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August - September 2013, Hyder Alaska
First a quick update. We have spent 14 days at the viewing
platform of Fish Creek and finally we have seen the fishing wolves. And also the
Aurora over Salmon Glacier! We have stayed for 25 days and now we are heading
north. See more detailed travel journal underneath.
August 2013, Netherlands
12 August 2013, Rotterdam
Heat wave in Holland: PJ is blowing out the water pipes of the mobile
home, replacing it with anti-freeze. We are winterizing the mobile home,
sold our car, uprooting plants, pruning trees. No, we are not suffering
from a heat stroke…
We have just bought flight tickets, rented out both houses, packing our
suitcase and Monday 12 August we are off to Calgary!
Alaska, here we come!!! Our main goal is to photograph the Northern
Lights and we also would like to see the fishing wolves in Hyder.
August 2013 Canada and Alaska
August 12, 2013, Rotterdam
With two too heavy suitcases and five carry-on luggage we arrive at the
small Rotterdam Airport. Fortunately there is no problem, everything is
just checked in without extra charge. We still have time to have lunch
with my father-in-law at the panorama deck and then we fly to London in
Also there everything runs smoothly and in 9 hours we fly to Calgary.
During the landing I suddenly see our RV storage, but unfortunately this
time I am not sitting with my camera in my lap so I cannot take a
picture. At 8.30 PM we land, immigration takes only a few minutes and we
are brought to our hotel with a hotel shuttle bus. Because we both have
slept on the plane, we are wide awake. But after a walk in the fresh
air, we are fast asleep at around 11pm.
2013, Hotel in Calgary Canada
At 3 am we are both wide awake. So I make two cups of
decaffeinated coffee. I fall back to sleep for a few hours, but
PJ stays awake.
pm we are having breakfast, that isn’t complementary. But it is
take the shuttle back to the airport and from there a 5 minute
taxi drive to the RV storage. We are so early that they are not
open yet! The camper is very dusty and also this time birds have
built a nest and pooped all over. But the engine starts at once!
drive straight to the Wal-Mart supermarket and stock up with a
lot of groceries. We also go to the Canadian Superstore for more
food (including those delicious cinnamon buns with lots of sugar
icing). Then a half hour drive to the well-known RV park where
we always stay when we are in Calgary. The receptionist even
recognize us from last April.
are worn out by now and take a short nap. Then I clean the
camper, try to store all the groceries and empty out all the
suitcases, while PJ empties out the water pipes of antifreeze,
flush the holding tanks and washes the car. PJ is spent (no
wonder: he has been up since 3 am), so after dinner he goes to
bed. I try to stay awake for a little while, before the jetlag
hits me too.
August 14 , RV park Calgary Canada
3.30 am we are both awake. PJ 's makes coffee and I'll stay in
bed and fall asleep again. Because the showers at the RV park
are coin-operated, expensive, the water lukewarm and the spray
too hard, we decide to take shower in the camper. Two years ago,
the water heater froze and PJ did not fix it until last winter
in Mexico with Bob (and Char). To the dismay of Bob, we did not
try out the new hot water boiler, because we always used the
campground showers. So seven months later PJ turns water heater
on and everything works great. This water heater is so quiet
that we regularly check whether it is really heating up the
a shower we leave the RV park at 9 am. The route to Hyder goes
through Banff, Jasper and Mount Robson National
Park. We drive 480 miles that day (a record for us) and see
no animals! Now is mid-August not the best time to see animals,
but I cannot imagine that I drive 480 miles through Yellowstone
and do not see any wildlife.
We spend the night in the parking lot of Wal-Mart in Prince
A very long fishing rod
2013 , Prince George, Canada
It is a sunny day and 23°C/73°F. We are so early that the supermarket is
not open yet. We do some forgotten groceries at the Wal-Mart and the
Canadian Superstore and then continue west on the Yellowhead Highway
16. We frequently see large roadside billboards with pictures of
missing girls. This highway is also known as the Highway of
Tears, because hitchhiking girls disappear from the earth or murders
remain unsolved. Since 1969 there are 18 girls missing or murdered. In
Terrace hitchhiking is now officially forbidden.
Because we have a late start, that day we only drive 230 miles and stay
in Smithers. There's a big sign in the parking lot of the Safeway
supermarket that campers can stay for free, and there is wireless
Internet. I wish we were this welcome everywhere.
get a Facebook warning that tonight there is Northern Lights to see. It
is not yet dark and there are many lights in the parking lot. PJ goes to
bed and I walk around a bit, hoping to see something green but we're
still just a little too far south.
2013 , Smithers Canada
When we wake up is 14°C/57°F and it rains a little. We drive further on
the Yellowhead Highway 16. We only have to drive 200 miles to
Hyder today. In the ancient native Settlement Moricetown we stop
for a while to see the Wet'su-wet'en first nation people using the
narrow canyon to catch salmon in a special way. They catch the Salmon
sticking a net into the wild water. In ten minutes we see them catching
five salmon on a row.
We go north
on the Cassiar Highway 79. The jetlag starts to take its toll and
we decided to park the camper along the side of the road and take a nap.
Then we take a shower and we are ready to go to Hyder.
Along the way we see the Bear Glacier and find it shocking to see how
much this glacier has retreated in thirteen years. The cave has melted
and the toe of the glacier does not touch the lake anymore.
6.30 in the evening as we enter Hyder. The ghost town is located at a
dead end road at the southern tip of Alaska. Since last year, the main
road is paved and that is weird to see (even though we had already seen
pictures). It looses the charm of this cute village. The second surprise
is a police officer in a police car that hands out fines for speeding.
It can't get any crazier ! We are in a village with 80 inhabitants ....
This cop has come from Ketchican just for a couple of days.
drive straight to the pub Sealaska Inn, where our friend Regina
is working in the evenings behind the bar. The reunion is fun.
We have looked her up 9 months ago in South Dakota, where she
now lives with her husband and daughter Rory . Thirteen years
ago we had met her as a 21-year-old park ranger in Fish Creek
and spent many hours together. In her spare time she took us
hiking to an ice cave, through rain forests teeming with grizzly
bears and camping outings overlooking the Salmon Glacier. When
PJ turned 39 she baked a cake for him in the shape of a bear and
when he turned 40 she showed up in a bear costume. She is just
We have a few
drinks and try to talk while Regina serves her customers at the bar.
Then we drop by at Linda's house (Regina's mom) to see the 2 year old
Rory. She runs outside excited (Regina has her completely prepared with
videos and pictures of us), but to her own surprise she does not
recognize us. But soon we are best buddies with this cutie.
only 9 months older, but what a different face already!
Northern Lights are out tonight, so we drive from sea level via a dirt
road to 3600 feet to camp at the glacier. I am awake half the night, but
unfortunately I do not see anything green.
Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights are caused by eruptions on the sun,
sending vibrations into the universe. These vibrations collide with the
magnetic field of the earth (usually three days after a blast) and that
makes the green and red northern lights. So we should know in advance
whether there is a chance of Northern Lights through a kind of weather
forecast for Auroras, but this is not always accurate.
The area during better weather
August 17, 2013 , Hyder Alaska
It is foggy when we get up. We drive around a bit to see if we can find
a grizzly bear and to see the lay of the land. It is raining as we drive
down the mountain again. We park at Fish Creek Wildlife Observation
Site. From a long wooden platform you can safely watch grizzly bears,
black bears and wolves here. Fish Creek is located in the most southern
point of America's largest National Forest, the Tongass. Spanning 500
miles and encompassing nearly 17 million acres of land, the Tongass
National Forest is the largest protected temperate rainforest in the
world. Mild temperatures and an abundance of rain characterize this
National Forest. There is an average of 16 feet of rain per year! So we
can not complain that it is wet here. We chat with Bob and SueAnn, which
we affectionately call our fossil friends, the rangers and the new
volunteers. From 10 am to 6 pm we stand on the platform and see
ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! That is disappointing. For weeks we have gotten
e-mails from Bob, in which he wrote enthusiastically about the wolves
PJ with his friend Pete Gaiser (cool shades!)
drive a mile north where we spent the night at a quarry. While I am
cooking supper, PJ says suddenly: Now, look at this!" A black bear with
two cubs is posing on a fallen tree trunk. By the time PJ has the camera
ready, they disappeared into the forest to the left. Moments later there
is a black bear on its way to our camper and disappears to the right
into the forest. We love to camp in a forest full of black bears.
August 18, 2013, Hyder Alaska
Regina is working again at the bar, so we look her up again and drink a
little too much.
Again we rise with rain. Expectantly we are from 6 am until 6 pm at the
platform and also this day we see NOTHING! Our English friend Doug who
now residences in Kitimat drove 240 miles north to see us, Regina and
Rory. Regina has persuaded him not to stay two but three nights.
August 19, 2013 , Hyder Alaska
A little later than usual (at 8 am) and with a slight headache we are
back on the platform It is rainy weather. Doug is already there
and later Regina and Rory come too. Rory grabs PJ's hand excited and
takes him for a little walk. Fortunately, she is totally relaxed with us
now. We have old fun with each other and new fun with Rory. That little
cutie has practiced the moves of the children's song "in the moonlight"
that I taught her 9 months ago and she can not get enough of it.
13 years ago
still best buddies
At the end of
the afternoon a grizzly bear suddenly appears. It is 'Jaws', the largest
boar in the creek. Ten years ago he only showed up in the twilight and
we thought his jaw was broken, so he was nicknamed Jaws. When he later
came more during daylight, we could see that not his jaw was broken, but
just his lower lip torn. The name stuck. It is an impressive big bear,
who stays for ten minutes.
August 20, 2013 , Hyder Alaska
From 8.30 to 14.30 on the platform and we see nothing.
Regina has invited us for a fish barbecue at her mother's home . She
also has invited a few of our old friends and we spend the evening in
the garden by a campfire while Regina is preparing salmon, halibut and
garlic bread on the barbecue. There is also a great salad and a
delightful dessert. It is a dry sultry evening and we enjoy it very
Behind Linda's house there is a creek with
skunk cabbage, everything looks so beautiful here.
August 21, 2013 , Hyder Alaska
At 6.15 am there is a large boar grizzly bear in the creek, but it is
too dark for photos. The grizzly is called Dogbear. Thirteen years ago a
woman was walking her dog in the parking lot (strictly forbidden) and
she did not realize that a grizzly bear had come out of the creek and
had walked into the parking lot. The bear was eying the dog and the
ranger grabbed the dog by the neck just in time, so the incident ended
well. After that the bear was named Dogbear.
8.30 a sow grizzly shows up and we take a a few pictures. The 20
year old bear is named Monica and she is a huge bear. The rest
of the day we do not see any bears or wolves.
make new friends. Steve is a 50 year old Englishman who
emigrated with his wife to Vancouver Island six years ago
and is now a full time wildlife photographer (http://stevewphotography.ca/)
Every day we park our tripods next to his and wait and chat all
day. Steve is bad with names and accidentally calls me Monica.
"Are you calling me Monica? Is my butt that big?" I bounce back
. We have a good laugh about it.
I do not think it is funny anymore when I break through my stool
only a few hours later!
goodbye to Doug and agree with Regina to go camping at the glacier later
in the afternoon.
We drive up the mountain and it is foggy and drizzling rain. We set up
camp, make a fire, eat, sing and toast marshmallows. Rory has the
strange habit to call out loud: "Oh look, baby bear". Every time we fall
for it and jump out of our chairs. One day it will happen that we ignore
her and then there will be a grizzly bear behind us...
August 22, 2013 , Hyder Alaska
We are closed in by the fog. I bake Dutch pancakes with bacon and apple
and we wait for little princess to wake up. Rory loves to walk and when
she is awake and dressed, we all take turns. Occasionally the fog lifts
up and we get a glimpse of the beautiful area where we are camping.
We drive to
the highest viewing point where 78-year-old Keith Scott, aka Bearman
spends the summer selling his books, DVDs and postcards. He has pitched
a pup tent at the viewpoint, but he sleeps in his car. I suspect he
wants the tourists to feel sorry for him and buy a book. (he was totally
sold out early September, so I think it helps) I make hot chocolate for
him, but he can not find his cup and gives me a tin can. He is such a
lovely teddy bear. In the fog we drive down, which is quite creepy.
for northern lights is good, so after a day without bears at Fish Creek
we drive up and park our camper next to the car of Keith.
I set the alarm and as I look outside at 1 am, it seems like someone has
put a spotlight on the glacier. The full moon has just risen and I go
outside to take pictures of the glacier. In the north I see a strange
elongated arcade white cloud, but I do not see it moving. It is like a
white rainbow .
the graphics of the Northern lights
Salmon Glacier by moonlight with the star heaven
I crawl back
into bed and set the egg timer every half hour. At 2.30 am I look again
at that white rainbow in the northern horizon. Is this the beginning of
the Northern Lights or am I really just looking at an strange cloud? I
keep on staring a bit and then wake up PJ.
"What do you think, is this Northern Lights ?", I ask PJ.
"No, that's a cloud," he replies grumpily.
I take a longer look and suddenly I see that the arc gets thicker and
thinner. "Yes, it has begun!" I cry out and jump out of bed. We put on
our warm clothes and make the camera ready. And yes, suddenly the white
arc turns green and starts to move around. Fantastic!
We wake up Keith and he views the spectacle from his bed in the car.
It did not
last long, but we stay up till 4am to make sure that it does not come
back. PJ wants to drive down right away, so we can be back on the
platform in time. Proudly we show our Northern Lights pictures that day,
but we do not see any bears. For tonight again Northern Lights are
predicted, so PJ drives in the evening up the mountain again.
Unfortunately I only see fog when I wake up from the egg timer every
half hour. After two hours I give up. I get a bit washed from those
August 24, 2013 , Hyder Alaska
Another day without bears. Other years when we were here every three
hours a grizzly bear wandered along, every hour we would see a black
bear along the creek, we were entertained by a beaver or mink, we could
listen to the many sounds that the ravens make, a bald eagle would land
in a tree at the blue lagoon and kept an eye on the ducks, herons were
wading through the shallow water, kingfishers were diving for small
fish, we would see mergansers floating in the creek with ducklings on
their backs. And since three years a pack of wolves regularly fish in
Fish creek. Since we arrived here, we have seen only three grizzly
bears, a handful of black bears and a
unbelievable how slow it is this year at Fish Creek.
there seem to be enough fish in the creek!’
evening we make a campfire at Linda´s garden. Yes in the rain, because
if you let your plans in Hyder depend on good weather, nothing will
August 25, 2013 , Hyder Alaska
After yet another day without bears, PJ drives south towards Hyder,
parks the camper along the Salmon River and I fix Mexican steak fajitas.
While I am cooking, suddenly a black bear with two spring cubs comes
along. She notices us, sends her kids into a tree and catches a fish in
a shallow creek beside the river. She takes the fish into the forest and
soon her cubs join her.
We take the
plates on your lap and sit on the couch with the door open, but with the
screen door closed. Suddenly PJ shouts: "WOLF!!!" and I see that a wolf
pushes his nose against the screen door! Through the large window we see
that the wolf runs away from our camper. PJ grabs the camera and jumps
out. Meanwhile, the wolf has made an u-turn and is already back at the
door. The wolf jumps with four legs in the air and runs 10 yards away,
stops and starts a staring contest. This takes so long that PJ has time
to turn up the ISO, to change the focus point and to start shooting. The
wolf walks away another 5 yards and starts staring again and then
disappears from sight into the creek. We are still in shock when the
wolf suddenly emerges with a fish in its mouth. It looks like he wants
to show off his catch. He disappears from sight and we walk to the
waterfront. The wolf is eating his fish just around the corner and
sticks out his tongue at us ;). Then he picks up his fish and walks away
from us. But not before he poses in various ways with the fish in its
beak. How do I look better, this way ... or like this?
We admire the
wet wolf tracks on the tarmac, including the jump in the air as a rental
camper with an Italian family comes along. Later we hear that
Massimiliano said to his wife: "I think that the Dutch have just seen
something, did you see that huge grin on her face?"
the pictures and they are very grainy, caused by low light, no tripod
and a little shaky. But the experience remains great. We drive to
Regina's bar to wind down and tell her our adventure.
August 26, 2013 , Hyder Alaska
Today the Fish Counters walk through the creek. They come from Ketchican
but are helped by our friends Carl and Flint. They look like real
Alaskan men, with their high waders and guns. They count 25,000 Pink
salmon and 300 Chum salmon. The latter is very low and the favorite food
of grizzly bears. Maybe that is why we see so little bears.
more and more dead fish in the creek. This is the normal life cycle of
salmon. They are born in the creek, hatch, go to the sea and after about
four years they come back to spawn and die above their nest. But the
smell of rotting fish starts to become quite unbearable.
A lady brings her to young daughters to the creek and looks over the
railing. "We are going to leave immediately, this creek is so polluted
that the fish are dying", she exclaims.
The ranger tries to explain to her that this is a normal cycle, but the
the lady does not listen and leaves.
In the evening we drop by Flint's nice house creation and we see a black
August 27, 2013 , Hyder Alaska
Due to the new asphalt road Fish Creek is not overgrown anymore and for
a long stretch you are able to see the creek. We hear more and more
people say that they have seen a bear or a wolf from the road. We want
to give this a try and this morning we stand and wait for hours and
hours at a parking lot. Steve and the Italian family join us. At 9.30
suddenly a wolf comes along, but he does not stop to fish anywhere. This
was not really what we had in mind, this way we can not take pictures.
At 11.30 we drive back to Fish Creek and hear what we have missed: at
9am there was a grizzly for half an hour soaking in the beautiful blue
lagoon, with four legs in the air. And at the same time there was a wolf
who was fishing for half an hour at the creek !!!!! We are so incredibly
pissed off and disappointed. We think we did not deserve this after ten
days waiting patiently at the platform. We immediately turn around to
blow off steam and go shopping in Stewart.
get into Stewart which is Canada we have to cross at a real
customs border post. This is to prevent the smuggling of
cigarettes, liquor and weapons from Alaska. The female
immigration officer walks out of the building.
"I recognize that lady, she also worked here five years ago" I
say to PJ.
PJ hand over our passports and rumbles his tune: "We are from
the Netherlands, the truck is from the USA"
"Yes I know that, I know you guys. You are Claudia and PJ" she
says with a big smile.
Our mouths drop open in surprise.
"I have seen pictures of you all week on Regina's Facebook".
We have a good laugh about it.
the evening I cook Indonesian noodles with veggies and chicken
and invite Steve for dinner. In retrospect it was not such a
good choice because Steve mostly heats up cup-a-noodles during
his 'bachelor' work trip. But he finds it very tasty.
in the evening we run up the mountain again, because the
Northern Lights are already out, but it is not yet dark enough
for us. It is busy on the mountain with Keith, a couple of
Japanese photographers and another (unknown) couple. We can
hardly find a place to park. At 11.30 pm it is dark enough and
we see white northern lights dancing across the sky. I try to
capture it (often the camera picks up the green), but it is just
not strong enough. What a shame.
August 28, 2013 , Hyder Alaska
We drive back down in time to say goodbye to Regina and Rory. We had
such a nice time with them. The rest of the day we remain faithful to
the platform and see again NOTHING! The sun shines all day and it is
even warm. We talk with the Italian family; Massimiliano a professional
photographer, his wife Paola who speaks good English and their 12 year
old son Stefano. Massimilio's has some difficulties with speaking
English and he soon learns that if he speaks Italian to PJ, PJ can kind
of understand it. They invite us for a salmon spaghetti dinner, which we
of course we do not say no to. Steve is also invited. We are back at the
spot where we saw the 'Steak Fajita-wolf'. At 8.45 pm the large grizzly
bear Monica comes along. For the Italians it is their first grizzly bear
and they are touched. And at 9.15 a wolf joins in! It is too dark for
photos and the wolf is absolutely not afraid of us. We do not know what
to do about it. Is this playfulness or a fearless wolf? The Italians are
certainly very excited with the experience. We have to chase the wolf
away by throwing pebbles into the water and it leaves a bad taste in our
29 augustus 2013, Hyder Alaska
Another sunny day. Today it is our fossil friend Bob's 75th
Birthday. Steve brings Bob's tripod to the end of the platform and I
decorate it with yellow party zone tape. We sing Happy Birthday and tell
him the bad news: "Bob, we have 'accidentally' dropped your birthday
money under the platform, so you have to pick it up yourself". (already
for a week a ten dollar bill lies under the platform, probably dropped
by a tourist).
Under guidance of a ranger Bob goes under the platform looking for the
money. We give him hints from above and point out directions. He also
finds a Nikon lens cover which he can use! We have so much fun.
passes without wolves or bears visit. Steve tells us that the story goes
that ravens can 'communicate' with wolves. The Raven tells the wolf
where he can find food, the wolf kills the animal and eats it and the
raven can eat the leftovers. A win-win situation for both animals.
Actually it does not sound so unlikely. And the last two weeks we have
not seen nor heard any ravens, while normally there is always one
sitting in a tree near the platform and showing off a range of sounds.
The Italians invite us again for the dinner and we are chatting with
them till 11 pm.
August 30, 2013 , Hyder Alaska
It is raining today. After a week of waiting for wolves or bears the
Italians really have to leave now, otherwise they will not catch their
plane. Less than ten minutes after they have left there is suddenly a
WOLF in the creek !! It is 10.05 am, pouring rain and the platform is
completely deserted. We are at the end of the platform with Steve, Bob
and SueAnn and since yesterday (lucky) Jorn, a guy from Belgium and we
are shooting pictures in deathly silence as if our lives depend on it.
There are also two tourists halfway the platform who are not interested
in wolves, they want to see grizzlies, the two volunteers and one ranger
are at the beginning of the platform and do not even realize that the
wolf is here. The wolf is fishing for 15 minutes and then disappears. We
give each other high five's and we all have a big grin on our faces. We
all think we have earned it, but what do we feel privileged to see this.
We compare how many pictures everyone took. PJ and I took 240 together,
Steve 260 and Bob says without blinking his eyes: “500”.
the wolf will show up at the lagoon" says Bob, who has been here for 55
days so has experience.
I walk with SueAnn to the lagoon and yes from less than ten yards the
wolf looks at us. I am without a camera, but inform the rest over a
walkie-talkie. PJ comes running with the 600mm, without a tripod, the
rest of the clan follows right behind him. The wolf makes a trip around
the lagoon through the colorful autumn scenery, poses several times. Too
bad I do not have a camera with a smaller lens to take pictures with the
scenery, but I do not want to walk back to the end of the platform and
miss everything. PJ has too much lens to capture the colorful scenery
also. Suddenly I hear the familiar scratching sound of a raven, and when
I look up he flies over our heads. The wolf looks up at the raven! I
look at Steve and he points his finger up and begins to gloat. Maybe it
is really true that ravens communicate with the wolves.
Everyone is very happy with this experience. To make the Italians not
green with envy I do not post the pictures of the wolf on Facebook until
two days later. But now they will read it on my blog how they JUST
missed it by ten minutes....
afternoon the sun is shining again and also the tourists come back. The
rest of the day we see nothing, but that does not matter to us.
evening Northern Light is predicted, but we decide to watch it from the
dock of Hyder. We ask Steve to join us too and I promise him and PJ to
wake them up when it is time. The egg timer goes with me to bed and at 1
am I see familiar white clouds. I dress and go to have a look outside.
There is a thick layer of fog over the cold water. Belgia Jorn is also
there and we are chatting for a while. Suddenly we see a white pillar
"It has begun" I tell Jorn who has never seen this before. I wake up PJ
and Steve and we photograph the northern lights which unfortunately is
white. Usually the slow shutter speed of the camera picks up the green.
On my photos at the back of my camera there is nothing to see, but I can
see that Jorn and Steve are picking it up with their cameras. Only later
I realize that my lens is completely fogged by the cold mist. That is
the problem when you are shooting Northern Lights with more people, you
cannot shine your flash light and ruin somebody else's picture.
Still, there are a few pictures that turned out pretty well, there's
even reflection in the water and because of the fog, the lights of the
village are diluted.
August 31, 2013 , Hyder Alaska
morning and we
are back on the platform. It's raining again, not hard, more
what Regina calls a Hyder mist. We have downloaded the pictures
of the wolf and because of the rain they are a bit grainy. Good
enough for an A4 enlargement, but not bigger. So we still want
Friend Flint is a weekly tour bus driver and brings a group of
Germans to the platform. Grizzly Dogbear decides to make an
appearance and goes for a swim. He makes a round through the
lagoon and splashes some at the end of the lagoon.
At 11 am a
wolf shows up from the south end of the creek. No wait, there are THREE
wolves! Two adults and a yearling. One of the big ones jumps with a big
arch into the creek and immediately catches a huge Chum salmon. We did
not even know that they were still Chums in the creek. The smaller one
follows his example and starts fishing too. The third stays behind and
we now understand why. 'Jaws' , the huge male grizzly is also present.
The bear keeps his distance and the third wolf keeps a watchful eye.
I can point
the camera lens only one way, there are German heads everywhere. So I
continue to focus my attention at the two wolves. The wolves continue
fishing for one hour and we are shooting picture after picture. One of
the Germans complains to Bob. The continuous clicking of Bob's camera is
ruining his video. I have not seen Bob mad often, but now he almost
bursts with rage. "These photographers are waiting for weeks to see this
special moment, you should be grateful that you may experience this
too," said Bob in between his teeth.
"Oh, In Germany we have plenty wolves, this is nothing special."
I wish we could throw this guy over the railing. What a shame if people
do not understand how special this. Flint brings the same group to the
Salmon Glacier which lies in the fog, but the clouds break open as soon
as they get off the bus. When Flint drives down again, the fog curtain
closes again. And in the evening they see a grizzly and a black bear
very close. And do you think they are happy? NO, they had expected more
from this place.
Late in the evening Flint forgets to close the door of the school bus
and a black bear sneaks in, leaves behind a big dump on the steps and
crushes all the juice boxes in the back. Do you find it weird that I
wished that Flint had left the Germans behind in the bus??
September 2013, Alaska, Canada, Alaska
1, 2013 , Hyder Alaska
Another long day on the platform. Everyone is still hyper from the
wolves show yesterday and we are all very pleased with the results.
evening we park in Linda's yard. She has just Skyped with Regina and
Rory, so she calls her again for us. And so a little later we are
singing the children song "In the moonlight" again for Rory, while she
does all the moves. I must say that Skyping is very nice indeed,
but you need to have power and to have a good Internet connection. And
for us that is actually rare.
September 2, 2013 , Hyder Alaska
i have the feeling that it is picking up a bit. I take pretty pictures
of a heron in an old tree. The Kingfisher poses and catches fish. A sow
grizzly walks Fish Creek and takes a swim in the lagoon.
September 3, 2013 , Hyder Alaska
At half past eight we have a wolf, which stays half an hour. We say
goodbye to Steve. The sun begins to shine and at 2.30pm in the bright
sunlight another wolf comes along. We do not want to complain, but it is
impossible to take good pictures with so much light and reflection on
the water. We now understand better why Bob said that he had not taken
very good pictures of the wolves in his first five weeks. It had been
sunny the whole summer, until we arrived.
September 4, 2013 , Hyder Alaska
This day brings three times a grizzly bear in the morning. The rest of
the afternoon it is quiet. We say goodbye to our fossil friends Bob and
SueAnn. They have a wedding of a grandson in Florida in about ten days
and need to hurry back to Colorado.
September 5, 2013 , Hyder Alaska
always up early so he can bring the camper at 6 pm in the
parking lot of Fish Creek. I stay in bed very lazy till about 7
and then I get ready for a day Fish Creek. Usually I am not
before 7.30am at the platform. Today I am ready early
(premonition?) and at 6.45am sow grizzly Mira walks through the
creek, over the bridge and poses just below the sign Fish Creek
Wildlife Observation Site.
there is wolf who catches 20 to 30 fish! The wolves eat from the Pink
salmon only the top of the head. Seemingly they can not digest the rest
of the salmon. This wolf stays till 9am.
At 10.30 PJ
wanders along the walkway, which is the part that connects the north
parking lot to the south parking lot. This walkway also runs along a
creek with fish. PJ suddenly sees Mira grizzly lying with four legs in
the air in the shallow water! He radios me and asks if I can bring a
camera. With a small lens I run the 800 yards in record time and PJ can
shoot a few pictures, before she has enough. The rest of the day we see
September 6, 2013 , Hyder Alaska
The day starts with a cool 8°C/46°F and if you stand quietly on the
platform, you become very cold. Bob calls these days a 6-layer-day. As
at 11am the sun hits the platform, the wood start damping, your lens
starts fogging up, in the camper 5-layer ejected winter clothes piles up
and the wildlife hides in the cool forest. It heats up to a pleasant
24°C/75°F, but that day we do not see any animals.
September 7, 2013 , Hyder Alaska
It is another beautiful six-layer-day, and we see bears nor wolves. At
the end of the afternoon a pickup truck with a slide-in camper and a
Chilean flag drives into the parking lot. A young couple gets out and
sees me sitting in the doorway of the camper. They start a chat and I
recommend them to drive up the glacier right now (while it is still
sunny), spent the night there and come back in time tomorrow morning.
After two sunny days, rain is expected tomorrow and a change in the
weather is always good for wildlife. The tall slim girl's name is
Claudia. Her long legs begin at her armpits and she has a beautiful
smile with even teeth. I suspects that she is a Supermodel, but with her
26 years she is already a lawyer. Cristian (32) is even taller and is a
famous Chilean actor and a real macho Latino. We connect immediately.
They take my advice to heart and drive up the mountain. Later I read in
that they had a horror night on top of the mountain with wind gusts and
it took them three hours to drive down starting in the dark.
At the beginning of the evening we see Grizzly Mira walking the road.
Sub adult Bald Eagle
September 8, 2013 , Hyder Alaska
It is raining and I decided to be ready very early. The site opens now
half an hour later at 6.30am, because it is so dark but I am ready. At
7.45 Mira grizzly walks the creek. It is too dark for pictures, so we
stay in the camper until we suddenly hear over the ranger scanner that
there is also a wolf in the creek. We grab our camera gear and run to
the end of the platform. The wolf and grizzly look at each other and
ignore each other. But the grizzly decides that this is not the way it
should be, so she takes a sprint and chases the wolf away. She continues
her route south and in no time the wolf is back. Meanwhile a large group
of tourists from Kitimat has arrived at the platform. We think they had
consumed beer for breakfast. They are very noisy, walking back and
forth, stamping their feet. Twice PJ is tapped on his head with the
comment that he has a nice lens. Are they crazy? They want to see a bear
and are not interested in the wolf. "That's what we have at home too."
If they only knew that Doug, who also lives in Kitimat, has already seen
26 grizzlies this spring.
Too bad that
these people again do not appreciate what they see. The wolf stays for
an hour, but most pictures are blurred by the rain, because it was still
early and the many movements on the platform. The Chileans have arrived
in time to see the wolf, but missed the bear. The rest of the day we see
nothing, but have a great time with our new friends.
"Is PJ a
name?" asks Claudia.
"It's short for Pieter Jan," I reply.
"Peter Pan, that's a funny name," Claudia makes of it. This is the first
time that I hear this and I think it is very funny.
expected to be this long in Hyder and are running out of groceries. No
more veggies, fresh fruit nor bread. When we drive to town to withdraw
money from a Hyder teller machine we see a beaver sitting on the side.
We cannot do any shopping in Hyder and we do not want to cross the
border to go to Stewart. So we improvise a bit with supper with a
5-layer bean dip with tortilla chips.
September 9, 2013 , Hyder Alaska
At 8 am there is a wolf catching 15 life fish and bites in several dead
walks almost the whole creek, which is unusual, because they are quite
skittish of the platform and usually stay at the south end. It has been
deadly quiet a few hours and there are no tourists. Because we still
have not done shopping, I ask permission to the park ranger to make
pancakes (you are not allowed to cook in the parking lot). I have
permission if I also feed the rangers.
The rest of the day we see nothing.
In the evening we camp for the night at the quarry and socialize with
the Chileans at a campfire. Claudia wants to learn Dutch words.
"How do you say you love someone?" asks Claudia.
"Ik hou van jou" , I reply.
"Iek gauw van jou, that does not sound very romantic" says Claudia with
a sultry voice.
"Well, if you whisper that in my ear with that accent, trust me, that's
sounds really romantic", PJ assures her. The Chileans are going to
Mexico in December, and we hope to meet them again there. We think that
they are a fun couple.
A stroll through the forest.
Beautiful flower shaped mushrooms.
Campfire with Claudia and Cristian
September 10, 2013 , Hyder Alaska
Breakfast is cold pancakes. We see nothing all morning. The Chileans
leave and in the afternoon we drive to Hyder to do our laundry and take
a shower. We also want to go to Stewart to finally do some grocery
shopping. We need to cross the border of Canada again.
I think you must have done something really bad to be exiled to this
remote corner of this border post and to have to work as a custom
officer. I already get irritated when a young blonde female officer
points us to the lane that has a roof which is not high enough for our
camper. Why cannot we park in the lane that is especially for campers?
She takes in our passports and starts asking all sorts of weird
questions about of our visit to Canada last year. She wants to see the
paperwork from last years visit. A month ago we arrived in Calgary and
received a six months visa from her colleagues from immigration. The
only thing we have done in between then and now is spent three weeks in
a ghost town in Alaska. Why does this bitch thinks that there is
something wrong with our story? She takes our passports into the office
and let us wait for ten minutes. Truly an example of a woman in uniform
who is apparently frustrated.
In Stewart do
a few errands (it's so incredibly expensive here) and check the Northern
Lights. Because the magnetic north and south poles of the sun are going
to change places at the end of this year (this happens every 11 years)
there should be a lot of turbulence in the universe and this causes the
Northern Lights. The scientists are puzzled: instead of a Solar Max it
is a Solar Minimum Year, there is virtually no Auroras or they are very
weak. For the next week nothing is predicted in the Aurora forecast, so
we decide it is time to leave Hyder. We have been here a total of 25
days, spent about 250 hours on the platform of Fish Creek. We have
photographed seven times a wolf show from the platform and have seen
three more times a wolf in other places. We have only seen four
different grizzly bears and a handful of black bears. Bears wise it is a
meager harvest, but we were here mainly for the fishing wolves and that
worked out perfect. We are very content!
quietly and mail a few people to say that we have left. This is ideal
for us, because we hate good byes. You will never know if you will ever
see your old and new friends back.
It's another beautiful day and we take the Cassiar Highway 37 to
the north. Finally, we're on our the road again!
We stop at
Hannah Creek to admire the bright red Sockeye salmon. On our the way
north we see six black bears, one mother with two spring cubs who
patiently pose for us. We spend the night along the side of the road.
September 11, 2013 , along the Cassiar Highway Canada
PJ is up at 5am, as usual, I nap for a bit longer and we leave at 8am.
The further north we go how more autumn colors we see. Magnificent!
After a total
of 460 miles on the Cassiar Highway we take a left onto the
Alaska Highway. The road is less bumpy and the paved shoulders are
broad. When we stop for coffee along the side of the road suddenly a car
hit his brakes and parks next to us. it is famous nature photographer
Don Jones from Montana, who saw our camper and had to turn to say hello
to us. He has just come from Alaska and is in a hurry to get home. We
chat with him and appreciate it that he stopped. It has been a few years
since we last met him in Denali.
We spend the
night in a vacant lot next to a gas station in Teslin and have
fast Internet. We even can watch some Dutch Internet television and I do
a quick update on the website with a few wolves pictures. Late at night
I look outside and see dancing white clouds low on the horizon. We are a
bit fed up with that white northern lights.
September 2013 Canada and Alaska
Map of the Cassiar Highway from Hyder to Watson Lake
Where shall we? North the
Dempster of south to Haines?
September 12, 2013 , Teslin
After 25 days of Hyder, Alaska, we drove
north on the Cassiar Highway and took a left on the Alaska Highway to
Haines Junction. In the fairly large city of Whitehorse we
finally do - after nearly a month in that expensive Hyder and Stewart –
a large amount of groceries and check Internet at McDonalds . The
Geophysical Institute (http://www.gi.alaska.edu/AuroraForecast)
still has not updated the northern lights forecast, so we do not know
whether there will be Aurora's expected for next week. In Whitehorse we
have to decide (on map # A) whether we drive 300 miles north to
Dawson City and then another 500 miles north on the gravelroad
Dempster Highway (B) for caribou and northern lights or that we
drive 350 miles southwest to Haines (C) to see grizzly bears.
After we checked the weather for both places, we pick Haines
because there the next three days the sun will shine. We go searching
for a high stool (you know, where Monica with her big butt went
through), but we cannot find one. This is irritating because we use that
stool to sit behind the laptop at the counter. Now we have to stand all
We drive further on the Alaska Highway. In the village of
Haines Junction we stop in front of a hotel, pick up
wireless Internet and we check the Northern Lights again. The
Geophysical Institute has finally updated the northern
prediction and tonight Aurora's are expected! It's not a big
storm, but something is better than nothing. The plan is to
drive to Haines Alaska, a dead end road of nearly 155
miles. We would like to photograph the Northern at a lake on
that route and so we already drive 18 miles south. We had lunch
at McDonalds, so I do not have to cook tonight and we still have
three hours of daylight.
"It would be nice if we can kill the time with a bear," I say
our surprise we see a grizzly bear along the way! We take the time to
photograph him and follow him for a while. Then we drive to a parking
lot along the lake and wait until it gets dark. But with the darkness
the clouds are also coming in.
So we drive the 18 miles back to
Haines Junction, because it was clear there a couple of hours ago. But
now it is cloudy there too. We drive further north in search of a
cloudless sky and start looking for a lake for the reflection. But of
course we cannot find anything in the dark. 30 miles later at 10 pm we
finish at a spacious parking, without a beautiful foreground.
"I am going to bed," says PJ who
is now exhausted. It is again my job to keep watch. I am going to bed at
10.30 with an almost clear sky and some clouds. Every half hour the egg
timer goes off and I look hopefully through the roof hatch. More stars.
After four alarm clocks, I sleep straight through an alarm (or forget to
set it). PJ wakes me up at 2.30 am.
"Have you checked the aurora?"
I look outside and yes there is a tad of pale green clouds floating
through the air.
"Yes, there is Northern Lights," I say enthusiastically.
PJ looks outside and mumbles: "I am not getting out of bed for these
I dress warmly and go outside with the tripod and camera. I shoot the
floating clouds and the camera picks up the green. For 75 minutes I am
shivering and with icy toes I crawl back into bed. PJ thinks I have been
out for only 5 minutes and is very surprised when he sees the result the
I painted the camper
with a flashlight
During the 30 second exposure a car drove by
"Oh, that is quite nice," he
says, "but could you see it with your naked eye?"
"No, not really," I must confess. I can imagine that he calls this fake
Aurora’s. We have seen wonderful Northern Lights in 2001 (Churchill) and
in 2011 (Alaska and Canada) which lasted for hours with bright green
aurora’s that shot through the air as fireworks, so this was only a
faint show. I had to look at the screen of the camera if the northern
lights were still there!
a minor storm
the view when we wake up
September 13, 2013 , along
the Alaska Highway Canada
When we wake up in the morning we see our
view to the south: the beautiful mountain range of the Kluane National
Park with snowy peaks. Too bad this was not the forefront of my Northern
Lights pictures. We drive back to Haines Junction and I like to
check our Facebook at the same hotel, but the wireless internet is
suddenly protected! We know that also tonight Aurora’s are expected
(stronger than yesterday) but we choose to photograph the bears in
Haines in fair weather. We drive the scenic route of the Haines
Highway and see two coyotes crossing the road together.
At 1 pm we arrive at the
border of Alaska. Unlike Hyder here is a real border post and we
are a little bit nervous. The customs officer is very friendly.
"I see that you need a visa, we will fix that inside".
He print out the white card that entitles us to stay in the USA
for 90 days. These 90 days are now counting down immediately,
even though we will be back in Canada in a week. Only twenty
minutes later we are back on the road and head to Haines.
The route runs along the Chilkat River, where in mid
-November thousands of Bald Eagles gather. We only see a few.
The trees are starting to turn.
The village of Haines is along a fjord and is cozy with
lots of wooden houses, colorful totem poles, fish restaurants
and souvenir shops. The sun is shining brightly and that makes
everything immediately nicer. After we refueled and finally
purchased some wine, whisky and rum (too expensive in Canada) we
drive straight to the Chilkoot River which is 10 miles
away and where we hope to see grizzly bears. In 2009 we were
here for the last time and again we are impressed by the
beautiful surroundings: the sun shines, the river is milky
turquoise, in the river are huge round boulders covered with
green moss, on the other side we see fall colors, huge ferns and
hanging moss on the old rainforest trees.
We are a bit surprised of the high
water level of the river.
"Can bears fish for salmon is this high river?", we wonder.
But after we drive back and
forth a few times we see the first grizzly bear. It is a beautiful long
haired blonde bear running through the shallow water on the other side.
She entertains us for an hour.
Only half an hour later, a
mother grizzly bear with cub shows up on our side of the river. The
water turns out to be not so deep and we see them together fishing for
salmon and playing in the water. We doubt whether the young one is a
spring cub (and then should be about eight months old) or maybe already
a yearling. It is such a cute roly-poly bear. Later we hear that this is
indeed a chubby spring cub, born this February. Too bad the sow has ear
tags and a radio collar, but that’s why Photoshop exist. This family
also stays for about an hour.
Fifteen minutes later we see a
ginger bear across the river. Twilight starts so after a while we give
up. We camp along the fjord and enjoy the sunset. I keep an eye on the
northern sky, but we are now just a little bit too far south to see the
September 14, 2013 , Haines
Chilkoot River Alaska
At the mouth of the Chilkoot River
we see about fifty Bald Eagles. PJ photographs a Bald Eagle in a tree
screaming loudly to other eagles.
At the river is a coming and
going of bears, from 7.30 am until 4 pm we are almost continuously
photographing grizzly bears and eagles. What a beautiful place.
PJ is being watched by mother bear, he takes pictures from that site
and I see this from the other end
1700 pictures later, we are just
winding down when a self-made camper with Dutch license plates
approaches us. Dutch Klaas and his girlfriend Else had heard of this
place while they were on the road and drove 200 miles back, took the
expensive ferry from Skagway to see the bears in Haines. Klaas' life
story in a nutshell is that ten years ago - after a successful working
life - he wanted to travel, but his wife did not. Klaas started to
travel and his wife is now his ex-wife. He has traveled through Africa
for a year and now travels twice a year, for three months and his
girlfriend Else accompany him for a month. He is slowly on his way to
Excited I tell them about the
beautiful morning that lasted for hours and convince them to just be
"Look, this is a bear path, which a mother bear with cub uses." An hour
later the spring cub suddenly stands behind us and the mother comes from
the bear path that I had pointed out. What a hoot!
"You see that I have not lied," I say and Else gives me a spontaneous
smack on my cheek.
For us there is not enough light (and we have already taken plenty of
photos), but we show Else and Klaas the best spots to photograph the
bears. They are very grateful and super excited.
" What time are you here tomorrow?" asks Else.
"I think we will be back here at 7.30"
September 15, 2013 , Haines
Chilkoot River Alaska
Another beautiful day, which starts with a
beautiful sunrise. We are delighted when we see 'White Claws' back after
five years - a 25+ year old female bear - although in bad light. Also
this morning, one bear appears after the other and in three hours we see
nine different grizzly bears! Compare this with Hyder were we have seen
only four different grizzly bears in four weeks.
The sow with chubby cub walks
across the bridge and brings a couple of photographers on the run.
We do not understand
what is keeping Klaas and Else. Three hundred photos later at
10.30 Klaas and Else come wandering in. They have spent the
night at a RV park in town and enjoyed a morning of Skyping with
the grandchildren. After chatting with us for an hour (without
bears) they leave.
I just do not understand this: you have driven many miles extra
(and still have to drive 300 miles back to Whitehorse), took the
ferry and then you'll settle for just one and a half bear. It
could easily have been ten grizzlies. Fifteen minutes later the
sow with cub reappears and we pick up our gear and happily go
back to work.
left: Chilkoot Lake
Of course also this place has
its downside. There is also some annoyance. Previously the river was
accessible to everyone: fishermen, bears and tourists. Then suddenly a
riverside lodge was built and a section of the river was closed off with
a rope. Parking, even stopping and certainly walking was forbidden at
this section. This part of the river was only available for guests of
the lodge. Probably they could not get away with that, because a few
years ago suddenly a totem pole was placed there and claimed that this
is the holy ground of the Tlingit Indians. 2,000 years ago the Indians
held peace talks at 'Deer Rock'. A rope with a sign must keeps the
tourists away. Okay, fine, of course we like to respect this. But then
this happens: the guests of the lodge are allowed to remove the rope,
park their cars on the holy ground and can start photographing the bears
up close. Well….let's not waste any more words on this.
September 16, 2013 , Haines
Chilkoot River Alaska
It is raining when we wake up! We drive
along the Chilkoot River, but that does not make sense. We have just
spent three wonderful days here, so we do not want to get our expensive
camera gear wet. We drive to the village and see if there is message
from Dave and Jenny. We know this couple from Colorado for about ten
years and with them we went for a month to South Africa in 2009. They
had emailed that their camper would get serviced in Anchorage (Alaska)
on Friday and after that they would come to Haines. That is about a two
day drive, so we had expected them here last night. No message, so we
are going to spend a day at a beach side RV park.
We buy 1GB internet for U$6.50
and I work on the website. We have no idea how much GB it costs to
upload a website with pictures, but the Internet continues to perform
for 24 hours.
"There is a bear on the beach! "
PJ shouts and he jumps out of the camper to put the camera on the
tripod. By the time he is done, the bear already climbed on the rocks
and is posing against the beautiful fjord. It is the cutest teddy bear I
have ever seen, with long tuffs of hair out of his ears. The story
behind it is sad: in May suddenly two yearling cubs appeared without
their mother in the bay. Nobody knew what had happened to the sow. The
brothers went foraging for food and one was in so much trouble that he
had to be shot. This orphaned bear is surviving now for four months, but
without the nutritious mother milk and without being taught ho to make a
den no one knows whether he will survive.
September 17, 2013 , Haines
Oceanside RV Park Alaska
It is still raining. At 10 am we drive to
the river, photograph a few bears, but are not really enjoying it in the
rain. Still no word from Dave and Jenny. Unfortunately, they are not as
quick with e -mail and picking up wireless Internet as we do. PJ wants
to leave this place at 4 pm but we agree to stay one more night. In
front of the library I make a stir-fried rice dinner, while we pick up
internet and then we drive to our familiar place along the fjord to
spent the night. And who do you think has passed us in Haines without
knowing: Dave and Jenny!
The reunion is again very nice
and we chat and drink a glass of wine (or a bottle) until 11.30 pm. Of
course we admire their brand new vehicle, a Mercedes Camper. Oh, and why
did it took 4 days for them to get here? They had just taken a detour to
18 , 19 and September 20,
2013 , Haines Chilkoot River Alaska
Obviously we will stay for a few more days
and go with Dave and Jenny to the river. It's raining again, but not so
much that we cannot photograph.
The area is so stunningly
beautiful and every time the bears pick a different background to
photograph them. We have a great time with Dave and Jenny, chasing
bears, cooking for each other and have happy ‘hour’ every night.
But after five days of rain, we
have had it. We want to go back to Hyder to see if the wolves are still
there. We convince Dave and Jenny to join us. The same route (1000
miles) in the opposite direction. As the crow flies we are only 300
miles from Hyder, but it takes us 2 1/2 days of driving to get there. We
are back in Canada and in only a week the tundra along Haines Highway
has suddenly turned into fall colors so we often stop for photos. Too
bad it keeps raining.
Bright res Sockey salmon in a stream
fesh snow on the mountains
September 21, 2013 , Alaska
More rain and beautiful colors along the
Alaska Highway. We are proud that every night we find a nice place to
Snack break under a rainbow
Quiet boondocking along a lake
September 22, 2013 , Watson Lake Canada
We turn right on the Cassiar Highway.
We hope to see wildlife but everywhere are hunters with four wheelers
and other ingenious vehicles on tracks.
Besides the beautifully colored
nature, we see the tail of a red fox, the butts of two black bears and a
black (and gray) wolf that cross the road far away from us. We arrive at
6 pm in Stewart and have a quick bite at the restaurant of the King
Eddy. Oh yeah, that's why we never eat out ... two burgers with fries
later and we have spent €60,-.
23 and September 24, 2013 ,
Full of expectation we drive to Fish
Creek. Unfortunately, there is virtually no fish in the creek, the Coho
run has not arrived yet, so then you cannot expect much wildlife. The
rangers have long since stopped working, so it's kind of funny to walk
where you're not supposed to walk and cook in the parking lot. There are
still a few tourists. One brings his dog to the platform. We think that
is pushing it.
PJ repairs the rear bumper of the camper after a collision with a gravel
pile. And he finally assembles the wooden shoes back on the grill.
closed for the season (?) in Hyder
the only bear we saw....
After a day of waiting we
suddenly see a wolf!
The wolf walks the
entire creek, eats from the dead fish here and there, then
crosses the bridge and find a rotten fish on the road, where she
starts rolling in! Then she continues, and Jenny and I try to
follow her on foot but that's pointless.
September 25, 2013 , Hyder
After another half day at Fish Creek we
decide to leave. Dave and Jenny follow us again. It is a beautiful
The Queen of Cedarvale (a white
black bear) has been seen four weeks ago, in the same field where we
have seen her in 2009 and 2011 (and Doug saw her again in 2012 ). I have
emailed Doug that we will be there at the end of the afternoon and he
drives 100 miles to see us for a few hours. Unfortunately, the Kermode
bear does not show up this time. After I cooked a meal for Doug, he
drives the 100 miles back. Everything for the friendship!
September 26, 2013 , Kitwanga
Of course we go back to the field in the
morning and we wait for an hour, but also today the Kermode bear does
not show up. We continue east on the Yellowhead Highway # 16 to
Prince George. An hour before Prince George we stop and Jenny
starts talking about pizza. We decide that we should have dinner at
Boston Pizza, so PJ puts the restaurant code in the GPS and then a car
pulls up next to us.
"Where are you sleeping tonight?" Asks a man.
"Oh, in Prince George".
"I live next to a lake five minutes away, you are more than welcome to
spent the night in my yard".
What a nice offer, but we were just looking forward to that pizza and
then we have to drive an hour longer tomorrow to Kamloops, so we thank
the guy. It is a pity, because we do not get such an invitation often.
The pizza tastes good and it's
also our farewell evening with Dave and Jenny. They will continue to
Jasper over Hwy 16, we are heading south to Kamloops.
27 , 28 , September 29, 2013,
It is a gloomy rainy day. Approximately
every pickup truck that overtakes us, has a bloody moose antler in the
back. If they continue to hunt like that, there will be no moose left.
Bob and Charlotte have - since we met them - moved for the third time.
Should we be worried that they never send a change of address us? But
also this time we find them.
For tonight Char has invited her
daughter Melissa and fiancé Sean and we have a fun evening.
The next night friends Leslie
and Jim come over for dinner and Sean comes along again.
Sunday we go to Pat and Don,
friends we have not seen for 4 years.
View from our camper at Bob en Char's driveway
We have a nice weekend Kamloops
with our Canadian friends that we all know from Mexico.
September 30, 2013 , Kamloops
It is Monday morning. I am sending the
last e-mails, before we go south. We decided to cross the border today
into the USA, do some cruising through the state Idaho and then to
But then suddenly I get an pre
Aurora Alert! This morning there has been a huge eruption on the sun,
which possible could cause Northern Lights. All very vague and
even the scientist disagree as to whether the eruption will have an
Aurora impact or that the vibrations will just graze the earth. We
decide to go for it anyway and heading north through Canada instead of
south to the USA. The Northern Lights will reach Earth on Wednesday
night, so we still have three days to get to a place where we are north
enough to see it and were we have clear skies (you can compare it to a
hurricane at sea where they can predict when it will hit land, but then
of course harmless). So we travel from Kamloops as far north to Jasper.
|It is busy on Yellowhead
Highway # 16, many truckers think our 50 miles p/h is too
slow and we are constantly overtaken. Along the way we see
Bighorn sheep, a bull moose, black bear and a bull Elk with his
harem, but it is too busy on the road to stop. We spent the
night in Hinton and check the websites. It is still
unclear how strong the Northern Light storm will be. We were
planning to drive straight to High River, into the north but the
weather forecast there is now cloudy. So our goal is
October 1, 2013 ,
The second night we have driven
600 miles from Kamloops and are staying in Lloydminster
at the parking lot of Walmart. It is drizzling and cold, so we
watch a DVD on the laptop.
At 9 pm I get on Facebook and
see THE Aurora Alert: the northern lights has reached the earth a day
early and is already at 'storm level’. And there we are in total
overcast in a big city at a parking lot of a supermarket! We are
incredible disappointed of course, especially when we later read that
the Northern Lights Show was visible 600 miles SOUTH into the USA and
lasted for 9 hours! I now wish we had stick to our plan and had driven
The prediction of Geophysical
Institute and what really happened and the chart of October 1st:
October 2, 2013 ,
Because such a huge Northern Storm
( Kp 7.6 on the scale, for comparison, our best Northern Lights
has never been higher than a 4) often gives some aftershocks
(similar to an earthquake) we continue the next day to get out
of the cloud cover. We even have to drive past Saskatoon and
further south to Regina (in the province of Saskatchewan,
which is as flat as the Netherlands). At 3.30 pm we make a quick
visit to the Aurora websites and the northern light is already
at storm level again, but of course not visible because it is
We drive out of the
clouds, park at a dull grain field with an old barn and at 7pm
it is dark. A beautiful starry sky, the Milky Way is clearly
visible, but no Aurora's. In retrospect we can see that the
'aftershock' lasted from 1 pm to 7 pm. But because we did not
have internet, I had set the alarm every twenty minutes and half
the night I looked hopeful out of the window. We have driven a
total of 1,000 miles and have seen NOTHING.
The only consolation is that if
we had gone from Kamloops to Yellowstone National Park we had come to a
closed gate. On October 1st, all government agencies in the U.S.
temporarily closed because of a disagreement over the state budget
between Democrats and Republicans. The previous 'shut down' in 1996 and
lasted 22 days, so we might have a lot of waiting to do.
October 3, 2013 , Regina
The photos of the Northern Lights begin to
come in. As far south as Colorado, Wyoming, and west in Oregon (very
rare) and so on. The pictures show a different color northern lights:
red instead of green. Another consolation: we do not see pictures of the
area where we were, it was cloudy in the whole of Western Canada.
As long as the National Parks in the USA remain closed, we will stay in
Canada but first we are going to spent the night at an RV park in
4 and October 5, 2013, Regina
One night turns into two. We think we have
become experts in understanding Space Weather (www.spaceweather.com)
and we struggle through terms such as coronal holes, sunspots, solar
winds, CME’s, alpha - beta - gamma magnetic fields and magnetic filament
eruptions and think we understand from this that there is something to
be expected about a week from now.
Luckily these American government people still work! After a few days,
our expectations are confirmed by the Geophysical Institute and
Thursday, October 10th they expect a 4 on the scale of Aurora, Friday
and Saturday a 3. That does not sound much after that 7-storm of October
1st, but that one was initially in the prediction as a 3 , so you never
We must now decide where we are
going to wait for that Northern Light: in a village that is small enough
that it gives no light pollution, but big enough that it has wireless
Internet, so we can read latest updates.
6 to 7 October 2013 provinces
of Saskatchewan and Manitoba, Canada
Looking for Northern Lights we drive
through several Canadian provinces and are scouting for beautiful
places. We photograph old barns and cornfields.
And a lot of moving houses!
October 8, 2013 , Prince
Albert , Canada
Because we still have two nights before
that hit of Thursday will come, we stay put for two days at parking lot
in the large city of Prince Albert. PJ actually would have liked to
drive on to the small town where we want to be on Thursday but I am
afraid we do not have Internet there and have no idea what is going on
in terms of Northern Lights. So it is Tuesday, 8 pm. I have made a
delicious tomato soup with little meatballs, we had cheese fondue and
eliminated both half a baguette, drank a glass of red wine and we are
relaxing on the couch, watching Internet TV when we suddenly get an
aurora alert! The space scientist did not expect something for two days
and with only a 20 minutes warning before the show starts, an alert is
sent out! So we hop into the truck and start to drive like an idiot out
of the big city and looking for a dark spot. But that is very difficult
if you do not know the area! Yet we take a few nice pictures of the
bright green northern lights dancing through the air in a horizontal
When the northern lights dies
down and more clouds are floating in, we start heading south and try to
pick up internet in every village but do not succeed. We end up 50 miles
south at 1 am in the big city Saskatoon, pick up Internet and we
see that a second storm is coming! So again like crazy we start driving
to the north (away from the city lights) and again we are looking for a
nice place. Well, the province of Saskatchewan is as flat as the
Netherlands, there are almost no trees and we try to find a nice lake or
pond for reflection.
When we see a sign 'ferry', we turn right. It appears to be a very
narrow river with a big spotlight on the other side. Despite the
disturbing light I try to take photos. When I change to trees and the
truck the Aurora storm comes to a climax. It is not bright green, but
more pale green and white, but it shoots up vertically, is very big and
goes dazzling fast through the air. It is hard to describe, because
pictures do not show the speed. It's almost nauseating to watch! PJ
wants to move to another place and we get into a discussion about where
we can stand the best. Imagine: Northern lights everywhere and we
We drive to a dike and shoot a
few more pictures, but then the cloud cover is increasing and the aurora
show starts to fade.
We spend the night in the city
of Saskatoon and 3.30 am we are in bed.
The chart of October 8th:
October 9, 2013 , Saskatoon
With a heavy head we get up at 8 am and
check the northern prediction. For tonight again we can expect Northern
Lights, so we check the weather in the surrounding areas. It looks like
we have to drive more than 200 miles to the north to have clear skies
tonight. So we head to Meadow Lake. As we drive north I realize
that we are now are off the beaten track. Not that we are so far off
from civilization - we regularly pass through small villages - but I
cannot imagine that there is one tourist that would be interested in
this flat landscape with only endless grain fields.
At that moment, a Toyota
Landcruiser with a roof tent comes from the opposite lane.... with Dutch
license plates! PJ flashes his lights and we wave. The couple waves
back, but I do not know if they have seen that we are Dutch too (red
wooden shoes on the grill). Both cars do not brakes and I find that
unfortunate. I was very curious what these Dutch people were doing here,
where they had come from and where they were going.
In the last daylight we find a
nice spot near a lake in a Provincial Park. PJ goes to bed at 8.30 and
is fast asleep when the Northern Lights start dancing at 11.30. I start
shooting immediately and urge PJ to wake up and see the show. It lasts
only a short time, but it is fierce. And its reflection in the lake
makes it big. These are a few pictures to be proud of.
October 10, 2013 , Meadow
Lake , Saskatoon Canada
We check Space weather again and also for
tonight will be Northern Lights. We cannot stay in Meadow Lake, because
here it is cloudy tonight. We check everything in the spacious
surroundings and our next stop will be Slave Lake, Alberta, 322 miles of
Here we go again! We drive all
day and at the end of the afternoon arrive in Slave Lake and start
scouting for a place where we can shoot the Northern Lights tonight. You
are probably thinking: Slave Lake will probably have a lake. True, but
the lake is huge and the wind is blowing causing waves. It starts
getting dark so we park in the parking lot of Staples and pick up
Internet. The aurora prediction is suddenly gone. Darn!
11 to 14 October 2013 Slave
Lake , Alberta Canada
We have now driven so many miles (2,000),
the parks in the USA are still closed, we have a dump station with
drinking water that is not yet closed for the winter, Internet, so we
decided to wait patiently for the next Aurora. Our patience is put to
the test. Four days of beautiful sunny day with a cloudless night sky,
but no Northern Lights. But finally the night of 14 to October 15
something is going to happen.
Our campspot for a week
Scouting for water, reflection and no light pollution around Slave Lake
Meanwhile we have scouted out
several places and have found nice small waters with autumn trees and a
place with easy access to the beach of the huge lake. As soon as the
sun sets we drive to the small lakes. It takes a long time before it
gets really dark, but we see a white cloud dancing, which turns green
very fast. More to the northwest then north, so unfortunately there is a
utility pole in our image.
After ten minutes it dies down
and we drive to another place. There too, we photograph the northern
lights, right in the north now.
The evening continues with driving
up and down to the gas station where we can pick up internet and
watching the latest news and drive back to the in advance selected
When a big storm is announced,
we decide to drive to the lake, because we have a wider view. The
northern lights climbs high into the sky and appears in the north, but
also in the west, east and above us. AMAZING!
The lake is dead quiet tonight
and reflects the northern lights. After twenty minutes it comes to an
end. That is the only drawback of this evening, every show was so short.
But this time, we were perfectly prepared for anything: we knew the
area, knew where it was dark enough, how we could get close to the lake
and where we could pick up internet without much driving again.
15 to 17 October 2013 Slave
Lake , Alberta Canada
We cannot get enough of it, so we continue
to wait patiently a few more days. Unfortunately, nothing happens. But
then comes the news that the Republicans and Democrats have come to a
compromise and the U.S. Shut Down after 17 days is finally over.
So for us it is time to go south bound. We drove 2,000 miles for the
northern lights and we have seen it four times.
||A=Kamloops (British Columbia)
here we missed the BIG Bang of October 1st
D=Swan River (Manitoba)
F=Prince Albert (Saskatchewan) First show
G=Saskatoon (Saskatchewan) Second show
H=Meadow Lake (Saskatchewan) Third show
I=Slave Lake (Alberta) Fourth show
Chasing 2,000 miles for Aurora's
to be continued.....
April - August 2013, Netherlands
April 2013, ’s-Gravenzande
Back in Holland we move into our green mobile home.
It is sooo cold! Our heater makes overtime.
After a month
it finally warms up. We have a lease cat who is visiting us every day
but eats somewhere else. So I don't have to feel guilty when we are
going on the road again in the fall.
30 April 2013
Today, on 30 April, the Netherlands will get a new King and Queen. Queen
Beatrix will abdicate and the Crown Prince of Orange will ascend the
throne as King Willem-Alexander. His Argentine-born wife Princess Maxima
will become Queen.
Queen Beatrix, abdicates at the of age 75, having been our Queen for 33
We are in front of the television all day and celebrate with our friends
in the evening, of course wearing the proper attire: orange!
3 May 2013
With my girlfriends Diana en Monique I
go to the Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier. This dynamic, multimedia
exhibition includes 140 haute couture and prêt-à-porter designs created
between the mid-1970s and 2010, along with numerous sketches, archival
documents, fashion photographs, and video clips that spotlight Gautier's
collaborations with filmmakers, choreographers, and musicians, most
Very intriguing are the mannequins with faces
of celebrities and of Gaultier himself. A few of them even talk. This is
done using projections which bring the designs to life.
7 and 8 May
For the first time in my life we went to the flowering tulip fields! The
blooming flowers transformed the landscape into a sea of striking
colors. We went for two days on a row. Nature is three weeks behind
schedule, so great that we could witness this spectacle too.
But also in
the small forest that borders our mobile home park the wildflowers are
blooming. I try to continue my Mexican daily walks here.
weather warms up we have lots of dinners in our back yard with our
Argentina empanadas filled with meat
21 June 2013
Our camper is stored in Calgary so we start to get worried when we see
the images of the flooding in Calgary on the Dutch news. 100.000 people
are being evacuated. So I e-mail Country Hill Storage and the owner
tells me that everything is okay with the storage 9and our camper).
12 Juli 2013
During my daily walk through the forest I discover a field with wild
Lots of food parties, I am really enjoying cooking!
17 July 2013
Our plan was to fly to Calgary today. We would have plenty of time to
drive south to West Yellowstone for the wedding of my second cousin
Joshawa and Janae on July 27. After the wedding we would be heading to
Two months ago I had found some cheap flight tickets for July 17th, but
PJ did not want to book them. "You never know what will happen and how
our live will go".
Well, he must have had a premonition, because now we are happy that we
do not have bought these flight tickets.
This is what happened...
Half of June the tenants of one house expectantly terminated the lease.
The same Polish company is also renting our other house, so it was just
a matter of time when they were going to quit the rent at that house
too. So we decided to throw them out ourselves. August 1st we have two
We have been talking to different brokers for renting out the houses,
but nobody is interested. It is just not the right time to start
renting, so it does not look hopeful.
We hope to have everything on
track again beginning of August (find tenants for the two houses) and
then we can book our flight tickets. Just keep your fingers crossed and
hopefully we are on the road again in August!
Snow in July?
If you are allergic to grass pollen these pictures
might freak you out. But it is just poplar fluff. It looks like that it
has snowed in the forest.
July 27, 2013 Netherlands
(wish we were in West Yellowstone)
Here are some pictures of the wedding of my second cousin Josh and his
August 2013, The Netherlands
2 August 2013, Hoek van Holland
A day at the beach.
August 3, 2013 Netherlands
For the third time we went to the floating flower parade. The theme this
year was: “Dare to Dream”.
This was my favorite; the theme”
Dare to Dream” turned into a Nightmare. The girl was playing in bed with
a rag doll, covered in a quilt blanket of flowers. When she falls asleep
the classic toys around her come to life, Zombie style.
The girl falls asleep under a
quilt blanket of flouors
The Zombie style ragdoll
A wind-up cymbal-banging monkey toy. In the background
you can see the wooden soldiers. This is the face of a ballerina on a
Another nightmare boat
A boat full of princesses
Pole dancing on a boat!
The daring life of a photographer
If you want to read about our adventures in Mexico winter 2012-2013
click on this link:
travel journal Mexico 2012 ENG.htm
The link to our road trip
through the USA winter 2012:
travel journal USA en Canada 2012 ENG.htm