Wednesday, April 18, 2012

We survived the Alaska Highway!

We've been a long way since the last post!  You've all been very patient to wait for the latest update on our trip up the coast and along the Alaska Highway.

We left Portland, OR due north for Olympic National Park.  We found a great campsite in the park (for free) right next to the river and surrounded by the rainforest trees, ferns, and lots of moss and lichen.  Curtis did his best to build a fire for the night, but something about rainforests and campfires just don't mix.

pretty campsite views

We continued our tour of the park the next day, driving around the Olympic Peninsula.  I had an image of the park as just rainforest, but was amazed by the beaches.

It was the only beach I've ever stood on where I actually felt like I was standing below the waterline.  It was a very strange feeling.  And those trees were definitely the biggest driftwood I've ever seen.  

Nature loop through the Hoh Rainforest

We spent one more day in the park, circling all around the peninsula and making sure to have a pitstop in Forks.  

It might be beyond words to describe this town, but I'll give it my best shot.  It's a very small town at least 2 hours from the nearest decent sized town.  Yet there are 3 Twilight themed shops in the downtown, a tour company, and most importantly: Twilight firewood.  We think maybe it sparkles more than regular wood, but we did not actually test it out.  To capture the essence of the town, the photo below shows the tour guide taking a photo of his clients with cardboard character cutouts in the back of trucks that were supposed to be in the movies.  We caught a glimpse of one other couple snapping a photo near the sign, even more embarrassed than Curtis was.  I'm not sure the guy even let his girlfriend get out of the car. . . 

Anyway, we popped in the park one more time on the north side of the peninsula and it was a totally different experience from the beaches and rainforest.  

You can't quite tell, but that is a sheer vertical wall of snow.  And the truck is 10.5" high

Beautiful Olympic Mountains.  Up until we drove to Alaska, they were our favorite mountain range

We drove to Seattle the next morning, taking the ferry across and stashing all four bikes inside the truck to avoid the height surcharge.  It was totally worth saving $12.50!  We spent the day exploring Pike's market and dodging the rain.  We had the most delicious lunch ever at a little bakery, warming ourselves up enough to  go back out and get drenched.  We met up with Maddy that night and had a fun housewarming celebration for her new apartment.

So, the next morning (Thursday) was the official start of our Canada/Alaska Highway experience.  The drive started out really well through southern B.C. with beautiful views of the mountains and river, but slowly turned to a rainy, dreary day that just kind of stuck around.  We made it to 100 Mile House before it started to sink in that most services really are closed down on the highway this early.  We couldn't find a campground that first night so we ended up staying at a rest area off the highway and then just decided that worked best and stuck with it the rest of the way.  

We had day 2 of rainy weather and a long, long drive that got colder throughout the day.  It was snowing by the time we got to our "camping" spot, but the rest area had a little treat:  heated bathrooms!  It's the small things that make a difference these days.  It snowed all night so we woke to some pretty nasty driving conditions for half of day 3.  As soon as we drove through the mountain pass and got back to the western side of the mountains, the roads were dry and clean (and I could finally let go of the door handle death grip I had all day).  And even better, we finally spotted a caribou!

Best of all, we ended the day with Liard Hot Springs.  It's a provincial park in the middle of nowhere, almost to the Yukon border and because it's still so early it was free!  It took some convincing in the snow and cold to get me to consider anything fewer than my four layers of clothing, but it was well worth it.  

We spotted bison on day 4:

And day 5 finally got us to Alaska!  

The mountains got bigger and bigger as we drove towards Anchorage and we stopped to check out the roadside glacier views too:

There were two portapotties at the turnoff that would have won the prize for best toilet view if only they had faced the other way!

We made it to Anchorage last night and spent the day today sorting gear, setting up the test tents (we're testing gear for Backpacker magazine) and trying to get everything in order so we can disappear for a few weeks.  We'll be heading up to Talkeetna on Friday, then flying out to the glacier sometime after that.

I'll try to post again before we really fall off the radar, but if not you can look forward to some great stories, lots of pictures, and one enormous blog update when we get off the glacier at the end of May. 

1 comment:

  1. Missy was telling me all about this Alaska adventure. Hope you all have a great time and don't get too cold! Love the Forks pictures! I won't be showing John the picks of the PNW. He is from there and would love to go back to live there!!!!