Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Finishing Alaska and the long drive south

Part of traveling successfully is meeting random people and befriending them. I happened to be at a berry-winery when at the same time as a fella from Wasilla and struck up a conversation with him...foolishly he gave me a business card and the offer of a flight in his plane.
3.5months later I took him up on that offer and turned up on his doorstep (with some warning).

For the whole afternoon I was grinning ear to ear as he took me on a scenic tour. The weather was sunny and cloudless with minimal wind so we were able to fly closer to the mountains and glaciers than usual. Memories of this flight can be summarised with x3 moments
1. Flying over the glacier's and the glacier lakes. Looking down into the crevasses and that magic blue colour.
2. Landing next to a glacial lake and finding the canoe left for people to canoe around the icebergs on the lake...hence we did...WOW
3. Flying over bears, mountain goats and Dall sheep

The other Alaskans I meet that week were some young fella's who help me push the Red Rocket out of a glacier stream I had become bogged in...maybe parking in the creek to wash car wasn't such a great idea after all!
These guys after rescuing me and the rocket invited me on a canoe trip down the Kink river. What a way to spend the arvo, a lazy float down stream with beers and good company.

My last stop in Anchorage was a sad one as I left behind a family who had adopted me as a son. However we were able to have some great memories as we went Kayaking on several lakes, rode a GoldenWing bike, feasted on homecooked Ribs and pumpkin pie and I also did several walks - finally the Crow Pass was complete!

Driving south I was stunned at the fall colour's, the memory of golden yellow leaves blowing across the road will stay a lifetime. After a quick 1000miles I made it to Skagway where I could walk the Chilcoot Pass.

This historic walking track was a highway of men carrying supplies to the goldfields in 1898. I carried a respectable 50pounds but nothing on the 1000pounds that the Canadian official's demanded be taken as supplies to the goldfields to ensure people could survive the winter.
I also had stunning weather and was blown away by the scenery. To get back to Skagway I caught the WhitePass railway...WOW as train journeys go this one had the best views.

The Casiar Hwy is slower but more beautiful, so it was an easy choice to go this way. The signpost forrest in Watson Lake was bigger than could have ever imagined with people from everything leaving directions and distances to their homes.

The was plenty of wildlife (black bear in particular) alon the Casiar but also evidence of forrest fires, lakes, volcanoes and my last chance to enjoy spruce forrests. A side trip into Hyder was well worth it to drive so close to the glaicers.

I was fortunate enough to be able to drive Hwy 99 in canada not once but twice is still the most beautiful hwy I have ever driven no matter what time of year!

I had some hastles getting back into the USA from customs...I had been over here to long for his liking and none of my answers were able to convince him that I was trying to living permantly in the USA. Finally after 50min of waiting I was through into the lower 48 again and had a win of sorts by breaking his stern face with the comment I just want to get home to see my mum!

I then heading to Crater Lake national park as the weather gods where being nice to me one last time! This volcanic crater is similar to Mt Gamiber in South Australia but MUCH MUCH bigger. I was convinced to go for a swim in it...rewards but cold. Hiked to the most amazing view points and realised I was not ready for children when I overheard a Dad explaining that he had to hold onto his kids tightly because he didnt want to have to climb down to rescuce them...I thought it would be much easier just to have another kid than climb down to get the stupid one who fell!

After Crater lake I decided i could squeeze the Lava Beds national park in also...well worth it to go caving on this trip. Seeing the flow paterns of the roack and walking through this geological gem was somehting else and also the amazing forests surround the national park.

I headed south again and this time just kept driving until I reached Los Angeles. I did so early Sunday morning and was exhausted but thogh i should wait until a respectable hour before waking Adrian. I lay down on the roof of the car to read my book and promptly fell asleep...the neighbours didnt like this and called the cops on me and was a classic ending to my drive south!

Over the 10days drove 4000miles, used 142gallons of fuel and spent umpteen hours behind the wheel. I had become attached the Red Rocket...the little gal just kept on going going going so to have to sell her was not easy...well emotionally anyway because it took less than 5hours once I had listed it online.

The last few days in LA I was to wrap myself in cotton wool to make sure my good luck didnt come crashing down...well i tried but them decide how often do you get to drive in chaotic traffic and do it in a monster truck...literally a BIG finale for a BIG holiday in a BIG country.

See you all in Australia very soon...