Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Melissa & Jason arrive

I know I have to put Alaska up but its been really busy with my sister MELISSA getting here and all!.

We picked her up from the airport late on Friday and we were all in bed by midnight. I had a really bad sleep however, I think everyone did except melissa. I cooked them pancakes for breakfast (yum) and then we did a little bit of local sightseeing. It was a warm day of +9C and the sun was out. Yay! Melissa was excited to do snow angels but the snow was really icy and dirty so I think she just ended up making a fool of herself heh.

Anyway Lo & Behold overnight on Saturday we ended up with 7cm of unexpected snow! It was still falling when they woke up so they got to see how beautiful Banff is under a snowfall considering how dirty everything was the day before! We were supposed to go sightseeing but the weather was white so instead we grabbed a couple of sleds and went sledding on a local hill. It was lots of fun but exhausting half way through we made a snowman. The snow was just a wet layer on solid ice so the sledding was getting dangerous! The snowman just came together beautifully perfect snowman snow.

We went to check out Yoho park yesterday but a lot of the best attractions were closed off because of weather. We did go for a trek out on Lake Louise. Melissa fell over once. Last but not least we saw the Calgary Flames toast the Detroit Red Wings in a home game. It was pretty cool, my first ever hockey game! Not enough fights though :D

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The End of Alaska

Day 3

We got up around 7:30am and was out of the house by 8:00am. Randy let us follow him for a while so we knew which way we were going because the GPS was a little lost. Then we set off on the great Alaska Hwy to Watson Lake around …km away. The drive was gorgeous and I took full advantage of it to make Brendan stop every two seconds so I could get a photo. At one point we passed this huge bull and I didn’t even notice it so Brendan turned around and it just stared at us we thought it was a big statue. I got out of the car to get some photos of it and kept thinking it was going to charge me. So after getting exciting seeing this huge buffalo we rounded the corner and there was about 10 of them eating snow on the side of the road. The road got a little bad mid afternoon winding and slippery so we lost a lot of time. We did stop at the Liard Hotsprings for about 20 minutes. Gorgeous! Stunk like rotten eggs though.
By the time we got to Watson Lake it was dark, about 730pm and we were so tired! Our hosts in Watson Lake were fantastic. We got in and Susan heated us up some moose stew which by the way is delicious and we sat around talking and watching the amazing race. We did go to bed a little bit early because we were exhausted from the long drive.

Day 4

We slept in because our next journey was to Whitehorse which was only a five hour drive. I don’t think we ended up leaving Watson Lake till about 10am. The drive was pretty standard, I saw some Caribou running around the side of the road which entertained me. Otherwise it was basically overcast most the way! We made it to Whitehorse but got a little lost by our hosts directions and ended up down the wrong HWY. We did find it in the end, our hosts were Lisa & Benoit (Ben-oir) Lisa was from Manchester but had been living Canada for about 20 years and Benoit was a French Canadian from New Brunswick. They had five HUGE dogs which were intense for me who is not a dog person. I knew what I was getting into I guess but they definitely threw me off…Once they got over the initial “new person” excitement they were big babies and cuddled up nicely. Except belle but her excuse was fair enough. Lisa & Benoit had rescued her from a shelter she had been abused as a puppy and suffered brain damage. She was a full time job just in herself. Our hosts were also entertaining. Benoit was a talented artist and could make anything out of anything, he was making a Hot Rod from scratch and creating custom pieces himself. He was also a tattoo artist by trade and did custom pieces in his house which paid the bills. He was telling me he wanted to out up a website to sell his custom car pieces from. He was also building a chopper (motorbike) from scratch and showed us the frame. He had rooms full of recycled junk and he had plans for everything! They were both planning on a big Australia trip in three years especially the north so perhaps we will see them again! Lisa cooked us dinner and we talked for hours about everything. We went to bed about 10pm.

Day 5

We got up early around 6:30am and was out the door by 7. We fueled up in Whitehorse and grabbed a couple of Tim Hortons coffees, im starting to see the Canadian obsession! Their donuts are pretty awesome too. We didn’t really stop until we hit the American/Canadian border where they border guards decided they were really bored and searched our car but Brendan and I had a good chat to one of the customs guys who happened to be from New York. We talked a little about the snowboarding resort we were heading to and he told us a little town you should check out you have to drive through a mountain to get to it. They were pretty friendly and asked us lots of questions “That’s a lot of stuff for one week” hehehe… well we had planned on three weeks including driving! And excuse us why did we have an interview in Melbourne to get special visas if it basically doesn’t mean anything! Brendan even had to prove he wasn’t a Terroist! Anyway we got through the border and headed our merry way to anchorage. The roads were horrible we were crawling along half the time. But after 14 hours (about 9:30pm) we finally made it to our home away from home the hostel. It was a really great little hostel we had a private room with a tv (although it never got turned on) and fridge. A double bed and pretty spacious for a hostel! Anyway we were exhausted so went to bed quick smart.

Day 6

After all the early mornings and long driving we slept in. We spent the first day just exploring the area. Nothing exciting to say, it was a bit of a miserable day. For dinner we met up with one of brendan’s locksmithing friends “Josh” We had dinner at this strange pizza place and indulged in some strange pizza.

Day 7

We headed down for some snowboarding! We did plan to get up early but didn’t end up leaving about 9am! Which in the end turned out to be good since the first lift didn’t open till 10:30am. We went to the aleyska resort. The snow was amazing it was a nice warm day of about -4 but overcast so I didn’t get any good views of the resort. It was honestly some of the best snow I have ever boarded on! Now I am a powder addict its so much fun just to float on powder but its really hard to be a proper technical snowboard rider on powder. Aleyska was my first taste of groomed powder. The top was flat and crunchy and I controlled my board awesomely. When I did fall over it didn’t hurt the crust just broke and I was in powder! But not to deep it was easy to get up again. We started out on the little green runs I wasn’t sure about my skill level but after floating down the runs realizing I’d stepped up (or maybe the green runs in America are easier then Canada) We took the tramway up to the top and decided to take one of the blue runs down. It was pretty interesting hairy at bits where it got a little icy. We did take another blue run a bit later which was about half the length of the whole mountain. It was my favourite I wish id found it earlier. We almost died when Brendan went down a black diamond run by accident and I only just stopped myself falling down the side of the cliff when I read the sign. So I pulled off my board and trudged back up the mountain. After the mountain we headed over to Josh’s place who cooked us up some salmon he had caught in the summer. So good! We drank, talked, drank some more.

Day 8

Bit of a crazy day. We went to do a hike up a mountain and we did a little but ran into a metre deep of snow and gorgeous views so we didn’t go any further. We then went into the town and did some walking down the streets and little bit of shopping. I got sucked into a snowboarding store and just drooled over all the gear. I seriously need to update! Went to Josh’s place again and he cooked us Gumbo! Some traditional Alaskan dish? Like a spicy soup with sausage. I was really tired and ended up passed out on the couch after about three drinks!

Day 9

The Iditarod! We got up early and went into the city with Josh. We did see our first moose today as well! It was just ambling down the streets of anchorage man those things are massive and ugly! We parked relatively close and walked around since the race started around an hour later. Its hard to describe but there were tons of people I snuck in and scored myself a free Iditarod hat and free target scarf! Lol. We had this one spot to do the viewing and this annoying cop and Japanese tourists kept hustling me out of the way so halfway through we moved to a parking lot and viewed from the fourth floor. Josh is a big guy and he got into an argument with some guy who was saving spots for his friends. I’m fairly non-confrontational myself so I just kept away. We got to cold however so we left after a few hours. Ducked into a book store and I picked up a bunch of second hand books. Then home. We didn’t do much else that day.

Day 10

We were up early and out the door driving to Seward to go on a cruise in the Kenai Fjords. We got there about an hour early so took a walk around the port, clumsy me fell on the ice The cruise was gorgeous. My only downside was that I was so cold! It was about -10 but with the windchill a lot worse. I had layered up expecting the cold but when your sitting outside in it for two hours it just starts to bite at you. I did get two hot chocolates to help a bit only to fall over on the stairs and spill hot chocolate on everyone. Why do people block the bloody stairs for!!!!!!!!! I did manage to save one of the hot chocolates. I don’t know why Brendan sent me to get them when Im the clumsiest person in the world. Saw a lot of wildlife a baby humpback briefly (didn’t manage to get a picture) a couple of sea otters, porpoise, sea lions & bald eagles. Was absolutely gorgeous scenery. We went out for Dinner with Josh & his girlfriend Devry at the “Outback Steakhouse” Then home to pack

Day 11

We were up and out the door by 10am LOL. Driving to Fairbanks for the day about 6hours away to see the ice sculptures. Nothing exciting on the way there shitty roads again about 100 cars in ditches. Alaskan drivers are horrible. We got in about 5pm and went straight to the ice sculptures. Very cool! People from all over the world competing. Once again we started to get to cold so back in the car then at our couchsurfing destination, Steffan! It was very last minute and he was really nice to take us in. His house was a little cabin with no running water, an outhouse & temperature of 10C. We slept on the floor he gave us some foam pads and I was freezing pretty much all night. He was a really nice guy but I don’t think I could live in a house with no running water for a week let alone four years like he had! He was actually german but was studying at the Fairbanks university. We ended up leaving just before 6am I don’t think I could have slept any more.

Day 12.

Pretty un entertaining day today mainly just driving Fairbanks to Whitehorse which was about 1000km. Roads weren’t to bad and I got to see a lot of scenery I missed on the way in because the skies were clear! It did mean we drove the entire length of the Alaska HWY since it ends in Fairbanks and we took a different route through Tok to Anchorage. We got into Whitehorse about 7pm and stayed with our hosts Ben & Lisa once more. I was a bit more used to the dogs this time.

Day 13

Early up again and we drove straight through to Fort Nelson. About 1000km as well. I guess the most exciting thing of the journey was that we saw a Lynx. It ran across the road in front of us and then ambled up the bank behind us. But by the time we turned around and I had my camera ready it was in the trees so I only got a really bad shot. Now that sux because it was in view for ages! Its not often you see a lynx anyway they are pretty timid and usually only come out at night. We pulled into this strange roadside motel to get a room for the night about an hour out of Fort Nelson. It was cluttered and no electricity they had only just opened that day, the bathroom wasn’t even ready. In the end they decided after showing us the room that they couldn’t be bothered turning on the generator for us so we ended up heading up to Fort Nelson where we stayed in Fort Nelson Hotel our first hotel stay of the entire trip! We just took it easy raping up the free wireless internet and having a much needed shower (four days and counting…) We decided to sleep in both of us were coming down with the flu and the early mornings long drives weren’t that great.

Day 14

So we were back in Dawson Creek staying with our fantastic hosts Cynthia & Randy. We decided to find their place ourselves and Brendan took the road he thought was the right road.. it was in the right direction but it was here we had our first accident. We were only doing about 60km/h but there had been so much snow the road was hard to pick and because of the warm weather the snow was really soft. A little bit to much to the right and our wheel sunk into this ditch and we were dragged down into a big snowbank. Jeepy was ok but the whole situation was Hilarious. I rang our hosts and they got their next door neighbours to come tow us out. Even that was a mission he couldn’t get us out the first time so he went back to get a snap strap and just as he left this old hick Canadian farmer pulls up beside us. Brendan gets out to tell him we are ok and he says “17 and stuck in a ditch eh” and Brendan says “ah bit older then that mate” and then he says “When I was young we used to dig ourselves out with shovels” haha. So anyway after telling him we were fine he drove on his merry way. We finally got to our hosts house and we were cooking a roast lamb. It was my first roast lamb in over a year I think Dad cooked my last one. I’ve never seen lamb for sale here except a few times and its been super expensive. This lamb was imported from NZ as well. We sat around drinking wine and eating before getting to bed at about 12:30am.

Day 15

HOME! We were up and out the door by 8am. We just drove home, nothing exciting except the mudflap coming loose and I had to jump out of the car and yank it off. The drive was pretty mundane seen it all before a few times. There was some really strong wind buffeting the car nearly knocking us off the road. Oh and some dumb tourists stopping in the middle of the road blocking traffic because of a few goats. We got home around 7pm.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Alaska Road Trip - Day 2 Salmon & Sleigh Rides

Day 2

We decided to sleep in a little since we were sticking around another day and crawled out of bed around 9am. I had left everything in the car and it had frozen overnight so all my bananas, lettuce, tomato was completely useless! My pancake ingrediants however were not! (except perhaps the vanilla essence which was also frozen) I made the mix borrowing some of our hosts ingrediants and Brendan cooked the pancakes! We had fresh bananas and some of Cynthias own summer raspberries! Delicious. After breakfast we headed out to Fort St John where our hosts had invited us to a big sleigh cutter rally! Lots of old men in homemade sleighs pulled by big draft horses. Unfourtunately we arrived an hour late and had missed everyone. Fortunately we tried an intercept and caught them further up! So we jumped in a sleigh nd enjoyed the ride. I was not dressed for the weather around -20 and we both slowly froze. It definitely put a damper on the whole thing but I think the hardy Canadians felt sorry for us and they were so nice offering us heaters, blankets, hot coffee & tea. The ride was amazing and the views gorgeous! It took around three hours all up. After the ride we went inside for some home made chili and hot chocolate. We got home about 4pm and Brendan and I went around on Cynthia & Randys quad/atv for a little bit but we were both still really cold so we decided to take a dip in the outdoor hot tub. Heaven! Randy cooked us salmon for dinner and then I fixed Cynthias computer (installed PDF reader) Around 10pm we went to bed to get ready for the next day!