Happy Fourth of July! Here are some photos from Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico. Cliff dwellings are always fun to see and this is one of the best places to experience them. There’s more info on the captions and in order to see them and the photos at original size, click on the first photo and scroll to the right. Be careful with those fireworks!
Jack and I had an amazing moose experience in Healy a few days ago. Otto Lake is moose haven. We saw at least 6 moose in a 24 hour period. Here is a photo story of a cow moose and her two babies, and her yearling that she is trying to shoo away. Be sure to click on the first one and scroll to the right to see how it all went down.
Jack and I were so sad to hear about the passing of Jack McCahan. Jack “Cactus Jack” McCahan was a hard-working trucker with a great sense of humor. Jack says he told fantastic stories and would always win in a battle to keep a straight face. He told the best jokes. He was simply a joy to be around. Everybody loved Jack. Everybody loves Jack. It doesn’t change just because he is gone. He will be in our thoughts and so…still on the road…with us…
Even though it is a sad day for all the drivers on the Dalton, and everyone else who loved and knew Jack, enjoy your Thanksgiving especially if you get to spend it with your loved ones. And to all the truckers who are on the road instead of being home with their families, thank you for towing the line.
Our deepest sympathies to Jack McCahan’s family.
Snow was falling only 3 weeks ago and now we’re getting 70 and 80 degrees every day! What a crazy spring we’ve had.
The snow is finally gone and what now occurs in Fairbanks, Alaska (as well as in many other northern areas I assume) is that the veil of white puffy stuff is lifted to show gobs and gobs of TRASH!
Yes, trash everywhere. Wet cardboard boxes, broken pieces of Styrofoam, and all forms of plastic like cups, bags, kitchen utensils, food containers of all sizes. You name it, it’s out there. Beer bottles and to-go cups. It’s really sick. But it’s also entertaining. So a few years ago I decided to document this amazing array of trash on a website called www.trashoffairbanks.com. Take a look if you are interested! Here’s a sampling:
I just wanted to share with you this amazing photo Jack took in 2004 when wildfires were raging on the Dalton Highway. Trucks were still moving through but the air quality for drivers was terrible. Smoke combined with dusty dry conditions. This was a non-digital photo that I scanned and ran some enhancing on, to a surprisingly interesting effect.
The Alaska West truck has just driven out of heavy smoke and has a substantial dust trail (click photo to enlarge to proper size). Windy dry conditions exacerbated the fire intensity and level of destruction.
Wikipedia says about the 2004 Alaska fire season:
The 2004 Alaska fire season was the worst on record in terms of area burned by wildfires in the U.S. state of Alaska. Though fewer individual fires formed than in 1989 when almost 1,000 were recorded, more than 6,600,000 acres (27,000 km2) were burned by the approximately 700 fires that ignited. The largest of these fires was the Taylor Complex Fire, which encompassed 1,700,000 acres (6,900 km2) and was the largest fire in the United States from 1997 to 2007. The Boundary Fire, Wolf Creek Fire, Chatanika Fire, and a fire that enveloped the Trans-Alaska Pipeline also received notable attention from firefighting services and the media. All together 426 fires were started by humans and 215 were started by lightning.
Map from Wikipedia:
You can see how at least one fire burned right over the Dalton. Even Jack thinks it was a little scary to drive through these fires. You really can’t see the road but for a few feet… he says the drivers call it “driving by Braille”. 🙂
Thanks for reading! More wildfire photos to come.
(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.
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.)
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!
Not sure if you’ve ever tried to take a digital photo of the northern lights but it will most likely turn out grainy unless you have a very expensive camera (or you know some really good tricks and in that case please share!). So I took 9 of Jack’s aurora shots and put them together in thumbnails after running digital camera noise removal on them a couple of times. If you don’t know what this means don’t worry about it, but the shots turned out kind of surreal. Click on the image below and check it out.
You can see the side mirror in one of them – he obviously took the top 3 from the truck. The bottom 6 shots show one formation getting larger from at first just a wisp in the sky. The northern lights are a winter-only phenomenon for us since in the summer it’s light throughout the night, from May until August. This awesome kind of sighting is a big perk for us in the winter, and boy do we deserve it after months of bitter cold and darkness.
Click here for a couple more shots of northern lights – these taken from our house. Have a great week!