Loud hail storm in the mountains of New Mexico

On The High Road to Taos (highway 518 in New Mexico) Jack and I ran into a pretty powerful hail storm.  Even Jack felt the need to pull over at this point.  At the very beginning of the below video you can see a little bit of lightning and later the road was totally white, it looked like snow.  There are photos below it.

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Northern lights & Davidson Ditch

Here are more photos of our late summer camping trip up the Steese Highway.  Chilly, but hardly a cloud in the sky…

You’ll see Davidson Ditch, a water pipe built in 1920s, that runs 90 miles along the Steese Highway.  It used to bring  about 180,000 gallons of water per day to the gold dredges in Fox, Alaska from the Chatanika River.

(Click on the first one and scroll to the right.)

A Glorious Morning on the Road

An amazing thing happened when I was on the road with Jack one time.

We woke up at what the truckers call 62 Mile, a good-sized pullout used by truckers and tourist buses and just anyone traveling the road.  It was Pink Birch Tree on the Daltonlate September and the drive up north had been sunny and crispy cool.  I could not have gotten luckier on a time to be on the Haul Road.   Orange and yellow autumn colors abounded and even a pink birch tree showed up every so many miles.  (Click to enlarge.)

Tourists on the Dalton HighwayNo snow had fallen, but when we woke up that morning at 62 Mile the tundra outside was a winter wonderland.  There were tourists milling about, gazing at the frosty grasses that surround the pull out.

Tourists on the Dalton HighwayAnd as you can see, there was a long line at the restroom, so I decided to take a walk out onto the tundra, and I’m so glad I did.

I discovered frost-covered fireweed, spider webs glinting in the morning light, and best of all, an absolutely stunning mist rainbow.  I hadn’t known they even existed before, but now I have proof they do.  As the frost was evaporating off the tundra, the water vapor in the air created a rainbow that shimmered in the sun’s light.  As I stood watching, the sunlight slowly burned off the frost on the ground, leaving plants thawed on one side and still frozen on the other, and the glorious rainbow eventually faded away with the warmth of day.

A moment of astounding beauty.  Luckily, I took a quick video and lots of photos, some of which may give an inkling of how amazing that morning was.  If anyone ever tells you that the arctic tundra is a frozen wasteland with no redeeming qualities, here is proof that it is not true.

(Click on the first one and scroll to the right.)

 

 

Elk antlers in a tree trunk

Check out this elk skull and antlers that got engulfed by a tree!  The skull is encased by wood completely; the antler tips stick out on either side of the trunk of the tree that grew around it.  Jack and I found this display at the Prairie Creek Visitor Center in northern California along the Pacific Coast.  Will wonders never cease!?

Alaska Highway Dreams

If only we were on the road again

Driving the Alaska Highway

This is Kluane Lake, Yukon Territory, Canada, when we were coming back from our long 6 week trip to the states in 2012.  Memories!

(Best viewed if you click on one and scroll to the side.)

Jack’s driving the motor home this time…

This year Jack took me and the motor home out for a quick weekend hunt.  (It was really camping, not hunting, although Jack would have taken a shot if he came across one in an accessible area.)  We really wish we had been able to get out a little more over the summer!

There is always next year…

Jack, taking a look

Jack, taking a look

Sport, taking a lookSport, taking a look

Truck on the Dalton Highway, with the Trans-Alaska Pipeline next to the road

A Western Star truck driving the Dalton Highway with the Trans-Alaska Pipeline in the background.  Jack knew who the driver was, of course.

Jack's wife, Judy and their dog Sport

Jack’s wife, Judy (me), and our dog Sport.

What are these?

Any idea what these are?

Jack on a pipeline access road

Jack on a pipeline access road.

Trans-Alaska Pipeline, Dalton Highway AlaskaFinally the sun starts to come out!

Trans-Alaska Pipeline, Dalton Highway Alaska

And we get to see the pipeline in the evening sun.

Dalton Highway sign

The beautiful Dalton Highway road sign at 1 mile.

Jack with motor home and big trucks

Jack taking a look at the big trucks, but he’s driving a motor home this time…

Here are a few more photos if you are interested.

Oxbow Lake, Dalton Highway Alaska

Trans-Alaska PIpeline, Dalton Highway Alaska

Autumn FireweedTrans-Alaska Pipeline along the Dalton Highway Alaska

Graffiti on the Trans-Alaska PipelineGraffiti on the Trans-Alaska PipelineBridge near Trans-Alaska Pipeline

Spruce Grouse

Spruce Grouse near the Trans-Alaska PipelineTrans-Alaska PipelineTrans-Alaska Pipeline, Dalton Highway AlaskaTrans-Alaska Pipeline

Have a wonderful autumn everyone!

Road Trip: TripAdvisor Tips & The Terrace Motel

(The following post doesn’t have much to do with trucking but you can be rest assured that I will be going back to that topic in the near future.)

Jack and I stayed in about 25 different hotels and motels on our long road trip to the States and through Canada.  We perfected a routine about choosing and booking hotels that I want to share with you in case it will save you any time or grief in the future.

Each day I would make reservations for the next day’s hotel stay.  First, I would pull up the town we were going to stay in on www.tripadvisor.com.  (via smartphone or laptop)  I would find the hotel list for the city, then check the box “Pets Allowed” on the left hand side (and sometimes “Kitchenette”).  Of that new list I would choose one of the top rated hotels after reading a few reviews.  I skipped anything that indicated lots of noise or smells, and always read the “Terrible” reviews of a hotel I was going to pick (since that’s where someone is going to complain about bed bugs!).

The next part is important.  Instead of calling the 800 number that is provided on the TripAdvisor site I would put the name and address of the hotel into Google and bring up the direct phone number.  If you call the 800 number provided it will take you to a calling center that will try to place you in one of their hotels.  I fell for this several times.  Once, a woman insisted to me that a certain hotel was booked up (I had already seen that it had availability through the TripAdvisor site but I gave her the benefit of the doubt in case she had more up-to-date information than I did).  She then tried to convince me to stay at one or two different places.  Whether they were more expensive or not I don’t remember, but I figure now it was one of the hotels that paid them more money.  (The 800 number calling center must have a database of hotels that pay to be promoted.)   When I insisted these other hotels wouldn’t work for us, that I would have to talk to my husband and call back, she relented and said wait wait, let me check again on the one you originally called about.  And guess what, it mysteriously had a pet room open for the night we needed.

I feel bad for “tricking” the TripAdvisor website this way.  I really like TripAdvisor, in fact I relied on it greatly for this purpose.  But I want to make a reservation with a person at the hotel I’m going to stay at, not someone thousands of miles away from it.  I want to ask a question about parking or the stairs and have someone not just say yes yes it won’t be a problem, but to get a real answer from someone who works at the hotel and lives in the town I’m going to stay in.

On part of the return trip we were hauling a trailer so needed ample parking.  It got to be a bit of a hassle because then we needed a hotel that accepted pets AND had a big parking lot (which is not a choose-able option on TripAdvisor).  One hotel we called in Canada actually suggested a different hotel that had a bigger parking lot.  So it really helps to call the hotel directly, especially if you have special needs.

One good TripAdvisor find was the Terrace Motel in Munising, Michigan.  We met Larry, the owner, and snapped a few pictures of the place.

The Terrace Motel - Munising, Michigan

terrace-bc-1100

terrace-bd-1100

The Terrace Motel - Munising, Michigan

Be sure to stay at the Terrace Motel if you are looking for a clean affordable place to stay and are passing through the upper peninsula of Michigan, or if you are wanting to explore the beautiful Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore which is nearby.  (To see photos of Pictured Rocks click here for a link to my bird blog.)

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By the way, thank you for each and every comment that is made.  I enjoy seeing them and even if I don’t answer each one, do know that I read each one to Jack!

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