22 Jun 2015--There's no other way to say it: we spent the past 2 days riding on the worst roads we have ever encountered!!! And the trip from Whitehorse, Canada to Valdez, AK didn't start off too good, either. haha Here comes the "Pain".
The mirror on our RV had become loose at the base where it hangs from the RV, and after spending a couple hours trying to fix it the night before we took off, we had no choice this morning but to seek out an RV mechanic of some type to help us out. The 2nd place we stopped at fortunately had a guy on duty, but even he had to call in reinforcements to see what could be done.
The problem is that the bolts that hold it on to the RV are underneath a base cap, but you have to remove the mirror and arm to get to it. A guy sideswiped us in a parking lot, and we think the arm was wedged into the base, so it wouldn't move for us...or them! So Kyle, the blond, brought out his trusty cutting tool and cut that puppy off so we could access the screws. It's not pretty, but when you see the roads we are about to drive on for 650 miles, you will understand that we had no choice. There is no doubt in our minds that if we didn't do this unsightly surgery, our very heavy (probably 40 pounds) mirror would have ripped clear through and then off the RV! I told Kyle I would make him famous, so that is him in the last pic (Oh, by the way, the darling didn't even charge us, probably because Cathy was his assistant throughout the operation!) haha
Other than the kamikaze bugs that almost obliterated our view through the windshield, these were the only animals we saw for 2 whole days. I don't know if these are wild or domesticated, but they are on the side of the road... 2 horses are laying down...one is a baby!
And now the adventure really begins. Between rocks and dirt we broke out our homemade car guard, and boy, did we need it! We spent the 1st day of travel going only 313 miles out of Canada and just across the US border...and it took us over 10 hours to do it. It was brutal...really the whole way, but the last 100 miles, from the appropriately named "Destruction Bay" to the border was hands down the WORST 100 miles of roadway we ever experienced. It starts out bad and gets relentlessly worse as you go along. From the permafrost-caused potholes, to the heaves (rolling mounds), to the scraped tar roads that the construction crews inappropriately name gravel roads, we rarely exceeded 10 MPH for that last 100 miles. I'm not sure we, or our RV, will ever recover from it! haha And that is not rain in those potholes, I'm pretty sure it is melting permafrost.
And then our 2nd day, another 340+ miles, with the roads only marginally better, we drove about 300 of those miles in the thick of the smoke from the 4-5 raging forest fires going on in Alaska. Most of the time I couldn't even take pictures, but if you blow up the 3rd pic here you can see the roads, the smoke, and even some bugs on the window. Makes the mountains look pretty though, huh?
You can see that even though we are stopped at a clear spot, in the distance the mountains are almost obliterated by the smoke. In the foreground though, there are people down at the water "fishing" for sockeye salmon, using fish wheels. The sockeye are running right now, and people place these wheels in the water to catch them. There is a wheel in there that spins, and as it does so the fish swim right into it, and then the wheel scoops them over to a net attached to it. Seems a little unfair as a tactic to me (haha), but everyone is limited to only 6 fish a day this way, so I guess it works.
And now the "Gain"!
Finally, about 35 miles outside Valdez, the smoke clears (although the roads only marginally improve again--haha) and we are blessed to be here!!! In the middle 3 pics is a glacier that we will be visiting today, and the other pics show a couple sights before and after we passed it. I am floored by the beauty of our surroundings!
So we are in Valdez for a week...stay tuned...there will be more!!!