Alaska, the Last Frontier - Summer 2012 travel blog

Muncho Lake panorama

stalking a moose

the victim

Stone Mountain sheep


blue sky!

drive to Toad River

Toad River hats

enjoying cinnamon buns

where's that satellite?

campsite with a view

Movie Clips - Playback Requirements - Problems?

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We arose to the gentle patter of raindrops. From what we saw on the news last night, the entire province of British Columbia is covered in clouds for the foreseeable future. As we headed to Summit Lake (elevation 4200 feet) I could feel Ken’s heart breaking into tiny pieces as we drove past what The Milepost described as some of the best views on the Alaska highway and all we could see was fog. When we got above the fog the cloud cover was still thick and dour. At one point the fog was so thick, we weren’t sure where the road was. Ken drove all those miles to take wonderful photographs. It wasn’t happening today.

The quality of the road deserves a comment: so far the pavement has been smooth and the occasional short pot hole area is well marked and we have plenty of time to slow down appropriately. For the most part the road has a shoulder almost wide enough for us to park on. Traffic is light and when we do encounter someone slower than we are, it’s pretty easy to find a spot to pass. We’ve brought along a gizmo to protect the car from stones thrown up by the motor home, but so far haven’t needed to use it.

To assuage our broken hearts regarding the weather we stopped at Tesla Lodge for cinnamon buns. Little oases along the road may call themselves a lodge or a restaurant or a gas station, but they all are a beehive of activity after long miles of Mother Nature. Home baked goods are often a good lure to entice travelers from the road. Each establishment reflects the personality of the owners and has a rustic, slightly eccentric feel.

As we crossed the highest point on today’s drive the weather began to brighten a bit. We stopped at Toad River Lodge to see the 6,200 hats they have stapled to the ceiling and while we were there, we might as well have lunch. Our waitress looked Asian and barely spoke English. This has been typical. We get the impression that there are few native Canadians who live here year round and folks from foreign lands are brought in to take care of the tourists in the summer. Toad River got its name during the road construction days when vehicles had to be towed across the river. No real toads live or ever lived here.

Tonight we are boondocked at a provincial park on Muncho Lake, a scenic seven miles of aquamarine colored delight. The color is caused by copper oxide leaching into the water. Building the highway past the lake was a huge challenge in 1942. Today the road is on a shelf blasted into the steep hillside. Rockfalls are common.

We seem to be more and more off the grid. We haven’t had satellite internet for a few days; the TV signal seems to be gone as well. Ken uses the satellite finder on his Iphone in vain. The satellite has almost slipped below the horizon. At this campsite there are no local radio stations and XM radio is more off than on. If something important is happening in the world, we don’t know.

We took a shoreline drive with the car and came across the best animal viewing of the day. A group of mountain sheep were munching their way up the hillside. Nearby a moose was mowing the grass between the highway and the forest. Although the animals were aware of us, they didn’t seem to mind our paparazzi ways. We were most grateful.

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