Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Homeward Bound

I haven't done a layout like this is a long  time and I really enjoyed doing it!  I love to journal and here I tell part of the story of our trip home from Alaska.  Did this for a challenge at Sisterhood of Scrap and its a Pagemaps sketch.

The Cassiar Highway has two claims to fame. It is said to be one of the worst routes to Alaska and you are advised to take spare tires and drive SLOW. Second, it is heralded as being of unsurpassed beauty. For me, the thought of a drive full of scenic wonder caught my attention and for Dick, well who doesn’t love a challenge! So when we moved back to the lower 48 in 2000, we decided we would take the Cassiar route to Denver. About 10 miles into that trip, we had had enough. To be fair, we were driving a ¾-ton pickup with a Bigfoot camper on it, pulling a loaded trailer full of Dick’s tools and his ’22 Ford, and we weighed in at 22,000 lbs. We were just too heavy to deal with the potholes and extreme grades of the Cassiar so we reluctantly turned that rig around and headed down the Alaska Highway.

Fast-forward to 2010, the year of our return to Alaska, and we were determined to drive the Cassiar and decided to take that route on our way home in August. Can you just imagine how we felt when we heard that the Cassiar was closed because of forest fires? We got to the turnoff for the Cassiar, and sure enough, the road was closed. But, there was a long lime up of cars, RVs and a few motorcycles. There’s a gas station there at the corner and we learned that the road was going to open in about 30 minutes and we would be escorted through the forest fire in a convoy. Ah, talk about timing!

Our drive through the fire was uneventful; we didn’t see much in the way of flames, just the devastation left behind from a fast moving fire through the stands of black spruce. There are always many fires burning in the summer throughout the wildernesses of the northwest and many are left to nature’s whim as long as the fires are not a threat to population centers. The Cassiar runs through complete wilderness – we had no cell phone service the entire 450 mile route. There are only a few small settlements along the way. We camped in the parking lot of a store selling jade the first night. The 2nd night we spent in Stewart, BC which is a 38-mile jaunt off the Cassiar. Hyder, AK is just another mile or so from Stewart and we went there for some excellent bear viewing at Fish Creek.

Just as a postscript, the Cassiar has been greatly improved since our attempt in 2000. It is a gorgeous drive and the road is very accessible to all RV’s.

And this page accompanies the above.   My inspiration was a sketch by my good friend, Ali.   Journal:

We started our drive home on August 4, 2010. We made a quick stop in Anchorage to provision before hitting the wilderness of the Cassiar Highway where there are very few services. We stopped at the Commissary to buy groceries for the two-week trip home and the PX to buy Christmas presents and souvenirs! These two pictures were taken along the Glenn Highway and that is Mt. Drum in the distance at the top and at the bottom is the ever-present fireweed, so named because it is the first plant to return after a forest fire.

Stewart, BC is a Canadian border town at the end of the Portland Canal, a narrow saltwater fjiord about 90 miles long. The fijord is a natural boundry between Alaska and Canada. The town is surrounded by high peaks and glaciers freely flow down the slopes. These pictures are of the Salmon Glacier, the 5th largest glacier in the world. It is unfortunate that the weather was so poor when we were there, however, we did get the occasional break in the clouds that allowed us to see the glacier.

I used MME So Sophie papers for both of these layouts.  The little flowers are forever old and they are Fancy Pants.  The diecut is from Bo Bunny Flutterbutter and is cut in half.    The letters are cut with the Alterations Vintage Market sizzlet.


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