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ANOTHER GOOD YEAR – 2011 at Kasilof RV Park

Sammy Squirrel

Hi, I’m Sammy Squirrel!  I am kind-a taking over for Spike this year as he hasn’t been around to do the talkin.  I saw him early this spring and he told me that he made it through the hunting season OK since he broke off both his spikes.  He said the hunters thought he was a girl.  I thought to myself that he was really smart to break off his spikes, but I expect that he was really clumsy.  Anyway, he headed up into the hills at the base of the Kenai Mountains where most of the other bulls hang out for the summer months.

My old lady and I took up residence in the bird house in the cottonwood tree next to grandma and grandpa’s house.  It gives me good access to the goodies on the deck in front of the camp kitchen.  Gramps puts out the best sunflower seeds with the bird seed.  I just love those things!  Although I sure have a lot of trouble getting to them. I had to chew up two of the plastic bird feeders to get to them.  Gramps called me a ‘fluffy-tailed rat’ for doing it.  That was the first time he threatened with the pellet gun.   All the visitors thought I was really cute and would throw out peanuts for me to eat and then take pictures while I was eating them, but I got into trouble by chewing up the deck boards trying to get to peanuts that fell in the cracks.

The Bird Seed Bucket

It was the Bird Seed Bucket that was really my downfall though.  I knew that was where gramps kept all those delicious sunflower seeds and I just had to get to them.  I was frantically chewing my way into the lid when I heard gramps coming so I got on top of the bucket.

“Have you been chewing on the bucket again?” Gramps asked.

“Who, me?” I replied.

“Yes you with the plastic chip on your nose!  I going to get my pellet gun!” he says.

Well I decided it was time that I make myself scarce so I guess that gramps will have to do the commentary from here on out.   Hopefully, I will see you next year!

MOOSE

Momma Moose

Well I guess that put the fear into him and it will end him chewing on things.  We have noticed that he doesn’t spend as much time on the deck anymore.

The moose have been scarce this year, but it’s probably because we became so used to having Spike around all the time.  Momma moose spent some time eating the new greens before she had her yearly calf.  She has been a regular here in the park for years.  We think three years ago she was the mother of Spike and his sister, who came into the park with her twins later (photo later).

Mom Moose meeting Camper

Momma moose wandered back into the park eating the new grass and leaves.  One of the campers was busy taking photos of her in the space next to his.  He had his video recorder busy, but notice that he was behind his auto.  Momma moose noticed this too and came over to investigate what he was doing.

Close-up of hand with Camera
Momma Investigating

We enjoyed this sight, but I could not blame him for hiding behind the camper.  Momma moose was as big as his car!  Moose are very curious so soon she started eating the leaves off the bushes and completely forgot about the camper.

Brindle with her calf

Several weeks later, Brindle brought her calf into the park.  Brindle was Momma moose’s daughter the summer of 2007.  We named her Brindle because her face and mane are very blond for a moose.  She also has very blond eyebrows.  For the past four summers, she has been a regular visitor to the park and for the past three has shared her calves with us to our delight.  In early May when we first got here, I was trimming cottonwood saplings in the south end of the park.  I saw her walk through the other end of the park very heavy with her calf.  When she saw me working at the other end, she wandered down and watched me work for several minutes, then wandered off into the woods.  It was nice to be greeted by one of our other residents!

This summer she and her new calf spent several days eating the young bushes and leaves plus new grass in the park and across the road in the State Park.  She is so used to people in the park that she hangs around posing for photos for all the campers in the park.  This day she and her calf were very photogenic!

Spikes Sister with twins

Sorry that this photo isn’t better, but we were limited by time and space.  We were eating breakfast one morning when Jan noticed Spike’s sister chewing on the willow leaves out behind the shop (we think it is his sister because she has the same long, narrow dewlap that he has).  We quickly went out on the deck to take pictures.  You can barely see the second calf behind the little red trailer peeking out behind the front calf.  We were hoping that they would come out behind the blue spruce to the willow beside the shop so we could get better photos.  However, the camper in space 16 came out with his camera to get a closer picture of them. It was a little too close for the momma so she took her calves down the back road to the woods again.  Hopefully we will see them again before we leave for the winter although we have noticed hoof prints in the roads where they have been browsing during the night.

SUMMER VISITORS (the human kind)

We had a great summer with lots of campers and family visitors.  The family started on the 11th of July with the arrival of Kevin’s son, Ryan Pyle.

Dave, Jan & Ronnie

A day later, Dave Cooper (Jan’s cousin) and Ron Miller (Dave’s brother-in-law) arrived followed two days later with Ryan’s firemen buddies, Dave Hunter and John Maddox.

John, Dave & Ryan with Paul, Debbie & Jordan Post

On the 20th, Debbie, Paul, Jerod, Jordan & Jacob Post arrived for a Red Salmon fishing frenzy.  Two days later, Kyra Stromgren arrived for the Red Salmon season also (plus maybe to be with the Posts too).  Not to out done, Todd Andregg arrived on the 24th for the Red Fishing plus to complete the togetherness of all of Jan’s kids.

Jan & her kids

We had a great time with all Jan’s family, Ryan and his friends and our friends, Dave and Ronnie.  The Red Salmon fishing (more later) was great with one of the best years that we have had.  It started off with a bang!  237 thousand red salmon entered the Kenai river on the 16th of July, the highest one day entrance of reds ever recorded. On Monday and Tuesday, the 18th & 19th, 26o,000 more came in the river.  It seemed that they were almost jumping out on the banks, there were so many of them, BUT OH  WAS  IT  FUN!!!!!

That was who was here to help us harvest all of these wonderful, tasty red salmon, but first let’s go back and review our friends and families visits with all the other things that Alaska has to offer.

DAVE COOPER & RONNIE MILLER

CLAMMING GROUP

On the 15th the reds weren’t in the river yet, so Dave, Ronnie, Jan, Gary & Betty Buchanan and I went clamming.  In this photo, Betty was taking the photo while I was parking the vehicle and bringing the 4-wheeler back to the beach.  Dave & Ronnie had never been clamming.  Gary & Betty were from Michigan and wanted to try it. ?  So off we went to Ninilchik Beach on a -3.5 foot low tide to try our luck.

Group heading for the sand bars

Across Cook Inlet is 11,000 foot Mt. Redoubt, the group is heading out to the open sand bars where the famous Alaskan razor clams are found.  Notice all the people already there and the many rocks and muddy streams between them and their destination.  But being the hardy souls that they are, they will persevere and claim their prizes (Note that none of them have clam shovels or clam shooters with them).

Are you looking for these?

I guess that they think the clams will just jump in their buckets.  Whoops, no buckets! But along comes the Hero, Jon on the 4-wheeler loaded with clam shooters, shovels and buckets to save the day!

THE CLAM BEACH

And there it is!  The clams just waiting under the surface for us to come along and pick them up.  Notice the beautiful setting with Mt. Ilimana (over 11,000 feet) in the background.  How could this not be the perfect place to collect all the wonderful razor clams that one could want?

Ronnie with an empty clam hole!

Well it is, but as Ronnie found out the clams don’t jump in the bucket!  After forcing the clam shooter down through the sand and mud then pulling it out (with a great deal of effort), NO CLAM!

It's harder than it looks!

So notices Gary who is busting his back pulling out a shooter full of empty sand!  “Hey, this is work!  How do I know if this dimple is really a clam or just a rock?”

Where's Dave?

Wait a minute, where’s Dave?  There he is, looking for dimples?  What is he going to do if he finds one?  He doesn’t have a shooter or shovel.

They're small, but clams!

“Here they are!  It just takes a lot of effort to get these little guys out.  Keep at it guys!”

Now comes the Hard Part!

Finally the clams were dug and we loaded everything for the trip home.  It was a good day with almost a hundred

The Buchanan Clam Cleaners!

nice clams, not too many of them damaged!  Now comes the cleaning process which takes a lot of time.  Everybody pitches in and soon it is done.

Left are the slices of the foot for yummy clam strips and the necks and cleaned bodies for chowder.   We look back on the work and it was FUN!  But the best part  was ‘THE CLAM STRIPS FOR DINNER“!

START OF RED SEASON

DAVE HAS ONE!

Red season begins with a bang!  So many fish in the river.  Dave hung a nice one with his first cast.  It’s a fighter and he’s having fun fighting it to the shore.  The river is low and the fish are able to use the fast current to make the catching exciting.

Dave's first of the year

It’s a good one!   Hooked in the mouth and on the bank.  It was the first of many.  Dave managed to get his limit of three in just 20 minutes, then watched as the others limited out.

Ron's got one on!

Almost at the same time Dave was bringing in his fish, Ronnie had one on and was fighting it.  They are hard to handle trying to get away in a swift river.

Nice fish, Ronnie!

After several minutes having fun, Ronnie got his into the bank.  Another nice red salmon!  It was also the first of many that Ronnie would catch.

Cleaning our catch

The work isn’t down until the fish are cleaned.  Dave and I are busy at the cleaning table cutting the fillets into pieces for packaging and freezing.  The tail section without bones are cut off, the rib section cleaned and cut, then the top fillet is removed just leaving the strip of bones with their meat.

Vacuum packaging the process salmon

The skin is removed from the piece and the remaining cubed for the freezer.  The bags full of cubed bone pieces will be later thawed and canned.  The separated pieces of the salmon are then taken to the shop where they are packaged in plastic and vacuumed sealed before freezing.

Ryan with a fish

Ryan is a master at catching red salmon.  If there are any fish in the river, he is going to at least hook them.  However, he seems to have an affinity for hooking them everywhere but in the mouth which the F&G insist is the only way you can keep them.  They call it sporting: however, it is the only hunting and fishing where you are supposed to let a wounded animal loose. ??  We follow the rules: however, we do question when we see salmon trying to swim up the river with their bellies gashed open and the eggs hanging out.  Maybe F & G should consider rethinking this rule.  Why not keep the wounded ones and release the ones hooked in the mouth, they haven’t been damaged and will spawn without a problem.

Bloodied fisherman!

He does seem to have a problem when he does catch one legally.  He tends to get himself as bloody as the fish!  And he gets scary looking!

I wound up without any photos of the firemen, Dave and John fishing.  They were always fishing with Ryan at a different place from the rest of us.  Therefore, all we heard were stories of how well they did.  Some of them were surely fishermen tales, but they did have several boxes of fish to take home with them.

THE POST FAMILY

The Post Family

Debbie, Paul, Jerod, Jordan, and Jacob arrived the morning of the 20th ready for red salmon fishing.  We stopped along the Cook Inlet to view the beautiful Alaska Range of mountains across the inlet.

Ryan & Post Boys ready to fish

It didn’t take long for them boys to get ready to go fishing.  Ryan took them down to the river for their first trip and it was a good one with each of them catching their limit of three.

Paul fighting a Red Salmon

After lunch we took Paul and Debbie down to the river for their first trip Red Salmon fishing.  It wasn’t too long before Paul had his first red on the line and was fighting to get it to the bank.

First Red

Soon he had his first red on the bank and was a happy camper!  From then on, you couldn’t stop him. He managed to catch his limit while the rest of us were getting ready to fish.  He had a blast fishing for reds!

Debbie's First Red Salmon

It took Debbie a little longer to figure out how to hook them, but when she finally figured out what she was doing wrong, she had no trouble catching her limit too.

Debbie & Jan with their Reds

Debbie and Jan both had good luck and caught their limits.

Cleaning our catch

Back at the park, it was time to clean our catch.  I was cleaning and trimming the fillets while Paul was cutting up the separate pieces for vacuum packaging.

Post boys packaging fish

The fish then went to the shop to be vacuumed packed.  The Post boys had that job while Debbie and Jan were fixing dinner for the rest of the crew.  Everybody got into the act on this trip.

Moose Meadows Recreation Area

The next day the Posts we ready for more Red fishing!  I took them up to Moose Meadows where the state had installed several fishing platforms along the river.  However, everyone else in the Soldotna area had also gotten the fishing bug and there was no place to fish along the three different platforms and along the banks.

Fishing the Kasilof river

So I took them to the Kasilof river near our park.  It’s a beautiful spot east of the Kasilof bridge and there wasn’t anyone there.  Neither were the fish!  We did get a lot of practice perfecting our salmon catching techniques though?

Jerod hooked a Red
Jerod with limit

That evening the Post family went back to Moose Meadows hoping that the crowd had left so they could fish.  The crowd had as least slimmed down so they could find a place.  Soon Jerod had one on and Jordan netted it for him, then took a bath in the river due to the very slippery rocks.  He didn’t loose Jerod’s fish though.

Family Catch

The result of their late evening efforts was another great catch of 12 between the five of them. By the time they got back to the park and cleaned their fish for the next day, it was midnight.   See it actually does get dark up here after midnight!

This wasn’t the last of their fishing trips while they were here although they did have other things to do.  They took the Seward Glacier cruise, a trip to Homer and a Rafting Trip down the Kasilof.  But those are other stories and we haven’t finished the Red fishing with the rest of the family.

KYRA & TODD

Kyra’s husband, Craig decided that she needed some time with her siblings this summer before she started nursing at school this fall so for a special surprise he bought her a ticket to Alaska.  She arrived in Anchorage the evening that Dave and Ronnie were heading back to Kansas and had a drink with them at the airport.  We picked her up in Kenai that evening.

Kyra & Jan at our flag
Kyra & Jon on the porch

It was nice to have her with us for a week and she got to have her first experience catching reds.  She arrived just in time to take the Seward Glacier tour with the Post family (see it later) and the trip to Homer.

Ky Red Fishing
That's a bunch of Reds

Now Ky isn’t a fisherlady, but even though it took her awhile to get the knack of hooking Reds when she finally got it, she got it!

SHE DEFINITELY GOT IT!

Todd's Reds
Another Day of Beauties

So, a few days later Todd comes up.  Now Todd is a fisherman and he loves catching Reds.  He limited out his first morning (note that the limit was raised from 3 to 6 very early in the run).  Obviously he quickly got back into the swing of hooking the Reds.

Todd & Ryan Cleaning Reds
Ryan, Todd & Ky at the cleaning table

Then it comes time to take care of all those fish that you catch.  Todd and Ryan were busy at the old cleaning table in the park when the idea was generated that there could be some improvements in the cleaning table (but that is a later story in the blog!).

Building a campfire
So-mores for Nicole

But fishing wasn’t the only activity at the park.  Remember the Somores Queen Nicole from last year?  Well, Ky and Todd had to pay tribute to her becoming Dr. Nicole  this past spring  (note the charcoal marshmallow that Ky is hold and the one still in the sticking out of the firepit in front of the chair.  Congratulations Dr. Nicole (Somores) McWilliams!

Ky soaking foot?
Who's the Redhead?

Oh yeah, two other photos which had us wondering?  Now why would Ky be standing on the porch with one foot in a bucket of water?  Was she practicing standing in the river?  Or did she just happen to stumble into when walking on the porch? (Not that she tends to be clumsy or anything!)  And what about these two guy with those silly grins on their faces?  If you could see the label on Melissa’s hat and shirt, you would realize that it is the Kenai River Brewery labels.   ??????  What have they been doing?  Did they have a hard day fishing on the river?  Doesn’t she look a little pale?  I wonder if they smelled kind-of fishy?  We won’t show the other picture of Ryan laying in the park driveway!                                  �

WE DO HAVE FUN AT THE KASILOF RV PARK!

KENAI FJORDS GLACIER CRUISE

Post Family on Glacier Cruise

The Post family and Kyra drove to Seward the day after Kyra arrived to tour the glaciers of the Kenai Fjords National Park.  The Park is known for it’s many tidewater glaciers (those flowing directly out of the Harding Ice Field into the ocean) and it’s abundant sea life.  It was a beautiful day with clear skies, lots of sunshine and calm seas.  It promised to be an exciting trip.

Muirs lined up

The tourists on the ship were all lined up watching the Muirs (a type of seagull) lined up on the rocks of the shore.  They look something like a penguin with their white fronts and black backs.  We wondered ‘Who is watching Who’?

Paul & Debbie
Kyra & Debbie

The scenery was beautiful with the lush vegetation on the lower cliffs,  and shear, snow capped mountains falling into the water.  Plus the hint of the glaciers and ice field between the mountain peaks.

Sea Lions

They passed rookeries of seals and sea lions laying out on the rocks sunning themselves.  The birds were thick with many puffins diving and occasionally they would spots groups gulls gathered at a spot where whales were feeding on small schools of fish.  Humpback whales would appear off in the distance with a spout of water from their nostril.

Post Boys at Holgate Glacier

They arrived at Holgate Glacier and watched the ice calve off it’s face  leaving small icebergs in the water.  Some of the larger bergs had small harbor seals sunning on them.  The Captain turned off the ship’s engines so they could hear the glacier popping and snapping as the ice pushed down from the Harding Ice Field above until is broke off the face into the ocean.

Kyra with glacier ice
Jake eating some ice

The ship assistants collected some of the small chunks of ice from the water and gave them to the passengers to hold and exam.  Jake must have been hungry!

Trip Home
Exhausting Day

Debbie and Kyra chose to enjoy a bottle of good Alaskan beer rather than the ice on their way back home.  While the boys decided that they had seen enough and crashed.

TRIP TO HOMER

Homer, Alaska is located at the western end of the longest continuous highway in North America.  It is at the southern tip of the main Kenai Peninsula although the Kenai mountain range and the Kenai Fjords National Park are south of it across Kachemak Bay.  It’s know as a ‘small drinking village with a fishing problem’.

Homer Overlook

Actually, it is a small town located on the side of a bluff overlooking the Kachemak Bay and the glaciers coming out of the Harding Ice Field in the mountains  across the Bay plus the great Alaska Range of mountain across the Cook Inlet to the west.  It is one of the many beautiful areas in Alaska.  Plus the Halibut Fishing is Great!

Family at the Salty Dawg

The action is out on the spit, a long stretch of sand and rock that sticks out into Kachemak Bay.  The spit was originally created by a Tsunami back in the 1800’s and then fortified with stone keep it from disappearing back into the ocean.

Inside the Salty Dawg Saloon

It is a tourist attraction and as such has many gift shops, eateries and Halibut charters.  Highlight among them is the Old Salty Dawg Saloon which was orginally the lighthouse and log cabin base for the caretaker.  It has been turned into a saloon with very low ceilings.  The walls and ceilings are covered with sea paraphernalia, some  ladies’ unmentionables and thousands of dollar bills with names and addresses on them. The benches and table are carved with initials and names all varnished into the surface after many, many years.  It was a watering hole for sailors and fisherman since it became a saloon and remains that way today, although the day time patrons are mostly tourists.

Kyra & Debbie Salty Dawg

Not only on the inside, but the outside of the Salty Dawg has it’s own paraphernalia and oddities, not including the two sitting on the rocks smiling.

Buttwackers

Located behind the Salty Dawg is another gift shop with a Halibut cleaning area called ‘Buttwhackers’.  Many of the Captains from the Halibut Charters bring their catch into this area where the tourists can watch them fillet the fish.  Often there are a group of young women that do the filleting much to the pleasure of the guys watching.  Note that Todd is not watching the girls fillet the fish.  Ha!

Original Andreggs caged!
Three Monkeys!

Take your pick!  Need I say more?

KASILOF RIVER TRIP

Loaded and ready to go!

The Posts wanted to take a rafting trip down the Kasilof from Tustemena Lake to the river bridge just a mile away from the park.  The river is not considered dangerous but it is swift and very remote.  There are very few houses located on it and those are just a few miles from the end of the trip.  It takes about three hours from the Lake to the boat ramp just before the bridge.  We loaded up the big three person pontoon boat, the two person raft and the one person pontoon boat and took them up to the lake where they would start their trip.

On to the river

Paul is rowing the big boat with the girls in the front taking pictures.  The raft was tied to the boat so it wouldn’t get away if it got loose (not a good idea!).  Jake and Jordan were in the raft and Jerod was on the single pontoon.

The Tustemena Lake is behind them around a couple of bends and here the current is slow prior to the river narrowing down and becoming more shallow.  Tustemena Lake is quite large and very shallow causing it to be very dangerous in strong winds.  It often can get waves 6 to 10 feet high is a very short period when the wind comes up.  Fortunately today was cool and rainy with no wind.

Girls in front of Paul

Jake took a bath!

The river becomes more narrow and much swifter the further downstream they went.  The boys were wanting to try rowing the different boats for the fun of it.  Jake had just gotten his turn and was still trying to get the one person pontoon boat to do what he wanted it to do when a fallen tree in the river got in his road.  Whoops!  I guess Grandsons like to test the water to see how cold it is.  Like Travis last year , Jake took a bath when the tree caught the boat and flipped it.  Fortunately, no one was hurt, nothing was damaged,  nothing was lost, only Jake had a very cold trip down the rest of the river.

End of Trip

A couple of hours later after a wild ride downstream, everyone was hugging as the trip was over.  I picked them up at the bridge, we loaded the boats back on the trailer and headed home where they would warm back up.

NEW CLEANING TABLE

Building the new cleaning table

After standing out in the rain or frying in the sun cleaning fish, Todd and I decided that we needed to improve the cleaning table as our building project this year.  We had a problem though.  We couldn’t dismantle the old one until the new one was ready as people were still cleaning fish on the old one.  Therefore, we decided to build the frame for the new cleaning table on the trailer, then haul it out to the area and replace the old one.

old
Hauling the table

It worked pretty good except we found we needed a couple of gorillas to move the water soaked old one out of the road and replace it with the new frame.  We got Jan to help!

Putting on the roof.

We finally got it in place and are putting on the plastic roofing.  The metal table was added with a new splash backing.  An additional cleaning station to allow three to work at the same time and three individual hoses were added for each cleaning station.  The water is now strained to keep all the fish scraps from going down the drain and the drain lets the cleaning water off into the ditch area along the road.  It turned out to be a good addition to the park.

The finishe new Cleaning Table

There was only one problem with this!

Todd considering the new addition!

Todd was left with time to think about what to do next year!!!!!!!!

Tune in next year to see what he came up with!

CHRISTINE AND MARK’S VISIT

They will arrive on the 3rd of September for a weeks visit.  I will add that after we arrive back in Kansas.  We will close up the park and fly back to Kansas City on the 14th, then after a short visit will head back to Hoxie for the winter.  See you later.

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Fall Trip Home

DECEPTION PASS, WHIDBEY ISLAND, WASHINGTON

Rosario Bay south
Rosario Bay north

After Chris and Mark picked us up in Vancouver, we drove back down toward Seattle.  We decided to take a trip around Whidbey Island in the Puget Sound west of Burlington.  It is a beautiful Island with lots of inlets and bays.  We toured Deception Pass State Park and stopped at Rosario Bay, a small bay pointing at the sound and originally home of the Samish Indians.  There is a small day park there with picnic facilities.

Maiden of the sea

Mark, Chris and I are in front of the Maiden of the sea.  The Samish story is about a beautiful young maiden who saw a young man come up out of the ocean one day and she immediately fell in love with him.  He wanted her to go back down in the sea and live with him, but her parents wouldn’t let her.  Then the sea would no longer provide food for the Indians of the Bay.  Finally, her parents relented and she married the young man of the sea then went with him. The sea again became bountiful for the tribe.

Deception Bay
Deception Bay

Each year she would come back to visit her parents, but eventually she became more and more like the sea and finally never returned; however, the sea never again held back it’s bounty to the Indians of the bay.

On the backside of the park, there is an inlet to the Skagit Bay, a beautiful area overlooking the coast line of Washington.  The clouds began to roll in from the sea shrouding the tops of the trees in fog.



CODY’S FAMILY, MORGAN HILL, CALIFORNIA

Jim playing water baseball
Jim at Chartwell School

We stopped for several days in Morgan Hill to visit Cody, Margaret and the grandsons, Jimmy and Nelson.  Jimmy had to show us how they played water baseball by filling water balloons, then having Margaret pitch them to him.  It was a wet game on a warm afternoon.  Cody took us to Jim’s school in Seaside, California and we got to tour through the school and his classrooms.  He had to show off their pet  snake for us.  We also got to visit Nelson’s High School on the trip although we didn’t tour the classrooms.  School was over for the day and Nelson was practicing baseball with one of his team mates.

Nelson pitching

On Sunday, Nelson was playing baseball with his  team at Monterey.  He plays first base and pitches for his team.  It was a double-header and we got to watch a lot of baseball.  After the game, we went down to Cannery Row where the shops and restaurants were located.


Dinner at Bubba's

Nelson & Jimmy Monterey, CA

After the boys posed with one of the locals, we all went to Bubba’s Shrimp House for dinner.  As always, we had a wonderful visit and a fun time with Cody’s family.



NAPA VALLEY WINE TOUR

Del Dotto Caves Winery

We met Jan’s daughter, Kyra and her husband Craig and Craig’s father, Bus and his stepmother, Carol at the Del Dotto Winery on friday afternoon after their trip from Kansas City. We toured the winery caves where they aged the vineyards wines sampling lots of good reds and purchased a few for home.

2987 Silverthorne Highway, Napa

We had stayed the previous night In Calistoga in our 5th Wheel, but were planning on staying with the group at the rental house for the weekend.  The house was well off the highway through a very narrow, tree covered lane.  It was close getting the camper in beside the house and gave us some concern about backing it out, but that was for later.

Our morning champagne

After a wonderful dinner at the Ristorante Allegro that evening, we managed to get around  the next morning in time to tour the Mumms Napa winery and partake of their delicious champagne.  It was an interesting tour through their facility and then another tour of the various varieties of the champagne that they produce.  Jan and I were a tangle of arms, but we didn’t spill a drop!


Pride Vineyards
Tasting group at Pride Mountain

After a stop at the Culinary Institute of America for lunch, we drove to the top of Spring mountain between Napa and Sonoma valleys where Pride Mountain winery is located.  Their vineyards were on the peak and the sides of the mountain allowing for cooler summer growing temperatures.


Hanna Vineyards

Hanna Winery in upper Sonoma valley was one of the highlights of our tour.  The area was beautiful with vineyards covering the hillsides and their wines were very good.  Of course many bottles were taken home with us.

Rombauer Cellar

The Rombauer winery was also a delight. It was located on the side of the hills in the center of Napa valley.  Their white wines were excellent and their hillside gardens were beautiful.



Chimney Rock Tasting Room

Chimney Rock

Our last stop for the extended weekend was at the Chimney Rock winery in the Stag’s Leap District of Napa.  The red wines were great, but what made the stop a special treat was meeting the owners son and the two wine makers.


Leaving Napa

Oh yes, and the problem with backing the 5th Wheel out of the narrow lane to the rental house!  Well with the aid of everyone guiding me on all sides and stopping the traffic on the highway, I did manage to back it all the way without running off the road or hitting a tree.  We quickly backed out on the highway, bid everyone goodbye and were on our way to Yosemite National Park.


YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK

El Capitan

We arrived in Yosemite in the rain after a difficult drive on Highway 120 from Manteca to the Park. We had been told that Highway 140 was limited to vehicle lengths of 45 feet plus we would have to drive further south to reach Merced. On 120 there is a five mile climb up the side of a mountain with very sharp hairpin curves that is no fun to drive especially pulling a 5th Wheel!  Once reaching the top, it was still 60 miles on a narrow two lane road in the rain.  We were very happy to reach our campground in El Portal.

It had been 45 years since I had been in the Park and it was the first time for Jan, so we were excited.  The next morning was sunny and bright as we entered the Park.  Our first sight was of El Capitan, bright and beautiful above the trees.

Yosemite Falls

We decided to drive to the park Visitors Center and leave the truck while we took a tour of the park on their shuttle buses.   This way we could get a feel for the park and decide which areas we wanted to spend more time.  At the Visitors Center, we picked up maps of the Park, looked at their displays and toured the village.

Our first stop on the bus was across from Yosemite Falls.  It is so tall (vertical drop of 2425 feet) that you have to be on the other side of the valley floor to see all of it.  The upper falls is a drop of 1430 feet.  In early October, the snows from last winter were mostly melted in the high country above Yosemite and the summer had been dry.

Half Dome

Yesterdays rain was the first of the year, so the amount of water over the falls was not significant, but yet it was spectacular.

The sunny, clear skies didn’t last too long and by the time we were able to see Half Dome, the clouds had begun to move it.  Even in the greyness, the mountain is a beautiful sight.  It was sliced in half  by a glacier that carved out the whole valley.

Sentinel Rocks above the Merced River
Sentinel Rocks above the Merced River

The Merced river flows through the valley floor fed by the many cascading falls draining the Sierra Mountain which surround the valley.  The Merced is a sparkling, crystal clear stream with trout lurking in the shadows behind the rocks.  The National Park Service has done a great job making the many scenic vistas available by walking and biking  trails through the valley floor.

Here a wooden walking bridge crosses the river and in the background Sentinel Rocks rise above the valley floor making a picturesque scene.

Cathedral Rock and Spires

A short walk up the trail from the wooden bridge is this wonderful view of Cathedral Rock across the grassy meadow and low pines.   Yosemite provides so many great scenic areas that your mind almost becomes saturated with the wonder of it all.  However as the darker clouds in the background behind Cathedral Rock began to show, it wasn’t long before clouds and rain began reduce the photo opportunities.

Bridalveil Falls in the rain

We drove up to the vista of Bridalveil Falls as the rain began.  It had obviously started raining in the high country above the falls prior to our arrival as much more water was falling than we had previously seen earlier in the day.  The falling rain in this photo gave an unusual quality to the falls and the trees in the foreground.  The wind was also producing a mist of the water cascading down reminding us of how the falls had been named ‘Bridalveil’.

Yosemite Valley in the rain

As the rain became heavier, we drove out of the valley back toward our campground in El Portal.  Our last look at the valley was spectacular in an unusual way.  The rain had begun to hide the scenic mountains in its mist.  Cathedral Rock and Bridalveil Falls could still be seen on the right and El Capitan on the left, but Half Dome had disappeared in the rain.  It was definitely a beautiful way to end a wonderful day in one of the most scenic National Parks.

Lake Tahoe

Emerald Bay below Lake Tahoe

Our trip out of Yosemite was on Highway 14o south to Merced.  The highway was limited to vehicles 45 feet and we were pushing that limit with our 5th Wheel and truck.  But after the difficult trip driving up 120, we decided we would spend the extra time and distance on 140.  It turned out that the length restriction was based on the ability to turn onto a detoured bridge where the highway had been damaged by a rockslide.  We had no difficulty turning onto the bridge in the confined area and the trip down to Merced was easy compared to the trip up 120.  Our only difficulty driving to Lake Tahoe was another blow-out on the trailer.  That was the second one this trip and hopefully the last one for awhile as the blow-out was on the last of the lousy Goodyear 2 ply trailer tires on the camper.  All the five tires are now 8 and  10 ply truck tires which will hopefully carry the weight of the camper.

Jan at Emerald Bay overlook

We arrived at the Lake Tahoe Valley RV Resort in South Lake Tahoe the evening of October 7th.  The resort was a very large campground located in a grove of huge Ponderosa pine trees although it was late in the summer season and there were very few campers.  The next morning we decided to drive around Lake Tahoe in the truck.  Heading west from the park, we climbed up to the top of a mountain above Emerald Lake, thank goodness we didn’t put the 5th Wheel as some of the hairpin curves on the climb would have had us running over the back of the camper, they were so tight.  The view from the top was spectacular with the bay below us and Lake Tahoe in the distance.

Fannette Island in Emerald Bay

The only island in Lake Tahoe is in Emerald Bay.  It is called Fannette and has rock tea house built on the very peak.  In the photo, a tour boat has come down the bay around the Island to the rock castle at the end and then cruised back out of the bay.

Zephur Cove, Lake Tahoe

We drove  on up the western side of the lake past several of the large ski areas including  Hollywood, Alpine and Squaw Valley (home of the 1960 Winter Olympics).

Up around the north end of the lake past Incline Village and down the eastern side, we stopped for lunch at Zephur Cove  and strolled the beach.  The lake was beautiful blue.  On south we passed the numerous Casinos at Stateline and under the slopes of Heavenly Valley ski area.  Soon we were back to park where the 5th Wheel was waiting for the next leg of our trip home.


MOAB, UTAH & the NATIONAL PARKS

CANYON LANDS NATIONAL PARK

We left Lake Tahoe on Highway 50 through Carson City then east and north to reach Interstate 80.  We stopped overnight in Elko, Nevada and then again in Green River, Utah before driving into Moab in the morning of October 11th.  We decided that we wanted to see all the National Parks in the area so we drove back north to the entrance of Canyonlands.

Enterance to Canyonlands 'Isle in the Sky'

Canyonlands National Park is approximately 35.6 miles north to south, 22.5 miles east to west and extends over 500 square miles of untamed and untraveled canyons. Canyonlands was formed by the erosion of the native sandstone by the Colorado and Green rivers where they come together to form the mighty Colorado river which made the Grand Canyon.

Shafer canyon

The park is separated into two areas, northern is called ‘Isle in the Sky’ and is up on the plateau above the canyons formed by the Colorado and Green rivers. Therefore all of the vistas from the park paved roads look down.  The first overlook is just past the Visitor Center looking down toward Moab as the Colorado river cuts through the sandstone bluffs into the park.  The canyon has incredible colors of rust reds, creams, lime greens and far off blues and purples.

Mouse Kiss Arch

Along the road, the rocks form unusual shapes that remind you of other things such as the arch along the right which looks like a mouse head touching the bluff face.  Up here the rocks are a lighter tan sandstone with stripes of darker tan to redish and even grey to black.

Twisted Juniper trees

Juniper trees grow in the crevasses of the rocks on the tops of the bluffs.  The winter snows and winds twist them into unusual shapes.

It is a wonder that they can survive in these harsh climates of summer heat and dryness and winter cold, snow and winds.

Further down the plateau, we found another pullout to the overlook of Buck Canyon.  Here the cuts by the Colorado river have left deep secondary canyons in the lower plateau.  It was interesting to see the many 4 x 4 roads and trails left over for years on the  lower plateau.  Canyonlands National Park has hundreds of miles of unpaved roads and trails that explore the canyon bottoms.  These roads lead to Indian Cliff dwellings, Indian petroglyphs, natural arches and unlimited beauty.

Buck Canyon Overlook

Steamboat butte

As we turned to the west on the upper plateau, the canyons are formed by the Green River coming down north from Utah and Wyoming’s Flaming Gorge and Teton mountains. The Green river had cut into the sedimentary layers and sandstone rocks to create cliffs and canyons every bit as deep and beautiful as the Colorado.

Steeple Rock

Typical of the vistas along the drive was the Steamboat butte and Steeple Rock, a pinnacle of hard sandstone left as the water washed away the softer layers of sediment and stone.

Green River Overlook

We drove south onto the top of a bluff overlooking the Green river canyon.  The National Park Service had built viewing platforms on the rock surfaces at the edge of the cliffs with stone abutments and wooden railings for safety.

Juniper trunk & Half Dome

They were needed as the drop from the edge of stone abutments was 250 feet straight down to the floor of the canyon.

In the background, the cream sandstone buttes were rounded and sliced off by a glacier that once covered this area.  Note that Canyonlands also has a half dome.

Orange Cliffs

On the way back to the Colorado side of the Isle of the Sky, these cliffs of orange sandstone formed the break between the Green and Colorado rivers.  In the distance at the left edge of the photo, the Green river flows into the Colorado adding it’s strength to carve the Grand Canyon.  Beyond this point, the Glen Canyon and Lake Powell starts.

That was where we would head the next day to visit the lower half of Canyonlands called the ‘Needles’.


Bear Petroglyph

We left ‘Isle of the Sky’ in mid-afternoon and decided to visit the many petroglyph sites along the Colorado river before it enters the National Park.  The rock cliffs along the river are a prime area for finding petroglyphs, Indian drawings carved into the rock surfaces.  The cliff faces have been coated by dark ‘desert varnish’ caused by rain water leaching out the minerals above the faces creating a dark layer on the surface.   The Indians, in this case the Ute Indians then used other rocks to chip or scrape the surface  through the coating of varnish allowing the lighter rock to show through to create a drawingPetroglyph drawings have been found all over the western states depicting the Indians in their native costumes, symbols of water holes or direction to locations and of many animals including mountain sheep, buffalo, horses, dogs and in the above case a bear.  This bear is unusual because of it’s size. It is approximately six feet long and three feet wide.  Also visible are mountain sheep, symbols and even a hunter with bow and arrow at the nose of the bear.

Jug Handle Arch with climbers

Further along the river was an unusual arch called ‘Jug Handle Arch’.  Note the three climbers on the face of the handle.

Indian Petroglyphs

Below the handle in an area where the rock was coated with ‘desert varnish’ were another series of petroglyphs.  Note again the Indian with the bow and arrow obviously shooting at the deer, also the two figures of Indians in costume.


Chalk bluffs along the Colorado River

As we were leaving the area for the drive back to Moab, the sun was going down in the west and shed it’s orange glow on the chalk bluffs on the opposite side of the river.  It was obvious that the Ute Indians inhabited this region extensively in the past.  Both sides of the river had areas where the rock walls were protected adequately to retain the desert varnish coating and most of these area were covered with petroglyphs.  It would have been an ideal location with plenty of water, game and fish.


THE NEEDLES

Wilson Arch

The next day we drove south from Moab to visit the lower half of Canyonlands National Park called ‘the Needles’.  On the way we passed a beautiful arch along the side of the road.  The sun was shinning on the back side and illuminating the opening.  We reached the turnoff to the park several miles south of the arch and proceeded west toward the Needles.

Newspaper Rock

As we reached a winding river area, there was a parking area for Newspaper Rock which turned out to be a large outcropping of sandstone, the lower portion darkened with desert varnish and covered with

Newspaper Rock Petroglyphs Closeup

Indian petroglyphs.  This rock had a huge number of drawings of about every type that I have seen, thus the name ‘Newspaper Rock’!  There are horses with Indians riding and shooting, buffalo, sheep, deer, dogs, figures and lots of symbols.  The petroglyphs were in excellent conditions due to the care the Park had given them by blocking off any intrusion by vandals.

The Needles Park Entrance
Needles Canyon Floor

The Isle in the Sky was on the the top of the canyon and we were looking down on the bluffs and cut canyons.  The Needles is down on the floor of the canyon and now we were driving on the floor of those canyons looking up at the bluff.

Needle Spire
Cathedral Spire

As we drove into the canyon floor, we began to see the spires rising into the air.  The floor level where we were driving was a dry grass meadow with a small river running it’s length toward the Colorado river.  The red bluff rose a couple hundred feet to the next level where these two spires had eroded to needle shapes.  Both needles were only a mile or so apart.

Red Butte

Red Butte was the end of a rock outcropping that extended several miles along the park road.

Wooden Shoe Arch

Further into the park the rock color began to change to more tans and browns.  Wooden Shoe arch was unique in that it looked sculpted out of the softer tan sandstone, but it was huge and sat on top of a long bluff over looking the valley floor.

Mushroom Park

Beyond Wooden Shoe we entered Mushroom Park where water had eroded the softer sandstone away from under slightly hard stone domes.

Kissing Arch

Typical of this area was the Kissing Arch with two of these domes  just touching each other is if in a kiss.

Bird Pinnacle

And the funny looking pinnacle among a stand of rock mushrooms that looked like the head of a bird.  The valley floor in this area was covered with these eroded pinnacles in all kinds of shapes.  The paved road through the Needles Park was a very small part of the National Park, but it was impossible to travel into the other areas without a 4 wheel drive vehicle.  Also you were not allowed to drive off the paved roads without obtaining a permit from the National Park Service at the Visitors Center.  This was primarily to assure that campers and hikers were not lost in this vast primitive area.  A vehicle break down or getting stuck in the loose sand of a river bed could be very dangerous.

The Needles  was a long bluff of pinnacles  that had been eroded over the millennial along the southern horizon.  Unfortunately the paved road didn’t lead to there.

The NEEDLES

NATURAL BRIDGES NATIONAL MONUMENT

After leaving The Needles of Canyonlands National Park, we drove south toward four corners on Highway 191 with the idea of then taking Highway 95 west and north to the second of the National Parks in the Moab area, Capitol Reef.  However, on the way up 95, we  took a side road over to the National Monument called ‘Natural Bridges’.  It was an interesting and beautiful side trip.

Upstream side of Sipapu Natural Bridge

The distinction between an arch and a natural bridge seems to be that a river or stream carves out a bridge and

Downstream side of Sipapu Bridge

continues to run through it whereas an arch is carved by wind and water, but a stream or river does not run through it.  I am not sure what constitutes a National Park verses a National Monument; however, to us Natural Bridges was every bit as beautiful as a National Park.

Although the stream was not named under Sipapu and Kachina Bridges, they were cut by the water flowing down White Canyon.  Note that Sipapu is considered a young bridge in the sense that there is still a great deal of rock surrounding the opening thus it will take a great deal more erosion before the bridge is broken.

Horse Collar Ruins

Just down White canyon from Sipapu Bridge is the remains of a Puebloan cliff dwelling called ‘Horse Collar Ruins’.  Approximately 900 years ago, Mesa Verde cliff dwellers populated this region building their homes in the cliff crevasses near water.  As the region became more arid, the people moved further south.

Rock Rooms closeup

Round Dwellings

Closeup views of the ruins show a group of rock building ruins with a door outline.  The right photo shows a covered rock area behind the large rocks in front and two round rooms in fairly good condition still standing.  This was the only ruins visible in the area as far as we were told.

Downstream side of Kachina Bridge

Upstream views of Kachina Natural Bridge were difficult to obtain without walking quite a distance so we decided to photograph Kachina from the downstream side.  Actually Kachina was very similar to Sipapu although it was narrower and taller.  Also this bridge is more fragile as the bridge above the opening is much thinner. This was a beautiful bridge though with expansive shelves of rock along sides below our viewing position. There were trails which led down to the stream.

Indian Head Outcropping

However, the trails were steep and it was a long distance to the stream below.  Further along the road we saw an outcropping of rock from the side of the bluff thatlooked like an Indian Head even to the long nose and high cheekbones.

Owachomo Natural Bridge

Owachomo Natural Bridge was formed by the streams coming down Armstrong and Tuma canyons; however, over time the streams have either dried up or diverted to a different area leaving the bridge dry.  The bridge is considered old as the upper rock bridge is very thin and may someday break down.  Looking closely at the photograph you can see several major cracks across the span of the bridge.

Although the Monument is small, it is a beautiful place and well worth the trip to spend time there.  It would be interesting to walk the trails to the canyon floor to see the bridges up close and to look at the cliff dwellings.

Capitol Reef National Park

After leaving the Natural Bridges, we drove across Glen Canyon at the head waters of Lake Powell heading north on 95 towards Hanksville and the cutoff to Capitol Reef.  By this time is was getting late in the afternoon so we drove across the park stopping occasionally to take photos and hoping to reach the Visitor Center before it closed, but we didn’t make it.   Again the paved road allows a very limited view of the park, but we enjoyed the drive through the park.

Visitors Center and Castle Mountain
Castle Rock extension

Although the two photos above seem very dissimilar in terms of the rock formations, the photo of the mountain on the right is extension an extension of the Castle Mountain on the left.  That seemed to be the rule in Capitol Reef with significantly different colored and kinds of stone in the reefs.

Fruita School

Back down the road from the Visitor Center is the original school house for the children of the area.  There were several farming communities in the park area and just outside of the park boundaries.  None of these still use this school.  There is a small stream that the road follows through the park area and again located on the walls of the rock cliffs are petroglyphs from the original Indian inhabitants.

Organ Pipe Butte

There were many buttes along the drive such as Organ Pipe with it’s variety of colored rock from the reds, oranges, creams and blacks.  The shear face of the mountain was evidence of the streams force in eroding the wall or evidence of a glacier that carved the face.

Orange Butte

Again on the other side of the stream is a shearing of the face of the rock butte.  This is also a reef area where the shearing of the rock faces can also occur

Rock Face along the stream

by one side of the reef grinding against the other and as the rock is pushed upward, the shaved faces become visible.

Along the stream, the rock faces provide beautiful shapes and colors to enjoy on our drive.  The setting sun added to the colors and the shadows.  Again along these walls were Indian Petroglyphs.  There were large numbers of them, but the weather and rain had eroded them to the point that many were barely visible.

Behunin Cabin
Behunin Family

Partway through the Park was this old cabin where the Behunin family lived and farmed.  Here is there story:

In 1882 Elijah Behunin and his family built this cabin, and Behunin was one of the first settlers in the area.

A family of ten lived here.  Braided rugs covered the dirt floor.  Ends of dress materials became curtains.  There was a fireplace to cook in, and a water supply near the door.  The family probably ate outside.

Father, mother and the two smallest children slept in the cabin.  The post bed almost filled one side of the room.  By widening a dugout in the cliff, the older boys had a place to sleep.  The girls made a bed in an old wagon.  They only lived here a few years before storms and floods had destroyed their gardens and fields forcing them to move on to higher ground.

The early pioneers obviously were very hardy individuals!  As we left the park, the sun was setting.  We drove back to I-70, then to Highway 191 on our way back to Moab and our camper.  We had driven over 500 miles on the tour and seen two National Parks and a National Monument.

ARCHES NATIONAL PARK

Park Avenue

East Side of Park Avenue

We had visited ‘Isle of the Sky’ above  the canyon floor, but at the same elevation of Moab.  Then we visited the canyon floor at ‘The Needles’ and ‘Capitol Reef’.  Now we climbed up over 1000 feet to the Arches National Park.  Our first view of the beautiful buttes, pinnacles,spires and arches of dark red sandstone were called ‘Park Avenue’.  We stopped for a photograph then drove around the buttes where the high elevation (4800 feet) valley led us off to the arches.

The Three Gossips

On our left as we drove along the park road was a group of pinnacles that had been named ‘Three Gossips’.

Courthouse Towers

On the right was a butte called ‘Courthouse Towers’ which rose out of the valley floor over 250 feet.

The road climbed up into the Windows Section of the Park. Just before the turnoff to the

Balanced Rock


Garden of Eden were a group of pinnacles with the center one called ‘Balanced Rock’.  It certainly wouldn’t take much of a shake for it to be unbalanced!  Driving up through the Garden of Eden we saw the butte with the North and South Windows.

North and South Windows

The Park Service has built a parking area and gravel walking paths up to each of the arches and off to the right side where the Turret Arch was located in another butte.

Turret Arch and Peephole Arch

Although he is difficult to see, the tiny black figure at the black bottom of the arch is a man.  It gives you a reference to the height of the arch.   There were walking paths to the base of the arch and then you could climb up through the rocks at the base.

Jon along the trail to South Window

The arches are beautiful with their bright red-orange stone and carved shapes.  We walked under the South arch, then around to the back side of both Window arches.  The trail around the back was not as well developed, but it was fun seeing the arches from both sides.

Delicate Arch

From the Garden of Eden, we drove out to the Wolfe Ranch.  Although we didn’t walk to the top of the bluff (a three mile hike up 500 feet in elevation).  Us old blue-hairs just took a photo from the lower viewing area.

Wolfe Ranch

Wolfe Ranch was interesting with it’s log cabin soddy (although now covered with tar paper), a semi-cellar and post-rail corral.  There was also a rock outcropping near the ranch with  Indian petroglyphs carved into it.

Skyline Arch from road
Skyline Arch from rear

We took the left photo from the road and then drove through the Devil’s Garden campground to the back side of the bluff.  I climbed up a sand dune to the back side of  Skyline Arch.  The sun shinning through the arch was interesting.

Entrance to Sand Dune Arch
Sand Dune Arch

An unusual arch was hidden in between these rocks on the left.  It was almost as if these pointed rocks were pushed up out of the earth with gaps between them.  We walked through the gaps to reach the Sand dune arch.  The arch was actually the color shown in the photo on the right.  The yellow-orange rock which formed the touching arch was backed by of one of the pinkish-red pointed rocks. The Sand Dune arch rock was  lit by the sun, causing the sand and rock to glow.  There were eight more arches in the Devil’s Garden on a seven mile trail.  The parking lot was crowded and cars were parked illegally along the side of the road.  Neither of us felt up to a 7 mile walk in the middle of the afternoon.  It was sunny and warm and we decided that we had seen enough arches for one trip.  We will leave them for the next time.

I saved this one arch from the Garden of Eden area for the final photo from Arches National Park.  It is called ‘Double Arch’ and in our eyes was the most beautiful and interesting arch in the Park.

Double Arch

From Moab we drove back to Kansas with a short stop in Castle Rock, Colorado to meet some of Jan’s friends that she knew when she and Kyle lived there.   We arrived home on the 16th of October a week ahead of a snow storm that dumped on the Colorado mountains and closed I-70.   We were happy to be home and plan to stay for the winter.

See you next summer!

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Cruise Down the Inside Passage

LEAVING ALASKA

Jan and I had wanted to take a cruise down the Inside Passage for several years.  We had heard such great stories about the scenery and the trip that we decided to do it this fall.  It started with us driving our 5th Wheel to Seattle and leaving it with Chris and Mark while we spent the summer at the Kasilof RV Park.  Our plan was to take the cruise back to Vancouver, have Chris and Mark pick us up, then drive down to California to visit Cody’s family and meet Jan’s daughter and husband and his parents for a tour of the wine country.  We would then take our time traveling home visiting some of the National Parks that Jan had never seen.  So follows a brief description of our trip with photos.

Chugach Glacier

On September 11th, we finished closing down the park for the winter then drove to Anchorage to leave the pickup for the winter.  On the 12th, we took the Alaskan Railroad Cruise train from Anchorage to Seward.  I had wanted to take the trip for years as I had heard the scenery was spectacular.  I wasn’t disappointed.  The cruise train provides viewing cars with huge windows to enjoy the scenery.  It travels south from Anchorage at the edge of the Turnagain Arm and we saw whales chasing the salmon.  Then we crossed the grassland bogs at the upper end of the Arm and climbed into the Chugach mountains past several glaciers.  The trip to Seward was truly a treat and should definitely be the mode of travel for those meeting the cruise ships in Seward.

The Statendam at dock in Seward

What a pleasure to arrive in the beautiful port city of Seward.  The cruise train pulled right out on the boarding dock at the edge of the Statendam, Holland-America’s ship for our trip down the Inside Passage.  Our luggage was taken aboard by the porters and we joined others from the train to obtain our boarding passes in the cruise dock building.  Even though there were over a hundred people boarding at the same time, the process was efficient.  We quickly boarded and were shown to our stateroom, very nice.  The one and only problem with taking the cruise train was it’s arrival time.  After the five hour trip from Anchorage, we were too late to enjoy the afternoon boarding and information parties on the ship.

We left port in Seward at 8 pm that evening while we were having our first wonderful dinner in the main dining room of the ship.  It was a five course meal with several choices including Prime Rib, Alaska King Crab, Alaskan Salmon bake, plus others – the food was delicious!  By the time we got out in the Resurrection Bay, it was dark and from there to Whittier we traveled at night.  We missed College Ford due to a heavy fog as well as the trip through Prince William Sound.  However, as we passed through the straits at Cape Hinchinbrook and into the Gulf of Alaska, the skies began to clear and we had beautiful crusing through the rest of the afternoon.

Lunch at the Pinnacle Grill

Another night traveling along the Glacier Coast between Cape St. Elias and Cape Spencer, so we missed most of the huge glaciers coming out of the St. Elias mountain range although we were well off shore and barely in sight of land.  By early morning we had passed Cape Spencer and entered Glacier Bay.  We had been given a free lunch at the Pinnacle Grill as part of our ticket purchase and we chose to take advantage of the it during our cruise up Glacier Bay.  As good as the food was in the dining room, the Pinnacle Grill was even better plus we had a beautiful view of the Fjord from our window.  When Glacier Bay was first discovered by the George Vancouver in the early 1700’s, the bay was covered in a glacier out into the Icy Strait.  Now it has receded over 80 miles into the mountains with five major Inlets containing tidewater glaciers.


John Hopkins Glacier in Glacier Bay

People Viewing Hopkins from Foredeck

We proceeded into the John Hopkins Inlet to view the glacier.  It is one of the most active glaciers in the bay, calving regularly.  The Glacier Bay National Park Ranger that gave us a lecture about the bay and glaciers indicated that we were really lucky to have sunny weather for our trip.  Normally it is cloudy and rainy and they had only 12 days all summer with sunny weather.  We cruised to within a quarter mile of the face of the glacier and stayed for almost an hour.  The Captain moved the boat with the back side thrusters giving each side of the boat ample opportunity to view the glacier.  There were a huge number of harbor seals resting on the ice banks in front of the glacier and often we could hear the glacier cracking and popping.  Occasionally it would calve a huge of chunk of ice into the inlet.

Osterdam approaching the glacier

Osterdam near Hopkins glacier

As we were leaving, Holland-America’s ship, the Osterdam cruised into the inlet to view the glacier.  We got a good perspective of the height of the glacier when we could view the Osterdam in  front of it.  Since it was the same size as the Statendam, it became apparent how high the glacier face actually was.

Statendam at Haines, Alaska

We traveled again at night and woke dockside at Haines.  Haines is different from the other cruise ship stops on the Inside Passage.  It is a small town with only one cruise ship dock.  The streets are not lined with curio and jewelery shops, just ordinary grocery, clothing and hardware stores.  We had decided to take our only prearranged tour here and were happy that we did.

Sow and Cub Brown Bears

It was a Nature and Wildlife Tour up the Chilcoot river and lake.  We were in an old bus with ten couples from the ship and two women guides.  The older woman, ex-school teacher, drove the bus and took us on a walking tour through the rain forest above Chilcoot Lake.

Sow eating a dead salmon

The younger one was the narrator for the tour and spotted this brown bear sow and her cub fishing the waters of the Chilcoot river for pink salmon.  Soon the sow found a dead one and began eating it.  She was a big bear and seemingly unafraid of the numerous people watching her from the other side of the river.

People watching sow eating

The young woman said that the sows often bring their young cubs to the river where there are always people along the road. They have learned that the large males, which will kill the young cubs, don’t like to be around people and stay away from the river.  The sow feeding in the river below the people on the road had two small cubs hidden in the bushes on the bank.

Brown Bear Sow

She had a collar around her neck for tracking purposes by the Fish and Game and has returned t0 fish in the river with her cubs for several years.  The river was full of pink salmon swimming up to their spawning grounds and the many dead carcasses  that had spawned already were thick in the bushes and rocks.  She also took us through a tour of Fort William H. Seward which had been decommissioned after World War II and now is a National Historic Site.

Jan & Statendam at Haines

When we got back to the Statendam, I got Jan to pose for a photo of it in port at Haines.

Enjoying a drink on the upper deck

It was a beautiful afternoon when we got back to the ship so we decided to sit in the sun on the upper deck.  There was no wind, the scenery was beautiful and the company was great.


Norwegian Star leaving Skagway

That evening as we were enjoying an afternoon Tangueray and Tonic in the Crows Nest on the top front of the Statendam, the Norwegian Star cruise ship came cruising down from Skagway on their way north to Glacier Bay. We would see her sister ship a few days later in Ketchikan.

Norwegian Star

It was a beautiful scene with the mountains in the background.  We left Haines around dusk and sailed down to Juneau for the next day.

We were disappointed in Juneau.  Gold was discovered in 1880 above the current town area, however, the initial easy to find gold was quickly gone and hard rock mining became the only way to obtain it.  Soon the high grade ore was gone and massive stamp mills had to be used to extract the gold.  These mills produced vast amounts  of tailings (20 tons of ore for 1 ounce of gold).  The tailings dumped along the shoreline provided the flat land for the town.  The gold brought the territorial government and then the state government to reside in Juneau after the gold ran out.  Beside the state government there is a new gold rush in the town brought by the multitude of cruise ships that stop there every week during the spring, summer and fall.  The streets are lined by shop after shop of curio junk occasionally separated by a jewelery store.  We had found Skagway to be similar in 2008 when we visited, but at least Skagway had some character.  After the stop in beautiful Haines, Juneau was a disappointment.


Three Island Lighthouse

Again we left after dark and cruised down the Inside Passage during the night.  However this time, we were still cruising when we woke in the morning. We passed this pretty light house  called ‘Three Island Lighthouse’ out in the bay.   Actually there are three islands although the other two are just a few rocks sticking out of the water in line with the light house.  There are a lot of lighthouses on the Inside Passage and I enjoy photographing them;  however, it is difficult to see them in the middle of the night when you are cruising.


Ketchikan Dock Space

We arrived at the Ketchikan dock around 11 am.  Notice that there is a parking place between the first ship, the Celebrity, and the second, the Norwegian Pearl, the Star’s sister ship.  The third ship was the Osterdam that we had seen in Glacier Bay.

Parallel Parking a Cruise Ship

We were all fascinated to see how the Captain was going to park our ship between the front two. It was fascinating as the Captain slowly pulled the nose of the ship in behind the front ship, then use the rear outside thruster to slowly push the ship sideways into the dock.  Of course the entire upper deck of our ship was lined with passengers to watch a lesson in parallel parking a cruise ship.


Totem Museum

Creek Street in Ketchikan

Ketchikan was a lot more fun than Juneau.  Although the boardwalk had it’s share of curio and jewelery shops for the cruise ship passengers, the town was more quaint and interesting.  We took a tour bus out to the Totem Museum and the salmon hatchery on the upper creek.  Ketchikan was known in the late 1800’s as the Salmon Fishing and Totem Pole Capital of Alaska.  Creek Street was the red light district of Ketchikan and the creek itself was a major salmon spawning river for the island.  During the early days lumbering and fishing were the primary sources of work and income in the area.  Creek street became known as the only place in Alaska where the fish and fishermen both came to spawn.  Now Creek Street bordellos cater to the cruise ship passengers selling them curios and clothing, but it was fun.

Dressed for Dinner

Again we left Ketchikan at night, there was approximately 650 miles left in the trip.  We cruised all night and woke to the ship traveling through Hecate Strait between Queen Charlotte Islands and British Columbia.  As we got further into the Queen Charlotte Sound the land became distant in the east and the rain clouds filled the skies, the first time on the trip.  That evening, the last of the cruise, we dressed up to celebrate Jan’s 71st birthday with dinner in the Pinnacle Grill.  We had another wonderful dinner of gourmet food with good wine.

We arrived in Vancouver the next morning early and our group were told to depart the ship at 8:15 am.  The departure procedure was very quick and efficient.  We left the convention center at 9:30 and found Mark and Chris waiting for us in our truck.

It was a beautiful trip on a great ship.  The food was excellent and anything you could want.  The scenery was fabulous although I would prefer to have spent more time cruising through the Inside Passage during the day and less time in the towns, but I realize that the ports need to make their living of the cruise passengers.  I would definitely recommend the cruise to anyone interested.






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END OF SUMMER

SPIKE-LESS

Sorry that Grandpa took so long to post this blog.  Seems like he and Grandma have been goofing off ever since they left here.  I mean why would you want to spend time tasting grape juice (although the leaves and vines might be okay).   Then they go to a desert to look at red rocks???  Well anyway, they are finally getting around to post my blog.

Hey, I’m back!  Well I seemed to have a bit of a problem this summer, but it worked out well in the long run.  Here’s the story:

Seems that I was frolicking around in the forest in July.  Since cute little Colie left, I was kind of lonely and I met this cute little female that was born the year before with me in the woods across from the park.  Her mom had taken her up to the big lake during the winter so I hadn’t seen her lately.  She came back down this summer when her mom had new twins.  Anyway, I was kind-of showing off for her, prancing around and jumping across the ditches in the woods.  Darned if I didn’t stumble over the top of Billie Brown Bear where he was sleeping.  Now Billie is really ornery when he is awakened from a deep sleep.  He was really mad and was chasing be through the trees in the woods.  I’m a lot faster than he is, but he was staying pretty close to me.  I looked back to see how far behind he was and ran smack into big birch tree.  I hit it so hard that it knocked both of my spikes off and gave me a really bad headache!  Billie started laughing so hard at me stumbling around that he sat down in a patch of Devil’s Claw.  That didn’t help his disposition any, but he was so engrossed at getting the thorns out of his rear that he forgot about me.

That’s my story and I’m sticking with it!

The good part of this story is that since I don’t have any spikes anymore, the hunters can’t shoot me this fall.  They will think I am a female – hee-hee!  You see, young male moose with spikes are legal to hunt in the fall.  Then once they have horns with paddles, they are no longer legal to hunt until their horns are 54 inches across.  By next year, I will have horns with paddles – Yeah!  Unfortunately the pretty little female now thinks I’m a clutz and ignores me.  Oh well, next year!

All the fishermen and women left at the end of July.  Most of the campers left when the Red season was over although a few kept coming into August.  Grandma and Grandpa started cleaning up the park concentrating on chopping all the cottonwood saplings and pine tree clippings down by the well house.  They had a fire in the pit burning all the scraps.  Soon the space was cleared.

ROAD PAVING

TRUCK HAULING GRAVEL

In early August, the state started paving the gravel road in front of my park.  There were sure some big trucks running up and down the road dumping all kinds of rocks and sand on it.  Now it used to be hard enough getting across the road from the woods with the automobiles bouncing their way 60 miles an hour down to the corner with all the potholes and wash-board.  But now with the road paved, the automobiles with be going 80 miles an hour.

You know what is really fun.  You stand down in the ditch by the side of the road in full view and as soon as a car comes screaming down the road, you step up on the side of it as if you were going to cross.  As soon as the car starts squealing it’s tires on the payment, you run back in the woods.  I told Grandpa to buy a tire shop as we could really have a good business.

GRANDMA’S SISTERS

Donna & Rachel
Skip cleaning rug

Donna and Skip (her name is really Shirley, but she used to skip around a lot when she was a little girl, so they call her Skip.  I don’t understand humans too much, but then they called me Spike.  I wonder what they call me now?) are Grandma’s sisters (she told me that they were her older sisters.  I don’t know why that was important!).  I think they came up to clean up the Lodge.  Anyway they also brought Donna’s granddaughter, Rachel and she took pictures of everything (I hid while they were here because I didn’t want more pictures taken of me without horns!).  The Gramps really had a good time with them while the were here.


Jan & Skip Halibut Fishing
Halibut Catch

Skip and Jan went Halibut fishing with Uncle Don.  He’s a crusty old Captain that made Aunt Skip pay attention to the end of her pole because she was busy watching the mountains instead of fishing (I call him Uncle because he and Uncle Kevin are great friends.  Both are crusty old farts!).  Anyway they came back with a lot of good Halibut (actually the green bushes in the background look better to me, but the Gramps think that Halibut is great!).


Homer Spit from Ridge road

Girls at Homer
Rafting on Johnson Lake

The Gramps took the girls down to Homer for the annual scenic trip (everyone has to go to Homer, the end of the road).   The Spit extends out into Kachemack Bay providing a shipping and Ferry port plus lots of tourist shops and seafood restaurants.  Then they took them on a rafting trip on Johnson Lake.  Grandpa had both sisters on the pontoon boat with the trolling  motor pulling Rachel and Grandma in the raft.  They thought it was fun, but I had a heck of a time following them around the lake.

Donna & Rachel Seward
Skip at Sealife Center

If that wasn’t enough, they took the sisters and Rachel over to Seward so Donna and Rachel could go on the Sealife boat tour.  I didn’t go with them, but Grandpa told me all about it.  The Gramps put them on the boat for the trip out in Resurrection Bay and Grandma and Skip visited the Seward Sealife Center.  Grandpa drove out along the bay and took photos of the Otters playing.

Obviously, Grandpa and Grandma had a great summer!  I sure enjoyed it with them and I hope they will let me come back next year; however, I just might find some young little female that catches my eye and I might just start a family with her. So we will wait and see what happens next year.  I understand that Grandpa is itching to tell all about their trip down the Inside Passage on the cruise ship, their wine tasting weekend and their trips to several National Parks.  So goodbye for now, but I hope to tell what is going on next summer.                                                                                                                           SPIKELESS

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SUMMER 2010

ARRIVAL

HELLO FOLKS, MY NAME IS SPIKE. I AM THE RESIDENT MOOSE THIS SUMMER AT THE KASILOF RV PARK. I WAS JUST A YOUNG SPROUT LAST YEAR AND SPENT TIME WITH MOM IN THE PARK. I DECIDED I WANTED TO WELCOME YOU TO THE PARK AND TELL YOU WHAT’S BEEN HAPPENING HERE SINCE 2009. SO HANG ONTO YOUR HATS FOLKS AND LET ME FILL YOU UP ON THE LATEST.

Grandma and Grandpa (I call them that since I feel that I am related) finally arrived up here on the 5th of May.  Man, I thought they would never arrive, but here they came with the big old van loaded with goodies for the summer.  I decided to wander over and see what was going on.  Turned out they were very happy to be back and to see me.  They took lots of photos of me which really pleased me (I am very handsome after all).

DEBBIE POST
DEBBIE PLANTING FLOWERS

Turns out that they had a lot of company (mostly my cousins and their kids) visiting this summer.  It wasn’t more than a couple of weeks before this really good looking gal named Debbie and

this crusty geezer named Kevin arrived. Debbie started planting those really tasty bright colored plants in all the boxes which will provide me lots of munchies this summer.  However, that was short lived when Grandpa really yelled at me when I tasted those bright red ones at the end of the steps. Then we got in a big propane tank with a transfer pump on the front to fill propane tanks and RVs.

Kevin Pyle
KEVIN PUTTIN IN A PLATFORM FOR TANKS

Kevin got busy and built a platform in front for the tanks.


 

Then shortly after they arrive,  a real cute little girl named Nicole (I call her Colie) came to stay part of the summer with us.  She was doing something called a Physical Therapy rotation, whatever that means.  Turns out that she was gone most of the days, but would show up in the evenings.

SPIKE IN EARLY MAY

BOY, she was really cute so I spent a lot of time in the park in the evenings. I had to show off my better half a little for her and got down on my knees to eat some of those tasty little greens called Horse Tails.

 

Debbie and Colie wanted to go clamming, but Grandpa wouldn’t let me go so I stayed home. I took care of the RV park while the others were goofing off.  When they got back, they had to clean all those nasty little shellfish (what a waste of time when they could eat tasty leaves and grass). Then I heard a lot of screaming when cute Colie thought one of the clam parts moved when she was cleaning it (I’d squirm too if someone poked me with a knife).

 

 

If that wasn’t enough, all the women took off to visit Homer. I just don’t understand what is so great about ‘Homer,it’s just a small drinking village with a fishing problem’. It would seem that they would have had more fun staying  home and taking photos of me. I guess that cousin Debbie got mad because I was paying so much attention to cute Colie because she went back to someplace called Nebr-aska.  I don’t know where that is, but it must be close to Al-aska.


 

Then all of a sudden this tall dork with long hair and a scattering of hair on his chin (doesn’t he know that it is supposed to be below your chin?) shows up. (Note that I was hanging around in the background to make sure he didn’t get too familiar with my Colie)

TRAV GIVES ME THE EVIL EYE!

(Oh Man, I thought that it was her husband. Then he gives me the evil eye , but I found out that it was her brother, one of my cousins) Turns out he is pretty cool although he managed to do some dorkie things like trying to swim in the river with his chest waders on (oh well, kids!).


FLOATING THE KASILOF

Grandpa rowed the big pontoon boat down the Kasilof river from Tustumena Lake with Colie and Grandma on the front seats. Travis was in the small pontoon boat behind them (I was running down the side of the river watching them). Then I find out that he doesn’t know which is the front and the back of the pontoon boat.  No wonder that he ran into the tree hanging over the river (Boy did I heh-hah when he upset the boat).

 

 

My opinion of him didn’t improve when I saw him riding this log down the hillside later in the week, but it turns out he was tying a chain around it so he and Grandpa could pull it up the hill with the truck winch so it could be used for firewood. He managed to clear a lot of beetle killed trees off the hill for firewood. Turned out he was a pretty hard worker and got lots of firewood up for the summer campfires.

 

Then of all things, I wander down by the well house.  Grandpa throws all the cottonwood saplings that he clears out of the green spaces between the RV pads there and what do I find, two masked bandits stealing the saplings.  Well darned if it isn’t cousin Trav and the cute little Colie burning those saplings up. I wondered if they were playing with fire and didn’t want Grandpa or Grandma to know they were doing it. Did they really think the masks would keep them from being recognized? (Kids!)

 

In the evenings around the campfire, Grandma and Colie liked to roast marshmellows and put them on graham crackers with chocolate to make s’mores. (It really doesn’t sound too good to me. I’d rather eat those bright red flowers in the front of the deck steps.) Anyway, they gave cute Colie the name: The S’MORES QUEEN. (They must be okay if she likes them!)

SNOOZING ON THE ATV

They must have been pretty good though because she had to go take a snooze on the ATV behind the workshop (that doesn’t look too comfortable to me, but then I prefer and nice grassy area).

Travis decided to go back home and work at the Marina where he could watch all the young chicks in bikinis that came to swim and ski (I couldn’t figure out how you could put a bikini on a chicken, but then I wasn’t sure what a bikini was either.  Evidently Travis liked it because he didn’t want to stay here with me anymore). So we bid him goodbye until hopefully next year.


MOM SHOWING OFF FOR THE HILL FAMILY

The Hill family from Hoxie came for a visit with us.  They are from Grandma & Grandpa’s winter home in Kansas. They have two good looking young daughters (I drooled a lot while they were here and I think Colie got mad at me). Anyway, Mark, the dad walked out of the restrooms in the back of the lodge the next morning and came face to face with my Mom. She had come over to hunt for me and decided to munch on some goodies around the campfire pit.  Before long Sueanne and Carmen joined Mark to watch Mom show off.  Kelsey in the mean time was parading around in the lodge in a towel, much to Kevin’s delight (darn, I’m never in the right place at the right time!).

 

 

Grandpa was busy building a roof over the conex and a workshop, smoker on the side of it. Colie and Grandma painted the rafters and front although I don’t know how Colie could paint upside down! (It made me dizzy watching)

 

 

The workshop is big enough that he can put the ATV in it in the evenings. The fish smoker is in the box on the left at the far end of the shop area.  It can hold 6 trays of fish.  The smoke barrel is just outside the shop with storage for the alder wood across from it.  They finished it just in time for the red salmon season to start.


 

 

Wow, things had just started to settle down when Grandpa’s oldest son, Cody and his family came to visit. They were at the overlook down at Homer for this photo.

It didn’t take long for the boys to start having fun on the ATV in the park (Now why didn’t they ask me for a ride. I’m as big as a horse. I had to be careful not to walk out of the trees and get run over). Nelson would take Jim around the park, then Jim would take Cody then Margaret around the park.  They manage to put a few miles on the ATV while they were here.

 

 

While Travis was here, he took the back off of the ATV trailer box and made a fort for Jim and Nelson.  It was really cool as it was set part way down the bluff behind the park and overlooked Crooked Creek below.  It had a door on the back and a window that opened in the front with a steering wheel (I have no clue where they were going to drive it!).  I watched as Jim and Nelson painted the fort green so it would disappear into the trees.  They even painted a helicopter landing area on the top of it (I’m not sure what a helicopter is, but it would have to be pretty small to get through the trees and land on the fort).


 

 

It wasn’t all fun and games while they were here as they had to help around the park. Both boys were splitting the logs that Cody had cut with the chain saw and then they had to stack the split firewood in the firepit area for the evenings.  Jim had taken lessons in fire starting  this year when he was a Cub Scout and was responsible for building and starting the campfires every evening.

 

What is it with this ATV? It sure doesn’t look like a bed and yet every one wants to sleep on it.  Surely he didn’t think he could drive it like that.  He must have been tired from all that work!


Now I wasn’t able to go on the next trips with the family as I won’t go out on a boat even if it was an ARK. Since they don’t take ARKs halibut fishing or sight seeing out of Seward, I decided to stay home and watch the park.  I really hated to miss the Seward trip because sweet little Colie was going on that one!

So I’m going to let Grandpa tell you about the Halibut trip and the trip out of Seward to visit the Kenai Fjords National Park and the Holgate Glacier.  Spike signing off until they get back to the park.


 

 

Each of the boys managed to catch their own halibut. Jim caught the biggest one of the day 44#, but we all had good success and came back with a limit each.  The day started out with swells of 2 to 3 feet and Captian Don was worried that it might get worse.  However, as the day wore on, the seas began to calm and we had a beautiful day with lots of fishing.



KENAI FJORDS NATIONAL PARK

 

 

 

 

Cody, Margaret and the boys, Nicole and Jan and Jon took the Coastal Explorer on a tour of the Kenai Fjords NP on the 4th of July.  We had a early morning drive to Seward with an 8 am trip scheduled. The boat wasn’t crowed although Seward was over-flowing with people due to the annual Mountain Marathon.  The seas were calm and although cloudy most of the day, the sealife was very active.


 

 

 

 

We were barely into Resurrection Bay when this feisty little sea otter came to the surface to show off for the observers on the boat.  Otters are plentiful in the bay and tend to be very curious.  On out further along the bay we saw a rare sight of a mountain goat with her kid.  They were probably 150 feet above the water on the shear edge of the mountain.


SEA LION

 

 

We saw lots of seals and sea lions such as this one watching us as the boat passed by.  The rocks along the shore in this area was covered with both harbor seals and sea lions.  Next was the bird rookeries with large number and variety of sea birds including several groups of puffins in the rocks.

 

 

We also saw several groups of humpback whales including this one female with a young calf.  She actually came out of the water (breached) once, unfortunately I didn’t have my camera ready for the photo.


 

 

Our ultimate destination on the tour was the Holgate Glacier.  The boat pulled up very close to the front of the glacier and stopped the engines so we could hear the glacier cracking and popping and watch it occasionally shed ice into the ocean (they call it calving).  The boys were fascinated with the huge size of the glacier and it’s blue color.

 

The boat crew was nice to net samples of the ice that had broken off the glacier and hand them out to the people on board the boat.  Cody is holding the ice while Colie and Jan are posing for the photo (I had to take the photo quick because the ice was cold!).  Margaret was with us on the trip although the motion of the boat made her queasy so she wasn’t running around the boat like the rest of us were.  We had a good trip, saw a lot of sealife and was a nice calm day even though it was cloudy.  The Captain indicated that the overcast was good because the sealife viewing was better then.


THIS IS SPIKE AGAIN – There, I thought Grandpa did a good job describing the trips that I couldn’t do.  I let him talk occasionally although it’s more fun to tell you what has happened this summer.

Here it is early July and this is when things really start popping around here.  The Red Salmon season is about to start and we have more guests coming and lots of campers.


First to arrive are Ainsley Pyle and her daddy, Ryan.  Ainsley had to show off her baby to Colie and tell her all about their trip to Alaska (she sure is a cutey and really smart for a girl. I didn’t understand the baby bit though since it sure didn’t do much except lay around when Ainsley wasn’t holding it.  It got left out in the rain one night too! I didn’t hear it cry once.).

Ainsley helped around the park too.  She liked to water the flowers (which I appreciated because they sure are tasty.  Fortunately it was raining a lot because she had a little problem figuring out where to put the water other than her shoes).  Ryan’s mother, Pam came up for a couple of days to visit and then to take Ainsley back to Kansas with her.  Ryan took them to Anchorage to the airplane and then picked up his girl friend, Cheri to stay for the Red Season.


 

Doug Hinzman and his friend, Beasley Tarver arrived on the 16th of July.  Beasley is the grandson of the Budweiser distributor in Sebastian, Florida.  Doug brought him up to Alaska to give him the experience of fishing in Alaska.  Their first fishing trip was with Captain Don of Alaska Trophy Charters for Halibut.  They had a great time catching their limit.



 

I wandered over one evening after Doug and Beasley arrived to see what was going on at the park.  There was this masked man with a shovel in his hand moving a bunch of red, white and green things around on the big metal grate above the firepit.  The red and green things looked appetizing, but they sure didn’t smell very good.  There were also some slabs of something that didn’t look appetizing at all.  When the masked man saw me, he called me Spike. I’ll be darned if it wasn’t Grandpa!  I asked about the mask and he said he didn’t like the smoke either.

 

Then they all went into the kitchen and ate all the stuff that was on the metal grate.  Sure didn’t look good to me, but they seemed to enjoy it.  Sitting right up front was Cheri with Ryan on her right, then Grandma and Grandpa with Beasley on the end.  The Crusty Geezer next beside my cute little Colie and her dad, Todd next to her.  Doug was taking the photo.

Todd, Jan’s son had arrived on the 19th to spend a few days with Colie and be here for the Red run which had already started.


Back to Grandpa’s commentary –

RED SEASON

We started fishing for red salmon on the Kenai/Russian River ferry landing in late June although we didn’t have any success.  There were very few salmon being caught there this year partially due to the Fish and Game netting over four thousand before they could come up the river (according to the Peninsula newspaper).  We tried several times on the Kasilof River close to the park in early July when the red salmon run was starting; however, we had very little success there also.  The Kasilof is shallow and very swift, therefore it is difficult to determine where and when the fish are running.  We were beginning to wonder if this year’s red season was going to be a bust.


 

 

COLIE’S 1st RED SALMON

When the second run of the red started up the Kenai river, we went to Ryan’s fireman friend’s home to try our luck.  Fortunately, the reds were plentiful in the Kenai.  Colie caught her first red the first night we were there and although she was a little queasy about holding it, she was definitely hooked on red fishing.  Cheri too quickly started catching the reds and the two of them limited out each time we went.


 

 

A GOOD DAY’S CATCH

The limit continued at three each until the minimum number went up the river to assure futures stocks. The photo on the right was a catch on the 23rd with the six of us limiting out (Cheri wasn’t available for the photo). On the 25th the limit increased to six each, but by that time we had enough fish for our winter stock.  The last day we fished, five of us caught 30 reds, one pink and one dolly varden, a fitting end to a wonderful red season.


 

 

Catching fish didn’t end the fun! We still had to clean and fillet the salmon, then package and freeze it for the winter.  Of course the strips were put in our marinating mixture for a couple of days before they were cured in the smoker.  And then the pieces with bones were frozen until later in the summer when they can be thawed and then canned.

 

Several families of Japanese were staying the park for a few days and some were dip netting salmon.  We were rather curious how they manage to clean the fish with the entire family at the cleaning table. (vailey inter-es-ting!)


BUILDING PROJECTS

 

 

LAYING THE DECK

Since red season was over, we decided to complete a couple of projects that we wanted to accomplish this summer.  And since Todd and Ryan were still here, we started to build the walkway between the park model and the camp kitchen.  We set the posts in cement, then put cross beams to hold the decking boards.  It has one set of stairs just outside the park model so we have access to the rear area and then a step down to the grass and gravel path beside the camp kitchen.

 

You can’t believe how many steps it saves Jan and I each day by having the walkway .  I still have to put the lattis under the front to match the deck on the park model plus I want to build some planters to put on along the top railings for flowers.


 

 

INSIDE OPENING

Todd had the brilliant idea to increase the amount of storage in the camp kitchen by adding storage shelves in place of the screened window.  Jan sure needed more storage space so we took out the 8 foot section of the window and enclosed it with a framed box. Then put plywood on the inside to enclose it and siding on the outside match the exterior of the building.

 

The wooden cabinet that was on the floor just fit inside the storage area.  We finished putting shelves in to hold the microwave and other items on the turn-table. We then moved the two stoves up along the wall to the front. The result is much more open space without a lot of stuff setting around.  Some new carpet and thus a much handier kitchen.  Thanks, Todd


Stay tuned to the end of the summer blog and further commentary by Spike.

 

 

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EAST COAST TRIP FINAL

BOSTON

The weather cleared as we left Maine and drove down to Boston for a couple of days to see it’s historical area.  We were unable to find a campground close into town, but we did find an Elks Club that had camping privileges at Concord, MA.  We drove down to the metro and took it into town rather than trying to drive.  We managed to figure out how to get off very near the famous Faneuil Hall.  The second floor of the hall (which wasn’t open to the public) was the meeting site for the Sons of Liberty and was considered the ‘Cradle of Liberty’ protesting the Stamp Act and the Sugar Act which led to the ‘Boston Tea Party’.  The part open to the public was originally a farmers market.  Now is a glorified gift shop for tourists.

Boston's North Church
Boston's North Church

We started from Faneuil Hall on a trolley tour of the Freedom Trail which was supposed to cover all of the major historical sites in Boston.  However we found that the Silver Trolley line tours on the outside of all those sites and you have to walk to them by yourself (one of those things you don’t find out about until you have purchased a ticket!)  After a several block walk and getting lost a couple of times in side streets we finally found the Old North Church where Paul Revere hung the lantern to tell the Bostonians whether the English were coming by land or by sea (the church charged to get inside).  We then walked to Paul Revere’s home which charged to get into the grounds and then again to see the inside of the house!  We walked back to wait on the trolley.

CHEERS!
CHEERS!

The trolley took us around the waterfront and over to the dock where the Old Ironsides is moored where you have to pay to see it. Then it did take us down the street where the Old State House is located and around Boston Commons.  We departed the trolley at this point and walked to what we thought was the highlight of Boston, the ‘Bull and Finch Bar’ or as we saw it  ‘Cheers’.  Actually only the entrance to the basement bar was used in the sitcom that we enjoyed so much.  Surprising to us was the very small size of the bar and the multitude of people that were jammed into it.  Obviously the sitcom gave the bar a thriving business.  Norm was there (in a life-sized cardboard cutout) and I had a beer with him.  I also remembered his theory of intelligence.  “A heard of buffalo only travels as fast as the slowest and weakest buffalo.  When the herd is hunted, the slowest and weakest were killed first.  Natural selection was good for the herd allowing it to move much faster.  The same way with the human brain, it can only operate as fast as the slowest and weakest brain cells.  Now as you know,  excessive intake of alcohol kills brain cells.  But naturally, it attacks the slowest and weakest brain cells first.  Therefore, regular consumption of beer eliminates the weaker brain cells making the brain a faster more efficient machine.  That’s why you feel smarter after a few beers.”  It seems reasonable to me!

So much for Boston!  Like so much of the east coast cities; too many people, too busy, too crowded, too much in a hurry!   Too much for an old Kansas boy.

WASHINGTON, DC

On to Washington, DC, my old stomping ground.  Again there are no camping facilities within the DC limits; therefore, we had to stay in the Cherry Hill campground in College Park, MD.  I used to store our motor home at the campground so was familiar with it.  It is also close to the end of the Metro Green Line which we used to get into the city.  It was definitely quicker and easier to get around on the city metro than driving.
Sunday morning we took the metro into the Smithsonian Mall.  I had to show Jan a couple of the airplanes that I used for flight research while working for NASA.  We spent a couple of hours at the Air and Space Museum then went to the new American Indian Museum.

X-15 Airplane at Air & Space Museum
X-15 Airplane at Air & Space Museum

M2-F3 Lifting Body at Air & Space Museum
M2-F3 Lifting Body at Air & Space Museum


Jan outside American Indian Museum

It was built after I had retired from NASA and left Washington.  It is unusual in that all the outside walls and most of the inside walls do not have straight lines.  Indian ideology states that there are no straight lines in nature.  The outside walls are native limestone in constant curves.  The inside has sweeping curved walks, stairs and ramps leading up four floors of exhibits.  I was a little disappointed as I had seen all the wonderful displays and exhibits of American Indian artifacts in the Natural History Museum previously and am aware of all the artifacts that the Smithsonian has available. Some of these were stuffed into drawers and some in very limited display cases. Very few of the original collection were in the museum.  Most of the museum was the American Indian now and in the future.  We did have a good lunch in the museum.  They have foods from various American Indian cultures that were interesting.

National Art Museum Central Gallery
National Art Museum Central Gallery

We both had fun in the National Art Museum.  Since we are both amateur painters (very amateur!), we really enjoyed looking at all the past masters and commenting on them to each other.  We spent most of the afternoon wandering through the maze of galleries in second floor of the museum studying all of the French, Spanish, Dutch, English, etc. masters and what we amateurs considered not so masters.  Oh well, it’s a matter of opinion.  We had fun pointing out what we liked and disliked and how we might of done it different if we could have!

It turned out to be a long day with a lot of walking so we left early for the ride back to the campground, our camper and a wonderful lobster dinner with our bounty from Maine.

Jan at WWII Monument with Washington Monument in background
Jan at WWII Monument with Washington Monument in background

The next morning we waited for the early morning rush (Monday) to pass before we taking the metro to town.  We spent most of the morning in the Holocaust Museum.  It was very well done, but very depressing.  I can’t imagine people treating other people like that!  We weren’t allowed to take photos inside.  We left the museum and walked to the Washington Monument then on to the World War II Memorial. It was nice that they finally built the Memorial, but I was very disappointed in the  design of it.  There were really no indications of the significant battles that occurred in Europe and the Pacific.

Vietnam Memorial
Vietnam Memorial

Soldiers at Vietnam Memorial
Soldiers at Vietnam Memorial

Not so for the Vietnam Memorial.  It is memorable  because of it’s simplicity and significance with the names of our soldiers lost inscribed on the stones.  I realize that they couldn’t have listed the names of those lost in WWII do to the numbers.   It was well past lunch so we caught a taxi to Union Station so Jan could see how beautiful it had been restored.  We had lunch there before walking through Capitol Hill to C Street where Lindy and I used to live.  The house still looked good although the neighborhood was changing with new condos and town houses replacing some of the beautiful old homes in the area.  We walked on down to Eastern Market to find that it had closed and many of the older businesses had been replaced with Starbucks, McDonalds, etc. (bah)!  Going back home just isn’t the same!

Jan and I were getting tired of walking, but we still had a couple of hours before we would meet Nancy and Bud MacLennon at Ebbets Grill for dinner (Nancy used to work with me at NASA). So we decided to rest for awhile in the Botanical Gardens below the Capitol.  It’s always nice to sit among the flowers and trees and rest the tired feet.  We caught a taxi to Ebbets Grill, had a great dinner and conversation with Nancy and Bud, then they took us back to the truck in College Park.

WILLIAMSBURG, VA

Next day we drove on down to Williamsburg and spent the afternoon walking around the Colonial portion of the town.  It was interesting touring through the old Burton Church with it’s old cemetery,  There were a lot of locals dressed up as part of the daily tour that made it more realistic.

Lady at Colonial Williamsburg
Lady at Colonial Williamsburg

Mother & Daughter at Colonial Williamsburg
Mother & Daughter at Colonial Williamsburg


Colonial Williamsburg Cane Weaver
Colonial Williamsburg Cane Weaver

There was the Cane Weaver hurrying to give a demonstration of the craft and an old carriage giving rides to the tourists

Horse Carriage in Colonial Williamsburg
Horse Carriage in Colonial Williamsburg

Colonial Williamsburg House of Burgess
Colonial Williamsburg House of Burgess

At the end of the street is the House of Burgess which was used as the seat of the Virginia government prior to the revolution.  We didn’t have time that afternoon to take the tour through all of the buildings so we put it off until the next morning.  We did notice that like most cities (like Washington, DC) where politicians gathered to make decisions there are lots of taverns.  We counted 6 taverns in the several blocks that is considered Colonial Williamsburg.

Brickhouse Tavern
Brickhouse Tavern
Brickhouse Sign
Brickhouse Sign

Although I have to admit that the taverns provided lodging and food as well as a bar.

YORKTOWN, VA

Surrender Cave in Yorktown, VA
Surrender Cave in Yorktown, VA

We were going to Penny and Bill Cazier’s home for dinner that evening so we left early to drive the Colonial Parkway through Yorktown and down the peninsula toward Hampton.    We toured the Yorktown battlefield which was the deciding victory of the Revolutionary War with England.

Colonial Yorktown Home
Colonial Yorktown Home

We went by the cave where the English General Cornwallis surrendered to General Washington after the battle.  Then we toured the old town with it’s sixteenth century homes.

Lindy and I lived near a small village called Seaford below Yorktown and I wanted to show Jan the area.  I managed to show her more of the area than I anticipated after getting lost several times trying to find our old house.   The area has really been built up since the late 1980’s and I didn’t recognize most of the roads and businesses anymore.  We did finally find Rebecca Drive and the house still looked the same. Then it was another experience to find Penny and Bill’s house. Finally Penny’s phone directions got us there.  We had a wonderful evening with them.

ATLANTA

Stone Mountain Park
Stone Mountain Park

On to Atlanta.  We were running late to meet Cary and Darcy on the weekend in Atlanta when they were both off work so we decided to forgo the tour through Williamsburg and head for Atlanta.  I used to stay on the street outside Cary and Darcy’s home with the camper; however, with the 5th Wheel, it’s too big for the street especially since the street is on a steep hill!  We opted to stay in a campground and visit them in town.

Carving on Stone Mountain
Carving on Stone Mountain

Atlanta is like all large cities, most campgrounds are on the outskirts of downtown,  We decided to stay in Stone Mountain Campground which proved to be a very good choice.  Stone Mountain is a huge granite dome with a carving of Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis in the face of it.  They have turned it into a recreational area with an amusement park, walking trails, golf courses and an old antebellum home which had an Indian Pow-Wow going on the grounds.  We toured the grounds with the car and found a covered bridge and a grist mill too!

Stone Mountain Covered Bridge
Stone Mountain Covered Bridge

Stone Mountain Grist Mill
Stone Mountain Grist Mill

We celebrated Darcy’s birthday on Saturday evening then stayed all night at their house rather than drive back to the campground (not that we had drank too much, Ha!)  Sunday was a trip to the Farmer’s Market, breakfast and watching Atlanta Falcons slaughter my old team, the Washington Redskins.

LYNCHBURG, TN

Tennessee Hillside
Tennessee Hillside
Lynchburg Church
Lynchburg Church

Monday found us on the road again heading home.  The fall colors were still beautiful in Georgia and Tennessee.  We made it to Lynchburg in the late afternoon just in time to visit Uncle Jack and go on the final tour of the day.  It was interesting to see how he made his famous brew, but no samples.

Jack Daniels Distillery
Jack Daniels Distillery
Jan & Jon with Uncle Jack
Jan & Jon with Uncle Jack

Uncle Jack was a little cold, but he did allow us to get some Old #7 and his Single Barrel.  We had a nice tour and then went to downtown Lynchburg which was quite exciting with a Hardware store and a filling station.

Lynchburg Hardware Store
Lynchburg Hardware Store

Delivery Truck at Gas Station
Delivery Truck at Gas Station

Lynchburg Covered Bridge
Lynchburg Covered Bridge

But it was getting late and there was only one campground in town.  Low and behold there was another covered bridge at the entrance to the campground.  They just seemed to follow us around on this trip.  That made the tally 124, a whole lot of covered bridges!

We left Lynchburg early the next morning and started for Branson, MO.  We were meeting Jan’s granddaughter and her husband for dinner the next night.  We decided to drive all the way to Branson the first night and it was mistake.  I don’t like to drive after dark that much and the roads leading to Branson were the worst curvy roads that I had ever driven.  The campground host called them worse than a snake, but that wasn’t bad enough.  They were up and down hills with sharp 45 degree curves at the bottom.  No fun at all pulling a 5th Wheel!

We did a quick tour of Branson the next day then had dinner with Nicole and Tyler,  Then on to Kansas with a quick stop at Lindy’s grave and visited her aunt in Madison, KS.  We had lunch at the Chicken House in Olpe with Vivian and Lloyd Luthi.  We were home in Hoxie the next day just in time for a snow storm to hit the area.  It was November after all.

As I said to start, it was a busy year for Jan and I.  We are settled in for the winter now and don’t expect to start traveling until May of next year.  See you on the blog then.

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Fall Colors of New England – 3

I forgot to give credit to the couple that wrote the book that we used to find the covered bridges of New Hampshire in the Fall Colors of New England -2 blog.

‘New England’s Covered Bridges’, by Benjamin and June Evans, copyright 2004, University Press of New England

‘Covered Bridges of Vermont’, by Ed Barna, copyright 1996, The Country Man Press

‘The Field Guide to Lighthouses of the New England Coast’, by Elinor De Wire, copyright 2008, Voyageur Press

MAINE COAST

On top of Mt. Cadillac, Acadia National Park
On top of Mt. Cadillac, Acadia National Park

We arrived in Maine on the 23rd of October driving to Acadia National Park.  One of the major campground resorts at the park was offering a last two night special rate for a campsite on the beach so we decided to stay there.  One of the men in the park suggested that we drive to the top of Cadillac Mountain to watch the sunset.  It was beautiful.  You could see along the coast of Maine both east and southwest.  The sunset was beautiful also, but the photos were rather poor (I guess I need lessons in photographing sunsets).

We woke up the next morning to a raging northeaster with a pounding rain on the camper (so much for our campsite on the beach).  We braved the rain to visit the Visitors Center at the Acadia Park, but it was the last day that the park was open so we didn’t get a chance to really enjoy it.  I guess we left something for the future.  On the way back to the camper we saw a sign for;
Live Lobster  $4.49 each
We bought ten and took them back to the camper to boil and clean.  It was difficult stuffing a live lobster in a small pot of boiling water on top of the stove, but we persisted!  Of course we had to have lobster that night for dinner and IT WAS GOOD!

Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse, 1902
Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse, 1902

We moved down the  coast the next day looking for lighthouses.  There were very few campgrounds open and we couldn’t find any that were convenient to the coast line.  However, we did find a Elks Club that had camping facilities so we parked there for three days while we explored the coast and looked for lighthouses.  Out in the bay at Rockland was the Breakwater Lighthouse.  When the granite breakwater was constructed in 1889 a wooden light was built at the end.  It was replaced by a 25 foot brick lighthouse in 1902.

Sailboats in Camden Harbor
Sailboats in Camden Harbor

We drove north the next morning to start our search for more lighthouses.   Our first stop was at Camden Harbor.  It was interesting to see the big sailboats that had been stored for winter with a covering of shrink-wrap plastic over the deck and cabin area.  We were looking for the  Curtis Lighthouse which is on an Island just outside the Camden harbor.  However, we were unable to see the lighthouse from land.

Camden Library above the Harbor
Camden Library above the Harbor

At the end of the harbor was a cascade from the Megunticook River.  It was somehow piped under the streets and businesses of downtown Camden then released to cascade down the rocks into the bay.  I don’t know what they do when the river floods???

Fort Point Lighthouse, 1836, Stockton Springs
Fort Point Lighthouse, 1836, Stockton Springs

As we drove north, we drove out to Cape Jellison and the Fort Point State Park where the Fort Point lighthouse is located.  The lighthouse was originally built in 1836 to guide vessels into the Penobscot River for trade.  The station was rebuilt in 1857 and a pyramidal tower was added in 1890 to house the fogbell.

Fort Knox Bridge over the Penobscot River
Fort Knox Bridge over the Penobscot River

North along the coast we stopped to view the Penobscot Narrows bridge which was unusual in that the bridge roadways went on each side of the two main pillars and were held up by central cables.  This bridge design was also seen later in the city of Boston.

View of Fort Knox from Fort Know Website
View of Fort Knox from Fort Know Website

Just beyond the bridge is Fort Knox which was an interesting visit of a imposing stone fort.  It was built in 1844 after the British had invaded Bangor during the War of 1812.  It was to protect the interior of  Maine from future British invasion.  It was garrisoned with soldiers during 1863 to 1866 and again during the Spanish American War, but the fort never saw military action.

Church in Buckport, ME
Church in Buckport, ME

Across the Penobscot river from the Fort is the town of Buckport.  Nestled in among the fall trees is a beautiful white church.  Bucksport was a major port trading products from the interior of Maine for foreign imports.

We quickly found that looking for lighthouses took a lot more driving than looking for covered bridges.  Often the results were disappointing because they were too far away to be seen or were hidden behind inaccessible hills.  Many of the lighthouses can only been seen by boat.  The other problem is that lighthouses are usually at the end of a peninsula of land which is separated from the next peninsula by water (duh! It took a rocket scientist to figure that one out).  In Maine, the peninsulas extend a long way out of the mainland thus creating a lot of coastline and long drives to reach the end where the lighthouses are generally located.  However, often the drives were rewarded with other interesting or beautiful sights.  It took us awhile to figure out what these bushes were that covered several hills on our drive to the Dice Lighthouse.  Finally at the edge of one of the fields there was a large building that had BLUEBERRY PACKING PLANT painted on the side of it (duh x 2).

Blueberry Hill
Blueberry Hill
Field of Blueberries
Field of Blueberries

The fields were really pretty though and I still don’t know how they picked them.  Noticing how bare the hills of blueberries were, we both wondered where you could find a spot to have a thrill (on Blueberry Hill)!

Grist Mill near Belfast, ME
Grist Mill near Belfast, ME

Also we managed to find this mill along the drive to Dice Lighthouse.  I even braved the harrowing traffic zooming by on this narrow bridge as I took the photo just so you could see it.

Dice Lighthouse, 1838, Castine, ME
Dice Lighthouse, 1838, Castine, ME

Fortunately the Dice Head Lighthouse was worth the trip to find it.  It was originally built of rough rubble stone in 1838 to guide the way into the Penobscot river.  In 1858, it was encased in wood and a passage way was added from the house to the lighthouse.  In the 1870’s the wooden sheath was removed and the lighthouse remains that way today.  There were several more lighthouses further down on the main peninsula, but all were on islands too far away to be photographed.

Marshall Point Lighthouse, 1832, St. George, ME
Marshall Point Lighthouse, 1832, St. George, ME

At the very end of South Thomaston peninsula is a small fishing village called Port Clyde.  On the tip is the Marshall Point Lighthouse.  The original stone light was built in 1832.  In 1857 the lighthouse was upgraded to a 31 foot brick tower light.  In 1897 a bell was added to give fog warnings.

Pemiquid Point Lighthouse,1827, Bristol, ME
Pemiquid Point Lighthouse,1827, Bristol, ME

One of the more beautiful lighthouses we saw was the Pemiquid Point Lighthouse near the town of Bristol.  It was built in 1827 to mark the entrance to Muscongus Bay and John Bay.  It was thought that salt water was used to bind the stone in the original lighthouse and the mortar quickly decayed.  A new 35 foot stone lighthouse replaced the original in 1835.  A park has been established at the point and the house has been opened as a Fishermen’s Museum.

In the Boothbay Harbor area there are four more lighthouses located at various points around the peninsula.

Lighthouses of Boothbay Harbor
Lighthouses of Boothbay Harbor

Ram Island Lighthouse is located on Ram Island just a short way off Ocean Point.  It guided fishermen through the Fishermen Island Passage into Linekin Bay and Boothbay harbors.  The ocean drive around Ocean Point to view the lighthouse was quite a drive. Ocean Drive has the largest number of  beautiful summer resident homes that we had seen.  Burnt Island Lighthouse was on an Island off the east side of Southport peninsula Boothbay and was only visible from the Ocean Point Drive.  Thus it was too far to be seen clearly.  Hendricks Head Lighthouse was privately owned and had no public access.  It originally provided guidance into the Sheepscot river.  Cuckholds Lighthouse was on an Island named after an English gentleman that had his wife run away (!).  It was a ways off Cape Newagen and was on a very low Island.  In 1933, it was almost destroyed by a bad storm.
There were several more lighthouses between Boothbay Harbor and the southern border of Maine particularly around Portland, but we were running out of time and needed to head south.  We left Rockland and drove down near Portsmouth to stay overnight at a nephew of Paul and Debbie’s.  Their nephew was on duty with the Coast Guard, but we had a nice evening with his housemate and fellow Coast Guardsmen, Gordon.

Lodge at Cape Nettick, ME
Lodge at Cape Neddick, York, ME

It was pouring rain most of the afternoon.  We managed to get the 5th Wheel set up and then decided to drive up to the Cape Neddick and the Lighthouse which was supposed to be one of the Nation’s most photographs sentinels. We didn’t hold out much hope that it could even be seen through all the rain, let alone photograph it.

Cape Neddick Lighthouse, 1879, York, ME
Cape Neddick Lighthouse, 1879, York, ME

As it turned out, photographing the Cape Neddick Lighthouse in a storm was actually a benefit as the waves were pounding off the rocks creating fountains of spray. Built in 1879 to mark the entrance to the York river, the lighthouse was electrified in 1938 and automated in 1987.  In 1977, a digitized image of the lighthouse was chosen for inclusion in a time capsule aboard the Voyager II space probe.  Along with other earth artifacts, it is intended to convey the nature of our world to other civilizations that may exist in the universe.

So ends out trip to Maine and fun searching for the lighthouses along the coast.  We wished we had more time to explore the entire coastline.

See you again as we travel to Boston, Washington DC, Williamsburg and Atlanta;  not forgetting a stop on the way home at our favorite distillery, Jack Daniels.

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Fall Colors of New England – 2

NEW HAMPSHIRE FALL PHOTO

Ashland Mill pond
Ashland Mill pond
Ashland Mill
Ashland Mill


We moved to New Hampshire when the Limehurst Campground closed for the winter and we had finished with the northern Vermont covered bridges. Our first stop in New Hampshire was at the Ames Brook Campground in Ashland. It’s just south of Plymouth and convenient to the northern part of the state.


Mill below the falls
Mill below the falls

The town of Ashland has a beautiful mill obtaining it’s power from the pond above although it is no longer functioning as a mill. It has been renovated and turned into business offices.


Smith Mill Covered Bridge over the Baker river, Plymouth
Smith Mill Covered Bridge over the Baker river, Plymouth


We stopped by the Smith Mill Bridge on our way through Plymouth (our first in NH). It was reconstructed in 2001 after a fire destroyed the first bridge at this location. The first was built in 1850.

New Hampshire map with tours
New Hampshire map with tours

I decided to do the New Hampshire blog a little different. Instead of showing all of the bridges, falls, churches, etc. separately, I thought I would show the photos as we took our tours around the state. We did three tours in the northern and middle part (outlined in blue) from the campground in Ashland. Then we moved south to Henniker to the Mile Away Campground and toured the southwest portion of the state. These tours (plus the lower blue tour) also included covered bridges in Vermont that we hadn’t covered previously. However, I did include those Vermont photos in the Vermont blog.

The covered bridges that we photographed are shown by green X’s although not all are included in the photos (just too many!) You may ask why we didn’t cover the north and southeast portions of the state. There were three bridges further north, but we ran out of daylight and they were too far north for a return trip. The southeast portion of the state only had two and we again ran out of time to get to them. I’m sorry we missed the Dover bridge as the photo in the book looked good, but the Stowell bridge was a non-traditional bridge built in the 1990’s.



TOUR 1

Squam Covered Bridge,1990, over edge of Little Squam Lake, Ashland
Squam Covered Bridge,1990, over edge of Little Squam Lake, Ashland


Tour 1 was a long trip leaving Ashland and heading north east on the eastern side of the White Mountains. Our first stop was at a small covered bridge just outside Ashland on the lake. It was a beautiful small bridge which replaced an old, condemned steel and concrete bridge. The town of Ashland raised the money to convert the old bridge to a covered bridge.

Durgin Covered Bridge, 1869, over Cold river near Sandwich
Durgin Covered Bridge, 1869, over Cold river near Sandwich


Durgin Covered Bridge was off the main road several miles and we were again touring through the colorful woods on good gravel roads. The original bridge was built on this site in 1828, but was washed away in 1844. It was rebuilt three more time before this final bridge was built. Durgin bridge played a part in the underground railroad between 1830 and 1865.

Swift River Covered Bridge, 1869, over Swift river
Swift River Covered Bridge, 1869, over Swift river

Swift River Covered Bridge first built in 1850, destroyed by a flood in 1869, then rebuilt. The current bridge was completely restored by the town of Conway in 1991 after the road was replaced with a highway a short distance away and a new steel and concrete bridge built.

Swift River upstream from the Covered Bridge, Conway
Swift River upstream from the Covered Bridge, Conway

The beautiful restored covered bridge is used for foot traffic only. The view upstream from the bridge is the Swift River, a rocky stream lined with pines and hardwoods which are just beginning to show their color.

Albany Covered Bridge, 1858, over the Swift River near Albany
Albany Covered Bridge, 1858, over the Swift River near Albany


The Albany Covered Bridge is located along the scenic Kancamagus Highway which cuts through the White Mountains. A windstorm destroyed it a year after it was built, but it was rebuilt in the same spot and has been continually rebuilt to allow traffic through it to the Covered Bridge State Campground.

Rocky Gorge Falls along the Kancamagus Highway
Rocky Gorge Falls along the Kancamagus Highway

A short ways downstream from the Albany Covered Bridge is a concentration of granite rock in the Swift River stream bed. Over the years the water has carved out a gorge in the rock creating a falls and pool through the granite. The state has built a picnic area and a bridge over the gorge so that the gorge can be viewed from above.

Wentworth Golf Course Covered Bridge over Ellis river
Wentworth Golf Course Covered Bridge over Ellis river


Built in 1990 on the Wentworth Golf Course to provide access across the Ellis River for golf carts, this beautiful little bridge is privately owned and not accessable to the public. It is a replica of a larger bridge that was built back in the 1800’s over the river in a different location, but was destroyed by a flood and never replaced.

Upper Glen Ellis Falls
Upper Glen Ellis Falls
Lower Glen Ellis Falls
Lower Glen Ellis Falls


We were heading north up 16 highway through the White Mountians and were climbing up toward Pinkham Notch when we spotted a sign stating Glen Falls State Picnic area. Of course we had to see what it was and it turned out to be a spectacular set of falls cascading down the upper Ellis river. The upper falls was a short walk under the highway and along a well developed pathway with railings along the cascading river. As we passed the first smaller falls we approached a stairway cut into the shear wall of rock that led down to the lower falls. It was a long, wet trip down as the stream was bouncing along from rock to rock creating a fine mist. Then the cascade suddenly stopped and as we went lower, much lower, we began to see the arch of water at it poured over the edge of rock, bounced several times before dropping into a deep pool. It was a beautiful falls, but it sure was a long, tiring climb back up to the top. We were both tired, but happy that we did it.

Snow on Mt. Washinton in the distance
Snow on Mt. Washinton in the distance


As we drove over the Pinkham Notch, we got our first look at the back side of Mt. Washington. It is the tallest mountain in New Hampshire at 6288 feet and had very little snow on it for the time of year. As we drove down the other side of the mountain area, we came upon a turnout above a grove of oaks and maples that had turned bright red. The colors were fantastic and we couldn’t pass up taking a bunch of photos here (thanks for digital cameras!).


Red Oaks and Maples near Great Glen Trails
Red Oaks and Maples near Great Glen Trails
Mechanics Covered Bridge, 1862, over the Israel river
Mechanics Covered Bridge, 1862, over the Israel river

We turned west at Gorman and followed Highway 2 across to Lancaster where the Mechanics Covered Bridge was located. It was getting late by the time we were there and we still had three more covered bridges to see before dark.

Groveton Covered Bridge, 1852, over the Ammonoosuc river
Groveton Covered Bridge, 1852, over the Ammonoosuc river

By the time we made it up to Groveton Covered Bridge the sun was beginning to get low in the sky, thus the warm colors on the trees and support structure. The bridge is actually located within the town limits of Northumberland in the township of Groveton. It is no longer used for traffic as route 3 was rerouted in the late 30’s. It is one of the few bridges in New Hampshire painted both inside and outside.

Sunset on the Connecticut River
Sunset on the Connecticut River

We tried to make it down to the Mount Orne Covered Bridge which connects the town of Lancaster, New Hampshire with Lunenberg, Vermont crossing the Connecticut river. The original bridge was built in 1860’s, but was destroyed by a log jam. The new bridge was built in 1911 and is 267 feet long. Unfortunately, it was late and we were unable to get a good photo of it. It was impressive crossing the wide Connecticut.We drove back to Lancaster and got on I-93 for the drive back down to Ashland and the campground. I was a long day and a long drive of 227 miles with a lot of wonderful stops.

TOUR 2

Day 1

Livermore falls on the Pemigewasset river
Livermore falls on the Pemigewasset river

This tour turned out to be two days long as we got a very late start. We slept in and then had a great breakfast at a little hole-in-the-wall cafe in Ashland. Since it was almost noon we decided to just drive to a few covered bridges north of Plymouth. Our first stop was at the Livermore falls near Campton. It is the site of an old mill that used the water power of a rock cascade above it. The mill was built next to the railroad with loading platform to move the goods onto the railroad cars. The mill is now in ruins with nothing but a brick and rock base remaining. Although just barely visible in the photo, the mill and falls are beyond the railroad trestle. The old railroad crossing of the Pemigewasset river has also been abandon with one section entirely missing.

Bump Covered Bridge, unknown builder, over the Beebe river
Bump Covered Bridge, unknown builder, over the Beebe river

On a gravel road well back from the busy traffic of I-93 in what one would call a sleepy little hollow is located Bump Covered Bridge.

Blair Covered Bridge,1869, over the Pemigewasset river
Blair Covered Bridge,1869, over the Pemigewasset river

It is actually in the small village of Campton Hollow although well on the outskirts and provides access to the town for several farmers in the hollow. It was reconstructed in 1972 when Blair Covered Bridge in Campton was destroyed by a fire. The new builder made a deal with the city of Campton to restore Bump at the same time that he rebuilt Blair.

Jack-O-Lantern Covered Bridge, 1986
Jack-O-Lantern Covered Bridge, 1986

The Keating family of Woodstock built a golf course just south of the town in the early 80’s. On a pond in the golf course, they had built a replica of a beautiful covered bridge that once spanned the Pemigewasset River in the town of Woodstock. The original covered bridge was built in 1878 and was destroyed by fire in 1971. The town was unable to rebuild the original bridge again so the Keating family decided to build the replica of it on their golf course. Of course now the only traffic are golf carts and an occasional goose.

Day 2


Swiftwater Covered Bridge, 1849, over Ammonoosuc river
Swiftwater Covered Bridge, 1849, over Ammonoosuc river

The Swiftwater bridge was first erected in 1810 although it was destroyed by floods four times before this final bridge was built in 1849. It is unique because of the series of cascades that start above the bridge and end in two falls on the downstream side making it one of the most scenic bridges that we visited. We sat down below the pool on the rocks for awhile enjoying the view.

Haverfill/Bath Covered Bridge, 1829, over Ammonoosuc River
Haverfill/Bath Covered Bridge, 1829, over Ammonoosuc River

The Haverfill/Bath bridge located in Woodsville is the oldest still standing bridge in all of New Hampshire and New England. It is no longer used for traffic as the highway was moved in 1999. However; it is the first and only bridge on this site.

Haverfill pond on the Ammonoosuc River
Haverfill pond on the Ammonoosuc River

The pond formed above the covered bridge site was back water for the original mill and now provides power for the electric generating plant beside the bridge.

Bath Covered Bridge, 1832, over the Ammonoosuc River
Bath Covered Bridge, 1832, over the Ammonoosuc River

At 375 feet, the Bath Covered Bridge is the longest bridge in the interior of New Hampshire. It is a four span bridge crossing the railroad tracks as well as the river.

Jan & friends at the Brick Store
Jan & friends at the Brick Store

It is in the old village of Bath which boasts ‘America’s Oldest General Store’. It was still operating as a General Store and was filled with goods as well as antiques, photos, posters, plus merchandise that was sold in the 1800’s. Of course it was also decorated for Halloween which was obviously an important holiday in the northeast as extensive decorations were everywhere we went. Jan is sitting here between two of her pumpkin head friends. As one fellow said when we asked why the big deal about Halloween; “It’s the last holiday we have before we get snowed in for the winter!”

Mt. Washington Hotel located at Bretton Woods
Mt. Washington Hotel located at Bretton Woods

In 1772, the Royal Governor of New Hampshire set aside a grant of land at the base of Mt. Washington for Bretton Woods named for his home in England. In 1900, John Stickney, a wealthy entrepreneur built a luxury hotel at the base of the mountain. It took two years to complete and has 200 luxury rooms. The hotel had every advanced amenity available at the time, two golf courses, tennis courts and indoor swimming pools. After it was built, the wealthy from Boston, New York and Philadelphia traveled by train to vacation at the hotel. In the 1990’s, several New Hampshire businessmen purchased the hotel and surrounding area to built a winter resort at Bretton Woods. The area is now a year around resort with summer and winter activites.

Flume Gorge Covered Bridge,1871, over Pemigewasset River
Flume Gorge Covered Bridge,1871, over Pemigewasset River

Flume Gorge is a wonder and worth an afternoon of sightseeing. It is in the Franconia Notch State Park and there is an admission fee which includes a short bus ride to this beautiful covered bridge. It was built by the Lincoln Turnpike Company for the purpose of bringing people to the Flume Gorge. Currently the tour bus takes most of the visitors through the bridge to an information and restroom building at the start of the mile and a half hike up to the top of the Flume Gorge.

The climb starts with a half mile climb along side a granite outcropping with the Pemigewasset river cascading down over the rounded granite rocks. The Flume Gorge was created when a split occurred in a granite wall of rock. Over time the split was widened by water freezing and cracking away the granite walls. Now the gorge itself is over 800 feet long with up to 90 foot shear walls on each side. The state has built walkways and stairs along the base of the gorge where visitors can enjoy the beauty of the gorge and the falls within it.

Flume Gorge
Flume Gorge
Sentiel Pine Covered Bridge in Flume Gorge
Sentinel Pine Covered Bridge in Flume Gorge

After reaching the top of the flume, the trail continues along through the woods and begins to go back down to the base visitor center. It was a beautiful hike with several small brooks cascading down through the granite rocks. Crossing another branch of the Pemmigewasset high above the river is the Sentinel Pine Covered Bridge. This is not considered a historic bridge, but does have an interesting history. A white pine over 175 feet tall, called the Sentinel Pine, stood along side the canyon of the Pemmigewasset river. The trail down from the Flume went around the pine and around the canyon. In 1938, a hurricane hit the White Mountains and the Sentinel Pine was blown down. In 1939, 90 feet of the pine was used to span the canyon as the main beam of the new covered bridge across the river above the falls and large pool.

Clark's Trading Post Covered Bridge, 1904, over the Pemmigewasset River
Clark's Trading Post Covered Bridge, 1904, over the Pemmigewasset River

The railroad covered bridge was originally built across the Winooski river in Vermont on a short line between Montpelier and Barre. When the line was shut down in 1960, the Clark brothers purchased the bridge, dismantled it and moved it to their trading post in New Hampshire. There they added some old steam engines and passenger cars to carry tourists on a short trip up the Pemmigewasset river basin. The old steam engine was fired by wood and in beautiful condition. The passenger cars were gaily done which made you want to take a ride in them. Unfortunately, they were putting the cars and engines away by the time we arrived there to see the bridge or we probably would have enjoyed a ride on it.

It was a beautiful sunny day with a lot of spectacular sights, beautiful fall trees, interesting covered bridges and a natural wonder. What better way to end the day than to enjoy a delicious dinner in the Woodstock Brewery. Our good friend, Jennifer Judge (who is the Exaulted Ruler in our Elks Lodge), moved from North Woodstock, New Hampshire to Soldotna, Alaska. She recommended the Brewery (where she used to work) to us for dinner. It was a great way to end the day.

TOUR 3

We again started west from Ashland on this tour with the intent of visiting the Quechee Gorge and a few of the covered bridges that we had missed in Vermont. This would be continued on tours 4 and 5 also. However, the highlights of those covered bridges were shown in the Vermont blog and will not be shown again here.

Packard Hill Covered Bridge, 1878-1991, over the Mascoma River
Packard Hill Covered Bridge, 1878-1991, over the Mascoma River

Originally an open wooden bridge was built on this site in the 1780’s to reach Ichabod Packard’s combination grist mill and sawmill southwest of the town of Lebanon. The span was replaced by a covered bridge in 1878, then a Bailey bridge replaced the ruined covered bridge in 1952. That bridge was replaced in 1991 with a reproduction of the original covered bridge.

Croydon Branch of Sugar River
Croydon Branch of Sugar River

Along the back roads on the way to Newport, we came across a beautiful park-like setting with a pool with ducks in it surrounded by trees in bright fall colors.

Home and Farm near Newport
Home and Farm near Newport

Next to the river was a large home which was the main building in a extensive farm.

Blow-me-down Covered Bridge, 1877, over the Blow-me-down Brook
Blow-me-down Covered Bridge, 1877, over the Blow-me-down Brook

Blow-me-down bridge covers a very deep gorge of the brook of the same name near the town of Planfield. It is the same bridge that was built in 1877 and has only been restored once in 1980.

Cascading falls below Blow-me-down Covered Bridge
Cascading falls below Blow-me-down Covered Bridge

The cascading brook below the bridge is very beautiful although the trees and shrubs are dense and the sides of the gorge too steep to get a photo of the brook except from the bridge.

Falls downstream from Blow-me-down Covered Bridge
Falls downstream from Blow-me-down Covered Bridge

Further downstream the brook is dammed and a picturesque falls occurs. Although the bridge itself is not outstanding, the combination of the bridge, gorge, cascades and falls make it unique.

Dingleton Hill Covered Bridge, 1882, over Mill Brook
Dingleton Hill Covered Bridge, 1882, over Mill Brook

Near the town of Cornish Mills is the Dingleton Hill bridge. This area is on the western side of New Hampshire within a few miles of the Connecticut River. The bridge was built by James Tasker for $812 in 1882 and restored in 1983 by Milton Graton.

Kenyon Hill Covered Bridge, 1881, over Mill Brook
Kenyon Hill Covered Bridge, 1881, over Mill Brook

Kenyon Hill otherwise known as Blacksmith Shop bridge is located at Cornish City just upstream of the Dingleton Hill bridge. It was also built by James Tasker part of the eleven covered bridges he built in the area. It was also restored by Milton Graton.

Mill Brook connecting Dingleton Hill & Kenyon Hill bridges
Mill Brook connecting Dingleton Hill & Kenyon Hill bridges

Mill Brook wanders out of the Cryodon Mountain area through the Cornish township area and eventually enters the Connecticut River very near the Cornish Winsor Covered Bridge which spans the Connecticut.

TOUR 4

Fall trees reflecting in French Pond
Fall trees reflecting in French Pond

With the intent of touring the southwestern portion of New Hampshire and southeastern side of Vermont, we moved south to the town of Henniker and the pretty Mile Away Campground. It was a large campground on the edge of French Pond which was vivid with the colorful trees along it edge.

Rowell Covered Bridge, 1853, over the Contoocook River
Rowell Covered Bridge, 1853, over the Contoocook River

Since we were planning to visit several bridges in Vermont on this tour and there were only a few in New Hampshire, we decided to visit several in the Henniker area. The first was a pretty bridge below the Hopkinton reservior and electric power plant.

Henniker Stone Bridge on Contoocook river
Henniker Stone Bridge on Contoocook river

The town of Henniker is a beautiful small college town located close to the State Capitol of Concord. Therefore, the major malls and retail stores are located in the Capital and the businesses in Henniker are the local small town Mom and Pop businesses. This gives the town a homey quality and a beauty often seen in the small New England towns.

New England College Covered Bridge, 1972, over the Contoocook River
New England College Covered Bridge, 1972, over the Contoocook River

New England College is located in the town of Henniker. As part of the college, there is a covered bridge built in 1972 to provide access from the college dormitories to the college campus across the Contooook river. The bridge was built for foot traffic only.

Waterloo Covered Bridge, 1857, over the Warner River
Waterloo Covered Bridge, 1857, over the Warner River

Just east of the town of Warner, the Waterloo bridge was set in an area of colorful trees. Although the banks of the river below and above the bridge were too dense to take photos, the Warner river was bubbling over rocks into a large pool at the base of the bridge.

Fall tree colors on New Market road
Fall tree colors on New Market road

The New Market paved road was a beautiful drive through trees that were just beginning to get their fall color. Here the along the lower altitudes of southwestern New Hampshire, the trees had not reached the peak of their color except in a few places higher on the hill sides and mountain sides.

Bement Covered Bridge, 1854, over the Warren River
Bement Covered Bridge, 1854, over the Warren River

The New Market road took us to our next covered bridge near the village of Bradford. Mr. Long of Hopkinton, who was an engineer and designer for the US Army used his bridge truss to build the Bement Bridge. The bridge was made only with Hemlock.This was the last bridge on our Loop 4 so we drove back to Mile Away Campground.

TOUR 5

Fall trees near a County Farm
Fall trees near a County Farm

It was a foggy morning on the 22nd of October when we started out on our last loop looking for covered bridges. We were again touring both southwestern New Hampshire and southeastern Vermont.

Jan and I had both agreed that we were getting a little tired of covered bridges after seeing over a hundred, but we decided to do this last loop to finish the last concentration of ones in both states. It was also getting late in the season, the campgrounds were beginning to close or already closed and most of the trees had passed their peak in color. However, as we began to see this loop, the southern parts of the state still had a lot of beautiful trees.

Powder Mill Pond near Greenfield
Powder Mill Pond near Greenfield

We got lost several times trying to find our first covered bridge of the morning. The covered bridges book we were using to direct us to the bridges was either wrong about the name of the road or the name of the road had changed. At first we were disappointed when we saw the bridge. It was just another small bridge spanning a pond. Wow, were we going to be surprised! We drove across the bridge and found a small state park with a boat ramp and picnic tables. We pulled into the park and notice some bright orange and yellow trees reflected into the lake at the boat ramp. It was definitely worth a photo, so we drove into the park. As it turned out, it was one those photo opportunities that you are rarely privileged to experience. As we took the photo, we turned back to look at the bridge and were astounded.

County Farm Covered Bridge, 1937, over Powder Mill Pond
County Farm Covered Bridge, 1937, over Powder Mill Pond

There wasn’t a breath of breeze, thus the pond surface was so smooth that it became a perfect mirror with the exception of a few leaves floating on the surface. In the background, the trees were slightly muted by the remnants of the early morning fog. The fall colors on the trees were visible, but not vibrant except on the pond surface. The Bridge was perfectly mirrored in the surface of the pond and in fact, in the photo it is difficult to tell which was the top of the photo except that the bridge in the pond was slightly darker color. This bridge definitely became the highlight ‘Covered Bridge of New Hampshire’.

Carlton Covered Bridge, 1869, over the Ashuelot River
Carlton Covered Bridge, 1869, over the Ashuelot River

We continued on the loop to find a grouping of four bridges near the village of Swanzey. Among them was the Carlton bridge. The earliest crossing here was a wooden bridge built in 1789 although it wasn’t covered. In 1869, local farmers built the covered bridge. In 1996, the bridge was completely rebuilt.

Thompson Covered Bridge, 1832, over the Ashuelot River
Thompson Covered Bridge, 1832, over the Ashuelot River

The Thompson bridge is in the middle of the village of West Swanzey. Just downstream from the bridge is a large dam to hold back the water of the Ashuelot river which is used for power by the mills along the river. There still several mills to left of the photo that are still in use.

Slate Covered Bridge, 1862, over the Ashuelot River
Slate Covered Bridge, 1862, over the Ashuelot River

Continuing along the Ashuelot river southward, we found the third in the series of bridges in the Swanzey area. This bridge had a difficult past. The first covered bridge replaced an uncovered span across the river in 1837. The covered bridge was destroyed when a local farmer was crossing with four oxen causing the bridge to collapse dropping the oxen and farmer in the river. In 1862, the bridge was completely destroyed by a fire. Then in 1987, a snow plow caused extensive damage to it. Finally in 2001, the bridge was restored to it’s original condition.

Coombs Covered Bridge, 1837, over the Ashuelot River
Coombs Covered Bridge, 1837, over the Ashuelot River

And finally, the Coombs bridge was the last in the Swanzey area. This pretty little bridge was nestled among the trees just off the main road. Although the bridge is now limited to car traffic only, it is still in use by those who inhabit the other side of the river.

Road side trees in Fall colors
Road side trees in Fall colors

This drive along the Ashuelot river was beautiful with the hardwoods in full color. Although they had an early winter storm south of the area in Massachusetts and Connecticut earlier in the month that damaged the fall color, the color of the leaves in southern New Hampshire were just reaching their peak.

Ashuelot Covered Bridge, 1853, over the Ashuelot River
Ashuelot Covered Bridge, 1853, over the Ashuelot River

Ashuelot bridge was a beautiful bridge in a colorful setting. Along the right side of the bridge road were a series of red berry bushes.

Red Berry Bush
Red Berry Bush

Unfortunately we were unable to see the bridge when we were taking photos of the bushes. Ashuelot bridge was originally built to transport the Ashuelot Railroad trains across the river. In 1999, the bridge was completely restored as a vehicle traffic bridge by the town of Winchester.

Maple Syrup Cook House
Maple Syrup Cook House

As we were traveling through Vermont and New Hampshire, we continually saw small out-buildings with smoke coming out the tin chimneys. Spending our summers in Alaska, we naturally thought of a smoke house for curing meat or fish. Finally after seeing all the Maple syrup available for sale almost everywhere , the light finally dawned that these were sugar cooking buildings. This was one of the best ones we saw on the trip.

So ends our covered bridge tour through Vermont and New Hampshire. We came to enjoy the fall tree colors. With the help of searching for covered bridges, we got to see more of the beautiful areas of these two states that the average tourist never sees. We also were able to take photographs, some which are shown in these two blogs that we will enjoy for years to come. Many of these pictures will reappear again on notecards and hopefully someday on paintings by both of us.
It was time to head to Maine. We found by calling ahead that the Acadia National Park was closing the 25th of October for the winter and with it, most of the campgrounds. We managed to make it there for the last weekend. But that’s another blog story which you can read next month with our travels to see the Maine lighthouses.

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Fall Color in Vermont

UPDATE:

Sorry this took so long to put together.  I know that many of you were anxious to see some of the photos we were bragging about from our East Coast Trip.  1, we didn’t have time nor often adequate internet access to put this together during our trip.  2.  It turns out that I would have been unable to put this on our blog earlier (even if it had been done) because there was a software glitch in the blog program which didn’t allow the insert of a photograph.   And as you will see, there is no way that I would update the blog without the photographs!  So, here is Vermont!

We started on our fall vacation on the first day of October.  We had been told by one of our summer guests that the peak time for the trees in Vermont was Columbus Day so we traveled fast along I-80 to Pennsylvania stopping for a quick visit with my cousin Betsy Sterns just outside Cleveland.
We got off the freeway as we arrived in Pennsylvania and took the two lane 6N highway (our normal preference) across the state enjoying the scenery, the new crop apples and the really good sweet corn roasting ears. Through southwestern New York, we skirted the eastern side of the Adirondack Mountains up to the Canadian border.  As we were traveling through Pennsylvania and lower New York the leaves were beginning to turn, but just hadn’t reached the peak that we would see in northern Vermont.

farm north of Colchester
Farm north of Colchester

We crossed into Vermont at the upper end of Lake Champlain and drove down the length of Grand Isle to Colchester just north of Burlington where we parked the 5th wheel for a few days.  We planned to leave the 5th wheel and then travel around the area with the truck which turned out to be an excellent idea.  The weather around Burlington was still warm for most of the trees.  It was influenced by Lake Champlain and of the unusual late start to fall.

Autum trees of Vermont hillside
Autum trees of Vermont hillside

However, the trees higher up in the mountains were at their peak of beauty.

Our first day in Vermont started with a chance meeting with a local farmer in a filling station.  He told us to be sure to drive through Smuggler’s notch as it was at it’s peak in color.  As we drove northeast toward the mountains, we could begin to see the wide range of colors on the mountain sides.

Grist Mill on Browns River, Jericho, VT
Grist Mill on Browns River, Jericho

We were on a paved, narrow road winding through the trees and fields of northern Vermont and entered the small town of Jericho.  A stream cascaded down from the mountains through the town and an old Grist Mill stood along the side of the stream.

Poland Covered Bridge, Cambridge Junction, VT
Poland Covered Bridge, Cambridge Junction, VT

As we were passing through the small village of Cambridge, we noticed a small covered bridge just off the side of the road.  The combination of the Grist Mill and the covered bridge really peaked our interest.

Smugglers’ Notch is a ski area on one side of the mountain and then a narrow, winding pass between the mountains and on the other side the famous Stowe ski area.  As we climbed up toward the pass, the trees turned to orange and reds and as we gained altitude they turned bright yellow.

Brilliant yellow lane up Smuggler's Notch
Brilliant yellow lane up Smuggler's Notch

It was a beautiful drive and made us realize that the real beauty of Vermont was on the back roads, many of which were winding, narrow one-lane gravel roads climbing through the mountains and hills. And that was where the covered bridges were located.

We obtained a book titled ‘Covered Bridges of Vermont’, written by Ed Barna which gave directions to locate them, photos and facts about the bridges.  There were 106 classified as original and partially functional plus others that were reproductions of destroyed original bridges. Originally there were over five hundred documented covered bridges of which most were destroyed by time, damaged beyond repair by floods or destroyed by the hands of man.
We outlined roads from our campground in Colchester which allowed us to find most of the bridges in the northwestern Vermont mountains. Each of the loop roads could be driven in less than a day.   Then we moved the camper south of the state Capitol in Montpelier outside a small town called Williamstown. There we outlined loop roads which covered most of the northeastern and middle portions of the state.
We spent the next ten days touring the state. Of the 106 existing bridges in Vermont listed in the book, we found 75 and took photos of them. In addition to the fascinating covered bridges, we encountered old mills, small villages, steepled churches, mountain streams and falls, beautiful farms and old barns.  Jan and I took almost a thousand photos in Vermont.  Obviously I can’t and won’t show all of them to you; however, I will show you what we thought were the most interesting and beautiful bridges, mills, farms, churches and scenery in the state.


A. M. Foster Covered Bridge, Cabot-Plain
A. M. Foster Covered Bridge, Cabot-Plain

Up high on one of the ridges was probably the most photogenic covered bridge in Vermont.  It is the A. M. Foster bridge located in the Cabot Plain region and is really a reproduction of an original bridge in the region that was destroyed by flood.  There was a light dusting of snow on the roof and lots of it in the grass.  I was in tennis shoes and got wet, cold feet, but the photo was worth it!
I chose bridges to show you because they were interesting or had some or lots of fall color.  Trying to decide which ones to show in limited space was difficult.

Upper Morgan Covered Bridge, 1887, on Lamoille river
Upper Morgan Covered Bridge, 1887, on Lamoille river
Schribner Covered Bridge, date unknown, Cihon river near Johnson
Schribner Covered Bridge, date unknown, Cihon river near Johnson
Codding Covered Bridge, 1877, Kelly river on Codding Hollow road
Codding Covered Bridge, 1877, Kelly river on Codding Hollow road
Seguin Covered Bridge, 1850, Lewis river near Charlotte
Seguin Covered Bridge, 1850, Lewis river near Charlotte

Upper Morgan,  Codding and Scribner Covered Bridges were chosen because of the fall foliage colors, the streams below the bridges and they were similar to the many other bridges we saw.  Codding was especially interesting because it was called the ‘Kissing Bridge’.  Back in the 1800’s courting was a little difficult due to the presence of a chaperon when the boy and girl were together.  However, Codding bridge was fairly long and it took awhile for the horses to pull the carriage through to the other end.   It was very dark inside the bridge which gave ample time for the young couple to kiss.  Scribner was special not only for the cascading stream, but also for the farm on the other side which raised Elk.  There were some beautiful antlers on some of the bulls in the pen.  We were delighted with Sequin Bridge.  It was set way off the main road down a narrow gravel road lined with glorious fall trees.  The Bridge turned out to be very old and very small, but it was still used regularly.  I took a lot of photos of it.


Smith Covered Bridge, 1870, Barnard Brook near South Pomfret
Smith Covered Bridge, 1870, Barnard Brook near South Pomfret

Smith Bridge was different in that the sides were open with a lattice structural design which was a common form of structure, but this was the first bridge where the sides were left open.  Actually the hillsides behind the bridge were beautiful, but didn’t show in the photo.  It was the entrance to a farm property and was a private bridge.  We didn’t go across it, but took photos from the front.


Upper Falls Covered Bridge, 1840, Black river near Downers Four Corners
Upper Falls Covered Bridge, 1840, Black river near Downers Four Corners

Upper Falls Bridge was unique because it had just been renovated with a new metal roof and siding.  Put into an area where the hardwoods were at their peak of color and the bridge became spectacular!  Located west of the Connecticut River, it was owned and restored in 1975 by the local town. Nearby, there were stone remains of old mills that were destroyed by floods of the past.


Willard Twin Bridges, 1870, above the Ottauquechee river dam near North Hartland
Willard Twin Bridges, 1870, above the Ottauquechee river dam near North Hartland

Willard Bridges were built over two separate dams on a lake feeding power to a woolen mill on the side of the first bridge.  There was an island in the middle of the dam, thus requiring two separate bridges.  The falls over the dam were both spectacular, but we were unable to get close to them because it was private property WELL POSTED! I have included them here because it was very unusual that two bridges were so close together.
That did bring up an interesting antidote from the book.  It seems that in a small village in Vermont the locals were trying to decide whether to build another covered bridge across the stream that bisected the town so other farmers from that area could come to the town.  One of the councilmen made the following statement:  “We already have four covered bridges on the stream in town.  Why don’t we just cover the whole damned stream?”  The bridge never got built.


FALLS AND CASCADES
Streams and covered bridges go together obviously the latter to get over the former.  But in addition, water was a main source of power for all the towns and villages in the early Vermont.  Upper Vermont being mostly mountainous provided many beautiful falls and cascades through the rocky mountainsides.  Put streams and covered bridges together and the photo opportunities increase exponentially.

Sayers Covered Bridge, date unknown, over Ompompanoosuc river near Thetford Center
Sayers Covered Bridge, date unknown, over Ompompanoosuc river near Thetford Center

A magnificent example of the beautiful combination of cascading water and covered bridge.  Not only were the cascades beautiful, but the right sides of this area was covered with the stone walls of a grist mill and a sawmill.  However, they were so overgrown with vegetation that they were barely visible.


Warren Covered Bridge, 1879, over Mad river in Warren Village
Warren Covered Bridge, 1879, over Mad river in Warren Village

A dam was constructed below the bridge to produce electricity is located on the left side of the photo although not visible.  The water from the dam fed a huge tube which dropped through a turbine creating electricity for the town.  Originally the white building on the left was a woolen mill with a water wheel.  It had been renovated into a home.


mill-covered-bridge-photos

Mill Bridge built in 1883 just outside of Tunbridge was another example of a bridge, waterfall over a dam that generated power.  Originally there was a Grist Mill next to Mill Covered Bridge using the water from the dam, the Saw Mill  had its own wheel and a blacksmith shop as part of a mill complex using the river power.


Old Grist Mill converted to Power Generator plant.
Old Grist Mill converted to Power Generator plant on Gihon river

An example of a mill that was changed into a power generating station was found on the Gihon river.  We took this photo from the center of the covered bridge that crossed the stream.  This mill channeled the water off the stream upstream, ran it through turbin-wheels under the building and out the rear into the stream again.


Renovated Grist Mill on Brewster river, Jefferson
Renovated Grist Mill on Brewster river, Jefferson

This Grist Mill was located on a very small stream using a water wheel.  However, the mill had be sold and then renovated into a home.  The water wheel was moved from the stream side of the home to the street side where is was visible for the tourists.  There was also a covered bridge upstream from it.


Old Sawmill at Kent Corners
Old Sawmill at Kent Corners

Then there was the old 1803 sawmill that had be abandoned over a hundred years ago.  It was fed by the water through a pipe from the small lake where the water is falling over the dam.  It was under restoration by the locals in Kent’s Corner, but had a long way to go.   A very small, private covered bridge drew us to the area and we were able to photograph it hidden in the trees at the back of the owners yard (we tried to get permission, but nobody was home).


Old Mills on Otter river downtown Vergennes
Old Mills on Otter river downtown Vergennes

The ultimate use of water for power was at the city of Vergennes where a very large dam held back a lake  in the center of the city.  We drove over the dam noticing the water cascading down the under the city street and then drove around the back to see the falls.  There were two of them and they had originally provided power for several mills, but were now used to generate electricity for the city.  It was interesting because the dams were a natural barricade of rock across the Otter river damming it.  The mills were built on top of the rock base forcing the water to go through two separate cascades.  The city street over the dam was actually a bridge.


Moss Glen Falls between Granville & Warren
Moss Glen Falls between Granville & Warren

We were driving up a winding mountain road looking for another covered bridge when we saw this beautiful falls cascading down the side of the mountain.  It wasn’t on our map, but later found it on the topographic map and it was called Moss Glen Falls.  There were many falls and cascades on the streams in Vermont and we stopped to enjoy them as we covered the back roads in the mountains.


CHURCHES, FARMS, OLD BARNS, OLD HOMES & BEAUTIFUL TREES

churches

It seems to be a tradition to photograph the white churches of New England and far be it from me to be any different.  It seems that the people of New England made the bright white spires on the their churches to stand well above the surrounding forests to guide the parishioners to their doors.  The results were often quite spectacular.


Boyden Winery Farm, Cambridge
Boyden Winery Farm, Cambridge

On that first loop tour through the Smuggler’s Notch we came over a hill to see the Boyden Winery Farm down below us.  The tasting room was closed for the year so we didn’t stop to taste the local wine.

farms

house-18121

The original bridge across the Ottauquechee river was old iron Union Street bridge when the yellow home was built in 1812.  It was condemned in 1965 and Middle Covered Bridge was constructed by the last of the covered-bridge builders, Milton Graton.


1883 Home at Mill Bridge, Tunbridge
1883 Home at Mill Bridge, Tunbrid

Another beautiful old home was found behind the Mill Covered Bridge in Tunbridge.  The sign on the side of the home indicated it was built in 1883.  These are but a few of the beautiful homes and farms that we photographed on our tours through the back country of Vermont.


And finally, I can’t finish this overview of Vermont without showing a few of the photos of the fabulous autumn trees in the Green Mountain State.

autumn-trees-vt1

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END OF SUMMER AT KASILOF RV PARK

Last look at Kasilof RV Park

Everything is boarded up.  The lines are all drained, tomorrow we head to Anchorage with a flight out to Denver early Monday morning.  From there we meet with Dave and Shirley who will take us back to Kansas for the winter.  It’s sad to say goodbye, but it’s been a really great summer with lots of friends visiting (we will get to that later), who helped us make a ton of improvements (more of that later too) and the weather has been spectacular!  We had a whole month with no rain (bad news for the forest fires) and temps up in the high 80’s (now that’s hot here!).  But then as usual, the reds came into the river and the rain came back too.  Rain wasn’t bad this year at all and it helped alleviate some of the fires that were up here (fortunately not close to us).

So let’s take a quick look back at what happened this summer and who was here to visit us (not counting RV’ers who we enjoyed having with us too):

 

Travis finishing the Siding on the Office

 

Travis Andregg, Karen and Todd’s oldest son came to visit us and work at the Park for a month in May and June.  One of the many, many tasks he helped us accomplish was the new Office space.  He helped me put up the walls, lay the floors and put up the interior sheet rock and ceiling.  Then while I did the electrical and the finish work on the inside, he cut and installed the wood siding to match the rest of the Lodge.

Travis first Sockeye (Red) Salmon

It wasn’t all work and no play though.  Here he is catching his first sockeye salmon at the Russian River with all the other Combat Fisher-persons.  We had a great day there with lots of fish and fisher people.

He also caught his first King salmon and Halibut when we went fishing with our favorite guide and friend, Captain Don Erwin of the Alaska Trophy Charters.  He caught lots of Halibut that day also.

 

Jacob & Friends going Clamming

 

We took Travis back to Kansas with us for his sister Nicole’s wedding in June and brought back Jacob Post, Debbie and Paul’s youngest son to help with other tasks for a few weeks.  Here he is posing with some of his eagle friends waiting for the tide to go out so he could use that clam shooter over his shoulder to pop out those elusive razor clams.

Making the Conex disappear

We had purchased a used Conex storage unit for the Park.  Jake and Jan were busy painting it Forest Green to make it blend into the spruce and cottonwood forest behind it.  They must have done a really good job painting it because I haven’t been able to find it lately (actually it’s so full of stuff I’m wondering where I can put our 4-wheeler).

Debbie arranging the Office Store

Debbie flew up a couple of weeks after Jake came with us and spent a week helping out too.  The new Office had been completed and she took over the task of arranging the gifts and things in the store portion.  She also got to do some fishing with Jake and Kevin, but it was too early for the Reds to be here and the Kings were as elusive as usual.

Jerod & Jordan traveling north

At this same time, Jerod, Jordan and Jerod’s friend, Brett were driving north with the Park’s new addition, the ‘Amazing Grace’ which is a nine passenger van to be used to haul around guests at the Park.  They were pulling a boxed in trailer with our 4-wheeler and two inflatible pontoon boats to be used on the Kasilof river and in Johnson Lake plus a bunch of other stuff that everyone thought we needed in Alaska (and we do!).

Moving Sod from the Fire Pit

They arrived a couple of days after Paul and they all quickly went to work helping build the fire pit.  Here Jerod and Paul were hauling out layers of sod to the sides.

Ryan as Mr. Cool

 

Ryan, Kevin’s oldest son arrived shortly before Paul and was soon installing windows in the rear of the Lodge for the new bedrooms that added last fall and finished this spring.

Ryan & Paul installing Lodge Windows

 

Here Ryan is inserting the window while Paul is helping as he can to provide materials and support.  Soon a window was added to each new bedroom without outside access allowing for exit in case of a fire in the Lodge.

 

New Walkway to Kitchen

Three of Ryan’s Firemen friends, Jeff, Dave and John came to visit and catch fish (duh!).  While they were here they help build a new walkway to our camp kitchen area (now does that really surprise you that four firemen would want to build a new gravel walkway so they could get to the kitchen?  DUDx2!).  Never-the-less, the new walkway was really nice and we needed it.

New Walkway to Deck from Lodge

 

It was so great that they added another from the Lodge so they could get there faster. Actually, we had a great time with them and they helped us at lot fixing up the fire pit (go back to the fire pit story for this one).  They also caught a lot of salmon and halibut even more than they could get in their fish boxes so they left some for us.  We have so much fun up here that I don’t know how anyone could stand to not come up and join us!!!!!!


Stromgren Family
Stromgren Family

They no more than left when that crazy family from Topeka came up to visit us, THE STROMGRENS, Jan’s youngest daughter’s family.  Oh what a wild and wicked time we had with them (sorry to the Jesus figure that they had with them).  They brought this small Jesus figure with them from their church with the idea what the rest of the world was like and to keep their sheep in the fold.  We took him with us everywhere and showed him what it was really like to live in the New Frontier with all it’s beautiful scenery, wonderful fishing and delightful weather.  Needless to say that there were a few characters that were encountered that might make Jesus rise to the occasion; however they prevailed and those characters were held at bay and enjoyed!

Sea Life Center

It wasn’t all fun and games as was seen in their section in the blog.  Craig and the boys helped with the building of the fire pit and several other tasks around the property while Kyra, Marissa and Miranda did maid duty in the Lodge and helped prepare food for all of us.  We visited Homer and Seward and they went on a great Halibut trip with our favorite Captain Don.  Kevin and I took them salmon fishing and eventually all the guys caught their salmon.  The girls had a little more trouble in that area, but it was largely do to lack of salmon when they were fishing.

YODLING

 

Nephew Kevin and his new best buddy, Brandon (because he helped him catch a red) kept us entertained each evening with glorious singing around the kitchen table.  It was very entertaining from afar since we were as far as we could get away around the camp fire or in the Lodge playing cards.

 

 

 

Salty Dawg Saloon

 

 

We just dumped them off at the airport and had to go to Seward the next day to pick up our friends from Hoxie, Dave and Shirley Cooper (Dave is actually Jan’s cousin although she won’t admit it.  That Cooper clan is that way!!)  We had a blast with them too although Shirley was slightly under the weather with her bum knee.  They had come up on a Cruise line and we toured Seward in the rain (familiar scene) then went Halibut fishing and salmon fishing, moose watching and general good times with a foggy trip to Homer.

Evening Camp Fire

Less we forget our wonderful evenings around the campfire with Shirley bundled up like a mummy and the rest of us lost in the smoke from the wet logs we were trying to burn.  Actually, we enjoyed the evenings around the campfire tremdously especially this time of year when the evenings are cool, but calm and pleasant.  The sun sets around 9pm and it is glorious!


Todd's Red, RED Salmon


But that wasn’t all of the visitors.  Along came Todd and insisted on going fishing everywhere!!!

Halibut Fishing

He insisted on going Halibut fishing with Dave and then he had to go fishing at the Russian River for Reds. The worse part of it was that he caught fish wherever he went!  We did have a good time and we caught fish too!!  But that was only part of what he did while he was here.  He helped me lay out and build the deck extension which was a huge job with a stairs down to the driveway below.  It looks great as you will see below.  Come up and enjoy it with us sometime next

SUMMER!

Finished Deck Extension

Steps from Driveway to Deck

 


 

 

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