The view west from the homestead

The view west from the homestead

Sweet Chance

Sweet Chance

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


Wowweeeee! We are at Unky Lee's and Aunt Joyce's in Chitina, Alaska overlooking the Copper River. They have a trailer up on a bluff with an open view of the Wrangell St. Elias Mountains and National Park. 5 gorgeous snowy peaks are visible in clear weather, one of which is an active volcano just 30 miles away. Lee and Joyce keep their car parked facing out in case of tremors. Their place is right near the confluence of the Tonsina and Copper rivers. The riverbed is almost a 1/4 mile wide and lies about 400 feet down the cliff. Yesterday we saw a bull bison wandering about looking very old and out of place. Later a momma grizzly and 2 cubs ambled by, catching salmon and frisking about. There are a number of adult and immature bald eagles and you can sometimes see them swooping by (a breathtaking experience from the outhouse). Today has given rise to a rainy cold wind and Joyce says this is fall weather arriving (it is 52 degrees out, down to the 40's at night). Lee is plying us with salmon cake benedicts, Chris with Italian roast coffee, and Cassidy and Teslin have amused themselves with a Harry Potter game on the computer.

We have discovered fish wheels and King Salmon migrations and have eaten salmon daily since we got here. [We have awesome pictures and have realized our problem sharing them is that Macs and blogspot are not good friends. When we can get access to a PC we may be able to conquer our photo problems....we went to a Mac wizard in Whitehorse who coudln't help us].

Locals can catch up to 500 lbs of salmon per family per year. Traditionally this was used to feed the sled dogs, but Woof Woof, that's changed. According to Lee, the natives still dry (versus smoke) the salmon and use it throughout the winter for their dogs. Lee and Joyce have access to a fish wheel down on the Copper River (at the confluence with the Chitina river). There were 20 or so fish wheels in a row, all churning with the force of the current and scooping up salmon as they run up stream. At peak migration, each fish wheel can catch over a 100 per day. Owners will share their wheel with others, and cannot sell excees fish. When we checked the wheel, there were 5 salmon in 24 hours (all about 12 pounds). Joyce says there have been fewer and fewer salmon caught each year, perhaps because so many more people are catching them.

Much love to all--any Mac/blogspot experts, let us know! Love, Anny

Thursday, August 16, 2007


August 15, 2007

Wow! What a great town! We took a mountain bike ride to die for today…..followed the ALCAN about ½ a mile then winded down to the Yukon at Miles Canyon. It is a place where the river narrows and steep cliffs form a canyon with rushing water. We crossed a pedestrian suspension bridge and got on a single track trail back toward Whitehorse that followed the Yukon back to the town. It must have been a 4 hour trip (counting our ice cream break) and ended with a 2 mile climb back up to the ALCAN and our campsite. The kids were awesome. We all plowed off the trail at one time or another and Chris threatened to jump off the cliffs to the rushing river, but we all made it with various degrees of style.

Cassidy and Teslin are out doing the dishes….their own special way. I think it will be a rough transistion back into an enclosed kitchen after this. Water conservation might be a toughy as well. But they are perfecting the art of camper dishes.

Chris is poured over the milepost trying to figure out whether to go north over Top of the World Highway thru Dawson City, or stay in Whitehorse longer and go straight over to Uncle Lee's via Tok.

Whitehorse is the capital of the Yukon Territory. It’s a great college town….a brewery, coffee shops, bookstores, theatre, story telling, and beautiful recreation. I must say, it is not getting dark til 11pm in mid-August, so I hate to think what it’s like here in 5 months. I have decided it is just the right size (population 23,000---the entire population of the Yukon is 31,000) great food, and easy to get around.

So we’re out spending our Loonies and Toonies and feeling like we really are quite far away. (Loonies are one dollar coins and Toonies are 2 dollar coins). Uuup---the kids found me, gotta go! Much love, Anny

Monday, August 13, 2007

Liard River Hot Springs, B.C.

August 11, 2007

We’ve now been on the Alaskan Highway for 2 days and are across the road from a beautiful Hot Spring that Deanna first mentioned to us. She wrote in our trip book that there was a great Hot spring somewhere along the Alaskan Highway in Canada that you got to via a beautiful walk on a boardwalk thru moose country. We found it! It’s incredible…there are actually 2 pools, but the second one is closed now due to a “problem bear” (I guess he doesn’t want to share his raspberry bushes). To get to the springs, you follow a wooden board walk through a bog…because of the warm water, there are all sorts of exotic plants and little chubs that don’t live anywhere else up here. We haven’t seen any moose yet, but are going to brave the mosquitos later this evening and try again. Supposedly there are even some orchid species between the 2 pools but we couldn’t go that far. The pool we were at was huge---bordered with stones and a gravel bottom. There were sunken benches to rest on, and the temp ranged from too hot (probably 120 at least)at the source, to a lower pool that was fairly cool (and attracted all the kids). The far end of the lower pool got more and more narrow and turned into a channel about 4 feet wide with steep banks and crystal clear water that wound through the woods a ways. We felt like muskrats. Anyway…loads of fun. Teslin and Cassidy found some massive logs that had floated loose from their seating jobs and surfed around the pool on them. Chris and I meandered up to the source of the heatt on the far end….the hot and cold were not mixing too well, so a searing layer of hot water lay on the surface. You had to mix it up with your arms as you went or it was too hot. There were some nice folks there—one told us it was a tradition to place a stone on the cairns by the source –a scalding experience, but we all did it. He also mentioned that one year a moose had drowned in the upper pool. He said that was a bad year to go in.

Yesterdays drive, from Dawson Creek (mile 0 of the ALCAN), to here (477 miles) was UNBELIEVABLE!!!!! We passed through valley after mountain range after river valley---very little sign of any humans except the occasional tell tale swatch of a formerly clear cut lumbering job. There were incredible vistas with mist hanging over distant hills 100 plus miles away. It was a 2 lane road, in pretty good shape, with lots of hills and turns. We came down one sweeping mountainside with no guard rails and warnings for rock sheep. Sure enough, there was this little guy waiting in a pull out (yeah yeah….we’ll figure out the pictures one of these days). There are countless places to pull out by a river or a grove of trees and camp…also plenty of developed campsites. So far we’ve gone for the electricity most nights for the CPAP and heat. In Banff National Park we camped for 2 nights in Mosquito Creek Campground with just solar and did just fine.

We are still getting the hang of this trip…..looking forward to being able to slow down (after Alaska) and be more spontaneous as to where and when we go. But we’ve done pretty well. We’ve only been in motels 2 nights and those were the first 2 (in NY and Illinois). We’ve gotten the set up and break down of the pop-up to a science—Teslin likes to crank the braces up and down and snap the beds. Cassidy is determined to be able to put the bikes on top of the pop-up by himself (something only Chris can do because of his height). Mostly we realize we have TOO MUCH STUFF! We are ready to heave boxes out as we go. Problem is, we disagree as to what needs to get heaved. We left a lot in Fort Dodge, but alas , we need to lighten this wagon train again.

Cassidy and Teslin are over at the playground by the hot springs, Chris just woke up from a nap and is contemplating organization---a dangerous thought. For all of you at CHG, you will be happy to know that Chris is so far away since his nose hairs have reached never before achieved lengths. Especially scary when he swims. Generally, though, he is making good progress toward reestablishing himself among the feeling and the rested. He is resisting newspapers and has very little access to the internet. I caught him the other day idly playing with my PDA and had to take it from him. He looked like he just needed to use the stylist a bit. He’s adjusting. He is learning how to share ideas and be more democratic with the control of situations, although he is still quite challenged at set-up and break-down times with the pop-up. Overall, I think he is doing quite well. I have received a couple of spontaneous shows of affection, and his eye contact is improving. Teslin thinks he still is a little bossy. Hmmmm…. I won’t touch that one.

Tomorro……TESLIN!!!!! We are only 300 miles from Teslin and will be there for a few days. Since we missed the one restaurant that was the “cinnamon bun center of the galactic cluster”, we look forward to trying the “world famous cinnamon buns” in Teslin. This milepost book is great and tells you every the natural and human history of every interesting site, pullout, dumpster, and restaurant along the way. We are also aware of a blooming berry season and need to start a survey of various pies. Anyway….Much love to you all! Anny

Cassidy's bird report

Cassidy’s Bird Report 8/13/07

The Ruges are having a great time on their trip. We’ve seen a lot of animals and birds on our trip and I’m being kept busy identifying birds and looking up birds in the bird book. We’ve seen 109 species of birds and I’ve seen 15 Life Birds so far. We’re going to Alaska in about 2 weeks and we’re going to go salmon fishing and go birding. This morning dad and I went to McQueen’s Slough and we saw a ton of ducks and American Coots. I saw 2 Life Birds, which were: Black Tern and Red-necked Phalarope. We’ve been taking a lot of pictures and we’ll put some up in a little bit. Until next time I put up a report, bye!


Friday, August 10, 2007


We are experiencing technical difficulties (yes....Chris has admitted defeat) at publishing pictures on our blog. Does anyone have any ideas? We can download the pics onto this computer (a mac ) but Chris can't get them onto the blog. No...he hasn't asked for help or read the instructions (since there aren't any). We may have to resort to shutterfly or something. Or.....god fordbid, tech help. So here I am, a humble person of the gender that allows asking for help....anyone know what the problem may be??? Anny

Roving Route


I’ve decided to start writing our route down in case there are some map lovers out there who would like to see how we are roving about. I’ll catch you up from home to Canada, then try to keep up with it as we go. So here goes:

We took I-91 South from Northampton to I-90 WEST. We followed I-90 through MA, NY (Night #1 in Weedsport, NY). Then through the corner of PA, down lake Eerie to Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. In Chicago we got on I-80 West (Night #2 in Morris, IL) and took it into Iowa (night #3 in Hawkeye Central, known to most as Iowa City). At Iowa City we turned North on I-380 to Highway 20 West into Fort Dodge. A week later we were off and took Highway 169 North out of Fort Dodge to Rt. 3 W to Rt 71 North into Milford, IA where we got on 86 north to Spirit Lake, Iowa.

After 3 nights in Spirit Lake we took Rt 86 North to I-90 West. I-90 took us thru Southern Minnesota into S. Dakota and into the Badlands. We turned S. at Cactus Flats to the Badlands national Park and stayed 3 nights at a fabulous KOA bordering the park in Interior S.D.

Then we got back on I-90 with a trip through Sturgis to gawk at the bike scene (it was August 1st, and the bike rally started the 5th---lots of action). I-90 took us thru Wyoming, and into Billings Montana for a night. Then we took 3 North to 12 West to 89 North into Great Falls (2 nights). From there we went North on I-15 into Alberta, Canada. We had to avoid Glacier because of so many fires, so went straight up into the Canadian Rockies. Over the border, we continued North on Rt 4, West on Rt 3 in Lethbridge, cross the mountains into Fernie, Elko, then north on 93/95 to Fairmont Hot Springs (2 nights).

From Fairmont Hot Springs, we went North on 93 to Radium Hot Springs were we entered the Kootenay National Park. We then drove into Banff National Park and continued on into Jasper National Park where perched at Mosquito Creek Campground for 2 nights. Then up to Jasper, Hwy 16 West to Hinton (1 night) and then Route 40 North "the scenic route to Alaska" to Dawson Creek (1 night). The ALCAN starts in Dawson Creek---it is mile 0 on the Milepost book which guides you all the way up, so OH BOY!!!!! Today we travel NW on Route 97 (the ALCAN is a number of different routes) to Liard River Hotsprings Provincial Park where we will be for 2 nights.
Happy tracking! Anny

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Beating the Heat

August 2, 2007

Great Falls, Montana

Cassidy and Chris are making a fire---it’s the first night we’ve been able to have a fire due to drought and burning restrictions in the West. We are in Great Falls, Montana at yet another KOA and yeeha---it’s S’mores time!!!!! We had a cool night in Billings last night-swimming in the pool, kids riding their bikes around the area. They had 3 (three!) whole food stores and we just had a yummy stir fry for dinner. We got a late start….1pm, and took RTE 3 up from Billings to Great Falls. There are 3 large forest fires West of here and the southern end of Glacier is on fire. It is hazy here with a bright orange sunset from all the smoke. We happened to hit the Montana State Fair and may venture out tomorrow---catch a little horse action. Biked several miles along the old Lewis and Clark Trail today in the heat, visited a great Lewis and Clark Interpretive site and almost lost Teslin to heat stroke. Plan to spend another night before starting the trek through Canada. Days have been consistently in the 90’s throughout the trip with a couple of 100+ so looking forward to cooler days and nights. We noticed it is down to the 40’s in Calgary at night-ahhhhhhhhh! Harry Potter Audiobooks fill our days while traveling- (we’re on Book 4 already), Cassidy has his eyes open for birds, Teslin for advertisements for Waterparks, and mom and dad for exciting stops along the way. More to come!!!

The Ruges