No Throwing Fish.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Video and picture dump

Seabirds at Seward wildlife center

Sea lions are secretly athletes

Me rambling about Juneau


Monday, July 28, 2008

watch out for animals, and your eyes

Today has involved a whole ton of driving - the towns on this part of the Al-Can really serve no purpose but to supply travelers with overpriced gas and doritos. On the way though, I had several run-ins with wildlife and other dangers.

The first: the danger of falling asleep.
I slept last night in a "check your brakes, steep hill ahead" area. It was too cold to remain asleep, so I hit the road about 5:30 this morning. By the second time I drifted off the road I decided it was time to sleep some more. Luckily the day had warmed up, and I succeeded.

The second: $1.79/liter gas! This will take a man's life faster than you can say "Al Gore."

The third: A herd of bison in the road. They don't appear to realize that cars go there, and just lay down for a nap in the highway.

The fourth: A herd of sheep in the road. I was rolling up a hill at about 70mph, and over the crest of it are A BUNCH OF SHEEP. IN MY LANE. I swerve around them as there would have been no stopping in time to prevent acres of lamb stew. Luckily they were only in the one lane, and no cars were in the other. About a mile after this incident occurs, a large sign tells me to watch out for sheep in the highway, with a picture of a tipped over sheep next to a car. THANKS FOR WARNING ME, SIGN

THE FIFTH is sweat carrying my bug spray from my face directly into my eyes while driving. My eyebrows clearly did not do their job, and I had to pull over and frantically dump water all over myself as passersby were the most confused I'd ever made them.

Old photos, new ones when possible

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Glenn Highway

By the time I'd posted last, I had visited Anchorage, Seward, and Homer. I didn't have a whole lot to say about them. Anchorage was quite the return to civilization, though I wouldn't call it very unique aside from its abundance of Alaska themed gift shops. Homer has probably got more character than I managed to notice, sadly I was there while being rather tired and didn't do much more than look at it. Seward is cool, the marine wildlife center and Exit Glacier are not to be missed.

I drove back from Anchorage along the Glenn highway, and realized that I'd missed Wrangell-St. Elias park. d'oh. Its main entrance is near Valdez, which I passed on visiting, completely forgetting the park was there. I found an edge of the park near Slana, AK, and went for a hike, technically in the park. During this hike I found this abandoned camp which was pretty awesome. Later on that hike, I found a couple of guys who were in an active camp, just chilling out at the top of this hill shooting marmots. The park advertised this area as "the road less traveled," and I guess I'd been the only person on it in a long time as these guys were surprised to have been discovered.

Since then I've been to Haines, which is a friendly place. Very small, the whole town, except for its bars, closes at 2pm, or 5pm on days when cruise ships are docked. It is also full of people my age who are desperately trying to leave, but can't get much farther than their parents' house.

I've crossed the water into Juneau, and as I'm typing this am about halfway between the ferry terminal and the nearest bus stop, a 1.5 mile walk. My journey was interrupted by my emergency need for a waffle. It was delicious and I believe I will need to purchase a waffle iron upon my return. I could have taken a cab or something but then I would be without this waffle and therefore a sad and unfulfilled individual.


Saturday, July 19, 2008

New Photos

I am no photographer - most of these pictures are just to prove I've been to the places I claim to. With that aside, Photos

OLD STORY: in Chicken, after the 4th of July had begun to wind down, I was reorganizing my car and I hear "AAAAAAUH." I say "how goes, buddy?" and then look over at where the sound has come from - I find a man with his pants around his ankles, urinating. He's not aiming anywhere, just standing there no-handing it. He responds "UUUUUUWH." I say "great, sounds good," climb into my car and lock the doors. I would later hear several more "OAAAAAAAA" noises trailing off into the distance.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Got into Denali on Thursday night, spent until Monday morning there. This place is really touristy. Luckily there are ways around them, for those of us who actually want to be outdoors instead of on a "wildlife viewing" tour bus.

If you do a google map search for "park road, denali, ak" you'll see the park has a road going through much of it. A person can only drive about fifteen miles in; The rest is reserved for the park's buses. These will take people further into the park so they can hike or camp or whatever, way out in the wilderness. I took a bus to about the 29 mile mark (which was a 2.5 hour trip one-way) and departed for a hike. I was the only person who got off the bus - everyone else rode it back to the visitor center. What the crap are these people doing there? "let's get on a bus an' see one o' them smokey bears!"

after getting off the bus I walked around for a while and found a hill to climb, it was a steep sort of thing which I couldn't walk back down - only "glissade." this is french for "slide on one's ass."

This park, particularly from its higher elevations, made me feel very small. It's huge, not at all flat, and very impressive. If anyone reading this plans to come here, there are a few pieces of advice I can suggest:
Reserve a camp site ahead of time.
Get on the green bus, despite it costing $24 per person.
Get off the green bus, out in the woods somewhere.
Don't worry about there being no trails - that's the point.
Bring food. Food inside the park has prices like $9 for half a sandwich (not an exaggeration.)

I stayed in a hostel last night, for the first time ever. It was $22, and in Anchorage. Not a bad deal, I paid more for a campsite once. This was the first time I've slept on a real bed in weeks, which was nice. What was not nice was sharing a bedroom with three other guys. There was something about that situation that made me feel like a genuine homeless person. The people were nice, intelligent, friendly, not crazy, and clearly just frugal instead of being there because they had no other options - there's just something weird about sleeping in a bunk bed in a room full of strangers.


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Moose Cars

I wandered over to one of the fred meyers (fairbanks has two) and this guy starts talking to me. "Brian," a guy who's part native american, and all welfare. He invited me to his apartment which was "walking distance from here" as he put it. about half a 90 degree sunny hour later we arrive at his welfare apartment building. He opens his apartment door and cancer comes wafting out. At this point I'm too polite to run away screaming and enter, trying desperately not to gag. This guy is just barely not homeless - he has almost nothing but a plastic desk, camping chair, and package of cigarillos in his about 250 square foot apartment. He is apparently able to find work once in a while, but spends most of his time having a few screws loose.

I just remembered he also had a "john denver's greatest hits" cd. I seriously can't escape John Denver.

After making an excuse to get out of Brian's cancer death home I found a taco del mar and got some serious comfort food in me after a good two weeks without a burrito.

In true tourist fashion I drove to the Chena Hot Springs, which were an adventure to find since the roads leading to it were closed. There is a lot of need for road maintenance around here, with the kind of things the winter does to the roads. I did find my way around the closed section of the Steese Expressway and managed to arrive at the hot springs at the same time as a tour bus full of retirees.

It was overcast and therefore a good time for a hot bath. Also got to shower off and stuff. These are some touristed out hot springs, unlike Baker's hot tub sized hole in the ground, so I got to take a non sulphur smelling shower and soap off properly.

I think there would be a few people who'd agree with me in my assessment of places like Baker hot springs being a better place to spend time than Chena, beacuse it's more natural and untouched and not formed into being accessible by the most people possible. The Bulkley Canyon Bridge was also cooler than the Capilano Suspension Bridge, despite not being a suspension bridge, and having cars going by while you're peering through the bottom of it at the river 700-odd feet below. Another case where it's just what it is, and not made into a tourist attraction.

Along the hot springs road (they're 60 miles out of Fairbanks) there were plenty of people pulled over to look at moose. In my quest for moose sightings, I didn't have to keep an eye out for anything but "moose cars" - people who are perfectly happy to film a moose grazing for half an hour. I've seen tons of them so far, but haven't really been inclined to pull over and film one. Maybe I will though, add it to my wildlife collection. gotta catch em all.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Chicken, AK

Arrived in Chicken on the evening of July 3. Great little town. Unbeknown to me, they had quite the series of events taking place on the 4th, so I stuck around for all that - lunchtime barbecue, evening roast of two pigs, live music, and a completely packed saloon. People come from all around to spend the 4th in Chicken. It was easily the most interesting place I've been since Vancouver. Many of the highwayside towns are little more than a place to get gas and a bag of Fritos, whereas according to Chicken's locals, Chicken is "the way Alaska used to be."

Photos from the last few days

This update comes from Fairbanks. I've just watched a Californian folk singer play some music in a coffee shop - he played a cover of John Denver's "Country Roads," as did Kenny Kim, the busker from a few days ago. I should start keeping a tally of notable things I come across on this trip - things like numbers of bears, moose, and John Denver covers.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Hazelton, BC to Whitehorse, YT

I noticed my car bra had some bulges in it, so I figured it was a good time to clean out all the bugs which had accumulated under there. Gotta catch 'em all.

It's true it stays bright around the clock in the summer this far north. Bright enough to read by, but just barely. Sadly, this means I won't see the northern lights.

The Stewart-Cassiar highway, despite having a reputation for being unpaved, was a piece of cake to drive on. The gravel sections are short, rare, and you can still go 30 to 40 mph on them. Stewart and Hyder are not places to miss. It was a remarkable experience to stop at Bear Glacier, drive past Bear Creek, and see this bear.

Speaking of Hyder, that is quite the interesting little town of about 100 people. It's part of Alaska, but you can't get anywhere from there. There is no customs office entering Hyder, but there is one going back to BC. It's odd because, you really can't get anywhere except by boat. It has no pavement, but surprisingly, does have a post office.

I've now driven a fair stretch of the Al-Can highway, from Watson Lake to Whitehorse. My route, BC 99 to 97 to Yellowhead to Stewart Cassiar, I can now say with a small bit of certainty is much more interesting, and much less crowded. To give you an idea of the "popularity" of the SC, I pulled over at about 11pm the other night and curled up to sleep (yes, right there on the side of the highway) - probably one car went by between then and 7am. I did see one bear lumbering across the road, though.

It's Canada Day, and I'm in Whitehorse, YT. I came across a crazy Korean busker who spent about 15 minutes telling me his two minute long life story seven and a half times, before aborting his eighth telling to break out into song. He talked about positivity, Jesus, today's youth, and he has three teeth.


Hazelton to Whitehorse via Stewart and Hyder

More videos:

100,000 mile day

Watson Lake's Signpost Forest

Flat tire/Alaska Highway