The gang goes North: Part 9- Inside Passage

August 2-10

Last post of the our great adventure. A month late to writing it, as life seemed to pick up pace and complexity as we left the wilderness and camping.

On down the Haines Highway, fog enveloped us as we crested the highway pass at 3000 ft. It was a lonely, lovely highway. It seemed untouched, undisturbed, forgotten. The road pulled us back south into British Columbia from the Yukon, and we bid the northern territory goodbye, unsure if we’d ever step foot there again.

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The gang goes North: Part 7.1- Kenai Peninsula (Seward)

July 17-20

Rain again. We slept in at Porcupine Campground in Hope, hoping it would dry up outside before we started packing. It didn’t.

Jamie finalized a blog post as we huddled under our awning. We’d be heading further south in the Kenai, to Seward, so we grabbed coffee at Kayak Coffee Co in town to give our bodies a little extra fuel. I spotted a guy wearing a Bills hat under a pavilion beside the coffee shop’s parking lot.

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The gang goes North: Part 6- Turnagain Arm- Girdwood, Portage Valley, Hope

July 11-16

Oatmeal, yogurt, coffee. It’s amazing that we haven’t tired of the routine yet.

We left Eagle River campground and made our way back into Anchorage for a few more items we’d decided were necessary. I picked up a new air compressor for the tires, as we’d given ours away to a poor soul on the Old Denali Highway with 2 hissing wheels and a handful of miles to get to a service center. Jamie popped into the grocery for a couple more things, and we wasted no time getting out of Anchorage, heading eastward along the Turnagain Arm.

A long, skinny waterway branching east from the Cook Inlet about 40 miles, Turnagain Arm is a a sight. Massive heaps of rock rise up from the mudflats of the Arm on both sides, and the extreme tidal changes give birth to bore tides- one of only a couple places on the planet where you can see the phenomenon. One long, subtle wave pushes massive amounts of water from Cook Inlet into the Arm. Some folks will surf the wave for miles, as it gently ushers them east beneath the towering mountains.

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The gang goes North: Part 5- Hatcher Pass, Eklutna Lake, Anchorage

July 6-10

We grabbed breakfast in Talkeetna the morning after our flightseeing tour.  We talked with Nguyen, Jim’s wife, before leaving the Homestead cabin, as their home was on the same property.

“I used to live in Anchorage. Too many people, and no peace. There’s always noise. Here I’m happy. I hear the birds and the chickens and no people. I work hard on the gardens and house, and it’s long days. But I’m happy here. And now I’m thin! Always moving. When I lived in Anchorage, I was too heavy!”

We chuckled together, and she wished us well on our trip. Charley gave her some sniffs and Nguyen reciprocated with pets.

Denali was in clouds that day. It made us even more grateful to have seen her the prior day. We set out towards Wasila, down in the valley, taking the Parks Highway south again. Groceries and laundry. By now we’re at our most efficient getting errands done. I drop Jamie at the market, and head to the laundromat (in most towns we’ve come across, the two are quite proximal). Charley lays in bed in Archie.

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The gang goes North: Part 2

June 19-23

Passports, check. Rabies vaccination card, check.

“Anything to declare?”

“Just a couple beers left in the fridge, two cans of beer spray. Some raw meat, a couple multi tools and a hatchet.”

The border agent went through their questions methodically, making sure we didn’t slip up about our doings in Canada.

From Camano Island in northern Washington, we’d be making our way onto the Sea-to-Sky highway north of Vancouver.

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Big Views: Rockies, Cascades

After a handful of shifts at Harborview, we geared up for another trip. We’d tried a trip to glacier national park two years ago, but our plans were thwarted by a September snowstorm bringing 5 feet of snow to Montana’s Rocky Mountains. 

With a quick check of the forecast, we were all systems go for a second chance at seeing the Park. Temps would be in the 50’s during the day, with ample sunshine.

Charley stayed back for this trip, unable to join us due to national park restrictions.

Everything out west is a drive. You just get used to it. And with the stunning landscapes offered out in the great northwest expanse, the reward is worth the cost.

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Enchanted

Mt Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest is a vast expanse of wilderness in central and northern Washington. Headlining the region is, as you can guess, Mt Baker- a 10,000 foot glaciated volcanic peak.

We’d been up there last time we were in Seattle, and were itching to return. With a few days off, we loaded our gear and our Charley into Archie and rode I-5 northbound toward Bellingham, cutting northeast and into the Cascade range. We found a dispersed camp site near Artist Point, a jump off for several day hikes around Baker and the surrounding forest.

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Sharing the PNW

August 1-15

Before jumping into the post, I want to congratulate Abbey and Ethan on the arrival of their beautiful, healthy baby boy. We are thrilled for your growing family, and look forward to being the cool aunt and uncle he needs. Welcome to the world, Mr Elliott James Ouimet!

We worked a couple shifts after our friends Matt and Becca left. Nothing to speak of, except that the hospital is running overflow and short on beds, meaning as float pool nurses we’re tasked with opening, staffing, and closing border areas- inpatient “rooms”, but not a real department. Just beds situated in areas that can serve to hold patients, if needed. Trauma season is in full swing, and with the hospital serving as the only level 1 trauma center in 4 states (Washington, Alaska, Montana, Idaho), there are plenty of folks coming in.

We’ve decided to stay in town until at least the beginning of November, extending our contracts about 8 weeks.

On August 3rd, we decided to tackle a monster.

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PNW

June 3-9

Leaving Crescent City and the Redwoods was sad; it’s a special place. You can find big mountains in a lot of places, but the redwoods of Northern California are a unique sight to behold.

We set our bearings toward Bend, Oregon, as we climbed further into the Pacific Northwest. Crater Lake National Park was nearly on the way, adding only an hour to our trip. So we made a stop around lunchtime at the impossibly blue lake. We’d visited it once before, on our last northbound trip to Seattle a couple years ago. It’s very cool to see, but in our opinion, unless you’re camping or backpacking there, it’s not worth the hefty detour you’ll likely have to take to get there. It’s rather isolated in Oregon.

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