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Winter on the Gulf Coast 2014/2015

Winter Escape

Winter Escape

Well here it is spring already and we are back in Michigan. Looks like time for another blog update, the last one show cased our Gulf Shores renovation project around Christmas time. The posting strategy for larry-jan-tvc.net has been to communicate at the end of an event. We found that winter passed more quickly in the land of no snow. If you asked how it went, the response would be it meets expectations. The townhouse was a good pick, great beaches, extensive bike trails and we love the community. However, by the end of our stay, we missed being on the move, seeing new places and meeting new people. Yes, we will go back next fall. You will need to stay tuned as we take on another winter looking for action in the land of “Small town and Big Beach”.

This is Home for the Winter

This is Home for the Winter

Life is Ok Here on the Coast

Life is Ok Here on the Coast

The Ridge complex is made up of 55 units with the addition of 17 more over the next two years. This has turned out to be a great community. The grounds are well maintained, the pool is nice and most importantly it a welcoming and friendly place to be. Living in a condo complex is a new experience. Gulf Shores is a fairly new community being incorporated in the late forties. The demographics here are almost the same as Traverse City. The climate is moderate which attracts Snowbirds from the mid-west and in the summer the focus is on the beaches. Many folks from Florida and Alabama have summer homes and cottages here.

Christmas Day

Christmas Day

Christmas Day Sand Man

Christmas Day Sand Man

Christmas day finds us on the beach enjoying the water and sun. Jan made a sandman in lieu of the traditional snowman.

Sunrise on the Beach

Sunrise on the Beach

Sunrise on the Beach

Sunrise on the Beach

Sunrise on the Beach

Sunrise on the Beach

Sunrise on the Beach

Sunrise on the Beach

Sunrise on the Beach

Sunrise on the Beach

Sunrise on the Beach

Sunrise on the Beach

Sunrise with Rain

Sunrise with Rain

Sunrise with Rain

Sunrise with Rain

Sunrise with Fog

Sunrise with Fog

Of course those of you who know me…I love to get up early for those early morning photo opts. Lots of early morning walks on the beaches for sure… Living near the ocean the weather is never boring.

Bike Trail - State Park

Bike Trail – State Park

Bike Trail - State Park

Bike Trail – State Park

State Park Trail

State Park Trail

Bike Trail - Landmark

Bike Trail – Landmark

Local call this Possum on the Half Shell

Locals call this Possum on the Half Shell

Bike Trail -This is Lefty

Bike Trail -This is Lefty

Lefty Protecting Her Offspring

Lefty Protecting Her Offspring

Lefty's 2015 Hatch

Lefty’s 2015 Hatch

The bike trail is right out the front door. It connects with the State Park trail system plus the roads here are very bike friendly. New road bike is on the list for next year. Catching the wild life along the trail is much different than the mid-west. Many of you may have already heard of Lefty. Actually Lefty is the mother of two this year…there are also two hanging around from last year. She is called Lefty as she lost and eye and foot in a fight many years ago. Although she is not on Face book she does have lots of followers every day. However, it does not take much to entertain the retired folks who walk the trails to see her.

The Ridge - Pool Party Group

The Ridge – Pool Party Group

The Ridge - Pool Party Group

The Ridge – Pool Party Group

Every Friday at five is the standing get together at the pool for The Ridge residents. However once December comes, the group is not that hearty and moves inside. Hosting this event gave us a chance to show off our new digs.

Uncle Larry (Shimer) - Visit

Uncle Larry (Shimer) – Visit

Larry and Jan on the Beach

Larry and Jan on the Beach

Larry and Larry Enjoying the Sights

Larry and Larry Enjoying the Sights

Illeana and David at Billy's Seafood

Illeana and David at Billy’s Seafood

Ileana and Jan -  Ferry to Daulphin Island

Ileana and Jan – Ferry to Daulphin Island

There were visitor from the North. Jan’s brother in-law (Larry) and my cousin (David and his wife Ileana) stopped to see us this winter. Tom and Karen Sabin (an Interlochen work colleague) came for lunch one day on their way from Florida to New Orleans. Visitors give us the opportunity to tour the region and we are hoping more show up next year to continue the exploration.

Gulf Shores Beach

Gulf Shores Beach

Gulf Shores Beach

Gulf Shores Beach

Fort Morgan Beach

Fort Morgan Beach

Gulf Shores State Park Beach

Gulf Shores State Park Beach

Gulf Shores State Park Beach

Gulf Shores State Park Beach

Being less than two miles to the beach gives new meaning to a day at the beach. We tried out lots of different beaches and the favorites are emerging. …of course there are pictures!

Naval Aviation Museum

Naval Aviation Museum

Naval Aviation Museum

Naval Aviation Museum

Naval Aviation Museum -  Larry

Naval Aviation Museum – Larry

092.Naval Aviation Museum - Blue Angels

Naval Aviation Museum

Naval Aviation Museum

USS Alabama at Mobile

USS Alabama at Mobile

SS Alabama at Mobile

SS Alabama at Mobile

Submarine at Mobile

Submarine at Mobile

Two or our favorite and really interesting places are the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola and the USS Alabama in Mobile. It is easy to lose a day at each one. Pensacola is home base for the Blue Angels. It worked to see their first show of year after returning from their winter home in California.

Mardi Gras - Gulf Shores

Mardi Gras – Gulf Shores

Mardi Gras - Gulf Shores

Mardi Gras – Gulf Shores

Mardi Gras - Gulf Shores

Mardi Gras – Gulf Shores

Mardi Gras - Gulf Shores

Mardi Gras – Gulf Shores

Mardi Gras Gulf Shores

Mardi Gras Gulf Shores

Mardi Gras Gulf Shores

Mardi Gras Gulf Shores

Gulf Shores has a nice Mardi Gras parade. Great experience for sure… Many of the communities here have parades. Schools here actually close for the week to take part in the celebration.

Mardi Gras Carnival Museum (2)

Mardi Gras Carnival Museum (2)

Mardi Gras Carnival Museum (3)

Mardi Gras Carnival Museum (3)

Mardi Gras Carnival Museum (4)

Mardi Gras Carnival Museum (4)

Mardi Gras Carnival Museum (5)

Mardi Gras Carnival Museum (5)

Mardi Gras Carnival Museum

Mardi Gras Carnival Museum

Mobile Museum of Art

Mobile Museum of Art

Mobile Museum of Art

Mobile Museum of Art

Mobile claims they started the Mardi Gras celebration in the South. However New Orleans has stolen the show from them. Lots of “old” Mobile money still supports the effort. However there is a new movement trying to upstage the “old” style celebration. We took on learning all we could about the celebration. The Carnival Museum was key resource for us. Their theme is just the Mardi Gras. It is educational, has a strong historical perspective as well as impressive exhibits. This year the Mobile Museum of Art had outstanding exhibits as well. Pictures included…

Fairhope Art Show

Fairhope Art Show

Fairhope Art Show - Food Court

Fairhope Art Show – Food Court

Fairhope Art Show

Fairhope Art Show

Fairhope Art Show

Fairhope Art Show

Destin Florida Waterfront

Destin Florida Waterfront

Destin Flordia Waterfront

Destin Flordia Waterfront

Destin Florida Waterfront

Destin Florida Waterfront

Destin Florida Waterfront

Destin Florida Waterfront

Elberta German Sausage Festival

Elberta German Sausage Festival

lberta German Sausage Festival

lberta German Sausage Festival

Whenever we could we caught local festivals plus lots of touring along the coast and nearby towns. The Fairhope Arts Festival was huge…hundreds of booth. The food was outstanding…see the photo for the menu. Fairhope is a favorite hang out for us with lots to do and plenty of places to eat and drink. During Spring Break time we headed down the Florida coast. The last stop was Destin, a great place to have some fun. We stopped short of Panama City where many of the Spring Breakers hangout. Our last festival was the Sausage Festival in Elberta. Would you believe I stood in line for almost an hour to experience their famous offering. It was worth the wait plus you did get to know those standing near you.

This is What We Left Behind

This is What We Left Behind

Packing for the New RV

Packing for the New RV

On the Way North

On the Way North

The time on the coast ended on a good note with 80 degree temps and moderate humidity. The fallout from selling the RV last fall was lots of “stuff”. We had to rent a storage unit. There was also a load of tools brought for the one time renovation project. Getting everything back to Michigan was also complicated by the purchase of a new RV to be picked up in Hamilton, Ohio near Cincinnati. So as we pulled out for the trip back the truck was full as well as a tag along U-haul trailer. The plan was to transfer the “stuff” in the trailer into the new RV.

Prepping the Unit

Prepping the Unit

Set up Complete - First Night Out

Set up Complete – First Night Out

Well, what do you think? The new RV (Rpod 179) is 15 ft shorter and 10,000 pounds lighter than the 5th wheel. Once we transferred all the “Stuff” there was hardly room for us. Guess we will need to regroup on the other end! Before we left Ohio we stayed in an RV park close by the dealership just in case. Everything worked great and headed back to home base in Michigan.

Larry Shimer and Jan at EnterTRAINment

Larry Shimer and Jan at EnterTRAINment

Old River Town EnterTRAINment

Old River Town EnterTRAINment

EnterTRAINment Downtown

EnterTRAINment Downtown

EnterTRAINment City Scene

EnterTRAINment City Scene

EnterTRAINment - Would You Believe Coney Island

EnterTRAINment – Would You Believe Coney Island

EnterTRAINment Seattle

EnterTRAINment Seattle

EnterTRAINment Seattle Parking

EnterTRAINment Seattle Parking

While we were staying in Ohio, we caught up with Larry again. He is a model train enthusiast and a favor stop for him is a place called EnterTRAINment. The displays are realistic as well as impressive. The displays are ever changing. It was a great experience and a worthwhile stop. We will go back.

Back Home in Michigan

Back Home in Michigan

View from the Top

View from the Top

It is great to be back in Traverse City. We did miss the view. The grass was green and needing to be cut. For us the summer will have many projects, people to see and places to go. First is getting everything unpacked and settled in…

By design our summer will be short in Michigan. The middle of August we leave for two months on the road in the new RV. The ultimate destination is Utah along with enjoying other national parks in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico along the way. In October we end up in Mississippi and Louisiana finishing the trip up in Vicksburg and the land of the Acadians in Lafayette. Before the first of November we will be back at The Ridge.
Have a great summer!

God Bless,

Larry and Jan

Gulf Shores Adventure

New winter home, no snow blower or lawn mower needed

New winter home, no snow blower or lawn mower needed

Here we are in Gulf Shores with the goal of escaping Michigan winters. We found this rather cool townhouse that needs just a little TLC at least that was the first take.

Before pictures…

Ok, now what

Ok, now what?

Looks ok, do you really think we should paint it!

Looks ok, do you really think we should paint it!

How do you paint something that high

How do you paint something that high?

Interesting space

Interesting space

What is the old saying…no pain no gain!

Again, whose idea was this

Again, whose idea was this

Some folks get to have all the fun

Some folks get to have all the fun

The painting seemed to go on forever

The painting seemed to go on forever…25 gallons and counting

Wish this ladder was a few inches longer

Wish this ladder was a few inches longer

This renovation was all about ladders

This renovation was all about ladders

This ladder fits almost everywhere

This ladder fits almost everywhere

The control center...seems a bit disorganized

The control center…seems a bit disorganized

Looking better?

Looking better?

At least there is one place to sit down

At least there is one place to sit down

Potential?

Potential?

Glad we did not do this ourselves

Glad we did not do this ourselves

Nice view from a distance

Nice view from a distance

Detailed work

Detailed work…62 pieces and counting

Trying to add a bit of class?

Trying to add a bit of class?

It is good when a project comes to an end…

Breakfast?

Breakfast anyone

Finally a work space...

Finally a work space…

Ready for visitor's from the north

Ready for visitor’s from the north

Electric fireplace, who would have thought...

Electric fireplace, who would have thought…

The is ok from here

The view is ok from here

It is starting to feel like home

It is starting to feel like home

Finally a real place to sit down

Finally a real place to sit down

Yes, it was worth all the effort.

It all comes together

It all comes together, finally

Summer in Traverse City 2014

Fall cometh...

Fall cometh…

The first signs of fall are here already. The geese are starting their southerly migration. It is clearly a sign for the Traverse City Snyders to follow their lead.

TC Sunset

TC Sunset

West Bay sunrise

West Bay sunrise

Summer diversion

Summer diversion

South patio view

South patio view

Yard photo op

Yard photo op

Patio view

Patio view

West Bay view from the patio

West Bay view from the patio

Color in the shade...

Color in the shade…

We started the summer being a little dubious about spending a summer in one place. Now as summer comes to close, we find that it was ok. Being home worked plus the Traverse City area has so much to offer. With our morning coffee we enjoy seeing the ever-changing sunrises plus it is always interesting to watch the weather over the Bay. We were blessed with good weather this year, just a little on the cool side. The AC was only used one day, mainly to see if it still worked. The yard and flowers exceeded our expectations with a little work and some TLC. Breakfast on the deck and dinner on the patio were all easy to take.

Hard way to get a view

Hard way to get a view

DYI Replaced fence

DYI Replaced fence

Has it been five years already?

Has it been five years already?

That being said not all was fun and games, well at least for us wanders. Being on the road for several summers found lots of things that needed to be shored up to meet current expectations. It is now clear to us why folks who travel do not have a house. But we found getting your hands dirty still has its rewards, at least once completed. The two big projects were replacing the rail fence and painting the house…glad that is over! The RV got a good cleaning from top to bottom so it is now ready to go.

Uncle Larry at the Glen Lake overview

Uncle Larry at the Glen Lake overview

Larry and Jan downtown Glen Haven

Larry and Jan downtown Glen Haven

Jan and I were pleased that (Uncle) Larry was able to visit us. We had a good time touring the region and just enjoying time together. The plan is to catch up with him on our way south at the end of October. It has been cool to reconnect with Aunt Laura along with David and Ileana.

Drexel University downtown Philly

Drexel University downtown Philly

Dr Paul

Dr Paul

Family Drexel celebration

Drexel celebration

A highlight of the summer was heading to the east coast attending son’s Paul’s PHD graduation from Drexel. He had worked hard and long to make this happen. Jan and I were pleased and proud to be there for the ceremony and celebration.

Breakfast with Mark

Breakfast with Mark

Karl, Mark and Larry having lunch in Herald Square, NYC

Karl, Mark and Larry having lunch in Herald Square, NYC

Downingtown bridge near downtown

Downingtown bridge near downtown

Jan and Paul Longwood Gardens

Jan and Paul Longwood Gardens

Longwood impressive fountains

Longwood impressive fountains

Longwood diversity

Longwood diversity

Longwood Planetarium

Longwood Planetarium

Longwood tower and moat

Longwood tower and moat

Longwood Garden is huge

Longwood Garden is huge

Paul at the Rough and Tumble grounds

Paul at the Rough and Tumble grounds

Rough and Tumble grounds...all kinds of equipment from the past

Rough and Tumble grounds…all kinds of equipment from the past

George Washington from the River Walk

George Washington from the River Walk

Highland Park NYC

Highline Park NYC

Highland Park NYC

Highline Park NYC

Central Park in June

Central Park in June

Central Park has lots of people on the east side

Central Park has lots of people on the east side

It is always good to see sons (Paul, Karl and Mark) which translates to trips to Downingtown, PA and NYC. We spent two weeks catching up and seeing the sights. We can always expect a full itinerary for our visit. This time was no exception. We did so much and here are some of the highlights. Longwood Gardens is always impressive for us and it is highly recommended as a must do if you have the chance. A new experience was the Rough and Tumble, an old equipment show grounds. Its depth and breadth of old equipment is outstanding and we will go back again. We have been going to NYC for ten years and it is still stimulating. The river walk along the Hudson is spectacular with so much to see. A newer favorite stop is the Highline Park which continues to grow and improve. It is always easy to spend an afternoon in Central Park. We will be back next year and are already working on the itinerary!

Never get tired of our walks along the Bay!

Never get tired of our walks along the Bay!

Vibrant downtown Traverse City

Vibrant downtown Traverse City

TC Market (our backyard garden)

TC Market (our backyard garden)

Cool Microbrewery

Cool Microbrewery

Fun Microbrewery

Fun Microbrewery

One of the recurring themes from our road travel is there is never enough time. This really held true for the summer as well. We found we were planning at least two weeks out most of the time. A favorite pastime was walking along the Bay…the views are additive. There is always something happening in downtown TC. It is a fun place to be. The area now boasts over 10 microbreweries. Time was devoted to check them out! Being on the road we missed our hometown farm market. It was good to be back on home ground.

Home away from home

Home away from home

Plenty of options here and on the road

Plenty of options here and on the road

The Little Traverse Wheelway near Petoskey

The Little Traverse Wheelway near Petoskey

What is this about ducks in a row?

What is this about ducks in a row?

One of the summer goals for both of us was to shape up. We determined now that we are retired, job one is to stay ahead of the aging process. Jan has made great headway on eating healthy. Both of us spent a lot of time just being out there walking, biking and working out. Several years back I joined Anytime Fitness which is working great. Most weeks I spend over 10 hours there doing “my” thing. Interestingly, now we not only look for a RV site but does the local area also have an Anytime Fitness Center.

Love spending time at the Sleeping Bear National Park

Love spending time at the Sleeping Bear National Park

Favorite spot off the Treat Trail...

Favorite spot off the Treat Trail…

Lake Michigan light house

Lake Michigan light house

Still trucking!

Still trucking!

Little Traverse Bay at twilight

Little Traverse Bay at twilight

Sunset over Little Traverse Bay Petoskey

Sunset over Little Traverse Bay Petoskey

Great adventure can be found in the Bear Creek Valley Recreation Area

Great adventure can be found in the Bear Creek Valley Recreation Area

Bear River - Petoskey

Bear River – Petoskey

Legs Inn at Cross Village

Legs Inn at Cross Village

Ithaca - Just in Time Campground

Ithaca – Just in Time Campground

Sunset Ithaca Michigan...

Sunset Ithaca Michigan…

Camp Fire...Bay City State Park

Camp Fire…Bay City State Park

Bay City State Parks...folks on the next site for the annual Harvest Festival

Bay City State Parks…folks on the next site for the annual Harvest Festival

The Sleeping Bear National Park keeps calling us back. We visited several times this summer…there are always pictures. Unfortunately there were only two trips with the RV. Trip one to Petoskey right after Labor Day. We spent a week there biking, hiking and enjoying the area. We now love Petoskey maybe even a little better than TC. Trip two was to Ithaca and Bay City. We used Ithaca as a base to do some cemetery sleuthing for the ongoing family genealogy project plus a visit to see Jan’s sister in Breckenridge. After Breckenridge was the Bay City State Park. There we caught up with all my siblings for dinner except Duane who lives in Colorado. An added bonus was spending a day in Frankenmuth and making a road trip up the sunrise side of the State.

Anyone for a chicken dinner?

Anyone for a chicken dinner?

Frankenmuth...Cass River

Frankenmuth…Cass River

River tour

River tour

Frankenmuth downtown

Frankenmuth downtown

Oneida Days at Sleeping Bear

Oneida Days at Sleeping Bear

The Tillers International Society brings back life activities from the past

The Tillers International Society brings back life from the past

Jan gets a music lesson

Jan gets a music lesson

Buckley Old Engine Show train ride Opportunity

Buckley Old Engine Show train ride opportunity

Just like the one at Grandpa Snyder's farm

Just like the one at Grandpa Snyder’s farm

Wow, this brings back memories of my days on the farm

Wow, this brings back memories of my days on the farm

Tall Ships come to Traverse City

Tall Ships come to Traverse City

4th of July...official kick off for the Cherry Festival

4th of July…official kick off for the Cherry Festival

Blue Angels always impress

Blue Angels always impress

Heritage Day in Leeland

Heritage Day in Leland

Remembering Post World War II cars...Dad had a black sedan

Remembering Post World War II cars…Dad had a black sedan

Dad had a 50 Chevy with the first automatic transmission...his was a black sedan

Dad had a 50 Chevy with the first automatic transmission…his was a black sedan

Our 55 was green...

Our 55 was green…

Leelanau Uncaged in Northport...second annual festival right on M22 (main street)

Leelanau Uncaged in Northport…second annual festival right on M22 (main street)

Northport landmark

Northport landmark

Northport M22

Northport M22

If you come to Traverse City, you can always find a festival celebration somewhere. We attended so many this summer it is hard to remember them all. A first time event was attending the Michigan Gulf Shores Club picnic held here at our township park. We even made the committee to help with the event next year.

Here we are ending our summer stay in Michigan

Here we are ending our summer stay in Michigan

All things have their season. Summer is ending and winter is now closer than you think. Our thoughts here now turn to our new life in Gulf Shores. This is another chapter in our retirement journey ever changing life-style. We both are looking forward to the challenge of another renovation project and setting up a winter hangout where there is no snow. By the way, the plan is to have all the renovations done by Christmas. We can hear the beaches and bike trails calling us!

Check out the link to Jan’s Journal

Next - Gulf Shores - Small Town - Big Beach

Next – Gulf Shores – Small Town – Big Beach

Do stop and see us if you can…

God bless,

Larry and Jan

2014 Winter – Spring

Gulf Shores - Orange Beach

Gulf Shores – Orange Beach

June is here already. It seems like just last week there was a snow drift in the driveway that needed to be moved. The last five months is just a blur. What I did not realize is when one stops working full time, time speeds up. The last post here was the “Larry and Jan Christmas Letter”. I had good intentions to do a couple of more by now. The timing is probably ok anyway as we were grounded in TC until late March. Not much of interest happened other than the routine of daily life, catching up on some reading, the never ending genealogy project and oh yes, I finally finished scanning all the old photos. Would you believe there are over 100,000 photos that now have to be edited and organized?

Christmas Eve after church

Christmas Eve after church

Christmas Morning

Christmas Morning

Our Christmas Tree is Outside

Our Christmas Tree is Outside

Christmas Scones by Larry

Christmas Scones by Larry

Jan and I had a quiet Christmas at home. We even did a Christmas tree although it was outside on the front deck. Coping with not being able to travel long distances demanded some adjustments to our way of life as we wanted it.

Paul and Marty's New Year Visit

Paul and Marty’s New Year Visit

Paul Does Bimimbap

Paul Does Bimimbap

New Year Celebration Meal

New Year Celebration Meal

Paul on Snow Shoes

Paul on Snow Shoes

It was great to have Paul and Marty here in January. It was good to catch up, have some good food which also included a trip to Grand Rapids with stops at the San Chez Tapas Restaurant and Founders Brewery. Oh yes, there was a stop at fields Fabrics. These all are favorite hangouts for this crowd.

The Annual Christmas Photo for the Snyder Group

The Annual Christmas Photo for the Snyder Group

Here is a picture of the Snyder tribe at the Christmas gathering…all looking good but just a bit more mature!

Last Morning Staying on the Neitzke Family Homestead

Last Morning Staying on the Neitzke Family Homestead

Iconic Shot of the Engine House at the Farm

Iconic Shot of the Engine House at the Farm

In January we made the last trip to the Neitzke family farm to finish the projects there. Sadly In March Jan lost her sister, Donna. We miss her and finding carrying on life without her will take some time to accept.

The Snow at the Top of the Hill just kept getting deeper

The Snow at the Top of the Hill just kept getting deeper

The winter of 2014 was one for the record book

The winter of 2014 was one for the record book

The big red machine kept busy this winter

The big red machine kept busy this winter

The winter view of West Bay is always great when the sunshines

The winter view of West Bay is always great when the sunshines

Back yard winter scene

Back yard winter scene

After awhile the fence was completely buried

After awhile the fence was completely buried

The shadows on the snow add dimension to the winter scene

The shadows on the snow add dimension to the winter scene

The little creek in back of the house...

The little creek in back of the house…

Lots of traffic in the woods even in the winter

Lots of traffic in the woods even in the winter

There is always that artistic shot!

There is always that artistic shot!

View along West Bay on a nice winter day walk

View along West Bay on a nice winter day walk

This was the winter that would not end. Many winter records were shattered with all the snow and cold weather. The Bay froze which had not happened since 2007. It was a good decision to get “that” snow blower as we would not have been able to deal with the amount of snow that befell us. The upside was there was sun and lots of excellent snow for skiing. It was also a great time to get out with the camera.

Getting ready to head south...which translated to digging out the RV

Getting ready to head south…which translated to digging out the RV

First night on the road...Yes, we finally left the snow behind

First night on the road…Yes, we finally left the snow behind

The good news was I got the medical go ahead to hit the road mid March. The bad news was the RV was stilled buried in snow and frozen in the ice. It took considerable intestinal fortitude to break it out of its winter bondage, however we were determined. Finally by the third week of March we got on the road heading south to Gulf Shores, Alabama. We had reservations at the Island Retreat RV Park. The park is in a central location, on the bike trail, next to the lagoon for kayaking and close to the beach. There is a large state park with an excellent trail system for biking and hiking.

Would you believe over 17 inches of rain in less than 24 hours

Would you believe over 17 inches of rain in less than 24 hours

The RV had to be rescued from this lake!

The RV had to be rescued from this lake!

The weather was interesting there this winter and bit unusual. The first couple of weeks there was over 12 inches of rain. Just before we left Mother Nature dropped another 17 inches of rain which flooded the RV Park where we stayed. Even my Alaska boots were not high enough to wade through the water to get to the truck.

The Townhouse at Gulf Shores

The Townhouse at Gulf Shores

The Great Room

The Great Room

The ceilings are over 20 Feet

The ceilings are over 20 Feet

Jan checking out the new kitchen

Jan checking out the new kitchen

We fell in love with the Gulf Shores area. The small town look and feel along with big beaches and other activities drew us in to thinking we would like to live there. To make a long story short, before we knew it, we had bought a townhouse. It is about the same size as our Traverse City home. The plan is to mix it up a bit. Winters in Gulf Shores, summers in Traverse City with several “bucket list” trips with the old RV. These changes all come under the heading of a less demanding travel schedule and a snow blower is not required equipment.

We are looking for plenty of folks to stop and see us in our new house in Gulf Shores. However the caution that I extend right now for the first three months this fall is if you do stop by bring your work clothes. Since the house is empty this is a good opportunity to take on all the upgrades to make it “ours”.

Looking across the lagoon...3000 feet to the Gulf

Looking across the lagoon…3000 feet to the Gulf

This is Lefty...a friend found along the bike trail on a daily basis...

This is Lefty…a friend found along the bike trail on a daily basis…

Alabama tourist site

Alabama tourist site

Mobile Botanical Gardens in the spring

Mobile Botanical Gardens in the spring

On the trail

On the trail

Alabama in March

Alabama in March

Chanute Kansas landmark

Chanute Kansas landmark

Hannibal Missouri

Hannibal Missouri

Cool livestock bridge in Kansas

Cool livestock bridge in Kansas

Jan paint Tom's fence

Jan paint Tom’s fence

Mississip River

Mississip River

There are not a lot of travel pictures so far this year. I did make friends with an Alligator called Lefty…who lost his left eye and front leg. He is a common sight along a favorite bike trail. After Gulf Shores, Jan and I headed to Chanute, Kansas for RV service. Once we got there we found additional repairs had to be made so we left it and headed back to Michigan. Two weeks later we went back (2,000 miles round trip) to pick it up. It is now ready to rock and roll again. The plan is the RV comes out of storage in September with the goal to be in Gulf Shores by the first of November.

New fence

New fence

First time building a cedar fence

First time building a cedar fence

Spring things do green up in Michigan

Spring things do green up in Michigan

Lots to do after several years being on the road in the summer...

Lots to do after several years being on the road in the summer…

It is great to be back in Traverse City this summer. Jan and I took on replacing the 35 year old cedar fence. It looks great. We find after being on the road for an extended period of time it translates to more work to get things back where we want them. There are lots of projects in play for the summer.

Morning coffee entertain this summer

Morning coffee entertain this summer

The Cherries look good this year

The Cherries look good this year

Here is a sample of TC in the spring!

Here is a sample of TC in the spring!

Life in Northern Michigan is great. The Cherry blossoms were spectacular. We are enjoying the sunrises over West Bay and just watching the changing weather over the water every day is a pleasure. We plan to spend time enjoying the Bay Region this summer.

Have a safe and happy summer. Stop and see us and please do keep in touch.

God bless,

Larry and Jan

2013 Christmas Greetings From Larry and Jan!

It is said variety is the spice of life! From our experiences this year, we find living the RV life-style is certainly a cool way to find adventure and have new experiences. We started the year as campground hosts at the National Seashore Park on Padre Island near Corpus Christi. Our campground was on the Inter-coastal waterway side of the island (Laguna Madre). One of the best wind-surfing locations in the US which draws lots of interesting folks. The weather was great (no snow). Our days were spent biking, hiking and on the water.

Padre Island National Seashore - Camp Ground Hosts

Padre Island National Seashore – Camp Ground Hosts

Not wanting to stay in one place too long, we headed out the middle of March spending some quality time in Galveston, New Orleans and Gulf Shores. In April we found ourselves back in Traverse City where we washed off the Texas dust and packed for a summer on the road heading north to Alaska, a trip we wanted to make for years. By mid-May, we were in Canada making our way around the North Shore of Lake Superior. The theme for this adventure was slow down, stop early and explore.

The Northwest Territories called us and we made it all the way to Yellowknife…that is as far as one can drive in the summer (the ice road being closed). Being early spring, there was a major washout on our planned route which translated to a 750 mile back-tracking adventure, lesson learned. Not having enough of the northern exposure, we caught the Alaska Highway, then the Dalton Highway to Prudhoe Bay where we arrived one day short of the summer solstice. Yes, Jan and I waded in the Arctic Ocean. Two things that I can say about the trip…Padre Island was a long ways south and the Dalton Highway is definitely a once in a life time adventure! We can now check off the list all the Canadian providences and territories except Nunavut.

Alaskan Highway - Dawson Creek, BC

Alaskan Highway – Dawson Creek, BC

Northwest Territories

Northwest Territories

"The" Dalton Highway

“The” Dalton Highway

Arctic Circle on the way to Prudhoe Bay

Arctic Circle on the way to Prudhoe Bay

Finally we got down to experiencing Alaska. Our objective was not to leave any stone unturned, of course limited only by places that are accessible to one pulling a RV. The major stops were Fairbanks, Denali, Anchorage, and Kenai Peninsula, Valdez, the Inter-coastal waterway, Juneau, Sitka, Skagway and then back to the Alaska Highway. This took us a couple of months. By mid-August, we were off for a two week adventure in the National Parks in the Canadian Rockies, but it was not meant to be. In British Columbia, Canada, Larry was struck with a blood clot which dramatically took over our lives. After a fairly long delay in Canada we headed back to Michigan arriving mid-September.

North to Alaska

North to Alaska

Fairbanks at Midnight

Fairbanks at Midnight

Alaskan Glacier...one of many!

Alaskan Glacier…one of many!

Kluane Lake...great stop over

Kluane Lake…great stop over

Top of the World View...

Top of the World View…

Muncho Lake

Muncho Lake

Alaskan Inter-Coastal Waterway

Alaskan Inter-Coastal Waterway

Denali (Mt McKinley)

Denali (Mt McKinley)

White Pass Steam Train...Skagway to Whitehorse

White Pass Steam Train…Skagway to Whitehorse

Summer in Alaska

Summer in Alaska

Alaska...Bears and Salmon

Alaska…Bears and Salmon

Native Totem Poles

Native Totem Poles

Fireweed Color

Fireweed Color

To make a long story short, we are sidelined in Traverse City until March. Winter travel plans had to be revised along with securing a snow blower to deal with that dreaded white “stuff” which keeps coming every day. However, you have to admit winter paints a beautiful picture. Right now we are on track to spend April in Gulf Shores, Alabama with a side trip to Kansas for a much needed visit to the RV factory for a major repair. Next summer will be enjoying our home in Traverse City and then looking for adventure in Utah for a couple of months starting in August. Next winter will be spent in a way to give the snow blower a rest!

Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home

Home away from home

Home away from home

Jan lost her Mother in February. She had a long journey and was 100 years old. We miss her and life will certainly not to be the same now that she is gone along with the ties to the historic family farm. Karl, Mark and Cully made the trip from NYC to visit us in October. It was so great to have them here and share what Northwest Michigan has to offer. We are looking forward to a visit from Paul and Marty in January. Good news, Paul is now Dr Paul having completed his PHD work and Fiona has finished her Masters. We plan a trip east next year to catch them on their home turf and take in some city life. It was fun to catch up with the “Snyder’s”at a gathering at brother Dale’s cottage this fall…picture attached.

Mark on the trail

Mark on the trail

Karl at Sleep Bear

Karl at Sleep Bear

Sand Dune...Cully, Karl, Jan

Sand Dune…Cully, Karl, Jan

Snyder's Fall Gathering

Snyder’s Fall Gathering

So as you can see…life is still good here! Keep in touch.

At the Arctic on the first day of Summer!

At the Arctic on the first day of Summer!

God Bless,

Larry and Jan

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Traverse City – 2013/2014!

The Cassiar HWY Then Back To Michigan

A: Skagway B: Whitehorse C: Teslin D: Boya Lake E: Kinaskan Lake F: Meziadin Lake G: Smithers

A: Skagway B: Whitehorse C: Teslin D: Boya Lake E: Kinaskan Lake F: Meziadin Lake G: Smithers

This is the final posting for our journey to Canada and Alaska for the summer of 2013. All I can say is the trip was awe-inspiring. The trip fuels the flame for more travel adventures. It was sad that it did end abruptly on a sour note. So now we pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and get on with life. Medical issues aside, life is good, we are bouncing back with updated priorities but have a new set of “marching orders”, at least for the next few months.

Looks like "smelling the roses" is over for this year!

Looks like “smelling the roses” is over for this year!

Along the road we noted summer is coming to an end as there were no more roses to stop and smell as the locals are now harvesting the rose hips. The final leg was from Skagway (South Klondike Highway), back tracking along the Alaska Highway and then heading south on the Cassiar Highway. These highways are spectacular as well as fun to drive. It was easy to find impressive places to stay. The Provincial Parks along the Cassiar are exceptional. Our pace slowed to take advantage of that place at that point in time.

South Klondike but south of Skagway

South Klondike but south of Skagway

Lots of folks make Emerald Lake a destination (Also called Rainbow Lake)

Lots of folks make Emerald Lake a destination (Also called Rainbow Lake)

You climb many hills on the South Klondike Highway...but it was worth it!

You climb many hills on the South Klondike Highway…but it was worth it!

South Klondike Highway - The Fireweed nearing the end of the summer

South Klondike Highway – The Fireweed nearing the end of the summer

The South Klondike Highway had a number of steep grades however the views are spectacular. There are many turnouts to get that “one more” Photo. We kept meeting the same folks along the way. Many of them were from the Skagway Tour Ships in rental cars out exploring. One destination for many was Emerald Lake…very colorful as well as beautiful.

Whitehorse - USS Klondike

Whitehorse – USS Klondike

Whitehorse MacBride Museum - Sam Magee's Cottage

Whitehorse MacBride Museum – Sam Magee’s Cottage

Heading into Alaska in June we run out of time in Whitehorse, YT. We took a couple of more days to finish up what we had missed. Back in the day in this part of the world the mode of transportation was the steamboat. Parks Canada has done an excellent job restoring the S.S. Klondike an icon from the past. It is worth a stop. Although a bit eclectic, the locally run MacBride Museum was interesting. Sam Magee’s cabin is housed there. Sam Magee was made famous by Robert Service, poet who wrote the “Cremation of Sam Magee”. Whitehorse is “the” city in the Yukon with a unique personality of its own.

Teslin Tlingit Heritage Centre

Teslin Tlingit Heritage Centre

We heard some nice things about the Teslin Tlingit Heritage Center. We planned an overnight at Teslin. The Provincial Park on Teslin Lake ended up being the highlight of the stop as the Heritage Center was ok but overrated. Over the course of the trip we did many native Heritage Centers and found that the price of admission had nothing to do with the depth and breadth of the materials presented.

Cassiar Highway

Cassiar Highway

Cassiar Highway

Cassiar Highway

Cassiar Highway

Cassiar Highway

Along the way we had heard a lot about the Cassiar Highway both good and bad. It is 450 miles south from the Alaskan Highway to the Yellowhead Highway. The Yellowhead extends from Prince Rupert to Edmonton and is a main route. The Cassiar is narrow with no shoulder on the north and widens as you head south and was an easy driving experience (at least we had experienced much worse). Once again the views are terrific and the grades were not as bad as expected. By the way there is a side trip from Dease Lake to Telegraph Creek (a native village) which is outstanding, if you can take driving the narrow road along very high cliffs. Those who have done it said it is over the top in the way of an experience. We did not take the time to do it but wished we had!

Kayaking Boya Lake was fun

Kayaking Boya Lake was fun

Boya Lake is colorful but no fish

Boya Lake is colorful but no fish

Lots of Beaver action to check out around Boya

Lots of Beaver action to check out around Boya

Boya Lake sunrise over the mountains

Boya Lake sunrise over the mountains

Boya Lake and Provincial Park

Boya Lake and Provincial Park

The first stop was Boya Lake. It is big rig friendly. The park and the lake are outstanding. We got the Kayaks in the water. The color of the lake is breathtaking. However there are no fish in the lake.

Kinaskan Lake from the RV park

Kinaskan Lake from the RV park

Kinaskan Lake Provincial Park - nice beach

Kinaskan Lake Provincial Park – nice beach

The next stop was Kinaskan Lake. There we had another great spot on the water. This is a great fishing lake and a destination for many.

Meziadian is a huge lake with lots of small islands plus great fishing

Meziadian is a huge lake with lots of small islands plus great fishing

Great weather and views at the Meziadian Provincial Park

Great weather and views at the Meziadian Provincial Park

It is a great drive to Hyder, Alaska from the Cassiar

It is a great drive to Hyder, Alaska from the Cassiar

The final stop on the Cassiar was Meziadian Lake. This is a very nice park where we planned to spend some time. This is where the trip took that unexpected turn. The plan was to use the park as a base camp. The attraction was Hyder, Alaska about 45 miles west which is where the bears hang out feeding on Salmon this time of the year. This was highlighted as a must see by those who had been there. We ended up spending only one night before heading off to Smither’s to find me some medical help with my ailing leg.

Smithers, BC to Traverse City, MI 2.500 miles

Smithers, BC to Traverse City, MI 2.500 miles

Found more glaciers in the Canadian Rockies...

Found more glaciers in the Canadian Rockies…

The Canadian Rockies have great view too!

The Canadian Rockies have great view too!

Of course we have to make a stop in Wakefield Michigan where they make the best Pasties.  The City RV park over looks Sunday Lake.

Of course we have to make a stop in Wakefield Michigan where they make the best Pasties. The City RV park over looks Sunday Lake.

Seven Mile Beach a favorite stop in the Upper Peninsula

Seven Mile Beach a favorite stop in the Upper Peninsula

Good to see the Mackinaw Bridge only 100 miles from home!

Good to see the Mackinaw Bridge only 100 miles from home!

We spent about a week in Smithers. Once I was given medical clearance to drive home we took on the 2,500 mile journey. It took eight days to make the trip. The route was through the Canadian Rockies to US 2. US 2 is the northern East/West route across the US. It is mostly two lanes and much of it through the Plains. Lots of small towns to keep you entertained along the way. It was good to see the Mackinaw Bridge and knowing that we were only 100 miles from home.

Back Home In Traverse City

Back Home In Traverse City

It has been a little over a week since we got back. Our world is transitioning from life on the road to one of being home bound. The current read is we will be grounded here for at least the next six months. The fact that the house did not sell we now see as divine intervention. This gives us a nice place to hang out for the near-term. Although our winter plans have to change we are already starting the planning for next summer’s trip to Utah. Stay tuned to find out what comes next with the Traverse City Snyder’s.

For those of you who are planning a trip to Alaska we are always looking for opportunities to share our experience.

God Bless,

Larry and Jan

Unexpected turn of events!

Here is where the trip takes and unexpected turn!

Here is where the trip takes an unexpected turn!

Here is an unexpected blog posting. The drama continues! Last year on our way home from a summer on the road Jan had an encounter with a cab on her bike. It took us six months to fix everything that was broken. This year it is my turn. To make a very long story very short after leaving Alaska and about half way to the Canadian Rockies I was blindsided with a blood clot (DVT) which ended up being quite serious. The event was complicated by us being in a remote part of British Columbia where getting a confirmed diagnosis or treatment was not possible. We ultimately landed in Smithers, BC at the Bulkley Valley Hospital where we spent 10 days as an outpatient. The support we got from our family, the hospital staff and the local folks made the entire adventure much easier. We truly felt blessed so many came to our aid when we needed it.

The good news is instead of being forced to fly back to Michigan, I got the clearance to drive if I make regular stops at hospitals or medical centers along the way to make sure everything is working like it should. We found out that was easier said than done. So far so good and we are four days out from being back on home turf. It is looking like I will be grounded for the next three to six months. We will see what life brings us next as the saga continues…

Once I get back. I will post the final update on the last leg of the trip on the Alaskan Highway and the Cassiar Highway. Life is good as we relax tonight at the Red River Recreation Area in East Grand Forks, MN. In one way we are sad that trip is ending but on the other hand we are just happy we made it this far!

God Bless,

Larry and Jan

Skagway (Continued)

Skagway (Continued From Previous Post)

Malaspina To Skagway Via The Inside Passage

Malaspina To Skagway Via The Inside Passage

We now pick up as we leave Juneau for Skagway. The ferry time of 7am translate to a 5am check in. It was a warm and sunny day for the 6.5 hours trip.

Inside Passage

Inside Passage

Inside Passage

Inside Passage

Inside Passage - Hazy View

Inside Passage – Hazy View

Inside Passage - Note the Glacier

Inside Passage – Note the Glacier

Coming Into Skagway

Coming Into Skagway

The views on the way are breath taking.

Overlooking Skagway From Road to Dyea

Overlooking Skagway From Road to Dyea

Skagway sits in a valley and was the natural seaport for the gold miners to start their 1,500 mile land journey to the Klondike Gold Fields. Today it is the stopping off point for tour ships up to 30,000 folks on the street on any one day…today being one of those days. Back in 1898 there were over 80 saloons in town and today there are over 80 jewelry stores…

Skagway Main Street Looking South

Skagway Main Street Looking South

Skagway Main Street Looking North

Skagway Main Street Looking North

Across The Tracks

Across The Tracks

The history of Skagway is being told today by the National Park Service. The NPS theme for Skagway is similar to that of Dawson City in the Yukon Territory. The NPS has a strong presence here and has bought up part of the town to tell the story much the same as in Dawson City with the Yukon Government’s role. The two cities history link is the gold rush. Dawson City is the home for the Klondike gold and Skagway was the port of entry. In 1898 30,000 people with Gold Fever passed through the town on their way to Dawson City.

Skagway Color

Skagway Color

Skagway Color

Skagway Color

Skagway Buildings Are Over 100 Years Old

Skagway Buildings Are Over 100 Years Old

Skagway Is The Land Of The Tourist

Skagway Is The Land Of The Tourist

There has never been a major fire here so many of the buildings date back to founding days. They are tastefully restored and now house shops for the very large tourist trade. There are over 850,000 visitors each year by tour boat and only 15,000 visitors by ferry or land.

Frank Reid - Town Hero Who Shot Jeff (Soapy) Smith

Frank Reid – Town Hero Who Shot Jeff (Soapy) Smith

Soapy Smith - The Original Town Con Artist - See The Play When You Are In Town!

Soapy Smith – The Original Town Con Artist – See The Play When You Are In Town!

Where Dawson City was very safe and well protected by the Canadian Mounties Skagway was wide open. The original “bad guy” was Jeff (Soapy) Smith. A man named Frank Reid took him out in a shoot out becoming the town hero in 1898. Of course we had to visit the graves in the Miner’s Cemetery like everyone else.

White Pass - Steam Engine Tour

White Pass – Steam Engine Tour

The railroad played an important part in the history for Skagway. It is now a tour attraction. Back in May we signed up for the White Pass Meadows Steam Engine Tour. Highly recommend this trip…however if you are on a ship tour you get the better seats.

Looking Forward From The Platform

Looking Forward From The Platform

Looking Back From The Platform

Looking Back From The Platform

You Can Reach Out and Touch the Cliff

You Can Reach Out and Touch the Cliff

Keeping An Eye On The Tracks

Keeping An Eye On The Tracks

Standing on the Platform...Camera In Hand!

Standing on the Platform…Camera In Hand!

Another View From the Platform

Another View From the Platform

Inspiration Point!

Inspiration Point!

inspiration Point View

inspiration Point View

Passing the Old Tressle - Photo Opt!

Passing the Old Tressle – Photo Opt!

Near The Moonscape Area

Near The Moonscape Area

Near the Meadows Area

Near the Meadows Area

Glacier Stream Along The Tracks

Glacier Stream Along The Tracks

Small Stream Along The Tracks

Small Stream Along The Tracks

White Pass Summit

White Pass Summit

Near White Pass

Near White Pass

Border Crossing

Border Crossing

Entertainment for the Photographers - Letting Off Steam!

Entertainment for the Photographers – Letting Off Steam!

The photos tell the story of the journey to the Meadows and back again.

Plenty of White Pass Rail History To Be Found In Skagway

Plenty of White Pass Rail History To Be Found In Skagway

Would You Believe This Snow Blower Was Built in 1898

Would You Believe This Snow Blower Was Built in 1898

There is plenty of train history here. There are lots of places to hear the story.

Other Tour Options -  More Modern Locomotives

Other Tour Options – More Modern Locomotives

Other train tour options are by the newer locomotives…

Letting Off Steam

Letting Off Steam

However I still like the old steam engines…

Taiya Inlet Near Dyea - Foot of the Chilkoot Trail - From Here The Miners Took The Water Route

Taiya Inlet Near Dyea – Foot of the Chilkoot Trail – From Here The Miners Took The Water Route

Dyea Town Site Harbor - 1898 This Was Open Water

Dyea Town Site Harbor – 1898 This Was Open Water

Dyea Town Site - Now A Part of History

Dyea Town Site – Now A Part of History

We did a side trip to Dyea, a town that no longer exists…a tour is provided by NPS. It was competing for the miner’s dollars with Skagway and played an interesting role in how Skagway developed. It is also the trail head for the infamous Chilkoot Trail used by the hordes of miners heading north. Today it is a popular three to five day hike. The views getting to Dyea were good and driving the one lane road along the cliffs kept your interest.

Summer's End?  The Fireweed has Gone to Seed!

Summer’s End? The Fireweed has Gone to Seed!

Is summer over? The Fireweed is done and is going to seed. This may be a sign to find a route and start heading south. Sadly tomorrow we are off to Whitehorse, YT and yes we will be leaving Alaska. The only way out of here by land is back north to the Alaskan Highway. The plan is to spend another month in Canada with the ultimate goal to experience the Canadian Rockies National Parks (Jasper, Banff, Yoho and Kootenay). We will be traveling south on the Cassiar Highway which will be another adventure all by itself. Plus there will be several side trips along the way. For those of you following the blog there will not be many more glacier pictures but you can expect more photos of the Canadian mountains.

The next post will be from Jasper in a couple of weeks.

God Bless,

Larry and Jan

Haines – Juneau – Sitka (Skagway Continues In Next Posting)

Alaska Route:  (A=Haines_ (B=Juneau) (C= Sitka) (Back To B=Juneau) (D=Skagway)

Alaska Route: (A=Haines_ (B=Juneau) (C= Sitka) (Back To B=Juneau) (D=Skagway)

Inside Passage - Malaspina Coming into Port

Inside Passage – Malaspina Coming into Port

The Alaskan journey for Larry and Jan continues. The blog now picks up in Haines where we catch the ferry for our travels on the Inside Passage. This leg of the journey took us to Juneau, then Sitka, back to Juneau finishing up in Skagway. We did make the two day trip to Sitka with the truck but without the RV. Once again Alaska has exceeded our expectations. Our time here (17 days) went very fast with more than enough to hold our interest and keep us very busy. We truly enjoyed the experience and would do it again in a heartbeat. The lesson learned here was our RV is almost too large for this ferry system. The ferries generally load from the side and require tight turns getting on and off. The length of our truck and rig is 56FT which was right on the edge. It required some tight maneuvers that seemed quite unnatural. Leaving Juneau the crew was much better at positioning the loading and communicating the delicate maneuvers required. To make a very long story short…when we arrived in Juneau in order to get off I had to back off (about a quarter mile) and then with the tight turns the RV was actually hitting the cab of the truck. However once we were loaded and unloaded the ferries were a great experience. Our favorite stops were Sitka and Skagway in that order.

Dalton - Set for the Movie White Fang - At Haines, AK

Dalton – Set for the Movie White Fang – At Haines, AK

Lutak Inlet at Haines, AK

Lutak Inlet at Haines, AK

Chilkoot Lake

Chilkoot Lake

Chilkoot River

Chilkoot River

Salmon Run - Chilkoot River

Salmon Run – Chilkoot River

Haines is a nice little town. No real downtown however. There is a book here written by a resident called “If You Lived Here I Would Know Your Name” which about sums it up. The movie White Fang was shot near here and the set has been moved to the Fairgrounds. Fun little experience and they even had a micro-brewery. The local museums were ok. We had a nice trip along the Inlet out to Chilkoot Lake. The lake is fed by a glacier and empties into the Chilkoot River. The Salmon were running and the fishermen were hauling them in. We had three nights here which was more than enough.

Downtown Juneau

Downtown Juneau

A Temporary Juneau High Rise

A Temporary Juneau High Rise

Juneau was a bit different than I expected. In the summer there are over 30 tour ships a week so there are crowds of people. You can readily see the downtown theme is one that caters to the tour ship clientele. There are plenty of hiking and biking trails so one is able to get out and enjoy the area without the crowds.

Inside Passage in the Mist - Going to Juneau

Inside Passage in the Mist – Going to Juneau

Going to Juneau - Back Where the Sun Sets!

Going to Juneau – Back Where the Sun Sets!

Traveling to Juneau from Haines was late in the day and very overcast. The views along the waterway were still great but the photos are not outstanding. It was interesting for us to be back south and find that sun does set. The ferry was two hours late departing and we were the last one off the ferry. We ended the day parking the RV after midnight and in the dark.

The Tracy Arm Fjord

The Tracy Arm Fjord

Just Going is Half the Fun - Tracy Arm Fjord

Just Going is Half the Fun – Tracy Arm Fjord

Glacier Blue Water - Tracy Arm Fjord

Glacier Blue Water – Tracy Arm Fjord

Where There are Glaciers, There will be Waterfalls - Tracy Arm Fjord

Where There are Glaciers, There will be Waterfalls – Tracy Arm Fjord

Closing in on Sawyer Glacier - Iceberg That Just Flipped

Closing in on Sawyer Glacier – Iceberg That Just Flipped

Iceberg Blue

Iceberg Blue

Ice Flows - Getting Closer...

Ice Flows – Getting Closer…

Sawyer Glacier - Kenai Peninsula - Tracy Arm Fjord

Sawyer Glacier – Kenai Peninsula – Tracy Arm Fjord

Sawyer Glacier

Sawyer Glacier

The Closer You are the Bigger it Gets...

The Closer You are the Bigger it Gets…

One Large Piece of Ice...

One Large Piece of Ice…

Calving Action Shot!!!   First the Rumble then the Wave!

Calving Action Shot!!! First the Rumble then the Wave!

Admiring the View

Admiring the View

Second Sawyer Glacier...Smaller but Taller

Second Sawyer Glacier…Smaller but Taller

Just Plain Impressive

Just Plain Impressive

Sawyer Glacier (The Dark Blue is Compressed Ice)

Sawyer Glacier (The Dark Blue is Compressed Ice)

Tracy Fjord - Heading Back to Juneau in the Rain

Tracy Fjord – Heading Back to Juneau in the Rain

Side Trip Into a Cove...Note Water Color

Side Trip Into a Cove…Note Water Color

We strongly recommend the Tracy Arm Fjord tour. We booked this trip back in May based on the reviews. It is a nine hour trip and even though it rained much of the time, it was still a great experience. On the tour you visit two of the Sawyer Glaciers. The pictures tell the story.

Mendenhall Glacier Near Juneau

Mendenhall Glacier Near Juneau

Falls From Juneau Ice Field At The Mendenhall Glacier

Falls From Juneau Ice Field At The Mendenhall Glacier

Mendenhall Iceberg

Mendenhall Iceberg

Two miles from our RV Park was the Mendenhall Glacier. It is easy to access. We spent three to four hours hiking the trails and enjoying the scenery. The visitor center has good resources and a show that is worthwhile.

Sitka Fast Ferry

Sitka Fast Ferry

Inside Passage - Going to Sitka - No Rain!

Inside Passage – Going to Sitka – No Rain!

Inside Passage On The Way to Sitka

Inside Passage On The Way to Sitka

Inside Passage

Inside Passage

Inside Passage - Narrow Channel

Inside Passage – Narrow Channel

Next was the trip to Sitka. We left early morning (up at 3am). It was a beautiful day as you can see from the photos.

Sitka Harbor

Sitka Harbor

Sitka From Castle Hill

Sitka From Castle Hill

It was fun being in Sitka. They only get five to six tour ships a week. The hotel we chose was the Westmark which was a decent choice. The view of the harbor from our room was one of the best things.

ST Michael's Cathedral - Russian Orthodox Church - Downtown Sitka

ST Michael’s Cathedral – Russian Orthodox Church – Downtown Sitka

Russia played a key role in Sitka’s history. St Michael’s Russian Orthodox Church is right in the middle of the city. It still has a strong presence today. Finding your way around is interesting as the city follows the Tlingit trails of the past. We found the city very interesting and again wished we had one more day to tour the area.

Russian Bishop's House - Restored By The National Park Service

Russian Bishop’s House – Restored By The National Park Service

National Park Service - Tlingit History - Impressive Display of Totem Poles

National Park Service – Tlingit History – Impressive Display of Totem Poles

The National Park System has done a good job telling the story of Sitka. The Russian’s Bishop House is where you can learn about the Russian side of history. The National Park Visitor Center tells the Tlingit story. Yes, there are plenty of totem poles to see.

Sheldon Jackson Museum - Alaskan Native Collection - Run By State Of Alaska

Sheldon Jackson Museum – Alaskan Native Collection – Run By State Of Alaska

Sheldon Jackson Collection

Sheldon Jackson Collection

Another recommendation is the Sheldon Jackson Museum. There are other museums in town but this one is the best (our opinion). Sheldon was a Christian Missionary. His collection of Native Artifacts from all over Alaska is outstanding. We had three hours and it was not nearly enough time to get through everything.

Tongrass National Park - Coastal Rainforest

Tongrass National Park – Coastal Rainforest

Tongrass National Park

Tongrass National Park

Tongrass National Park Hike

Tongrass National Park Hike

Tongrass National Forest

Tongrass National Forest

Tongrass National Forest - Ocean Side

Tongrass National Forest – Ocean Side

Juneau and Sitka are both in the Tongrass National Forest (a rain forest). We managed a hike and enjoyed the time on the trail. It is a very interesting area being very green with lots of moss everywhere.

Back To Juneau In The Rain

Back To Juneau In The Rain

Covered Deck on Fast Ferry The Fairweather?

Covered Deck on Fast Ferry The Fairweather?

Back to Juneau In The Rain...Still Awesome!

Back to Juneau In The Rain…Still Awesome!

All good things do end and we headed back to Juneau in the rain…

This is a long post so the decision is to break it up to make it more internet friendly. The Skagway portion of the trip continues in the next blog…