Saturday, August 24, 2013

Update August 24th - Icefield Parkway - rated one of the 20 most beautiful drives in the world!

This is the second time I have done this drive and it is amazing, you are constantly surrounded by huge Mountains and you are literally driving on the Continental Divide with several very high passes...reached an altitude of nearly 7000 feet today!

Not much of a picture day, it was very tedious driving with the trailer and all the tourists who just have to go slow and pull over to see the views, then pull right out in front of you as I was trying to keep speed to get up the damn hills! The sky was not real nice for good pics and most of the high mountains were shrouded in clouds, it rained on and off most of the way also, which kept me from stopping.

But there is one decent picture and a story to go along with it and proves you don't have to stray far from the road for good animal pics.

I was approaching the climb up to one of the highest passes and was on a warm-up downhill run trying to gain some momentum for the long climb....when lo and behold an earth shoe wearing, tree hugging old hippie pulls right out in front of me in a damn Prius towing a small trailer full of bicycles and camping a Prius can't get out of it's own way on flat ground, but up this pass fully loaded and pulling a small trailer (Is that even allowed, I am going to check) was a very slow go, so I have to slam on the brakes, loose all my momentum and fall behind this moron. I would have passed him but there was on-coming traffic, so I was stuck. So up the long grade at about 22 MPH. My truck was straining with my trailer load and I have no idea how the underpowered Prius was even making it. At the very top of the pass is Road Construction so right on about the steepest part you have to stop for one lane traffic. There is a traffic light which lets you switch lanes and stops the on-coming traffic. There is a line of cars pulled over to the side of the road which only adds to the confusion, I notice they are all jumping out of their cars with IPhones and Cameras, so I take a look, but no place for me left to pull over, plus I was determined to reach the summit. I see a couple large male Bighorn Sheep, so I roll down the passenger window and pull out my camera and captured this image!

I actually have a couple more pictures from yesterday and today to process and will do another update in a day or so from Kalispell. The border was beckoning me and the need to be back in the States away from weird kilometer signs that I can never understand and weird money and ultra-high gas prices...My highest fuel price paid this entire summer was in Canada on this return trip and it was $6.10 cents per gallon!! OUCH!

So I drove all the way to the US Border running on fumes - although I still have 10 gallons in jugs in the bed of the truck and filled up right across the border and only had to pay $3.79 per gallon, huge difference from almost $6.00 per gallon everywhere in Canada. I will admit that I got better mileage on Canadian Fuel, so some how our gas is inferior, probably emissions regulations or ethanol! Lord only knows but I average almost 2 mpg better! Not enough to make up the price difference though!

Stopped right across the border at a hotel Casino with electric hook-ups for FREE and decent WiFi! Short 75 mile drive in to Kalispell in the morning, promise to process more pics when I get settled there!


Capt. Jim - "The Gypsy"

Traveling and photographing the Southwest and Alaska!

Travel Update - Jasper AB August 23rd, 2013

Today was a busy day, morning quick trip to McDonalds for internet access and a couple much needed items at the grocery store, then a drive through the park looking for photo was not real pretty with overcast and some light rain from time to time, must have been that rain I thought I left behind from a couple days ago...traveling with the weather!

Just inside the park entrance along the road a zillion cars pulled over so you know there are some animals around and I was rewarded with some nice female Mountain Goats grazing along the road. Amazing it was all females with young ones. Not one male!

Lot's of pics...

Now a Great Mountain Goat Picture!

Athabaskan Falls - a 5 shot panorama!

Another Panorama!

A couple more female Bighorn Sheep pictures!

And finally a great shot I almost missed....certainly out of frame...but you can still see the young one feeding!

Plan for today is travel South on Rt 93 and get about halfway between here and Kalispell where I will rest for awhile and determine where I head for the winter...have a couple opportunities I am working on. Stay tuned for a complete Alaska road trip update in a few days after I get to Kalispell!

Thanks for following along!

Capt. Jim - "The Gypsy"

Traveling and photographing the Southwest and Alaska!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Travel Update - August 23rd, 2013 - Arrived Jasper, Alberta

First I would like to apologize for those following along and my email friends waiting for a status update...sorry to make you worry, however most of remote Canada has failed to keep up with the technology phase these past 100 years and internet service is sporadic at best...right along with their road building capabilities, EPIC FAIL!

Thanks Goodness for McDonalds - for some unknown reason they have been able to overcome the remote obstacles of the wilderness and establish fast internet access and a decent place for breakfast! Thank You!

I left Haines on a rainy Monday the 19th of August, easy drive from Haines, to Haines Junction, past Whitehorse and on to Teslin and had a quiet night at the Yukon Hotel and RV Park...pretty much rain and cloudy all day, beautiful scenery but no real picture opportunities.

Day 2 - Teslin to Hyder Alaska via the Cassiar Highway.

Pretty uneventful drive the Cassiar is an experience the first 200 miles or so is pretty exciting. Very narrow roads with no pull-offs and no berm. No lines on the highway so you just pick the middle until a large truck is coming at you or someone sneaks up behind you and wants to pass. Pavement is not bad with a few frost heaves and about a half dozen pavement breaks to gravel but none longer than a mile or so. From Dease Lake on to Stewart and Hyder the road improves with a little bit wider and lines on the roadway, which makes it much easier. The drive from Rt 37 on Rt 37A into Stewart and Hyder is amazing, beautiful scenery and a wonderful drive. Too bad it was cloudy and rainy. Arrived Hyder late evening after a very long drive, over 12 hours...butt was a little tired - Stayed in Hyder at Camp Run-A-Muck. Nice quiet evening with rain all night.

Went to the Bear watch area at Fish Creek - very nice facility but a little short on Bears, only one who was not real cooperative for the tourists. But I managed a picture or two. So here are some shots:

Plenty of Salmon in the river spawning...

Lots of dead spawned out salmon!

Finally one bear in the distance looking for a snack!

Getting creative looking for something to shoot!

Had to shoot the Glacier! Although bad light and light rain and weird sky!

With the poor weather I decided to drive on out and head further South. So left Hyder after fuel and headed down the remainder of the Cassiar Highway which was good road and better as you got further South. Hit the junction of 16 and the Yellowhead and turned East and made a long day and stopped for the night at Ft Telkwa RV Park about 11 miles past Smithers for those following on the map. Rained pretty much all night, limited internet in the campground - very, very slow. So went to bed and woke to more rain.

Decided to try and get out from under the rainy weather and make a long drive to Jasper Alberta. Very long day on good roads with plenty of nice fuel stops and hit Jasper after a early morning start - 6:00 am - arrived in Jasper at about 7:00 pm, another 12 hour day of driving...butt tired again. Checked in at the KOA for 2 nights near Hinton AB. Nice park good facilities, except internet - so processed a few photos of my arrival in Jasper and hit the bed with morning plans for this McDonalds stop for breakfast and technology! So here are a couple pics from my drive from Jasper to Hinton.

Now some animals along the road from Jasper to Hinton!

Hope to maintain better contact - but will be here tonight also and then start the drive down the Ice Field Parkway towards Montana - planned Kalispell arrival sometime Sunday. Hope to take a bunch of pics today and tomorrow on the drive out! This area is so beautiful!

Capt. Jim - "The Gypsy"

Traveling and photographing the Southwest and Alaska!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Blog Update - Packing Up and getting ready to travel!

Most of today was spent getting things ready to roll on Monday morning bright and early. Since my post the other day, I have gotten about 5 emails regarding my specific route and schedule. So for the map is my planned itinerary, of course it is subject to change with weather and photo opportunities! But this is the plan anyway...

Here is the map again....

Travel Day one - Monday August 19th. Depart Haines on the Haines Highway and head North to Haines Junction - about 150 miles. Then after fuel - head on the Alaska Highway Route 1 in Yukon Territory and Route 97 in British Columbia East almost to Watson Lake. Hope to find someplace to camp here at the intersection for the Cassiar Highway - RT 37.

Travel Day Two - August 20th Head down the Cassiar Highway to the turnoff for Stewart and Hyder. I am planning on this being my longest drive day of nearly 500 miles. I will spend at least one night in Hyder maybe two depending on the salmon run and the amount of bears in the river feeding.

Travel Day Three - August 21st or 22nd. Depart Hyder and drive back to Cassiar highway about 38 miles and then continue South towards Woodcock where I hit Route 16 and turn East towards Prince George. I am planning on making it all the way there. About 430 miles. Quick overnight here then an early start on the beautiful drive to Jasper, Alberta.

Travel Day Four - August 22nd or 23rd. Drive from Prince George to jasper on Highway only 233 miles, if it is the 23rd then a Birthday Celebration in Jasper will be in order - maybe a nice steak dinner someplace. 63 years old! I plan to spend at least one night in Jasper and then head down the Icefield Parkway and spend a night somewhere along the road in one of the Provincial Parks and enjoy the scenery!

Travel day 5 - August 23rd or 24th
Drive part way down the Icefield Parkway heading towards my turnoff just past Lake Louise at Castle Junction and pick up Route 93 which will take me on in to Montana

Travel Day 6 - August 24th or 25th - Cross the border in Eureka Montana and drive on in to Kalispell and arrive at the Flinchbaugh Ranch for some rest and relaxation!

Total Trip Shows 2030 Miles and about 40 hours of driving time! Stay tuned for trip updates along the way!

Capt. Jim - "The Gypsy"

Traveling and photographing the Southwest and Alaska!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Update - August 15th, 2013 - Summer is almost over!

My summer in Alaska is quickly winding down as it is Friday and I will be driving out of Haines on Monday morning if all goes as planned. The weather has turned today with rain and overcast conditions, I hope it clears up for my drive South to Montana.

Last evening I took another run out to see the bears and was rewarded with a few shots. Sadly I could not get as close as I would have liked they had the area near the fish weir closed off!

First I saw the same Momma bear I have been seeing all season, she is collared and easy to recognize.

Then further down the road by the weir I got this guy fishing!

This one is for you Greg Lantz - got him with the fish in his mouth!

Captured a nice commercial fishing boat in front of the campground!

And for those preparing to follow my journey South here it is!

My trip will take me from Haines back to Haines Junction and the Alaska Highway East past Whitehorse, then after Teslin I will head South on the Cassiar Highway, making a stop in Stewart Canada and Hyder Alaska to check out the bear watch there. Then continue South and East to Prince George and then on the Jasper, Alberta and the Ice field Parkway then drop on down to Eureka Montana for the border crossing and then spend some time with my good buddy in Kalispell!

Final winter plans are still fluid, but I am working on a job in Zions in Southern Utah for a couple months then maybe on down to Mesa AZ for the remainder of the winter.

Stay tuned for the trip South, Should be a great adventure!

Capt. Jim - "The Gypsy"

Traveling and photographing the Southwest and Alaska!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Blog Update - August 10th, 2013 - Bear Indicator

Sometimes you just have to was one of those days!

I took a drive back out to the State park to look for bears feeding in the river and as I got near the boat launch and ramp and picnic area I was carefully scanning the woods and water to look for any signs of bear activity, all seemed pretty calm along the water, so as I slowly drove towards the turn-around I looked down towards the picnic area and a whole flock of Oriental people came flying out of the woods with their picnic plates and food all in hand running towards their car...sure enough it was a key "Bear presence Indicator"!!! I could tell by the speed they were moving and the fact they were all running and carrying their when I finished laughing, I parked the truck and slowly strolled down the parking lot and sure enough, here came Momma and baby bear heading for the water. Ton of people around, so Momma sent the baby bear back to wait...

I said go back and WAIT!

Meanwhile Mom went to the water for a can tell she is well fed, she only ripped out the fat belly and ate the eggs!

I have to say, seeing the group of people flying out of the woods was one of the funnier things I have seen this summer!

Time is winding down for me here in Haines, spent the morning route planning my trip South which begins a week from Monday on the 19th. Target arrival date for Kalispell is sometime around the 28th or 29th depending on scenery and picture opportunities - stay tuned for details!

Capt. Jim - "The Gypsy"

Traveling and photographing the Southwest and Alaska!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Summer is winding down...August 7th, 2013

Took a trip this afternoon out to Chilkoot State Park in search of bears in the river and I was rewarded with Momma Bear fishing for salmon right by the fish weir. Her baby was up in the woods out of the way and she kept an eye out for anyone even beginning to get close to the woods.

She was a little anxious when I got between her and her baby!

Once she realized I was not a threat she went back to fishing!

Soon she got one!

She made sure I got a picture of it....

Time to chow down for dinner!

I got back to a full camp and a bunch of people enjoying the view and dinner at the park!

My plans have finally started to come together for my trip back to the lower 48. I am leaving here on Tuesday the 20th of August and then heading back up to the Alaska Highway then hang a right turn and drive down the Cassiar Highway and end up in Jasper, Alberta and the Canadian Rockies for some leisure time before getting to Kalispell Montana for some rest and relaxation.

Stay tuned for the drive South, I will be passing some amazing scenery, plan to stop in Stewart and Hyder for some more bear watching! I will probably take a few pictures!

Capt. Jim - "The Gypsy"

Traveling and photographing the Southwest and Alaska!