The gang goes North: Part 8- Girdwood, Valdez, McCarthy/Kennecott and the Yukon

July 26-August 1

Glass on Kenai Lake awaited us the next morning. We’d decided to make our return trip back up the Kenai Peninsula that day, but had some time to spare.

Blowing up the kayak, we floated out onto the water. About a mile wide, and about 22 miles long, with two deep bends, I wanted to get to the east side, across the skinny way. A mountain cascade poured into the lake from beneath a tunnel of small trees, and we traveled to the mouth of it and relaxed for a half hour or so, in silence, save for the stream. Jamie and Charley took a nap. I couldn’t stop staring up at the long bowl that we floated within.

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The gang goes North: Part 7.2- Kenai Peninsula (West side)

July 21-25

Not shockingly, we left Seward the morning of the 21st in the midst of a rain shower. Heading north along the Seward Highway, then splitting off west along the Sterling Highway, our surroundings changed from mountainous to rolling forested flats. Homer sits at the end of the Sterling Highway, and “The Spit” stretches a handful of miles out into Kachemak Bay, only few hundred yards wide and marks the end of the road- as far south on the Peninsula as a car can take you.

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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 4- Old Denali Highway and Talkeetna

July 3-5

“Get off my dog!” Jamie yelled at the mosquitoes.

Ever since entering the Yukon several day prior, mosquitoes had been our unwelcome company. These ones were unlike any we’d encountered before. I was describing them to my dad over the phone as, “it’s like they have a lieutenant and they get their mission and fully commit to it. They’re not haphazardly flying and maybe biting. It feels like a coordinated attack, and when they get you, you can visibly see their bodies swelling red with blood.”

We left Delta Junction that morning, happy to start our Alaska adventure. Jamie and I decided that it was the worst of the campgrounds we’d stayed at. Unkempt, overgrown, ragged. Situated a stones throw from a helicopter-field for wildfire management. We were treated to the whooshing of heli-blades for a good portion of the night.

The old Denali Highway is exactly that: the original approach route to Denali National Park and its surrounding wilderness. But first, we rode the Richardson Highway southbound to catch the old Denali highway in Paxson. We passed stretches of wide, rubble filled drainage areas, with grey serpentine rivers meandering through the massive glacial valley floors. So much water. The Alaska Range came into view as we ascended into the tundra of the Old Denali Highway, furthermore known as the 8.

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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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SB: Part 2

April 6- May 25

We’d been in Santa Barbara for a month and a half, and had yet to get out on the water. Jamie took the occasional float in the harbor on a paddleboard, but other than that, it had been a dry stay.

We linked up with Maggie and Brandon, booked a whale watch on a catamaran with Santa Barbara Sailing. It turned out being just a nice day out on the water, as the whales played shy. But it was nice to see the coastline from an offshore vantage point and we spotted some harbor seals sunbathing and perhaps a dolphin. The company gave us a voucher to come back and try our luck again in the future.

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SB: Part 1

February 25 – April 5

It felt like it had been a while. It also felt like it was just yesterday, that we’d been walking the streets of Santa Barbara beneath the Santa Ynez ridge, gazing out over the Channel and distant islands.

It was good to be back, for sure. Again we found ourselves saying “this place isn’t real”.

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Seattle to Santa Barbara: Part 3 – Death Valley and the American Riviera

February 21-25

It was hot. It was cold. It was windy. It threatened rain. There was sun, there were clouds. Death Valley gave us a little bit of everything on our brief 3 day tour.

We left Morro Bay Campground the morning of Feb 21, picking up some rocket fuel from Top Dog coffee shop. I got a “Bad Dog”: cup of coffee and double shot espresso. They have a “Rabid Dog” as well: 4 shots of espresso dumped into a coffee. Or in other words the Arrhythmia-Maker.

East to Bakersfield, we said “see you soon” to the Pacific. We’d be dropping Charley off at a dog-sitter Jamie found on Rover before heading to Death Valley.

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Seattle to Santa Barbara: Part 2 – NorCal and Central Coast

February 14-20

We left Harris Beach State Park and made our way into Brookings OR to do some laundry. Brookings is a beautiful area, but the town itself didn’t do much for us.

Jamie restocked on groceries at the market while I tended to our clothes at the laundromat.

About an hour later we were in familiar territory among Northern California’s Redwood forests. A quick walkabout along Cal Barrel Road in the National Park got us stretching our legs a bit, and gazing upward frequently. Nature’s kingdom. We had walked the same road a few years back on our way north to Seattle from Phoenix- with a dog, it was the only exploring we were permitted to do within the Park.

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