Thursday, August 31, 2017

Total Eclipse and Trip Wrap-up

We made it to the Dubois, ID rest area about 3 hours before eclipse totality to stake out our spot. The place was packed with people who had spent the night (we should have thought of that) but we were lucky to find a parking place. Less than an hour after we got there the sheriff was stopping more people from coming into the rest area so we were glad we got there early.

The totality event was amazing. We took lots of photos, but the camera didn't capture the fine details that were visible in the corona. There were also some very interesting details on the moon that were visible to the eye but didn't get captured on camera. We think it was rays of light shining between craters and mountains on the moon's surface. What surprised us most was how cold it got, and how dark it was during totality. The event was everything it was billed to be, and was definitely a highlight of our trip and something we will always remember.

After the main event, we waited about a half hour for the traffic to clear before we started south, intending to get just north of Salt Lake that evening. When we got on I-15 the traffic was heavy but moving fine. However, once we got a few miles north of Idaho Falls it came to a dead stop. For the next 60 miles or so it was stop and go traffic (actually very little go and lots of stop). It took us about 5 hours to make 60 miles. Glad we didn't have to stop for gas or anything as the towns were in total gridlock. Once we got south of Pocatello the speed picked up a little but would come to a halt at every interchange as lines of cars merged. We finally shut it down for the night in a rest area south of Pocatello. The traffic going by was bumper to bumper until well past mid-night. Even when we left in the morning the traffic was very heavy and it stayed that way all the way to Salt Lake.

After the eclipse we basically made a bee line for home, stopping for one night in southern UT and one night just north of the Mogollon Rim about 150 miles from home. The scenery in southern Utah and northern Arizona is always amazing, especially with the blue skies and white puffy clouds that are usually present. We were really surprised with the condition of the forest south of Flagstaff as it was very green and looked very healthy. Actually, it was the healthiest forest we saw on the whole trip. We guess the monsoon was good to Arizona this year.

A few status from the trip:

Miles driven: 5407

Days on the road: 30

Nights in RV parks: 7

Nights in state/province/territory parks: 17

Nights boondocking: 5

Lowest gas price: $2.129/gal (Chandler AZ)

Highest gas price: $4.70/gal (Enterprise NWT)

Average miles/gal: 9.28

Cost per mile: $0.31

Trailer tires replaced: 1

During the middle of totality.  Fine detail in the corona was visible but didn’t get captured by the camera. 


The last second of totality


Lots of other people decided the Dubois ID rest area would be a good eclipse viewing place.  Glad we got there early!


Just south of Page AZ


Looking off toward Marble Canyon south of Page AZ



A very healthy forest south of Flagstaff AZ


Track Logs:

Day 27 - Aug. 21, 2017, 234 miles driven


Day 28- Aug. 22, 2017, 425 miles driven


Day 29- Aug. 23,  2017, 265 miles driven


Day 30- Aug. 24,  2017, 141 miles driven


Sunday, August 20, 2017

Ready for the Eclipse!

This past week or so, we have been putting in a lot of miles, working our way from Northwest Territories to southern Montana.  To avoid most of the smoke from all the fires, we took the eastern route through Alberta via Edmonton and Calgary, and re-entered the U.S. at the Roosville crossing just north of Eureka, MT. 

The crossing was the simplest we have every experienced.  The border guard was actually pleasant, and this is the first time we have entered the lower 48 where they did not search us for fruit or vegetables.

We spent a very nice three days on Flathead Lake, near Big Fork, MT where the temperatures were perfect, and there were no flies or mosquitoes. This was a nice break, as we have experience a lot of heat and bugs on this trip.

This morning we left Big Fork - heading for southern Montana. Most of the day was spent in smoke from the many forest fires burning in the state. The area around Swan Lake and Seeley Lake was especially bad.

Right now we are currently in an RV park near Dillon, MT - just north of the region of totality for the eclipse tomorrow. We plan to leave early in the morning to claim a spot in a Dubois, Idaho rest area. We don't know what to expect in terms of crowds, but we do know that the RV parks in Dillon are full tonight, so we may not be alone!  We have scoped out about a dozen spots in the zone of totality via Google satellite images, so hopefully we can find a spot.

More beautiful canola fields in Alberta


A lucky Alberta farmer with canola and oil


Lundbreck Falls in southern Alberta.  Not as big as those in NWT but still nice.


Logging a Geo Cache near Lundbreck Falls


Always good to see this sign.  Time to put away the Loonies and the Toonies until next time.  Will miss the metric system though!


The forest fires made for some outstanding sunsets on Flathead Lake



A really neat two person sail boat on Flathead Lake.  A few minutes after this photo was taken, a gust of wind knocked it down and they had to be towed back to shore.


Testing out our eclipse glasses before the big day!


Montana is on fire!  This was in the Seeley Lake area today.


Track Logs:

Day 20 - Aug. 14, 2017, 401 miles driven


Day 21 - Aug. 15, 2017, 314 miles driven


Day 22 - Aug. 16, 2017, 304 miles driven


Day 23 - Aug. 17, 2017, 199 miles driven


Days 24-25 Flathead Lake, Big Fork MT (no miles driven)

Day 26 - Aug. 20, 2017, 293 miles driven


Monday, August 14, 2017

Northwest Territories Video

Here is a quick video to capture some of the highlights of Northwest Territories.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Northwest Territories

We are in Hay River, NWT today, which is on the southern shore of the Great Slave Lake. Tomorrow, we start our 2600 mile journey south. Our original plan was to stop at Jasper and Banff National Parks on the way south, but given the fires and smoke they are having, we decided to skip those two parks and take a more eastern route south via Edmonton and Calgary. We were at both parks last year, so skipping them this time is no big deal. This change will allow us to gain a few days, which will let us position ourselves in northern Idaho to see the Total Solar Eclipse, which will be a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Our time here in Northwest Territories has been nice, with lots of interesting sites, except it has been very warm (near 90!) and the bugs are totally unbelievable. Everyone says Alaska has the biggest and meanest mosquito but I think distinction should go to NWT. At certain times of the day they will form big swarms around you, and it just about drives you crazy. Actually, we had to break out the mosquito nets we bought for Alaska but never used - until now.

We visited one of the local grocery stores here in Hay River to get a few supplies and were once again shocked at the prices. Not sure how people here do it. In general, prices are between 2 and 3 times what they are at home. On top of that, they have an environmental fee on milk plus a deposit on containers and then they top it all off with a 25 cent charge for each bag they use. Gas prices have ranged anywhere from .74 per liter to 1.23 per liter which is between $2.79/gal and $4.65/gal. Not great but better than the $7/gal we have seen on previous trips.

Just crossed the 60th Parallel and entered Northwest Territories


Lady Evelyn Falls




A steep trail leads down to the bottom of the falls.  The roar of the water and the water spray were awesome.



Water looks so calm right before it goes over the edge.


Alexandra Falls



There was a trail leading to the top of the falls where you could get right up to the edge.  The power of the water going over the edge was awesome.  Wouldn’t want to make a mis-step here or it would be a wild ride down!


Louise Falls



This is a 138 step spiral strair case leading down to a lower viewing area.


The Deh-Cho bridge across the mighty Mackenzie River.  The Mackenzie River is a major shipping channel from the end of the rail at Hay River NWT to the northern villages and on to the Arctic Ocean.  Up until a few years ago the crossing was via ferry in the summer, and an ice road in the winter.


Sunset over the Mackenzie River


An owl watches over our campsite as we pull into Lady Evelyn Falls Territorial Park.  When we first pulled in there were three owls on the picnic table.  All through the night they were flying among the trees near our campsite.

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Was out biking one of the wilderness trails and came across this nice pile of bear scat in the middle of the trail.  A very good motivator to give you that extra burst of energy you need to peddle faster … especially when you realize you forgot to bring the bear spray!


Looking out over Great Slave Lake near Hay River NWT.  No land in site as the far shore is approximately 100 miles away.  The town of Hay River has the look and feel of a seaside fishing village.


On the banks of Great Slave Lake


Track Logs:

Day 12 – Aug. 6, 2017, 200 miles driven


Day 13 – Aug. 7, 2017, 168 miles driven


Day 14 – Aug. 8, 2017, no miles driven

Day 15 – Aug. 9, 2017, 97 miles driven


Day 16 – Aug. 10, 2017, 38 miles driven


Day 17 – Aug. 11, 2017, 33 miles driven


Day 18 – Aug. 12, 2017, 97 miles driven