Sunday, May 30, 2010

Work and Play

Another 24 hours of festivities and we'll empty the campground. Folks have been having a great time, yesterday was the best day of clamming yet. Lots of campers made their 60 clam limit! King salmon? Not so much, I have yet to see the first one come out of Deep Creek.

If you look at the photo below carefully you can see my "little green cart". That is my mobile cleaning station. 'Nuff said about work.

Ah, play. People here see the antenna up by my camp site and envy me my TV reception. Actually that's my amateur radio antenna. It is big enough that I'm even able to bounce my signal off the moon (honest) to other hams around the world. I did just that with a station, ZL3NW, in New Zealand two weeks ago. It is kind of a state-of-the-art edgy thing that involves computer coding and decoding of the signals, careful tracking of the moon, and the best receiver design available. What we don't do for fun. If you care to know more click here. KB7Q over and out.

There are a few secrets to putting that antenna up.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Big Holiday

Memorial Day Weekend is Alaskan bust out time and campground host work time. This is the big weekend of the summer. After a long dark winter folks are ready to be outside and recreate, especially when the King Salmon season starts here late tonight on Deep Creek, and we have a series of extra low tides so folks can dig for those sweet-eating clams. We're packing folks in cheek to jowl, and their boats, and their generators, and their beer coolers,and their RV's, and their ... well you get the idea. Sunset is at 11 PM now, and we see an after-glow in the northern sky all night long, so people are out and about almost any time. We managed to get most folks parked in the right formation to squeeze as many onto the "beach front property" as possible. This year we're getting lots of support from our Park Rangers, State Troopers, and the local fire brigade. We've even been given niftry, neato new radios. So for the next 48 hours we just keep the toilet paper stocked, restrooms as clean as possible, dogs on tethers, and watch the pageant unfold. King Salmon fishing report next time.

 Before memorial Day Weekend.


During II.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Perfect Day

Yesterday was about perfect - no wind, 55 degrees, not a single cloud, just a deep blue sky, and all the folks packing in here at Deep Creek Beach for the Memorial Day Weekend were well behaved. As an added bonus the Ninilchik Senior Center featured a full-on turkey dinner for lunch for $10. Life is good!

Another extra low 'clam tide'.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Ark

Pat and Marcia rolled into here last night. They just came up the Alaska Highway from Michigan on their way to Kodiak Island to campground host out at Pasagshak Bay - which is literally at the end of the road. They'll be on Kodiak until September 15th and then they'll relocate somewhere on the Kenai Peninsula. So we're giving them the "chefs tour" of our spot, and promise to go visit them before we pull up stakes in August. Yes, they did bring the kitchen sink!

Marcia and Pat, just a 35 road miles and a nine hour ferry ride from their summer spot.

Monday, May 24, 2010


The moose have moved down close to the Sterling Highway to get at the first green grass growing along the right of way. The moose density is as high as one per mile of highway now. The momma moose are about to drop their calves. We know all things in nature are interconnected so of course a brown bear has moved into our area looking for those new moose babies. The bear has been visiting the Senior Center and Post Office up on Kingsley Road, about a mile from here, quite a bit. No photos yet, but Joyce and I will go out looking after dinner.

I'll bet you're getting tired of my eagle pictures by now, we'll it's my blog so I'm pulling rank and putting another one up. Lots of eagles pairing up now and engaging in aerial acrobatics. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Fast Food Hot Spot

I’ve found the best fast food in Ninilchik. Caroline, the “hot dog hat lady”,  just opened a stand on the south side of the Testoro gas station a few days ago, and it’s a hit. For five bucks you can get a foot long dog smothered with sauerkraut, fried onions and all the other fixin’s, a bag of chips, and an iced soda-pop out of the cooler. The ‘dog’ was excellent.

There is talk of hot chili and halibut chowder being added as the season rolls on. If you’re coming down the Sterling Highway I highly recommend you gas up (pun intended) in Ninilchik


Saturday, May 22, 2010

Mount Iiamna, another volcano neighbor

Mount Iliamna, 10,016 feet

Ninilchik Village

Here is another ditty about the local area. There are two Ninilchiks. There is the older Ninilchik Village about a 1/2 mile west of the Sterling Highway down Mission Avenue, and then there is the commerical strip or "New Ninilchik" out along the Highway itself. Today we'll see some pictures of Ninilchik Village and the Russian Orthodox church that sits behind and above on a bluff.


Transfiguration of Our Lord Russian Orthodox Church

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Campground Hosting

So what is this campground hosting gig anyhow? Well Joyce and I are working for the State of Alaska, Division of Parks and Recreation this summer co-hosting the Deep Creek Recreation Site with our friends Rich and Lin. Our tasks are three fold: We clean outhouses and keep them stocked with the all important TP, pick up litter, and gently urge fee compliance for the boat launch, camp ground, and day use areas. In addition, we're here to answer questions, provide information about local resources and to accept all donations of halibut or salmon (vacuum packed please). Park Ranger Jacqui and the State Troopers cycle through mostly to see if we're still here, so we do have a "Plan B" if needed. If there is blood on the ground we can dial 911 with the best of 'em.

Right now we're seeing six to ten campers a night,and at least 30 bald eagles on our evening litter/exercise walk-about, but with the arrival of Memorial Day weekend the joke is that Ninilchik will become the third largest city in Alaska as folks flock in from Anchorage for the king salmon opener on Deep Creek and several "clam tides". We will pack well over 100 RV's into this place! It is quite the show.

So what do we get in addition to living for free on site and being our own "Deep Creek Beach Power and Light"? We have use of the ranger station's shower and laundry facility twice a week and we get a stipend of $425 a month. On the way to and from our duty station we get free stays in most of the other Alaskan State Parks.  We also received some natty State of Alaska hoodies, tee-shirts, and a ball cap i.e. our uniforms. The big pay off of course is that we get to spend three months on the Kenai Peninsula.

Interested? You can apply October 1st for the following season online here. There are a variety of locations from Kodiak Island to interior Alaska available, the details of what is expected and what is supplied does vary by site.
 Rich, Litter Control Specialist I.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Neighbors To The South

Just to the south of us on the same beach is the boat launching concession. Modified logging skidders are used to launch halibut and salmon charter craft and private boats up to 32 feet. Cost is $55 round trip. When the tide is up and the wind is blowing it is quite a show. We call it "Channel 5" as we only get four TV channels here. Click here for a video clip of the skidder crew in action that I took from the cliffs above the beach.

While I was up on the cliff an immature bald eagle kept cruising by to see what I was up to. On his third pass I was ready for him! It was a gloriously sunny day here.

Immature bald eagle.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Meet The Neighbors

Mount Redoubt, 10,200 feet,  showed up from under the clouds tonight right at sunset across Cook Inlet from us. This volcano erupted last spring so we'll see if we get any surprises this season. I think we're about 50 miles away. You can see it makes its own weather. We have three other volcanoes visible from here on a good day: Mount Spurr way up to the north to the west of Anchorage, Mount Illiamna with its seven sub-peak right across from us, and Mount Augustine down past Homer sitting on its own little island. We have the trailer set up so we can watch the light change on Mount Redoubt from our "living room".

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Fly Like An Eagle

We have plenty of bald eagles here. I decided to try and get a decent picture of one last evening after dinner. This is only the second shot I took. I probably should quit while I'm ahead. Enjoy
.Click on the photo to get an 800 pixel version.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Minus Tide

We have a -3.4 tide here at Deep Creek this morning and the sun is out. Not many folks showing up to try their shovels at clamming. Tides here can have over a 24 foot variance so you do have to pay attention. Getting caught out on the flats when Cook Inlet decides to re-load isn't fun.

Well dress clammers ready to go.
You're looking across 30 miles of Cook Inlet.

Joyce at the mouth of Deep Creek, that's a lump of coal she's standing by.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Ninilchik - Engines stop

We're here after a quick drive down from Soldotna. Janet and Les dropped off at Clam Gulch at their campground  hosting venue and Lin, Rich, Joyce and I continued on to Deep Creek Beach at Ninilchik our summer hosting spot. This is the same location we hosted in 2006. It was 41 degrees and blowing a gale from the north when we arrived - typical early season weather. We did see three bald eagles catching the lift off the cliffs to the south and took that as a good sign.

We spent the early afternoon laying in propane, getting a library card, joining the Ninilchik Health & Wellness Club, checking out the General Store, and ordering a pizza from the Friday night fun raiser the high school runs. We broke out the Wave 6 catalytic heater and are all fat and sassy watching the tide roll back in. Time to get the trailer set up and organized, it feel into a bit of a jumble the last few days on the road.

Some local prices:
Gasoline $3.72
Diesel $3.84
Propane $4/gallon 
We be Clammin' dancing moose tee-shirt at the General Store - priceless

 A good afternoon for a nap.

Winter storm debris.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


The wind was pretty rowdy coming south out of Los-Anchorage along the Turnagain Arm, but it died off as we turned inland. We're in Soldotna under overcast skies for the day. Time for last minute shopping and topping the tanks before we roll the 40 miles down to Ninilchik tomorrow. Gasoline was $3.37 in Anchorage, and $3.71 here.

We've already made our pilgrimage to the Fred Meyer store and got our official Fred Meyer supersave card. It is the place for food shopping on the whole Kenai Peninsula. Prices seem to run about the same as back home in Bozeman, and the selection was great  - they even had Boar's Head sandwich meats and cheeses. Buy more then $100 worth of stuff and you get 10 cents a gallon off fuel. How they do that?

Fred will even let you boondock in his parking lot and throws in a dump station to boot.

We've had a special request from Dave Hall. He is starting to doubt that his parents are really on this trip with us because pictures of them have been so scarce. Here you go Dave, proof positive that mom and dad are spending the family fortune on coffee, pie, and diesel fuel.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Gastronomic Adventures

The day started well with an eagle perched right above the RV's for an hour or so. This was our last full day of driving, we went from east of Tok to Eagle River via the Tok Cutoff (Glenn Highway). As campground hosts in transit we're staying at the Eagle River State Recreation Area for free tonight. We're just 12 miles north of Anchorage.

The Glenn Highway also had some rough spots and frost heaves, but we still made good time down to Glenallen and then across to Eagle Creek.

Today we made two stops at restaurants we've heard about. Breakfast was at "Fast Eddy's" in Tok. It was excellent, and the portions were huge. I recommend the Musher's Omelet if your cardiologist will allow it. I almost finish it! Serious good food here, and great service.

Later in the day we stopped at the Eureka Lodge just past Eureka Summit for soup and pie. Both were winners and the views to the south were stunning. We took a slab of blueberry pie away with us for later tonight.

Morning visitor

Breakfast at Fast Eddy's - Tok

 Les and Janet tackle the blueberry pie at Eureka Lodge.

Today's scenic shot in black and white. Click to expand.

Red Flag Day

We headed out from Whitehorse at 8 AM this morning under overcast skies and cool temperatures and almost made Tok, Alaska. We stopped 40 miles shy when we found a lovely, flat, paved, and free MP1269 rest area. Everybody was ready to stop because the road from Burwash Landing, Yukon west to Beaver Creek, Yukon was one long obstacle course of rough breaks and frost heaves. At times 15 mph wasn't too slow. Many of the bad spots are marked with small red flags, but many are not. We all did a great job of just taking it slowly. Rich, the leader of the day, did a great job on the CB radio giving us a heads-up on the nasties coming up. Building roads on top of permafrost must still be more art then science.
We didn't even come close to missing the right turn at Haines Junction, the turn is extremely well marked. We fueled up there and again at Beaver Creek.

Kluane Lake was still mostly frozen and we couldn't find any mountain sheep on the hill sides there, but we saw a moose along the way and several pairs of nesting swans for our wildlife fix.

Customs was another straight forward process - no, I'm not bringing $10,000 in (I wish) and yes, I promise that I'll only stay for the summer. Rich and Lin's trailer cleared the 13 foot roof with at least 2" to spare! There were a few miles of road construction right at the border, but the way soon returned to clear sailing. The long day ended with the sun, 60 degree temperatures, and chicken and noodles on the table.

There is talk about breakfast in the morning at Fast Eddys in Tok. Sign me up.

 The right and correct turn.

So what's your hurry pilgrim?

Shy moose.

Night camp on the Chisana River.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Three To Tow To Tok Today

Sunrise today in Whitehorse: 5:27 AM
Sunset this evening: 10:28 PM
Five minutes of sunshine more a day now. Check it out here.

 We're on the road today, but our French correspondent Lisa VandenBos sent us a foto from an RV show in Paris to ponder. Too cute!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Whitehorse Rest Day

Today was time for naps, tuning a new CB radio antenna, a walk around downtown Whitehorse, and time to clean up and organize for another border crossing. Tomorrow we're going to try for Tok, Alaska.

Oh yes, we did the Tim Horton doughnut thing. Horton's is the Dunkin' Doughnuts of Canada with more even sugar - great coffee though.

Here are a few pictures from the afternoon's saunter around Whitehorse under very sunny skies and pushing 60 degrees.


 Totem Detail

Joyce's new buddy.

Bozeman use to get this cold too!

We'll be able to hear Rich and Lin on the CB now.

Internetting and other techno-bits

Is that even a verb? We're finding lots of Wi-Fi hot spots along the way. Most campgrounds have a connection and our Verizon Mi-Fi card works in most towns. We are paying a surcharge of so much per Kb to use it in Canada, but Alaska is reputed to be on Verizon's extended network. So posting to the blog, online banking, and email has been a daily occurrence.

We've been using our 'plastic' to pay for camping and fuel, much easier then carrying a wad of cash. In fact, we're still working off the $200 in Canadian funds we carried across the border. By using the debit card we let the bank figure out the exchange rate and all that.

I had a question about the camera I'm using. It is an Olympus SP-570UZ, nothing special, but it has a great zoom lens, it is slow to write a picture and be ready for the next shot so wildlife photography is not its strength. I use Picasa 3 to crop and size the the pictures. It's free from our buddies at Google.

When we're boondocking we use a 300 watt full sine wave inverter to re-charge the laptops and the camera batteries.

Oh yeah, of course we have an iPod rigged to play thru the FM radio for the long stretches between stations. I highly recommend listening to the CBC when you can get it. Not your usual Rush Limbaugh bile to be sure!

So armed with all the techno trinkets and baubles of 2010 we roll on. How far it all has come since 1943 on the 'Alcan Highway'

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Allen's Lookout ---> Whitehorse, Yukon

The rules of excess civilization are creeping into the Yukon, even though only 30,000 people live here. All the rest areas we looked at were signed "NO Camping" and most of the Provincial campground were still closed, so we pressed on to Whitehorse and dipped into The Caribou RV Park 16 miles east of town. We've got the place to ourselves and they even have a restaurant for breakfast right on the property. The Swiss owner serenaded us with his accordion. Good stuff.

Other then a few rigs carrying supplies up and down the highway we literally had the road to ourselves and the bears. The road is in superb shape and the rough patches are clearly marked. When the signs say slow down, they mean slow down ... now! It took only the first winter-broken spot to teach us that lesson.

Here are a few snaps from the day's journey past the Sign Forest in Watson Lake, across the bridge at Teslin, and up and over the Rockies again.

 We couldn't help ourselves!

The Sign Forest at Watson Lake, see anything unique?

Our lunch stop. Can you find the sea gull? Seriously!

The bridge at Teslin, Yukon. The metal decking made us all 'squishy' going across.

Fort Nelson, B.C. ---> Allen's Lookout

Another great travel day across a stunning part of the Alaska Highway. We left Fort Nelson under sunny skies and chugged up from the lowest point on the Alaska Highway (1,000 feet MSL) through rolling farm land back into the mountains. We stopped to take in the views from Steamboat Mountain Summit (3,500 feet MSL), and then crossed the highest point on the highway at Summit Pass (4,250 feet MSL). From that point on it was a day of animals around almost every curve. No lions and tigers, but we did see both black and grizzly bears, caribou, buffalo, Stone Sheep, and a moose.

We were judicious about fuel stops, a good thing as several of the road houses along the way were either out of business or hadn't opened yet. We fueled up at Toad River and noted that the Northern Rockies Lodge was also open. Gasoline was $1.359 a liter at Toad River. I’ll let you do the conversion, I’m afraid to!

We stopped at Liard Hot Springs, and while we didn't take a dip we did walk in and check it out. We were sure tempted to run back and grab our bathing suits after we saw the springs - clean, hot, and not crowded.

We boondocked for the evening at Allen's Lookout, a huge gravel pull-out above the Liard River, just shy of the Yukon border. A four star boondocking site to be sure – it was hard to decide if the view up or down the river was the best!

On to the Yukon at Watson Lake, and then the bridge at Teslin.