My happy place…Follow Your Dream Farm

If you are new to my blog, or you forgot…I love animals. My parents farm is my happy place. Not just because my parents are there, also because there are lots of animals and lots to do. I love being on the farm, working, and hanging out with the animals. We try to time it to be there in the spring so we can help with lambing season and help get cleaned up after winter. We were thrilled to meet the new (to us, she’s been there nearly a year) farm hand. Rhonda is the best! She is hands down the best farm hand they’ve ever had and she truly loves the animals like we do.

This year we arrived just in time for shearing. I watched the guy shear with fascination. Rhonda and I wrestled the sheep out of the stall but once the shearer had them it was amazing. He put them on their back and they suddenly became putty in his hands! We don’t use the wool for spinning so he can quickly shear them and clip their hooves. They are so fluffy and cute before shearing, after they look naked for awhile.

 

 Sasha and Batman

 Solly and Rebekah guarding our house. Batman, my boy

Silly Bro, he’s supposed to be a pasture guard dog but prefers to be out.

Gracie of course loves it here. She steals toys from her cousins. She got a bath in the horse trough…not her favorite thing!

We had lots of projects to do. Mark built a maternity ward chicken coop. I painted it and made a sign. The big chicken coop needed a spot below the roosting to help clean up so we put in a shelf below to hold paper. Works great! We have trouble getting in and out of the pasture with the ewes and goats. Those goats are crazy, sneaky, fast at escaping. Fortunately, they always go right for the hay so it is easy to get them back. Mark came up with the idea of making a sally port. We spent one weekend putting it in. It works great! Rhonda is very thankful! I didn’t get pictures but Mark spent a lot of time in the tool room, cleaning, organizing, and fixing it up. We spent two days cutting and splitting firewood for dad. Lots of firewood. And of course we mowed, and mowed some more.

Benji…not helping! Mark’s tool room helper, Patch. 

I found an itty, bitty turtle in the rocks by the motorhome. We named him Rocky and made him a little house in a big tub to grow a little stronger. He is now at the neighbors in the creek, they’re farm is names Terrapin Springs…seemed appropriate.

Babies, babies and more babies!!! I love when the babies start coming, they are so stinkin cute!! I am always amazed at what great mamas we have and how nature just takes over and they know what to do. We had one mama this year that just couldn’t quite figure it out and it scared her. The minute she went into labor she got up and ran away with every pain. Sharon, Rhonda, and I were able to get her in a stall and Sharon had to take the baby. We were sure the baby was either dead or about to be. But April had another plan, she is quite the fighter. She not only lived but thrived as a bottle baby. And she has quite a personality. We tried everything to get her mama to take her back, just didn’t work. So we put April with the guard dog, Golda. Golda is an amazing spirit and she took care of April. Very special bond. I’m so pitiful, I went to the barn in the middle of a hellacious thunder storm to comfort April. She was very grateful, went right to sleep in my arms.

Lots of baby pictures! This year we had babies with beautiful markings, some very unique.

 Oh, that white butt is so cute!

Random farm pictures…

 Rocky, pasture manager.

 Need a ride? Pig rides here!

 the vet, not a job I want!  beautiful Leah

Mark loves brushing out Katie girl, and she loves to be brushed!

 Silly Elizabeth Leah, she’s my favorite. She is the last Barbado sheep.

The local shelter was full and about to put down a couple cats and a dog. My parents take the cats as barn cats so they have a chance at life (a pretty great life!). We named them Betty and Barney. The dog was headed to a foster home…till Rhonda met him! She named him Archie and he is the sweetest dog ever. He was a stray that was picked up. He couldn’t figure out how to get out of the car, didn’t know how to walk on a leash, or where his next meal was coming from. Now, he has a great life with Rhonda!

We have beautiful sunsets on the farm. God sure does good work with those finger paints! A couple times we went across the street to our friend’s farm for a better view.

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As you can tell we enjoy our time on the farm. We spent lots of time with  my parents, nice to have dinner together each night and chat. We had a wonderful birthday dinner for Sharon at the mansion at Berry Hill, a few good meals and times at Darby’s Tavern, and lovely Easter brunch also at Berry Hill. We were able to spend some time with Don and Joanne, neighbor friends, and loved that too! All in all a fabulous trip!

Enjoy!

Mark, Kara, and Gracie

Spring Adventures

Welcome back…look at me go! Two blog posts in a week!

We had a fabulous time in St. Augustine and from there drove up the coast. Our first stop, Cumberland Island, was on my list because you can see wild horses! If you’ve been following us you know wild horse, lighthouses, animals, flowers, water – okay, I really just love all things nature. From the moment you step off the boat you feel like you’ve been transported to a far away land. It is beautiful, in a majestic sort of way. As soon as we got to the beach we saw a group of three horses. We had a beautiful walk up the beach to old mansion. Saw lots more horses. If we return here we would do the tour that goes all over the island. Unfortunately, it was booked way in advance.

We stopped to see a lighthouse on Amelia Island…a little bit of a hunt for it but my lovee found it for me. We also stopped at Kingsley Plantation which was beautiful and rich in history.

Jekyll Island is so fun! We definitely want to go back and spend a bit longer. The houses from the “golden” era are awesome. You feel like you’ve taken a step back in time. The island is well preserved and beautiful! The trees and plants are gorgeous!

Fort Pulaski and Tybee Island – if you are in the area this is a must see. Fort Pulaski is of course full of history and well preserved. It is beautiful. Seeing the damage left behind by cannons is pretty spectacular. The lighthouse is a good one and sits right next to the beach and battery. The battery is the first one we’ve seen that is in use. They have businesses built right into the battery. Pretty cool to see. And great food on Tybee!!

Savannah – we stopped in to visit my sweet Marki girl. Had a great dinner with her but forgot to take a picture! Also caught up with Valerie on St. Patrick’s Day. If you love St. Patty’s plan a trip to Savannah – it is cray cray!! Seriously, it is like the Mardi Gras of St. Patrick’s . It is a beautiful city.

Hilton Head – fake lighthouse and real one 🙂 Some how my lovee talked the guard into letting us drive through a fortress of a community so I could see the inland light.

Charleston/Fort Sumter – wow, another must see!!!! The boat ride to Fort Sumter is quite beautiful. They ask for help with raising the flag and I was honored to help. Charleston is a great town, a bit lower key than Savannah but we enjoyed it.

Harkers Island/Cape Lookout – another wow! Yes, you guessed it, a lighthouse and horses…what could be better?! It is gorgeous! The boat ride was wonderful, the lighthouse awesome, and the wild horses spectacular!! I loved everything about our day!!!

New Bern/Tryon Palace – a cool place to tour. It was interesting to hear the history of the palace. I found the saving and renovation history particularly intriguing. The state decided to put a highway right through the palace. A group of ladies got together and not only saved the palace but got the highway moved. New Bern is a beautiful area of North Carolina.

We stopped in Swansboro to see my sweet friends Marc and Deb. We had a great time visiting with them! Deb treated me to a pedicure I will never forget! Best ever! We drove down to Wilmington and saw a great lighthouse and had a delicious lunch downtown. Wilmington is a super cute town!

That is all for now. We truly loved these few weeks. The islands off the coast of Georgia are wonderful. This was Mark’s first time really seeing Georgia to North Carolina. We saw A LOT and loved it all.

Next stop the farm…that means lots of animal pictures!!!

Adventure on!

Mark, Kara, and Gracie

Winter Adventures

Hello fellow adventurers! Did you think we were swallowed up by a sinkhole? It’s been awhile since I posted but don’t fret, we are great and I am working on catching up.

We had a nice Thanksgiving in Omaha with Mark’s family. We enjoy our time at my sister-in-laws. They had just adopted two, itty, bitty kittens found out in the cold. They are seriously adorable and still are, they love each other. 

We enjoy going to the tree lighting ceremony in downtown Omaha. Always a beautiful evening and a bonus this year wasn’t below freezing.

We were able to see our daughter Carie and the grandkids. We went to the zoo…if you’ve never been to the zoo in Omaha it is one of the best in the country. Seriously!  The grandkids always bring a smile to our faces and fill my heart with joy. Duane, Pam and Olivia met us for dinner afterward. Watching the three kids play we quite entertaining. Also caught up with Mark’s cousins and enjoyed seeing them.

I always hope it will snow…just a little when we visit and it did!!!! Then the temperature went down, way down, and stayed in the teens. Time to go! Gracie loves the snow and we had a great time playing in it. We were treated to a gorgeous sunrise the morning we left.

After Omaha we went to Hot Springs, Arkansas. Which I have to say was a surprisingly cool little town. It is an interesting National Park, the only one completely contained in city limits. We found the bath houses very interesting. I’m not sure what I was expecting but I was surprised. When you take the tour and hear of the procedures that were performed here…ah, no thank you! Mark particularly liked the old bath house that is now a brewery!

Now it is time to get to Red Bay and signed in for work to be done, then wait…and wait.  A necessary evil of living in a house on wheels. We decided to bug out for Christmas and head to southern Alabama and visit some friends. (Tiffin is closed for a whole week anyway.) We really enjoyed their house in the country. We had a quiet Christmas and fun New Year’s Eve. Every morning Gracie and I walked around the ten acres, Gracie trying to find the elusive armadillos and me enjoying the peace. Gracie helped drag in downed limbs for the bonfire and maybe some play time. Mark built a little foot bridge for David (yes, that is Gracie helping). We really enjoyed our time with David and Phyllis and Ed & Mel came for NYE. 

We took a day and drove to Georgia, they call it the ‘little’ grand canyon…not even close but still beautiful. We had a great day on the motorcycle, the weather was perfect for a peaceful cruise.

 

Back to Red Bay, but into a bay we go and start getting work done. We were able to get Greg, technician we worked with last time. On the weekend, we enjoyed going to the “big” city, Tupelo, to grocery shop and go to a movie. We also we to Tishmingo State Park again, we really enjoy this park just over the border in Mississippi. Gracie loves it, nobody is around so she gets to run off leash through the trails.

Finally, done at Red Bay and we head south to southern Louisiana. We always love our time with my Louisiana family! This visit was just a week so we were thrilled to start it off with a crawfish boil at Aunt Ginger and Uncle Marlo’s. We didn’t have a ton of tourist things to do this time around so we really enjoyed visiting with Aunt Linda and Uncle Buck. Nice to have coffee by the fire in the mornings and chat. Somehow the four of us never run out of things to talk about. We went on a motorcycle ride with Aunt Ginger and Uncle Marlo. Beautiful ride and time visiting some plantations. We saw my Carly girl and got to meet Sally’s new baby, Lucy. She is a cutie patootie! We also visited the Louisiana Veteran’s home and donated their favorite coffee. Such a joy to visit with the veterans. We saw Donny and Shelly’s new house, it is gorgeous and caught up with the kids. Joe got the baby Jesus so he has to make next years king cake! They have a new puppy, Honey, and she is some kind of cute! Of course, there was lots of game time! We introduced Aunt Linda and Uncle Buck to our aggravation marble game. And played loads of cards and some dice too.

While visiting one night Papa told us about a  cool spot, Dauphin Island. So, that is where we headed next and indeed it is a great little spot!! The island is quite small, we rode our bikes from one end to the other. You could walk to the beach from our campground and we did every evening to see sunset and I got up a couple mornings for sunrise. On one of our walks we spotted this owl in an osprey box. It is a peaceful little island getaway!

Dauphin Island is home to Fort Gaines, a beautiful fort right at the edge of the island.

We had hoped to take the ferry over to Fort Morgan but in the winter they only take vehicles under 21 feet…yup, not us! So we drove around Mobile Bay which was actually quite pretty and didn’t take long. We also enjoyed the Ft. Morgan area but not the campground we chose and not all the tourist crappola that seems to proliferate beach towns. We did have an amazing meal at the Oyster House.

 

Next stop, Fort Pickens and the Pensacola area. Neither of us had done much in the panhandle so we were eager to explore. We LOVED it here. We stayed at a campground way out on the peninsula of the Gulf Shores NS, Ft. Pickens. It is so peaceful and beautiful I wanted to stay forever. NAS Pensacola is directly across the inlet from our campground. We toured the Pensacola lighthouse and watched some touch and go training on the airstrip below. Unfortunately, the Blue Angles were in California. The National Aviation Museum is truly amazing! Be sure to take the docent led tour, so much information. We also took the guided tour of Ft. Pickens and Ft. Barancas. Both great forts and great tours!

Off to meet up with friends in Port St. Joe. A couple from our Alaska trip last year drove down from Alabama to meet us. We had a ball with them! We started in Port St. Joe and crawled along the panhandle for a few weeks. So, first let me say we saw many amazing sunsets!!!! An awesome part of being on the gulf.  David and Phyllis indulged my lighthouse escapades so we also saw several of those. We kayaked down the Suwanee River (yes, Mark sang the song) to Manatee Springs which was truly awesome!!!! We ate great food, including seriously good Apalachicola oysters! We had an awesome time and so glad David and Phyllis could hang with us. We will definitely be returning to the panhandle!

We stopped in to visit another couple of friends from Alaska. Ed and Mel live in Merritt Island, Fla…on the Atlantic side. We thought we would just stop and say hi and somehow ended up staying two weeks! Thanks for having us Ed & Mel! We were able to go over to my grandma’s in Orlando and take care of her house for her. We went to Ponce de Leon Inlet lighthouse which is one of the best ones we’ve been to! It is so well preserved and great artifacts/displays. Gracie was in heaven, she had friends, a pool, and loads of toys to play with! We had a birthday party for Gracie’s 9th bday, it was pretty cute. Spoiled!!!! When we left Ed and Mel’s we stopped in St. Augustine. What a great little town! We only allotted one day, need to go back and spend a little more time.

We revisited the Everglades, I love this park. For me, the Everglades is my most “surprising” national park. I thought, mistakenly, it would be a big swamp like area. It is NOT a swamp (they’re quick to educate you) and it is beautiful. There are so many species of plants and animals to see. We noticed a big difference this visit from our last two years ago. The bird population was down drastically. Turns out some idiot released their pet pythons now they have a massive python problem. They are eating up the birds and even the gators. Please don’t release animals where they don’t belong.

We caught up with a third couple from our Alaska trip on the western side of the Everglades. They have a beautiful place near Everglades City. It was great fun to see their place and have dinner with Van and Jane.

We finally had great weather and were able to take the boat trip to Boca Chita Key. Well worth the wait!!! It is unbelievably beautiful and peaceful. If you are in the area you need to go!

We stopped in Naples for a quick lunch. The pier was gorgeous! I met this nice veteran, turns out he is an author. I bought all his books. He just kept on fishing while telling me stories.

Sheesh, if you are still reading – THANK YOU!! That is it for now. Next post will be our trip up the east coast.

Feel free to leave us a comment!

Adventure on!

Mark, Kara, and Gracie

 

Hanging Lake and Rifle Falls, Colorado

When driving through  Colorado there are a great many places to stop and see. Let me add two to your list. One easy and one requires effort but is so worth it! These are in the Glenwood Canyon area, a beautiful little canyon and great town.

Rifle Falls – triple 70ft waterfalls flowing over a travertine dam.

Rifle Falls is a pretty drive and not very long, it is northeast of the town of Rifle. Once you arrive it is a short walk to the falls. The greenery around the falls can be quite lush as it basks in the spray from the falls. There are curious little limestone caves all around the falls area. As caves go these are “dead” but still quite interesting to check out.  We were there in November and it was just starting to get cold and they had a few nights of freezing. This made for some special views of the falls. There was one whole bank frozen and it looked like something out of the movies. You can walk behind one of the falls. I recommend taking the walk up and around the falls as well. It is quite pretty and not very rigorous.

Hanging Lake – clear, turquoise lake suspended on the edge of Glenwood Canyon.

This trip requires some planning and commitment but I guarantee you it is worth it. Hanging Lake is about 7 miles east of Glenwood Springs. Although the trail is only a milie, it is straight up…not kidding. We went in November and made it without crampons but barely. If you plan to hike it the winter there are stretches of the trail that are very icy, slick, and rocks below move on you. Be careful! The reward is awesome, the lake is gorgeous. I love the look when it starts to freeze in places.

Just above Hanging Lake is Spouting Rock – don’t miss this! Many people are tired and walk right by the small trail up. It is a very short up to another waterfall – also beautiful.

 

 

Adventure on!

Mark and Kara

Canadian Rockies

Our adventure continues on in the Great North! After parting with our Fantasy RV Tour group in Prince George, BC we decided to head over to Jasper, Banff, and Watertown/Glacier.

Jasper – we drove through with the RV tour and knew right away we wanted to go back. We left Prince George and headed to KOA Jasper. We actually drove through the park on the way to our campground. It was a beautiful drive and we saw lots of critters.

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We met up with Dave and Phyllis for a picnic on scenic Pyramid Island on Pyramid Lake. We all longed for a kayak to explore the lake. Another beautiful day and spending it with great new friends was very special.

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We celebrated Mark’s birthday. There were several folks in the Jasper campground from our tour group (great minds think alike!) so we went out and had a great time.

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The next morning Ed made his world famous Eggs Benedict for us! Seriously, yummy!

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We celebrated Mark’s birthday a couple more times…man he is spoiled!

img_0909 img_0921 img_0935 img_0918 img_0915 img_0912 img_0897Gracie’s boyfriend, Tango…she wasn’t invited.

A few more pictures from Jasper, what a beautiful place! I love big horn sheep and mountain goats. We saw loads of big horn in Jasper and I got my goats in Glacier.

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The drive from Jasper to Banff is spectacular. You go over the Icefields Parkway which is full of glaciers. We didn’t get very many pictures of the Glaciers – they make it fairly hard to stop and we actually had some ice on the road going over the top so we were focused on driving. Here are a couple from the drive.

img_8998 img_0930 img_9003 img_9468 img_9479 img_9493 One heck of an eagles nest!

Banff & Lake Louise – what an amazing area! We met up with David and Phyllis again and checked out all the Banff area had to offer. We took the Banff Gondola tram up to the top, what an amazing view!

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Lake Louise is stunning! It almost doesn’t look real, the colors are so vivid.

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Back to Banff and checking out various waterfalls and the cave. Gracie always enjoys checking out the water.

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While in Canada I developed a very serious addiction and knew by this time I had to give it up. I love POUTINE!!! Poutine is fries, cheese curds, and gravy on top. Sounds amazing right?! It is. This was my last poutine at the Lake Louise Lodge and it had pulled pork on it!

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Watertown – is the Canadian side of Glacier NP. The Prince of Wales castle was named in hopes the Prince would visit…never made it. It is a beautiful place!!

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We found these t-shirts in one of the stores…they’re pretty funny.

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Glacier NP – now to the American side. After you cross the border look out! Holy cows Batman! There are cows everywhere! Seriously, they are all along the road, in the road, and they just look at you like “what’s your hurry, I’m movin here.”

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We started out on the east side of Glacier and saw all there was to see! We met up with David and Phyllis again and took a boat tour on Swiftcurrent Lake. There was a short hike to Lake Josephine and then another boat tour of that lake. We checked out the Many Glacier Hotel on Swiftcurrent Lake. It was built around the turn of the century and is still spectacular today. There are a bunch of pictures on the wall from different time periods of the history of the hotel. Many show the growth and then subsequent recession of area glaciers. If you are ever in the area it is well worth checking out. We had gorgeous weather and saw some beautiful sites. I really enjoyed the east side of Glacier.

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West side of Glacier -we drove the Going to the Sun road several times. On our last day there were flurries at the top.

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Off to Spokane to pick up our motorcycle. We sure missed her! Shawn and Deb were able to go on a short ride with us. It was so nice to be back on the bike!!! Shawn and Deb graciously kept our bike safe for us while we were in Canada and Alaska. The boys put the hydralift back on – glad that wasn’t too difficult. We (Mark) may have even had a couple of beers while we were there. If you are ever in the area check out their brewery, Zythum. Thanks Shawn and Deb! You are the best!

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That is it for now!

Leave us a comment below. Find us and like our Two Peeps on a Roll Facebook page here.

Or find us and join us on the road!!

Adventure on!

Mark, Kara, and Gracie girl

 

Adventure in the Great North…Part 2

The second half of our trip took us through the southern coastal towns. You can read the first half of the blog post here. After the first half, you might wonder how could it get better…we did too! It gets better, so much better! One aspect we mentioned over and over again, the drives never got old. Seeing huge glaciers, massive waterfalls, glacial rivers, flowers and of course the wildlife makes driving A LOT of fun in Alaska!

Gracie update…she is still in love with Tango… Okay, so maybe I love him too…for a little dog!

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Fireweed – one of the most beautiful things you might ignore! This beautiful flower was one of the first things Mark and I took notice of, it was blooming and everywhere! Canada and Alaska – everywhere. The natives say they use it to gauge summer, the flowers bloom from the bottom up and when they they get to the top summer is about over. Next step, they “cotton” which really means they are done blooming and this is how they spread their seeds. Fireweed is edible, our Wagonmaster made jelly with it and it is pretty good. Next time I will collect and experiment.

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Seward, Ak – you may remember from the first half that while in Anchorage there was a fire on the Seward Hwy, well it only got worse and we were delayed on our drive out. We watched many planes dropping fire retardant and several helicopters fill their buckets with water and drop it on the fire. Thankful everyone was okay and the firefighters did a great job!

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Seward is a cool little coastal town with a beautiful “downtown” area. In 1910 Seward was mile “0” of the Iditarod sled dog race. They have a nice aquarium and a few good restaurants. We have found that in most of these small towns the local brew pub has the best food, definitely the case in Seward.

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Exit Glacier – our wagon master arranged for a walk with a Ranger to Exit Glacier. In 1917 the spot where we started our walk is where the glacier was! They had signs along the path for a couple miles showing you where the glacier reached in previous years. All Alaskan glaciers are in retreat, a couple advance as much as they retreat but most are just plain retreating and will be gone in the near future. We had a nice ranger, he answered the zillion questions we all threw at him. The only negative to this hike…the flies! Holy flies batman! They were insane, motivation to walk quickly.

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Kenai Fjords Tour – I got a bee in my bonnet and called the Fjords group out of Seward…they had a cancellation and so off we went on a boat tour of Resurrection Bay and Kenai Fjords NP. It was a truly awesome day! Any of the boat tours can be hit or miss (we had a miss a week later) but we hit this one on a good day. First, I liked that it was a smaller tour company and very nice people. It was a beautiful day, we started in some fog but it cleared to a lovely day. We saw loads of critters but we both raved about sitting in front of a glacier. The captain asked everyone to be quiet as we pulled up to the glacier. Mark and I were both blown away by how loud, yes loud, glaciers are. It sounded like thunder rumbling through. We were fortunate enough to see several pieces calve but the sound was truly amazing. Also, you have no concept of height. It appears you are “right there” and could reach the top but the truth is it was about 200 ft tall! Amazing. The ice floating in the water is at least 100 years old, can you put that in perspective…crazy?! We saw humpback whales, killer whales, loads of otters & seals, more eagles, puffins, cormorants and others than I could count.

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We stopped at Fox Island on the way in for dinner, it was very good and nice little retreat.

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Homer, Ak – about this time I had been fighting my allergies and a sinus infection had set in. I was pretty sick and working hard to rally but we laid pretty low. Homer Spit is a beautiful place.

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We did have a bit of rain while we were there (which facilitated me wanting to stay in bed) but we still enjoyed. The view from our windshield…

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There are eagles all over the place in Homer. We saw many and had a couple that hung out in front of the motorhome on the beach. One of the most entertaining was a juvenile bald eagle that was trying to steal a salmon thrown on the shore by a fisherman. We were rooting for the eagle!! Eventually, the fisherman gave up and left with his fish.

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One of the guys on the trip gave us some extra fish he had caught and I had shrimp and scallops from the Farmer’s Market so I made a seafood chowder…seriously delish and just what my sinus infection needed!

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Horseback ride – I did rally enough to make a horseback ride we had scheduled on our last day in Homer. It was scheduled to be a 4 hour ride…it ended up being six hours. It was AWESOME but after six hours most of us were quite sore and I felt dreadful. If you watch Alaska, The Last Frontier and the Kilcher family that is where we rode – well, not on their land but that is the area. Our guide, Mark, also lives off his homestead there. In my cold medicine haze I forgot my phone to take pictures and Mark isn’t quite so comfortable (he’s getting better though!) on a horse so he only got a couple.

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Kenai, Ak – when we pulled in to Diamond M Ranch Resort a young man parked us…on his unicycle! And it was raining! I was impressed! I can honestly say it is the first time we have been parked by unicycle!

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This is a family owned and run RV park and resort, it is truly an awesome place. They go above and beyond to take care of their guests. The Martin family has been in Kenai since the early 60’s. The story of Carrol and JoAnne Martin making the move to Alaska from Colorado with their herd of cattle is quite amazing! They have run a working ranch in Kenai since then. Now, Blair and Ronna Martin and kids run the ranch, rv resort and more. If you find yourself in Kenai this is a must stay place!!!!! We went on a walk of the ranch and then down to the river.

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They also have Gold Rush Era cabins to rent, they’re nice but still rustic.

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We had a King Crab leg feast, if you have gleaned anything from my posts…I LOVE seafood (I grew up on the Chesapeake Bay, it’s in my blood!). They also made fresh salmon and salad (all from their gardens). It was truly awesome! I got super lucky when a gal on the trip gave me her crab legs! After dinner, grandpa sat and told us the story of him moving to Alaska and great stories from life in The Great North. We had great bonfires while at Diamond M, they have several pits and the rv’s can park around them.

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While in Kenai if you aren’t fishing you have to go see some fishing. It was dip net season (only Alaskan residents can dip net), a 5ft wide net that they walk out in the water and literally let the salmon swim right in.

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Palmer, Ak

Talkeetna – Mark and I missed the last opportunity to go to Talkeetna so we took a day while in Palmer and drove out. Talkeetna is the “jump off” point for anyone hoping to summit Denali. You have to check in and get a permit in Talkeetna and catch a plane to base camp. It is a cute town, lots of history. Be sure if you visit Talkeetna to go to the Ranger station and check out all the climbing memorabilia and watch the movie – it is short but great!

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Hatcher Pass – 3,886 ft, this pass goes through the southwest Talkeetna Mtns and is named after prospector and miner, Robert Hatcher. It is a beautiful drive as you wind through the mountain. While up there visit Independence Mine, they have restored some of the buildings and the remains of others and the mine are still present.

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Valdez, Ak – the drive into Valdez is spectacular!!!! As you come around a turn you find yourself saying “wow” a lot! We sort of laughed at ourselves as we repeated “wow, oh wow” over and over again. We really enjoyed the town of Valdez, beautiful and friendly.

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Just outside of town is Dayville Rd which may not sound like much BUT the Solomon Gulch Fish Hatchery is out Dayville Rd. which means there are BEARS to see! Off we went! First, the hatchery itself is a sight to see! There were zillions and zillions of salmon. I have never in my life seen so many fish in one place! Where there are salmon spawning there are dead salmon, birds, bears, seals, and more!

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We saw a couple of guys from our rv group and they had caught their limit! You can’t fish at the hatchery, seriously it would be cheating, but you can fish down the road a bit.

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Then, we saw a bear!!!! We saw several over the next couple of days. Always at dusk so it was a challenge to get good pictures of them. We also saw loads of eagles and one pair that were by far my favorite eagles of the the whole trip. I call them my canoodling eagles, always together.

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We took a tour of the hatchery, great learning experience. They do great work here and have increased the salmon population. You can read more about them here and buy fish too, their smoked salmon is awesome.

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As we were leaving I saw a Maryland crab sticker on a truck…cool. I waited a few minutes and saw a guy heading to the truck. Turns out we are from near the same place in Maryland. He has lived in Alaska for several years and says he is never going back to Maryland. Small world!

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Stan Stevens – our group took the Stan Stevens Glacier and Wildlife tour. Great tour group, family run but a bad day. I say bad day loosely because any day on the water for me is a good day. But, it did rain all day and was quite cold. I think it took me two days to warm up. We did see awesome glaciers and some good wildlife. What made it bad for me was my camera lens broke. Major bummer.  Fortunately, back in the rv I had my old lens so not to worry while I mailed it out to be repaired (turned out to be a broken gear, repaired free of charge).

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Worthington Glacier – just a short drive outside of Valdez. Sounds odd to say but this is a sad glacier. It has retreated so much they closed the visitor center! You have to walk out a bit to get close but it was worth it. I mean, when else do you get the chance to lick a glacier?? Some people brought back some glacier ice to enjoy. The waterfalls coming off the glacier were so powerful.

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One more bit of excitement while in Valdez, we took a jeep ride with friends Dave and Phyllis. Pretty ride through a single track road, the waterfalls were gorgeous! We passed a military group and asked about the road ahead, his response “you’ll know when you get to the end” and he was right. There had been a landslide and there was no passing it for anyone. We really enjoyed the jeep ride, right up until I asked Mark what that sound was…yeah, broke the front drive shaft. So what does my husband do? Take it off and put it in the back seat. Ah, don’t we need that honey?? Not really. Oh, okay. (I say this in jest because I am beyond thankful to have a husband who can fix anything!)

Dave and Phyllis and their little red Jeep.

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From Valdez we drove to Tok and Destruction Bay again, these were just quick one night stops to get us to Haines.

Haines, Ak – great little town! Every time I think of Haines that is what I think, just a quaint little town.

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I heard of a spot to see bears here so of course it was the first stop! We missed a bear by minutes, as soon as we walked up the crowd told us the bear just left. I got up early the next morning and went out in search of bears, I was not disappointed! That night we went back and hung around for a bit and were treated to another sighting. This is a mama bear and her two cubs. The locals even come down to watch her and say she has been bringing her cubs here for years. There is a weir here and the fish they count is what tells Fish & Game if they can open the fishing or close it. While we were there they were having great fish numbers, salmon run 2016 a success.

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img_9106the salmon count board – fishing is open for two days!

One of the gals on our trip was turning 65 so we had a nice cocktail hour for her at a local distillery and all went to dinner. Dinner was a historic hotel that formerly was part of the military base. You can still see the lay out of the base, the parade deck, flag poles, officer housing.

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Juneau – we took a boat out to Juneau, little known fact – Juneau is the only US capital you cannot drive to. By now you know I love eagles and this trip was unbelievable. On the way to Juneau I counted eagles…123! That is just the boat ride to Juneau! There were tons out at Juneau and on the way back! I also love lighthouses and was thrilled to see one on the way. 

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We visited Mendenhall Glacier and walked around Juneau, while quite touristy it is still a cute town.

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On the way back we set off to look for whales. We were incredibly fortunate and saw a large pod of humpback whales bubble net feeding. This is a cooperative effort of a group of whales, they dive together and then the lead whale gives the “kill” signal and they swim to the surface in a shrinking circle while blowing bubbles which trap the small fish (herring type). If a whale goes ahead of the group he is kicked out. It is so cool and beautiful to see. We watched it for about 20 minutes but I could have followed them all day. Our captain put a microphone in the water so we could hear the kill call but the real trick is to watch the birds, they know where the whales will surface. I gave Mark the camera for a bit and watched through the binoculars and it was so worth it. Truly amazing to see in person.

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Our group went back to Whitehorse from Haines but we took the ferry straight to Skagway, saving us two days of driving. We had friends in port from a cruise ship and this allowed us to have a day visiting with them. Taking the ferry was an experience…a little unnerving to see our home squeezed in like a sardine!

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Skagway, Ak – we arrived on a rainy day but it cleared up and we had a gorgeous day with our friends Doug and Missy and Jen and David. So fun to hang out in Alaska! We took the Yukon Pass Train up to White Pass Summit and back. It was nice when we left but the summit was socked in with fog.

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The town is incredibly touristy, they see thousands (6-12,000) of cruise ship passengers come and go. It is entertaining to see the crowds and the amount of money they drop! I don’t really understand it but I guess that is just me because it is big business! The best place to eat is the brew pub but good luck when cruise ships are in port.

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Our group arrived the following day, it was fun to already be there and greet everyone. It was fun to also give everybody the “low down” on the town. The Olympics were on and I am a total Olympic junkie so we had to find a place to watch. The only place with a TV is the “locals” bar…we ventured in. There were about 25 people in there, we took a table in the corner where we could still see the TV. About an hour in, after seeing everybody give us a second glance, I asked the waitress if we were the only “outsiders” in the bar. She looked around and said “yup” but told us not to worry everyone was friendly. We ended up there every night so we cold watch the games and even brought in some of our friends.

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Hanging out in the locals bar has its perks (they were all very nice) we learned where to go and what to see. The key to Skagway – get out of town!!! There is so much fun stuff around Skagway. We started with a walk out to Smuggler’s Cove which is just off the cruise ship port. Gracie was in heaven!

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Dave and Phyllis and Mark and I took off to explore. We checked out the Klondike Gold Rush NP and surrounding area, including Dyea which is long abandoned. We met a gal picking mushrooms, apparently some very good ones were in season but glad we didn’t pick any…she said the ones I thought were so pretty were also poisonous. Go figure.

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Gold panning…no luck…

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More gold panning and picnic lunch….

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More gold panning…look closely to see the three flecks of gold Mark found! Way to go lovee!!!

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The local cemeteries are cool. One is of Gold Rush era and the other out at Dyea, a town nearly wiped out by an avalanche.

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We met a Ranger at the locals bar and he told us where to go for loads of blueberries. We hit pay dirt! Loads of fresh blueberries and I didn’t have to fight off the bears! Lucky day! We had blueberry pie, bread, compote, and syrup.

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The drive out of Skagway (or in but we took the ferry) is beautiful! So much to see, I really wanted to stop and see more but couldn’t afford the time if we wanted to stop in Jade City.

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Jade City – a jade mine that is family run but largely backed by Chinese now. They had a show last year on Discovery, not sure if it was renewed. The coolest part was the running saws out front cutting jade…very, very slowly. They have gorgeous jade items but way out of our price range. I only bought an itty bitty bear with a salmon in its mouth for my grandma and a skinny, little ring.

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Testlin, YT, Nugget City, YT, Dease Lake, BC – all just one night stays

Stewart, BC – love!!!! You have to go to Stewart, BC to get to Hyder, Ak….both tiny towns. In fact, they call Hyder the friendliest ghost town in Alaska. Nicest people! No border patrol going into Hyder but to get back to Stewart you do have to go through Canadian customs. Apparently, back in the day there was quite a lot of smuggling from Hyder into Canada so they haven’t abandoned the border. The two towns though really work together, there isn’t a bank in either one of them. Mail comes by boat to Hyder twice a week from Ketchikan. This area is pretty remote so everyone looks out for everyone.

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Hyder is well known for Fish Creek Wildlife observation deck, a place where you can literally watch salmon spawn and die. The perks of that obviously being the bears that come in to feed as well as eagles and others. A portion of this natal stream is visible from the deck and if bears choose to be watched they can feast right there, if not, much of the creek is not visible and they can eat without a zillion eyes watching them. Our first visit yielded nothing but salmon, loads of salmon – alive, dead, or somewhere in between.

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We drove on up to Salmon Glacier which is an interesting drive – definitely need a rugged vehicle. But, it is WELL worth it. Salmon Glacier is one of those things you just can’t believe as you stand there gaping at its beauty. Pictures also do not come close to doing this beauty justice.

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You cannot put the size into perspective, it is kind of eery to realize how massive it is. Our Wagonmaster saw a helicopter and caught the images and made this to share.

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I got up before the crack of dawn and was at Fish Creek when it opened for two mornings in a row. It paid off BIG TIME!! The first day I saw this big guy. He is a 5 yr old male and frequents the area. The rangers said some bears come and get spooked (by noisy tourists) and never come back to the observation deck area. I asked if he had a name, Dog Bear…after watching him it wasn’t hard to figure out how he got that name. He likes the female salmon, he picks them up and then squeezes the eggs out of them and tosses them aside. I still liked him. He stayed with us about 20 minutes. I watched him get the eggs out of about ten salmon and skin two – he can skin a salmon in seconds. He was quite picky about his salmon.

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The next morning brought in two females, separately. The first one didn’t have a name so we suggested Lolita. The second was known as “stub tail” to some. These were a little more shy. I also saw a mom and baby crossing the road as I left.

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The lagoon from the observation deck is beautiful, I especially liked the morning fog and peaceful nature of it all. I think I would like to spend a summer there volunteering.

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We heard that we had to go to “The Bus” for lunch so off we went. It is true, if you find yourself in Hyder – eat at The Bus!!! It is a bus converted to a kitchen and there are tables out front or in back. Best fish and chips ever! The halibut is fresh and locally caught. If her husband’s fish market next door is open – buy all you can! Seriously, good halibut and salmon! I also just like her style! She told us how she puts a board full of  nails out each evening to deter the bears from breaking into the bus.

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Lastly, one of the boats from Deadliest Catch is docked here. Didn’t get to see much going on in the harbor but it was pretty.

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Smithers, BC – a one night stay. On the way to Smithers though we wanted to check out Old Hazelton. A very cool area to see! We did part of the driving tour due to time constraints but wish we could have done it all. The whole area is rich in history and beautiful.

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Glenn and Renee did the tour with us. Renee and I got brave and walked over the single lane, crazy skinny, crazy high bridge!

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Prince George, BC – our final stop with Fantasy RV tours. We had a great farewell dinner, our Wagonmasters put together a DVD of pictures and we all enjoyed the memories. 62 days is a long time and we had a lot of great adventures! We totally recommend Fantasy RV Tours. They made it all very easy for us and we were able to just enjoy our time.

We love to hear from you so please leave a comment below.

Adventure on!

Mark, Kara, and Gracie girl

 

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Adventure in the Great North

Amazing. Gorgeous. Beautiful. Adventurous. These are just a few of the adjectives I am sure I will use over and over again in this post. First, let me apologize for being so behind on posting. There really was no way to post while on the road for over two months on this grand adventure. We went through some seriously back country areas but in general there wasn’t much service and what we did have wasn’t reliable. In addition, it was very difficult to keep up with the amount of pictures I took and our schedule. Secondly, fair warning…this will be a long post. I have muddled over how to do this one, should I break it up or all in one. It will have a part 2…. 

This is the route of our whole trip, we had two detours in the beginning due to a washed out road and a camp decided not to open this year but it’s all part of the adventure! Our Wagonmasters did a great job re-routing us and as a result we got to see some extra great places! 

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Our adventure was with Fantasy RV Tours and we did the “62 Day Alaska Your Way” trip. This worked for us as most of it was “our way” meaning we chose what we wanted to see and do. Everyday wasn’t scheduled and we weren’t living schedule to schedule other than the driving. We had a wonderful group of people, some will be friends for life and I’m sure we will see many of them again. Our Wagonmasters and Tailgunners were great and did an amazing job keeping us informed and on track. We were given a trip log and we always had a meeting the evening before a driving day to go over the trip log and any known road hazards. It was an “open” caravan style and often saw people on the road or at various stops. Open caravan means we didn’t drive “convoy” style – people ask this all the time. Taking a trip with Fantasy RV Tours means they do all the hard work, we just got to sit back and have a great time! 

Mark and I have had many conversations about what we enjoyed the most…it is difficult, truly so much was amazing! We definitely loved the coastal towns more than the interior. Seeing glaciers, waterfalls, and wildlife nearly everyday really stands out for both of us. We never tired of the scenery while driving.

It seemed to take us forever to get to Alaska, 17 days in actuality. On the map above, we hugged the right side and went north to start. We entered Alaska at Tok and Fairbanks was our first “real” stop…meaning it was more than just a driving stop. Starting north and then meandering south meant the salmon were running in the south and we were able to see lots of salmon and bears eating salmon! Eagles also, hundreds of eagles (seeing them doesn’t get old either!).

Anacortes, Wa – we started our adventure in Fidalgo Bay RV Resort, a great park! We camped right on the water and watched bald eagles and herons from our front window! Peaceful and beautiful area. We had a wonderful catered welcome dinner, very good food! We met our fellow travelers and already knew we were going to have a great time!

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Kamloops, BC – our re-route due to a washed out road led us to Kamloops…turned out to be a good one! There is a wildlife park next door to the campground so we literally parked and went next door before they closed.

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From Kamloops we drove to Valemount, BC. We had a great driving day full of wildlife and landed in a beautiful park surrounded by gorgeous mountains. The pictures really don’t do it justice…I’ll probably say that a lot in this post! 

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On to Hinton-Jasper and although it rained a little Jasper NP is beautiful!!! The water is this amazing clear and turquoise. We had lunch in the Jasper Lodge and of course I loved the resident lab, Stanley. He was pretty darn cute and friendly. 

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Dawson Creek, BC – known as Mile Zero of the Alaska Canadian Hwy or AlCan. We learned all the history of the AlCan and I have to say it is pretty interesting.

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We drove out to a bridge that was part of the Old Alaska Hwy, pretty cool wood bridge.

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Fort Nelson, BC – turned out to be the most buggy place we visited. When we arrived it was pouring down rain. The minute we stepped out of the motorhome we were covered in mosquitos! We were crazy enough to attempt a hike in the nearby “demonstration forest” I emphasize the crazy part. We did not last long. The mosquitos, flies, and gnats were horrible. We all agreed to get out of there and fast!

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There was a museum next door to our park and Mark was excited to crank up an old car. That evening we had a nice campfire to ward off the mosquitos and get to know some of our fellow travelers.

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Liard Hot Springs, BC – this was our only “dry camping” night which isn’t that big a deal for us normally but this park had very restrictive generator hours…which didn’t jive with our morning time frame so we may have cheated…  The hot springs were very pretty and nice water as well (once you get past the sulphur smell). One side wasn’t so bad but the other side, closer to the spring, was wicked hot! I mean melt your skin off hot!

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This is a good time to add some of the “views from the road” which were just about always stunning. We saw lots of wildlife from the road so excuse the not so great photography as we zoom by! The snow capped mountains of course are gorgeous, along with the blue glacial rivers and lakes. The Canadian Canola fields are also beautiful with their golden rush of color.

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Watson Lake, YT – welcome to the Yukon! Watson Lake is known for the Sign Post Forest. There are literally thousands and thousands of signs. Our Wagonmaster made a sign for our group which we all signed. After putting it up we wandered around. Some signs are quite nice and clearly well made, others are hastily thrown together. Really, anything goes here.

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Teslin, YT – should have been an uneventful, one night stop. However, a couple kids stole a truck with boat/trailer and pulled out in front of our campground after going over a spike strip…it was interesting. They closed the road down and the locals were all stuck at the campground restaurant. It was a beautiful evening for gawking at police activity… They had these fake elk and moose in front of the campground. Gracie was pretty funny and stalked up to them, and then her mean mommy (yes, me) scared the pee out of her!! Pretty funny.

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On our way to Teslin we stopped at Rancheria Falls, it was rainy but rarely do I miss an opportunity to see waterfalls. It is a pretty walk to the falls, much of the ground cover in bloom.

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Leaving the falls we saw this little black bear hightailing it across the road. He seemed to be in that awkward teenage stage where he didn’t quite have coordination with his whole body.

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Whitehorse, YT – we were here for 4  nights which was plenty to see all there was to see in Whitehorse. Whitehorse is the biggest town we had seen in a while, they even had a Walmart. Being good visitors, we headed out with some folks from the trip to celebrate Canada Day (and nobody wanted to cook). We were in a cute little pub when I saw this fella…his friend caught me taking a picture and proceeded to send his very inebriated buddy over to me. No, sorry, I can’t and won’t marry you Mr. Canada.

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Mark and I had a great day checking out Whitehorse. We first visited Miles Canyon – a beautiful spot! The color of the water and the rocks was just gorgeous. We hiked a little, Gracie even made it over the bridge (not her favorite) and we hoped to return for more hiking but didn’t make it. We were also treated to a bald eagle following us most of the time.

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Next up, we went into town and found some interesting sights. A multi-story log home which appears to not have been planned from the start but each level added on later. Good use of space! The “old” log cabin church, pretty little place and great flowers! A few other sites from around town.

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We toured the SS Klondike, both of us a little fascinated with the sternwheeler. It ran freight along the Yukon River in the 30’s and 40’s and was the largest of their line. It has been nicely restored and sits right next to the river and now a part of Parks Canada. 

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The Whitehorse Wooden Fish Ladder is the longest wooden fish ladder in the world. It was built after the Whitehorse Dam went in, by using the fish ladder the salmon can avoid the often treacherous dam and at the same time allow the researchers to count how many are returning (they also make note if they are natural or hatchery fish). There is a glass viewing area which allow the researchers to take note and others to see the chinook salmon return. These salmon have traveled roughly 2,000 miles from the Bering Sea to return to their natal stream, spawn, and die. The map below shows their route. Salmon are truly remarkable creatures…we will talk more about them later!

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Our whole group went to Mukluk Adventures to learn about and meet the sled dogs and have a wild game dinner. The dogs were great and they loved all the attention from us. I learned a lot about the Yukon Quest race, made it very interesting. We enjoyed a wonderful meal and the “house” which is really a converted log cabin is available for overnight stays. Many of the retired sled dogs run free so you have to like dogs to be around here! A few thought they were helping during the presentation, mostly they slept and looked cute. Mark made dog howling sounds and got the whole group howling, boy was that loud. Kara wanted to take a few home.

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We also got to watch the resident bald eagle. Apparently, he is known for stealing the dogs food (generally salmon) and now they just throw him a piece and distract him. He watched us the entire time we were there!

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On our last evening most of our group went to show in town but Mark and I drove out to Emerald Lake, Carcross Desert (dubbed the world’s smallest desert), and Carcross. We really enjoyed our quiet, beautiful evening.

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Destruction Bay, YT – this was a quick overnight stop but the drive in was gorgeous. We stopped to see this bridge which was part of the original AlCan highway. You can see why they built a newer, better bridge around it! Very fun to explore though, pretty impressive construction for the time and tools they had.

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We saw a grizzly while driving, and what a beautiful drive it was! We went through Kluane NP. The sheep were on the other side of the mountain so we didn’t get to see them. As I remember this drive and look at my notes in our trip log I can say these pictures do not do justice to these beautiful mountains!

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The following morning as we left a storm was moving in. Kind of eerie and beautiful at the same time. We saw many rainbows, only got a picture of one. Rainbows don’t photograph well.

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Tok, Ak – we finally made it to Alaska! If you look super closely at the obelisk picture you will see the international line is clear cut as far as the eye can see. Wonder who does that??

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Also a great driving day with these critters…the mama and baby bears were just a few feet from the motorhome. They could have cared less that we were sitting on the side of the road watching them. We saw a couple of moose but this guy cracked me up with the “what are you looking at” look.

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Tetlin Wildlife Refuge – I was so excited for this stop on a driving day, a chance to see birds of all varieties. I was online reading about what we could see. And what did we see…nothing. Not a single bird at the refuge! Pretty place though and still beautiful.

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Not much to do in Tok, but we did have a nice dinner with some of the folks on our trip. There may have been some drinking as well.

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Faribanks, Ak – on our way to Fairbanks we stopped in Delta Junction which is the end of the Alaska Canada Hwy. The giant mosquito was sort of funny, we only had one stop that had awful mosquitos but at this point of the trip we were still braced for the worst! I am a huge fan of the show Alaska State Troopers, mostly because I’ve been to some of the villages they go out to and it is fun to see them again.

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Rika Roadhouse – located at the historically important crossing of the Tanana River. It was a hub of activity before the construction of the AlCan, it was on the path into Alaska’s interior during the gold rush days. After the construction of the AlCan and a bridge was put in patronage at the roadhouse declined greatly. It has been well preserved.

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I have avoided putting too many flower pictures in…I know most don’t love them as much as me. But, Rika Roadhouse had an impressive amount of columbines which I happen to love!

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We camped at the North Pole, seriously…but its just North Pole, Alaska which is really Fairbanks. We did visit the “North Pole” and even Santa but I have to say it is really just a tourist trap. Some of our group did the Jingle Bell 5K.

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A pleasant surprise was the Riverboat Discovery Cruise we did. We weren’t sure what to really expect but after arriving and seeing the mass quantities of tourist souvenirs we thought it might be a bit of a let down but it was really quite the opposite. The actual boat ride was full of surprises. First, we visited 40 below…I have been in about 30 below in real life (in Alaskan villages during humanitarian missions) but Mark hadn’t so we jumped in. Boy was that cold, glad it only lasted a few minutes.

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After boarding the boat the first item on our agenda was a demonstration by a float plane. The pilot landed right next to us and sat in his plane while he chatted with us and answered questions through his intercom system.

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Next up, we stopped in front of the Susan Butcher sled dog kennels. Most beautiful kennels I have ever seen!!!!! First, they showed us this years puppies and how they train them to get on the little boats for transporting. Then they hooked up a team to an ATV (engine removed). They use in this in the summer for training and sent the dogs off. Man they were so excited and fast! When they came in and were unhooked each dog ran straight to the river for a swim. She also spoke to us via her intercom.

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We cruised up the river a bit further and then back down and stopped at Chena Indian Village. This is a re-created athabascan village, it is beautiful and well done. We docked and got off the boat. We broke up into groups and at each stop there was a young native doing a presentation about the various areas. It really warmed my heart to see and hear these young people embrace their cultures. Years ago when I was villages in Alaska the young people couldn’t leave fast enough. They had just had their first exposure to TV and left in droves to live a different life. One of the funniest moments came when they demonstrated how they used a piece of birch bark to call for animals…she then yelled “here moosey, moose, moose” and it became the call of our trip! The sled dog team had come over on the boats and we had a chance to meet the dogs and get books signed about the famed Granite – great kids book!

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The following day was my birthday and Mark and I drove out to Chena Hot Springs. All I asked for was a moose for my birthday and we saw a beauty and she posed for lots of pictures! Then we continued on to the hot springs. We toured the Ice House, very cool sculptures. All these are made as practice for competitions. They made me an appletini at the entirely made of ice bar. I got to keep the glass as a souvenir. I donated to it to the plants.

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Our friends son was recently stationed in Fairbanks and we were thrilled to be able to meet him for lunch. We had a great time catching up with Billy and so happy that his wife Emily has now joined them. Have a great time exploring Alaska!

Our group had dinner at the Salmon Bake in Fairbanks. It was pretty good, it mass produced food so it can only be so good in my book. We did have fun kibitzing with our fellow travelers.

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We had a potluck with our group and celebrated Jack’s and my birthday. Fun fact, we have the same birthday and we were the youngest and oldest on the trip. Our campground had several of these re-purposed machines, they looked nice full of flowers. About this time Gracie realized she was in love…with Tango, a toy poodle. Tango is a good boy and he didn’t take any crap from Gracie, he bossed her around!

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On the way to Denali we stopped in Nenana, cute town with an railroad museum. We also placed our bets on next years “ice break” we will be winning!! I’m pretty confident! The black and white structure is part of a former, official “ice break” device.

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Denali, Ak – turns out we were some of the super, uber lucky ones! They say Denali Mtn is visible about 30% of the time. We saw Denali Mtn four days, three days in a row! She is a gorgeous mountain! Multiple views of Denali, we were seriously so fortunate!

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Our group did the bus tour through Denali NP. I didn’t know much about the NP, just that I wanted to visit. You can’t just drive around the park as you can many national parks. The goal of Denali NP is to keep it wild, so they limit the vehicles and movement through the park. We were fortunate to see the mountain all day during the bus ride as well as lots of wildlife. Multiple eagles, bears, moose, and caribou.  Also many snowshoe hares and arctic squirrels. Most of the bears we saw were in the bushes eating berries but two walked across the road in front of us.

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I wanted to do an ATV ride I read about, Midnight Sun which left at 9pm and went through midnight. I talked two other couples from our group into going and we all had a fantastic time! It was a beautiful ride but also just plain fun! The ride took place in this small section that would be part of the park but the owners received an exemption for their mine. We went through lots of water and single track which made it all the more fun. Yes, it was bright as day at midnight!!

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The 49th State Brewery wasn’t far from our campground and it had the best food so off we went. We were treated to this sweet moose, seemed like she turned and smiled right at me! The brewery also has a “sister” bus to the one in the movie “Into the Wild.”

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Road signs you’ll only see in Alaska…

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Mark and I went out to the Denali NP sled dog kennels, we liked it so much we returned with friends for the demonstration. During the winter months these sled dog teams are the only way around the park. These are canine rangers and they work hard! Don’t you just love their mini-log cabins?!

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On the road to Anchorage we stopped at the Alaska Veteran’s Memorial. Very nice memorial, I spent some time here. I love the “Eskimo Watch” if you look past it you’ll see Denali. We also saw a Tundra Swan – very beautiful, graceful creatures. And a bonus of Gracie girl in the fireweed.

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Anchorage, Ak -our friend Brian was flying in to spend the weekend with us so we didn’t spend much time on side trips. He landed just after we did in Anchorage. We had a very busy but very fun time in Anchorage with Brian.

First up, we drove the absolutely gorgeous Seward Hwy to Whittier. We saw some goats on our way, just love them! In order to get to Whittier you have to go through a one-way tunnel that is shared between cars, motorhomes, and trains! Obviously, very controlled.

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Once through the tunnel, we were set to hike up to see Portage Glacier. My friend said, “it’s just a mile or so” and it is, one mile, straight up hill to just to see the glacier. Then it is another mile to the lake at the base of the glacier. Well, of course we did it. No way were we stopping after we made that first crazy mile straight up hill! It was well worth it, so beautiful.  One side is Portage Glacier and the other side the small town of Whittier. This was our first up close and personal with a glacier and it was pretty cool…we had no idea of the glaciers to come!

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On the way back we saw a few more goats. We stopped so that I could take pictures, from across the road. A little PSA…or soapbox, whatever you want to call it. While we were in Anchorage at this same spot where we stopped to take pictures some tourists did the same thing. Only the goat was close to the road and people approached it and spooked it. As a result the goat tried to get away but the people just kept approaching and the goat ended up running across the street. The only place to go there is in the water and the tide was out which meant the poor goat landed in the mud which is really more like quicksand. As this poor goat was slowly swallowed up by the mud and died while the tourists just kept clicking away on their cameras. This is despicable to me, I love wildlife as much as the next person but we are in THEIR home and need to respect the distance they need and not EVER put them in danger.

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Hands down, one of the coolest things we did was out of Anchorage. We took a flight tour to Denali, yes, we go back to Denali and see the glorious mountain again! Even more awesome, our plane was equipped with skis and we landed on a glacier, in Denali! Pretty awesome! We landed not far from “base camp” which is largely vacant this time of year. The plane was a small four seater, we had a nice pilot and he pointed out tons of stuff to us. Needless to say, the three of us LOVED this and highly recommend it!

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We drove back out the Seward Hwy to Girdwood and Alyeska. We took the tram to the top of Alyeska and walked around a bit. Great views in July I can only imagine how lovely it must be during the height of ski season. The resort had beautiful flowers too 🙂

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On our way back out Seward Hwy we saw the “small” fire we saw earlier had grown and was now considered an out of control wildfire. We waited quite a long time to get through and had the opportunity to watch the fire fighting effort. It took them quite awhile to get a handle on this fire. It was unusually hot and dry time and the fire had lots of fuel.

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A few more fun things in Anchorage. My friend’s mom lives there and it was so fun catching up with Helen!! Great lady! She also helped us prioritize what to see and do…she was right on in all her recommendations. Gracie’s love affair continued as she and Tango played and shared a stick (big doings if you know Gracie!). Our Texans, Dave and Deanne, put together a very fun get together for our group, Hobo Stew. They made the base and then everybody brought something to add to the stew. It was great fun and delicious! We visited the Ulu factory, very fun to see how they’re made. This is one of the two things I wish I had bought when I had been in Alaska before (the other if you are curious was beadwork). I got my Ulu and love it!

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Whew, if you are still reading you deserve a reward! Wow, long post and this is only part one! I will be working on part two!

Thanks for traveling along with us! Please leave a comment below, we love to hear from you!

Adventure on!

Mark, Kara, and Gracie

Washington

Just before taking off for the Great North we spent some time in Washington. Mark hasn’t seen much here so it was fun to show him the sights. My sweet Kayln and her husband, Chris, live on the Puget Sound. We spent some time with them and camped about hour north.

Kayln was our tour guide for downtown Seattle. Of course, we went to Pike’s Place Market but we skipped Space Needle in favor of a hidden gem, Columbia Center Observation Deck. Kayln actually sold this building to the current owners and the observation deck is great and the view amazing. 

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You can’t go to Pike’s Place without watching the flying fish…which almost hit me!

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My favorite spot was Kayln and Chris’ back deck…no surprise there. Very relaxing!! Our first night we had a bald eagle eating on the beach. There always seemed to be something going on either on the beach or the water.

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Gracie was beyond spoiled, Kayln and Chris want a German Shepherd so this was a good introduction to the amount of FUR and cuteness. Chris gave her a tennis ball and she knew better than to let go of it…mom will hide it (she has amazing focus, like obsessive level!).

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We walked to a lighthouse in Discovery Park which is just down the road from their house. It was a beautiful walk, Gracie was in heaven going for a swim in Puget Sound. On the way back I spotted this beautiful owl, keeping an eye on us.

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We went to North Cascades National Park, another hidden gem of a NP. We enjoyed the short hikes and wished we had time to do some of the longer ones. There are multiple waterfalls, most just a short walk. This park has several power plants and provides much of the power to the Seattle area.

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Fort Casey was a beautiful drive and a nice little fort. Of course we ended up there because it has a lighthouse. Found this little mama and baby having dinner. 

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Jeff was also up for a weekend visit, it was great to see him and Laurie. We toured the greenest office building, Bulitt Center. Talk about cool! Wow, this place is awesome! Great view from the top…I failed at taking pictures, way to into the science behind it all.

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Next up…Alaska and Canada!

Adventure on,

Mark, Kara, and Gracie

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Quick Update

The old saying is true…time flies when you are having fun. I am way behind on updating the blog, we have been traveling through Canada and Alaska since June. We have little to no wifi service to upload photos and update the blog. Forgive me? Once we have enough service I will put photos up. Here is a quick run down of our first month…

It took us 17 days to drive through Canada and get to Alaska…yes, you read that correctly! There are a couple of reasons for this. First, we are traveling with a group and a set agenda. Secondly, we opted take the “high” route and sort of work our way from Fairbanks south, rather than starting in the south and heading north.

We traveled through British Columbia, Alberta, and the Yukon. We really enjoyed the Yukon territory. Beautiful and rustic, like going back in time. We saw lots of wildlife as we drove, moose, bears (black and brown), eagles, fox, and more. We also experienced their bird sized mosquitos! Oye, they were not fun! The rumors about the roads are mostly true, not great but horrible either. We’ve encountered a little bit everything. I will say, I think the roads in Alaska have been a bit better than Canada.

Alaska has been wonderful, thankfully not as many mosquitos. Lots of wildlife and gorgeous scenery. The snow capped mountains are truly beautiful. Seeing Denali in person should be on everyone’s list, she is a gorgeous mountain and we were so fortunate to see her three days in a row. We also took a flight tour and landed on a glacier on the backside – quite an experience! The people here are wonderful, very kind and very happy to have visitors during their very short three month season.

We have met some wonderful people on this trip, made friends and hope to travel more with some. We are so thankful to have ended up with a great group of people in the  group. There are 16 rigs total. We’ve all encountered some issues with the rigs or tow cars and it is great to see everyone helping each other out. We have a little less than a month to go and a few more stops we are looking forward to.

We are putting pictures on the Two Peeps on a Roll Facebook and Instagram pages. Follow along there for a bit.

Talk to you soon!

 

Oregon Coast

When the heat hits, hit the coast!  There is some truth in that statement but we had already planned on going up the coast this time. We’ve seen quite a bit of Oregon but neither of us had been up the coast. We had a great time, even though we saw the sun half a dozen times in three weeks. Way too gray for me!!!! I don’t mind the rain, I even like a good storm but, day after day of gray and “spitting” is just rude! 🙂 We saw and did a lot, so here are the highlights and our favorites…

We started off our adventure with another pass at Crater Lake. I hear there is a beautiful lake but I still haven’t seen it! The fog was thick enough to cut with a knife this trip. They still had tons of snow and it started snowing while we were there. I think I am not meant to see Crater Lake!

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We also spent some time with our friends and check out their cute deer! They have many that come and feed everyday. We were lucky enough to see a baby while we were there. You’ll have to look close at the first picture to see the cutie. Most of them time they share well but you’ll also see a little “fussing” over the good food.

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Bandon – On the advice of our friends, Scott and Cheryl, we went to the West Coast Game Park in Bandon. We were able to pet several animals which was WAY cool. Honey, baby bear, was my favorite – I know it is weird when you see all that we got to pet but she was so sweet and her name is Honey! When we first got there we were mobbed by the deer, goats, and llamas. They were fierce and wanted that food!  The keeper that was helping us said they had a goat that needed a bottle and did any want to feed her. I looked around and nobody wanted to so I did. After being on my parents farm I’m pretty good at this and she was super sweet. I’m a sucker for petting animals but I have to say it made me quite sad to see the big cats in such small enclosures. They just aren’t meant to live that way.

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Florence- We really enjoyed this little town and happen to be there during “Rhodie Days” which is their rhododendron festival. Rhododendrons grow wild here and they are gorgeous! We enjoyed time in the cute town and at the festival. The whole town comes out for it! It is situated at the edge of the “dunes” this area is surrounded by beautiful sand dunes. We played a little on them and Gracie loved running wild. The seagrass and dunes are reminiscent of the east coast for me so I loved it.

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Pacific City is another cute town. Small but full of charm. Cannon Beach is also a fun town, a bit bigger and more people but it has the infamous Haystack (the famous rock in the Goonies movie).  Seaside is a great area, larger and lots more to do. Astoria is a historic town with lots to do and see.

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It is a requirement if you are on the coast you have to visit the Tillamook cheese factory…really! I was a little disappointed in the tour, it is a self guided tour and for the most part the people visiting aren’t interested in the tour. They really just want the free cheese at the end so it is a bit rowdy in there. I’ll tell you what you have to try while you are there – the ice cream! It is yummy!! The rest of it is a tourist trap, it is amazing how much they rope people into buying. My PSA for the day….you can buy the cheese at the market cheaper!

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Lighthouses – yes, the rumor is true – I love lighthouses. We saw several, my favorite was Haceta Head. It is really a beautiful spot and it is well taken care of. We talked to a nice couple that stayed at the B&B in the old light keepers house and they said it is well worth the money! The odd tree picture is the Octopus Tree at Cape Mears lighthouse. It is both odd and interesting at the same time. The lighthouse is also cool, it is the shortest and tallest at the same time – so they say. It is small in stature but built on the edge of a cliff so the actual light was quite high. I also like that its signature included the red light. Tillamook Rock is out in the ocean, she is known as “Terrible Tilly” for the calamity that seem to find her. Legend has it she was known for turning light keepers “crazy” because it took four to run it and they had to live out there for six months at a time. After it was decommissioned it was a columbarium…meaning it housed ashes. The others are Umpqua River, Coquille River, North Head and Cape Disappointment (last two are on the border with Washington).

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Our friend Brian met us in Portland and we had a great day. We originally set out to see the Japanese Gardens but when we got there it resembled more of a zoo, way crowded. We decided to walk in the International Rose Garden just across the way. A beautiful place with absolutely gorgeous roses!

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Fort Stevens – one of our great “finds” we didn’t really find it but it isn’t really advertised. I had read about a shipwreck that is still on the beach so we decided to take a look. Turns out it is a great place to spend a whole day! When we arrived the nice ranger that checked us in told us they were getting ready to do a tour in an old 6×6. We head on over and couldn’t have enjoyed it more. Everything is run by volunteers and they were all great! Fort Stevens is the only spot in the continental US to be shelled by Japan during WWII, the only one since the War of 1812. Neither of us ever knew anything about being shelled. We were able to walk through the multiple artillery batteries. One of them they covered up so it is now “underground” and pretty interesting. They were all equipped with “disappearing” guns which at the time was quite state of the art. We highly recommend spending the $9 to take the tour in the 6×6 and the underground battery – both interesting and well done. It takes about two hours for both.

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We also stopped at Multnomah Falls, a truly beautiful place but wicked crowded. Definitely need to plan carefully if you don’t want to share it with hundreds of others.

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Our campground had an adorable family of ducks, so sweet. Really bothered me that mama chose right next to the road to bed the babies down. I so wanted to scoop them up and move them to safety but everybody was very cautious. We also saw a gorgeous bald eagle guarding her babies. We have seen several bald eagles on the coast but this is the first picture I have been able to capture.

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Okay, one last story…when we were leaving Multnomah Falls there was a jeep in front of us. Suddenly, we saw soemthing on the road and I said to Mark “that looks like money.” Sure enough, the guy had put his wallet on the roof of his jeep and drove off. His hundreds of dollars and credit cards were flying all over the road. So Mark jumped out and picked it all up. We started trying to find him. Called the Good Sam Club – since we are members also they could connect us. I didn’t want to call the credit cards knowing they would put a hold on them and they were on vacation. We called two of them anyway, hoping for the best. We found them on Facebook and sent messages. About an hour later he called us, he had called to cancel a credit card and they gave him our number. We were already nearly back to our campground at the beach so they head our way and insisted we meet for dinner. We had a lovely dinner and really enjoyed meeting Mark and Patty.

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Thanks for reading a long one…enjoy your adventure!

Mark, Kara, and Gracie