Ordinary by Dave Hileman

One of the common birds in Raleigh is a White-crowned Sparrow. They were also abundant in Alaska and in breeding plumage were striking.

“What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it.” Matthew 10:20 NLT

DSCF6919.jpeg

Last Row by Dave Hileman

This tractor belongs to Chris Reindel - out in the back lot of his North Dakota Ranch. Loved walking around their original 160 homestead acres.

DSCF1606.jpeg

Apt Name by Dave Hileman

This shot is from the Craters of the Moon National Monument. What a remarkable landscape, old volcanic ash mountains, jumbled black rock piles, twisted, gnarled trees and more that makes you think of alien worlds. There is a reason some astronaut training was held here.

DSCF5256.jpeg

Athabasca Falls by Dave Hileman

Athabasca Fallsl in Jasper National Park on the upper Athabasca River just west of the Icefields Parkway is a really loud, fast waterfall that has cut a narrow canyon that increases the noise and the fury of the water. Very cool place.

DSCF2140.jpeg

Studebaker by Dave Hileman

This 1949 Studebaker Champion was in the collection of the Alaska Museum of Transportation in Wasilla. Clearly oversprayed at one point with a second color, I think the red. Now rusting away in a field.

DSCF6707.jpeg

Kennecott Copper Mine by Dave Hileman

This is my favorite photo of the town of Kennicott and the Kennecott Mine. (Spelling is different for each one!) It was taken on July 4th when almost everyone - rangers, tour guides, tourists, locals were down the hill for the McCarthy Fourth of July Parade. We had the street to ourselves. That is the original train station on the right, this street was actually two lines of railroad track and wagons and such rode a street below or above where we are now. The mine office and assay room is in the house like building just beyond the station.

DSCF4577.jpeg

Tasty Bonus Post by Dave Hileman

I’m upstairs working and at the top of my ladder appears this delicious cupcake, hand delivered. The only thing sweeter than the cupcake is the granddaughter who made it specially for me. It was excellent. Thanks, Ellary.

IMG_2147.jpeg

Alaska Recap: The Experience by Dave Hileman

This trip was planned over a three year window (and funded the same!) Most of the plans worked and some were complex involving tight schedules and potential capricious weather. Lots of days were tiring. This was not a sit and relax trip - most of ours are not. We were up early, drove a lot, did a lot and went to bed tired. We met a lot of interesting and generous people and saw not just the usual tourist sights, though we did include them and they are well known and often visited for a reason, they are amazing. But we also spent time in small towns like Palmer seeing old farms, in some small parks with few if any other people. We were in some neat homes, old mines, small churches and hikes where the best views were the flowers at your feet or the White-Crowned Sparrow like you had seen scores of times in Raleigh. We spent more than we ever have, drove more, flew more, were gone longer and might have worn out a truck and the trip was worth every moment. The magnificent scenery is not just a park here and there but every mile you travel opens up yet another vista and every hike you take leads to another intimate scene with a small waterfall, a fisherman alone in a stream or a baby duck just learning to swim. We were blessed to be able to take this journey and are enriched by a thousand memories.

“Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise! No one can measure his greatness.” Psalm 145:3 NLT

Our first view of Denali. You look at the horizon and the thick clouds and wonder where it is then some clouds and blown away and you are awed by the scope and grandeur of this incredible peak that rises well over all the other mountains. And here we did not even see the top. Thankfully we did on visit two to the park.

Our first view of Denali. You look at the horizon and the thick clouds and wonder where it is then some clouds and blown away and you are awed by the scope and grandeur of this incredible peak that rises well over all the other mountains. And here we did not even see the top. Thankfully we did on visit two to the park.

Alaska Recap: The Numbers by Dave Hileman

We were gone 124 days on this long trip. We drove 19,487 miles in 17 states, two provinces and one territory. Seat time in the truck was 480 hours. We also used six ferries, 2 small ships, 1 water taxi, one air boat, five commercial flights, three small aircraft, two flights in a sea plane, three taxies, a train and seven buses (and a partridge in a pear tree). We walked a lot with an average day exceeding 10,000 steps. The farthest we were from Raleigh was 4820 miles in Utqiagvik, Alaska. 

Our single largest expense was fuel. We averaged more than 13 mpg but still spent $4,585 for 1474 gallons (average $3.11 gallon). Least expensive fuel was $2.21 gallon and the most costly came in at $7.69 in the Yukon. Our other expenses were close to planned budget. We spent $2,652 for food other than groceries. That is all other food, coffee, ice cream, dinners, snacks etc. That works out to $147 a week, not too bad on vacation mode and we ate very well. Campgrounds added $2,800 and repairs and maintenance $1,435. So, excluding admissions, excursions, hotels etc. the trip cost $10,172 or about $2,500 a month. We of course, did not have regular house expenses during this time and had canceled some things so a significant portion of that amount came from our usual expected expenses, just spent in a different venue.

I spent a lot of time in the driver’s seat.

I spent a lot of time in the driver’s seat.

Alaska Recap Five: The Campsites by Dave Hileman

Out of the 124 days we were gone, six nights were not spent in our trailer. That is a lot of time in 90 square feet and a lot of different experiences in overnight stops. We actually stayed in 80 different locations. 20 were free when we stayed at friends or places like Cracker Barrel, Wal-Mart, Fred Meyer and Cabelas. There were 6 Harvest Hosts nights that we pay an annual fee to belong, these were no charge nights along the way at farm stands, museums and wineries. Two of our more memorable places were Harvest Host locations. There were 27 different commercial campgrounds, always the most expensive option but they offer lots of services (or most do). There we can dump tanks, fill water, charge everything and, often, use WiFi. We also camped in nice sites in 8 National Parks (1 Canadian) - very economical and 20 nights at various Forest Service, BLM, Provincial, State or City parks ranging in cost from $5 to $20. Our average weekly cost for  lodging was just a bit over $150. Since the average cost of one night at a US hotel is $132 and in Alaska the average is $275 taking the trailer was a huge savings. Even figuring extra fuel costs and maintenance we were able to travel many more days than if we had to pay for hotels. I will be posting under the “camping” tab many of these sites starting on Monday. I will also post a data base of all the sites next week.

A Harvest Host night at Hansen’s Dairy in Iowa.

A Harvest Host night at Hansen’s Dairy in Iowa.

Alaska Recap Four: The Birds by Dave Hileman

My expectations for new birds and better views of birds I have seldom seen were rather low. I intended to see a Willow Ptarmigan and get some good eagle and puffin shots but did not know what else to expect. It was really good and I added 32 new birds to my life list that is now at 393. I will do a Bird Week soon but among the coolest birds I saw were horned and tufted puffins, ptarmigans, jaegers, red-throated grebes, snow buntings and the long elusive Spruce Grouse that I tried to see every time we were in Acadia.

Yellowlegs Lunch in the Fast Casual Category

Yellowlegs Lunch in the Fast Casual Category

Alaska Recap Three: The Animals by Dave Hileman

Stars of the trip have to be the grizzly bears. We saw 33 over the whole trip most of them in the three big parks, Lake Clark, Katmai and Denali. Several of them were quite close and ranged from a six month old cub to 1100 pound mature males. We saw them catching salmon and failing to do so, chasing a wolf, playing with each other and eating grasses and berries.

Among the other animals we saw were big horn sheep, mountain goats and dall sheep, scores of caribou, about 18 moose, one wolf, two coyotes, bison, mule deer, white tail deer, a large porcupine, elk, several black bear, dozens of sea otters, humpback whales, two pods of orcas, sea lions, stellar sea lions, marmot, ground squirrels, spotted seals, harbor seals, a fin whale and lots of pronghorns.

DSCF7286.jpeg

Alaska Recap Two: The Parks by Dave Hileman

The opportunity to visit units of the National Park Service started in Nebraska. The two we stopped at in Northern Nebraska were a bit of a disappointment - the first was in flood stage so very little was open and we viewed the river from a high bluff at Mulberry Bend. The second one included an historic bridge that we made our target for the park, it was underwhelming. In fact, it looked like an ordinary bridge and the superstructure that might have been interesting was not really visible from above and there were no paths to get under the bridge. However, from that point on, the parks were excellent. We visited 31 parks for the first time and revisited an additional eight including Olympic, Yellowstone and Grand Teton. Some were challenging, Wrangell-St Elias requires a drive of 59.8 miles on a pitted, bumpy, dusty, bone shaking gravel road, a walk across a long bridge over rapids and a five mile ride in a van to arrive. Lake Clark, Katmai are accessed by air in little four passenger planes, Inupiat Heritage Center requires long commercial flights to the edge of the Arctic Ocean and others, Glacier Bay, Kenai Fjords & San Juan Islands you take ships while Sitka we used both - three plane rides and a ferry. It was good to drive to most of those in the lower 48. We enjoyed more than we expected most every park, save the two in Nebraska and, perhaps, the Agate Fossil Bed and the Hagerman Fossil Beds. Simply not that interested in the fossils. We were touched by the Minidoka Park and the birthplace of George Washington Carver. Pea Ridge, Whitman Mission, Wind Cave and Fort Union were surprising. The Alaska parks are simply breathtaking and magnificent. We now are at 253 of the 419 parks.

The parks in order as we visited:

Missouri National Recreation new

Niobrara National Scenic River new

Wind Cave NP new

Mount Rushmore NM

Jewel Cave NM new

Badlands NP

Minute Man NHS new

Devils Tower NM new

Theodore Roosevelt NP, South and North units

Knife River Indian Villages NHS new

Fort Union NHS new

Klondike Gold Rush NHP  Skagway and Seattle units new

Glacier Bay NP new

Sitka NHP new

Wrangell St. Elias NP, North and South units new

Denali NP new

Katmai NP new

Kenai Fjords NP new

Inupiat Heritage Center new

Lake Clark NP new

Olympic NP

San Juan Islands NHS new

Whitman Mission NHP new

Nez Perce NHP (four of 38 sites) new

Hagerman Fossil Beds NM new

Minidoka NHS new

Craters of the Moon NM new

Grand Teton NP

John D Rockefeller Memorial Parkway

Yellowstone NP

Agate Fossil Beds NM new

Nicodemus NHS new

Fort Scott NHS new

George Washington Carver NHP new

Pea Ridge NMP new

Buffalo National River new

Wilson’s Creek NB new

Ozark NSR, Big Springs and Alley Springs new

Natchez Trace Parkway

Looking down from the top of the stamping mill at Kennecott - 15 stories high, in Wrangell St Elias NP

Looking down from the top of the stamping mill at Kennecott - 15 stories high, in Wrangell St Elias NP

Looking Up, the first photo was taken from that rickety open platform on the top of the mill.

Looking Up, the first photo was taken from that rickety open platform on the top of the mill.

Alaska Recap One, the Moose by Dave Hileman

Cadillac’s Most Correct Viewpoint

Good, I have the whole post, this is how things ought to be done. 

Much news to share with my vast and rapt audience. I’m afraid one item is going to be sad. The most disappointing news is that I must suspend my Presidential Campaign. I know that hundreds of you are staring aghast at your screen right now, maybe through tears. It was not a choice but forced upon me by an inadequate system. It appears, even given my wildly popular campaign and the clear choice of most thinking voters, that I am NOT on the ballot in ANY state. Who knew of such a thing. So, my campaign strategist team is looking into this farce but so far we see no way forward for 2020. Look out 2024 cause we will be prepared. I will still campaign in the extreme south this year sowing the ground for our next effort. 

The campaign suspension notice like the announcement made in the Bull Moose Party tradition, on the rails.

The campaign suspension notice like the announcement made in the Bull Moose Party tradition, on the rails.

I’m glad to get that out of the way to bring you exciting, wonderful news. 

First, I have found my primary calling. Not driving planes, trains or automobiles nor medicine nor rodeo - in fact all of these are among my most outstanding abilities yet there is one place I excel to the stratosphere, food - we are opening up a cafe! Yes, Cup & Cones Cafe will soon be a reality.  We will serve excellent, creative lattes, great, unique ice cream and light fare for any appetite. And we will not leave out the entire Moose and other antlered creatures population like other restaurants. We will have lily root soup, light grass salads and maple/endive ice cream, for example. Our first Cup & Cones Cafe will be in Denali. Our second is slated for Raleigh. (Don’t tell anyone but the winter in Denali is a bit harsh, the summer is Raleigh is a bit warmish.) Franchises are in the works.  

Which brings me to the best of the news, Ms McFinley and I are getting married. I know, picking a perfect wife is one of my most outstanding qualities. She is the “we” in the cafe by the way.

I know you have a lot of questions. 

1. Do I get to attend the wedding? 

You will, of course, all be invited to the wedding of the century once we set a date. 

2. Will you have birch ice cream

You did not need to ask that question. 

3. What happens to Brr Ice?

He missed the open range so we made him our grill chef.

4. Will you still travel?

Sadly, I still have no license so, until MOOSE RIGHTS I will travel with the guides but my focus will be to explore new concepts for the cafe, new flavors for ice cream and latte tastings. The driver is not too competent but he does eat and can find ice cream. 

I’m off to Denali and the lovely Ms McKinley. I will check back in a few weeks. Meanwhile lots of work to do, things to organize, recipes to test, gallons of ice cream for evaluation and a wedding to plan. Fortunately all these things are among my most outstanding qualities. 

A highlight of the summer -sailing across the sea in this small flower boat.

A highlight of the summer -sailing across the sea in this small flower boat.

Here I am doing field work for the new tastes Cup & Cone Cafe will be using.

Here I am doing field work for the new tastes Cup & Cone Cafe will be using.

Emerge by Dave Hileman

I so enjoyed walking in the forest like this one, no path, no agenda just a hush and soft footfalls. The beauty of the forest - growth and renewal.

“Dear brothers and sisters, we can’t help but thank God for you, because your faith is flourishing and your love for one another is growing.” 2 Thessalonians 1:3 NLT

DSCF2053.jpeg

Sea, Forest, Fog, Ice by Dave Hileman

This was a quiet moment on the trip to see Columbia Glacier. Simple.

Next week on Monday is Cadillac’s day, Even Bigger Announcements.

Meanwhile, we are still unpacking, setting up things that needed attention and I hope back on the photos soon. I have not done any since I returned. Anxious.

DSCF5331.jpeg

Thanks by Dave Hileman

Many of you wrote and encouraged us on our long trip, some of you provided great insight and advice on the way, instruction on shooting pictures and places to see or to eat. We are appreciative of your time and thankful for what you added to our trip. I also appreciate you taking the time to look at this site. I loved the opportunity to share the wonders we were seeing. Over the next few weeks photos from this trip will still be coming. I have a lot not edited (most barely looked at among the 17, 815 images I have shot). So from Cindy and me, thanks.

There were lots of mutual photos, I take yours with your camera and hand you mine for ours. This one was at the Tea House above Lake Louise.

There were lots of mutual photos, I take yours with your camera and hand you mine for ours. This one was at the Tea House above Lake Louise.

Alaska Journey Day 121, 122, 123, 124 by Dave Hileman

Saturday, Sunday, Monday HOME Day

Saturday was a low key bit of rest, clean up trailer and short drive on the Natchez Parkway. 

Sunday we went to church at Wellspring in Spring Hill TN, excellent church! Then on to the farmers market in Nashville, where we found Jeni’s, City-Farm coffee and Delta61 for lunch, then to the nice new museum across the lot for the afternoon. On the way back to the trailer we stopped at Loveless Cafe for dinner. Terrific stop. I did mention the ice cream at Jeni’s but failed to tell you I had a cone twice! Atlantic Beach Pie is an amazing flavor and I think, trumpet roll, I’ll move Jeni’s to number one on the Ice Cream Hit Parade, followed by Salt & Straw in Seattle and Cows in Canada. What a shake up in the ice cream world. 

Monday was get a couple issues on the trailer fixed, general check up at about 50,000 miles and drool over the newer immense:) 22 foot trailer. We were on our way by 6:30 but did not make Monday’s goal. We ended at a Cracker Barrel in Crossville. Many thanks to the Oliver team led by Jason and Ritchie - they went way beyond the norm to ensure we were safely on our way. Nice to deal with people who care about their product and their customers. 

Tuesday after breakfast at CB, we stopped in Knoxville to visit our dear friend Jill. Then on to Virginia where we were able to catch up a bit on Waypoint with Paul. Finally after dinner and two hundred more miles, we were back with Geof, Laura, Kellen, Addie and Ellary whom we missed a great deal. They had our house stocked and perfect. 

Thus endth the telling of the Travel Tale to Alaska. 

Stay tuned over the next few days to find out:

Stats, Summaries, Places & People, Food, Details and the next chapter of the Moose. 

Sun Set on the most amazing four month journey. Thanks for being a part of it with us. Blessings.

Sun Set on the most amazing four month journey. Thanks for being a part of it with us. Blessings.