Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Smoke Season 2015

River Complex fire perimeter (gold) 8-26-2015
Well, we're nearly a month into smoke season here in the Trinity Alps. A multitude of lightning strikes started a series of fires in late July that have morphed into several complexes, the closest to us being the River Complex (see gold patch in the image).

According to a Record Searchlight headline (neighboring county's newspaper), about 10% of Trinity County has burned in the past few weeks. Not only is this devastating for the forests, many people have lost homes, as well.

As the smoke hangs heavy here in the canyon, my heart goes out to those who have lost so much to fire in the past few weeks, here in Trinity County as well as elsewhere in California and the Pacific Northwest.

NOTE: The image shows the River Complex fire perimeter as of this morning in gold with red dots/circles showing current activity, the 2006 burnout in green (we're somewhere in that area), the 2008 fire perimeter in purple, and a previous burn in blue. Sure not much left un-scorched around here.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Visited States and Provinces Maps!

This is exactly what I've been looking for: A map that lets me see at a glance where all we've traveled - and where we still need to go. Isn't it cool? I'm so happy one of my Facebook friends shared it there. Now if it would just let me put in the year, I'd really be set! So if you want to get a visual on where you've been, visit the MapLoco site.

Create Your Own Visited States Map

Create Your Own Visited Provinces and Territories Map

Happy traveling!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Other Alaska Road Trip Expenses

Kennecott (I think Joel tilted the camera a little...)
To make trip planning and the math easy, we allocated 30% of our Alaska road trip budget to miscellaneous expenses. Since we only had four expense categories and the first three (food, fuel, lodging) were pretty easy to guesstimate and came to $7,000, throwing in another $3,000 for whatever else came up brought the total budget to a nice even $10,000. How much easier could the math be than that?

Even though we usually shy away from guided tours, one of the things I was dedicated to seeing was the old mill town of Kennecott in the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and the only way to get into the 14-story mill building is on a guided tour through St. Elias Alpine Guides. I also knew Joel wanted to explore a glacier and figured doing so with a guide would save me from inadvertently stumbling into a crevasse. So our first planned misc. expenses were a half-day glacier tour and the Kennecott mill building tour. (Note: After talking to Gaia, however, we opted for the full-day glacier tour instead and I’m so glad we did!)

In addition to the guided tours at Kennecott, our miscellaneous expenditures also included:
  • Annual National Park pass purchased in April ($85 with shipping, but those 62+ can get a lifetime pass for just $10!)
  • Two camp chairs and step stool purchased before we left home ($40) 
    (NOTE: Above are affiliate links to similar items.)
  • Folding camp table we picked up at Big 5 on the way through Oregon ($30)
  • 100 feet of 13,000-pound-test rope ($155) that we bought at a specialty rope place in Bellingham, WA and a bunch of rigging in case Joel had to pull our car out of a creek crossing 
  • Dolly’s House and Tongass Historical Museum entrance fees in Ketchikan, AK during 6-hour ferry stop ($21) 
  • Currency exchange fees in Whitehorse, YT ($6) 
  • Tunnel fee going to Whittier, AK ($12) 

M/V Columbia - our transport to Alaska
On top of all that, I included the cost of the ferry ($2,191) under misc. beings it was an extra not originally in our budget. Good thing we allocated enough to this category!
  • Misc. budget = $3,000 
  • Actual misc. cost (inc. ferry) = $2,905 
  • Money left for another trip = $95

So now what? 

Beings we hadn’t run out of money, we decided to visit relatives in MO before we came home. An added bonus to that side trip was seeing a bunch of new country and visiting 10 more National Parks during our extra travels. And despite adding another 6,000+ miles and a few more weeks to our vacation, we still got home with about $2,700 to put toward future travel.

I wonder where we should go next… 

Any suggestions?