My route north from Yellowstone had to go through Bozeman this time meaning I would be taking some new roads. What an amazing state Montana is! I passed through many miles of wheat fields and pastures, not much traffic but what country to see.
After crossing into Canada near Glacer/Waterton NPs I went right through Banff, stopping at the Columbia Icefields Visitor Center for the night.
From there I made it to just north of Grand Cache where I found a very nice (and free) user maintained camping area. No designated sites as such, plenty of grass, a great spot to relax for 2 nights.
After that it was on to Dawson Creek and the Alaskan Highway. I stopped one night at a long rest area next to Muncho Lake. It was sunny then rained, then sunny and an rain again. Met some other folks traveling to AK, including one couple from France who had their small RV shipped to the souther tip of South America. They have been traveling from there north with a year and 4 months allotted for the travel. What an adventure! When I left that spot the next morning I saw a caribou, some woods bison, stone sheep, and assorted small bears, no grizzlies. When on the road even though I am always on the lookout it is very hard to stop to photograph the wildlife.
This trip I stayed in free spots(except at the ice fields), mostly larger rest areas with other travelers. The last night before I got to the Fairbanks area I had a rest area to myself, sort of. Around 9 pm I happened to look out the window facing the woods and saw a snowshoe hare….then I saw another one. The windows were really dirty so photographs were pointless. When they seemed to leave I went out and cleaned the windows. Then I checked again, they were back with their buddies. The day had been totally bereft of wildlife until then so I had some fun photographing the hares. They’re now in their summer coats, thought their feet are still white. I don’t know if they stay white or are just the last part to change color. Anyhow it was fun and of course the next morning when I walked the dogs they smelled the critters all over the place.
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Tuesday evening was my last night at Glacier and it was spectacular. I decided to go back to the visitors center that evening to learn more about the heavens, then I thought I’d drive to another location to try to get the Milky Way again. As the astronomers did their thing one of them mentioned it might be worth looking to the north with our cameras later in the evening. They knew that the Aurora Borealis was predicted for Wed. & Thursday evenings but it was looking like we might see them Tuesday. We sure did!! I took many images and have attached a couple that seem to capture it, though photos can really do it justice. Suffice it to say we were all close to doing “happy dances” as we stood there in amazement as it unfolded.
It finally began to wind down after 1:30 am. What a wonderful way to end my visit to Glacier NP!
Saturday evening I didn’t see any bears but there was an impressive rainbow late in the evening. Sunday was wet all day, a good day to get things accomplished.
Monday dawned bright and sunny, a great day for the cruise to Columbia Glacier.
Soon after leaving Valdez harbor we found a raft of sea otters.Then we found masses of sea lions(I have no idea what a group of sea lions is called).
Then it was on to Columbia Glacier. Fred, the Captain of the LuLuBelle, kept up a running & very informative commentary but I don’t remember the details. Suffice it to say the glacier is huge.
We got to see a good sized piece break off, however it sort of shattered as it did so. You never know when it will break off as a solid piece or shatter. The large chunks of ice in the water were reminders that it isn’t always going to shatter.
Near the glacier we came across more sea otters, this time on a piece of ice. They were uncertain about us but didn’t all dive into the water, which is where they feel safest.
I’m leaving Valdez Tuesday, not exactly sure of my route, but it will be roughly north (have to go north to get to the road south). with maybe a few stops along the way. This rv park, Bay Side has been very convenient, with E&W hookups and fast wifi I’ve been a bit spoiled. Will be back to dry camping and being more independent when I get back on the road. That is fine, along with the conveniences comes tight parking with lots of rvs, no scenic spot in the woods.
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The road from Palmer (north of Anchorage) to Glennallen is called the Glenn Hwy. It’s very scenic and follows a river most of the way. After leaving Seward I met up with some friends from FL and we stopped at Walmart in Wasilla for the night. From there I headed northeast to get to Valdez and they went north. At Glennallen you can head either south to Valdez, north to Fairbanks or NE to Tok and the Alaska Highway. As I went along the Glenn hwy I decided to stop at roughly mid point at Sheep Mountain Lodge. They have 5 small rv spots with wifi, electric & water hookups for a very low price. I stopped for 2 nights, to kick back, relax and catch up on the computer stuff. The lodge has several really nice cabins for rent and serves fantastic meals, too!
Thursday I headed out to Valdez.
Sunday dawned a bit overcast but the sun and blue sky was visible in spots. I’d made reservations to take the Major Marine Tours 6 hour cruise to Holgate Glacier so I layered the warm clothes on, packed the camera and snacks and headed over to the dock. The boat was a nice catamaran with 3 decks so I sort of staked out a spot on the top deck, which wasn’t all that far from the water it seemed.
First sighting was of some transient Orcas. a pod of 3 that travels around, this group was identified as having the Kodiak area as “home”. Then we spotted a couple of humpback whales and I was able to capture one of them flipping its tail way up out of the water.
We left Resurrection Bay out into the Gulf of Alaska then into Aialik Bay. We saw “Three Hole Rock” and were then treated to seeing a mass of jelly fish rise from the deep.
After that we went into Holgate Arm to Holgate Glacier. There are several glaciers in that area but Holgate comes right down to the water and we saw it calve.
On the way back we spotted quite a few sea lions basking on rocks, some puffins and other sea birds. The view of the mountains and glaciers across the water is simply amazing.
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Checked into Riley Creek CG at the entrance to Denali on June 27, a rainy day to be sure. I’ve come to realize that sometimes late at night the clouds do break up so I kept a watch and about 9 pm I realized there were breaks in the clouds and a bit of blue sky showing. I left the trailer about 10 pm, taking the drive on the Park Road out to Savage River. It’s about 15 miles and as far into the park as you can go in a private vehicle.
I wasn’t the only one out there patrolling the roads looking for wildlife and some good sunset images. Sometime after 11 I came across 4 bull moose and one cow, grazing their way along the road side. The bulls all had impressive racks.
There are some good places to pull off on the road side, including a couple of places to see Denali and I was pleased with the limited view I got. As the night progressed the sunset became vibrant with color thanks to the clouds.
A short bit of rain passed when I was at Savage River and I hoped I might see a rainbow lit by the setting sun. At first there was a hint to the left then I watched the rain progress to the mountains and was treated to what I guess is a rather rare treat, a rainbow well after midnight. There was even a hint of a second rainbow.
As the rain and sunset both progressed I took advantage of a great setting, I hope you enjoy the images!
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Temps were in the high 30s when I stopped at the Icefields Center. Had to get this image with the Glacier in the background. Saw lots of snow on the drive from Banff to Jasper!
Once in Jasper I did a very nice drive in the Maligne Valley, very scenic spot showing the lake and mountains.I also went to the Athabasca Falls and was fortunate to capture a rainbow over the falls.
Saw lots of wildlife, elk are everywhere, had a moose run out of the woods beside me and then up the road in front of me for a ways until he went into the woods. It all happened way to fast for photos!
Am at the Walmart in Hinton, AB, tonight. Nice free & fast wifi. Sun is shining and I feel like I should get the solar panel out to charge this laptop.
It doesn’t get dark until around 11pm and then it isn’t really dark, so taking night images is pretty much a non event for a while on this trip.
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