A Great Day  

Posted by Stan Harrington

Pulling out of Granby, Colorado we were looking forward to our drive through Rocky Mountain National Park. We had heard that we would have a great opportunity to see some Elk. After a twenty mile drive, we arrived at the gate to the entrance to the park, only to discover a sign that read, Road Closed Ten Miles ahead. We figured that the ten miles would not be as good as the total forty mile drive, but we were going to have to back track so we decided to go as far as the Park Rangers would allow. Going in we did see a cow and two calves cross the road in front of us. Reaching the road block, we turned around to retrace our route.

Catching a glimpse of a herd of elk quite some distance from the road, we pulled over to at least look at them through the binoculars. One single elk stood of by itself, assuming it was a bull I got out of the truck to see if I could telephoto shoot him. It was a long shot, about four hundred and fifty yards. By rules, you cannot leave the highway to take photos or I would have stalked him. Then I heard a sound that I have not heard in many years, the bugle of a Bull Elk. It is such a great sound, then an answer to that call, then another. We were there for at least twenty minutes and the bugling continued. Most of them sounded like bulls back in the timber trying to entice the cows that was with the bull in the meadow. The bugling and grunting was great. The bull I shot from a long distance turned out to be larger than I estimated. By enlarging the photo I was able to count at least six on each side to make him a "Royal" with the possibility of being a seven pointer.
Back tracking to Granby, we then decided to drive north on Highway 125 and 14 which would take us through the Roosevelt National Forest on the northerly border of Rock Mountain National Park. "Susie" was working with us and told us to turn onto a county road which was gravel. Fearing she had made a mistake, we stopped and looked at a map and it was a short cut to Highway 14 from 125. This part of the state was flat and nothing but sagebrush, but the shortcut was only twelve miles and would save us forty, so we decided t take it.

Being raised in Alaska, I have seen thousands of Moose, bulls, cows, and calves. But what I saw today was amazing. We were in an area where it was 60,000 acres of sagebrush and rolling ridges. Over the ridge comes a Bull Moose, just wandering through he sagebrush and not in any great hurry. We sat and watch him for fifteen minutes, he never changed his pace or his course, a stand of Aspen Trees. If "Susie" had not taken this direction, we would have missed a opportunity that we will likely never see again in our lifetime. He was a decent bull, again had to do some long distance shooting to get a picture of him.

For those that think perhaps I had forgotten Terry and drove off without her, this is proof positive that she is still with me.

"Dutch" is also still tagging a long, enjoying the trip and all the new sights, smells, and sounds.

Having the highway blocked to us in the Rocky Mountain National Park in some sense was a good break. We saw some of the prettiest country and canyon driving that we have seen the entire trip. If you have find yourself in Fort Collins, just north of Denver, Highway 14 is a must trip. I will return to this area, not only for the scenery, wildlife, but a beautiful small, crystal clear trout stream. On this route, we spotted this old cabin. I could not resist stopping and walking the property, if this cabin could only talk the stories it could tell. For those readers of the "Hole In The Wall", I have a couple of more pictures posted on that site of this cabin.

As we headed for Nebraska, we also had the opportunity to visit the community that my wife's father grew up in, Raymer, Colorado which is also referred to as "New Raymer" on some maps. Being a small town, one cafe only we stopped to see where we could find some information since he graduated in 1939. The lady told us they had all the class photos on display in the community building. It was closed at the time, but she gave us the keys to the building, only in a small town would someone be so trusting. We did see his class picture when he was a senior in high school.

While in Raymer, I decided to get some work done on my truck, but this is the only garage I could find! When was the last Studebaker built?

"Welcome To Nebraska"
As of this evening, we are in Sidney, Nebraska just a few miles north of Raymer, Colorado and the home of "Cabela's with 4,863.2 miles behind us on this trip. It is a straight line drive from Raymer, Colorado to Sidney, Nebraska. Flat land driving with a speed limit of 70 miles per hour. Three miles into the State of Nebraska, I am following a pick-up truck at the same rate of speed. I check my rear view mirror and much to my surprise, there was a car following me with flashing red and blue lights. I pull to the right yield to him, but he pulled up in back of me. A nice officer, asked he if I knew how fast I was traveling and I honestly replied between 70 and 75. He then told me that he had me tagged at 75. No big deal, normally they will give a little at five over the limit. It was only then he told me the speed limit in Nebraska on that road was 60 miles per hour. Inviting me back to his car, he ran me through his computer, no traffic violations in ten years. Commended me for that feat and then wrote out a ticket to me for breaking the speed limit. Cost $123.00
So as a word of warning, if you are crossing from Colorado into Nebraska, watch for speed limit signs and their changes. He had a nice little trap set up as neither my wife nor I have any concept where he came from, he was not alongside the highway.
However, I hope the highway fund will find good use of my $123.00 because we were going to stop by Cabela's tomorrow and drop several hundred dollars on new fly rods and reels ~ now I will just tell them that I am "just looking" because I cannot afford it after my ticket. If my grandchildren are reading this, I was wrong, I did break the law, I will pay my fine.

"On The Road Again"  

Posted by Stan Harrington

After a three day rest period in Montrose, Colorado we are once again on the road headed for the Midwest. Although, it was a 72 hour rest period, not more than ten hours of sleep was accumulated. However, we had some great visiting time with family. All of my nephews were in the high country getting ready for opening day of Elk hunting season. However, we also got out and visited the high country and the site of a "little angel under a tree". It had been 43 years since my last trip over Owl Creek Pass, beautiful, rugged country. While visiting the high country, evidently the deer moved to the valley. One evening, within a distance of one mile of the Miller homestead, we saw at least 60 deer. All of them Doe's and fawns, but in a couple of weeks, the Bucks will start showing up. The deer seemed to be enjoying a corn field that had not been harvested and the adjoining alfalfa field.
As our entire trip has been going, we had a little change in our travel plans and routes. Although, originally from Colorado we have never visited Rocky Mountain National Park. We are now poised to strike at first light as we are in Granby, Colorado. We got information from a professional photographer that if we wanted Elk pictures, this was the place to be. Driving only 316 miles today, however in that distance we crossed the divide of three mountain passes, each of them exceeding 11,000 feet. It was my first trip over Berthoud Pass, I now know why truck drivers like to avoid it. At one time, we had over six highways on our GPS screen but it was just one road and a bunch of switchbacks. Looked like a piece of ribbon candy.

Little Red School House ~ Closed and Abandoned
Leadville, Colorado

Came across a nice herd of about 30 - 40 had of Bighorn Ewes and Lambs today, but once again the Rams remain in exile for another couple of weeks

Change Is Good  

Posted by Stan Harrington

The great thing about traveling with us, everything is subject to change, including routes.
Had an easy driving plan today, jump into and cut across the panhandle of Utah and enter Colorado at Rangley. Easy drive into Montrose from there if you go over Douglas Pass. However, just a touch out of our way to go through Flaming Gorge, beautiful area. Then Dinosaur National Park, disappointment the center where all the bones and information is at is closed for remodel, scheduled to open in 2011. Of course, that was coming from a lady ranger. When I asked her about wildlife in the park she old me I could expect to see a few Pronghorn Deer. Not familiar with that specie, I asked her if she meant Pronghorn Antelope. It was then she informed me that they were all the same!
The major change in plans was that we cut across northern Colorado to Craig, hoping to see some Pronghorn Deer. We turned south at Craig and down to Rifle. At Rifle, instead of going to Grand Junction, we went east to Glenwood Springs so we could visit Redstone Castle. Privately owned now and tours given only on Saturday and Sunday. We came over McClure Pass into Delta and finally arrived in Montrose. To late in the evening to roust the family, so we are camping out at a motel for tonight. Great trip today, the drive from Redstone Castle up though the Crystal River canyon was some of the prettiest country we have seen this trip. Fall colors are just past their peak at lower elevations.
The age old question that has bothered mankind, Does a Bear poop in the woods? I have no concept, however, I captured proof that young mule deer bucks do poop in the woods! In fact they squat like a little girly deer!

This mama Mule Deer, just wanted to get her babies away from mankind and they followed her lead.
I knew in time, if I were patient, I would get the Pronghorn Antelope that I wanted. Finally caught up with him in northern Colorado. He gave me a great pose, over his shoulder look exposing the size and shape of his horns. The blog picture does not do the shot justice, can't wait to get it home and put it on glossy paper and do a little cropping. Click on the picture to enlarge it to full size and it will show in more detail.

A Week On The Road  

Posted by Stan Harrington

Rolled out of Dillion, Montana at 0600 this morning, an hour before daylight. Had to dodge a few deer and antelope, but a little drive with two big cups of coffee, it was a great way to wake up. Gas prices are not the only thing we see that are falling. The temperatures have also dropped. Saw the coldest day we have seen since last winter this morning, a balmy 16 degrees! It was a beautiful clear day, but even then it was 25 to 34 degrees in the Yellowstone.

We pulled into Green River, Wyoming this evening after driving 462 miles, it has been a long day but a good day. Tomorrow, we will visit Flaming Gorge in Utah and Dinosaur National Park before arriving in Montrose in the evening. Saw a tremendous amount of beautiful country today, some areas that I had not expected to be as nice as it was. Also had the chance to see some famous trout fishing rivers including the Madison, Hoback, and the Green River. Anytime you visit the Yellowstone, you can expect a enjoyable time, it was no exception today although we did see very little wildlife. A number of buffalo, wife had a close encounter, and a few cow elk. We came through the west gate and out the south. I think I prefer the north gate route and go out the east gate. Although we saw just a a sprinkling of wildlife inside Yellowstone, we made up for it the remainder of the day. A lot of deer, but no bucks (hunting season is open), another coyote, a couple of distant elk herds and somewhere between 1 and 600 antelope. Several nice antelope bucks, but they are hard to get a good picture as they are very spooky - unless a female is involved. We had a great show this morning, four bucks chasing one female and she outran all of them. We watched them for a half hour, as we pulled away they were still running in circles. It was captured on video.

A Visit To Yellowstone Without Seeing "Old Faithful" Would Be Wrong

The Peak "Grand Teton" Which The Park Is Named After

With Hot Water From The Steam Pots, Warming
The Madison River, These Geese Figured They Had
Flown Far Enough To The South.

The largest of the Antelope Bucks that I have Seen On The Trip,
But There Is Always Tomorrow

Big Sky Country  

Posted by Stan Harrington

Enjoyed a sunny day in the "Big Sky Country" of Montana. Only picked up 409 miles today and fell short of our destination, but it was a great day. Changed travel plans several times and took some of the smaller secondary roads. Today, we have driven 3,089 miles from our home driveway. Spending the night in Dillion, Montana and will continue on to Yellowstone National Park come first light.

Not only did we have a chance to see some beautiful mountainous country today, but really enjoyed the big pine forests. Discovered a lot of beautiful fishing areas, very impressed with the Bitteroot River and tomorrow we will take a look at the Madison River. Saw a good number of deer today and late this evening crossed a large cattle ranching area that also had a lot of Antelope and one coyote trying to sneak upon a couple of them. Also saw several flocks of Wild Turkey's, including one single hen with a brood of chicks. The chicks were about the size of domestic chickens. Thoughts of Thanksgiving crossed our minds.

Spent some today learning a little history of the American Indians, visited the site where the Nez Perce camped after fleeing Idaho. It is also the site of the Battle of Big Hole. Thinking that they were safe after fleeing Idaho,the Nez Perce camped. Several warriors wanted to back track to see if they were being followed. Chief Looking Glass made the decision that they were safe and the Army would not follow them. On August 9, 1877 the U.S. Army under the command of Colonel Gibbon attacked the camp. Both sides suffered losses, the Nez Perce went into the Yellowstone and then headed north to Canada. Colonel Gibbons did not follow due to his losses. Prior to reaching Canada, the Nez Perce were captured although a few did escape into Canada including Chief Kicking Horse.

Twilight Shot Of Three Deer Giving Me The Slip ~ Chief Joseph Pass

Antelope Between Jackson and Bannack, Montana

Good "ole" U.S. OF A.  

Posted by Stan Harrington

Mount Robson ~ Jasper National Park

We are back in the good in the United States. It is so nice to know what the speed limit is and you do not have to be mathematician to figure out what the gas pump is telling you. Tonight, we are in Bonners Ferry, Idaho. Since my wife is addicted to "Desperate Housewives" we drove the 551 miles from McBride, British Columbia today.

It was a good trip, we stopped on a regular basis so "Dutch" and I could scout out some future fishing trips. We saw so many beautiful, small and fishable rivers today. In comparison of the three access routes to the Alcan Highway starting in Dawson Creek, this route is the most spectacular in regards to the length and scope of the terrain.
I love the mountains and "rocks" in general. The mountains of Jasper and Banff National Park are spectacular. Their ruggedness and rock formations make them unique.
This particular picture is unique, it was only when I put it on the computer did I notice the ladies face on the mountain. I do not recall the name of the mountain but I read all the informational boards at this site and nothing was mentioned about a face. I hope one of you can see it, I am known for seeing faces on mountains, especially when I am until sedation.
The only disappointment today was the lack of big game animals that we had expected to see. But, that is wildlife viewing, sometimes you see, sometimes you don't! We did see a good number of deer outside of the parks.
On the last mountain pass, on the downward side we saw a herd of Big Horn Sheep just below timber line. It took me about forty minutes and ten rest stops but I got within shooting distance. I was disappointed that no rams were with them, but the ewes and lambs were very cooperative and undisturbed by my intrusion. I got above them and got shots of them coming up the slope, I was within six feet of them most of the time. Two curious lambs, I really wanted to adopt them, they were quite inquisitive about me.

Tomorrow, we head south with our next National Park being Yellowstone and followed by the Grand Teton Park. We will be visiting them on Wednesday. Tomorrow we will explore Montana and Idaho from the secondary highway systems.

"Blue Belle From Hell"  

Posted by Stan Harrington

After driving 584.7 miles from Whitehorse, YT to Fort Nelson, BC, yesterday, we looked forward to a good night sleep after a little dinner. We checked into the Blue Belle Motel, the same motel and room that we stayed in two years ago.

Completing my nightly logging and blogging chores, I settled in for a long nap at 10:30 pm. At 11:oo pm, I was awakened by the new tenants upstairs, talking loud and stomping around. I am a patient person and knew that they to would settle down in a little time. At 11:30 pm, their guests arrived, after several loud bangs on their door and a lot of yelling, it was finally answered. Then the screaming started and what I assume was a fight between the men. At midnight, I was still being patient. In short time, I realized I was wrong and picked up the phone to call the office. Registering my complaint, the desk clerk said he would handle it and move them. When the phone rang upstairs, more screaming commenced and it sounded as if one of women was being beat up. After twenty minutes, it continued. It was at this point, we decided to "check out". After loading our luggage, I called the front desk to let them know we were leaving with no answer. Again, being patient, I walked over to the office. Evidently the manager was peeking out the window and saw me coming as he opened the front door. His response, "didn't they quiet down", my response to him, "no, we are checking out and want a refund", not only the $114.00 that we paid but also the extra $23.00 they charged for "Dutch". He agreed and even turned on the gas pumps so I could top off the tank. The next motel, 20o miles down the road in Fort St John.

We drove through the night, arriving in Fort St John at about 5:30 am after dodging a few deer and a snowstorm on Pink Mountain. Deciding that it was useless to kill the day in a motel, we took a short cat nap in the truck. At 7:00 am, we topped off the gas tank and headed to Prince George planning to check into a motel and rest the remaining day. A beautiful drive from the Alcan into Prince George, beautiful agricultural area along the Peace River. A very large population of Whitetail deer, but the bucks were all hiding.

Arriving in Prince George, we once again decided to go onto Jasper Provincial Park, just another 200 miles. One hundred miles later, we came into McBride, British Columbia. The cutest little town, very neat and clean. Just a hundred miles from our destination, we decided to call it a day. The day ended after driving 632.2 miles since midnight last night and 2,129.5 miles from Anchor Point.

Tomorrow, we go into Jasper Park and then directly into Banff Park, a trip that I have been looking forward to for the past two years. It should be great and maybe, I will even take some pictures!

If the posting was to verbose, in short if you ever visit Fort Nelson, BC, I cannot recommend staying at the Blue Belle Inn.

Continuing South  

Posted by Stan Harrington

The third day on the road was a long day, made the run from Whitehorse, Yukon Territory to Fort Nelson, British Columbia. According to my onboard assistant, "Susie" and my F150, that is a total of 584.7 miles. We are now 1,497 miles from Anchor Point. Tomorrow will be our last day on the Alcan Highway, will not be seeing Mile Post "0" as we will turn south at Fort Saint John.

Being doing a little data collecting regarding the economy during this trip. It appears from the data collected that the economy in the lower forty eight is worse than in Alaska. I base this strictly on personal observation. I have noted a large number of U-Haul trucks and trailers coming north yet in the southbound direction, I have only seen two or three at the most. The number northbound movement is large enough that you cannot help but notice. It appears that the population of Alaska will be increasing.

Had great drive today as we passed through the most beautiful part of the Alcan trip and also the area that always have the largest wildlife sightings. During this part of the trip we saw Moose, Caribou, Elk, Sheep, and of course the Buffalo. Did not get a chance to "picture shoot" a ram, saw several small rams, ewes, and lambs. Still would like spend several days exploring this 100 mile stretch of the highway, perhaps that will be a future fall trip just for that purpose. Continued to have a variety of weather patterns including a heavy snow storm on top of Summit Pass. It was a good day.


~ Buffalo Herd Resting ~

Toad River Elk Herd

"The Whirl Pool " Laird River

Winter Comes Early On Summit Pass

A Sad Past  

Posted by Stan Harrington

I am currently on my 15th trip over the Alcan Highway. Two years ago when I made this trip for the first time in many years, I felt a little remorse that it was not the same as I remembered as a youngster.
The Alcan Highway was an engineering marvel, built during war time to provide a transportation route from the lower 48 to Alaska. The highway was built in record time by the U.S. Army, contractors, and local labor from the communities scattered along the route.
I made my first trip over the highway in the spring of 1956, seeing the country from Colorado to Alaska from the back of a truck.
Today, as I travel the highway, I cannot but notice and feel remorse at all the old lodges, gas stations, and cafes that have been closed. The majority of the old places that I saw as a child are now abandon, boarded up, and slowly dying of neglect. These structures and businesses were essential to the development and traveling the highway.
Times have changed and the history being erased. The highway has been re-routed in so many places, time and expediting is now more important. The lodges along the highway flourished in the days past. Today, with larger gas tanks, fuel economy, and a highway that can safely be driven at 55-75 mph. A full tank of gas will now take you from community to community. In the past with top speeds 0f 30 t0 45 mph, smaller gas tanks, less economical engines the drivers depended on the lodges as refueling stops. Today, the motor homes roll past their doors requiring no service. The lodges were not only essential for driving the highway, when you made the trips enough times the owners become your friends and always welcomed you.
But the modern times has also had an affect on the smaller communities, much like the Interstate Highway system in the lower sates.
"The Forgotten Alcan Town"
Champagne, Yukon Territory

The history of Champagne, Yukon Territory dates back to the early 1800's when it was a trading area for not only Canadian Indians but also Alaskan Indians. The area remained as a trading post until 1942 when the Alcan Highway was constructed through the community. Many of the residents in the area worked on the development of the highway.

I remember Champagne as a child, several things remained in my memory including hub caps, sod roofed buildings, and Indian burial houses. Several years ago, the Alcan Highway was diverted away from Champagne. Today, a simple little green sign sits along the highway that says "Champagne". Today, I left that highway and took a short trip back into my past and a trip into the history of the Yukon.

The hubcaps I remember from my youth are still there. In the days of old, the Alcan Highway was littered with blown tires and hubcaps that had fallen from the cars and trucks due to the bumpy, gravel roadway. If you were a seasoned driver of the highway, if you found a hubcap and it did not fit your rig, you put it in the vehicle and dropped it off in Champagne. The garage walls were filled with hubcaps and in time poles were erected to hold the excess. They are still there today, a prominent sign stating that they are not "For Sale" is also displayed.

Signs Of The Past In Champagne

Two Of A Dozen Sod Roofed Buildings Dating Back To Pre-Alcan Highway

On my first trip, I recall holding my baby brother, who is now in his 50's and my little sister standing in front of a Indian burial house in Champagne. I have this picture in my collection at home, this is possibly the same site. There has to be so much history at this site, however, out of respect we did not intrude.

This sign was attached to one of the many old buildings in the small community. It caught my attention that perhaps it would be a good one to put on display in our family campground, the Hole In The Wall.

It was a great visit into the past, I feel fortunate that it had existed as I remembered.

Day Two ~ Whitehorse, YT  

Posted by Stan Harrington

Terry Standing Tall Cotton

Yukon Cotton Tree

On our second day, had a relative easy driving time between Tok and Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, 386 miles. Had an opportunity to witness just about each type of weather condition, cloudy, sunny, snowy, drizzle, rain and more sun. Once again had the opportunity to meet one of the Canadian Custom officials that lacked any personality and professionalism. Paperwork was all in order, after looking at Dutch's Health Certificate the next question was; Where is the dog? My response: In the back looking out the window at you! Next, What else do you have under the canopy in the back? Suitcases!; What else? Clothes; What else? Cooler of junk food; What else? Tool box and emergency equipment; What else: That is about it; Have any guns? No; How much ammunition do you have: Is that a trick question? Never did make her smile!

It was evident today that Canada has a predator problem! Perhaps an aerial hunt is in order, the only wild game that we saw today was two Wiley Coyotes. In the event you are wondering, this is one of two postings for today.