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Racquet, NoBigDeal and Parks go to Alaska

Retired Couple with their dash pet "Parks" head across US in a class B RV from South Carolina to California and eventually to Alaska to visit all eight National Parks in that state. First stop was Charlotte NC to help with a kitchen remodel.

Click on the points on the map to see what we did at each location.

Mar 11, 2018

Ventura Beach and Channel Islands National Park

3/9 and 3/10
Slugged our way thru Los Angeles - traffic here pretty much sucks all the time. Arriving in Ventura was a welcome site and allowed us time to resupply and settle in as rain was in the forecast. On Saturday we went to a movie (Darkest Hour - both enjoyed very much) and also stopped in the visitor center for the Channel islands.
We were booked on a 9AM tour to Santa Cruz Island, the largest island of this National Park (of course we booked before we realized that daylight savings time change was on Saturday night). A little bleary eyed we made it to the dock and eventually to the Island. On the was out we were rewarded with sightings of dolphins and birds in a feeding frenzy followed by dolphins surfing in our ships wake. We basically had about 6 hours on the Island and we took full advantage with 3 very nice hikes albeit the gound on the first hike was quite muddy (actually had mud cakes on our shoes about an inch thick). Made for some heavy feet - but still a beautiful hike up Scorpion Canyon. We also hiked Potato Harbor and Cavern Point. The day was quite breezy and partially cloudy at times but temperature was quite comfortable with a light jacket. Lots of neat flowers but only limited wildlife, birds and about 5 to 6 foxes - amazingly they were out foraging with only minimal concern about our presence.
Once back in Ventura we enjoyed a great cup of clam chowder at Brophie Brothers before heading back to camp for showers and an early bedtime to catch up on the sleep we missed the night before.

Jun 28, 2018

Bettles, Kobuk Valley & Gates to the Arctic NP’s

Up early to pack and get to the airport. Wright Air was on the north side of the airport and each small airline that services the more remote villages has its own little building. Atmosphere is quite relaxed - they never even asked to see our ID - but weight, well that was more of a priority! Flight to Bettles was non eventful and once there the pilot essentially took us right up to our hostess, Judy’s, front door. It took about an hour for the pilots to decide which plane, confirm weather, etc. before we took off in a float plant for the Kobuk and Gates of the Arctic National Parks. We peaked at about 4000 feet and skimmed over the range below. This was followed by lush green landscape and valleys pocked with small ponds and serpentine rivers providing a view against a backdrop of mountains, some still Covered with snow/glacial ice. We hit Kobuk first and after flying out over the Great Kobuk Sand Dunes we landed on a river and got out and hoped on the shoreline that had two small row boats and evidence of past campfires. Several antler racks were piled on the shore. We walked along the shore and admired the sights for 15 to 20 minutes before replaning and heading off for Gates of the Arctic. After an hour flight we landed on Waker Lake, the largest lake in the National Park. This stop was a little shorter since we had been flying through some rain and the skies were still threatening with some thunder and lightening off in the distance. We did get to walk around and admire the sites for about 10 to 15 minutes before we reboarded for the hour flight back to Bettles. Landing again just as the rain that had been chasing us was starting. Racquet and I were dropped off at our cabin and then we attempted a brief walk but only went on a short loop before the boards of mosquitoes started to literally dive bomb us so we galloped back to the cabin and quickly entered and shut the door in an attempt minimize the invasion into our humble sleeping quarters. A short while later we walked/jogged up to Bettles Lodge for social hour and a great steak dinner. We ate with Sharon and Gary, our tour mates for the day (they are actually doing all 417 NPs, - Historic, seashores, military etc. and after 10 years they have completed 393 - wow!). After dinner and a brief jog back to the cabin we enjoyed brief moment of TV and mosquitoe killing since there are only a couple of stations available) decided to retire to bed, hoping the few remaining mosquitoes would allow us to sleep. Good day all around

Jul 04, 2018

Katmai National Park

Head cold suddenly hit me - bummer! But no stopping for the weary, instead our alarm went off at 4:50 to catch a cab to the airport for our 7am flight to
King Salmon where we the switch to a float plane to Brooks Lodge in Katmai National Park. After our bear encounter orientation we set off to the viewing platforms. With the salmon running up river there are grizzlies everywhere! We had to back off the trail 2 different times to avoid bears first a mother then her two yearling cubs. One guy in our group went to the other side of the path but could not back off the trail a very far distance and I swear that cub came with ~10 feet of him and looked right at him and took a big sniff before lumbering down the trail. We spent over 3 hrs viewing bears and salmon. It was fascinating seeing the body language of all the gears and how different bears dominate the best “fishing” spots as different bears come and go from the river. They eat for a couple of hours then go off for a nap. Big bears bear the Falls with smaller bears further downstream hopping for scraps or a lucky fish catch. Each bear seemed to either have a favored fishing technique. Since Brooks Lodge was booked when we tried to book in Jan we had to take the float plane back to King Salmon for our lodging. The room was nice but the best establishment in town closed for the 4th and the only other place only served until 8 pm. We got there at 8:15 but were turned away - pack of cheese nabs for dinner then straight to bed trying to recover from the scant 4 hrs of sleep and my head cold.

Jul 12, 2018

Wrangle NP Kennecott & McCarthy

Very cool trip to Kennicott and McCarthy, two towns at the end of the McCarthy road. This NP is interesting since there are many private land owners within the Park boundary. Kennicott is the home of the Kennecott Copper Mine, when discovered around 1900 it was the purest copper load ever discovered. The mine owners extracted, in today’s dollars, $1 billion of profit! The Mine tour is really a whole town tour that includes a 14 story processing plant and many support buildings including a massive power plant. They even built a railroad to ship ore to the coast even though they had to rebuild the river bridges each year when the spring floods and ice flows took them out. Kennicott was the company town (family oriented, no drinking) while McCarthy was the party town with saloons and brothels. We took a 5 mile hike that went out to the Kennicott Glacier and were able to walk out on the ice for about a quarter mile with out crampons. We then did a self guided tour of the mill town. The views were spectacular on the glacier and the tour was fascinating. Yes, we did stop at the Golden Saloon in McCarthy for a cold one and some poutine. Our driver, John, on the shuttle, was great and made several stops along the way and educated us on the history, sights and plant life. We saw one black bear and one wolf on the drive. John lives “off the grid” on a half acre in a hand built cabin with a diesel generator. He works about 2 days a week in the summer driving the shuttle for his living.

May 10, 2019

Dragon’s Nostrils

I got a full breakfast at Hale Koa the we headed off to East Oahu. We hiked Diamond Head then visited Cave of Portlock. Then visited Halona beach where
“From here to Eternity” was filmed. We didn’t find the
Halona blow hole. On the way to our next adventure we stopped and got some water and fresh pineapple from a road side vendor. Next stop was the Ka’iwi Scenic Shoreline Park. Hike up to the top was about 650 ft elevation gain and 1.25 miles. But we didn’t do it the easy way. Instead we hiked up about half way to an info sign about whales and the took
a sketchy trail down to the “lava bench” to some tidal pools (everyone down there were young enough to be our kids! ) Got to see the coolest blow holes at the bottom.
Dragons Nostrils are two blow holes next to each other that snots and huff air/mist at you when the waves come in. The holes are about 85 to 100 feet from the shore line. I held my hand over the hole and it literally blew my hat and sunglasses off my head. Took a brief swim in the pools before heading back up the 350 foot vertical rock scramble/climb back to the path. We made our way the rest of the way up the path to the summit which had fabulous views of East Oahu’s coast and an old but still functioning light house. We ended the day with a beautiful drive on the H3 back to Waikiki. Quick showers then off to Bill’s Hawaiian Restaurant for dinner. Sat at the bar and struck up a conversation with the bar tender who recognized our vibe as locals! (20% discount) and the food was exceptional.