Setting the sun in west Florida campground
”Alaska Bound” is officially underway. The three month and possibly longer trip has started.
After three days of loading and packing the RV, we left north Florida and traveled to Jekyll Island, Ga., near Brunswick and spent two days in a county campground with family before heading west.
There will be other stops along the way to Alaska. A few days in New Orleans checking out the food and music, dining at Doe’s Eat Place in Greenville, MS., and stopping for a couple days on the Oklahoma-Arkansas border at a picturesque state park in the Ouachita National Forest. Finally we will arrive northeast Oklahoma near Tulsa for six days before heading north, this time meeting Canadian traveling friends in Winnipeg. We are not in a hurry,’ a relaxing travel plan adopted years ago on the road will get us there leisurely.
After early morning hugs goodbye the sun chased us across south Georgia as we headed for a campground on the west Florida-Georgia border. The Okefenokee Swamp was skirted and miles and miles of piney woods were passed, finally giving way to acres of pecan trees as we approached Valdosta.
Highway 82, the chosen route out of Jekyll Island, is a nice four lane road designated as a coastal evacuation route shared mostly with local traffic and lots of pulp wood trucks . At Valdosta, the route changes to Highway 84 taking us to Bainbridge, Ga. Along the way, the highways are known as the Wiregrass Georgia Parkway and The Okefeenokee Trail.
We set the sun outside Chatahochee, Fl and Bainbridge, Ga., at Lake Seminole and a Corp of Engineers campground. The sites are large, some are concrete and many are lakefront with plenty of space between campers.
We sat outside in camp chairs with cold drinks and unwound for a few minutes before biting bugs chased us inside for the night.
NEXT: Returning 30 years later to the Big Easy.
Alaska Bound travel plans are set
The world of Alaska, separated from the rest of us by a huge hunk of Canada, is so far away that it’s like traveling to a foreign country.
It is huge in size (three times larger than Texas, they boast) with probably more national park acreage than the lower 48 states combined. Superimpose the outline of Alaska on a U. S. map and it would reach from Canada to Texas. Despite its size, Alaska is the least populated state in the union.
Alaskans refer to the lower 48 states as “outside,” which I guess suggests the rest of us are outsiders.
Ask any RV traveler and most would admit that driving to Alaska is on top of their bucket list. Thousands cross it off the list every year. Thousands more leave it on the list when learning the trip can be 5,000 miles one way and expensive. It’s expensive to get there and an expensive place to visit. Remember most goods are shipped to Alaska via ocean going containers or air freight.
We left several days ago from our home base in Florida, en route to revisit the 49th state, but our first time over land. It is a daunting endeavor and sometimes downright scary. Some of the RV online stories we have read about the journey just add to the apprehension.
Had it not been for our very best traveling friends from Canada, it is doubtful we would be on the road and headed north. Don and Sue are one of a kind buddies who share our passion for RV travel. They are special people. Don never meets a stranger, can strike up an hour long conversation with people he’s never met and leave them feeling better about themselves when they are finished. He’s a Mr. Goodwrench when it comes to fixing or making things which is valuable when pushing RV’s thousands of miles in near virgin territory. I suspect he is a practical joker, as well. Sue is a meticulous planner, talented and knowledgeable and always agreeable. Plus, she’s a great cook.
They will drive their RV from near Ottawa, Canada and we will meet in Winnipeg around Memorial Day. After decompressing a couple days, the RV’s will be pointed north to the Alcan Highway and into Alaska. The trip will last most of the summer. We have dreams of catching boatloads of sockeye salmon and huge halibut, eating king crab legs and taking pictures of eagles and bears and snow covered mountains in mid-summer. We will not be disappointed, I’m sure.
WHERE WE’RE GOING
Our journey will carry us across Canada to Calgary, and onto the Alcan Highway to Dawson Creek, Fort Nelson, Watson Lake and up to Dawson City and finally Fairbanks, Alaska. Of course there will be stops along the way and chronicles of our travels on this web site. We are allowing at least a month to reach Anchorage from Winnipeg, leaving plenty of time to soak in the warm waters of Liard Hot Springs, plant a sign from our hometown in Florida at Watson Lake, take a cruise on the Yukon and marvel at Denali’s mountainous scenery.
From Fairbanks we will head south after visiting Denali and the big mountain; Talkeetna, where the men are real men and the women are just as manly and to Anchorage. Proceeding south through the Chugach Mountains, there’s a breath taking tram ride to the top of Alyeska Ski Resort for a high altitude view of Cook Inlet and Redoubt Mountain, one of several active volcanoes west of the Kenai Peninsula. Olympic ski champ Tommy Moe says those who ski Alyeska can ski any mountain in the world. There may be some snow at the top, but not enough for us to test Moe’s prediction.
On the Kenai Peninsula, the place Alaskans go to play, our plans include a king salmon trip on the famed Kenai River which boasts the world record king salmon caught back in the 90’s. Also planned is shoreline fishing for sockeye salmon on the Kenai and Russian Rivers and a halibut fishing trip from Ninilchik where boats are launched by huge tractors into the icy waters of Cook Inlet. Several days will be spent in Kasilof at an Iditarod musher’s dog farm and more day trips to Homer and a boat excursion across the bay to the artist community of Halibut Cove.
Eventually, our trip returns north to Anchorage and Glennallen then south to Valdez to see the terminus of the TransAlaska pipe where it empties its oil from Prudoe Bay into huge oil tankers which carries the Alaskan liquid gold to points in the lower 48. After Valdez we head north and east again to Tok and finally southeast on the picturesque Haines Highway, terminating at Haines where we will place the RV’s aboard an Alaska Marine Highway ferry for a short trip up the inland passage to Skagway. After disembarking, it’s back in the RV’s and on the highway to Whitehorse and Watson Lake. Rather than travel the same route home, we will head south on the west side of the Rockies on the Cassiar Highway, visiting Stewart and Hyder for more bear and eagle experiences and on to Prince George, Cache Creek and finally Vancouver where the trip officially ends and we start the long trip back to Florida.
Readers can ride along with us simply by clicking on the line “Follow along with us on our travels” near the top of the rvcrossroads.com home page.” We will send an email to you each time a new Alaska Bound travel blog is posted and you can experience the wilds of northwest Canada and Alaska right along with us.
Wish us luck.
Viera, FL wetlands offer photos, wildlife watching for visitors
Photographers, bird watchers and nature enthusiasts are flocking to the Grissom Memorial Wetlands near Melbourne, FL by the thousands.
It offers visitors the opportunity to view nature including birds, wildlife and some huge alligators, from the safety of their automobile. The more adventuresome visitors can walk the unpaved roads that crisscross the preserve but visitors should consider (see below FOR THE RECORD) staying close to the car when viewing or photographing the sights. We were surprised to find people walking their dog along the dirt berm roads. Alligators frequently lounge in the sun alongside the roads.
HOW IT GOT HERE:
The preserve is a 200-acre constructed wetland system of reclaimed water from a nearby Brevard County sewage treatment plant. It consists of four 35 acre cells and a central lake.
HOW TO GET HERE:
From Interstate 95, take exit 191 and proceed west for approximately 2.5 miles. Proceed past the treatment facility and follow the signs to the wetlands. The storage ponds, known locally as the Dan “Click” ponds, can be reached by turning north onto Power Line road before reaching the main wetlands. Drive past the Duda Sod Farm.
The Ritch Grissom Memorial Wetlands were included in the Great Florida Birding Trail in 2008.
There is no admission charge although visitors are encouraged to make a donation to help with the preservation effort.
BY THE NUMBERS:
Over 210,000 people visit the wetlands annually.
FOR THE RECORD:
The following is a Facebook post I made in April 2016 of my “hair raising” experience with one of the wetlands’ alligators:
“I was facing the opposite direction focusing on a cormorant feeding its new born triplets when my wife yelled at the top of her lungs to “get in the car.” I turned around just in time to see this eight (?) feet long alligator come out of the head high reeds behind me and heading across the road to another pond about 15 feet away. The path he chose was straight at me. He was about twelve feet away and up on all fours and moving my direction when I jumped into the car, slammed the door, then realized I had left the camera on the tripod in front of the car. Alligators, according to legend, can easily outrun a person, particularly if cornered. Since I was standing between the alligator and the adjacent pond, he was no doubt cornered. I exited the car, hit the quick release on the tripod and while standing alongside with one foot inside the car, snapped this picture just as the alligator picked up speed before sliding down the bank and into the pond. All this excitement occurred at Grissom Memorial Wetlands north of Melbourne at Viera where we had gone to photograph nesting birds. Go figure.