Kayaking among the Orcas/Killer Whales of British Columbia…

Kayaks belonging to the Sea Kayak Adventure group in the waters of Johnstone Strait, northeastern Vancouver Island.

Our sea kayaks wait patiently for us as we have lunch in a cove off of Johnstone Strait.

This is the first of my series of ‘oldies’ I am reposting from my archives to give new followers a taste of what they can expect to find on my blog. Peggy  and I made a trip to Vancouver Island, British Columbia in 2014 to go kayaking among the orca whales. The next post in the series can be found here:  https://wandering-through-time-and-place.com/2014/10/30/

I was nervous as we drove into the town of Port McNeill on the northeast shore of Vancouver Island in August. Peggy and I had signed up for a six-day sea kayak tour out of Telegraph Cove with Sea Kayak Adventures.We would be searching for orcas, which are also known as killer whales—as our son Tony, the Alaska Coast Guard pilot, reminded us. A little Jaws music, perhaps?

This orca was on display at the Whale Museum in Grove. I named him Smiley and addressed him as sir.

This orca skeleton was on display at the Whale Interpretive Center in Telegraph Grove. I named him Smiley and addressed him as sir.

“Okay, Curt, what have you gotten yourself into this time?” was bouncing around in my skull like a kangaroo on steroids. It’s a question I ask myself often.

I wasn’t nervous about the whales, however. I’ve spent my life communing with nature. Besides, these particular giants are gentle, relatively speaking; they get fat off the salmon in Johnstone Strait. They don’t need to eat people. But sea kayaking would be a first for me. The old dog had to learn new tricks, and that is always a reason to get excitable. Fortunately, Peggy and I had played around a fair amount with inflatable kayaks. We had even ventured out on challenging multi-day lake trips into remote areas such as Prince Albert National Park in Saskatchewan and Voyageurs National Park in Minnesota. So how hard could it be?

Aren't I pretty? There was no way I was going to make this skirt look good. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

Aren’t I pretty? No? Maybe I wasn’t meant to wear a skirt. This skirt is designed to fit snugly over the cockpit of the kayak and keep out the water.  It’s so snug that you really have to stretch it to fit, which isn’t easy— particularly around the back. My skirt and I had several discussions while I was learning how to make it behave. It learned new words. Ask Peggy. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

I confess I was more nervous about the idea of being on a tour. I am not much of a tour group person. This is a strange statement coming from someone who spent over a quarter of a century leading backpacking and bicycle fundraising treks for the American Lung Association. But the truth is— I am an independent cuss. I like to go where I want to go and stop when I want to stop. On an organized tour, I would be expected, even required, to adhere to the group schedule and itinerary. This isn’t a complaint. It has to be that way on group outings. Common sense and liability demand it.

And then there were the people. We’d be living closely with these folks for six days under potentially trying conditions. What would our guides be like? How about our fellow tour group members? Would we get along well? Would they be strange— even stranger than I am?

"Could I interest you in a cracker?" The tour promo promised good food, but it failed to mention the presentation. This is Nick, one of our three group leaders.

“Could I interest you in a cracker?” The tour promo promised good food, but it failed to mention the presentation. This is Nick from New Brunswick, one of our three group leaders. Note the sprig artfully shoved into the cheese.

Quy, another of our guides, is a gentle soul who in his other life works as a computer geek in Vancouver. So what is he doing with this knife?

Quy, another of our guides, is a gentle soul who in his other life works as a computer geek in Vancouver. So what is he doing with this knife?

Julia, our third guide and assigned trip leader, may use Quy's knife on me for this photo of her toes, but I couldn't help myself. And no, I don't have a foot fetish. My fascination was that these bare toes could run over sharp rocks. The last time I had feet that tough I was ten years old.

Julia, our third guide and assigned trip leader, hails from Germany and is quite charming. She may use Quy’s knife on me for this photo of her toes, but I couldn’t help myself. And no, I don’t have a foot fetish. My fascination with her toes was that they could run over anything, including  rocks. The last time I had feet that tough, I was ten years old.

And how about our fellow travelers? David is a psychologist out of LA. How much more strange can you get?

And how about our fellow travelers? David is a psychologist out of LA. How much stranger can you get than creating this mustache? Well maybe someone who kisses fish…

Well, maybe someone who kisses fish??? "But he was so beautiful," Lindy told me. He was dinner, Lindy,. Dinner.

“But he was so beautiful,” Lindy told me. He was dinner, Lindy. Dinner.

Regardless of how nervous I felt, the trip was simply too much of an opportunity to pass up. Like how could I not go on a sea kayaking adventure out among the orcas in beautiful British Columbia? As for Peggy, she is always up for adventure. When our friends Edie and David from Anchorage, Alaska called and asked if we would be interested in going, we gave a resounding yes. It turned out to be great decision. The guides, our fellow tour group members, and the incredible views were delightful. Even the orcas cooperated.

Today marks the beginning of my series on the trip. I’ll start by exploring the quaint town of Port McNeill. In my next post, we will climb in our kayaks and push-off from Telegraph Cove. The orcas are waiting. Let the adventure begin.

Harbor in Port McNeill on northeastern Vancouver Island. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

While the main source of employment for the people of Port McNeill is the timber industry, the town also has a charming harbor. Note the yacht in the background. It had its own helicopter.

I loved this guys sense of humor.

In case anyone was wondering. I loved this guy’s sense of humor.

Dolphin statue at Port McNeil on Vancouver Island, British Columbia.

Peggy, David and Edie pose in front of a dolphin statue that faces the harbor. Edie went to high school with Peggy in Ohio and runs a tax accounting firm in Anchorage. David is an Alaskan bush pilot who works on the North Slope, and is a published poet.

You are looking at Port McNeill's pride and joy: the worlds largest burl. Can you imagine this thing growing on a tree? (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

You are looking at Port McNeill’s pride and joy: the worlds largest burl. Can you imagine this thing growing on a tree? (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

Wicked Campers is now providing inexpensive travel vans and raucous humor in a number of countries.

Tourism is also an important industry for Port McNeill. Wicked Campers caught my attention. The company provides inexpensive travel vans and its raucous brand of  advertising in a number of countries.

We were also amused by Port McNeill's unique way of fund raising where bras are decorated and then auctioned off. Which of the following three would you vote for?

We were also amused by Port McNeill’s unique way of fund-raising where bras are decorated and then auctioned off. Which of the following three would you choose?

Given the ears, I am thinking Mickey Mouse was the inspiration.

Given the ears, I am thinking Minnie Mouse was the inspiration.

Bat woman?

Bat woman? Great eyes.

Dream catcher. Ouch.

Dream catcher? Ouch. This one would leave an impression.

Flowers at Port McNeill on Vancouver Island. photo by Curtis Mekemson.

The flower shop that featured the bras was closed so I couldn’t get inside to photo more of the entries. I did capture this petunia on the outside, however.

Mist in trees on Vancouver Island sea kayak trip. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

Mist in the trees. A final photo to whet your appetite. Let the adventure begin.

Don’t Feed the Bears in the Yukon, or Anywhere… The Alaska Highway Series

 

Yukon mountain and trees

Ho-hum, another day along the Alaska Highway— except there was nothing ho-hum about it. Our journey through Canada’s Yukon Territory took us past one breath-taking view after another.

 

We left Teslin with our fingers crossed that our spare tire would make it the hundred miles to White Horse. It was an okay tire, but it had seen 40 thousand miles! Lower 48 roads, no worry; Alaska Highway in the Yukon Territory, well maybe. Turns out, we made it fine. A Ford Dealer provided Quivera the Van with a new shoe and she was raring to go! The spare happily returned to being a spare.

Off we went, motoring across the Yukon Territory. Haines Junction, Kluane Lake, and White River came and went. In two days we were at the Alaska Border. Today’s photo essay will provide views of some of the sights we saw along the way.

Whitehorse, YT Mural

Getting our tire replaced in Whitehorse allowed us to wander around town and appreciate sights like this First Nation mural.

Dall sheep sculpture, White Horse

This handsome sculpture was outside the Visitor Information Center.

Stained glass, Whitehorse, YT

Inside, a stained glass window gave a fine representation of the country we were traveling through.

clouds and mountains along alaska highway

Back on the road, we were reminded that it seemed to go on forever…

Yukon Territory, Alaska Highway

Alaska Highway, Yukon Territory

Fireweed along Alaska Highway

Fireweed added bright splashes of color along the highway’s edge.

Do not feed bears, YT

A campground at Kluane Lake reminded us not to feed the bears. I am pretty sure the occupant of the bird house agreed. The bordering Kluane National Park was grizzly bear country and they often wandered in looking for food.

Grizzly Bear, Alaska

Why anyone would feel tempted to feed anything like this, I haven’t a clue! (I took this photo in Alaska but it fits here.)

Bear patrol

An ATV at the campground had this bear patrol sign on it, along with a pair of fearsome huskies.

Yukon scene

We searched the mountains behind the campground for grizzlies. We didn’t see any but we did see Dall Sheep.

Moose antlers, Yukon Territory

White River, where we stopped on our way back south, had an extensive collection of antlers to remind us of other occupants of the far north, such as moose.

Antlers on roof, White River, Yukon

One rooftop was covered in antlers.

Peggy with moose antlers at White River, YT

Peggy provides some perspective. How would you like to wear these on your head? This set weighed close to 50 pounds.

Yukon lake

A small wayside on a lake before we reached the Alaska Border gave us this view.

Reflection shot Yukon Territory

And a reflection shot.

Moth

A moth was in the pebbles next to the lake.

Duck family in Yukon Territory

And a family of ducks worked the edge.

Skinny Coyote

A very skinny coyote put in an appearance as we left.

Bob Bray, Linda Hart on Alaska-Yukon border

And finally, we reached Alaska, where Bob, Linda and Sister posed for us.

Alaska-Yukon Border

This sign showed the Alaska-Yukon Border. It’s my idea of the type of fence that should exist between nations.

Yukon Border

Looking back, we were reminded of our journey. Larger than life, indeed! Next Wednesday we head into the wilds of Alaska.

FRIDAY’S POST: It’s back to MisAdventures and who shot Pavy’s pig. It couldn’t have possibly have been the Mekemson kids, could it?

MONDAY’S POST: We continue our journey by raft through the Grand Canyon.

 

 

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The Yukon Territory: Canada’s Far North… The Alaska Highway Series— Part 4

A series of totem poles represented the different Tlingit First Nation clans at the Tlingit Heritage Center on Teslin Lake. This is beaver. I thought he would be a good kick-off to my posts on the Yukon Territory.

Peggy and I, along with our friends Bob Bray and Linda Hart continue to make our way north on the Alaska Highway in my Wednesday photo essay. Today we enter the Yukon Territory, a name that is almost synonymous with the Far North, at least in my mind. Sargent Preston and his dog King were big in my childhood! We didn’t enter with a bang, fortunately. We could have; a tire on our van had developed a large bubble. It was ready to pop! Fortunately, we were able to limp into the small town of Teslin and get it fixed at the local junk yard. The junk yard owner even turned out to be a shovel artist!

This bridge is a beauty backed up by some very impressive scenery. The beauty and the scenery aren’t why I was glad to see it, however. I was hoping the tire on our van that was threatening to blow at any minute would wait.

The tire with its tennis ball sized bubble. The steel belted bottoms of our tires handled the numerous pot holes of the Alaska Highway well. Not so much the side walls. We stopped at a small restaurant in Teslin and asked where we might go to replace the tire.  “Whitehorse” was the reply— 110 miles (177 Kilometers) up the road. “Not likely,” was my reply. “Well, you might try the local junk yard.” It came out more a question than an answer.

We were greeted by this. “Mmm, maybe not good,” Peggy mumbled. A small semi-derelict trailer was apparently the office. I knocked on the door. No one home. I went wandering out among the junked vehicles…

And found John, which is the name I sort of remember. He turned out to be a nice guy. “Well obviously the tire is dead,” he told us, “and I don’t have a replacement. But, I can put on your spare, and maybe you can make it to Whitehorse.”

In talking with John, we discovered he was something of an artist, painting both canvasses and shovels. He quickly agreed to break out his paintings for a photo.

One of his oil paintings of an old cabin.

On our way back south, Peggy and I spent more time at Teslin Lake, first camping there and then visiting the Tlingit First Nation Heritage Center. I decided that our two visits called for a post! Next Wednesday we will continue our journey up the Alaska Highway through the Yukon Territory.

We camped next to Teslin Lake and were treated to this view.

The clouds insisted on showing off. Distant shores suggested the size of the lake. And this was just looking across. The lake was much longer than it was wide.

I was surprised to find the Tlingit First Nation people with their Heritage Center on Teslin Lake since I normally think of the Tlingits and their fabulous totem poles as inhabitants of the coast from the American-Canadian border north. We were greeted with a line of totem poles at the Center that represented the different Tlingit clans. This is Raven.

Meet Frog.

I couldn’t help but think, “I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house down,” when we checked out Wolf.

Eagle with its hooked beak.

The Center was quite attractive and included both cloth and wood art representing the Tlingit people. This is Beaver with an extra tail and pair of rear legs.

And here we have Wolf with his tongue hanging out.

A number of carved masks were on display. I think that this is Eagle.

I’ll conclude with this carving and what appears to be a female representation. The Tlingit are a matrilineal society with property held and passed down by the women of the tribe.

FRIDAY’S MisAdventures POST: When mischief took place in the town of my youth, there was a mantra: The Mekemson kids did it.

MONDAY’S Travel Blog POST: We continue our journey down the Colorado River, stopping off at the Phantom Ranch. Tom wears Bone and I jump off a cliff.

WEDNESDAY’S Photo Essay POST: We continue on our journey through the Yukon Territory and arrive at the Alaska border.

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How Brunhilda the Cat Became Rasputin… A Tale from The Bush Devil Ate Sam

Liberian Peace Corps photo by Curtis Mekemson.

A fading black and white photo shows children in Gbarnga, Liberia mugging for my camera in 1965. Life wasn’t easy– check out the head loads.

In 1965, my first wife, Jo Ann, and I joined the Peace Corps, graduated from UC Berkeley, and flew off to the country of Liberia where we were assigned as elementary school teachers in the upcountry town of Gbarnga. My book, “The Bush Devil Ate Sam” relates our experiences at Berkeley and in Liberia.

January was the Liberian school equivalent of summer vacation and second year Peace Corps Volunteers took full advantage of it by chartering a jet airplane and flying off to East Africa. First year Volunteers were left behind and had to take on a ‘summer’ project.

I decided to write a second-grade reader while JoAnn worked with a blind student.

I had spent my first semester teaching a second-grade class where the children were expected to learn to read out of well-used 1950’s era California readers. It was hard for the kids to relate. The world of Dick and Jane in their big houses with white picket fences and white playmates in no way resembled the life of my kids in Gbarnga, as demonstrated by the photo above. As for Spot, he bore a striking resemblance to food.

I had plunged into my project: researching elementary school readers, gathering African folk tales, and putting together stories about the children that reflected their lives, not those of Dick and Jane. The country Peace Corps staff liked the book I submitted. They agreed to assign me an editor, an expert in elementary school education, and an illustrator. But it wasn’t to be. The government decided that my book on African Folk tales and Liberian children was somehow dangerous, a threat to its one-party state. Peace Corps told me to forget the book and not even bring it up in conversations. I might be kicked out of the country.

Fortunately, I had other things to occupy my mind. Jo and I had been assigned to teach at Gboveh High School our second semester and were moving across town. There were classes to prepare for and our ‘new’ house was in desperate need of a paint job. We had also assumed in loco parentis status. One of the second-year Peace Corps couples, Dick and Sandy Robb, had left four little female kittens to live with us while they flew off to East Africa. Our pay was to have the pick of the litter. Whoopee.

I had built our temporarily adopted cat family a three-story mansion out of cardboard. It was a maze of rooms, hanging toys, hallways and ramps. It even had a carpeted floor and a bathroom— a kitty litter box. The kittens would disappear inside and play for long periods. We could hear them banging around as they stalked each other and attacked the hanging toys.

In a creative moment inspired by the evening cocktail hour, we decided to use the house as an intelligence test to determine which kitten we would keep. First, we waited until the kittens were appropriately hungry, and then we brewed up their favorite meal, fish head stew. Here’s the recipe: Take several ripe fish heads and throw them in a pan of boiling water. When their eyes pop out, they’re done.

Next, we encouraged the kittens to sniff their gourmet dinner and showed them that the meal would be located just outside the ground floor door of their mansion. Now we were ready for the test. Each kitten would be placed inside the third story door and given a nudge. We would then close the door and time how long it took the kitten to reach the banquet. Our theory was that the kitten with the quickest time through the maze of hallways and ramps would be the brightest.

Grey Kitten # 1 was a pudgy little character that never missed a meal. My money was riding on her. She breezed through the maze in three minutes sharp and set the time to beat. There was a chance that the sound of her munching away on fish heads might inspire the other kittens on to even greater glory, however.

Grey Kitten #2 was one of those ‘whatever it is you want me to do I am going to do the opposite’ type cats. Not surprisingly, she strolled out of the door seven minutes later and ignored the food altogether. (Afterwards, we were to speculate that she was the most intelligent cat and blew the race because she had no intention of living with someone who made her go through a maze for dinner.)

Grey Kitten #3 was the lean and mean version. Scrawny might be a better description. She obviously needed dinner the most and proved her mettle by blazing through the house in two minutes. The contest was all but over.

Kitten # 4 was what pollsters normally classify as ‘other.’ To start with, she was yellow instead of grey. She was also loud. In honor of her operatic qualities, Jo had named her Brunhilda, after the Wagnerian opera star. By the time her turn came up, she was impatiently scratching the hand that was about to feed her and growling in a demonic way. I gladly shoved the little monster in the third story door and closed it. We heard a scrabbling on the other side as tiny claws dug into the cardboard floor. Her race down the first hall was punctuated by a loud crash on the other end. Brake problems.

Then she was up and running again, but it sounded like toward us. Had her crash disoriented her? Suddenly the third story door burst open and one highly focused yellow kitty went flying through the air. She made a perfect four-point landing and dashed to the dinner dish. Her time? Ten seconds.

And that is how Brunhilda came to be our cat. Our decision to keep her led us to turn her over and check out her brunhildahood a little more closely. Turns out she had a couple of furry little protuberances where there shouldn’t have been any. She was a he. In honor of Brunhilda’s demonic growl and generally obnoxious behavior, we renamed the kitten Rasputin after the nefarious Russian monk.

Rasputin surrounded by Rhinoceros beetles.

 

If you have enjoyed this story and the many other tales I share, you might also enjoy “The Bush Devil Ate Sam.” It’s available in both Kindle and paperback form here on Amazon. For other sources such as Apple, click on the book cover top right.

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The Striking Mucho Lake, Big Bison, and a Sign Forest… The Alaska Highway Series

Muncho Lake 6

Striking hardly describes Muncho Lake in British Columbia with its striking topaz waters and reflections of the surrounding mountains. The lake reaches a depth of  732 feet (223 m).

 

My Wednesday photographic essay will continue to take us up the fabled Alaska Highway. Last Wednesday we travelled from Dawson Creek to Toad River. I featured views along the way, the building of the highway during World War II, Stone Mountain Sheep, and some very busy beavers. Today we will travel from Toad River to Watson Lake in the Yukon Territory, a distance of 201 miles (324 K). Along the way we will visit the striking Mucho Lake, check out the large woodland bison that hang out beside the road, and view a few of the 70,000 town and city signs that have made their way to Watson Lake’s huge sign forest.

Toad River

After leaving Toad River Lodge and our visit with the busy beavers, we were treated to a view of the Toad River that parallels the road.

View along Alaska Highway in BC

And this view.

Muncho Lake north

We would stop to admire Muncho Lake both on our journey north to Alaska and on our trip back south. We were heading north when we caught this photo. (Note: all photographs in this series are taken by Peggy and me.)

Muncho Lake in British Columbia

We captured this view on our return trip down the Alaska Highway.

Muncho Lake on the Alaska Highway

As well as this photo.

Road construction, Alaska Highway, BC

Here’s a common sight along the highway: road construction. Tough winters and permafrost pretty much guarantee employment for road workers.

Road Construction along Alaska Highway

And here we go again, making our way through yet another construction project. Chipped windshields and damaged tires are common. We experienced both. We saw a bear somewhere in here. It may be the black spot on the left (or not).

Dall sheep ram on Alaska Highway

We also found this handsome fellow, another Stone Mountain sheep. What really got us excited, however…

Bison warning sign on Alaska Highway

Was this sign. We had entered the territory of the wood bison, also know as wood or mountain buffalo— as opposed to their cousins, the plains buffalo.

Woodland Bison and wallow in BC

And they begin to appear shortly afterwards. This one has made himself a convenient wallow, that he will wallow around in to get rid of bugs.

Woodland bison bull

These guys are big, with massive shoulders. They can weigh up to 2000 pounds (900 kilos), which make them the biggest land mammals in North America.

Herd of wood bison along Alaska Highway

We saw them both alone and in herds. They seem to like the edge of the highway for both its grazing opportunity and ease of travel.

Woodland bison calves

A pair of youngsters…

Welcome to the Yukon sign

Here’s a sign to thrill the heart of the most jaded of travelers. Canada’s Yukon Territory is almost synonymous with remote and wild. I grew up listening to daring tales of Sargent Preston of the Yukon and his faithful dog King. “On King! On you huskies, on!”

Watson Lake sign forest 5

Not far up the road from the Yukon border we came to Watson Lake with its Sign Forest of 77,000 signs from all over the world. If you wander around long enough, you might very well find a sign that was liberated from your hometown and placed here by someone traveling up the Alaska Highway.

Watson Lake sign forest

The tradition was started during the building of the Alaska Highway in 1942 when a soldier, Carl K. Lindley was asked by his commanding officer to erect directional signposts. While at the job, he added a sign for his own town of Danville, Illinois. The rest is history!

Watson Lake sign forest 4

The signs go on and on…

Peggy Mekemson at Watson Lake Sign Forest

I’ll close today’s post with a photo of Peggy to provide perspective on the height of the Sign Forest.

FRIDAY’S POST: A chapter from The Bush Devil Ate Sam, my book about my Peace Corps experience in the jungles of West Africa.

MONDAY’S POST: We continue our journey down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon.

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From Dawson Creek to Toad River… The Alaska Highway Series: Part II

British Columbia view along Alaska Highway

There is a much natural beauty along the Alaska Highway and a lot of wilderness— millions of square miles, as far as the eye can see.

The Alaska Highway, or the Alcan highway as it was known at the time, was a hurry up project, rarely if ever matched as an engineering feat. World War II was raging. The Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor and were threatening to invade Alaska, which they did in 1942, landing on the outer most islands of the Aleutian Chain. The only way to counter the threat was to travel by ship through the North Pacific or fly in by air. The US and Canada came to a quick agreement: a 1700-mile road (2700 K) would be built between Dawson Creek BC and Delta Junction, Alaska. It was a colossal project.

Sub-zero freezing temperatures ruled during the winter and suffocating heat dominated in the summer. Along with the heat came hordes of mosquitos, black flies, no-see-ems and other biting, blood-sucking insects. Temperatures were so cold in the winter that fires would be lit under equipment to warm it up enough to operate. Muskeg sucked the same equipment down into the mud in the summer, sometimes swallowing it whole.

Team sinking in mud when building Alaska Highway

Whoa! Working conditions along the Alaska Highway were not optimal. (grin) (Museums along the Alaska Highway feature numerous photos reflecting the difficulties encountered in building the road.)

Bulldozer buried in mud while building the Alaska Highway

This is a ‘what do we do now,’ pose. (Museum photo.)

Building log bridge on the Alaska Highway

Bridges were made from logs. (Museum photo.)

Recruitment notice for workers on building the Alaska Highway

While not as clear as I would like, this recruitment notice is worth reading. They should have won a prize for ‘truth in advertising.’ (Museum photo.)

WW II army truck on Alaska Highway

Lots of old equipment is also displayed along the highway.

Tow truck used on the Alaska Highway

Steam shovel used to build the Alaska Highway

Curt Mekemson standing on bulldozer used to build Alaska Highway

Here I am standing on one of the old bulldozers.

With the threat of an imminent invasion, there was no time to consider the usual niceties of road building. Some 11,000 soldiers and engineers, 16,000 civilians, and 7000 pieces of equipment were thrown at the epic undertaking. Airplanes flew out daily to help plan routes, ‘on the fly’ so to speak, while the men struggled under almost impossible conditions. Starting on March 2nd, 1942, the project was completed on September 24th, some eight months later.

It was rough, oh yes it was rough— steep, muddy roads, log bridges, trees laid down across muskeg 15-feet deep— but it was usable. At $140 million, it was the most expensive construction project of World War II.

Original Alcan Highway

A view of the old road on its completion. (Museum photo.)

Alaska Highway in British Columbia

And how much of it looks today.

The highway can still be a bit of a challenge, but not so much that 30-40 foot RVs aren’t seen in substantial numbers travelling north on it. For the most part, the road is paved except for construction work, which can seem to go on forever. And it is shorter, by some 300 miles!

Today, I will take you over the first 400 miles from Dawson Creek to the uniquely named Toad River. The thing about the scenery along the Alaska Highway is that it is all impressive, and the farther north you go the more impressive it becomes!

Green forests along Alaska Highway

Mountains and forests rule along the highway…

Blue mountains along the Alaska Highway in British Columbia

Mountains stretching off into the distance.

Rock Face along Alaska Highway

An impressive cliff face.

View along Alaska Highway in British Columbia

Between ranges the road follows rivers, all of which had to be crossed when building the highway.

River along Alaska Highway

Sikanni Chief River

This is the Sikanni Chief River.

Sign for Sikanni Chief River

As was noted by this totem pole sign.

Stone Mountain on Alaska Highway

We were excited to see Stone Mountain, not only for its beauty but because there was a good chance we would see Stone Mountain Sheep.

Stone Mountain sheep on Alaska Highway

We were not disappointed. The sheep had come down the mountain to eat the salt that had been washed off the road from the previous winter.

Being checked out by Stone Mountain sheep on Alaska Highway

They weren’t worried when we stopped, but they did check us out. Note the kids peeking out.

Stone sheep kid

To say that they were cute…

Stone sheep kid at Stone Mountain along the Alaska Highway

Is a considerable understatement.

Toad River Lodge on Alaska Highway

Not far up the road, we came to the Toad River Lodge, which is named after the Toad River. Roadhouses were common in the early days of the Alaska Highway and even up to the time when I first drove the road in 1986. It was hard to travel over more than a hundred miles a day on rough, unpaved roads. Many lodges are closed now, no longer needed.

Baseball caps at Toad River Lodge on Alaska Highway

The lodge was quite proud of its cap collection, some 7000 from all over the world. The name, so we were told, had derived from towed, not the warty frog. Before the Canadians and Americans had completed a bridge across the river in 1942, they had to be towed across it. So they named it the Towed River. Toad is much more creative.

Toat River Lodge Toad

This fellow was staring at us when we ate at the lodge.

Beaver dam near the Toad River along the Alaska Highway

We spent the night at lodge’s RV campground. This was the view from our campsite. It was obvious that beavers had been at work on building their own lodge.

Beaver dam and beaver along Alaska Highway

And we soon saw one of the lodge’s residents. Lower left. He/she was busy building a beaver dam to assure that their lodge continued to be prime, waterfront property.

Beaver Lodges and dam next to Toad River Lodge on Alaska Highway

A view of the dam, which was literally outside our door. The builders had certainly been ‘as busy as beavers.’

Beaver working on beaver dam

Beavers often work at night, so we were excited about having these chisel-toothed mammals continue their activity as we watched from a bench next to their lake.

Beaver pushing limb to Beaver Dam near Toad River Lodge

While they worked, for the most part, bringing limbs in from across the lake…

Beaver chewing on wood chip along Toad River

This didn’t stop them from stopping for an occasional snack from their dam building material! That’s it for the day… Next Wednesday, we will continue our journey up the Alaska Highway.

FRIDAY’S POST: MisAdventures finds me playing in the woods when I was growing up, a quick ten-minute walk from my home. While it may not have been wilderness, it was wilderness to me.

MONDAY’S POST: Peggy and I continue our journey down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon.

WEDNESDAY’S POST: We continue on our journey up the fabled Alaska Highway through Canada, reaching the Yukon Territory. A strikingly beautiful lake, big bison, and a sign forest of 70,000 signs are featured.

 

 

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Dogs and Dragons in British Columbia… The Alaska Highway Series

Fraser River at Hope, BC

The small town of Hope in southern British Columbia features this view of the Fraser River.

Adventure travel and the 1400-mile Alaska Highway go together like biscuits and gravy. I’ve driven it five times, once by myself in 1986 when I left Alaska to return to California and two round trips with Peggy since. The last time we traveled with our friends Bob and Linda Bray. Peggy and I were on our way up to visit our son and his family on Kodiak Island where Tony was working as a helicopter pilot flying rescue missions for the Coast Guard. Bob and Linda were going to join a nephew fishing for halibut.

Bob Bray

Bob Bray and I have been friends since he looked like this…

While driving the highway isn’t the challenge  that it once was, it still gives  travelers a taste of the Far North. Over the next few weeks I’ll take you over the highway from Dawson Creek, British Columbia to Anchorage Alaska as part of my Wednesday photo essays. Today, however, we have to get to Dawson Creek. There are various ways to reach the starting point but out last trip took us from Hope, British Columbia up through Prince George, which is the route we will follow today.

Alexandra Suspension Bridge across Fraser River

We followed Canada’s Highway 1/97 out of Hope following the Fraser River. One of our first stops was to admire the old Alexandra Suspension Bridge across the river. It’s a beauty that is no longer used.

Alexandra Suspension Bridge, BC

Another perspective on the Alexandra Bridge.

Grates on Alexzandra Bridge, BC

Looking down through the grates at the Fraser River!

World's largest cross country skis, 100 mile house, BC

The Visitor Information Center at the 100-mile house featured the world’s largest cross-country skis! Communities throughout Canada use such fun gimmicks to capture the attention of tourists.

William's Lake Visitor's Center, BC

I am a fan of tourist information centers in British Columbia. In addition to being chock-full of information and friendly people, they are often beautifully done, like this example in William’s Lake.

William's Lake Visitors Center

This car in the William’s Lake Visitor Center was a spoof on how much stuff tourists load on top of their cars.

Hanging basket petunias closeup, BC

Hanging baskets of petunias were featured outside. While such baskets are common now, I first became familiar with them on a trip to British Columbia in the late 60s.

Peggy kayaking on Dragon Lake, Quesnel, BC

We stopped at an attractive campground on Dragon Lake in Quesnel where Peggy went kayaking to celebrate her birthday.

Peggy Mekemson Kayaking in Quesnel

A closer look.

Ducklings on Dragon Lake near Quesnel, BC

Peggy’s Birthday Parade

Weaving dog agility trials in Quesnel, BC

The next morning, we found the campground had gone to the dogs. We were in the middle of dog agility competition. This little fellow was weaving between posts.

Dog agility trials, jumping in Quesnel, BC

Size didn’t matter in the trials. These bars were lowered for the little fellow shown above.

Dog agility trials in Quesnel, BC tunnel

Dogs are required to maneuver through a number of different obstacles including tunnels. The clock is ticking.

Dog agility trials, across bridge in Quesnel, BC

Watching the owners was as fun as watching the dogs. The woman in pink is urging her dog along. The man running along behind is the judge.

Fraser River Valley

The country changes as you move into the interior of British Columbia, becoming drier.

Train tracks along Fraser River

Rivers have always served as access to the interior, first for river travel and then for building railroads and roads along.

Wood carving of Praying Mantis at Chetwyn, BC

We were in for a real treat when we came to the town of Chetwynd, which is close to Dawson Creek. Wood carvers had been at work in an international competition. This praying mantis had taken first prize but it had a lot of competition!

Pumpkin scarecrow wood carving at Chetwynd

Such as this scary pumpkin head scare crow…

Drangon carving at Chetwyn, BC

And this dragon with an attitude. Or…

Dragon slayer Chetwynd woodcarving

…a bas-relief of St. George slaying a dragon.

Carving at Chetwynd, BC

Or this old gold miner apparently telling you to stay out of his claim.

Scary carving at Chetwynd

I am not sure what this fellow is up to but I wouldn’t want to meet him on a dark night— or in the middle of the day.

Mile zero of the Alaska Highway

And then we made it to Dawson Creek and mile 0 of the Alaska Highway. Bob, Linda and Sister.

Sign at Beginning of Alaska Highway in Dawson Creek

Peggy and I. Next Wednesday, we begin our trip up the Alaska Highway.

 

FRIDAY’S POST: Another in the MisAdventures series. I abandon the Graveyard for the Pond.

MONDAY’S POST: Rafting down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon.

WEDNESDAY’S POST: We begin our journey up the Alaska Highway.

 

 

 

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Good Monkey; Bad Monkey… A Visit to an Eco-Tourist Lodge in the Amazon

Spider Monkey hug

This spider monkey adopted Peggy. Here it gives Peggy a monkey hug. Later, Peggy wondered where all of her flea bites came from…

Spider monkey hitches a ride

Monkey hug from the back.

 

“The war of the future will be between those who defend nature and those who destroy it. The Amazon will be in the eye of the hurricane. Scientists, politicians, and artists will land here to see what is being done to the forest.” —Jacques Cousteau

 

Cousteau’s statement to Dr. Francisco Bernardino inspired him to erect the Ariau Amazon Tower Lodge in the mid 80s to accommodate the expected influx of ‘artists, scientists and politicians,’  which it did up until it was closed in 2015, attracting such luminaries as Bill Gates, Prince Charles and Jimmy Carter, not to mention the Mekemsons.

Since it was located a mere 30 miles outside of Manaus on the Rio Negro River, Peggy and I decided to visit. We ended up staying in the same room that Jimmy Carter had occupied. Today’s photo essay reflects our stay there and how we hung out with the monkeys…

Amazon jungle lodges

The Ariau is located at number 3 on the map. We took a boat out of Manaus to get there.

Map of Ariau Amazon Tower

This is a map of the complex with its long walkways that wander throughout the rainforest.

Jungle walkway in Brazil

A view of the walkways. Peggy and I had a lot of fun hiking on them, whether we were accompanied by our monkey friends or not.

Peggy Mekemson on jungle walkway

Peggy on one of the walkways in the tree canopy.

Jungle walkway at Ariau Lodge in Brazil

Another view.

View from Ariau Lodge walkway

Looking out at one of the sights along the walkway.

Boat on Rio Negro River

We arrived from Manaus on this double-decker boat.

Ariau Lodge pickup stick look

You didn’t want to spend a lot of time thinking about the structure. I doubt that it would meet earthquake standards. Pickup sticks come to mind.

Our room at the Ariau Lodge

We stayed in the Jimmy Carter room. The eel reminded me of current politics. You don’t want to be a small fish.

Treehouse room at Ariau Lodge

Not to disparage Carter, who I really like, but I would have preferred to stay in the Tarzan suite shown here. It was nestled up in the top of a tall ebony tree.

Snake tongue and Bone

Bone put in an appearance.

Wooley Amazon monkey

Wooly and Spider Monkeys were found around the lodge and out on the walkways. This Wooly Monkey was behaving how monkeys are supposed to behave, dangling by his tail from a tree.

Wooly monkey hat

And this one wasn’t. It isn’t my best photo. (grin) I was not happy about having a monkey for a hat!

Monkey rear view

When I suggested that he go play with an anaconda out in the jungle, he wrapped his tail around my arm and treated me to this view.

Scary monkey

And then gave me the evil monkey look…

a handful of monkey

Before threatening to take a chunk out of my hand.

Spider monkey near Manaus

Peggy got the good monkey. Given its heart-shaped face and adoring look, this seems an appropriate time to wish everyone a Happy Valentines Day!

Spider Monkey mouth

I will note that the spider monkey had an impressive set of choppers.

Peggy with spider monkey

When Peggy sat down, it settled into her lap and hammed it up for the camera..

Spider monkey in lap

Before deciding to take a nap.

Spider monkey on Peggy's lap

Monkey feet

I decided its feet and our “Travelers’ Tales of Brazil” would make a fitting photo to close my posts on the Amazon.

 

FRIDAY’S POST: I learn about cross-cultural relations as a second-grader— on a queen sized bed.

MONDAY’S POST: We finally start to make our way down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon while fighting a strong headwind.

WEDNESDAY’S Photo Essay POST: Peggy and I begin a trip up the Alaska-Canada Highway, one of the world’s premier adventure-travel roads.

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The One, the Only, the Interview with Bone….

Bone has been in many tough situations in his life; he can handle tough questions. Here he rests on top of a saguaro cactus in Arizona looking for border patrol agents. His lack of official papers, or even a birth certificate, can cause problems at times. President Trump has yet to tweet about him, however.

 

One of the more recent followers of this post, Gunta, was doing an Internet search on Tom Lovering a week or so ago when she came across this interview that Bone did— and laughed a lot. Again, many of you will have read this interview, but I am reposting it on behalf of the new folks who have joined my blog in the past year.

 

Q: Do you really talk? We’re speaking ethics here, Bone. Blogging is about transparency. That means honesty.

A. Are you crazy? Have you ever heard a bone talk? Of course I don’t talk. I just think out loud.

Q: Curt sometimes refers to you as he. Does this mean you are a male bone?

A. No. He makes assumptions, lot of them. He was showing me to a biologist at a writers’ conference and she suggested I have my DNA tested. “Just cut a small chip off of it,” she said nonchalantly. “You can determine its sex and breed.”

“Just cut a small chip off of it!Outrageous! I am not some it to have chips cut out of. Besides, I lead a rich fantasy life and have no desire to know whether I am male or female. Call me she, he, or Bone, but never it.

Um, I think Bone is definitely a male in this photo. –Curt

Q: You have travelled all over the world and met thousands of people. How do they usually react to you?

A. With befuddlement. You should have seen the look on the face of the customs agent in New Zealand who tried to seize me as ‘animal matter.’ But emotions run the gamut. There was a Japanese man who got off a tour bus at Yellowstone National Park and wanted to hold me for good luck. Soon there were 40 other Japanese handing me around, oohing, and taking photos. I was thrilled. On the opposite side, I know a woman who refuses to touch me, like I have cooties. “I don’t know where Bone has been,” she states primly. Not surprisingly, there is also jealousy. “I want to be you and travel the world,” a good friend in Sacramento told me.

Some people act like I have cooties. This woman almost dropped me and then washed her hands! –Bone

Her daughter, on the other hand, so to speak, understands proper bone etiquette and respect. –Bone

Q:  What is your favorite thing to do?

A. Visit graveyards; there are lots of old bones there. My favorite grave is Smokey Bear’s in Capitan, New Mexico. I once stood on his tombstone for ten minutes trying to communicate but all I could get was something about ‘growling and a prowling and a sniffing the air.’ A close second is the grave of Calamity Jane in Deadwood, South Dakota. What a woman! These are difficult choices, though, when you toss in the likes of Hemingway, Daniel Boone and Billy the Kid. On the light side I once visited Ben and Jerry’s graveyard of discarded ice cream flavors in Vermont. My spookiest experience was a visit to the Capela dos Ossos, the Chapel of Bones, in Evora, Portugal. Those folks definitely have a skeleton in their closet, lots of them.

Bone has a special fondness for unusual graves. Here he hangs out with Billy the Kid in New Mexico. Has he been in a shoot out? Is that blood on his vest?

Q: So, what’s your second most favorite?

A. Too hard; I am a dilettante dabbler, but here are a few.

  • Wandering, of course, anywhere and everywhere and by all modes: bikes, kayaks, rafts, skis, backpacks, sailboats, planes, helicopters, trains, cars, RVs, etc.
  • Visiting wild, remote and beautiful natural areas. I started life wandering the Sierra Nevada Mountains, John Muir’s Range of Light.
  • Seeking out the strange such as ghosts and aliens (I’ve been to Roswell four times).
  • Attending unique events like Burning Man but I also have a fondness for any type of fair.
  • Meeting weird people like Tom.

Bone backpacking on the John Muir Trail.

Tom being eaten by a bony desert monster.

Q: Speaking of Tom, he and Curt ‘discovered’ you in 1977 and you have wandered extensively with both. Which do you like best?

A. Eeyore, the jackass who can’t keep track of his tail. We’re traveling companions and he saved me from being strung up and buried on Boothill in Tombstone, Arizona. I’d robbed a bank, cheated at cards and hung out with women of questionable character. (This is what I mean by having a rich fantasy life. It’s also known as evasion.)

“I was in deep trouble in Tombstone. Wyatt Earp had arrested me for robbing a bank and Doc Holiday was checking me for weapons.”

“My life as Bone was in serious jeopardy.”

“Odds were I was going to end up on Boothill, along with Billy Clanton.”

“But then the ever brave Eeyore came to my rescue! I hopped on his back and we went riding off into the sunset while leaping over large rocks.”

Q: Which of your journeys has been most memorable?

A. I would have to say traveling the length of Africa in the back of a truck from the Sahara Desert in the north to Cape Town in the south. Almost falling off the back of a riverboat into a piranha infested section of the Amazon River would have to be a close second. I was perched on the back railing doing a photo shoot. And then, of course, there was the 10,000-mile bike trip.

“I was much smarter when I rafted down the Colorado. I wore a life jacket!”

“That didn’t protect me from pirates. The dreaded pirate Steve held a knife to my throat and demanded to know where I buried my treasure.”

Q: You are often seen scrambling over rocks in remote sections of the Southwestern United States. What’s that all about?

A. I’ve developed a fondness for Native American Rock art. It resonates with my bone-like nature. It’s also another excuse to go wandering around in the outdoors. Plus, some those places might be haunted and it is a great place to look for UFOs. Some of the petroglyphs look amazingly like aliens. Finally, wandering in the desert is known to be good for the soul. Ask the Prophets of yore.

“How can this guy and his strange dog not be aliens?”

“Here I am making tracks across White Sands National Monument in New Mexico. It’s a great place to watch out for UFOs.”

Q: Ah, being a born-again bone, do you have any insights into the great unknown?

A. Ommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Q: Finally, and this may be a little sensitive, but do you always run around naked?

A. What kind of a question is that? Do you think I am uncivilized? For shame. I am the epitome of haute couture! A bow and arrow toting, card-carrying NRA member in Montana has designed and made me two leather vests. What’s more, an 80 plus year old woman in Kansas going on 20 with a crush on Johnny Depp and a room devoted to the Egyptian gods has made me a kilt and several other outfits. Then there is the horse woman actress in Ohio whose husband is an ex-secret service agent who has promised me an outfit and the artist head of a PR firm in the Bahamas who has promised me another. Face it; I am hot stuff, clothed or naked. I may take up a modeling career.

Rod Hilton fashions a new leather vest for bone.

“My Bahamian/Canadian friend makes me a new vest in the wilds of Montana.” 

Bone, wearing his newly made kilt, fights off a ferocious sea monster in a scene straight out of ‘Pirates of the Caribbean.’

MONDAY’S POST: Back to the Grand Canyon.

The History of the Bone… Forty Years and Still Wandering

Bone has travelled twice to the base of Mt. Everest.

Since Bone played a prominent role in our raft trip down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, I decided to republish his history and an interview he did. This is mainly for the folks who follow my blog and aren’t familiar with his exploits. Many of you will have read today and tomorrow’s posts.

Sometime in the 1900s Bone started his life as part of a horse wandering through the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The horse was allegedly eaten by a bear. Bone ended up in a high mountain meadow practicing Zen and being nibbled on by a miscreant rodent.

1977: He was ‘discovered’ by two lost backpackers (Curt Mekemson and Tom Lovering) on the Tahoe Yosemite Trail above Lake Tahoe and launched his career of wandering the world.

Normally, Bone likes to hang out in our library at home. His favorite section is travel.

He also has a fondness for George, the Bush Devil who is on the cover of my book, “The Bush Devil Ate Sam.” Here, the two of them share a laugh.

1980-81: Bone commenced his first World Tour with Tom.  He visited Asia including Japan, Hong Kong, Bombay, Delhi and Katmandu where he trekked to the base of Mt. Everest. He then wandered on to spend spring and summer in Europe stopping off in Greece, Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, Austria, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Germany, Belgium, England and Ireland. Getting cold, Bone headed south and hitched a ride in back of a truck through Algeria, Niger, Chad, Nigeria, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Zaire, Sudan, Kenya (where he crossed the Equator), Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa. He signed on with Tom as crew of a sailboat in Cape Town and headed north to Mallorca, stopping off on the islands of St. Helena, Ascension, Cape Verde and Madeira. Back in Europe he explored his possible Viking roots in Sweden, Norway and Finland.

1983-86: Bone assumed Cheechako status and moved to Alaska with Curt where he was stalked by a grizzly bear on the Kenai Peninsula, explored Prince William Sound by kayak, learned to winter camp in 30 degree below zero weather while listening to wolves howl, backpacked in the Brooks Range north of the Arctic Circle, and discussed the finer points of eating salmon with Great Brown Bears in Katmai National Park. He escaped briefly to the warmer climate of Hawaii and participated in New Orleans Mardi Gras.

One look at this fellow and Bone decided that he wanted to be elsewhere.

Alaska Brown Bear playing with moose bone.

The big guy was playing with a distant cousin of his.

1986: He backpacked the Western US for five months with Curt exploring the Grand Canyon, the Gila Wilderness of New Mexico, the Rockies, and the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming before returning to his beloved Sierras.

1989: Bone went on a six month 10,000-mile solo bike tour with Curt around North America visiting 18 states and 4 Canadian provinces. He ended his journey by meeting Peggy.

In the spring of 1989 I left Sacramento on my bike for a 10,000 mile solo trip around North America. Everything I would need to survive for six months on the road was packed on my bike, some 60 pounds of gear. It wasn’t totally solo. Bone was riding in my handle bar bag.

1990: The International Society of the BONE was formed at Senior Frogs in Mazatlan, Mexico, where Bone spent the afternoon being pickled in a pitcher of margaritas and being kissed by lovely senoritas.

1991-97: Various members of International Society accompanied Bone on numerous adventures. Highlights included a White House Press Conference with Bill Clinton, being blessed by the Pope in St. Peter’s Square, visiting with Michelangelo’s David, going deep-sea diving in the South Pacific and Caribbean, doing a Jane Austin tour of England, and exploring the Yucatan Peninsula. A group adopted him as a good luck charm and took him back to visit the base of Mt. Everest one year and to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro another.

Bone loves high places. Here he is on top of Mt. Kilimanjaro in East Africa. (He’s with MJ, fourth from right, standing.)

Bone went diving in the Pacific in 1997 with Jose and Barbara Kirchner, visiting a Japanese ship sunk during World War II and receiving his diving certificate.

1998-99: Bone embarked on 40,000-mile journey in the van, Xanadu, through the US, Canada and Mexico with Peggy and Curt, visiting over 30 National Parks, driving the Alaska and Baja Highways, checking out Smokey the Bear’s and Calamity Jane’s graves, kayaking in the Sea of Cortez, leaf peeping in Vermont, jetting to the Bahamas, pursuing flying saucers in Roswell, New Mexico, and completing his visits to all 50 states, etc. etc. etc.

Bone was quite impressed with the size of his ancient relatives. Here he rests on dinosaur toes at the Dinosaur National Monument Visitor Center.

2000-02: Bone journeys up the Amazon, returns to Europe, cruises to Belize, Cancun and the Cayman’s, and goes to New Zealand where a misguided customs agent tries to arrest and jail him as animal matter.

Peggy and I found this mudstone concretion in New Zealand on a South Island beach. Bone, who likes strange things, insisted on having his photo taken with it.

2003: Bone undertakes a 360-mile backpack trip in celebration of his discovery and Curt’s 60th birthday. They begin at Squaw Valley near Lake Tahoe and end by climbing Mt. Whitney. Various friends join them along the way.

Bone got a little high when he helped me celebrate my 60th birthday,  which isn’t surprising considering  he is a California bone.

2004: Bone visits Hemingway’s grave in Idaho, goes horseback riding with Australians and Bahamians in Montana, and makes his first pilgrimage to Burning Man in Nevada, a very Bone like type of place. He also jets off to Costa Rica.

Bone has a love for anything ancient. Here, he perches on a Mayan sculpture in Costa Rica.

2005-2007: Bone returns to Burning Man twice and revisits Europe twice including special stopovers in Portugal, France, Holland, Germany, and Belgium. He also revisits Mexico.

2008 – 2011: Bone commences another exploration of North America. This time he travels in the van, Quivera, along with Curt, Peggy, and Eeyore the Jackass. His journey takes him over 75,000 miles of American Roads. In May of 2010 he helps Curt initiate his blog, and rafts 280 miles down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon.

2012-2017: Bone goes into semi-retirement in Southern Oregon. Please note the semi, however. He continues the exploration of the West Coast ranging from Big Sur to Vancouver Island, where he kayaks for a week in search of Killer Whales. He wanders through England and Scotland helping Curt find his roots and spends a week traveling by Canal Boat. Later, he returns to Europe again, traveling through the Mediterranean visiting Turkey, Santorini and other Greek Islands, Dubrovnik, Venice, Rome, Pompeii, Florence, and Barcelona. He returns to Burning Man several times.  On one trip, he is married to the lovely Bonetta, who he met while exploring a swamp in Florida. Rumor has it that it was a shotgun wedding. This past year he traveled with Peggy and me on our 10,000 mile trip around North America retracing my bike route and with fellow blogger Crystal Truelove to visit with Native Americans of the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma.

Burning Man is one of Bone’s all-time favorite activities.

Bone and Big Nose Bonetta are married at Burning Man 2013. Bone’s kilt was made for him by an 80-plus year old woman from Kansas. Bonetta is wearing a designer wedding dress with very expensive plastic jewelry to match.

Bone got a wee bit jealous when I snuggled up to this mammoth of a bone when Peggy and I were re-visiting by van my 1999 10,000-mile bike trip last year.

TOMORROW’S POST: You won’t want to miss the interview with Bone!

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