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Hyder/Stewart - Last Chance for Bears

posted Aug 25, 2012, 3:57 PM by Michael Schwarz   [ updated Jul 10, 2016, 2:05 AM ]

South down the Cassiar Highway in British Columbia and west for 35 miles you'll reach the little down of Stewart.  Go another mile thru town and you cross back into Alaska to Hyder.  Sorry, no pictures of town but people come here to see the bears feeding on salmon that have come upstream to spawn.  Unfortunately we were late for the 1st spawning and a little early for the late spawning.  We did, however, get to see some bears.  Always a favorite activity.

The bear viewing is at the National Park a few miles outside of Hyder on wooden walkways overlooking the stream.  The water is very shallow and clear.  Ahhh, a sighting.

You can see masses of salmon in the water.  They change color as they come upstream to spawn.  The farther they come the worse they taste, to people. Bears love them because of the high fat content, especially the skin.

Not much going on for bear viewing today. Behind the platform is this pretty little lagoon.

No bears at the stream today but still gotta watch out.  This one was crossing the road in front of the car.

Ok, there aew also a couple of nice glaciers in Hyder.  We took a nice drive down a lovely 30 mile dirt road.

It was a cloudy day but we could still see the toe of Salmon Glacier

Clouds lifted so we could see more

and more

and more.  This is one long glacier.

The road was also steep and narrow. But notice the lovely log guardrail.

Back to the viewing platform.  Momma and her cub.

Mom, I'm hungry (make me a sandwich)!!

The fish are so thick in the water even cubs can catch them

Got it and it's a big one (cancel the sandwich).

Time to go.  Even bears like to cross the stream the easy way.
Hey, where's momma??

Eagles are waiting to eat salmon that the bears leave behind

One of the worst kept secrets in town is that there are always bears to watch, you just have to know where to find them. 


Locals dump their trash and light it on fire so the bears can't get it.  It doesn't even slow them down.

We saw 3 adults and 3 cubs.

This house was also dumped at the dump.  Auntie Em, Auntie Em. Are you OK??

Back to the viewing platform.

It smells lovely. There is pieces of rotting fish all over the bank.

Got one!!

Ahh, it got away. See it splash away?

And as always . . . Cocktails await.

Juneau - The Ride Was More Than Half the Fun

posted Aug 23, 2012, 7:36 PM by Michael Schwarz   [ updated Jul 10, 2016, 2:06 AM ]

The only way to get to Juneau, the state capitol of Alaska, is by boat!!!  We took a catamaran day trip to Juneau from Haines.  Here is the state capitol building, yes the tan one in the back.  It looks marginally better in person.

This is the chamber for the House of Representatives. Note the size. They have 60. That's the big chamber. They have 20 senators. If someone is absent for a vote, they send the cops after him/her. They also have a $7 billion budget. Not bad for a state with less than 700,000 people. They also have no sales tax and every resident of the state gets something called the Permanent Fund Dividend. The state sends them a check. This year it was around $1,500. Almost all of their revenue comes from taxing oil.
Part of the trip to Juneau was a visit to the Mendenhal Glacier a few miles outside of town. You know you can't go far in Alaska without seeing a glacier.

Back on the boat back to Haines

Juneau was nice but seeing the whales on the trip back was great.

There's 2 there. 1 fin, 1 spouting.

Seals on the bouy, just hanging out. They were a little miffed that we woke them up.

More seals hanging out on this island. Check out the lighthouse on the other side.

It's for sale. Anybody interested??

Cocktails await...

Jasper, Alberta

posted Aug 22, 2012, 7:38 PM by Michael Schwarz   [ updated Jul 10, 2016, 2:17 AM ]

After leaving Hyder/Stewart we continued south to the end of the Cassier Highway hung a louie onto the Yellowhead Highway and headed east towards Jasper.  We stopped at the service station/cafe on the corner for gas and a most excellent hamburger.  You never know when you will find a great burger.

We took a chance and did not make any reservations for a campground and lucked out with an overflow spot at Wapiti.  It was more or less a parking lot but it turned out to be a good spot for seeing female elk (no antlers).


A whole field of elk!! Twice as many as I could get in the picture. Right in front of our site.

Ah!!! A male elk hiding in the bushes on the side of the road

A day later on the way to Maligne Lake we saw this guy.  He is shedding the velvet off his antlers.  That means rutting season is fast approaching.  Watch out ladies.

My daily bear sighting, also on the way to Maligne Lake.  I'm surely going to miss seeing the bears. :(

Going for a nice Skyline (sounds steep) hike and a dip in the hot springs at Milliete. OMG! Is that the mountain we're hiking????

Ah, we made it. Nice view from the top.

See waaaaay down there? That's the hot springs. Oh, my aching feet.

This isn't the top. Look up! That's where we're going.  See the tiny people?

Finally, this is the TOP. GREAT view.

On the way back to the hot springs, a bear walked out on the trail once, then again. A few seconds later a couple of women pushing a baby stroller walked on that same spot (it was near the parking lot and paved). We yelled, 'TALK LOUD!' They started singing nursery rhymes. The baby chimed in, too. They were happy we warned them.

Next day we took a drive to Maligne Lake for a short hike .  The lake was so pretty.

We decided to rent a double kayak and go for a paddle.

Thank you Nancy and Rett for introducing us to Kayaking!!! It was wonderful. I do think I'll stick to a singles kayak from now on though. Don't ask!!!

Tomorrow we head south down the Icefields Parkway.


Haines - Boy, did we have fun there!

posted Aug 21, 2012, 8:02 PM by Michael Schwarz   [ updated Jul 10, 2016, 2:18 AM ]

    We arrived in the small town of Haines on the Portage Cove, just North of Juneau.  This is the view from the front window of our RV.  Not bad! That boat in the cove is the World Cruise ship. A floating condo that goes around the world.

Michael took this wonderful picture of the World Ship at night.

Picture of Haines with a Princess cruise ship in port. Haines only has 1 ship a week in port so the town really retains its charm.  Looks like a postcard!!

We had a bear sighting right in front of our campground on the beach.  By the time I got out with my camera the bear had come up the bank and crossed the street right behind the park. My friend Nancy and I jumped in the car and went in search but couldn't find the bear again. Darn.

While in Haines we wanted one more chance to catch some King Salmon so we took a 1/2 day fishing charter.  This is the 1 and only catch of the morning but alas it was 1 inch too small and we had to throw it back, but not before I was forced to stick my finger in the fishys mouth, hold onto its wriggling slimy body and have my picture taken. YUK!

We also took some nice hikes.

I don't think we were the 1st ones here. Ewald - Was that you?

Every day we drove the 5 miles down to the Chillkoot River to hopefully catch some bears fishing for salmon. Today we only saw some seals, cool.

The big one is sitting on a big rock just under the surface of the water.

This day we were watching some fisherman from the other side of the river.  WAIT - What's that over on the right?  A bear!!  I don't think the fisherman knows he's there, yet.

Now he does.  Time to go.

Fish. I smell fish. Want fish. (The rule is that if a fisherman catches a fish and the bear wants it, the fisherman is supposed to throw the fish back. That way, the bear doesn't learn a new, easy way to get fish.)

Okay I'll try catching my own fish.

Not as easy as it looks.

The bear climbed the bank and started to cross the bridge, right in our direction. The bear ranger on duty made sure he kept on going down the road and into the forest. Close call.

Little alpine lake at the end of another nice hike.

One of the MANY waterfalls in Alaska and Canada.

About 30 miles north of town is the Horschel Wildlife Preserve.  The 2 characters that own and run the place used to be a documentary film director and animal trainer and the other guy is a Falconry expert. Here's Mario smooching his Wolverine. Wolverines are generally known for their viscous behavior. This fellow is the offspring, born in captivity, of a wounded and rescued wolverine

They had a porcupine too. He likes cashews.

Having a bad hair day?  I know how you feel.

Every evening on the beach right in front of the RV the same eagle was cruising for fish to steal from the seagulls.

Eagles generally are solitary except for mates. We watched them fish and then one flew off to the nest with dinner for their baby.

Time to leave.  We had a choice of driving back up the same road we came in on OR take the ferry across the canal to Skagway then head North. Ferry it is.

There goes the RV (Michael is driving the RV and I took the car - Big surprise, eh?)

Suspension bridge on the way out of Skagway.

Next stop is Hyder Alaska via the Cassier Highway thru Canada . . . Cocktails await. :)

Fairbanks to Haines

posted Aug 3, 2012, 7:28 PM by Michael Schwarz   [ updated Jul 10, 2016, 2:19 AM ]

Fairbanks is the 2nd largest city in Alaska with a population of 32,500 people.  This will be our northern most destination.  We opted not to drive the Dalton Highway (unpaved gravel road) 161 miles north to just inside the Arctic Circle or the 499 miles all the way to the Arctic Ocean and Prudoe Bay.  We met people who did take the drive so that's the next best thing! While in Fairbanks we took the Riverboat Discovery tour and visited a Chena Indian village, experienced the 40 degree below zero room (Michael did) went to Chena Hot Springs and Ice Museum(day trip 50 miles east),  went to Farmers Market,  saw University of Alaska's Museum of the North, and checked out the excellent  Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum (and vintage fashion display). 

Indian Village

University of Alaska-Museum of the North

Chena Hot Springs - Ice Museum

Ice carvings of 2 knights jousting on horseback (to scale)

Ice flower in an ice crystal ball

Bull moose right outside the museum.  Only the second male with  antlers we've seen so far. All the rest have been cows

Chena Springs resort grows all their own produce. Finally a giant Alaskan cabbage.

Michael, put your hand out for some scale. That's alotta cabbage!

Moose on the drive back to Fairbanks. Ho Hum (not really. I don't think it will ever get old)

Left Fairbanks for the drive to Haines, Alaska (out of Alaska into BC and Yukon and then back into Alaska)

Great view of one of the peaks of the Alaska Range along the Alaska Highway. Mt Hayes elevation 13,832

Mt Hayes on the right and either Mt Deborah or Hess Mt to the left.  All 3 are there but I couldn't get them in 1 picture. I can't image what McKinley at over 20,000 feet would look like.  Maybe next time.

The official other end of the Alaska Highway in Delta Junction, Alaska

Alaska Pipeline

Lake Kluane near the town of Destruction Bay in Yukon, Canada. Absolutely gorgeous.

Cottonwood RV campground on Kluane Lake just south of Destruction Bay

View from the front of our site. Really nice but very windy.

View from the back. ahhhh...

We looked out the window about 10:00pm and what's that? The moon?  We haven't seen the moon in 2 months! I had to climb on top of the RV to get this picture.

Continue south and east to Dezadeash Lake a few hours north of Haines, Alaska

Took a hike to a rock glacier

That big pile of gravel (morraine) is the toe of the glacier

You guessed it... at the top of yet another mountain

Took a little stroll at nearby Lake Kathleen.  I told you, lots of water in Canada and Alaska!!!

Ain't it cute? Lots of RVs from Europe. I can't stand next to this one. It's a little larger than the golf cart.

Stay tuned. We're on our way south . . . Cocktails await!

I'm Sittin' on (The) Top of the World!

posted Jun 24, 2012, 4:48 PM by Michael Schwarz   [ updated Jul 10, 2016, 2:09 AM ]

Highway, that is.

It's got a fancy name. Here's another one for it. COW PATH. It's a 1 1/2 lane dirt road. Not a gravel road. No siree! We don't need those fancy gravel roads like the Canadians. Dirt is good enough for us Americans. It's about 100 miles of dirt, much of which is on the outside and inside of the motor home and car. It's even in the drawers. Ellie says it was a nice ride, but we won't be doing it again.  (Dawson City, Yukon through Chicken, Alaska to Tok, Alaska)


Michael, watch out for the soft, eroding shoulders. POTHOLES!! Frost Heaves. Steep drop offs.  Where are the guardrails?? What? No guardrails?? At least it's a one  way road - right?


PLEASE say cocktails (more than 1) await...

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