North to Alaska

Well Erik has set a new standard which I will not try to reach. As always these things get to long. Here is the short version. Spent 17 days, shot 15 rolls of film, had great weather, loved almost every thing and gained an undetermined amount of weight.

July 16

Well here is the sleep depravation study again. Up till midnight packing. 2 suitcases, one duffel bag, one garment bag, a backpack and Berni has a small carry on bag. We will check suitcases and duffel. We are up at 4 am for a 7 am departure at LAX. Eat 2 grapefruit and 2 small cottage cheese cups in tribute to Lisa the nutritionist we've been seeing. Jack and Julie Moore's daughter Pat is providing transportation to airport. They arrive in a very big truck, 4 doors and a big bed. We need it J&J have more luggage than we do. I should compliment Berni on the restraint. This truck has 4 door seats 5 adults and a 3-year-old in a car seat. Good Morning Killian. Very cute little 3 year old blonde boy. Need GAS! Running late as it is. Get on road at 5:30 am. Pat takes the "2" to the 4 level to the "Harbor" to the "105" LAX in 30 minutes. Place is a Zoo. Get in wrong line at first. Check bags one is over weight needs to go against the wall. Agent informs us we need birth certificates or passports to get into Canada?? Gone back and forth across the border 20 times with just a driver's license. With only 4 hours sleep may not have been as friendly to the Agent as I could have been. Agent gives me isle seat in emergency row in spite of my bad attitude. 737. Plane is almost full. 5 of 6 seats in our row full. About 2 minutes before door closing attendant make this very heavy lady move to a bulkhead seat. Her partner goes with her (she protests but to no avail). Attendant was worried about her physical ability to work door. I thought it was kind of unfair. Much more acceptable to be a drug addict than fat in California. Didn't feel bad enough not to grab their seats. No one took the window I had the whole row and Berni had an empty seat next to her. Does not get any better than this flying coach. Breakfast was not bad Alaska does meals OK.

Walked forever to customs. Agent said we should bring birth certificate or passport next time. Got off with a warning. Luck ran out at luggage carousel. After waiting for 30 minutes NO small bag! Big one and duffel made it. NO SWEATS!! Got underwear at least. ALASKA says it missed the plane they have it and will deliver it to Victoria. Headed for car rental. Paper work was in small bag somewhere south of us. Alamo was third try been months since I made the reservations and could not remember who they were with. Up graded to a Pontiac Mini-Van. Very nice and with all the people and luggage makes a lot of sense. Trip on the ferry was fun. Cloudy and cool very nice after all the hot weather at home. 2-hour ferry ride. Found B&B no problem. Getting tired B&B owner Kathy is a hoot. Quick nap and 3 Excedrin (had a headache) ready to go for rest of day.

Off to Walking tour of Victoria. Still cloudy and cool. Walking and shopping our way towards dinner reservations at Herald's street Café. Brought my book. Shopping breaks out at random times. Stopped at the Empress and made reservations at the Bengal room for drinks at 9:45 PM. Dinner was great! Got there a little early. They were happy to see our early arrival appears every one in town was showing up at 7. Place was off the beaten path but very popular. We were very hungry appetizers, Salad, Pork tender loin and Mango cheesecake in my case, Drinks at the Bengal lounge with jazz in the background. I had a shot of Glenfiddich. In Canada you got to have some scotch. A quick dodge of the art salesmen. They were formidable and informative, in the summer every thing goes from 8 am to 11 PM. 15 shopping hours. Walk back to B&B in light rain and a good nights sleep.

July 17

Slept in 11 PM until 7:30 am we were tired. No Sport Center some Canadian sports cable. Lots of CFL and hockey news Oh well, looks like I will have to taper off one of my main addictions. Banana Orange French toast, Kathy ragging about how men can't cook we're having a lot of fun sparing. Young couple from Modesto at breakfast. He's a food salesman big guy. Not getting enough fruit hope to fix that on the ship. Small bag showed up, my sweats are back! Off to the natural history museum North West Indian masks exhibit. Bought the combo ticket for museum and IMAX of Egypt at 2 PM. Exhibit is great talked to native docent. Indians used to pay taxes to chief in salmon. Amazing how much the Norwegian carving, Mayan Carving and Northwest carving look alike. Interesting. Back to B&B to clean up for tea at Empress. Kathy tried to talk us out of it. She thought there were much better values in town. Berni stood fast. Glad she did.

Tea was Great. Very traditional. Don't like coffee but good tea is OK. This was a very good tea some blend I don't remember what Duh. Raspberries and Cream, cucumber, salmon, egg salad and vegetarian sandwiches, scones butter and jam, gingerbread cookies, strawberry cups and some chocolate thing. Drank three cups of tea. Great stuff. Off to IMAX. Very good. Omar Shariff. Good overview of Egypt. Some shopping at Empress (brought book). Then back to B&B to change cloths and borrow an old blanket from Kathy. Waitress at Empress said we could use it as a placeholder at fireworks display in Butchard Gardens. Skeptical about this sure would not work in LA. Off to Dunsmuir Victorian Castle. Great place woodwork from USA Arkansas oak. Everyone loved it. Lot of scandal in the family one of the daughters was the lesbian paramour of Tulla Bankhead. Rich and tragic family lots of untimely deaths. We took a longer than planned beach drive up to Butchard Gardens. Berni got me of the map once had to stop for driftwood for Julie. Lot of traffic going into gardens did not get there until 7:45 PM. Things start to get complicated we have reserved a picnic basket from the garden restaurant but we also ordered wine. Can't take the wine with us to picnic must consume it in restaurant garden. Send Berni and J&J to Italian Garden while I hike up to fireworks area to drop off reservation blanket. This is looking more problematic by the minute. Crowd in fireworks area growing as I watch. Walked back to Italian Garden and found group. Great picnic dinner. Shrimp appetizer which I had to my self (Score) Salad with raspberry vinegret, salmon, asparagus and potato salad. Jack did not want his salmon (Score). We had finished the wine so I suggested we take desert up to the viewing area. I was getting antsy about time (what a shock) only 40 minutes before fireworks start. We were walking up to the area when Berni and Julie get stopped by some lady who is from Sacramento and notice my "Railfair" T-shirt. Getting Later! We get up to area and it full! After some searching find blanket and its still there and unoccupied! We sat down pretty as you please. I don't believe it. Great dessert Brie, Fruit tart, Red seedless grapes (Thank you UC Davis) and a chocolate cake. Fireworks were very good. Lots of kinetic firework sculptures. A little smoky. We went on a night tour of the garden while the crowd thinned out. Very surreal. I will have to take Berni back here in the daytime some other time. More shopping. Stalled enough so crowds have thinned out. In bed at midnight a very full day.

July 18

Woke up around 6 am must be getting back to a more normal sleep pattern. Packing up for an early departure to catch the 11 am ferry back to Vancouver. Berni and Julie grab the van for last minute jewelry run to the Empress. Italian quiche for breakfast. Sundried tomatoes and basil may try this at home. Berni and Julie show up 10 minutes late after buying Berni an opal pendant, very pretty. Say our good-byes to Kathy and off to ferry port. More shopping. Ferry is loading, Van is rolling, and girls are not on board have to stop to pick them up got to squeeze that last minute of shopping in. Got better seats this time getting ferry savvy. Get to hotel with little effort. Vancouver is a big city. Berni has minor confrontation with desk clerk about room view. Meet up with Nancy and Richard. Nancy is as excited as a young puppy. She has a large list of attractions she wants us to see. First off late lunch at teahouse in Stanley Park. Park is very crowded. No parking anywhere. One way traffic circles. Finally get to teahouse no parking wait some one is leaving people backed up behind me I don't care need that space. Get the space (Yea). We talk to young park guide about pay parking get that done. We don't have a reservation so they make us sit out on the patio over looking the bay on a warm beautiful day (what a penalty). Beef salad, light lunch menu in effect. Apple tart for desert. Very good food Nancy is right about this place it's neat. Off to Victoria Park another garden in a quarry just like Butchard. Great view of the city. Lots of Chinese. Not to surprising place is crowded. Nancy and Richard are shocked they were here 17 years ago for the worlds fair and the place was much smaller then. A Lot like LA now. Wedding going on. Berni helped girl with flipped up tags on back of her dress fashion must be served. Her good deed for the day. Off to the gas light district with a steam powered clock and chimes. Place is trying to be old town Pasadena. Nancy was hoping to fine antique shops but rents have driven them elsewhere. Off to Granville island. A gentrified port area. Beef dinner Jack picked the place. Very good place. New York steak for me Prime rib for Berni. There would be more shopping but stores are closed because it's Sunday night (Oh darn). Take a drive down to the docks to scope out the cruise ship departure. See the CP rail station this now been turned into offices. Looks great Driving tour of the docks, run down not too surprising. Vancouver is the LA of the northwest. Nancy and Richard are disappointed by all the growth. Very pretty city but big and crowded and cosmopolitan just like home.

July 19

You pay a price for a view, street noise. Off to breakfast at the "White Spot" a coffee shop Nancy and Richard found during their last trip here. Very good fruit. Getting back to a better diet. Very good food, big portions at a good price. Great value. We do some group errands then face up to the logistics of luggage. Load van up with all the luggage and 5 people and take same to Canada One the cruse ship dock. Leave Richard at Hotel with my book bag and a Radio. After off load went back to Hotel to pick up Richard Radios only have 400 M range in City. Radio more intertaining than useful. Off to the airport turn in Van and catch a Taxi back (Whew). Wacky Sheik taxi driver. Thinks world will end in 2003. Spent the time arguing with this guy made the time fly. Richard did not say a word a first for him. Got on the ship after some minor signature hassle. We had lunch, then started to settle in. I'm feeling much more relaxed now that my transportation duties are over. Hit the Gym not Gold's but OK. Old lady wanted to know if I was part of staff (Ha). Showered off and then watched Ship leave. Great view of Vancouver. Saw teahouse on way out. Julie found the only way to get to bow we all took "Titanic king of world pictures". Off to dinner. I had fruit salad and Halibut twice. Apple strudel for dessert. Desserts will be a problem need more gym time. Off to see show, dancers and comedian. Comedian only OK. To bed at midnight.

July 20

Up at 7:30 more tired than we thought. We have an inside cabin with no window but a nice useless curtain where the window could be. It is dark which is a good thing great for sleeping. Would not have woken up at 7:30 except that we had left an order for tomato juice and yogurt, which was delivered, as requested by Issidro, our cabin attendant. Off to gym. Very busy in morning from a cardiovascular stand point but you can lift all you want. Off to breakfast eggs Florentine, great more fruit. Got our Ketchikan tour straightened out, I had planned to go see bear catch salmon but that got canceled so I opted for a boat ride and hike on Orca beach. Sushi lunch with Chuck not bad but not great, no tuna. Chuck sure likes wasabi. Listened to the cruse director talk about the place we will be visiting while he wore a moose hat. Both Berni and I nodded off a couple of times during his talk. To a wine tasted with Chuck, Richard, Berni and myself hosted by the matradee Mario. Some good wine and some bad champagne. Selected 4 bottles for future dinners. Berni got a massage in the spa and loved it. Suggest I should get one as well don't think so. Had to break out the new suit for the Captains cocktail party. The party was an excuse to take pictures. They will do this a lot (picture taking). Any excuse to separate you from your money. We were late to dinner because of all the pictures. Dinner was grapefruit with raspberry sauce, crab quiche, beef tenderloin, lots of red wine and cheesecake. Great food and service. Jose (pronounced Joe-zer) is Portuguese and lots of fun. His assistant is Andrea from Romania they both work very hard. The show was more singing and dancing with a pirate theme. Then dancing in the lounge to 50's and 60's music and finally to bed. We gain an hour tonight so it was a good night to stay up late.

July 21

6:30 am wake up call by Richard he was the first up because of his fishing trip. I have to be at mine at 8 am. Breakfast and shower then off to the bus. Bus driver Frank drives school kids when the tourist is not around. Lots of people out of work because mill closed down due to environmental laws. Zodiac boat ride over to island. Very interesting ecology no real soils on islands just a mat of dead vegetation, which every thing grows on. Rains a lot. Very short growing cycle. Trees that look 10 years old are really 60 years old. Not much wild life one very big slug. Our guide was very anti-timber. She only lives here in the summer the year rounder's probably have a different view. Clear-cutting here or anywhere is not pretty and not the best idea we have come up with. Ride back got a little wet. Boat driver made me move back from front because my weight made it hard for the boat to get up on its step. Got to lose some more weight. Saw a few eagles but they were far away. Frank talked about the isolation in Ketchikan no roads to the outside. Ferry from Seattle is the major transportation. Many people put their second car in a container and barge it to the lower 48 then fly down a week later. Ferry is expensive in fact he claimed most people camp on deck rather than pay for cabin. Sounds like a tall tail to me. Saw the Columbia the ferry from Seattle must have been 20 tents pitched on the fantail. 36 hours in the wind and rain, tough people. Semi-formal dinner more pictures. Got to Jose early and had only one bottle of wine opened. Not enough wine drinkers at table. Good fish tonight, Berni had some Australian fresh water fish I'd never heard of and I had sole. Tried to watch the French Review but every one bailed after ½ hour too tired.

July 22

6:30 am we have the alarm so we are making the calls this morning. We're in Juneau the state capitol still no roads to Juneau. Off to see the Mendenhall Glacier. Bus ride up, Glacier is very impressive. Big lake at the base lots of very blue Icebergs floating in lake. Lots of waterfalls. Just neat. Next to a Chapel on the University Campus. Big windows in the back of the Chapel with a view of mountains Lake and Glacier. Spectacular. We take a boat ride back to the ship. The wild life decides to put on a show. Some hump back whales are spotted so we get closer and it appears to be a mother and a calf. The calf starts breaching, jumping clear out of the water and rolling before hitting the water surface. Very spectacular. The calf is 20 feet long and weights maybe 5 tons. The naturalist an employee of the boat is beside herself with excitement. The calf breaches at least 10 times. It is quite a show. Weather is improving was raining at start but sun is coming out. Next to skull rock where at least 20 harbor seals are sunning on the rocks they may also be avoiding orca. Further down the channel we see an eagle building its nest performing aerobatics, then a mink fishing. We see so much that the boat is late returning us to the ship. Every one is buzzing about what we've seen. Lunch in the dining room better food will have to do this more often. Richard, Nancy, Berni and I are scheduled for a floatplane ride in the afternoon. Nancy is getting nervous. She gives her ticket to Chuck. Vince the bus driver asks our weight for CG proposes. When we load up Scott our pilot from San Diego says he doesn't care where the rest of them sit but I have to set in the middle seat under the wing. Chuck is also fair sized so he sat in the other middle seat Berni sets up with Scott as the co-pilot and Richard sets in the rear. The plane is a DeHaveland Beaver a single engine float plane. Engine is a 7 cylinder radial. Substantial aircraft. I was a little nervous but it looked fun. We had a great flight. Very smooth off the water Scott made us feel very safe great view shot lots of film; may have to buy more. Saw several Glaciers all of them fed from the Juneau Ice field. We walked back from the floatplane dock and stopped at the "Red Dog " Saloon the place dates from the 98 gold rush and looked it. Sawdust, piano player the whole bit. We all had a drink then I headed back to ship while the rest shopped. I hit the gym. I'm one of the few serious lifters lots of aerobic people. Italian dinner tonight I had a great veal dish and Bananas Flambé. Eating way too much. Magic show tonight so Berni wants to pass so it's straight to bed.

July 23

6:30 am again Skagway is a very small place. Train pulls right up on the dock. Very nice rolling stock for a narrow gauge operation. Steam engine. Steam train pulls us for the first ½ mile then 3 diesels take over. Good track train must be moving at 20 mph or better. Very steep and almost impossible to imagine carrying 100# pack up this grade to accumulate the 1 ton of supplies required by the Canadians before they would let you enter the Yukon. Many high trestles and deep gorges. A very good ride a must do in Skagway. Spent most of my time on the platform taking pictures very satisfying. 45 minutes for lunch then back to a bus tour of Skagway. Young bus driver was able to memorize all the passengers' names, very fun kid. Took us on a quick tour has to be quick very small town the to the Eagle lodge which provides a stage for a drama/comedy about "Soapy Smith" an infamous con man who was killed in a shoot out at turn of century. Only ok best part was a guy reciting poems by Robert Service. I walked back to boat while Berni shopped and hit the Gym. Berni found me 2 new train T-shirts cool. French dinner tonight escargot (very good) Risotto Fungi, celebrating Nancy's birthday maitre'd showed up. I had pork tenderloin and all had cherries jubilee. This flambé' stuff is a trend that looks like it will continue very dramatic. Bailed on show too tired.

July 24

Day at sea no need to get up for any tour. Breakfast then out to bow of ship to watch approach to Hubbard Glacier. VERY COLD 12-knot wind and freezing rain. I put a towel across my face and Berni has sox on hands and hat and scarf. I'm amazed that we debated about bringing warm clothing. Traveling down the fjord to the face of the glacier is very neat. It take's almost 1 hour. We are getting narration from a naturalist and native woman for the area with tales about male and female glaciers. The Hubbard glacier is called the galloping Glacier because it moves 100 feet a day. This causes lots of ice to fall into the sea. Captain got within 1/3 of a mile of the Glacier face, perspective is hard to get since you're 150 feet high on the ship and the Glacier face is 300 feet high. The sound of the Glacier calving is like thunder. Took lots of pictures hope some come out. Went to a fruit carving and marzipan demonstration in the afternoon. Not much of it was applicable; looks like you need real talent to do it. More pictures before dinner. Dinner was Lobster I had 2, loved it. Dessert was chocolate mouse. American review in the showroom.

July 25

Another day at sea, very restful. We had our first case of bad service in the dinning room. Breakfast was really screwed up. Really demonstrated how good service adds to a meal and bad service detracts. College fjord in the afternoon so caught up on ESPN and hit the Gym in the morning. Managed to hit the gym every day, hope getting back to Gold won't be to big of a shock. Put blankets on deck chairs to reserve them. There must be 16 Glaciers in college fjord, very impressive. Area was explored by the Harriman expedition they named the Glaciers after Ivy League schools Harvard, Yale etc. Harriman expedition was lead by the Railroad Baron him self, it would be like Bill Gates leading an expedition to the moon to day. Lots of wild life sea otters, harbor seals people say they saw Orca's but I didn't. May explain why the seals are up on the Ice, they don't want to be Orca lunch. Harvard Glacier was calving but nowhere as active as Hubbard was yesterday. Another spectacular scenery day. Packed most of our stuff. Our travel karma is changing Nancy is coming down with a cold. She left half way through dinner. Alaska king crab legs for dinner. Baked Alaska Jose gave me the remaining Baked Alaska as a joke. I did not quite finish. Everyone at the table laughed including Andrea the assistant waiter. She kept teasing me about the amount of water I drank (a Lot). Tipped all the help. Kind of a bittersweet night. Got to like these people a lot, they work very hard for 9 months with almost no break. Most of them are trying to gather a nest egg to start a business back home. I sure could not do their job. One last musical review and the magician which Berni slept through then the Champagne fountain (more pictures) and crepe suzettes at midnight. Off to bed.

July 26

Up at 6:15 am, raining in Seward. Off to breakfast and Jose is playing headwaiter. Good to see him one more time. Off the ship at 8:30 am, we found Greg Julie's cousin who will be our native guide for the next week. Drive from Seward to Anchorage is very scenic. We stop at a ski area for lunch. Saw some mountain goats on a very steep cliff. My brother telephoto is doing great stuff. Karma continues to shift I'm coming down with Nancy's cold, Nancy and Co. hotel reservations are lost and I manage to get the RV hung up on a fence (very embarrassing). This was in the RV lot and the RV guy fixes some of the damage on the spot. Wastes an hour. We finally get N, R, C&D ensconced in the Holiday Inn Express. Looks nicer than the first place. Off to shop the gift stores in Anchorage. Get to read more of my book. Greg knows way too many of these places if you ask me. Anchorage suffered a 9.2 magnitude earthquake in 1964. Hard to Imagine how bad that was 9,2 is 1000 times worse than the Northridge and Sylmar quakes and it lasted for 4 minutes. Dinner at the "Crows Nest restaurant" in the Captain Cook Hotel. 20 stories up with this killer 180-degree view. Great food I had lobster bisque, New Zealand Venison and Creme Brulle. A little pricey but worth it. Chef came out to talk to us. Young guy. Very good job of serving 9 people. Dropped N, R, C&D off at their motel they will leave in the morning. We went shopping at midnight to stock the motor home. Got some Dimetapp for my cold and Kleenex. To bed in the motor home at 1am.

July 27

Bed at 1 am up at 5:00 am, 4 hours sleep is not helping cold but cold medicine is relieving symptoms. Off to the Alaska Railroad, WWII made this state. Both the Railroad and the Al-Can highway were built during WWII. Greg drops us off and will drive the motor home to Denali while we ride the train. Cruse ship lines have really jumped on this train at least 5 car from Princess and 5 from Holland America only 4 cars actually belong to Alaska Railroad. One Dome car and we're in it (score). We're 4 across and great seats. They only allow smoking on the platform so taking pictures from the Dutch doors may be stinky. There is a AF base right out of town F-15 buzzes the train doing touch and goes as we leave town. Very exciting. We all 4 head to breakfast in the diner. We're all very hungry Julie had Reindeer sausage and I had Omelet made with eggbeaters lots of good food. It's a very scenic ride but a gray and cloudy day. With only 4 hours sleep we all keep nodding off. Each car has a young Alaskan tour guide, Ours is Taylor a high school graduate headed to Texas A&M this fall to study Landscape Architecture. Kids only go half way then the get on southbound train to go home. We have Fairbanks kids for a little while. Helicopter follows the train for a while we think it's taking pictures. Denali is 2/3 of the way. Meet Greg at train station in Denali and it's raining. Does not look good for trip into park tomorrow. We shop then camp. We take a walk in the rain not the smartest thing to do with a cold and a tour of the visitor's center. Dinner is pan-fried steak. We had planned to Barbecue but the rain puts a stop to that. Dinner is very good but we are very hungry, Lunch was white chocolate popcorn. Into bed by 9:30 PM still light out. Asleep by 10PM.

July 28

Up at 5:00 am. Girls make lunch and serve cereal breakfast and were at the bus stop by 5:55 am. They did a great job getting ready. I'm getting over cold but Jack is catching it. Still overcast but we see some breaks we may get lucky. Bus into Denali leaves at 6:30 am. We get to Visitor center at 6:05 am, we're first in line for the bus. Bus shows up and Scott our bus driver shows us the ropes. How to work windows and bus has seatbelts. We grab left side of bus supposed to be best wide going in. We will see. Weather continues to improve. Mt. McKinley is spotted. It turns out we are going to have what the guides call a grand slam day. The grand slam is seeing Mt. McKinley and the 4 major wildlife groups Grizzly Bear, Sheep, Caribou and Moose. We are incredibly lucky they keep a calendar in the Eileson visitors center and there were only 3 clear days last year. We have 12 bear sightings. When they stand on their hind legs for a better view it's very neat and scary. The busses run every 15 minutes and you can get on and off all day. People are hiking out there. They are a lot braver than I am. Wildlife is putting on a show maybe they like the sunshine as well. For the hundredth time I'm glad I have Greg's telephoto. We saw so much wildlife we were 25 minutes late to the Eileson Visitors Center where we had a great lunch even though we did have to fight Seagulls for it. 8-½ hour bus ride by the time we're finished a great trip once in a lifetime. Mt. McKinley is visible all the way back. Back to Motor home and more shopping. I got caught up on journal. Off to Fairbanks Greg is really pushing this rig we make Fairbanks in 2 hours. We check into the "Rivers Edge" RV park. I think the Alaskans use this the same way the Mainer's do. The guys in the country come in a camp in the city for a little while. Dinner at the Rivers Edge Restaurant nice place I had very fresh Halibut, very good. A real shower and off to bed. July 29 -------

Raisin Bran Breakfast and off on shuttle bus to El Dorado Gold mine. This place is a real Gold mine for the owners it is one of the slickest ways to separate money from tourist I have ever seen. They take you on a train with a fake steam engine through a Permafrost tunnel for a little mining demo then up to the Sluice demonstration then off to pan you own bag of concentrate in heated water. Everyone is guaranteed to fund gold. Then you take your gold to the cook shack to be packaged in a pendant of other kinds of jewelry. This whole thing takes about 2 hours. It's very educational. Gold mining in the Yukon was very hard work and I would never want to do it. I figure they are grossing about $ 70,000 a day and overhead looks low to me. Shuttle bus takes us back through down town Fairbanks old historical log cabin homes and business. All those that survived the flood of 1969. I finish "Sunset Limited" a James Lee Burke book good but not one of his best. Back to the camp ground for lunch and off in the motor home to University of Alaska Museum. They have a fantastic collection of Eskimo dolls. Berni could have stayed all day but we force her to leave after 2 hours. It's off to Alaskaland for the all you can eat Salmon, Halibut and Beef Rib dinner. Very good and a lot of fun. Rode another train pulled by a fake steam engine (ford 6 powered) and a quick tour of President Hardings private car. He used it to ride in during the completion ceremonies for the Alaska Railroad in 1923. Then to the Palace theater and Saloon. A great little stage show everyone had a great time. Very cute skits about living in Fairbanks. Anchorage is quite mild with the ocean near but Fairbanks only 200 miles away gets very severe weather, -40 or colder most of the winter. Off to bed no wake up time (Yahoo!).

July 30

Another Raisin Bran Breakfast, shower, check out of RV park and off to Chenna Hot springs. Hot geothermal springs that have been turned into a resort. I passed on the springs and worked on my new book " Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone" very good youth fiction. Will enjoy reading it to my Grand child some day. I have been in sulfur hot spring in the Serra's when I was a kid. Girls made lunch other than cooking steaks I have not cooked in 2 weeks I kind of miss it. The Hot springs are the farthest North we get. Sun down up here is 11:04 PM. Off to the North Pole ANOTHER SHOPPING STOP. This is a little tourist trap east of Fairbanks. Cute. Girls loved it I read. Off to the Reindeer Restaurant for some stuffed Halibut. Very good. They still allow smoking in the restaurants up here. Wasn't too bad but weird after California. On the road to look at the pipeline. We are making a big arc back to Anchorage east south then west. Greg originally wants to take us to Valdez but we talked him out of it, just too much driving. We take some pipeline photos Greg knows this area very well he works pipeline security when he's not escorting wacky tourists. I drove some of the way, Greg was visibly tired, have been letting Greg do most of the driving since the fence incident. We are seeing a lot of moose at least 6 on the side of the road. A guy in a new dodge pickup with a trailer hits one. He is very lucky to be alive. Caught the moose's head with the window right in front of the driver. 4 more feet and the moose would have been in the cab with him. The locals stop and drag the moose off the road so no one else gets hurt. Motor home is high enough that it would not be fatal but would ruin the trip. Great weather again today. We pull off near the pipeline to camp. Midnight when we get to bed.

July 31

Up at 7:00 am. T-shirt weather clear and beautiful. Cottage cheese and fruit for breakfast. Trying to clean out motor home since this is last day on road in Alaska. A few bugs this morning but in general bite free. More pipeline stuff. We are half way done with the 500-mile arc. 2-lane road can't go 70 all the time. Greg stops by a Salmon stream they are spawning, neat. 24" salmon paired up all along the river. Fish are laying eggs and will be dead within the week. Mountains are spectacular not a cloud in the sky. Our weather luck has been unbelievable. More shopping started third book. "Harry Potter" was very good. Great burger place in Glenallen, had a double bacon cheese and a vanilla shake, Great. Long beautiful ride back to Anchorage. High mountains, blue lakes, shot more film. Alaska looks a lot like the Grand Tetons just a lot more of it. Road repair crews are active on Saturday. Back to Anchorage and start the process of motor home clean up. Fuel, dump tanks etc. Shower and personal clean up and off to the Sourdough mining company for dinner. More halibut, lot of food at a good price. More gift shops. I know Berni will be surprised when she starts packing. Surprise we're packing I have a lot of girl clothes in my duffel bag it's stuffed but it's not enough. We started out with 3 checked and 3 carry-on's now we have 3 checked and 4 carry-on's. Pack it all in Greg's car and off to bed at 11:30 PM.

August 1

Up at 4:30 am (Ugly). Did not sleep well. Looking froward to getting home. Want to get back to cooking, See how Er and Jo and Wendy and Roger are doing, Back to the Gym and back to work (I really do like it). We get to airport at 4:50 am. Alaska counter doesn't open till 5 am. There are at least 20 people in front of us in line. Check baggage and off to B1 to board flight at 6:15 am. Going to be a full flight. DC-9 with 3 and 2 seating. Berni and I have the 2 side good for me not so good for her. I pity anyone with someone my size sitting next to them. Lots of kids on the flight 6-12 years of age. Mom and kids in front of us, very well behaved, they are from Oregon. They will be getting of in Seattle. Kids are reading tell them about "Harry Potter". Breakfast is not bad which is better than most airlines do. Cloudy but lots of spectacular mountains and Glaciers on the way south. Er, Jo and Irene meet us at Airport. Luggage takes forever to get to carousel. Walk was so long and customs in Vancouver so luggage was out. Off to the "Black Cow" for dinner and Home (YEA). Back to the King-size bed. Some final observations. The insurance rider covered the motor home damage so everything is great. We had a great time, the cold weather was minor and my head cold was minor, we had unbelievable weather and saw some great once in a life time stuff. Go and do it if you can. My slides came out, I will bore you with them any time you ask.