A wonderland of rocks – Prescott, AZ

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Even though we had a lot of uncomfortable weather during our stay at Prescott, it would have been a “dereliction of duty” to depart without at least exploring the Granite Dells. We’d been inspired by pictures of this natural wonderland from RV friends who had explored it in the past, and it was one of the reasons we had to stop here.

The Granite Dells consist of exposed bedrock and large boulders that date back 1.4 billion years.  The rounded shapes and other unusual characteristics of these rock formations make them very unique.

Granite Dells, Prescott Arizona

The Granite Dells

Lucky for us, access to these awesome formations was just steps from our front door.   With temps in the 30’s and 40’s in the mornings we were in no hurry to get outside, and for the first time ever we started our walks and hikes a few hours later.  We are “fair weather hikers”, and those temperatures kept us curled up around the heaters until well after sunrise.

wpid42497-2015-11-05-AZ-1730138.jpg

The Dells reminded me of the Alabama Hills (my post is here) near Lone Pine, California, where old Western movies were filmed – except that man-made lakes give these formations a picturesque beauty of their own.  Watson Lake (closest to us) and Willow Lake (a few minutes away) are reservoirs that surround the Dells and enhance the natural beauty of the area.

Granite Dells, Prescott

Willow Lake

A short break along the trail at Willow Lake

Watson Lake

A kayaker is dwarfed by the gigantic boulders at Watson Lake, which give a stark display of the drought that has occurred here

There’s an extensive network of trails in and around Prescott, but we prioritized the Dells network that circumnavigate around Willow and Watson Lakes.  We followed these trails that ran over rugged rocky terrain with some easy flat sections in between.

Watson Lake Trail

At one intersection we chose the steeper and shorter route to warm up our legs

Watson Lake Trail, Granite Dell

What goes up must go back down!

On other days while Steve was attending to Betsy, I explored more of the Dells alone and managed to do silly things without someone there to make comments and roll his eyes.  I noticed while traipsing around and scrambling over the rocks that I glimpsed shadows of myself, and I thought I’d try to capture them.

Watson Lake

The Dells are a decent birding area as well, which made me giddy as I spotted my little friends perched up in trees or jumping around the rocks looking for morsels.

Cordillera Flycather

Looks like a Cordillera Flycather, or is it?

Canyon Wren

This Canyon Wren was quietly picking its way through a clump of brush then perch on the rock

Great Blue Heron

A Great Blue Heron was across the lake patiently awaiting its next meal

But look what I saw far away in the top of a tree at Willow Lake:

Willow Lake, Prescott

Can you see it?

Bald Eagle

I never get tired of seeing these majestic beauties

When surrounded by all these rounded bumpy and unusual shapes it gave me pause to ponder what the rock is trying to paint in front of me.  With a little imagination I named some of the rocks – do you agree with me?

Granite Dells

A resting (or dead) fish

Granite Dell

Lonely heart

Granite Dells

The ripple effect

Granite Dells

Darth Vader – or an alien – emerging from the rocks to watch the kayakers float by

With that kind of playground I completely forgot the chill in the air.

Granite Dells

One last look at the playground before we go

 

Next Up:  Steve performs another little upgrade on Betsy…



 

 

 

Our final stop in the Maritimes – St. Andrews-by-the-Sea

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St Andrews by the seaFor those of you just joining us on our Canadian Maritime adventure, we are actually back in the USA now – sitting on the coast of Maine at the moment.  This post is a catch-up to cover our final stop and end of our Canadian travels.  We were having such a great time and seeing so many things that sitting in front of a computer had to take a back seat.  Besides, not having internet connectivity at times made it impossible to keep up.

Anyway, we arrived at St Andrews-by-the-Sea excited, as this was our last stop before crossing the border again. The moment we felt the sea breeze brushing our cheeks as we settled into our campsite, we immediately liked the place.  Who wouldn’t?  We had another “big screen” view, this time of Passamaquody bay.  We stayed at Kiwanis Oceanfront Camping – click here if interested in Steve’s review of this great campground.

Passamaquoddy Bay

Passamaquoddy Bay at low tide

Kiwanis Ocean Camping,St Andrews by the Sea

Betsy-by-the-Sea

We explored the beautiful little town of St. Andrews-by-the-Sea on foot, as all attractions were walkable from our campground.  Having been in the rain for the past few days, we welcomed the sunshine and started early on our sightseeing.  This town was designated as a National Historic District, one of the oldest and loveliest in the Maritimes.  We agree.  It is loaded with neat shops and excellent restaurants.  We could definitely spend more time here!

St Andrews by the sea

Water Street early in the morning

St Andrews-by-the-sea

Market Wharf

Strolling around this little seaside town, we observed many of the well-preserved original buildings.

St Andrews by the sea

The local folks we talked to were the friendliest we have met while in Canada.  From the lady at the coffee shop to the lady at Olive and Spreads, to the lady at the Irish pub – they were all very helpful!

Our wanderings also led us to a blockhouse, which is a building modestly fortified to defend an area.  This one was built during the War of 1812 between the U.S. and Great Britain, and it is the last one standing in the Maritimes.  The St. Andrews Blockhouse and Battery has been preserved as a national historic site since 1962.

St Andrews Blockhouse

That’s Maine over there across the water where the cannons are pointing!

Since Passamaquoddy Bay was only a few steps from Betsy, I went down and explored the tidal floor and checked out the shore birds while the tide was low.

A few interesting marine plants and shells on the ocean floor:

We joined yet another tour, this time aboard the Jolly Breeze.  We didn’t go so much to see the whales and other sea creatures (we’ve seen many in Alaska), but more for the experience of cruising aboard a classic tall ship.  We saw this ship go by the campground and thought it would be fun to hop aboard.  That’s the Jolly Breeze cruising by in our new blog header.

Jolly Breeze

Aboard Jolly Breeze

St Andrews by the sea

St. Andrews-by-the-Sea, viewed from the Jolly Breeze

A was to be expected, we saw a Minke Whale, Harbor Seals, Grey Seals and a couple of Bald Eagles.

Each morning I got up early to catch the sunrise.  With the open space and the bay before us, the photo ops were right there for the clicking.  I have taken so many pictures that picking one is like picking your favorite sister – too difficult!

St Andrews by the sea

St. Andrews-by-the-Sea was a great final stop on our Maritime adventure. We liked the look and feel of the town, enjoying every minute of our stay.  A rainbow even appeared, as if to confirm Steve’s comment that this was one of his favorite harbor towns of all. St Andrews by the sea

Our Canadian Maritime adventure stats:

Number of days in Canada = 29 (8/11-9/9)
Miles driven = 1,332
Amount of diesel burned = 177 gallons
Average price for diesel = $5.10/gallon

What was originally planned as a two-week trip mushroomed into a whole month of driving around the Maritime provinces, made up of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia.  Despite spotty internet in the RV parks, high prices, a lot of rain and some bad roads – the trip was well worth it.  The people were friendly and seemed happy to see visitors in their towns.

Which province is my favorite?  It would have to be Prince Edward Island – the whole island is just too picturesque, pastoral with wide open spaces.

Canada Maritimes

Map of where we had been in Canada’s Maritimes

Our blogger friends were like walking visitor centers – many thanks to Pam of Oh the Places they go, (especially the Scone alert!), Gay of Good Times Rolling (we stayed at the RV parks they were in) Brenda of Island Girl (the French River was the best!) and Judith of Red Road Diaries – they had been here before and provided us with excellent inside information and tips about the Maritimes.

And finally, finally..the morning we left for the USA was no exception, as I captured this very serene and calm morning with brushstroke clouds that made it look like a painting. The beautiful sunrise was a great start for our journey back to the good ‘ol USA.

Sunrise at St Andrews by the sea

Next up:

The fabulous Acadia National Park!

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Blazing some trails on Prince Edward Island

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Prince Edward Island National Park

Prince Edward Island (PEI) isn’t just all pastoral landscapes and gleaming harbors.  The island is also famous for being the home of Anne of Green Gables, and I vaguely remember the tv series from decades ago.  However, since I wasn’t a fan we skipped a trip to the Green Gables National Historic Site.  Fortunately, our base camp at Cavendish was only five minutes away from PEI National Park.  As always, we did what we do whenever we get a chance – hike and bike.

On our first full day we hiked one of the trails which took us through several micro-environments.

Duneland at PEI

Starting off toward the dunes along beautiful Cavendish Beach.

Cavendish Beach

He made it!  I’m down on the beach already.

After a while the trail took us out into a wetlands area.

Cavendish Beach

Homestead Trail

The clouds seemed to mimic the outline of the trees.

Falcon

A good looking Merlin checked us out from above.

We finally ended up at a red beach where I touched the warm waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Next we headed back inland and followed the Homestead Trail.  This one passed through lush forests and rolling farmland along the beautiful shores of New London Bay.

The sun was already high over our heads so there were no shady spots to rest on this section, but at every turn we were faced with meadows of pretty colorful wildflowers.

Homestead Trail

Not a bad way to spend a Tuesday afternoon!

Homestead Trail, PEI

Is he lost?  Does he care?

A hint that summer is almost over.

On another day we took our bikes and followed the coastline of PEI fronting the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The soil on PEI is a deep red, so the dramatic rocks and cliffs around the coast reflect this, while the sand on the beaches is white.  It makes for a stunning coastline.

PEI Coastline

Sandstone

There were many areas of reddish sandstone like this one.

PEI Coastal Trail

Why is this woman so happy? Could it be the wildflowers, the birds, the beach? Maybe all of the above?

PEI Coastline

Steve spotted something way out at the end of the rocks – is that a bird ?

Bald Eagle

After getting closer – yup, it’s a Bald Eagle!

Several foxes strutted along the road causing a traffic jam.

Red Fox

Red fox trotting along the road.

Red Foxes

These foxes look like they’re kissing

The day finally ended with another gorgeous sunset over the island.

Red Sand  Beach

Red sand beach glowed at dusk

PEI Sunset

Gulf of St. Lawrence glowed orange in the sunset.

Next up:  Island girls meet up at PEI

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Bald Eagles, Bears and Totem Poles- Haines

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Our final stop in Alaska was Haines, and also our base camp as we explored Southeast Alaska.  From Tok we had  to meander through the Yukon Territory and a little bit of British Columbia in Canada (and of course U.S. Customs) before getting back to Alaska again.

Location of Haines, AK

Location of Haines, AK

Haines, Alaska

Beautiful mountain side along Haines highway.

Chilkoot Inlet, Haines Alaska

Haines viewed from Chilkoot Inlet

Haines has been tagged as the Valley of the Eagles due to the congregation of about 3,500 Bald Eagles starting in November when they feast on the late run of Chum salmon.  A 48,000 acre sanctuary has been formed by the state for the national bird. But we did not have to wait until November, as we saw the baldies perching on trees by the dozens and  just hanging out on the beach.  It was quite an awesome sight for the gathering of the white heads.

Haines, Alaska

More Bald Eagles on the beach

Bald Eagle

This is an injured Bald Eagle and the foundation is permitted to take care of it.

We were told that Bears hang out at the salmon weir by Chilkoot river. So off we went early in the morning to watch bears catch salmon.  We were not disappointed for the three times that we went there, they were there feeding on the running chum salmon.

Grizzly Bear, Alaska

Hi, I’m BJ, so we were told

Grizzly Bear, Alaska

He smelled us, so it looked straight up and we drove away.

Grizzly Bear, Alaska

Aha, there you are or he could be pooing.

Grizzly Bear, Alaska

Bear catching salmon for breakfast

Grizzly Bear, Alaska

This is how tourists get attacked by a Bear

Walking and driving around Haines we noticed several Totem poles.  They signify Alaska’s native legacy. They were carved to perpetuate Tlingit (pronounced Kling-it) cultural practices.

Friendship Pole, Haines alaska

Friendship Pole

Eagle Family Totem Pole, Haines Alaska

Eagle Family

A private pole by Chilkoot river, Haines Alaska

A private pole by Chilkoot river honoring a family there.

There were lots of hiking and biking opportunities at Haines, but man, the wind and the rain were unrelenting once again.  Instead we just checked out museums and historic sites.  First we went to Fort William H Seward which was established 106 years ago as a symbol of US Army strength.  The fort was decommissioned and is now a historic landmark.  Most of the building are now privately owned and local businesses reside there.

Fort W.H. Seward, Haines Alaska

Fort Wh Seward, a National Historic Sight

Soapsuds Alley, Haines Alaska

Soapsuds Alley, used to house non-commissioned officers, now houses stores and shops

Officers Row, Haines Alaska

Officers row before now privately owned

We watched the feeding of a Bald Eagle at the American Bald Eagle Foundation.  There were also more than 200 specimen of  local fish and wildlife.  The founder gave an engaging and interesting presentation of wildlife stories.

Haines Alaska

Porcupine and Mountain Goat one of the many displays

Haines Alaska

A captive Red Tail Hawk

Next stop was the Sheldon Museum, which houses collections of Native art, gold rush mementos and a display of  the  answer to the question “Whose Border is it?”

Haines Alaska

Answer to the question “Why isn’t Southeast Alaska part of Canada ?”

Next stop was the Hammer Museum where an impressive  display of 1,800 pounding implements is showcased.  Now that’s a lot of hammers!

The only place where you can see over 1800 hammers

Haines Alaska

It was quite a collection of different kinds of hammers

Haines Alaska

Due to its quintessential Alaskan look, Haines has also been a favorite of filmmakers.  The 1991 Disney movie “White Fang” was filmed in Dalton City as is “Gold Rush Alaska”  at Porcupine Creek.

White Fang set Haines Alaska

Movie set of “White Fang” now used as small stores and for state fairs

Haines Alaska

At the movie set, Steve got his growler at Haines Brewery

We could tell that the season is winding down as the RV park we stayed in, Haines Hitch up RV park  was pretty sparse.  We liked it for we had the west section to ourselves. It was a level grass site with full hook ups.  We liked it here even if the laundry cost $3.50 per load.  What can we say, everything in Alaska is expensive.

Haines Alaska

Harbor decorated with flowers

Haines Alaska

Outrageous gas prices

Haines Alaska

Almost empty RV park

We prepped Betsy, and the Honda for our departure from Alaska on a three-day ferry trip through the inside passage to Prince Rupert, British Columbia, Canada.

Upnext: Leaving Alaska

BearFooting in the Kenai Peninsula

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We completed our “bear footing” (having a good time), in Alaska’s playground – the Kenai Peninsula. It left us full of wonderful experiences and spectacular scenery.  The bountiful wildlife in the peninsula borough allowed us to meet the real locals (critters) in Cooper Landing.  We got hooked, we clammed and then traded clams for Halibut in Ninilchik. We gazed at volcanoes and walked and biked the well-maintained pathways in Soldotna.  We went all the way to the end of the road in Homer and to the most westerly point in North America at Anchor Point.  The Harding Icefields and Kenai Fjords National Park formed the backdrop of stunning scenery on the horizon at Seward.  We witnessed frenzy Salmon fishing (or combat fishing as they refer to it) and dip netting for subsistence at the Kenai River in Kenai.  ML even met in person, for the first time, Gemma,  whom  she has been communicating with through FB for eight years.   We spent an afternoon with her, her husband also named Steve and sisters at their home in Nikiski.  The sea life, the Alaskan life,  the glaciers and everything else in between were just astonishing to watch and to experience.

Kenai Peninsula

Kenai Peninsula

The two weeks we spent traveling through the area were not enough. The pictures below are some of the many we took, attempting to capture the essence of what its like to be in the Kenai Peninsula.  We had a great time and we urge you to come and play in Alaska’s playground!

Anchor Point, AK

ML modestly posing at another sign

Homer Spit

Viewing snowcapped mountains from Homer Spit

Homer Spit

Beautiful Sunset at Homer

Anchor Point

North Fork Loop road in Anchor Point

Floatplane

Steve’s first floatplane trip, out of Homer.

Harding IceField

The Harding IceField covers over 700 square miles at the top of the mountain ranges, and spills over the peaks as hundreds of glaciers.

Grewingk Glacier

Grewingk Glacier

Glacier view

Yet another glacier, as seen from the plane from Homer during Steve’s flight.

Mt Redoubt

Mt Redoubt

Mt Iliamna

Mt Iliamna

Gemma, ML, Joy and Wennah

Ninilchik, AK

Steve attempts to fly with the seagulls. They were very graceful, he crash-landed.

Bald Eagle

Bald eagle hanging out near our RV site