Archive for May, 2015


I was so happy to meet a Lagotto and his canine and human friend upon arrival in Surrey although it confused me that I was in Surrey instantly upon crossing the border. Not knowing where to go I got a bit lost, the Info lady straightened me out and warned about exit traffic from Vancouver as the day I arrived was the day the camping season officially began with a 3-day holiday weekend. I didn’t quite get this right, thinking traffic would actually be in the city, as it turned out everyone with a vehicle apparently decides to head west beginning at 3 pm along BC 1 towards the town of Hope and the mountains. Obviously the road is not big enough for everyone so everyone sorta sits there, just like in LA and, I don’t know, maybe they play some sort of game like lets count foolish foreigners in big vans that think they can actually make any progress on this highway.

Nevertheless I had a fun but faint time seeing Stanley Park, an oasis of green, calm and scenic in contrast to the actual city. I was wobbly and lightheaded, close to embarrassingly passing out on the lovely promenade. Note to self don’t drink a strong iced mocha for breakfast with no food or water when sleep deprived; it sounds like a good idea but after the initial bolt of energy something odd happens, collapse. That was solved by a nice meal, 3 or 4 glasses of ice water and a beautiful view.

Then I drove randomly through Vancouver, currently a very Asian city with a clean, fun and vibrant downtown area.

OK, that’s all I’m going to write tonight, remember I said this will be in stages. It will take me awhile to get caught up. I’m tired but happy tonight after a very long and spectacular drive in dense mountain forests and stunning open agricultural ranch land and back to forests over and over.

The ice will be coming!!!!  And the pelting rain!
And pictures will be coming, here’s one in advance….   I’m sure I took some photos in Vancouver, didn’t i? … LOL

bear

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This trip has been the focus of my energy and hopes for well over a year; actually longer, much longer as I first saw Alaska on a family trip in the late 1960s. My Mom likes to remind me how she rented a cabin for both me and my brother on the Alaska Ferry and neither of us used it! I remember that very well as I was being flirted by a handsome blond stranger and I happily accepted the invitation to sleep on the deck with the other seasoned crew. I longed to see the perfectly formed miniature trees again, the huge humpy bears and the surprisingly warm at 60 deg everlasting light days. When I was young I thought Alaska was a fairy play ground, nature shaping her creatures and plants with a creative flare best suited to mystical beings. I felt at home there and I wanted to return.

After loosing several days travel time to RV repairs and rescheduled flights, I was more than anxious. So much to think about, would my dogs behave, would my 20 year old LT be able to handle the long grind, would my heart be big enough to take in and keep memories, images and dreams to refuel my future? I wanted to know the folk-lore, the history and the mystery of what makes Alaska so special and abundant with her volcanoes, earthquakes, glaciers, powerful wildlife, abundance of birds, high waves, huge forests and her native people. I am a kinesthetic learner; first hand experience is my pandemic, ok not a disease but a driving force.

I am not in Alaska as I write this but in the US struggling with wifi, my air conditioner is going and heavy drops of rain are making music on my RV. How can it be so hot and still rain with this thick heavy wetness like clumps of normal raindrops glued together? This is love to me, the air electric, the unexpected half clear sky, sun, puffy clouds and me in the center of the concert hall.

The first night was a quick sleep at a rest stop near Red Bluff and the next day a stop at Mount Shasta for shopping at the Berryville Natural Grocery and nice little lunch after I’d mistakenly taken the turn up the mountain for the town of Shasta. Not at all the same thing. The second night landed in an RV Park in Salem, the Hee Hee Illahee RV Resort owned and operated by the Siletz tribe, the name means, “A Fun Place to BE,” very cool. I badly needed the hot tub as my Thoracic Outlet Syndrome had flared badly and the pain was nauseating and intense. The jets weren’t working I wanted them to but you know how that goes.

Hee Hee Illahee RV Resort in Salem, Oregon

Hee Hee Illahee RV Resort in Salem, Oregon

Passed this gorgeous lake in OR; there used to be an RV campground nearby… sigh, it is no more. So Beautiful.

A beautiful lake in Oregon

A beautiful lake in Oregon

Had a lunch stop the next day in Olympia. I’d liked this town last time I visited and I still like it.

Olympia, WA

Olympia, WA

 

 

The End of the Oregon Trail

The End of the Oregon Trail

Desert

Camp that night was at the Cedars in Ferndale, A Holiday Trails Resort.

I asked for a quiet and dark spot and got it!  :)

I asked for a quiet and dark spot and got it! 🙂

A Little Friend

A Little Friend

Saw this on my walk

Saw this on my walk

 

Passing though Seattle, just no time to stop.

Passing though Seattle, just no time to stop.

Passing Seattle in a hurry

Passing Seattle in a hurry

 

Then it happened, the first big event!!! The Border! It was early and the line went quickly. I had to give away my half-carton of expensive organic eggs I’d just bought from Whole Foods as a precaution against the Bird Flu. I thought that was ridiculous but I wasn’t going to argue.

The Canadian Border

The Canadian Border

In all places that Pines grow many were dead or dying, rivers were running low, mountain snow was either absent or way too high up for early May. I saw this everywhere, it didn’t matter if the grasses were brown or green, the diminishing effects of water and ice, the alteration of weather patterns of air currents and reflected heat were screaming to anyone listening.

Next up: First Days in Canada

I have so much to say. But this will be a little at a time. For those keeping track and wondering, today I’m near Radium Hot Springs in British Columbia camped by a rushing and noisy brook. It’s cloudy but sunny, maybe it will rain, I’m not sure. Rain happens frequently and suddenly here  in Canada unlike in Southern California where it’s a get out and dance celebration.

Here’s photo of where I was several days ago… there are many more, I will post them in time.

Lake Moraine in May, sill frozen.

Lake Moraine in May, sill frozen.

I have seen great beauty and experienced pain and sorrows. This trip, after-all is not about renewal; laughing and singing, but must be about introspection, contemplation, endurance and worry. Things go wrong, I am well aware of this, it’s never expected.

More later, and I promise gorgeous photos.

Yeah! I’m in Placerville at Lee and Craig’s! The dogs are loving it. Early morning was heralded by wild barking, there were my three Lagotto doing super fast zommies  and ‘squishies’ (I just made that up for the way the dogs wiggle themselves into anything wet) in the grass drenched from the sprinklers… to SO CAL folks, remember those things, sprinklers and green lawns? They still have them here. Mason has the biggest happiest grin on his face, chasing and exploring and snuggling in laps. I love seeing them so happy. Not sure Zak is not entirely pleased with his houseguests, a few snarls here and there, sure can’t blame him will all the energy running around. Be we do thank him and Tobey.

Dogs Running in Grass!

Dogs Running in Grass!

Before I tell you abut the drive up I have to tell you that the L.T. is back to that old, running too hot syndrome. You know that issue, I’ve had fixed 2, 3, 4 times already. And why my Ford died too….overheating….

Going up the Cuesta Grade  on Hwy 101 it happened. I could not believe it!!! I looked and looked but there it was the heat indicator rising way too much , I was driving slow and easy. For those that don’t know I’ve already replaced radiator, water pump, thermostat at least 3 times, temperature sensor, hoses, fan clutch pulley ….. and did you guess it? These are the symptoms, runs too hot when going up a steep hill, cools when downshifting into a lower gear and instantly (almost instantly) drops back to normal temp just after the crest of the hill starting down. No radiator fluid is lost. Yes, It’s the fan clutch itself!

Pups in the RV

Pups in the RV

I was lucky to find a shop open on a Saturday here in Placerville, and on Mother’s Day weekend … Happy Mother’s Day Mom! … Dave’s Master Automotive    I see they’re also on Facebook. Dave greeted me and has been very helpful getting to the root of the trouble, he’s doing everything he can to get me back on the road as soon as possible. I will be delayed a little because the part has to come from the warehouse. Dave says he will start getting the old one out bright and early Monday morn so that when it arrives he can just pop it in. Total price including labor and tax for fan clutch and thermostat will be $361.99.

Other than the heat of my engine and the pups wanting to stop at every Rest Stop and Park they could see, the drive was marked by it’s dryness. Southern California didn’t get a Spring this year, it seems more like late July. Here’s what I saw on the signs staked in  farmer’s fields for us motorists to read along Hwy 5.

I started noticing these after passing the Harris Ranch and Feedlot in Colinga … the cattle seemed a little less crammed as in past times.  I could almost fantasize they had just a tad bit of enjoyment of life before their slaughter…. what else could I do, I couldn’t take them with me.

Near Harris Ranch off I-5

Near Harris Ranch off I-5

Congress Created Dust Bowl …. I looked and looked but could see no dust just orange and purple hills… orangey scrub with occasional bouts of lime mustard and dark green plants. The crops were a bright green.

Stop Politician Created Water Shortage …. Hmmm everything but the crops looked really dry, so politicians are in charge of rain, snow and moisture now? Okay doky

No Water, No Jobs = Higher Food Prices   That almost make sense, but if there’s no jobs to grow the food, shouldn’t it be the no water and no jobs equal no food!

No Water = Higher Food Costs

Set the Delta Pumps Working. Join the Fight….   Was this about the environmental issues back in ’07, probably not. There’s an article in the LA Times about the over pumping for the Central Valley groundwater creating a crisis…. This then is what these signs are about, not the drought per se but about the wells causing the land to subside, irrigation canals to crack, roads to buckle and more importantly the aquifers to shrink which is exactly about the drought and BIGGER PICTURE…  the climate is changing like it or not.

I want to point out right here an odd thing I discovered at the rest stop just before the Harris Ranch as I was heading North. The toilets. There are a lot of toilets in heavy use at the rest stop. We all agree it’s dry, there’s a lack of water from the sky…. Right? Everyone can see that for themselves? So why then given all the pumping of the ground water and the dried out conditions of the flora and the thirsty creatures are the toilets swishing one might presume nonstop, willy-nilly?I didn’t want to stay that long. In the time it took for me to use one of those toilets, the tank flushed itself over 4 times and I could hear the other toilets going as well. I even thought it was one of those candid camera things … toilets out of control! But I stray… How can it be possible that anyone cannot notice their environment?  You can read the Times article, right here http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-groundwater-20150318-story.html#page=1   I’m not going to give a lecture on water tables but you should know how they work.

I did have a few moments of wondering what if, as I passed Modesto. What if I had accepted the job at the Council of Governments and been part of the failing effort to clean up the Central Valley… one of those homes would be mine, my life would have gone in different ways… would my friends still have died, would I have my dogs, would I still be alone? Would I have still been there, fighting… err I mean working for cleaner air, water, pollution control…ad nauseam

I’m very short of sleep from fussing with my overheating LT… at least it was not leaking nor short of water itself. So more later on the state of water. For the rest of today I’m relaxing, enjoying my friends and watching my dogs play. I wish very much I could read one of those books I’d been saving for my trip but I left them all at home! Anyone suggest a good read? I have my kindle with.

image

image

It’s been a little over a year since I’ve traveled in the LT. I think my readers know why. Now that I’m almost ready there is a sense of calm, perhaps it will be different tomorrow or the next day when I start remembering everything I’ve forgotten! I have still much to do…. today is waxing the RV, one last trip to the vet, sorting through clothes and my “to do” list . . . yesterday I cleared and restocked the LT’s pantry, took all the cooking and eating stuff to the kitchen for a washing and dragged everything back fitting it all in place. The floors are clean with new rugs, the cupboards are clean, much of the dog gear is safely in my storage shed ready for the trip after this one.

I added phone service for Canada . . btw if you do this with a cell phone it’s easy as long as you have an International capable phone. I added Canada for $15 a month which I will cancel on my return. There is one catch which I just happened to know from another trip when I was near the border. If you have your cell phone set to global roaming it may well roam on over to the Canada side and start amassing International minutes, I suspect sans notice if you’ve already added Canadian service. To stop that Verizon had me change Global network to LTE/CDMA; I will change it to Global after I cross the border and then back to LTE/CDMA in Alaska, and so on. I don’t want to be surprised by a huge phone bill!

I’m finding so many want to hear of this trip and wish me well, I have quite a list now of folks wanting to be crammed into my luggage….it’s gonna be a tight fit! Maybe some of you can go on the roof?

One of the things I will be looking at will be the effects of the climate on the land, it’s creatures and communities at least that which I can observe from main paths (I’m not prepared with 4-wheel dive, technical instruments or equipment for wilderness exploration…. another time who knows?) When I was a student at UCSB Geography, studying Earth System Sciences we knew that Alaska like the sea floor here in Santa Barbara are key indicators of change. It should be obvious that there are now longer melt seasons, less sea ice, and longer journeys for marine mammals needing food.

I am out of practice of observing what I see, perhaps you too? Do we just accept our environment like watching a movie, a real life drama, something that has little to do with us and our daily lives? Do you remember a time perhaps when you were a child when everything was a great discovery? When you asked the question, why.

polar melt stop

From the web : polar melt stop

 

I will be looking at how the trees lean, how the land slumps, for newly formed pools and lakes of meltwater on one hand and on the other for shrinking wetlands, of course at diminishing glaciers. On the drive up and back, I will be looking at the apparent health of the trees, for signs of dryness and insect attack, for dirty rivers, for towns that are growing or shrinking, for happiness or stress.

Perhaps I will see some effects on the economy or in the numbers of wildlife, fires of course I hope not to see but I may see evidence of large burns, more drought, unpredictable weather, less snow, variable temperatures, unusual winds, an altering of seasons and changes in flora and fauna.

Arctic Fox: from Cool Animals of Alaska

Arctic Fox: from Cool Animals of Alaska

Don’t forget I post links for you guys out there …  just click on them. If you find any that don’t work or you don’t like send me a message.

Video on Alaska Climate Change

Climate Change in Alaska

A more detailed explanation
here is a 50 min. video / lecture from Professor Jack Murphy at Humboldt State University. It’s worth watching, just like a classroom intro lecture.

Santa Barbara to Alaska

Here’s the very general idea of my route:  Details as we make them, enjoying the freedom of RV travel. Will see how much we stick.. . . Will we go to Nome, head on a less traveled byway, jump on a train, a plane or another boat? Time, money and weather, how long I can stand being away from my pups and maybe good ‘old luck will tell our final passage.

Santa Barbara to Alaska 2015

1.  Head to Placerville and Lee’s house
2.  Pick up Bob at the Sacramento Airport
3.  Head North and possibly detour to Florence, OR
4.  Visit Vancouver and a few friends along that way
5.  Get on the Alaska Inside Passage Ferry at Prince Rupert
6.  Get off the Ferry at the crazy hour of 3:45 am at Haines
7.  Take the Fast Ferry to Skagway
8.  Back to Haines and head North
9.  Up to Tok, then West to Valdez, Seward, Homer, ec. along the Kenai Peninsula
10  Back up to Anchorage and head to Talkeetna
11. Denali NP, Denali State Park
12. Hot Springs….  hot springs wherever we find them 🙂
13. Fairbanks
14. Back to Tok
15. Climb through the mountains to Banff NP & Jasper NP…  yes will get out and push!
16. Glacier NP
17. Through Idaho toward Salt Lake City
18. Back to Lee’s in Placerville
19  Back to Santa Barbara

YEP…  you gotta ignore those numbers on the map….  they don’t correlate!  Maybe later I’ll fix it. LOL

Song: Bring back the life – Climate Change song by Desert Rose 

One Week till takeoff

A few tunes to get through this last week… (just click)

North to Alaska

Alaska: The Last Frontier Music Video 

John Denver Alaska Songs

Alaska State Song

The Bear Song 

The Polar Bear Song 

And My Ending Song Today:
 Where We Gong To Go (Global Warming / Climate Change Song) 

packing, waxing the RV, rearranging,cleaning, grooming the dogs, looking at maps, paying bills….