Grizzly Bear Fishing for Salmon

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(Lions and Tigers) and Bears, Oh My!

July 29, 2012

“Yikes!”  I hardly recognize my reflection in the bathroom mirror.  I have not had a haircut in 3 months and it is now pulled back in a tiny pony tail.  The gray is starting to show through and I think I’ve gained 3 pounds!

Today the skies are gray with a 40% chance of rain, but Haines is still beautiful and after eating a breakfast of hot cereal, which I prepare in the RV, we head out to watch the avid fishermen (and women), try their luck at salmon fishing.

A lone sea lion pokes his head out of the water, but no fish are biting.  Further down the road there is another area where we see some fish jumping out of the water, but no one on shore seems to be catching anything.  Even the guys with their waders on who have ventured out into deeper waters have no luck.

Today is the last day of the Alaska State Fair that is in town, so off we go, but on the way out of the fishing area, a stately bald eagle soars above us and alights in a tree for a perfect photo op.

A quick stop at the information center to find out if there is anything else happening, but it is Sunday, and most of the tourist places such as museums are closed.

The fair reminds me of El Mercado during our “Old Spanish Days.”  The band on stage is enjoyable and the booths selling a variety of ethnic foods give off such tantalizing aromas that it’s hard to make a choice.    While Dick nibbles at his sushi, and I delve into my salmon and chips, I realize that where ever we travel the kids I see are all the same; full of laughter and having not a care in the world.

At 4 PM we return to the salmon fishing area as Dick senses we will see a bear.

As I am walking on the roadway to photograph a man fileting a salmon, Dick is shouting my name.  There is a grizzly bear in the bushes!  OMG!  He is huge and frightening.  Turning around, he enters the water and begins searching the area for salmon.  What an opportunity to capture this incredible beast.  Dick finally drags me away and within minutes, there is another grizzly, this one twice the size.  I hop out of the car and join the few other brave photographers, but when the bear begins to rear up; I turn around and run so fast that I could probably win a gold medal at the Olympics for the 100 meter dash!

Back in the RV, we follow the massive creature as he shuffles through the thick brush.  Suddenly he is behind our vehicle and Dick jumps to action with my camera as the grizzly moves around to the side.

Enough excitement for the day?   I should say so and I’m double locking the doors to the RV tonight!

I‘ve tried to post photos on the blog, but for some reason they don’t appear or it is taking so long that I become impatient.  I’ll keep trying, or post them separately.

Skagway to Haines

July 28, 2012

This morning we purchase tickets for our ferry boat ride from Skagway to Haines.  The departure time is 4:30 PM, so we spend the day in town shopping and having a relaxing lunch.

Skagway has been quite an adventure and today is clear with enough sunshine to chase away the early showers.

The hour ferry boat ride fills us with incredible views of waterfalls, and majestic mountains.  The crew knows about our situation with no reverse gear and they efficiently guide us to an appropriate parking spot.  On the ferry we meet a young couple who ask for a lift into the town of Haines and we oblige, although the Salmon Run Campground where we are staying is in the opposite direction.  It does however afford us a chance to pick up some groceries.

This campground is perfect!  Our spot overlooks the mountains and the water.  Dick builds a great campfire while I prepare dinner.  There is a fair this weekend, so the town is busier than usual and we plan to stay here for two days.

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Rain, Fog and Flat Tire

July 27, 2012

This morning we meet Susan, Mark, Emily, and Alfreda (Mark’s mom) at the Sea Princess cruise ship and walk into the town of Skagway for breakfast.

Alfreda does not want to join us on our scenic drive, so after walking her back to the ship, Susan & I meet at the Avis office where she picks up her reserved car.

Off we go in the pouring rain with Susan & Mark in the front and Emily, Dick & I in the back seat of the Toyota 4 Runner.  The drive is similar to the one Dick & I took yesterday; however with the rainy weather, the lakes and waterfalls are obscured.   A black bear makes an appearance running on the roadway, albeit brief.  It is still beautiful and exciting and everyone is enjoying the vista.

Since it is raining heavily, rocks from a recent landslide cover the slick highway, and Mark drives over some, causing the tire on our rental car to go FLAT!  Luckily there is a pullout close by.  Dick and Mark exit the car and survey the damage.  The rain is falling harder and it is bitter cold.  Because the car is not parked in a flat area, it begins to slide when the tire is placed on the hub, and the car rolls off the jack.  Many cars pass by, but no one stops to help.  We have no service on our cell phones as we have crossed over into Canada!  A shuttle stops and the driver says he will notify Avis.  We wait and wait.  Emily is as patient as can be, but Susan & I finally decide to urinate behind one of the bushes.  You have not had a truly significant mother/daughter relationship until you pee together in the great outdoors!

Finally, after an hour, a car pulls alongside us and out step two  heavy- set German ladies who offer to help.  In the trunk of their car are all kinds of tools.  A jack, shovel, (which we use to dig a trench)wrenches, etc.  Poor Dick is shivering and soaked to the bone, but with the spare tire affixed, we continue on our way to Carcross and warm ourselves with hot cocoa.  Out of necessity I purchase a long sleeve shirt for Dick since the one he has on is no longer  wearable and wet as a wash rag.

On our way back, after viewing Emerald Lake, we eat lunch at a small cafe while watching the opening ceremonies of the Summer Olympics.  The worst is not over; the fog has settled in and it is so thick Mark cannot see the road in front of him.  Thank goodness the car ahead has activated its hazard lights and guides us slowly along the highway.

Finally we are in Skagway and after checking in the car, we meet up with Mark’s nephew, Kevin (who is joining them on the cruise) and visit some gift shops.

The Sea Princess departs at 8 Pm and we reminisce about today’s adventure.  The irony is that we opted for the rental car instead of our RV as we did not want to incur any mechanical problems, especially since the van still has no reverse.  Although now, looking back on this eventful day , it is typical in my life.  A mundane afternoon of sightseeing without the unexpected happening, just wouldn’t be normal.

On the Road Again

July 26, 2012

Déjà vu.  I’m sitting once again at Starbucks, as once again we spent last night in the parking lot at Walmart’s.  On the piped in music, The Beach Boys are singing “Good Vibrations”, an omen of good things to come?

Arriving at the auto repair shop at 9:30 AM, we are met by Travis and the news that he picked up the parts from the airport; yippee!

But, after 3 hours of waiting (and $425) we are told that the problem still exists; no reverse.  We do however, have a clean filter and clean transmission fluid and the opinion from the mechanic that the RV is capable of making it back to California.  Dick may check in Fairbanks regarding a new transmission.

Continuing on to Skagway, there is a nice detour off the road in Carcross.  At Bennett Lake  we stop and make sandwiches and have lunch.  Bennett Lake is where the prospectors came after crossing Chilkoot Pass on their way to the Klondike goldfields.  Carcross  is a quaint town  filled with rich history.

This highway is beautiful with its abundance of cascades spilling over the rocky cliffs, waterfalls and the most amazing Emerald Lake, renowned for its bright colors.

There is a nice campground (Pullen) close to the dock so we will be able to walk over and meet Susan tomorrow morning when the “Sea Princess” arrives.

July 25 (continued)

July 25, 2012 (Continued)

Next door to the Whitehorse Library is the Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre where there are exhibits of First Nation photos and artifacts.  At the exit and outdoors we come across the local people working on a beautiful totem pole carved from cedar.  Dick stops to visit with the head tool carver and learns a lot of history from him about his people.  He is an excellent craftsman and quite a story teller.

The airshow at the Whitehorse Airport is nothing short of spectacular.  For 3 hours, Dick & I sit on a rocky hill overlooking the tarmac.  We are entertained by exceptional aircraft.  Snowbirds, Otters, helicopters (search & rescue) C-141’s, parachute jumpers dropping from the sky with Canadian flags in their hands and numerous demonstrations.  For me, the best is the finale.  Two M-18’s roar through the sky and perform a vertical maneuver that is both frightening and thrilling.  My heart is beating as fast as a hummingbird’s wings. .

Day 6 in Whitehorse

July 25, 2012

My mood today is like the weather, cool and overcast.  I’m trying to be as positive and upbeat as possible, but my patience is wearing thin.

This morning when Dick called the auto shop we were told that the part never arrived from Vancouver last night and it is now due from Ottawa/Vancouver/Whitehouse tonight!  If I had my way, we would take off today and continue driving and avoid any situation where we had to reverse the RV.  I bought insurance before we left which allows us road and towing service.

If anyone is coming to Whitehorse, see me.  I know every inch of the city after being here a week.  Population; 26,000 and all is conveniently located.  Yesterday we took a great hike around the Yukon River.  From there, we drove downtown and visited art galleries and shopped for souvenirs.

The Red Door B & B that we stayed at for 2 nights was delightful, and our hosts, Rosemary & Jack were kind and helpful.  My only complaint; too much food!  Yogurt, sourdough/blueberry pancakes, scrambled eggs, sausage, coffee and juice.  Next morning; Eggs Benedict with tomatoes, cucumbers and the sweetest cantaloupe I’ve ever tasted!  Luckily I was able to give Dick my sausage and the ham from the egg dish without too much notice.

Over 2 hearty breakfasts, we met some other travelers and compared stories.  Colin, a young man from Edmonton, with hair as black as a raven, kayaked (across the Yukon River) with 15 other friends, from Whitehorse to Dawson City to catch the annual bluegrass music festival.

Maureen and her husband Sy (a retired lawyer) from Vancouver surprised us when they mentioned they had eaten at Jockos in Nipomo and played golf in Santa Maria!

Today’s Arts in the Park is for children.  There are 2 story tellers and a demonstration of some martial arts which includes dancing and playing some unusual instruments.

Where we parked our RV, we see a small taco stand named “La Padrona.”  Both of us are craving Mexican food, so we indulge ourselves with fish tacos and carne asada.

There is an airshow today at 5:30 at the airport and as far as I know we are spending the night in the Walmart parking lot.

I will continue tomorrow with photos  as I am now at the library with limited Wi-Fi usage.

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