5.75. Today, I'll try for 4-5 miles. I am finding that I want to run each day, but I just don't want to run fast; I want to enjoy everything and not push the pace.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Denali to Wasilla

Yesterday morning we toured the sled dog facility at Denali National Park. That was quite interesting to learn that the dog sleds are still used as the major method of accessing remote areas of Denali. It was also a treat to get to see some of the dogs and to learn about their training, diet, etc.

From Denali we drove to Wasilla, AK home of Sarah Palin. Wasilla is a beautiful town. We have yet to meet anyone who is not very friendly and appears to be very happy. I am also very impressed with the work ethic of the people of Wasilla. Yesterday I met a young man who works two jobs and he told me that he had worked 80 hours in the past 4 days. He said he was trying to save money to go back to college, but in the meantime he has decided to join the Army. He didn't see any reason to stop working until he enlists.

We have seen no graffiti and there are hike/bike trails everywhere. The schools are very new and quite attractive. In general, there seems to be a lot of emphasis on recreation. If it did not get so cold in Winter, I think this would be a very nice place to live.

This afternoon we drove up to Hatcher pass which is known for gold mining. The place is now a state historical area. The drive up there was beautiful and the tour of the mining area was very interesting.

Today I wanted to do speed work so we went to the Wasilla High School track. The track was not nearly as nice as I had expected. I guess track is not a big deal up here. Of course, neither is football. Basketball and ice hockey are *the* sports. I ran a total of 5 miles, including 8 x 400 @ a little over 9 MPM pace. I am slow, but since I haven't been doing any speedwork, I need to accept that until I do such, I will be slow.

Tomorrow we will drive to Seward, AK where we will observe the most well known race in Alaska. It is a 5K, but it goes straight up a mountain and then straight back down. I understand that it is not much of a trail---just a run up and down the face of a mountain. I am told that most people fall at some point in the race. I was happy to learn that the event registration closed in March. Otherwise, I would be tempted to do it and I probably would end up severely injured. I think Seward has a population of about 4000, but the weekend of the 4th they expect to have a total of about 40,000 people in town. We have no idea where we will park our Scamp. All the campgrounds a full, but I'm told that people just park wherever they can find a spot and the party begins.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Left Denali and now in Wasilla, AK

When we arrived in Denali National Park on Tuesday, there were no camping spots available, but we were able to get a spot for Wednesday and Thursday. We also purchased bus tickets for the winderness tour out to Wonder Lake. This was an 11 hour bus trip out about 85 miles and back. Most of it was on a well maintained gravel road and we made frequent rest stops and stops to photograph wildlife. In total we saw 5 grizzly bear, one fox, several caribou, 26 Dall sheep (these were so high up that they simply looked like dots, but with binoculars I counted 26) several moose including a huge bull. This bus trip is the only way to see the wilderness areas of Denali (with the exception of backpacking among the wildlife and I'm chicken with that.)

I think I'm on the downside of this cold that I caught from Hollie. I was so tired yesterday that I just could not think about running.

This morning we took the sled dog tour/demonstration. That was quite interesting to learn that in Winter, dog sled in the major mode of transportation. Since much of Denali is a designated wilderness area, there is limited motor transportation during Winter.

We are now in Wasilla, AK which seems to be a very nice city. They have a population of about 10,000 but there are outlying communities that make it seem much larger. Also, they have most of the major big box stores including Wal-mart and Target. We are parked in the Wal-mart lot with about 20 other RVs. I am now in a coffee cafe which is located just across the street---with free internet.

As soon as I get this posted, I'm going to head out for a run which will probably be slow and short but I'm sure I'll fell better; that's the way it usually works.