Fire Cloud...
An irregular marking on the exterior of Native American pottery: usually resulting from burning fuel coming in direct contact with the vessel during firing

Friday, 31 August 2007

Back to Work

Mountain Home, Arkansas

When we eat supper in the new house we all solemnly take our blood pressures. Mine has dropped to 121/76 which I attribute to the new diet of fruit and fish. That which doesn't kill me makes me stronger. There was a time when none of us thought about blood pressure that much. We don't discuss regularity yet, but we see the future.

Two evenings we go out on the old pontoon boat (the Ratty Bastard) and bar-b-q and swim in Lake Norfork until after dark. The motor is a 55 horse, 1977 Johnson. Usually it can be coaxed to start. It's all decorated in redneck chic: tiki torrches, American flags, astro turf and plastic lawn chairs. Paul tore off the roof attempting to dock last week so we jump in quickly.

We will have to boogey after Labor Day to make my nephew's the wedding in Alpine, New York next weekend. It's 1200 miles.

Our friends in Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia, tell us that they are selling their new house and boats and moving to Annapolis. They have decided, after a year, that they don't like country living. They are disappointed with the country club. That means our plan to buy a house there is out the window. Mrs. Phred and I admit to each other that we didn't really want to live there anyway.

I got one coat of yellow on the big house Wednesday and then ran out of paint. I used a rectangular aluminum hand-held paint shield to keep any over spray off the windows and shingles. The spray-gun does a good job of one-coat coverage. The local paint store is out of that paint. We're on deadline now and may have to make a run into Harrisonville two hours away. I have exterior doors to finish this morning, then a decision about the run west.

After some thought, I call my old boss, the CEO, and tell him I'm ready for this vacation to end and want to work. He says he has projects for me. He doesn't say what. He wants me to call a week before we hit Tampa. I worked for him for 22 years before this two year vacation. With this piece in place, our plans are fixed until at least the end of February.

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

I've Seen the Light

Mountain Home, Arkansas

I get up and seven and paint until five. With a four-inch brush I get one coat on the siding of the big front porch. I figure at least 100 hours to brush the whole house with two coats. Paul puts Janis Joplin, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd on for me to listen to as I paint. I'm feeling spoiled and pampered.

I consider house-painting as my next profession. My father was a house painter. I started working new construction with him at age 13 and did it weekends and summers with him before college. It still feels good.

Diane comes home around six and I tell her I can do the whole thing in one more day with an airless spray-gun. She gives her approval and we all head down to Home Depot in the evening to pick out the shiny new tool. It's dawn now and I get to open the box when the sun comes up.

The liver is the seat of the emotions.

Paul has become convinced that meat, sugar, bad fats and alcohol clog the liver with fat and bile and cause bad emotions, heart disease, body fat, fatigue and diabetes.

He's lost 40 pounds since he changed his diet eight weeks ago. Diane has lost 30.

I become an instant disciple. Beans, vegetables, fruit, baked fish and ground flax seed is my new mantra. No dairy, no alcohol, no meat. Fortunately Tuscan halibut is still on the menu.

Think about goose pate. That kind of liver can't be good for you or for the goose.

The liver becomes clogged with fats and poisons with the standard American diet. The fat released by the liver in bile is 90% reabsorbed without sufficient fiber in the diet. Bad fats and toxins tax the liver.

The liver is like the air filter on your car's engine. You need to keep it clean.

I've seen the light.

Monday, 27 August 2007

That Trip is Over

Mountain Home, Arkansas

The trip to Alaska is over. We are in Paul's backyard again.

We will move on to Virginia next. We have mixed feelings about buying a home, but it feels like time to find a place to park the wheels after two years as gypsies. We ran into some real gypsies in Nebraska. There were about ten families with new trucks and old trailers in Grand Isle. The trucks looked nice and had "rust-proofing" signs on their doors. These folks are notorious swindlers that travel around the U.S. spraying worthless whitewash on things for the elderly and the gullible.

They've been busy here since we left under icy conditions last winter. The Mansion-in-the-Woods has been newly sided with Hardy Board, a miracle material of cellulose and concrete.

Paul has offered me the opportunity to hand-paint the whole thing with some miracle paint he has picked out. I could do the whole vthing in a day with my airless equipment in storage, but for some reason, Paul wants it brushed.

We went swimming in Norfork lake yesterday. The water temperature was perfect. In the Southern evening the crickets sing under a full moon.

We only have one credit card from a bank. I was astounded yesterday to see that they had added a 3% fee to a tankful of $6 a gallon Canadian gas. The avarice of American banks is astonishing. If you travel, use American Express or a credit union for your debit and credit cards. I paid the fee and cancelled the card. Strangely, cancelling credit cards can reduce your credit score.

Saturday, 25 August 2007

Who was Henry Agard Wallace?

Independence, Missouri

Henry Wallace was the Vice President of the United States during FDR’s third term in office. If he had been selected at the 1944 Democratic Convention to run for election with FDR for another term, the world would have been a much different place.

Instead, a relatively unknown, uneducated and inexperienced Senator from Missouri named Harry S. Truman was nominated as the candidate for Vice-President. Truman was considered to be a puppet of Kansas City Irish political “boss”, Tom Pendergast.

Wallace was a liberal new dealer. He worked tirelessly to support FDR’s new deal programs. By 1944, high taxes, rationing and continued unemployment were beginning to erode Roosevelt’s popularity. If the war had ended by 1944, it is doubtful that FDR could have been reelected.

By 1944, It was clear to Democratic leaders that FDR was in poor health and probably would not live long. They needed a Vice President they could trust to nurture and develop what Eisenhower later called the “Military-Industrial Complex”. Roosevelt, in dropping Wallace, demonstrated a stunning preference for power over loyalty.

Wallace saw the Soviets as true allies and later advocated turning over atomic stockpiles to the UN and sharing atomic secrets. He believed that colonization in Asia should end and saw the end of the war as the beginning of the “Century of The Common Man”. His vision included cooperating with Russia to build a vast system of highways linking China and South America with the industrialized world. Wallace’s views on colonization drove our British Allies to work tirelessly for his removal.

It is almost certain that Wallace would not have authorized use of the atomic bomb. Truman’s later actions in Korea, and his decision to deny post-war aid to our war-ravaged Russian Allies almost certainly encouraged the Cold War. Without our support of the French Colonies in Indo-China, Vietnam would have been a friendly place.

The other disaster Truman set in motion was the recognition of Israel. The current world conflict has roots in that decision. General George Marshall told Truman it was a bad idea, but it’s hard to know how Wallace would have called that one. Perhaps it would have been the same call.

Truman ended his Presidency with approval ratings below 30%. In view of his successors, many now look back at him with a certain wistful fondness.

Strangely, the 1944 Democratic convention is a Wiki “stub” although the decisions made there changed the course of history in a way that few other single events could have done.

Truman spent his last years working in his presidential library in Independence. One room, called a "decision center", shines klieg lights on the audience and asks them late-1940s "loyalty" questions. A man in the shadows with a microphone asking the questions appears to be Senator Joe McCarthy. At the end, the audience is asked if the government should have unrestricted access to E-mail and telephone conversations. Push the red button for "yes" and the blue button for "no". Mrs'. Phred and I reach quickly for the blue button. We are out-voted.

Wednesday, 22 August 2007


Grand Island, Nebraska

We've made 400 miles a day for the last two days. We're heading east.
Here are a few pictures of Yellowstone.

Our plans to take a dogleg West to Wendover and San Francisco have been put on hold. We want to be on the East Coast for a family wedding and for the arrival of another grandchild in early September. The next trip out we hope to spend some time with my brother in Nevada.

I google 125 Cedar Street after seeing that a 3 by 5 sheet of aluminum from the Duetchmark Building fell on the roof before the fire. There are lots of hits on the old building located on the south edge of ground zero. I stayed there often with Mrs. Phred's sister and brother-in-law before 9/11 and waved at the office workers in the South Tower windows across the street. They just moved to Venice, Italy and enrolled in language classes. Now Mrs. Phred is talking about living in Europe.

Suddenly the mess in New Orleans is a little more focused. They are still tearing down buildings damaged six years ago in New York. It's all about money. Money doesn't flow naturally toward disaster.

On the subject of growing tobacco, there is an Indian brand called Rustica that can be used to tip poison arrows. You don't want to plant tobacco on the same piece of land more than once every five years. Green peppers and tomatoes are related to tobacco so you can't rotate them with tobacco crops, since they share nematodes.

The big challenge with tobacco crops is the curing process, which can take five years.

Finally, I find myself in rare agreement with President Bush. He said yesterday that Iraq is another Vietnam. I knew that before the invasion over four years ago.

Sunday, 19 August 2007

Fading Pictures

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

We crossed the 45 degree latitude line yesterday and now find ourselves midway between the North Pole and the Equator. The morning temperature is just above freezing. The elevation is above 7,000 feet. It should be a cool afternoon.

A herd of about 50 elk moved down from the hills and walked though our campsite as we pulled into camp. They included a large number of nursing calves.

The elk have no fear of humans. They ignored us completely as they moved slowly down the hill. We might have been just ghosts for all the notice we received.

Yellowstone is centered on a gigantic caldera which accounts for the many boiling springs, geysers and steaming fumaroles.

When the Yellowstone supervolcano blows, some estimates are that all human life within a 500 mile radius will be extinguished. I discuss this with Mrs. Phred and we both figure, “What are the odds?” and “It probably wouldn’t hurt much.”

We might spend a few days here before moving south to the Grand Teton National Park. Our last visit to Yellowstone was with our 8 year old son. I keep a picture of him in the wildflowers near Yellowstone Lake on my desk when I have one. It’s faded a little in 30 years.

Friday, 17 August 2007

The Anomaly in the Zapruder Film

The gas cap arrives from Denver. It is plastic and costs $28. It does have a tether and I find the hole where the tether should be installed.

 I trace the turn signal problem to the black box under the rear bumper. Five wires go in including the wire from the brake lights. Four wires come out, so inside the box the brake signal is wired in parallel to the left and right turn signal. The right turn signal and right brake light don’t work. Something is fried inside the box. I run a wire in parallel around the box to get a good voltage reading on the right turn signal. Both brake lights in the Toyota come on anyway when the Brake Buddy senses enough G-force and goes to work so I'm legal if not elegant.

Since the tools are already out, I tinker with the RV generator and add a tachyon time displacement field. Tachyons travel faster than light so, according to Einstein, I can move the whole vehicle and its contents to the time and place I choose, although the whole rig is slightly underpowered (I think the valves are out of adjustment again).

I’ve rigged the computer in the new Mr. Coffee to control the time of arrival and the handheld GPS wired in parallel should put me down within fifteen feet of any spot on Earth. If things go wrong, the reset button on the Mr. Coffee will bring me back quickly. It's all kind of what we used to call a "jerry-rigged" arrangement, but it works.

 The controls are set for Friday, November 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas, USA at 12:15 p.m. CST, 15 minutes before the assassination. I was nineteen year-old airman in San Antonio policing cigarette butts then, so there is no chance of encountering myself. As everyone knows from watching "Back to the Future" I only have one chance at this time and place. If I ever met myself, it would rip a catastrophic wormhole in time and space and destroy the part of the universe that I attempt to double-occupy.

I leave the RV idling at the curb of the book depository and walk into the lobby. As I start up the stairs I see Oswald in the 2nd floor cafeteria sipping coffee. I decide to shadow him and order a coffee for ten cents, paying with a 1962 half-dollar. I’m determined not to introduce any time paradoxes like paying with a 2005 Kennedy half-dollar. The Franklin coin has a melt value of $4.25 and cost me $18.00 in Great Falls, so the coffee is not that cheap.

At 12:29 it becomes clear that the only thing Oswald has in mind is avoiding work and tapping his feet to the Beatles song on the cafeteria jukebox. The radio is playing "Do You Want to Know a Secret"{...I sprint up the stairs, jacking a live round into my nineteen-shot 9 mm Glock. On the windowsill, in the empty room, on the sixth floor is a scoped cheap mail order  Italian Mannlicher-Carcano M91/38 bolt-action rifle. I hear three or more gunshots though the open window and look out the window see a rifle barrel disappear into a sewer opening on the curb below and two men with long guns running from the area of the grassy knoll.

 Think about the spent slugs they "found" from the Mannlicher-Carcano and ask yourself who has been in Oswald's garage today to steal his gun and who has sufficient access to plant the spent bullets on the stretcher and in the limo. It's a short list of suspects. Then there's that funky photo with the noon nose-shadow and the late afternoon body shadow. I send Mrs. Phred down to examine the "grassy knoll", however the assassins have policed up the shell casings.....

I run back downstairs and warn Oswald that the President has been killed and that he’s been set up for all time as the patsy. I tell him his rifle is up on the 6th floor and watch the realization spread on his face. I follow him out the door and hit the reset button on Mr. Coffee.

You might have noticed a new small anomaly in the Zapruder film, if you’ve watched it in the last four hours. As Zapruder pans the camera around there are a few frames where you can clearly read the Florida licence plate on the big 2008 Bounder RV at the curb of the Texas Book Depository.

So anyway, the world is just as it was, except for the change in the film. I'm expecting a visit from the government any time now. I take Mrs. Phred to see the Cloud Atlas and eat some oysters and wait them to find me and drop the black hood over my head. I figure I have a few hours before Homeland Security wants the time travel secret...

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Great Falls Montana

Great Falls, Montana

Been away so long I hardly knew the place
Gee, it's good to be back home
Leave it till tomorrow to unpack my case
Honey disconnect the phone
I'm back in the USSR
You don't know how lucky you are, boy
Back in the US
Back in the US
Back in the USSR

It’s good to be back home. You can get anything you want in Great Falls.

I left the RV gas cap on a gas pump in Valdez. That's caused the check engine light to be on for the last 3,000 miles. The computer shuts down the emission control system when you lose the gas cap and you can feel the loss of horsepower when the big V-10 is pulling up the mountain grades. Most Ford gas caps have a tether, but the motor home people leave them off.

We went two places and they both said that there were three Ford E-450 gas caps in Denver. We’re having one over-nighted by Fed-Ex.

The tow wiring has been chopped to pieces on the trip. I patched the patches to keep the tow vehicle turn signals and brake lights burning. Here we bought a 25 foot piece of four-wire that should let me build at least four new tow wire connections.

The grocery store selections are wonderful. You don’t realize what an amazing variety we are used to being able to select: fresh Coho salmon, picante sauce, hummus, red peppers, and canned crushed tomatoes.

This is where I bought my broadband card and new laptop last summer. It’s the first real American city we’ve seen since Chicago.

There’s a Tony Roma’s right down the street. The forecast is for heavy Wild Turkey and spicy baby-back ribs.

There is a museum here at Maelstrom AFB, a Lewis and Clark exploration center, a fish hatchery and a lot of dams and falls on River Road. I want to see some summer movies.

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Wildfires in the West

Glacier National Park, Montana

We take the Going-To-The-Sun Highway over Logan’s Pass. The air is full of smoke. Usually the road opens about June 26th when the snowplows can clear the road.

We’ve never been here late in the summer before. With most of the snow gone, the waterfalls and rivers have greatly receded. With the poor visibility from the smoke, I don’t bother with pictures on the normally spectacular drive.

We drive by a firefighter base camp on the south side of glacier. It looks like 500 little dome tents have been erected for the firefighters.

I Google and find there are at least 20 major wildfires going on in Montana. Yellowstone down in Wyoming was closed on the east side because of a 10,000 acre fire sparked by lightning. Air quality in many Montana towns is very poor because of the fires. We feel the heat here high in the Rockies and we wonder if we’ve come south too soon.

We take a lovely 10-mile hike to a place called Grizzly Medicine Lake. The trail roughly parallels a river that runs down the valley from the lake. We find a place with a babbling brook in an alpine meadow for lunch. As we eat our peanut butter and jelly, we consider what an unlikely place this is choose to have lunch. It's a magical spot, six miles up into an uninhabited valley. Mrs. Phred takes a nap in the sun, resting her head on my soft belly.

I have a blister on my heel from the last hike, but with two pairs of socks on today, it doesn't break.

There are few people on this trail. There is a constant view of glacier carved mountains as we walk up the trail.

Monday, 13 August 2007

Close Encounters of the Bear Kind

Goat Haunt, Montana

We walked the ten miles along Waterton Lake about 13 years ago. This time we decide to walk south from the town site of Waterton, Alberta, down to the lonely ranger station at Goat Haunt, U.S.A. and then take the boat back. I tie a bear bell to my right boot.

Right now the average bear is preparing for winter by eating 100,000 berries a day, to take in about 20,000 calories. Rasberry seeds are 70% more likely to germinate after passing though a bear. The whole ten mile trail is solid rasberries, but we leave them all for the bears.

The first five miles are continuously up on tall ridges and back down to the lake. The last five miles, after the international border, are fairly flat. We pass three hikers during the day traveling north.

We run into an inquisitive ground squirrel at a lake campsite, on the Canadian side, after about three miles. He attacks our backpack and Mrs. Phred gives it some cookie bits. At one point he stands on my boot looking for more food. I’m guessing that the four ham sandwiches in the backpack have an irresistible odor to ground squirrels.

We descend to the lake and pass though a thick patch of raspberry bushes. Suddenly we see a black bear in our path less than ten feet away. It runs into the bushes. I can see over the bushes to a rockslide. The bear does not reappear on the rocks, so I know it must be very close.

The bear begins to peek out of the bushes and I snap several pictures. It climbs up on a rock and I recognize the hump that distinguishes a black grizzly from an ordinary black bear. It’s a dismayingly large bear.The bear is only 30 feet away and it advances toward us. I stop taking pictures and start yelling at the bear to go away. The knowledge that my big brain makes me the most dangerous animal on the planet is not all that reassuring just now.

They say to play dead when a bear starts biting you to see if the attack is defensive in nature. After two minutes, if the bear is still biting you, you should fight back because this is an indication of predatory behavior. I make a note to check my watch.

Mrs. Phred picks up a three foot long piece of driftwood and holds it over her head to appear taller. She stands beside me and begins to talk to the bear with that tone of voice that says, “If momma’s not happy, nobody’s happy”. The bear slows his advance.

Mrs. Phred begins to slam her driftwood on a piece of rock and then she leads me in a slow strategic retreat away from the trail to the lakeshore. For a few minutes, after we regain the trail, we look over our shoulders to see if the bear is still following.

At the ranger station they check our passports carefully and stare into our eyes to verify our eye color. Mrs. Phred has to remove her sunglasses. It’s all dead serious. Who knows? It’s only 100 miles of brutal wilderness to the first small town in Glacier National Park. We could have anything in our backpack.

We talk to a young man who just finished walking the 100 miles alone though Glacier. He took seven days. He says he has done the whole Appalachian Trail.

Back in Waterton, I spend my last Canadian Loonies on a bottle of wine, but I'm too tired to drink it.

Saturday, 11 August 2007

It’s a Nice Day for a White Wedding

Waterton National Park, Alberta

We start the day by booking a return trip from Goat Haunt, Montana. The boat will pick us up at 8 pm tomorrow. To get there is a fairly serious nine-mile hike over some mean terrain. If we miss the boat it means a night in the wilderness. We have a bear bell.

You have to bring ID to Goat Haunt. Otherwise the rangers send you back to Waterton on the next boat. I wish I had known this before buying the tickets. Being deported for free would be kind of cool.

So then, after making our purchase, it’s on up to a glacial lake. We see mountain goats, wildflowers, rasberries and a moose on a hike around the lake...(Mrs. Phred hastens to add that the moose was not hiking around the lake, we were).

Then back to the lodge for High tea. Or is it Low tea? They serve tea with honey, milk, lemon and sugar cubes. The sandwiches all have the crusts removed: Egg salad, cucumber and smoked salmon with capers. Then there were gooseberries, scones, biscuits and cookies. The top layer was fudge, strawberries dipped in butterscotch frosting and a cute little lemony pastry.

This is a great place for a wedding. In fact, it’s a nice day for a white wedding.

Hey little sister what have you done?…
It’s a nice day for a white wedding.
It’s a nice day to start again.

Then we play tennis after tea. I lose 2-6. I point out that it’s seldom 0-6 0r 1-6 anymore.

My dentist has a picture of Waterton Lake hanging on his wall. I’ve stared at this scene for several eternities while he performs his indignities.

Here are a few Waterton pix.

Friday, 10 August 2007

A Man and His Schnauzer

Banff National Park, Alberta

We blew though Jasper and Banff fairly quickly. The temperature was in the low 40s and it rained continuously. We did the obligatory walk around Lake Louise in Banff.

Probably the highlight was a gold crested ground squirrel eating raspberries. I had a couple myself but felt a little guilty raiding the little guys larder.

On the long drive up today, we passed a summit at 7,280 feet. We were in a sleet storm with lightning strikes. The RV transmission felt like it was slipping so I pulled into a rest area.

A man on a Harley was cuddling his schnauzer in the shelter of an outhouse. He was driving from Vancouver to Calgary. The little dog was shivering in the sleet. He had his own seat just in front of the driver.

Later a young man flagged us down. He was driving a jeep. He wasn’t out of gas , but he was afraid that he would run out of gas before the gas station ten miles ahead. Apparently he thought that running out of gas would damage his vehicle. “Son”, I said, “I’ve run out of gas fifty times and it’s never hurt my vehicles.”

But you know youth. They don’t listen to age and wisdom. So I dropped him at the gas station. We both had the feeling that there was something sinister about the boy. Fortunately I more than hold my own with sharks and psychopaths.

So here are in Waterton. Possibly the most lovely place on earth. We want to take the lake boat to Goat Haunt, Montana in the morning and do the fifteen mile hike along the lonely lake shore back to Waterton.

Goat Haunt is a ranger station that can only be reached by the boat or by a fifty mile hike from within Montana.

Here a some humble shots of Banff National Park.

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Chickens in the Mist

Jasper National Park, Alberta

We went on a hike today. It was raining and 48 F. Actually it was hailing. We could see the hail bounce on the trail.

Jasper is a lovely place. This is high season and the most scenic places are packed with German and Japanese tourists with expensive cameras. I had forgotten that part of visiting the big parks in summer.

There is a chain of spectacular parks heading south on the backbone of the Rocky Mountains: Jasper, Banff, Waterton, Glacier, The Tetons and Yellowstone. We will hit them all and buy the large scale hiking maps and try to avoid the crowds.

After the hike, I went by myself to see the new Simpsons movie in Jasper. There was one line that made me laugh. The village idiot laments, “Once a chicken beat me playing tic-tac-toe.”

That hit home. A chicken beat me playing tic-tac-toe at the Florida State Fair. She beat me soundly at $.25 cents a game. I blew ten dollars. Every game was a loss or a draw. Sometimes good training prevails against a high I.Q.

The chickens have moved to Vegas. Ten dollars now gets you a shot at a $5,000 pay-off. I may drop in for a rematch on the way home.

We’ve been getting e-mail updates on houses for sale in Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia. It’s close to Roanoke which has indoor tennis and three Universities. I think we’re ready to settle down, at least a little. We move south in the morning.

A lady wrote to me today and asked for a full resolution picture of one of my Smith Mountain Lake images. She offered to pay my non-existent Pay Pal account. Funny how an image can come to replace reality. This picture has been featured in Webshots. It's been veiwed over 6,000 times and downloaded 950 times. What do I know? Point. Click.

Some photos of Jasper are available in this link.

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Time for a Change

McBride, British Columbia

The Yellowhead Highway runs east from Prince Rupert on the Pacific Coast to Jasper National Park in Alberta. The last two days have been travel days. We cover the 666 miles between Hyder, Alaska and Jasper on the Yellowhead.

We see a few bears on the road and listen to the wolves talk to each other this morning at 4 AM. One of the videos finally loads up as we log onto an unsecured satellite wireless network in a nearby motor home. It’s the video of the bears in the salmon creek.

We’ve been traveling for two years now. We’re starting to think about doing something different: buying a home, joining the Peace Corps, working on our PhDs, getting jobs, working on a political campaign, consulting or scuba diving in Truk, Micronesia. An existential crisis is brewing.

Sunday, 5 August 2007

Salmon Glacier and Bear Creek

Stewart, British Columbia

In the morning, we drive two miles over to Alaska and cross the border. Bear Creek is a place where the salmon are spawning and the bears come out to feed.

The Pink and Chum salmon like this little creek. It’s shallow, the water is clear and the gravel is just the right size. The female salmon flutter and clean the dirt and algae from their nest area. They dig a hole in the gravel and deposit their eggs. The males swim over and fertilize the eggs and then they cover the nest with gravel. Both parents guard the nest until the fry hatch out. They have grown teeth and changed color and shape. Then they die. Only one bear is hungry this morning, but the dozens of salmon fluttering and fighting for turf in the shallow water are very interesting to watch.

We drive up a narrow gravel road 25 miles to the summit of Salmon Glacier. We meet Keith Scott. He is living in a tent on the summit until September. He tells us that the glacier forms a big lake which drains in July like emptying a giant bathtub. The result is a huge flood down river and a broken ice field at the top of the glacier. It happened last week.

We talk to Keith awhile. He suggests a hike and loans Mrs. Phred a can of pepper spray in case she attracts any grizzly bears. The hike is about a mile along a ledge with a good perspectives looking down at the huge glacier.

The view is stunning. It reminds us both the tourist town high in the Alps, with the cog railway, but without the train or the hundreds of jostling Japanese tourists with expensive cameras. We have the whole place to ourselves. I make a bunch of videos, but the Wi-fi back at the camps won’t let me post files that large.

We return to camp and play some tennis in the municipal park (I lose 2-6) then go back to Bear Creek in the evening. A big grizzly sow and her three cubs come out and put on a 30 minute show fishing and playing on the bank. A big male shows up and mama quickly runs away with her cubs. One cub gets left behind in the hasty departure and bellows for 15 minutes until his mother returns to fetch him.

Here are some pictures of the glacier, maybe some videos later?

Saturday, 4 August 2007

The Cassiar Highway

Telegraph Creek, British Columbia

After Whitehorse, we follow the Alcan Highway east for a few hundred miles to Watson Lake. Mrs. Phred has been suggesting travel along the Cassiar Highway for something different. The Cassiar has been closed by a wash out for a couple of weeks, but we ask around and it is thought that they are now allowing one-way traffic at the washout 300 miles south. We drive around the “road closed” barrier at Watson Lake and head south. There is very little traffic on this road. We will follow the Cassiar about 800 miles.

We spend an evening at the Boya Lake Provincial Park and continue south to Dease Lake. This is still Gold Rush territory. Jack London casually mentions the lake in the book of short stories I’m working though again.

Mrs. Phred wants to spend the day driving 100 miles down a gravel road to Telegraph Creek, a small historic community on the Skintina River. It’s an impressive drive along an area the locals refer to as the “Grand Canyon”. The narrow road meanders along the edge of cliffs with sharp vertical drop offs and 20 degree grades. They pushed a telegraph line to Europe though here toward Russia in the 1860s before the project failed. We look at the canoes for rent there and the raging current and decide to have a sandwich instead of taking a trip down river.

Today we take another side trip, 250 miles further south, to Stewart, British Columbia. Five miles further west, we will be in Alaska briefly again in the small town of Hyder, about 200 miles South of Juneau. Hyder looks like it has good water access to the Pacific ocean as well as access by land from Brithish Columbia.

My mapping program says that it’s about 1300 miles to the US. We will reenter in Montana at Glacier National Park.

VISA fraud prevention apparently doesn’t like the geographic distribution of my ATM withdrawals. They have disabled my cash card again. My Canadian phone card doesn’t recognize 800 numbers and it’s the weekend. We're down to $50 cash and 5,000 miles from home. I love a challenge.

Here are some pictures of Boya Lake and Telegraph Creek.