My Stash (Rocks #3)

Thank you Isayah, Aryana, and Nika for the painted rocks.

Got my stash of rocks painted by Isayah (4), and Aryana (6), and their great grandmother, Nika. Nika was kind enough to make the one on the right in honor of The Head near Bonnie Lake, Alaska. To be dropped somewhere in route so eventually it will make its way there. They deserve to be together.

The Head (Rocks #2)

Found it! I read about The Head in a post on Anchorage Rocks Facebook site. It was between Ravine and Bonnie Lakes. I had to find it. First, I used Google Earth to find both lakes, then started looking for the head. Despite finding something large enough to be the head as viewed from space, I did not realize how large it would be, until I got there.

How do I get to Bonnie Lake and the Head?

What you should know about Bonnie Lakes Road

  • Almost 2 hours from Anchorage, Alaska.
  • Take the Glenn Highway (AK-1) North, exit Bonnie Lake Road.
  • It is a dirt/gravel road, like we so love in Alaska. Higher clearance vehicles preferred depending on road conditions.
  • RVs and large vehicles towing trailers not allowed-though i saw both of at the lake.
  • Go a bit further to the Bonnie Lake State Recreation Site.

My First Rock (Rocks #1)

With the Covid pandemic, the guys and I have been working from home. To try and keep healthy, and actually to talk to an adult we are not related to, we grab a lunch and converge in a central place decided on that day, to eat fast, and then do a quick hike. This day, May 15, 2020, we decided to Potter Marsh was the place to be. During our walk, we spied a painted rock. Took a picture, and then dropped it back into place. I posted on the Facebook Page Anchorage Rocks, and found the artist who made and dropped the rock!

EDC #1 (11/2019)

Every Day Carry #1

I became fascinated with Everyday Carry  after they popped up on my YouTube watch list, while searching for 72h Bugout Bag ideas for my trip to Deadhorse, Alaska via the Dalton Highway.  Didn’t pay a whole lot of attention then, but when I got back home, I started watching them and became mesmerized.  I see it as an opportunity to minimize what I am carrying so I can keep track of it all.  So, here goes.

My Current EveryDay Carry

  • Phone case is a Supcase Unicorn Beetle Pro  for my primary iPhone XR.
  • Phone case (not shown) purchased from ATT for my other iPhone XR
  •  Shevrov Carbon Firber Money Clip Wallet w/ RFID blocking.
  • Microfiber Res-Q-Me Keychain Escape Tool just in case.
  • Multi-function pen knife.  Unknown source. Family gift.  Name other side.
  • Tom McMurtrey, friend of 20 years, handmade pen from wood on property.
  • P38 was very very important back in my day. We carried them on our dog tags and taped them down so they wouldn’t make noise.  My friend Bryon Skiver found them for me.

Now to see where I go from here.

Road Trip: Driving the Infamous Dalton Highway (2019)

The James Dalton Highway is arguably one of the toughest, gruelling, and dangerous in Alaska ( New York Times ), one the worse/most dangerous in the U.S. ( Popular Mechanics ), and indeed, the one of  most dangerous in the world ( Business Insider ).

James Dalton Highway, USA – 7/10
This is the third most dangerous highway in the world stretching 414 miles from Fairbanks to the North Slope of Alaska. A helicopter now patrols the road to try and stop it contributing to the 2,889 USA road deaths per year.”

This had been at the top of my bucket list since I moved to Anchorage, and  notice a huge map of Alaska-with a solitary road, winding its way up to Deadhorse Camp on the North Slope.  So, below are some thoughts after taking this awesome road trip.  Take it seriously.

PREPARING FOR THE DALTON HIGHWAY

Car Rentals

To drive the Dalton, you need a high clearance vehicle, preferably 4×4. Remember that in general, you cannot drive a rental car on the Dalton Highway, and that will be clearly spelled out in your rental agreement. Some car rental companies do offer permission via “gravel highway vehicle” rider for specially prepared cars. These three, I believe, do as of when I write this:

Alaska Auto Rentals
Arctic Outfitters
GoNorth Alaska

Your Vehicle

I can not stress enough that one needs a vehicle that is in good repair,  very good tires, and preferably with high clearance.  You should also have:

• Your vehicle serviced and checked before you go.
• A set of (near) new tires, with 1, preferably 2 full-sized mounted spares
• Tire jack/necessary tools to repair/change a flat tire (including air pump)
• Extra gasoline
• Tool kit with  emergency flares
• Shovel or e-tool
• Extra motor oil and wiper fluid
• Tire chains and/or
MaxTrax Vehicle Recovery and Extraction Device.

Bug Out Bag (For Yourself)

The  Bug Out Bag (BOB), serves two purposes, if things go south, (1) I only had a single bag I needed to worry about grabbing during a time of great stress, (2) with enough supplies to keep me alive, and hopefully somewhat comfortable, while help is on it’s way.  They would be contacted via the SOS beacon on the Explorer+:

  • Warm clothes, including hats, gloves, and rain gear.
  • Sleeping bag and camping gear
  • First aid and survival kit
  • Insect repellent and head net.
  • Bear spray
  • Drinking water and purification system
  • Ready-to-eat foot
  • Personal medications
  • Personal hygiene
  • Sunglasses and sunscreen
  • Garbage bags
Weapons

Always obey federal, state and local laws!  I did take a sidearm, and shotgun on this trip.   I did not camp, staying in hotels, and under the watchful eyes of others, Not sure I would bring them the next time.

Navigation & Communication

Communications will be a problem.  Navigation, is easier.  Once you exit Elliott Highway and turn onto the Dalton Highway it’s easy-go straight north. Leaving Anchorage, large portions of your trip will have no cellular or Internet access-specially once you are on the Dalton Highway.

Coldfoot Camp  has gas, food and accommodation of course.  It is supposed to have a GCI tower, but I did not look for it.  You can purchase Internet access (Satellite Based) there.  Deadhorse Camp will have good LTE coverage. Internet will be available via your hotel.  I used the access point when I had to call into work to do a couple of things.

My experience: I got the most use out of the Explorer+ which I connected to my iPad via bluetooth.   Every 10 minutes it pings the satellite and my family is able to follow my progress-in almost real time.  I was also able to exchange short 150 char messages when nothing else worked.  How good was it?  On the way back I stopped at Tommy’s Burger Stop  in Anchorage, Alaska, when I got a text message with hamburger orders.  The family saw that I had stopped and where.  I carried:

CB radio on Channel 19,  monitored by truckers, other travellers, pipeline security, Alaska State Troopers, and others.
Garmin inReach Explorer+
Iridium Satellite Phone
The Milepost
• Cell phone/access point/etc (Will not be usable from outside Fairbanks  until DeadHorse Camp)

10 RULES OF THE ROAD

1. Always Check Weather and Road Conditions

Alaska Traveler 511 Info

2. Keep your headlights and tail lights clean

Be seen!  Every morning I start with a walk around the vehicle, then clean headlights, tail lights, and windows. It was a constant struggle.

3. Give truckers the right of way

The Haul Road exists for trucks to ferry supplies to and from DeadHorse Camp in support of oil production. We are visitors on their road, so we give way to them.  Which means we slow down, preferably to a  completely stop (the wind shield you save will be your own), and move carefully to the right of the road so they can can pass freely.  Being a good visitor will make things run smoothly for everyone.

4. Keep headlights on at all times

Make sure you are seen.  Truckers are very experienced and are moving at a fast pace. Let them know you are there.

5. Stay on the right side of the road

We have a saying in Alaska, “England drives on the left,  Alaska drives on what’s left..  Not on the Dalton.  Many curves  and hill have very limited visibility and you won’t be seen until it’s too late.

6. Don’t stop on bridges or hills
7. Check your rear-view mirror regularly

They can come up on you fast. You want to pull over and let them pass .  I enjoyed leisurely driving The Dalton, but  I made sure kto eep an eye out behind me and pulled over as soon as it was safe to do so.

8. If you spot wildlife, find a safe spot to pull over and stop
9. Slow down when passing
10. Keep your CB on channel 19

CB was a welcomed asset during this trip.  When on narrow or steep parts of the road, or times of poor visibility, it is good to know when a huge truck is barrelling down on you.

FURTHER READING & VIEWING

N275P – Historic Hydrogen Balloon Launch

(August 4th, 2010) After a long day of sweltering heat with very little shade, I was able to take  this last, long exposure photograph of N275P and my friends Phil Bryant Bert Mann, and Dale Tibodeau as they took off on their adventure.  It was dark and pitch black.  The brightness comes from having the lens wide open for a long time.

Phil Bryant(L), Bert Mann(back to camera) and Dale Tibodeau(R) can be seen going through their exhaustive checklist the last moments before launch.  We all got together in prayer for their safety, and wished them a bon voyage.  They landed the next morning.  You can follow their flight path on Spot (no longer available).  They landed safely at about 8AM.

Last photograph I took before launch-towards decoupling from the Air Liquide truck (to the right).  The black hose is delivering the hydrogen.

Day Trip: Gold Panning

Petersville Recreational Mining Area

Me and the guys (Tom and Bryon) have decided to stretch our 4x4s’ legs on an easy off-road adventure. Panning for gold.  We’ve talked about it for a couple of years now. Not knowing where to even go.  Not knowing the laws. We ran into an article RoadTrippin on the Petersville Road from KTUU, a local NBC affiliate.  It got us excited. We have ordered panning gear and are starting to make a list for the trip to even include drones.  A tick mark on my bucket list.

Initial Plan, is to leave early, have a leisurely breakfast at the Noisy Goose Cafe, a place that holds a very special place in my heart.  When I first got here, I stayed at a nearby RV park in Bessie (my TT), and ate here often.  The food was very good, the service was perfect.  I felt almost at home. The one thing I really miss about moving to Anchorage was not being able to get back there often enough.  We will pick up a few things at the Carrs around the corner and head to Denali Brewing in Talkeetna, fill up our growlers, then a quick walk to their taco truck so we will can take a lunch with us.  Then we get on Petersville Road and get on dirt.

 

National Wildlife Federation Certification

Today we received verification that Wolf House Alaska is now a certified Backyard Wildlife Habitat and part of the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge. We will keep moving forward on upgrading the amenities of the property to make it conducive to our wildlife.  We will also be making changes to help our moose neighbors during the worse of winter.

We like walking from the office to New Sagaya City Market  We found a new route through the neighborhood and found a house that had a plaque commemorating their certification as a wildlife habitat.  Imagine, downtown Anchorage!  This piqued my interest and off I went.  My neighbor Amber has been  working on cleaning up the front yard side yard.  This  really helped ne decide to get certified.

While we meet all the basic requirements for certification, we want to provide everything within our means for them.  Winters especially can be tough.  We are looking into the advisability of moose winter feeding.  The whole purpose of moving to Alaska was exactly this.