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Pete and Elaine's Travels

Hello all,
Welcome to our Travel page.
This is where we will try to keep a record of our travels beginning in 2011
-we will update it as often as we have time! Of course we are not continuously travelling, we come home after each journey!!!

Our first itinerary ;-
20th January to 23rd January, San Francisco
23rd January to 19th February, touring north and south islands of New Zealand
19th February fly to Sydney, Australia where we will be staying until 25th February,
26th February, land at Heathrow airport

Second journey;-
We took the caravan through Belgium, Switzerland and Italy, when we did lots of walking, sight seeing, painting and reading.

Third itinerary;-
To celebrate our Ruby wedding anniversary, on Wednesday September 7th 2011, we fly direct to China, with a short stopover in Dubai. On arrival in Beijing, we join the tour with Wendy Wu, spending the next month travelling the length and breadth of China.
We finish off the holiday with a couple of days in Dubai, returning home on October 7th.

Fourth journey;-
29th January to 16th February, South Africa
16th February to 20th February, Zambia

fifth journey:-
USA, September 4th to October 7th 2012

sixth journey:-
Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, flying January 19th 2013

Seventh journey:-
India and Nepal, flying November 21st and returning December 5th

Eighth journey
Chile, flying January 22nd and returning 4th February

Ninth journey
Namibia, flying on July 24th and returning on August 11th

10th journey
would you believe it, the 10th and off to Western Australia on July 6th finishing off in Singapore on the way back

And so to the 11th adventure, Secret Lapland, January 20th to Monday 25th January 2016

Well unbelievably the twelfth journey, we fly 18th March to Myanmar via Bangkok, and cruise on the Irrawaddy until April 3rd

And onto journey 13, from October 7th to October 18th, the Silk Road in Uzbekistan.

Journey 14 begins on Monday 6th March, 2017 when we travel to Southern India.

Now Journey 15, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania,
May 14th to May 22nd 2017

Journey 16, Copenhagen and Stockholm, September 6th to September 14 th 2017

Journey 17. Peru and the Amazon

Journey 18. Russia, September 29th to October 14th 2018

Journey 19, Armenia and Georgia, May 8th to May 21st, 2019

Journey 20, Alaska, July 14th to July 26th, 2019

Diary Entries

Wednesday, 24 July 2019

Location: Anchorage, USA

The rain has stopped this morning, overcast but dry as we set off back along the Seward Highway to Anchorage, stopping along the way at the Alaskan Wildlife Sanctuary.

We found this quite a sad place In a way.

It is a rescue centre for orphaned or injured Alaskan animals, black and brown bears, moose, musk ox, wolves, Arctic fox, Sitka deer, bald eagles, porcupine, lynx.
If the animals are brought to the centre as cubs, they said that they cannot be released into the wild as they cannot be taught the skills to survive, not too sure about that, but at least the animals have been rescued and they survived. There seemed to be much plodding around the enclosures however!

Just a short drive from here to Anchorage where we had a city tour to finish off the day. We had a brief stop at Lake Hood which is really a mooring place for the float planes. Two thirds of Alaskan towns and cities are inaccessible except by plane so a lot of people have pilot licences. To moor here there is a sixteen year waiting list! The planes wheels can be exchanged for skis to land on snow and floats to land on water so all destinations are within reach.

We have checked into our hotel for our last night, and are off to find a place for dinner and then back to repackage our cases and hope it all fits in. Dirty washing seems to take up more space some how.

So this is the last entry, thank you all for sharing our holiday with us again: we will return to your glorious weather and the lovely Boris Johnson tomorrow with some wonderful memories of the places we have seen.

Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Location: Seward Alaska, USA

Well our luck with the lovely weather finally ran out today here in Seward. We have had heavy rain today and 62 degrees much to the relief of the residents who want it to help to extinguish the forest fire which has been raging in the peninsula for a while.

We spent the morning in the Sea Life Centre on the waterfront before finding a nice cafe in the old railway station called Zudys where we had lunch.

We met up with our group to take a three hour cruise along Resuurrection Bay. It was unfortunate that the clouds were so low obscuring the lovely snow capped mountains and glaciers along the fjord but we did see some wild life minimal though it was. The elusive whales did just that and eluded us today so we were out of luck.

Tomorrow we leave to return to Anchorage, our last destination for a holiday which seems to have passed very quickly.

Monday, 22 July 2019

Location: Seward, Alaska, USA

Our destination today was the port of Seward in the picturesque Kenai Peninsula.

As usual, Titan had planned such interesting stops along the way.

Instead was a drive along Hatchers Pass. It was a lovely drive up through countryside reminiscent of the Alps, into the tail of the Talkeetna Mountain Range. It is one of Alaska's highest passes.

At the end of the Pass we found the Independence Mine Historical State Park on Granite Mountain. The mines produced large amounts of gold but during World War Two but production was deemed unnecessary and it fell into ruin. It now is a fascinating historical park. The location is stunning and we spent a couple of hours exploring the trails into the tundra covered hillside in and around the complex of buildings. It was enhanced by the sighting of a marmot who stood to attention for ages just a few feet away from us.
A great place to spend some time.

Lunch stop was further down the road in the town of Palmer famous for its growth of huge record breaking sized vegetables.

An hour further along and we entered the scenic highway along Turnagain Arm. Here there are forested slopes and ice fields and a coast cut by deep fjords and dramatic valleys. The name of the Arm is curious. It was bestowed by Captain James Cook when he was forced to turn again after discovering it was impossible to navigate the seas around here. The views of Kenai Mountains are spectacular from here.

We had a gem of a stop along here for homemade cakes provided for us by the owner of Trail Lake Lodge at a village called Moose Pass. There are only a dozen buildings here including a school,of ten. The owner was a sixty year old chap called Streamer who enthralled us with tales of his past life in the US and his current life in this remote place. It is hard to imagine why he came here and his love of living in a place where he needs his float plane to get out in the winter when for over three weeks of the year the temperature is below minus thirty
degrees. Another gem.

Our destination tonight is in the Windsong Lodge in the forests on the outskirts of the port of Seward, complete with sightings of bears.
Seward is considered to be one of Alaskas most scenic places and it doesn't disappoint. It is located on Resurrection Bay.
The air is a bit hazy. Apparently it is smoke from the forest fire which is forty per cent contained on this peninsula, last week it was much work looking as if the port
was shrouded in fog.

After settling into our room we took the complementary shuttle bus into downtown and walked the hour long waterfront path along the shore from the small boat harbour. Row upon row of small boats bob up and down beneath snow capped mountains across the bay. The waterfront is a bustling tourist place in the summer with row after row of RVs parked up on the shore. Many spend the summer here with their camp fires and their BBQ s on the shoreline swelling the population of the town from 3000 to 4000.

And we count ourselves to be very lucky to be two of those fortunate tourists in this stunning location!

Sunday, 21 July 2019

Location: Wassila,Alaska, USA

A more leisurely pace today as we sent off south in glorious sunshine through the Broad Pass on the road through the less dramatic Denali Sate Park. We hadn't gone far when the bus pulled over by the side of the road for the driver and anyone who wished or was daft enough to pick wild blueberries from the scrub!
This was such a wide valley at five miles across, difficult to envisage the size of the glacier thatbwould have carved this one out.

Our main stop was at the lively small town of Talkeetna, known as a hippy town. Possibly the only town to ever have had a tabby cat as its mayor for 16 years until 2015 when it retired from office!
Originally a trading post in 1896, the town developed firstly in the Gold Rush and secondly in the construction of the Alaskan Railway. We loved it here, a fabulous bustling little town and just the sort of Wild West town that we had envisaged that we would find in Alaska.
We sat outside a bar eating the largest freshly baked pizza imaginable listening to a bloke strumming away out of tune on his guitar in glorious sunshine, what could be better. The town by the side of the river is full of bars and craft shops and galleries and old buildings.
There is an annual festival here held in the autumn to which only women are invited. It attracts people from all over the world and is the Batchelor Auction. Women bid from a catalogue of eligible males with money raised going to charity. Apparently a hilarious and wild event.

Outside of the town is the Mount Denali viewpoint. Denali attracts climbers from all over the world. To preserve the wilderness and environment, there are strict procedures in place for climbers. There are ranger stations at the foot of the trails. Climbers must list everything they take and bring everything back including the results of bodily aid in this climbers are issued with portable potties!!

We are staying the night at a none place called Wassila, the only call to fame is that it is the home of former governor Sarah Palin.

But there was great excitement when the bus pulled into a large Walmart store for supplies.
Little things!!!!

Saturday, 20 July 2019

Location: Denali, Alaska, USA

Denali is a remote and mountainous place. The weather here is reputed to be very variable and we have certainly witnessed this for ourselves. Changes in weather often occur without warning and we were told to expect sun, wind, rain and clouds all on the same day. Although rare, snow can fall at any time of the year, but hopefully not whilst we are here.

We have been very lucky today. It was cloudy and drizzling from time to time this morning when we set off by ourselves on a hiking trail from the grounds of the hotel, singing anything from nursery rhymes to the national anthem at the top of our voices in order to create noise to frighten away any bears. Needless to say, we saw no wild life at all.....

After lunch we took a privately organised bus tour called the Wilderness Tundra for the 8 hour drive into the national park. No private vehicles are allowed into the park so this is the only way to get into the wilderness.
We drove 62 miles which is about two thirds of the full length of the park.
For the first hour we were a bit disappointed as we went mile after mile through a forested region called the taiga. But after this, the landscape changed and gave way to spectacular views of mountains and tundra. Although cloudy the sun came out and so did numerous grizzlies, moose, caribou, lynx, arctic ground squirrel
Willow ptarmigan, snowshoe hares couple with an explosion of wildflowers, just great.

We drove over four passes but Polychrome Pass was probably the most spectacular with its wildly multicoloured landscape.

We turned back at Stony Hill Overlook, high up in the mountains. From here is the best place to get a clear view of Mount Denali but unfortunately not today, the overlook was shrouded in cloud, so that was one spectacle that we missed!

But a fabulous day!

Friday, 19 July 2019

Location: Denali, Alaska, USA

Today we caught the Alaskan Wilderness Train for the four hour ride to Denali.

We were very surprised to see how luxurious it was in premium class, a double decker train with a glass domed roof on the top floor over a nicely appointed restaurant.

We enjoyed the journey as it was a pleasant experience and the group was full of banter, but it was a disappointing ride from the point of view of the scenery which was very monotonous for the first three hours with forest after forest of black spruce trees.
There was much hilarity however and shouting when we saw two moose way into the distance.
How children will play.
The last hour of the journey was alongside the Nenana Canyon which was quite picturesque.

We arrived too early to get to our hotel so we went to the Denali village. A big mistake. Full of overpriced tack from tourist driven businesses, which has earned the place the name of Glitter Glutch.

Our hotel is fortunately ten miles out of the park which is a lovely set of lodges. It has started to rain in the last hour so we are pleased that we did not book a flight!
But we are hoping that our land tour of the national park tomorrow lives up to expectations.

Thursday, 18 July 2019

Location: Fairbanks, USA

Fairbanks is a sprawling city known as the Golden Heart of Alaska which evolved from a homestead years ago.
As with other cities is is a functional place and is the second largest city in Alaska. The rapid urbanisation came about because of the installation of the transAlaska pipeline which we visited this morning on our city tour. It is a remarkable piece of engineering and difficult to comprehend how it only took three years to build.

On the rest of the tour we took in the museum and then this after noon have been on a steamboat river cruise along the River Chena, a waterway which divides the city. What a gem this turned out to be...It is a family business founded by Jim Brinkley and the traditions are carried on by his whole family. It is an impressive, professional organisation which makes use of technology and cameras with live presentations by the crew to ensure that all passengers are kept informed. Not long after we set off, a floatbplane landed and took off alongside the boat. The bush pilot had a radio link to give a talk on what it was like to be a pilot in the wilderness.
Next was a friendly wave from a resident of one of the magnificent properties lining the river bank. This turned out to be the 92 year old widow of Jim, the founder of the company, who had come down to the water's edge to watch the boat go by.
We made several stops after this. Quite a lengthy one was at the dog kennels of Sue Butcher, a famous leading dog mushing ( racist dog sledding) champion. Now deceased her daughter has taken over the business. Via radio links she gave us a demonstration of what is involved in the training of the dogs.

The boat turned round at the confluence of the river with the Tanana and we moored by the Athabascan Native Living History Museum. Here the guides were Athabascan and took us through a reconstructed village, complete with reindeers, salmon hatcheries and dog sledging to bring to life what it was like to be a native in the past. This was a great place and clearly demonstrated how the harsh conditions threatened the very existence of the tribes in the past who struggled to keep alive their skills and traditions and to pass on their knowledge to future generations.
The dilemma is just as pressing today as modern technology threatens their way of life as the young leave for better jobs and education in the cities.

After snacks of blueberry doughnuts and salmon on crackers, we docked late afternoon.

Later after finding a local bar to eat, we went to the Fairbanks Cultural Centre, another gem of a place.

And then the fifteen minute walk along the river to the hotel in glorious sunshine at nine o'clock at night. We will just get used to the twenty four hours of daylight when it is time to go home!

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Recent Messages

From sister
Hope you have arrived safely and I look forward to reading the blog. I always enjoy my vicarious travelling. xx
Response: We are here and safe and sound, with lovely blue skies and a very pleasant place to be.xx
From Little babbie
Hello Parents,

Have you tried guinea pig yet. They were displayed on all the market stalls when I went. Usually with a red pepper or apple stuffed in their mouths. Sounds like you’re having a great time.

Have emailed several times but they are all bouncing back xx
Response: Hello babbie, we have seen several roasted and live guinea pigs, we plan to taste one before we leave, we have had alpaca, found that a bit tough!
From Sister
Glad you are safely there and look forward to reading your blog. XX
Response: A week gone already!!
From Your sister
Enjoying the vicarious travel, as usual. XX
Response: From inside of your dry home we presume
From Mike and Anne
Hi glad your holiday is going well. Enjoying reading your blog interesting as ever. Looking on the bright side a 'dry' March will help with the medication xx
Response: Dry and searing heat, but much better than rain although there was a terrific downpour in the night. Hope all,is well
From Sister
Maybe it is really me, accompanying you surreptitiously to keep an eye on you. I have never been called 'scary' before, even by students. X
Response: Mmm, how do you know that!!
From sister
Looking forward, as always, to accompanying you on your journey. XX
Response: We have an Aunty Dotty look alike with us in the group, mannerisms the lot! How scary is that!!!!!!
From Sister
Delighted to be back on my vicarious travels. Sounds fascinating already. XX
Response: It all seems a bit surreal to be standing in these historic places dating back to the first century BC!
From Kathy & Ken
So jealous - looks like you had another amazing adventure x
Response: Keep stashing away the money whilst you work!!!!!
From Angela and Gilbert
What an experience, can't wait to view the pictures
Response: It was indeed! Now waiting at Bangkok airport for the flight home
From KB
Hola parents,

You look like are having a fab time. Just catching up on your blog. Keep safe xx
Response: Hello babbie
Am trying to get blog up to date, wifi very iffy, hope you had a good easter
From Sue Brockwell
Happy Easter. Sounds a fascinating hol. Now in Isle of Man. House with lovely views out to sea. Drive across island and lunch out next plan. X
Response: Ooh, we liked the Isle of Man, it was like going back in timehope the sun shines for you. It has been forty plus degrees here and feels hotter!
From Sister
Fascinating. Look forward to seeing the photographs. I think I would have been annoyed at being kept back because I was a girl, though. That would have gone against the grain. However, we have to respect cultural differences if we are visitors! XX
Response: Fascinating is the right word to use. Something to see at every turn
From Sue and Les
We are having a BBQ tonight a bit nearer home in the illustrious Padstow. We now have full family complement so not a dull moment. Glad you are having a great time. We are enjoying reading the updates.
Response: I hope it's Aussie style BBQ with plenty of steak and fish. Hope the weather is staying kind for you all, you must be well into the school holidays by now, looking forward to seeing you when we get home.
From JB
Brilliant story on 29th July Mother; did Nana never teach you not to get in cars with strangers (particularly naked ones)!
Response: Nan never knew any naked men I am sure!! I can just imaging her comment!!!! And
Well, I wouldn't have minded but he was over seventy and every inch of skin was a chocolate brown colour! When he got out of the car when we got to dad, his comment' I hope you don't mind your wife travelling in a car with a naked man' Father's comment..'No'
You will be pleased to know that your father has tried to outdo you with the hobo look, as he refused to shave, except he didn't look suave, just a slim version of Santa Claus in the making. Once it got hot, it started to itch and it all came off!!!!'no staying power
From Sandra/Dave
Pleased to read you are enjoying yourselves. Nipped round to yours, everything fine, lawn green and neatly trimmed. Weather here not good at the moment, rained most of yesterday, slightly better today. X
Response: Ouch, rain not good, we are now in the heat, 35 degrees, this has been quite an adventure with lots of stories to tell!!! Off,East tomorrow, we are finding that Australia doen't like yahoo so we are finding it difficult to get and send emails. Thank you so much for popping round to the house.
From Anne & Mike
Enjoying your blog. Glad your having a good time xx
Response: Hello both, tried to ring you before we came away but I guess you had not returned from your travels..hope you had a great time. We are now in Exmouth, wifi very difficult, am sitting in the visitors centre with 30 mins free wifi, will try to update blog when I can, all good here, have had a problem with a broken windscreen, stone from a road train didn't like us, all taped up, trying to get to Broome to sort it out...britz tried to send us to the nearest repair place which was 500 miles from here in the other direction! Just going to book a glass bottomed boat trip over the reef, they are trying to get us to go snorkelling but we wouldn't look cool with the woggle under our arms as we are not that confident swimmers
From Lynne
Looks like you are having a great time. It all sounds amazing. We look forward to reading some more! Continue to enjoy x it was lovely to see Christine and Charles We had a good catch up xx
Response: Are your jaws aching then???
You would also like it here! Just finished the first leg of the holiday, now for the northern bit and the heat. Ironic to be away in the British heatwave!
From Sister
Sounds fascinating. Interesting that Elaine's ancestors may have been among the earliest emigrants-albeit compulsory ones. XX
Response: I think compulsory might have been right, dodgy stock as Pete says!!
From Clare & Mart
Enjoy!! xx
Response: A fab place, you would both love this lifestyle. We'll let you know what the Motorhome holds in store for us!
From Sister
Sounds fascinating! Hope you find a woolly jumper shop! XX
Response: Yep, entrance to fish river canyon sold a fleece, weather now much warmer!!!!!!
From sister
Was there no room in your luggage allowance for me to curl up in a suitcase? Lovely to follow your travels again, anyway. XX
Response: Sorry, no room. It looks as if we shall have some splendid places to visit in the coming days.
From Mollie and Lindsay
Congratulations Elaine and Pete.
What a marvellous account of our wonderful holiday in India and Nepal. Greatly appreciated.
Tummy back to normal at last.
Many thanks for your hard work.
Mollie and Lindsay
Response: Nice to know that it brought back memories, mostly good ones I hope
From Doris
Glad to be back to my vicarious travelling-always fascinating and instructive. XX
Response: Vicarious might be the right word, this is a fascinating place...and tomorrow we leave India and are off to Nepal
From Barbara Keen
Hi Elaine& Pete

Read your log today, and it is a very good reminder of all we did and what we saw during our adventure.

Best Wishes Barbara&Reg Keen.xx
hope I got it right then!