Monthly Archives: January 2016


Talking Crap

Bear scat ought to be too icky draw interest, but it’s so readable. It doesn’t even stink if the bear’s eating vegan. I was lured into the topic by an Alaskan guide who said that bears eat dirt, rocks, and moss to plug their systems for hibernation. It turns out not to be true. Bears do rid themselves of “plugs” after they hibernate, but hidden hibernation cameras reveal that dirt, leaves, and hair get lapped in as sleepy bears groom themselves through the winter. Much as I love guides, I need to remember they may not know squat.


If You Know What These Are…

You might be an Alaskan. Why are the trees bent? Snow easing downhill puts pressure on young trunks and gives them saggy knees. I’m sure I recall a guide telling us that these are called “snow loops” but I can’t find any confirmation.  Anyone out there know?


Urban Alaska Adventure

Our Anchorage campground, bordering two noisy highways, was a dreary necessity, but it backed up to an alluring river trail.  The leafy woods had me so enamored that even the debris from a couple of squatter camps didn’t deter me.  Down the way, the trail led me meandering through a wide-open park.  After weeks in the wilds, the sprawling green seemed unrealistically civilized, and then unreality took an Alaskan turn.  Between the soccer fields and playgrounds and spandexed bikers, Daisy and I came across a moose grazing on a willow thicket, maybe six feet off the path.  With her homely head hidden in the willows, she might have passed for a large horse, but I saw enough to give her wide berth.  Messing with moose, I’m […]


Anti-Oops Checklist for Booking Flights

The more we travel, the more Steve and I stress over booking plane tickets.  We know how easy it is to overlook an important detail and how much misery a little slip-up can inflict.  Strangely enough, checklists for avoiding such problems seem to be hard to find.  Here’s ours. Anti-Oops Checklist for Booking Flights Before you start, write down required departure and return dates, ground transportation hours, airport names and anything else you are unsure of, so you can easily check them. Before you click, check: –Arrival date for every flight –Are your departure and arrival times reasonable?  Is your 2 pm really 2 am? –Do your layovers allow enough time to make […]


Booking Tips from a Travel Ace

What luck to find a travel agent who knows just how to smooth the way for an elder in Peru.  I’ve been on a mission to get my 85 year old mother to Machu Picchu since told me she’d always wanted to go.  Jacquie Whitt fixed us up for April, but  could only suggest international flights for getting there and back.  Even with her suggestions, we almost had panic attacks over booking the tickets.  There are just so many details to get right and so much money blown if it’s wrong.  Too late I thought, Jacquie books trips all day every day.  Ask her how to get it right.  Here’s what she said: When I book plane tickets: * […]


Where to Eat in the Inside Passage

“I think a banana is a good gift,” a rafting guide told me.  The more I listened to Alaskan guides, the more I realized that food is an issue in those parts.  Transportation costs make food pricey up north, and customs regulations much compound the problem.  Another guide talked about buying berries in Canada and having to pull over and finish eating them before she reached the border. A camper I know was so disgusted at having to give up her oranges “to protect Alaska’s citrus orchards” that she smuggled a few tomatoes through the next checkpoint.  I would never do anything […]


Gasless in Alaska

Along the Alaskan Highway gas stations are crucial stepping stones.  Travelers–especially RVers–who leap, then look, are apt to end up hitchhiking in hungry bear territory.  Steve did his homework and plotted every gas stop along our route before we left home.  Milepost, the guide to negotiating Alcan, kept us comfortably fueled until we’d almost reached Alaska’s southernmost highway stop, about 40 miles from our intended Hyder camp spot.  At Meziadin Junction we pulled into a lonely gas station and found it closed–as in vacant.  Our fuel-mileage-estimator showed no hope for making Hyder with our camper…but the pickup, unhitched, had a chance of getting close. Leaving the trailer mid-nowhere […]